We got up fairly late and after showers and brekkie we hopped on our bikes (after pumping the tyres up of course!)¹ and biked into Broxbourne.  We went to the bank, leaving the bikes tied up outside, and completed the formalities of opening our account with the tidy sum of £2155. We did a few other little jobs then bought some rolls and cans of drink and biked over the bridge and down to the canal².  We cycled along the canal bank for about 10 minutes passing under weeping willow trees green with the new foliage, under a bridge, past a little lock-keeper’s house – brightly coloured flowers, well-

Lock-keeper’s House, New River Navigation canal.

mown lawns, sitting beside the black and white painted lock – and on until we found a patch of grass to sit and eat our lunch.  We sat on our coats in the warm sunshine and ate our rolls and mini pizzas while the canal water drifted lazily past and little coots paddled backwards and forwards amongst the reeds. A wheezing pug-nosed dog wandered up to us, sniffed around for a few minutes then took his little blank, gargoyle face away again.

After lunch we follow the canal for about half an hour until we came to the huge chimneys of the power station that had been on the horizon the whole time we were on the canal.  We turned back then and rode back to a canalside pub called the Fish and Eels and had a drink beside the weir where a couple of swans hung round waiting for morsels tossed their way.  We cruised back along the canal to Broxbourne and paused to look around at an old mill before pushing the bikes up the road.

Our next stop was the old 15th century Church of St Augustine.  We spent an hour looking around the church (built in 1460) and exploring the graveyard.  We cycled along the little fast-flowing stream to the main road, past and veggie filled allotments and the church school,  and bought a snack and drink which we ate on the banks of the New River³ on the outskirts of Wormley. We pushed the bikes up the hill and went into another church, this one called St. Laurence’s. Some parts of the church dates back to the 15th century but most of it was rebuilt in 1843. A bust on the north wall of the nave of one Sir Abraham Hume caught our attention and Linda copied down some of the biographical details on the plaque underneath along with a sketch of the coat of arms to send to Helen⁴ in case she wants to do some family research.  We left the church and yard to its memories and biked the rest of the way back to the pub.

¹Our bikes had been stolen to order for us by Billy Harvey, a local farmer/Pikie who was adept at not only stealing stuff, but also causing trouble. Mister Harvey will feature prominently in upcoming posts.

²The “canal” mentioned here is actually the River Lea, one of southern England’s prettiest and most famous rivers. Issac Walton’s The Compleat Angler, published in 1653, widely regarded as the finest book about fishing ever written, is partly set on the River Lea. Fans of the TV soap Eastenders will also be familiar with the River Lea (although perhaps unwittingly) which appears with the opening credits in the aerial photograph of London’s East End where it flows into the Thames opposite the Isle of Dogs.

³The New River is a navigable canal built during the 19th century to make navigation along the River Lee, with it’s tight bends, shoals and multiple courses, easier for canal boats and other river vessels.

⁴Linda’s mother, Helen, was a Hume before she was married.

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