Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Out of Hertford, and heading back to London (cruise retrospective)

 Views from our windows last night
Yesterday afternoon, we had our side doors open for the first time this year, looking out across the river to those rather remarkable houses. It was really quite hot, and windless. Today was warm, and mostly sunny, but with a fair amount of rain, often falling from a sunny sky. But it was dry as we left Hertford and made down river towards Ware and out into the countryside again.

At Ware Lock, a man stood and watched us. Two daughters stood with him, and he held a young grand-daughter in his arms. And he explained to them all, very carefully and in great detail, all that was going on as we filled the lock, opened the top gates, took Kantara in, closed the gates again, emptied the chamber, and opened the gates for Kantara to be driven out. And he got it all right. I had to commend him for it, and his "girls" were all very impressed.

I told them how I often hear men in this situation - and yes, it really is, in my experience, always the men - authoritatively explaining locks to their women and children, and talking a load of nonsense.

"Now the water's going to be pumped from down there (below the lock) to up here (the lock chamber)"

Or, "If you look carefully, you can see the level of the canal fall as the water rushes into the lock."

Or, "The locks are wide to give the boats plenty of room to move about in."

I just bite my tongue and carry on.
Weir at Ware Lock
Stanstead Abbots next, and sprawling Hoddesdon, and then the junction of the Lea with the Stort.

Down through Feilde's Lock, we stopped for a quick bite to eat. A woman passed the window, walking goodness knows how many dogs, but too many for her to manage. A man came from the opposite direction, also with a dog. A big and noisy one which had a lot to say about the canine bevy, and one poor creature, terrified by the brute, fell into the river. There was nowhere for her to clamber out. The bank was several feet high. She panicked, and swam back and forth pointlessly, tiring herself quickly. The walker (a professional dog-walker, it turned out) was trying in vain to reach her. We called to her to step down onto our stern, and from there she was able to pull the poor thing out by the scruff of her neck, cold, wet and scared. The next time we saw the woman, all of the dogs were on leads.
On down the river, a lovely, broad stretch past Nazeing towards Broxbourne and Cheshunt. As we approached Dobb's Weir Lock, we saw a boat preparing to descend it, so we hurried to join him. But alas it was a widebeam, single-handed by a young man, and this slowed our progress for the next few locks. It was raining now, on and off, and we were getting pretty wet. By the time we got to Cheshunt Lock the sky was threatening even wetter things, so we moored hastily below the lock, and settled in for the rest of the day and the night.

At which point, the rain stopped.
Views through our windows this evening

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