Belle has a special affection for Hemel Hempstead, having lived there as a child. For years I have heard about Gade Valley Junior School and her swimming exploits in the lock behind the cricket club, but have never actually seen the place.
Our passage through the town on the Grand Union provided an opportunity to correct this gap in my knowledge so our visit justified a stop and a walk into town. First the lock was examined in detail. To any other observer it is just a lock but this is actually "Belle's Lock" no matter what it says in Pearson.
In a fit of enthusiasm I agreed to visit the old town church she used to sing in, and get paid for every wedding of which there were sometimes four in a single afternoon. She appears to be one of the few people to make money out of organised religion. What I hadn't realised was that the church was nearly two miles away and no sooner had we started out than the heavens opened. We squelched our way through the fast thinning throngs of shoppers before wading up the hill, water dribbling out of our sandals.
The last of the storm was passing as we arrived at St Marys and we looked round the outside of the Norman structure as the clouds parted. Belle tried the doors but all were locked and access to the interior was denied us till the warden arrived to open up for.... you guessed it... a wedding.
Belle was welcomed in and reflected on years gone bye with the warden, whilst I nosed around taking a series of photos.
A lovely old church and there is certainly more to Hemel Hempstead that the new shopping centre and the confusing magic roundabout which allows cars to go round both ways.
This marks the end of of the London 2010 cruise.
Whilst we would have loved to complete the Grand Union I was needed back at work and so Mr W drove down and recovered the boat, as he has done so many times in the past.
Regrettably, the weather broke and he had a particularly wet run home, but WB behaved herself and all the trip was incident free.