Archive | August, 2013

And so to Broxbourne

25 Aug

So we leave Roydon, the Stort and join the Lea, which eventually flows into the Thames at Limehouse, with its proper size locks that will take two narrows side by side and, more importantly, allow single gate entry/exit. This is of course the norm, just strange lock sizes that don’t allow this on the Stort for some reason.

This makes John a happy bunny as means less running around for him, though I have been good and helped a bit by pushing closed the odd gate here and there.  We have had a superb run of set locks though, just about making up for all those times we haven’t, which is most of the time now I come to think about it.

This end of the river is pretty, yet still wide and deep, unlike further down where it becomes ultra straight, flanked by pylons and all the signs of its previous industrial life. That said, we like that part too but for completely different reasons, not least the Anchor and Hope. What a great name for a pub. We moored there briefly one beer o’clock, the year we did the Thames – you have to scale the railings to get in from the river.

But we’re not going that far today – just to Frogspawn. I lived here before for a day or several (also 2011 en route to the Thames) a good spot close to a pub that has, most importantly, a decent car park to moor the car.

And here we are..100_1685Its a busy spot for the leisure boater, with a boatyard just up on the bend that hires out electric boats, rowing boats and also operates the big trip boats. The towpath is well-used too, walkers, cyclists – even a unicyclist carrying a lock handle (failed to get the picture – boo hiss). People-watching heaven.

All this bothers me not – lots to laugh look at and once all the boats are safely back in, it goes really quiet. Like someone hit the mute button. No jets, no road and even the inevitable train line makes a pleasing sound – more like the old clackety-clack and not the high-speed whine that is usual nowadays.

There’s woods beside the towpath; great for a ramble. I wonder where this path goes…100_1682Why the pub car park! That’s handy, comes out right by the boat or the car, depending which way you are going, and lets me sneak to and from the car without being seen from the pub cuts the corner off nicely.

Across the way lives the whomping willow..100_1684The view from the kitchen window I like..004See the bee right inside the flower?

And the sunsets aren’t bad either..100_1676Next day, left to my own devices as John is on the Combine, I take a stroll along the towpath. Amazing what you find there..100_1687There’s plenty of these about..100_1686But a special treat..100_1690Mr. Kingfisher, who obligingly posed for me and was in no rush to push off either so I got a good long look.

This hooned passed Hobo later on..100_1695Disco Betty, how very Essex. Although in Hertfordshire here, the border is close and they do stray across sometimes.

John popped down one evening and we went for a bit of a chug, by way of a battery charge. Took loads of snaps but mostly turned out rubbish. This is when we saw the unicyclist – failed to get it. Little dog in basket of bike speeding along the towpath with such a look on its face – also a fail. That leaves me with these then.

Towing activity..100_1706And a good brood..100_1699Another day, another set of rules for the weather. Chucked it down pretty much all day. Stair rods, cats and dogs – we had the works.

Whichever window I tried..002the story was..006exactly the same..008But rain never stops play on the river and there’s always those utter nutters game for a soaking.

I didn’t like to point my camera at them though, seemed rude, so just smiled sweetly and waved queen-like from Hobo’s dry inner sanctum.

Roydon and the unexpected…

24 Aug

Less than a  week back on my mooring (few things to attend to – MOT the car for one (yes of course it passed, it’s a Toyota) – and we’re off again, this time headed for Roydon.

We had a lovely long day cruising on the Saturday, into the darkness, finally finding a convenient piece of piling to hook to for the night.  A quiet spot, considering how close we were to Harlow – that parallel universe thing. Nights on the river in the middle of nowhere (seemingly) are special.

After a quick visit to Roydon Marina for top-ups and tip-outs, Sunday sees us at the designated spot, one we’d earmarked from long ago and more recently checked out for car parking, suitability etc.

You moor against a wall next to the little road that leads to the marina..100_1673Lovely great big old mooring rings..100_1672And a reasonable outlook the other side..100_1671Never know there was a busy railway line behind that tree would you? Trust me, there is. Hobo is in fact sandwiched between the road (surprisingly busy and very close) and the railway. On a positive note though, no jets for once, as we seem to be out of the Stansted zone here.

But it’s the road noise that offends me, I am simply not used to this these days, and would another time tootle just a little further on, under the bridge and round the bend, where there’s more mooring away from the road. Perhaps my recce wasn’t all it should have been… didn’t spot this till I’d walked down to the car park once or twice.

That said, I had a very pleasant seven days here while John was working away on the farm in the Fens. Travelling to work became shorter and quicker, apart from one day when I got stuck at the level crossing – 4 trains worth with huge gaps in-between – felt like I was there for at least 30 minutes!

I enjoyed strolling up the hill to the village store that sold everything you could possibly want/need and plenty more you don’t.

It’s a well used stretch of moorings – from the commercial crayfish boats..100_1674..a very busy and, at times, noisy operation, to the assorted boats with their assorted boatees, just parking off for the night.

Also some serious messing about on the river..100_1669How good does that look?

Internet connection (via 3 dongle, usually brilliant) here wasn’t great but kicked in occasionally with just about enough oomph to get me into the e mail and facebook but not enough for me to get blogging (without serious frustration on my part) sadly. So recent posts are all history, as it were.

Now a very funny thing happened during my stay here. A friend from Infants/Junior school in Higham Ferrers and The County High School Wellingborough (and not seen or heard from since) sent me a friend request on facebook, asking if I was me from HF and if so she was sorry she nicked my flip-flops!!

We were the best of mates back then, some 40 odd years ago, so have been doing some serious catching up.

It’s been great discovering what we’ve been up to and how our lives have panned out and seems we’ve sort of shadowed each other over the years, unknowingly living in the same areas. For all we know we’ve passed in the street and not known. Curiouser and curiouser.

Sharon is a very accomplished artist and blogger – check her out at where you will see this..Boatbird   20 x 16  oil[1]and the stages leading up to this, which she took from my Skype profile picture.

There’s an awful lot more good stuff on Sharon’s site. I thoroughly recommend you take a look.

John took this photo of me at the helm some 3/4 years back as we left Hartford Marina for destinations unknown. It was a high spot for me and Hobo, I was on top of the world and full of anticipation and excitement, tempered with  sadness at leaving behind friends and a super community that had been my (very happy) home for 4 years plus. And, if I’m honest, a flicker of fear.

It’s all there in this painting don’t you think…brilliant or what?

There’s a good chance we will get to meet again as she now lives quite close to my brother in Norfolk and visits this neck of the woods every month.

Life is full of surprises.

Pig Lane

21 Aug

On our recent trip to Bishop’s Stortford John spotted a great little mooring, bollards and all, where we stopped for a cuppa. It’s just above the lock where Pig Lane crosses the river at Twyford Lock on the outskirts of BS; free of limits, noise, on a lovely stretch of the Stort, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The mooring is completely enclosed by railings..100_1647 and even has its own gate..100_1648

Turns out it was the old lock landing, now superseded by a smart new bigger and better one..100_1653

And the real bonus, there is a huge (mostly empty) car park within spitting distance, so a stay here for me would work having somewhere close/secure to leave the car – for those times I have, reluctantly, to leave the river and brave the roads.

Decision made. Two stays of a week coming up – one in the middle of July and the other late July/early August.

A good place to work on the boat and work I did..003
Not sure how well you can see the before (to the left) and after (to the right) in this shot but in this one it’s clear..100_1655
Nothing like some compound and good old elbow grease to bring the shine back to the paintwork. I know, still horrid primer spots but no green paint as yet. (Good news is I have obtained some since).

As much as I love my permanent mooring near Sawbo, it’s a treat to get off it. Having shot myself in the foot, cruising-wise, by getting a job locally, it means I can’t go cc’ing which is what I’d really like to do. One day, when I get that book written….

Don’t get me wrong, I like my little job and for now and am reasonably content to do some little cruises and weeks away around here. As I’ve no doubt said before, you don’t have to go far to feel miles away. So, until we find another way to keep BB moving and working and overcome the logistics of moving the car along (not to mention the cost of travelling), we shall continue to work on it.

The getting there and back was as enjoyable as ever with John, typically, employing some child labour..100_1627and some first class foraging..100_1629They love him really..100_1630We liked this..100_1632And this..009And I was puzzled by these chaps..005I was thinking radio-active but John assured me it was a routine thing – stunning the fish and counting them…?

Hobo likes Pig Lane.100_1645