Friday, 2 November 2012

Jenny From the Lock

Cowroast Lock, near Berkhamstead
A couple of weeks ago my friend texted me and said that she was headed for Bulbourne – in her boat! What this means is that after about 12 years of friendship we would finally get to moor up together.
Where r u moored? (I text).
Loose pin alley – she replies (meaning south of the bridge). It’s quieter down there. ..
I laugh at the thought that my chilled-out friend considers ‘central Bulbourne’ too busy. With a population of 126 and the occasional dog walker I suppose my side of the bridge is busier than hers.
I first met Jenny not long after I bought my first boat and we’ve been friends ever since. My earliest memories are of her soft laughter, lots of wiggly red hair and chunky silver rings. But while I worked, lived and cruised in London she gave up her London job and edged out to the countryside; first the Cowley and Uxbridge area and then up the Grand Union into the real countryside to Boxmoor, Berkhamsted, Tring, Marsworth and Cheddington. Oh how I envied the quiet and natural surroundings when I visited her. I admired her independence, and marvelled that she thought nothing of doing a lock (or five) on her own. (This was years before I would grow into this boat-wife that now does locks with two kids tied to the roof.) Jenny was gentle and hippy, witty and funny, and her boats (there’ve been a few) are always full of candlelight and cats, the smell of wood-smoke and the sound of relaxing music. To be with her is like living in my favourite part of my brain. To share a bottle of wine in a country pub is to laugh relentlessly, listen intently and glow internally. I always come away feeling like a much bigger and better version of myself; and to me she says,
“You’re good food for the soul chuck.” Jenny is from Hebdon Bridge, the hippy capital of Yorkshire, a quaint waterways town.
It was years ago, one of the first times that I told her I admired her, that J-Lo must have been in the charts because my friend’s reply was to grin and sing,
“Don’t be fooled by the boat that I got
I’m just Jenny from the Lock.”
Of course her name isn’t Jenny, because I use pseudonyms on this blog, but Jenny you know who you are and after a recent night of chats and cats, candlelight and wine I wanted to capture the wonder of our friendship into words somehow.
At the weekend we go our separate ways; me down the Marsworth flight and her back towards Berko. But for two lovely weeks we were neighbours. How lucky we are to move our homes and to find a kindred spirit on the waterways.

“Your friend is your needs answered.”
Kahlil Gibran

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