... and almost the end of our time here in UK for 2010. We took the car back to Enterprise Northampton this morning - what a fabulous service they provide, well recommended. They collected us from the boat last week and today took us to the train station. Driving on the roads in England amongst the madness and mayhem wasn't the best of experiences though, give us the slow pace of the canals, and the camaraderie of the boaters and walkers any day!
Gosh, we're now ridiculously behind with the blog, there's always an unbelievable amount of things to do in the transition from one life to another - here's some more of our journey along the Lee and Stort ...
Monday 20 September
We left Roydon mid-morning heading to Bishops Stortford, at the end of the river Stort, where there's a supermarket for some much needed supplies after leaving the boys alone for a couple of days! All was quiet on the river, with hardly any boats or walkers about; a most peaceful idyll. It was certainly a different feeling to when I was last on board at Tottenham Hale!
We won't be able to stay long on this stretch as we have to be back close to the centre of London by Friday 24 September, as all four of our children will be gathering together for one amazing night on board Northern Pride on Saturday - it'll be a tight squeeze with six people on a 2+2 berth narrowboat!
Not sure why Roydon Lock have a life ring from Enfield?
The old mill at Parndon Lock ...
... makes a very attractive scene with boats moored nearby
During the day we had a phone call from Barry's friend Freddie, who lives in Sheffield, to say that he's coming to London for a work meeting on Thursday and so he hopes to be able to get a train to the boat that evening, and stay till Friday evening. Freddie's always very flexible so we're sure it'll be possible to find a way to meet up.
We managed 15 locks and 11 miles of travelling today. Although it sounds a lot, the locks along here are quite easy to work, and because it's a river we were informed we need to keep the gates open when we leave each time, whether ascending or descending, and fortuitously most of them were in our favour today which cuts down the workload considerably.
Tom did his fair share of locks - this being Burnt Mill Lock with automatic bottom gates
There's plentiful wildlife around here too, so the day was filled with sights of different ducks, dazzling dragonflies and the occasional Kingfisher diving in and out of sight - awesome (it's not the best shot - sadly it's a bit blurry, but they're so challenging to photograph!)
Amazing large stone sculptures along the side of the lock
Not much of this cruiser was left which left the owner with serious burns according to the news
Sandra and Tom maintain control while Barry
calls takes the shots
A tranquil day out for some elderly/disabled folk
Lovely canal side property
No trouble for Tom to negotiate the lock gates, confident and casual just like his dad ...
... no fear either way
The unusual shaped Little Hallingbury Mill near Tednambury Lock - built around 1874 as a flour mill, it was used until 1952 and restored in 1967
The impressive Twyford Lock seems to dwarf poor little Northern Pride
Another of the day's locks - such a beautiful setting
We arrived at Bishop's Stortford around 1800hrs, tied up and walked a short distance to the large Sainsbury's to stock up on groceries. Barry and Tom dropped me off there (why do I get all the boring jobs?!), while they had a quick walk around the town before coming back to help carry the bags.
An old building in the town, now the frontage for a chartered accountant
Back on board, we had dinner and then taught Tom how to play a Walsh family card game called 'Predictions', ready for the coming weekend so that he'd know how to play and wouldn't too disadvantaged - he soon picked up the rules and thrashed us both, lol!
The moorings in Bishop's Stortford around the Wharf area are well-maintained with modern apartment blocks overlooking the river, but it wasn't the quietist of places to be and was very noisy at night time. It wasn't enough to keep us awake too late, though Tom did insist on another round of cards before retiring ...