12/5/89

After the lunch-time session, Rene¹ dropped us off in Enfield, about 25 minutes from The Woodman. We banked our wages of 2 weeks (£426-00, including £26-00 from Extrastaff for the day I did in the warehouse in Bracknell²) then went shopping for some of the things we will need for Africa: a pair of sneakers each (when I got home, I discovered my pair was 2 left feet!!) a backpack for Linda and some toiletries. We caught a bus back to Broxbourne & it took us in & out of the streets of Enfield, Waltham Cross & Cheshunt on its route. We rang a taxi from the Bull & it took us back to the pub in time for the evening session.

We were all cleaned up & ready to lock up when Billy’s³ girlfriend came in hysterical & saying Bill had hit her. She rang the old Bill (POLICE)⁴ & 4 of them came out & sorted things out.

¹One of the Woodman’s bar staff.

²see entry for 30/3/89

³The incorrigible Billy Harvey was the no-good son of a local farmer. He was a thief, a con-artist, liar and a part-time pikey (gypsy) who constantly caused trouble at The Woodman.

⁴The Old Bill is cockney rhyming slang for the police. Although there are many explanations for the term’s origin, the most likely is that it a shortened version of Old Bill Bailey, the slang name for the Old Bailey courthouses in London where the original London Police force were based.

24/4/89

I got a letter from Joe today with a cutting from the Timaru Herald about the Mt Cook Cup game which Mackenzie won 18-9 against Pleasant Point.  This is one paragraph from it:fullsizeoutput_cfe

Linda worked in the kitchen at lunch time for a bit of extra money, then we caught the train into London and went round to Kumuka.  We paid our airfares to Nairobi¹ and found out a few things, then went and had a cup of tea and a bun. Then we caught a bus at random and it took us past the Hard Rock Cafe so we hopped off the bus and had a couple of burgers in there.  Then, we caught the Circle Line² back to Liverpool Street and the express back to Broxbourne.

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¹In addition to organizing overland expeditions, Kumuka also operated a travel agency specializing in cheap flights to Africa.

² The Circle Line is London’s original Underground line. Completed in 1884, the Circle Line is my favourite London Underground line. Sometimes, when I was at a loose end in London, I would just ride the Circle Line round and round…just for fun!

18/4/89

THE FAMOUS TWO GO CYCLING

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-

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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.

17/4/89

A cold windy day, and Ray gave us a ride down to Broxbourne where we filled in the paperwork in order to open an account at Barclays Bank.  We looked around the limited selection of shops in Broxbourne then caught a bus to Hoddesdon. We spent 4 hours there doing a few jobs, periodically going into coffee shops for hot chocolate to warm us up.  We had a beer (xxxx for me and Lowënbrau for Linda) in an old pub and wrote a couple of postcards,  then went and registered at 2 employment agencies to get work for our days off. We bussed back to Broxbourne and decided to walk back to the pub.  It took us an hour & a half of walking to get home. We stopped and talked to horses, watched rabbits playing, and enjoyed the cold wind and rain-threatened sky which somehow seem to suit the woods and fields we were walking past.  We spent the evening reading writing letters and snoozing.

11/4/89

DEAD BROLLYS AND TUBE STATION MICE

We caught the train into Liverpool Street and went straight round to Kumuka and booked two places on the 17th August safari northbound from Nairobi.  We had a ratbag lunch at a cafe staffed by no-comprendo idiots and a foreign head waiter, then went round to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. There were wax models of many famous people there, the most real being Benny Hill, Mahatma Gandhi, Grace Jones, Bob Hoskins (of Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame) and many others.

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Me and Telly Savalas.

A trip to the planetarium followed Tussauds then we went round to Tottenham Court Road to look at tape / radios. While we were waiting in Oxford Street station a bunch of mice came out and started playing round down under the tracks, apparently un-worried by the trains rumbling over them.  We went to the pictures and saw Rain Man with Tom Cruise and a brilliant performance by Dustin Hoffman. We wandered the windy streets for a while afterwards where dead brollies were stuffed in corners and in rubbish bins, their skins torn and their spindly legs bent and broken by the wind. We did another random bus trip then had a pizza for tea in Leicester Square. The trains got us home at about 12:30am.

10/4/89

Our first day off.  Ray took us down to Broxbourne and we cashed a travellers cheque,  then caught the train to Cheshunt, changed for the Enfield train and got off at Lower Edmonton¹.  We found the Health and Social Services office and waited for half an hour amongst the old people, the unemployed, and the maniacs, to get our National Insurance number, then answered some stupid questions to get a Tax Number.

We caught the train to Liverpool Street then the Circle Line to Kensington High Street where,  after a bit of a search, we located the offices of Kumuka Africa². We checked out a few details about the 16-week trans-Africa trip and watched a ½ -hour video on it.  We left there and spent the rest of the day wandering around music shops in Notting Hill Gate and the West End looking for a second hand guitar for me. We eventually found one in Denmark Street (a place called Andy’s, a three-story shop crammed full of electric and acoustic guitars).  After that we caught a double decker bus and just cruised around for an hour or so then had a curry for tea and caught the trains back to the pub.

¹All of these are outer suburbs of North London.

²Kumuka was a travel company specializing in overland trips in Africa. Eventually, the company would grow to offer overland trips worldwide, a decision that led to its downfall. Overextended, the company went bankrupt in 2012. But in 1989, their overland expeditions were very much hands-on, do-it-yourself adventures. The trip we would set off on later in 1989 saw us travel from Nairobi, in Kenya, all the way back to London via East Africa, the Congo Jungle, sub-Saharan Africa, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and across Spain.