Leaving Limehouse Basin we turned right and out onto the Lee Navigation. Soon into the land of the Pearly Kings and Queens, through Bow Locks and nearishly past the Bow Bells. The ‘to be true Cockney’ rule that you have to be born within earshot of Bow Bells means it was technically impossible to be a Cockney throughout certain times in history: in 1666, St Mary-le-bow was destroyed by the great fire; in 1941 the bells were destroyed by blitz bombing and today causes a bit of a problem as the surrounding area is no longer residential although a few hospitals within ear shot of the bells do their bit to keep the Cockneys coming.
The Olympic Stadium remains barricaded off to casual passers-by although a strict in/out trip through the park is do-able by prior arrangement. Judging by the stacks of boats bobbing about nearby, the heavily guarded loop of water would fill up in no time if the barricades came down.
Hackney was busy with lively, colourful conversions – galleries, cafes, bars, theatres, studios all packed with Sunday morning crowds. Life drained away as we headed out towards Tottenham, where the water feels side-lined compared to what went before. The banks continue to be chock full of boats and it’s pretty safe to consider any space is probably there due to shallow water rather than being up for grabs in terms of mooring. We ploughed on…
Interesting stuff dwindled to the point of nothing other than long, straight stretches, flanked by pylons – swerving the islands of weeds grappling for the prop was something to get excited about. Never one to give up, Nick kept flicking the Nicholson pages, convinced there was better to come, and there was, just above Rammey Marsh Lock, before the M25. A pretty stretch with trees and grass and STICKS which meant kindling and an easy fire.