On the first of August; last Thursday in fact, we eventually left Hertford. We’d enjoyed a most pleasant stay there but really, it was time to move on. However we weren’t anxious about the length of the visit as the plan had always been that we should take our time navigating up the River Lee, seeing all there was to be seen and then on the return south to London, skip quickly through, arriving in good time at the River Thames.
The departing from Hertford
However with this in mind and having started optimistically on the return journey, after only two miles along the river, as we passed through Ware lock, we realised that this little town hadn’t been one of our stops on the way north. So really we needed to give it the same chance as all the other places had had to entertain us for a couple of days. Also there was a jazz concert in the Priory gardens on Sunday, so maybe we should stretch our stay till then as it could be good.
The Gazebos of Ware
So we tied up that same afternoon at the moorings just to the south of Town Bridge and we’ve been pleasantly resting here ever since. The town, like all the others that we have seen in Hertfordshire is very ancient, which is reflected in many of the old buildings, dating from Tudor times. They have the ‘blue plaque’ system here for informing visitors of historical events and I’m amazed that there could have been so many pubs, mainly of the coaching variety, in one small town. But as its main industry here through the ages has been the production of malt, I am not too surprised I suppose. There is also a delightful amount of little tea shops as well as a Tesco for our provisions so we could find ourselves alright here for a while.... Oh dear here we go again.
John Scott’s Grotto outside
In the seventeen hundreds there lived locally an influential man called John Scott, who was not only a maltster, but a well known poet. In the grounds of his mansion on the side of the valley he built a folly in the form of a grotto for himself and his literary friends; where they could meet and achieve poetic inspiration. Built in the side of the hill, it is artistically decorated both inside and out with flint stone and sea shells. The mansion was eventually demolished and a modern housing estate now occupies its grounds and the grotto itself was about to be bulldozed when volunteers stepped in to preserve and keep it. We went to see it on Saturday last.
On Sunday afternoon we took our deck chairs and our box of red wine to the Priory Gardens and in the same place we had been the week before to experience the best of Ware rock music, we were well entertained for a couple of hours by a traditional jazz band. Though the members of Bill Freeman’s Happy Jazz Band were all into their mature years they still played vigorously and with youthful and very enjoyable expertise.
Jazz at the Priory
Then yesterday after a large chocolate milkshake with ice cream (I haven’t had one for years and it was wonderful) Janis and I went to a lunchtime cello recital at the parish church of St Mary where a young virtuosa played two cello suites by J S Bach and Benjamin Britten with such deep feeling and expertise. Afterwards we met Sharon and we three went for a walk in the countryside, heavy and thick with swaying wheat and barley fields, ready for harvest to the north east of the town.
Wheatfield ready for harvest
Two hours later, as we arrived back at the ships it came on to rain, which continued heavily for the rest of the night.
We had been very lucky enough to miss it.