The Greasers. 28th July

Ordnance Road Bridge 38 to Pond Lane Footbridge 16

On our way

NB Driftwood came past as we were having our morning cuppa in bed, we wouldn’t be sharing locks with them today. We also wouldn’t be sharing with the boat that followed them as we had breakfast, keeping up with the green boat would have been quite a feet!

Going for a ride

We pushed off around 9am to retrace our route back to Hackney Marshes, hoping to find a space before turning onto the Hertford Union. A pigeon was determined to sit on top of the bottom lock gates as I closed them, filled the lock, opened and closed them again.

The high banks of the reservoirs followed us to the east and the power lines hung above us most of the way. The smell of malt filled the air, due to passing a brewery where a wagon was off loading.

At Ponders End Lock I had a quick check to see if the powered lock might just work, but as the button to be able to open the top gates was missing I guessed we’d still be using the manual one.

Below we paused to top up with water. Taking in a bit of the graffiti under the bridge I noticed an outlined figure which reminded me of a friends ceramic figures. Below one layer of paint there was a sprayed message, The Hackney Empire Strikes Back.

Alfies Lock

At Alfies lock we waited for a boat to come up, the crew only sort of knew what they were doing. As the levels equalised bags of rubbish were brought out for disposal. Two C&RT chaps were busying themselves round the lock, they’d obviously lent the chaps on the boat a windlass as this was handed back to them. Apparently they didn’t have a Key of Power either! They can’t move very often!

The chaps in blue were busy greasing all the paddle gear. One chap had a gun to squeeze the lubricant in around the collars on the gates, the other a knife like a putty knife. With this he was troweling on the grease to the teeth of the gear. I asked how often they did this. Between three to six months. Here we were at the last manual lock on the Lee and it was being greased, If we’d left it another day or two the locks above would all have been easier!

Festival stage going up

An outdoor stage was being erected by The Drumsheds, an outdoor festival will host gigs in the coming months. So if you want a quiet evening moored up on the Lee, this isn’t the place to moor at weekends.

Stonebridge Locks and Tottenham are awkward to drop crew off at, so we pulled onto the service mooring above and I walked between the locks. Chance to see things from the towpath for a change.

Below Tottenham Lock we were ready to have to clear the prop at regular intervals, but the weed boats must have been through as we only had to go into reverse a few times. Fairly recent graffiti has been added to bridges in the area, someone’s not too pleased with the way the pandemic has been governed!

Gradually the duckweed increased covering the navigation. Our eyes began hunting for a spot to pull in for the day. Dark clouds had been threatening us for a while with the occasional shower, but the rain was soon going to come down in earnest.

Cycle superhighway just behind the friendly cover

A bit sooner than we expected a chap was just coiling up his ropes about to push off. The space would just be the right size for us, so we pulled back and waited for him to vacate it, then pulled in. Our timing had been good in that respect it was also good in that just after we’d put the pram cover up the heavens opened. Tilly was slightly dismayed at this. They only move the outside when it’s dry, then tie it up when it’s really really wet!

5 locks, 8.94 miles, 1 speeding boat, -1 button, 1 full water tank, 1 green carpet, 4 hours of wet outsides, 2 lucky dry boaters, 8 leftover meatballs.

PS. Does anyone know why the Lee is sometimes spelt Lee and other times Lea? Both the navigation and river seem to have different spellings.

PPS. Thank you Clare from NB Billy. The ladybird I showed yesterday has a got a problem, sexually transmitted parasites! Eww!!