Tag Archives: River Lea

Level: Critical

15 Oct

With the threat of worsening weather, I was contemplating heading for home. As much as I am still revelling in playing at the continuous cruise, it felt like time to get Hobo back to her home mooring and all tucked up for winter. It will be November before we know it.

Over the years I have developed a sort of sixth sense when it comes to the state of the water tank and my antennae were twitching. I had no water point to hand so I resorted to dipping the tank – the only way to estimate how much is left. I will get a gauge fitted. One day.

I guestimated there was probably less than a quarter of a tank. Add to that the rapidly filling toilet tank (as well as the full spare festering behind the shower curtain) and it was clear that it was pretty crucial to head for the nearest sanitary station, if one was to continue to live in a civilised manner.

Fortunately, John was able to escape from the farm – currently full pelt on the potato harvest – for just long enough to assist me in this on Sunday. Call me a wimp, but I don’t relish the thought of ‘going it alone’ – apart from anything else, I just can’t shift some of these lock gates.

The nearest tip out/top up venue is back on the Lea, a couple of miles away, so a turnaround was required. And before I could do that, I had to negotiate the low bridge followed by a 90 degree bend. Easy peasy. Then a nicely controlled turn just up the way, followed by another ‘mind your head’ moment and under the rickety bridge once more – thankfully without incident. It would serve me right though, given I’ve been critiquing the aptitude of random helmsmen and women for the past fortnight….

Of the three locks on the way, two were set for us – which is just as well as time was of the essence. Not that one should ever be in a hurry when boating but, as we’d not got going till 4.30, it was likely we would run out of daylight before reaching our chosen next mooring. We’d nominated a couple – Carthagena or Dobbs Weir depending on our progress – so had placed my car in Broxbourne within easy walking distance of either.

So I won’t be heading home just yet…

On approaching Dobbs Weir, cabin lights aglow and daylight fading fast, a Hobo size space appeared along this busy stretch so we nabbed it quick. We rapidly realised it was empty for a reason – a shelf that prevented Hobo’s rear end getting anywhere close to the bank. Such is life. Someone will move on at some point and then Hobo could acquire a better spot.

John was off back to the farm at sparrow fart and, as I was leaving to retrieve the car, saw how horribly Hobo was parked (one of the pins was almost out too) and just had to rectify this. Lucky for me, the wide beam behind had gone so we had somewhere to go. I spoke sweetly to the man on this pretty little boat…

[At this point you will have to use your imagination as afore-mentioned pretty boat, in pink and green/both ends pointy/flowers on the roof, had done a runner when I went to snap it this morning].

And enlisted his help to walk her back and re-tether her. It’s all piled along this stretch with railway line so he nipped back to his boat to fetch some spare string to loop around this. Perfect to tie to, no need for pins. We positioned her and tied her back up.

There, that’s better, sitting pretty…001

Many thanks.

Had a nice little walk back to Frogspawn, car still where I left it in the pub car park, and drove back to DW. Very handy towpath-side car park (thank you Lea Valley Parks) just a hop, step and a jump from the boat. I can actually see the car from here… 004

There she is, so not far to lug the shopping. Bingo.

And here’s some I lugged earlier …002

Before John took off, he managed to fix my non-functioning shower pump so, with working water heater and a tank full of water, I was looking forward to a shower. Then I began to wonder at the state of the gas bottle – antennae twitching again – last thing I need is for it to run out while I am all bubbles in my birthday suit.  Been there, not funny.

As luck had it, the gas went while boiling the kettle for my afternoon cuppa. Told you, sixth sense, though some say I’m a witch. Friend Reg had fitted these smart quick release couplings and, together with an extra regulator, makes changing the cylinder so simple. No spanner needed (lefty loosey, righty tighty or, when it comes to gas bottles: righty loosey, lefty tighty).

You laugh….

It’s the best feeling, when the loos are empty, water tank full and new gas bottle hooked up. What could possibly go wrong…?

Now I mention it, I’m on the last few nuggets of coal and the woodpile is long gone. I texted my marvellous coalie on the river but he won’t be this way for a couple of weeks. Damn.

I had toyed with fetching some from the yard in Spellbrook but, with the cupboards resembling those of Mrs Hubbard and the yard closing at 4pm, the shopping won out. Anyway, I couldn’t face both chores on the same day, no sense in over-taxing myself.

Reckon there’s just enough for this evening if I eke it out a spoonful at a time. Could be an early night…

Here’s a peek at the park across the river…003I look forward to the leaves turning and snapping some sensational autumnal views to delight you with.

But for now, I have to put that shopping away. Back soon.

Pleasant in Cheshunt

16 Sep

BB has moved home again.

But before BB leaves BB, if you follow my drift, here are some shots from the other weekend when John’s no. 1 son came to play.

Like father…003 like son… 002Will these gates ever open…?005And I think Hobo has another fan…IMG_20130826_180323 (2)Roof’s looking good don’t you think…?

We admire this pair…013And like the look of this almost tropical river garden… 014And John covets this aluminium canoe…017

After a very happy month (really – a month?) in Broxbourne, Hobo has taken us further downstream to Cheshunt and pastures new. A new stretch of water for Hobo and towpath for me, new neighbours, new views from the window,  new roads/pubs/shops to discover and a new mooring for the car. The emphasis, you may have noticed, on new.

That, for me, is the beauty of the continuous cruise (albeit limited to the River Lea for now). Call me a gypsy but the prospect of learning and making home of ever-changing surroundings is a joy;  constant stimulation and a true antidote to boredom and stagnation. And, of course, a source of inspiration and ammunition for this blog.

We did some river shopping on the way…002

BB negotiates a deal for a sack of coal – fire season being here once more – and establishes his round for future reference, just about managing to ignore the mess it makes on the newly painted roof…001

What a wonderfully civilised way to do one’s shopping eh? Bye for now then…006But not for long as we share a lock further on… 008Where John could drool over the Lister JP2 engine, which does sound rather good..009

So, my new spot…


Because I have to remain mobile, land-wise, we usually start by finding  safe and convenient parking for Hobo’s car. Turns out that this neck of the woods is just about perfect for this; Lea Valley Park running alongside the river from Waltham Abbey all the way up to Ware. Not only is this a marvellous place to walk and cycle but it also provides vast, free car parking space adjacent to the towpath. And comes complete with a WC,

A café…004 even an ice-cream boat…003

Spot on then.

There’s been loads-a-money thrown at this area – just a mile’s walk away is the Lea Valley White Water Centre, which we duly investigated during the gale-force winds and biting cold of yesterday. We concluded it was a good facility, albeit in a structured/health and safety conscious sort of way. You know how it goes – stay away from the edge, keep behind the fence, no swimming and so on – 2 out of the three which we totally ignored, it being rather too cold for taking a dip…

Didn’t seem to put these partakers off though…002003014015See the girl up front, hanging on to the sides and no paddling to do?016 Well that would have to be me. John though would prefer the wild ways of the river itself, with all its unpredictability, danger and especially the lack of that annoying coach chappie, constantly shouting instruction to pump up his charges. Horses for courses. Or canoes. Whatever..

So, back to the immediate neighbourhood. This is what I see from the boat, looking across the towpath…002I’m surrounded by water… 005

And these are some of the locals…006 007I’m liking it here already.

Moving Bella – Day 1

4 Jul

Into July already and the Hobo hasn’t moved an inch, not even the sniff of a cruise. Static R us. Whilst this was always the plan for this year, knuckle down, earn some money and tart the old girl up, I was definitely getting withdrawal symptoms and missing being on the move. So you can imagine that when asked to help move another boat we jumped at the chance.

Our good friend Reg has sold Bella, his 50 footer, to a very nice young man called Dave who has secured a mooring at Isleworth on the River Lark in Suffolk. He was going to cruise the boat there – a good two weeks from the River Stort (with ten-hour days, lots of luck and a following wind) but with limited boating experience, and none at all of locks, he was in the market for some assistance in the early days, until other friends could join him.

A mission in itself to get to his destination within his deadline but we also had to be clear of the ‘Olympic Zone’ before it was closed off at 8am on Tuesday. Originally we’d planned to get going on Sunday but decided this was cutting it a little too fine and brought it forward.

Reg suggested to him that John and I could share The Knowledge and provide some tuition/advice as well as being another couple of pairs of hands to speed Bella on her way. We were more than happy to do this and we all got cracking on Saturday.

It was warm and sunny as we tied up at the first lock, which Reg and Dave went to fill as we waited for John (who had gone to lose the car) to join us. He pitched up right on cue so I set about supervising as our new boater took Bella into the lock.


It’s a very open spot and the strong gusty wind did its worst… Suffice it to say that it took three of us and much reversing to keep Bella off the bank for long enough to motor her into the chamber.

Bella is a lovely boat, of which John and I are very fond  and have driven before. She responds beautifully but is a different animal to Hobo; being a cruiser stern for starters, meaning the driving position and technique is strange at first to that of Hobo’s trad, and the engine/gearing is all different. Well, that’s our excuse anyway..

Still, all good fun and an invaluable first lesson in narrowboat versus wind, which I would like to say was deliberate but, you know me – boat (honest) bird – I have to tell the truth. It wasn’t.

Next up is a very low rail bridge (mind your head), successfully navigated, followed by a stretch of moorings where Hobo lives. I am impressed by Dave slowing down on approach to these moorings with no prompting from me – something I still have to remind John about. Even now. We say hello to Hobo as we pass and trundle on.

As we chug along, we discuss boatie things, living aboard and, inevitably, embark on the great toilet debate: pump out v cassette. It is not humanly possible for any gathering of boaters not to get on to this subject sooner or later; new ones no exception.

Dave seemed to be a natural; his boat handling skills developing rapidly as we let him do the majority of the tiller work while we answered his questions and imparted our knowledge. It was great to be out on the river again and we were enjoying the ride and the company. It’s different somehow when it’s not your boat (I think that’s a responsibility thing) and also being four of us made the workload lighter and progress faster.

Our journey started at 3 o’clock (ish) and some seven miles, nine locks and four and a half hours later we tie up for the night at Hunsdon Mill. This is a lovely spot in the middle of nowhere, just the odd cottage or two, with the sound of rushing water from a mini weir to drown out the road noise from the A414, which runs parallel at this point.

We had a lovely time on the river and Dave is, I think, a happy bunny after his first (short) day of cruising as we leave him to his first night on board his new home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The lovely Bella.