Eddie gave us a ride down to Wormley and then John, a regular at the pub, picked us up and took us to Hoddesdon.  We went to the library and got a couple of books,

We did a bit of shopping and had a beer in the White Swan pub.  Then we walked back via the public footpaths over Bass Hill. We stopped and sat in the grass out in the middle of a paddock and watched the sunlight playing on the hills and houses over on the far side of the Lee Valley.  The only thing about being this close to London is the constant roar of traffic on the A10¹ and the noise of aircraft overhead that destroys the peace and calm of the countryside. The air was full of the lovely sweet smells of spring and birds were everywhere.  I can’t wait to get to the remoter parts of rural England.

¹The A10 is a major arterial road linking London (the road begins at London Bridge) with King’s Lynn in Norfolk. Parts of the road follow the original Roman road known as Ermine Street.


After work Rene took me to Enfield.  I changed my two left shoes for a left and a right.  Wandered around for an hour or so then met Rene and she took me back to Wormley.  I walked up the road to the pub and took some photos on the way including a couple of some headstones in Wormley churchyard.




We had a couple of letters from Colin and Dill¹ and in them, written in Colin’s peculiar note-form were the paragraphs:

“A fellow shot a Black Power² member who was stealing petrol out of his car the other day, only one thing wrong, his mate got away. But it would be hard to hit a black moving target at night with a 303.” And: “Jill has just gone to bed in a huff because I wouldn’t let her slobber on letter or lick the stamp.”

¹Colin Johnson was the fellow renting our house in Geraldine. Dill, real name Jill, was an old sheepdog of mine who had been retired to Geraldine as Colin’s pet.

²Black Power are a New Zealand gang whose uniform is head to foot black leather.


Another row involving Bill, his demented girlfriend and some other girl. The police paid another visit…and another visit at midnight after some guy had punched out a window. He had badly cut his hand & Linda told him to go to Enfield hospital so the police met him there and arrested him. There was also a row in the public bar over a horse involving Garry, Marina¹ &, yes indeedy, Bill. Bill has now been banned from the pub.

¹Garry and Marina were another couple of regulars at The Woodman. I can’t remember the outcome of the argument but can remember very clearly the aftermath. Out in the car park Marina was shrieking incoherently at the other people involved as they sat in their car. Someone inside said “I’ve lost my chain” [necklace] I wanna look for it.” Garry promptly smashed his fist on the roof of the car and shouted “fuck chain…cunts!” We burst out laughing at this, the car sped off, and Garry and Marina began shouting at each other. Such was a typical Saturday night at The Woodman. (FOOTNOTE: Even now, thirty years later, the phrase “fuck chain…cunts” is still one we use occasionally to describe an adult having a tantrum over something trivial!)


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.


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.


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!



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.