We finally left London last Friday and headed off towards the River Lee.
It takes a while to pull clear of the city with its lines and lines of moored boats. After passing Enfield you start to feel that you’re in the countryside again.
Our first stop was at the town of Waltham Abbey. We moored up in the evening and spent the next day there shopping and looking at the Abbey.
I had high hopes of the stained glass as the east window there was designed by Edward Burne-Jones who, with William Morris and others founded the Arts & Crafts movement. (He’s the miserable sod with the long beard on the left, not the miserable sod with the bushy beard on the right.) Perhaps being moody was part of the Arts & Crafts ethos. That and beards!
I wasn’t disappointed. The Burne-Jones designed window was beautiful and, even though the abbey’s relatively small, there was plenty more to see.
The tomb of Sir Edward Denny is fascinating because of the stories attached to it. He led an adventurous life, having fought in Ireland serving as castellan of Tralee Castle, been part of the 1582 Humphrey Gilbert expedition to claim Newfoundland for the Crown, and having taken part in the routing of the Spanish Armada. On both the latter occasions he left Lady Margaret, his wife, in charge at Tralee. Margaret survived him by 30 years or so but was not buried here. Her will states that she wished to save money by being buried at considerably less expense in Bishop’s Stortford to enable her to look after her grandson’s wife and their 7 children who turned up on her doorstep after fleeing the rebellion in Ireland. I must try to find her grave when we visit there tomorrow.
Readers of Terry Pratchett will find the concept of chained books familiar. The marks left on the wall make it appear that these particular books had been very restless during their captivity.
Outside, in the Abbey Gardens, is a stone showing the position of the original altar which also marks the area as the probable grave of King Harold Godwinsson (of the arrow in the eye fame). That section of the abbey was demolished during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and the grave itself was lost.
We had our ‘Happy Friday’ drink in a medieval pub called The Welsh Harp. While we were there the heavens opened and thunder and lightning cracked overhead. We just had to stay for an extra one or two.
Having had a couple of drinks I was slightly confused when we left. I had intended to photograph a pretty ramshackle building that I’d spotted earlier but now was unable to find – that is until Gordon pointed out that we’d just come out of it. It was The Welsh Harp itself! Mission accomplished – eventually.
We’ve cruised a fair way up the Stort now, passing Harlow on the way – not many visitor moorings there and the ones there are had been taken. We carried on, moored up in a very pretty spot in the middle of nowhere and were treated to a wonderful sunset.
And the free lunch? Earlier in the day we spotted a couple of blokes who were obviously fishing for something using nets.
Turns out they were after the invasive species signal crayfish. When I asked if they were edible he offered to give us a few to try and told me how to prepare them (just boil for 2 and a half minutes no more or they’ll get tough). He ended up giving us 26! Plenty for at least a couple of meals.
Gordon cooked them while I set the lock. I put them in a bowl of iced water to keep them fresh until I combined them with with a rocket salad, home made soda bread and lemon dill mayonnaise.