Wednesday 25 August 2010

Angel Islington to Waltham Abbey

Sunday 4th July

It’s my boating anniversary – ten years living on canals! So it’s quite fitting that we are beginning a big journey, from Angel to The Countryside; the River Lee and the River Stort.

The Doctor steers the boat and I allow Big Sister to ‘help’ me with the first lock. There’s a lot to remember around a lock – even for ‘grown-ups’. I am trying to instil the rule ‘Never Run Beside a Lock’ into my daughter, by repeating it many times. She instantly forgets this rule, but enjoys being outside in the sunshine and helping to push the balance beam to open the lock gate. This makes an extremely cute photo opportunity.

We passed a pikie Eton chap while I was steering the boat. He was relaxing on his back deck in a straw boater and tatty stripy blazer. He had dishevelled hair and in my hazy memory he possibly had a tooth missing as he grinned and raised his glass.
“Gorgeous weather!” he said, in a posh accent.
“Hard life isn’t it?” I replied, as I cruised past.

As we drew close to the M25 Ramney marsh was very grassy and rural. The Doctor prepared the lock. The boat was tied up, the engine was running. Baby Sister is smiling in her pushchair on the back deck, and I was doing the dishes. The kitchen window looks out onto a grassy tow path and trees. Big Sister is on the sofa watching episodes of ‘Rosie and Jim’ on the computer, then she’s dancing in circles to the theme tune, skirt spinning out. I can hear Baby Sister jingling her elephant soft toy and happily saying “bwah bwah bwah!” She is wearing her jolly rodger pirate t-shirt and the slogan reads “Yo ho ho and a bottle of milk!” I beam happiness out of the window to The Doctor on the lockside. Today, I have the same chores as usual (children, lunch, nappies, dishes, floor sweeping), but the kids are happy and I’m happy. What’s different? Is it because I have some adult company?

Passing under the M25 road bridge, a shadow passes over the boat. There is a roar of traffic above and a lone swan drifts murkily across the shady water below. We emerge into green foliage, sunlight, and freedom from London. We are officially in The Countryside!

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