Saturday, April 25, 2015

Noisy and wet

Jan awoke around 3am to the sound of noisy yobs crossing the bridge on their way home.  A pity it hadn’t started raining earlier as that might have dampened their enthusiasm.  This morning the weather was passing showers with me deciding (or not) whether to do more painting.  In the end it was delayed whilst we listened to the ‘domestic’ in one of the flats opposite.  He was yelling and she was shrieking with every second word starting with ”F”.  It was uglier than lipstick on a pig!  Eventually they exhausted themselves and things were quiet for an hour before one of the young female residents came out on her balcony to loudly share her boyfriend problems on the phone with her girlfriend.  Eventually she realised she was shouting and we were listening (ready to applaud).

The weather looked better after lunch so I rubbed down and painted the area around the two stern diesel inlet points.  The sky then clouded over so I cut up a Tesco bag and covered over the wet paint.

Hopefully everything will look OK tomorrow.

Jan has been doing more genealogy research and discovered I have an ancestor on my mother’s side who lived, and died here in Bishop’s Stortford.  Another lesser known person was born here.  Someone called Cecil Rhodes, who apparently had a country named after him, along with some scholarships.

I’ve been attempting to work out whether we are in Bishop’s Stortford or Bishops Stortford.  I’ve seen it spelt both ways!  Wikipedia states in 1060 William Bishop bought the Stortford manor and estate for eight pounds leading to the town’s modern name.  My rudimentary knowledge of english suggests the spelling should therefore be Bishop’s Stortford.  Interestingly the River Stort is named after the town rather than the reverse.  The town Corn Exchange was established in 1821.

The proliferation of corn exchanges in England appears to have been a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars during which the importation of grains almost ceased.  As a result England significantly increased the national production of wheat.  After the wars the farmers didn’t want to compete with cheap imported grains and managed to have parliament pass laws to restrict the importation of wheat.  It wasn’t too had to achieve this as most members of parliament were major land owners.  However the high price of wheat also resulted in high bread prices for the average citizen and adversely affected national productivity.  My vague recollection of english history suggests eventually there were corn riots and deaths when soldiers fired on the crowds.

Another walk around the area this evening had me looking for a suitable Sunday lunch venue.  Unfortunately it was unsuccessful so we may be dining at “The Spoons” tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Changing the awful and correcting the spelling

The last daily post didn’t include the photo of the newly painted fake rivet tops on the water tank hatch.  Jan has more than suggested the clash of colours couldn’t be much worse.  You judge!

After considerable thought and being mindful of the consequences of not taking action, the rivet heads have been repainted.

The small patch on the roof under one of the solar panels has also been given a first top coat.

Blog reader Bill sent us an email pointing out my incorrect spelling of Hertford.  However he missed the incorrect spelling of Bishop’s Stortford so he doesn’t get the bonus point.  Bill also passed on some interesting information regarding the mills

When the mills were built the rivers probably already had boats being worked along them, locks as we know them came later, the best way to move large loads was by water and London would have needed flour and grain, remember in the seventeen hundreds Thames barges would be bow hauled from Reading to Newbury up the river Kennet [yes river] by men in a day, so the Stort would have been much the same,

When locks came along mill owners had mill ponds built to help the water flow, this also meant water levels stayed pretty much the the same, some mill ponds were some way from the mill but a leet [a small man made water course] would have been built to aid the flow.

Yesterday evening I went for a local walk visiting the nearby “city park”.  At the southern end is Waytemore Castle.  The Normans built a motte and bailey wooden castle on the site.  The motte being an artificial mound with a timber or stone keep on top.  It was usually surrounded by a enclosed courtyard (the Bailey).  By the Tudor period all that remained of the castle was the motte.

The base of the motte is now circled by a shoulder high hedge.  My intention was to walk to the top but I discovered the gate was locked with a council health and safety notice stating entry was barred because there were sharp and uneven stones on the top which might pose a hazard to children.  Looking up I noticed three youths mucking around at the top.  Chaining the gate obviously only prevents adults!

We went for a stroll around the town.  Bishop’s Stortford has been able to retain some of it’s earlier character  with most of the High Street shops located in an inconspicuous shopping mall.

Jan particularly wanted to visit Coopers of Stortford.  She bought a small dehumidifier online from Coopers when we were living on the hire boat at Aldermaston in 2011.  The store is reasonably large and located in a former malt kiln.  Their website states

Situated on the Hertfordshire/Essex border, there has been a business premises on our Bridge Street site for more than 300 years, trading from the original 16th century timber framed building.

This charming building is made up of three linked premises including a 19th century malthouse.  Our main shop entrance leads into the original 16th century timber-frame building where, on the ceiling (currently above the cookshop), can be seen examples of original, early pargetting (plaster ceiling decoration) which would have been undertaken by highly skilled craftsmen.  The offices above the shop remain a labyrinth of passages with beamed ceilings and sloping floors and, amazingly, there is still a section of 17th century wooden paneling remaining.

Further along the High Street I noticed a shop I was sure Jan would want to visit.  I was right! 

The owner of the boat moored in front of us arrived back at his boat today.  He asked if we were aware we (and he) were on 24 hour moorings.  That was a surprise to me as we had passed the 14 Day Mooring sign when we arrived.  He had been on the moorings for five days and received an email from CRT notifying him he must move.  According to him CRT are patrolling all of the Lee & Stort every 7 days as part of a plan to eliminate continuous moorers.  Later in the day we bow hauled Waiouru so she was moored beside the 14 Day sign.  This proved to be quite fortuitous as we can now receive a signal from the ‘dot in the sky’ and also have terrestrial.

Not long after this a boat familiar to Pip & Mick (nb Lillyanne) arrived, winded and moored behind us.

Looks like we have a prime mooring for the weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hot Welsh Dragons and Awful

With a weather forecast of cloudy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon we decided to move after breakfast.  The forecast for Friday and the weekend is showers so we want to be settled before that occurs.
Four locks today with the first two against us and the last two in our favour.  At Twyford Lock there is another former mill which is now a residence.  We’ve noticed that there appears to be signs of a former mill at almost every lock.  One wonders if the mill owners were upset by the converting of the river to a navigation.
As we have cruised further up the River Stort we’ve noticed a number of locks have large oval plaques on one of the lower lock approach walls.  For a second I was wondering what the initial RSN meant but almost immediately realised River Stort Navigation.
Since entering the Lee & Stort we’ve noticed several large patches of river with the surface covered with the “stuff” in the following photo taken today.
Dirty cassette owners have been emptying the contents over the side.  Well that’s what it looks like! Winking smile  Jan thinks it is coming from the trees.
A large barn owl watched us pass and didn’t give two hoots when his photo was taken.
The Pride of Stortford was moored above Southmill Lock.
This is the third cleaner we have seen since arriving in the greater London area.  Only one of them has been seen working and that was in Little Venice.   Which was probably the cleanest area we’ve visited?
A little further on from Southmill Lock we passed a boat going in the opposite direction.  It’s the first moving boat we have passed in the last five days.  The steerer told us there were plenty of good moorings at the end of the navigation in Bishop's Stortford.  This was good news as we were concerned moorings might have been as scarce as our time at Hertford.
We winded Waiouru and reversed down the arm to moor close to the end of the navigation. 
Winding
Can’t reverse back any further as it Is too shallow. 
After lunch we wandered into town finding a local butcher.  Jan bought some of his Welsh Dragon sausages.  Apparently their ingredients include leek (Welsh connection) and a good serving of chilli.  Hot Welsh Dragons!  Later in the afternoon I painted the heads of the rivets on the water tank hatch.  Jan has told me I have NO colour coordination and they look awful!  Looks like they will be repainted at some future date.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fuller than a Trout

A very misty and crisp start to the day.  The weather forecast for the weekend isn’t that great so it’s probably time to move.

A quick trip to Tesco restocked the cupboards in the galley.  Whilst there Jan noticed a joint roll of gammon on special and decided to buy it for dinner tonight. 

We were about to depart our mooring when I noticed some activity in the lock behind us.  A lady was beckoning me so I walked down to find out what was happening.  The three ladies around the lock were off a hotel boat that was stuck attempting to exit the lock through the lower gates.  Both gates hadn’t fully opened and the steerer had managed to wedge the boat in the opening.  The crew had been unsuccessfully attempting to free the boat by trying to remove the obstruction between the gate and the lock wall.  After watching for several minutes I suggested they open both top paddles to let more water into the lock whilst simultaneously putting the boat into full reverse.  This worked!  The crew were then able to remove the log from behind one gate which allowed the boat to exit the lock with an inch to spare.

We then headed off in the opposite direction stopping at Harlow Mill Lock to top up the water tank.  Good pressure from the tap meant it was a brief stop.

There are new residential apartments on the offside at Sheering Mill Lock.  They look rather attractive except there are no garages.  It appears to be one of those developments that gives the appearance of embracing boats when they really want them to stay away.  The development surrounds an old canal basin which has finger moorings, but no boats.  The bank has well maintained mooring bollards but ‘No Mooring’ signs.

Glimpse of the basin and vacant finger moorings.

Today the route of the river has been twisting and winding with a number of sharp bends.  Perhaps we have been fortunate that there are few boats on the move.  At this point we were on the southern outskirts of Sawbridgeworth.  A former malt kiln has been converted and now is a centre for a variety of small businesses.

The last lock for the day was Sawbridgeworth Lock on the northern edge of the village.  Some considerate boater had moored on the upper lock landing.  I guess it saved them having to use pins.

The ground floor level of the lock side cottages appear to be below the water level in the lock.  I wonder if they suffer from rising damp?

After dinner (the gammon from Denmark was delicious) I went for a walk around the village.  This canal side property looked interesting.  I think it is probably a former mill.

To the immediate right of the above photo is what appears to be a former mill race.

By now it was going on dusk.  No requirement for me to look for a dessert tonight as I must have swallowed more miggies than all the local fish walking back to Waiouru.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Local walk with a twist

What a great day for a local walk.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and warm temperatures.  A route of approximately 18km was planned using local public footpaths from the OSM.  You can see the planned and actual routes in the screen dump below.   Red is planned and purple is actual.  I didn’t record the beginning of the actual route.  The idea was to see if some high ground could be reached in an effort to get an idea of the terrain.

It was a gentle stroll of 3.5 hours as I’m breaking in a new pair of ‘all terrain’ shoes (Meindl from Germany).  Thirty years ago I would have broken them in by wearing them in the shower for 15 minutes getting them well soaked and then continue to wear them wet for the remainder of the day.  By then they would have moulded to the shape of my wrinkly feet.  Today I took a second (older) pair of shoes with me and changed ¾ of the way around once the new shoes started to rub.

After 4km I ended up on some slightly higher ground with views to the south.  It is almost impossible to see in the following photo, but with the naked eye it was possible to see Harlow (left arrow) and the Scottish Power generating station at the junction of the Rivers Lee & Stort at Hoddesdon (right arrow).

The hedgerows are in bloom and this next part of the local footpath was well mowed.

A couple of kilometres later I arrived at the junction of three narrow lanes.  Standing on the verge in full view and without a care in the world was this…..

No time to get out the camera so I took a photo with the cheap, low resolution camera in the gps.  Can you see the peacock in the middle ground to the right.  To the left, and out of view, were three peahens.  They were still behind the wire.  Mr Peacock might be an escape artist.  Further down the Bridle Path five birds were foraging in the sunlight.

Guinea Fowl according to Jan.  She tells me they are tasty.  Never tried them myself….. only guineapig! Smile The farmers around here are either growing rape or corn.  The rape appears to be coming along faster than the corn.

Halfway through the walk I noticed a bright red windsock and what appeared to be the radio and control tower for an airfield (point A on the map above).  But the field between them had corn growing in it?

Then I realised the two parallel grass runways were over my right shoulder along with a hanger and buildings painted green.

During WW2 this airfield was RAF Hunsdon and it was from here that in February 1944 the N°140 Wing (Mosquito’s) implemented Operation Jericho attacking Amiens prison in occupied France.  The aim of the operation was to free a large number of capture members of the French Resistance who were scheduled for execution.  In a precision attack the Mosquito’s were able to breach the outer prison walls and kill many of the guards.  Unfortunately about 100 prisoners were also killed and more than 50% of the escapees were subsequently recaptured.  The raid was carried out by No. 21 Squadron RAF, 464 Squadron (Australia) RAF, and 487 Squadron (New Zealand) RAF.  So both an Aussie and Kiwi connection to the airfield.

At one point the planned route almost doubled back on itself.  That’s when I noticed the stately home off to the right.  This is Gilston Park House, which in 1851 replaced an earlier house on the same site (point B on the map above).

In the late 1990’s is was purchased and converted to 31 apartments as part of a program of country house conversion.  Additional homes were constructed in the adjacent grounds.

During the final part of the walk I noticed two more of those 6ft high concrete plinths in the middle of a boggy meadow.  I managed to climb a tree (something not done for quite some years!) and took a distant photo of the top of the plinth (point C on the map).

It has a grate!  My conclusion is these plinths must be part of a stormwater or drainage system!  The footpath actually took me near this plinth only for me to discover 40 metres of the path was actually swamp.  I ended up wading through mud halfway up my calves. Wrong pair of shoes got a good soaking!

Back on Waiouru Jan had taken the final bag of last years blackberries from the freezer and baked a blackberry sponge pudding. <good girl>.  This afternoon we spend time going through the clothing lockers working on the principle of “If in doubt – throw it out!”  My winter pyjamas and long-john underwear have been cut up for rags. 

We bought them thinking it would be cold on Waiouru. I wore the winter pyjamas during our first winter on the hire boat in Aldermaston as it was very cold with the walls dripping condensation, but Waiouru is so warm I could now go “commando” during winter.  Jan doesn’t seem nearly as keen!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Short Cruise and Puppy Pads

A very short cruise today travelling less than a kilometre.  Jan put on a load of washing whilst we were filling the water tank from the tap outside Moorhen Marina.  I then managed to wash and dry the port (left) side of the cabin as the tank filled.  We are now moored in a quiet area above Latton Lock.  There is no ‘dot in the sky’ but we do have a few DTV channels.  There is also a good internet connection.

After lunch we wandered up to the nearby retail park.  Jan had this great idea to replace the baby nappies I use to clean up oil spills under the engine with puppy training pads.  There was a large pet store in the retail park so we bought a small packet of them to try out her idea.  They are a perfect fit under the engine.  One side of the pad is absorbent paper and the other side plastic. We have a thin layer of oil on the baseplate under the engine so for the first attempt I’ve laid the paper side face downwards.  Hopefully that will remove most of the film of oil.  Next time the paper layer will be face upwards to catch any drips.  I was initially concerned the plastic side against the baseplate might result in a build up of condensation but have now decided this may not be an issue as the heat from the engine tends to keep this part of the baseplate dry.

Later in the afternoon Jan did more interior spring cleaning whilst I carried on with the exterior paintwork.  The cratch window frames were sanded along with the water tank hatch cover and the cockpit deck.  These areas were then given a coat of graphite grey paint to my usual poor standard.  I’m a hopeless painter!

Tomorrow we need to visit the nearby Tesco and somehow I also need to fit in a walk.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lunch and the Plinths

After reading the reviews of the food at The Moorhen pub beside our mooring Jan decided we should go to the Dusty Miller for our weekly Sunday lunch.  The Moorhen appears to cater for families with ankle biters and serves bog standard quasi fast food (eg, burger and chips).  A quarter mile walk away from the river up Burnt Mill Lane took us to the Dusty Miller.  It’s a more traditional country pub which has received good food reviews.

Both of us opted for the Sunday roast beef.  The serving was generous and the food very tasty. 

After a brief rest back on Waiouru I decided to go for another local walk.  The plan was to include some of tomorrow’s cruising route to get an idea of the potential mooring situation.  At Latton Lock a boat was moored across the river.  It was apparent something had fouled the propeller and the two man crew were attempting to clear the obstruction by getting the stern against a low section of the bank.

The major problem was the boat had no weed hatch which meant having to reach the propeller shaft from the stern.  It seemed impolite not to offer advice based on my vast boating experience Smile.

To my surprise both suggestions were readily accepted and they eventually cleared the obstacle.  The next problem was when they discovered the boat didn’t have reverse.  This proved to be a major issue because they discovered it when powering into the lock.  At that point I made a strategic withdrawal.

Shortly thereafter I notice two more of those concrete plinths in a field beside the river.  Peter Berry (nb Kelly-Louise) had left a comment to my earlier post about these plinths suggesting they might be foundations for a WW2 airfield approach navigation system.  That seemed logical, but when I drew a line between them in Google Earth it wasn’t straight.

Today I was able to get close to one.  They are approximately 3ft square and stand 6ft above ground level. 

The ground was too boggy to climb the plinth so I held the phone camera over my head and took a photo of the top.

The top is covered in mould which makes it difficult to see whether there are anchor points for a structure (eg tower) which had been removed.

Just to compound the mystery there was a second, smaller plinth nearby.  This one had an iron grate on top and I could hear water running.  The name cast into the plate was “Adams York”.

Smaller concrete plinth in the foreground.

  “Adams York”

I suspect these are two separate systems.  The smaller plinths are aligned in a different direct and have the grate with holes.  My guess is they are for stormwater.  The other plinths are higher and don’t have grate on top.  When looking at them in Google Earth the ground between the plinths appears to have been disturbed at some stage.

Perhaps this is a pipeline?

Blog Question

Am I the only one to notice how slow loading a blog can be if it is written using Wordpress or has it’s own internet address?  Blogger seems to load so much faster.  Oops… we have our own IP blog address….. Do readers have problems loading our blog?

You may have noticed the delay in the posting of the more recent blog entries.  We have discovered the internet speed in this area is very slow after 3pm. Consequentially we have changed the publishing time to the morning.  Hopefully things will return to normal once we have moved on.

The mooring outside The Moorhen pub proved to be surprisingly quiet.  Perhaps the falling mercury persuaded the patrons to stay indoors rather than frequenting the beer garden.

There Is a marina just along from our mooring.  I suspect it belongs to CRT as it shares the CRT facilities alongside the canal river.  The name isn’t on the Waterway Routes canal map so I might do some further exploring to see if I can find out more details.  During the walk yesterday evening I ended up near the retail park noticing a Homebase, Hobbycraft, Dunelm Mill, B&Q, Sports Direct, etc.  Jan was interested in visiting Dunelm Mill so we walked back this morning only to find they are still fitting out the store with an opening date of 20 May.  B&Q and Homebase couldn’t provide what we wanted and Sports Direct didn’t have the shoes I was looking for.  This afternoon I walked in to Harlow to visit the second Sports Direct outlet.

Harlow is part old town and part new town.  It was one of the new satellite towns built after WW2 to provide accommodation for displaced London citizens that had been bombed out.  The ‘new town’ was designed in 1947 with construction commencing shortly thereafter.  There must have been another burst of building during the 60s-70s and then a third burst in the last few years.  I base this on the types of construction that can be seen in the town centre.

Very 40s-50s looking buildings constructed around an open central square.  The design reminds me of that concrete toilet block in London known as NZ House which was built in the late 50s.

You might notice in the above photo that there is no square, nor are there many windows on the second floor. 

In the last photo above the shopping area looks like any other modern precinct.