|Views from the window before we left|
The countryside has taken on a new appearance now. It has fewer flat, open vistea than before. Dead willows litter the banks still, and many lean perilously over the river. Several have toppled in.
Another real and present danger was the canoeists. There are warning signs about them at every lock, and not without good reason. They were everywhere. Some were practising for a race, others were under tuition. Both lots were quite oblivious to our presence in the water with them. Unless, that is, they came up behind us at great speed, in which case they shouted for us to get out of their way, the river being too narrow in places for them to pass. When we came up behind them, they made out they didn't know we were there, and spread out from bank to bank. Hooting them as politely as one can hoot the boat's claxon would cause them to speed off, only to become a nuisance yet again half a mile later.
One poor rookie, however, nervously passing us, and with fellow canoe-club members watching, dug his paddle in too deep and turned himself over. Watch out for that one on YBF!
It's amusing how boaters achieve a sort of celebrity status when there are parents about with their children. If the kids don't wave to us automatically (and they usually do), then their parents get them to do so, even taking hold of their hands and waving them for them if they don't. Their manner is often as it they know us. We really don't look like Tim and Pru. Even less like John Sergeant, heaven forbid!
We ascended the final five locks before Stortford...
...then winded, and moored in the very last space before the end of the navigable river. This was not the brilliant spot that other boaters had made it out to be, but it was clean, and safe-feeling.
We did some shopping in the nearby Sainsbury's, M & S and Waterstones, and went in search of the "market town that has retained much of its old-world atmosphere" (Nicholson). It wasn't to be found.