17/7/89

CHRIS AND SANDY ARE GONE, YAY!!⁰

We spent the morning lazing around upstairs then packed up a bit of stuff and walked up to Paradise Park Zoo. We got in free because yesterday (Sunday) I had shorn their three sheep for them. The head zookeeper, Stephen “Frog” French, had picked us up in his little yellow van with three motley looking sheep crammed in the back, and we had driven to a farm over at Cuffley where there was a shearing plant (actually only an overhead dagging plant¹ but in surprisingly good order and sharp!)

They were easy shearing and it was good to do a bit after nearly a year away from a farm and Frog said we would come up to the zoo and look around for nought².

We spent 2 hours there looking at the animals with Frog telling us about them.  They have lions, camels, highland cattle, goats, donkeys, coati mundi, mountain lion, sheep, reindeer, Vietnamese pigs, a llama & other bits and pieces, all in spacious and we’ll set out cages.

After we left there we walked down to Hoddesdon through the back roads in the woods. We spent an hour and a half in the pub then Linda went to Family Planning for a new supply of pills and some advice on the effects of antibiotics on it. We had tea at Maggie’s Bar and got a taxi home.

⁰They moved on to manage another pub…and good riddance: they were lazy, good-for-nothings.

¹A dagging plant is a machine for removing dirty wool from a sheep’s rear. It consists of a suspended electric motor driving a hand-piece.

² Pronounced “nowt” and meaning “nothing.”

11/7/89

Because we had such a slack day yesterday we decided to go for a bike ride.  Linda’s bike had a flat tire so we pushed the bikes down to Broxbourne and got the tires pumped up (some prick had pinched the pump off my bike when I was in Slough last week) then we bought some rolls, pies and drinks and cycled down to the canal. We had lunch and fed a family of ducks then cycled along beside the calm, slow moving water until we came to a paddock of sheep across on the opposite side. They were grazing right to the water’s edge and as we watched them I remembered Grey’s Creek at Grampians¹ where I spent a lot of time sitting on the banks with the dogs beside me watching the sheep and cattle grazing and the deep, calm, clear water of the creek flowing past.

We followed the canal to Cheshunt and went up into the town centre and had a drink at the Rose and Crown then sat in the park and watched stupid poser school boys playing tennis.  After that, and at a loss for something to do, we went to the pictures. We got a bus to Waltham Cross and wandered around while we waited for the cinema to open at 5:40. The movie was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it was great. Non-stop action, funny, corny and great fun.

After the movie, we bussed back to Cheshunt and had a revolting tea of Super7² burgers then started home. My bike had a flat tire before we got out of Cheshunt so we ended up once again pushing our bikes for two hours to get home!

¹Grampians sheep station, in the South Island High Country, is where I had worked as a shepherd for four years.

² A convenience store chain.

3/7/89

I got up at 3:50 a.m. in order to go to work at Slough.  I biked down to the station and caught the 4:38 train to Liverpool Street.  It is beautiful at that time of day – cool and damp with ground fog hugging the base of the trees and creeping along the waterways.

I got the Circle Line to Paddington and a train out to Slough.  Went to Extra-staff and got sent to a job with a Welsh guy. After 2 hours of waiting in the sun for the truck we were supposed to be unloading to turn up, I rang to find out what the fuck was going on. “Sorry, we sent you to the wrong address.”  We ended up doing one and 1/2 hours work at another building site & the guy paid us 8 hours for it. Not bad. I spent the rest of the day watching TV at Bernie and Sue’s. Spent the night at the Bernie and Sue’s and spent Tuesday working at Fullers Transport opposite the Mars Factory¹, unloading bags of coconut from Sri Lanka and the Philippines and bloody heavy 140 lb sacks of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast.  Went home in reverse order to the way I got out there.

¹The Mars Confectionery factory. The sacks of cocoa and coconut were being used to make Bounty Bars.

2/7/89

There was a big Gipsy¹ fight in the public bar.

¹Pikies…fucking scum! Thieves, vagabonds, liars, violent con-artists. Not to be confused with the traditional Gypsies of folklore: these people are vermin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pikey

The fight erupted over an unpaid debt and involved about twenty males viciously beating each other with fists, bar-stools, bottles and glasses. The fight ended when one of the original two combatants bashed the other with a full bottle of Carlsberg beer, knocking him senseless. By the time the police arrived the bar was empty and we were cleaning up.

There was a big Gipsy fight in the public bar.

26/6/89

Sandy gave us a ride down to Broxbourne and we walked down to the station and caught the train into Liverpool Street. We caught the tube to Piccadilly Circus and went to New Zealand House and collected our passports and letters of introduction for Zaire. From there we went around to IMC for some more shots. I had meningitis and Linda had meningitis and tetanus.  We also both had blood samples taken to find out our blood groups. That lot set us back a further £76 and we went to a nearby chemist to get the antibiotics and the malaria tablets he had prescribed for us – they cost us 43 quid.

Back on the tube, we made our way to Covent Garden and the YHA shop where we bought 6 bottles of insect repellent and across the road, we bought closed cell foam Karrimats.

We spent an hour or so watching life on the Thames go by then walked up and sat in Parliament square and watched the sun set on the Houses of Parliament while jets descended through the clouds overhead and Big Ben told the passing time.

With nothing else left to do we headed back home on the train. We now have nothing important left to do in London and probably won’t return there until a few days before we leave for Africa.

20/6/89

Dave¹ lent us his car and we spent the morning cruising the country lanes of Hertfordshire. Had a Ploughman’s² at a little pub and went and saw the Duke of Wellington where Chris and Sandy³ used to work. It is no wonder they are so lazy – a sleepy little pub in an even sleepier little village!

Jason⁴ took us cruising in the afternoon and Ray & Joan took us for a drink at the Fish and Eels in the evening.

¹Dave was a New Zealander who also worked at The Woodman.

²A Ploughman’s lunch consists of various pickles, bread and cheese.

³Chris and Sandy were the third of four sets of managers at The Woodman while we were there. They were lazy, slovenly and inclined to let the Pikies (gypsies) into the pub.

⁴Jason Roach was a young guy who also worked at The Woodman. He went on to become a Professor of Criminology at Newcastle University.

19/5/89

CAMBRIDGE

We had told Eddie and Pauline that we would be taking today off and had planned a trip to Cambridge.  

Our adventures started early.  We got up at 6 a.m. and showered, packed up some stuff and got out the bikes. The distant rumble of thunder told the story of what we were in for and as we cycled along the lanes towards Wormley, the air was full of the sweet, damp smell of approaching rain and bolts of lightning flashed across the sky.  Thunder crashed overhead and we were getting a bit nervous of being out with such a storm going on. We were halfway between Wormley and Broxbourne when the downpour hit us and soaked us to the skin. But, despite the rain we carried on and caught the 7 a.m. train.

The trip to Cambridge took one hour, the train stopping at every station as it travelled past canals and tree-lined fields then through the rolling grain growing area of Hertfordshire.

By the time we got to Cambridge the sun was out and we biked into the centre of town and had breakfast at a little café. We banked our wages and wandered around the market which has been held on the same spot for 1000 years. We decided that the best way to see as much of Cambridge as possible was to get a ticket on a sightseeing bus that would enable us to get on and off when we wanted to. So, we caught the first bus of the morning and sat up on the top in the open air and listened to the commentary telling the long and fascinating story of Cambridge.  The town was founded in 44AD by the Romans (the High Street still follows the exact path of the Roman road). They were there for 360 years until the fall of the Roman Empire and then in the 5th century the Saxons came and ousted the Danes (Vikings) who has established a fine inland port. The Cam River is navigable from the sea right up to Cambridge.

The university was founded in 1209 by scholars who had fled from rioting in Oxford. The first College was Peterhouse and was founded in 1284. The newest College is Robinson which was founded in 1977 and there is now a total of 31 colleges:  24 undergraduate, 6 postgraduate and one teacher training. The names of the colleges include Kings, Sidney Sussex, St Johns, Christ’s, Jesus and Trinity. The latter is the largest and richest of the colleges and is the largest landowner in Britain after the queen and the Church of England. Most of its land was bestowed on it by Henry the 8th after it’d been taken from the monasteries and it is said that it is possible to walk from Cambridge to Oxford without leaving Trinity Land.

Some of the other sites we were to visit were the American War Memorial and Cemetery where more than 3300 white crosses bear witness to some of the American servicemen killed in Europe in World War 2. Included on the wall of remembrance are Glenn Miller and Joseph Kennedy.  We visited the round Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built in 1138 and one of only 5 round churches in existence, and drove past the College Library which contains over 4 million books on 86 miles of shelves.

Around midday, we got off the bus and hired a punt and spent an hour on the calm and peaceful waters of the Cam, along behind the colleges – this area is known as The Backs. After a lazy hour of punting we had a shandy in a nearby pub then caught the bus for another 2 hours of getting on and off looking at the hundreds of lovely old buildings.

We got off for the last time outside St Mary’s Church and climbed to the top of the tower where we had an impressive view out over the old university town. Then we wandered down a back alley to get to St John’s Chapel.  What a wonderful building. We were both or struck by the beauty of it – a huge rectangular gallery with the only partition being a wooden bridge halfway along where the huge organ was mounted. The sunlight streamed through the huge stained glass window on the western end of the chapel and the huge columns rose up to fan-shaped vaults 80 feet above.  The acoustics were perfect.

From there we wandered the streets and bought a pizza for tea which we ate after having to move from one park to another after being accosted of by drunken, foul-mouthed beggars.

After our feast of pizza, garlic bread and Coke we cycled round nearly empty streets back to the river, where we bought a drink each at the pub and sat outside on the banks of the river and watched the punts and ducks drift slowly by as the sun set lower and lower behind the skyline.

Our day in Cambridge was at an end and we biked back to the station and caught the train back to Broxbourne.  It was cold and dark when we arrived so we left our bikes at the station and got a taxi home.

Here are a few interesting bits from the history of East Anglia.

  • BURY ST-EDMONDS AND MAGNA CARTA.  Bury St Edmunds is named after King Edmund of Anglia who was martyred in 870 by the Danes for his Christian beliefs.  The 15th of June 1215 is rightly regarded as one of the most notable dates in the history of the world. Those who gathered at the high altar in the great Abbey church in November of the previous year could hardly of known the consequences that were to flow from their proceedings. The granting of Magna Carta at Runnymede marked the road to individual freedom,  parliamentary democracy and the supremacy of the law.

          The principles of Magna Carta which had their foundation at Bury St Edmunds and           have been developed over the centuries by the common law,  are the Heritage not               only of those who live in these Islands, but of countless millions of races and Creeds           throughout the world.

  • CROMWELL (LORD PROTECTOR OF ENGLAND) Oliver Cromwell was born of middle-class parents on April 25th 1599 in the last year’s of the reign of Elizabeth the First.  Born in Huntingdon, where he went to the free Grammar School ( along with Samuel Pepys) Oliver afterwards spent a year at Cambridge University (1616 Sydney Sussex College)  before completing his education at the Inns of Court, London.

         General Ireton,  although born in Nottinghamshire,  when the Civil War broke out,            raised a troop of horse and in 1643 served with Cromwell in East Anglia.  One of the          most famous quotes from Cromwell was “it is an odd thing Mr Ireton, that every               man who wages war believes God is on his side. I’ll warrant God must often wonder         who is on his!”