Today I took the girls out to see the sights of Broxbourne. The snack van in the meadow supplied us with ice-cream cones – 99 style, beyond this we discovered the old mill restoration project has got the old waterwheel turning once more, up the English country lane to the village green, and the New River, which is not so new. It is 350 years since an Act of Parliament empowered the New River Company to take water from the River Lea and channel it as a water supply for London. We are familiar with this river already as parts of Islington are named after it, although it no longer flows above ground these days in London.
“The history of the River Lea is very much bound up with the history of London....in 1606 an Act was passed to enable the Corporation of the City of London to construct a ‘New River for bringing Water to London from Chadwell and Amwell in Hertfordshire.’ ...in 1609 it was agreed to accept the offer of Hugh Myddelton, a London goldsmith originating from Wales, to carry out the work. His achievement in so doing has ensured that his name will always be associated with the New River; there are roads, schools, and houses named after him along the whole route of the New River, not least Myddelton Road in Ware.”
(The Book of the River Lea Margaret Ashby, Harlow Library, Barracuda Books Ltd 1991)
St Augustine’s Church (1460-2010) is decked in bunting, celebrating it’s 550th Birthday Festival Weekend with “stalls and refreshments”. It is the only Grade 1 listed building in Broxbourne, and it is large for the size and population of the village five hundred years ago. Inside the church the Broxbourne Handbell Ringers are chiming twinkling melodies from an upstairs balcony and the sound resonates around the stone pillars, arches and stained glass.
We walked through an avenue of trees across the lawn beside Churchfields to explore the parade of local mini-shops and search for a local beautician to get my legs waxed some time. (My hairy legs are on tour, comparing and critiquing the beauty services of London and Herts. Bedside manner and technical efficiency varies greatly!)
We “moored up” at the playground and I had to wake Big Sister instructing her it was time to have fun; I supervised play while Baby Sister sat on the grass trying to gobble up dried leaves and twigs.
We set off towards home across Churchfields green, peeping over the edge of the footbridge to look for fish in the new river, back down the lane explaining the name of this spiky plant forming a hedge around the vicarage.
“That’s funny that tree is called holly!” giggles Big Sister. We amble past the waterwheel and snack van and down the hot grassy towpath buzzing with summer heat and cyclists. We pass the woodturning lady, selling her wares from the gazebo beside her red narrowboat and home to the shambolic blue boat with the TV aerial at a jaunty angle on the roof, and the solar panel framed by folded deck chairs and a life saving ring.
We can hear The Doctor’s guitar strumming as we approach our back deck and Big Sister bursts with excitement as the pushchair slows to a homecoming halt,
Things to be seen on the live-aboard roof, from bow to stern:
Double pushchair (for sale)
Two tyres (for fenders)
Central heating header tank (looks like a pigeon box with a little red roof)
Life saving ring
Hexagonal play pen, folded flat
Chimney flu, laid flat for tunnels and low bridges
Another life saving ring
TV arial (laid flat for travelling)
Large solar panel, and;
The Doctor’s favourite tea mug on the hatch over the back door.