It was a long trip back to Gisborne, via Sydney and Auckland, but we arrived home on Friday 5 November. Since then we've been unpacking, retrieving our belongings from under the house, tidying up the garden from the winter and getting our phone and internet back - it took Telecom five days before we were back on line!
Sandra's returned to work as a 'casual' midwife, and Barry is working on getting the blog up to date as well as numerous other projects.
No news to report on selling Northern Pride as yet, for details of the specification on the New and Used Boat Company site, click here.
Hopefully we'll soon catch up on and publish the last six weeks or so of our time in England ...
Tuesday 21 September
The day began bright and sunny, though being moored in Bishop's Stortford Basin it was difficult to tell as the boat was under so many trees. We had a more comprehensive stroll around the town before setting off, gaining some local knowledge initially from the Information Centre. It's a lovely little town ...
St Michael's Church in Bishop's Stortford
The graveyard with the Boar's Head pub and the interior of St Michael's Church
Lovely carved pews
Plenty of black and white buildings around the town
The Black Lion pub on Bridge Street
One of our aims was to visit the remains of Waytemore Castle and Motte so we headed that way but found the gate locked. As luck would have it a council worker drove by just as we were walking away and let us in, giving us strict instructions to re-attach the padlock when we were finished. While we were up in the motte though another council worker came by and called us to come back down saying that the other one shouldn't have let us in as previously someone had fallen down the hill and injured themselves so they didn't want the responsibility!
You can access the motte by requesting a key from the Information Centre, but of course you then have to return it to them as well. The stupid part is that the hedge around the motte has many gaps in it where anyone can walk in and climb up, so basically it doesn't matter if the grounds are a hazard and someone goes through hedge and then falls down, that's their responsibility, but if council have let them in then the fear is that someone will sue them - what a shame that Britain follows America in such circumstances, suing for compensation at the drop of a hat!
The remaining motte from the original Waytemore Castle allegedly built by the Normans and destroyed after 1545
We departed from Bishop's Stortford just after midday, travelling for two and a half hours to the affluent town of Sawbridgeworth (or 'Sawbo' as current residents affectionately call it!) where we stopped for lunch and another walk about.
An inventive way of recycling an old boat
Tom's back on lock duty, while Sandra manages the helm
Around the time of the Norman Conquest, Sawbridgeworth's rich farming land was as fully developed for cultivation as possible and became the richest village community in the country. It's reportedly now the 'best kept town in the country' and unsurprisingly boasts amongst their residents Posh and Becks.
Much of the town centre is a conservation area, with many of the buildings dating from the Tudor, Stuart and Georgian periods that are now mixed sensitively with modern buildings.
We passed the 'active' bowling club on the way into the village of Sawbridgeworth
Tom and Sandra checking out Christine's cakes in search of custard doughnuts!
A selection of some of the varied architecture around Sawbridgeworth
Once we'd had our fill of the town we set off again and soon came upon glimpses of the mansion Beckingham Palace peeking above the tree tops. Of course they spend most of their time in Los Angeles now, and apparently are considering remaining there indefinitely - maybe they rent it out for an extortionate sum?
Blissfully the locks were all in our favour again which saves so much time, and of course having three people on board makes a difference too so we managed to go a fair distance despite also mooching around the towns today.
A fine day for cruising the river
Approaching Harlow Lock and the A1184 bridge
Looking spookily similar to a certain Harry Potter character
Very rural stretch of canal passing Harlow but not actually touching the town
What a great spot for fishing - though I suspect it was a bit smelly in the boat with all the rubbish that had been thrown into it
We moored for the night near to Harlow, having managed to negotiate around eight miles and ten locks.