Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Burnt Mill Boat

21st September


At breakfast time a boater neighbour knocked on the boat to quiz The Doctor about our solar panel. While I was feeding the girls I could hear them discussing twelve volt efficiency and technical specifications. Then the conversation turned to our very recent and very local disaster. A narrowboat has burned out and half sunk under the willow tree, outside The Moorhen pub. It is all black and twisted and is a sobering sorry sight. Although the hull is steel it looks like the top must have been GRP. The word is that the owner was filling his petrol generator on the back deck. The boat batteries were not covered, (as is required by the Boat Safety Certificate) and a spark must have set things alight. Apparently the bloke himself caught alight and went indoors to fetch a fire extinguisher: Big mistake. Now the interior of the boat is alight. He required rescuing by some heroic onlooker and was taken to hospital with 50 percent burns. It made front page of The Harlow Star and the towpath telegraph (aka known as ‘boaters gossip’) says that the poor fellow was not insured.

“The 39ft (12m) boat was well alight by the time fire crews arrived at the scene and efforts to extinguish the flames were hindered by an on-board gas canister.” Harlow Star

We left our mooring in Harlow park and The Doctor turned the boat below the next lock. Then we headed back to Moorhen marina and tied up to fill the water tank and dump our rubbish at the rubbish point. We were then moored right next to the tragic charred boat and were able to walk up and have a good look at it, with our curious children. The willow leaves hanging above are crispy and burnt. The pub beer garden is closed with a sign that reads, ‘Danger, Keep Out’. The staff fear that parts of the willow tree may fall into the garden. The Moorhen is located right next to Burnt Mill lock.
“Maybe Burnt Mill lock will have to get a new name now,” said The Doctor.

We cruised on and Big Sister said that she was sad to leave Harlow. She likes the adventure playground and Pets Corner, the petting farm. She is not so keen on Roydon. The best things to do for a two year old around Hunsdon Mead are just blackberry picking and eating ice creams from the Lady of the Lock. For most of the journey she stays indoors to watch her favourite Beatles film.

We cruised back in time past Parndon Mill towards Hunsdon Mead. We passed the ghost of Grassington-Two-Weeks-Ago, going the other way just like the Yellow Submarine.
“Look, there’s someone in there!”
“They’re waving.”
“It’s a group of fellas.”
“It’s us.”
“Then I would suggest, that yonder yellow submarine, is none other than ourselves going back in time.”

Turning back towards London it’s time to reflect on the travelling experience. Be careful what you wish for boat-wife: Being a travelling, boating, writing, parent can be lonely.

Back in Roydon I returned to Busy Bees and now that the summer holidays are over it is held once more in the church hall. It was great to walk into a playgroup and be recognised, waved at and greeted.
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