Buntingford – of course – has proper bunting for Her Majesty. Outside the almshouses it’s all real knitted (or is it crochet – I don’t know the difference). No plastic flags here.
Through more pretty villages, with more flint churches, thatched houses, and rambling roses. Go quickly and quietly through the village of Nasty. Don’t look down Gore Lane a mile or two further on.
Down the Lea Valley, past a family cricket match at the entrance to the park. “Is there a body in that case?” the batsman distracted himself by asking, and turned back to find himself bowled out.
There’s such a maze of cycle paths here that you couldn’t possibly follow a map. You just have to keep an eye on where the sun is, and go in the general direction. Fortunately it’s now quite sunny, after some heavy showers earlier.
The river is crammed with houseboats, sometimes two deep along the bank. How much of this is lifestyle choice, and how much disfunctional housing markets? It’s very pretty just now, but what about the winter?
Walthamstow. Pronounce it with more of an “f” than a “th”. I was a curate here thirty years ago, so I ought to visit some old haunts. I wheel the bike up the mile-long market, and stop for a little busking where it widens out a bit.
I remember enjoying the multicultural nature of Walthamstow (briefly, for instance, taking sitar lessons in the cultural centre). Now it seems even more wonderfully diverse. Jamaican red bean soup and dumpling for lunch.
The church of St. Peter-in-the-forest. It really is in the forest, and you have to walk under ancient trees, across ancient leaf litter, to get there. It’s had some renovation and alteration since I was its curate, but it’s still very recognisable.
As was the person who opened the door to me, though I had to be reminded of her name. She didn’t need any reminding though (apparently I look just the same). At least it was nice of her to say so.