Limehouse to Paddington
Friday 4th April
Richard came up to the boat in the afternoon to move her from the wall onto the 24-hour visitor pontoon near the lock – he also got on with the usual start-of-trip chores, like getting a pump-out, filling the water bottles and giving the boat a polish – well, one side anyway. He was using a new to us Carnauba wax polish from Craftmaster – he was impressed by the shine and so was I. Indigo Dream’s paintwork has never been more than a molecule thick, but although she’s looking a bit tired after almost 8 years’ exposure to the elements, she came up a deep lustrous blue – lovely! Of course, we may consider a repaint soon – what we’re saving in mooring fees should just about cover it!
I turned up at 8pm with the dogs and some groceries – not that we needed much, we were due to have a large crew on board for the first day of the odyssey and they were bringing their own supplies! We were settling in for the night when we had a lovely visitor – marina manager Robyn and her smart dog Mr Biggles. She’s called in to say goodbye – she stayed for a glass of wine and we all expressed our regret that Indigo Dream was on the move. Robin’s been a good manager and a kind neighbour while we’ve been at the marina and it made me realise just how much I’d miss the community here.
I should mention that this weekend’s Indigo Dreamers were Ollie, Archie and Henry – Ty was having an extended holiday with Sarah as boating through London with a large crew would have been very stressful for him. The houndie crew cordially welcomed Mr Biggles on board – this was a great improvement – Mr B would never venture into the cabin when Lou was around! Typically, Robyn said that she would really miss the greyhounds – she’s really admired what we’ve done for greyhound rescue. We were amazed – we’ve done little enough, though the dog blogs have certainly brought the breed to life for many readers :-)
We were a bit worried this evening – we think that Ollie, who has recently reached the grand age of 11, is starting to lose his night vision and is very tentative about stepping on/off the boat at dusk/dark; boating is also a bit of a challenge for his achy muscles (legacy from having been starved/neglected all those years ago). We’ll see how he goes, but if Ty and Ollie decide to eschew a boating life then I’m assured that Sarah’s Beanz clan will always be ready to step on board :-)
Saturday 5th April
Indigo Dream had a grand send-off this morning. First we were joined on the pontoon by nb Cole (formerly a floating cinema and now a fine trip boat) and her excellent skipper Hazel and crewman – oh, I didn’t write his name down when we were introduced and as he was so quietly competent in the background all day I never thought to ask his name again. We also welcomed a team of Polish builders on board – 20 in all – we met their boss in dog-training class many years ago, and his team have been busy renovating Richard’s office over the last couple of months. This is why we needed two boats for today’s trip. The builders were loud and excited; this state continued throughout the day as their vocal cords were lubricated by the ample supplies of beer and wine they brought with them :-) We also welcomed Karolina, one of Richard’s Engineers who came to be our translator, helper and general enforcer- she’s done a lot of boating with us and is a great crew lady.
Archie and Henry tarted up to the builders during the shore-based safety briefing and had an outrageous amount of fuss. In fact, they had the perfect day – for Archie, it’s was if the crowds in London had come to the canal for the sole purpose of admiring him – he accepted their adulation with aplomb; for Henry, a boatful of poorly supervised food was paradise :-)
Before we left we had another surprise visitor, the genial irishman who we’ll always know as Mr Pentargon (after his boat) – this was another fond farewell as he’s taking Pentargon out of the water for a few months so we won’t be seeing him on the cut over the Summer.
It was a busy day but the weather was lovely and Indigo Dream can find her own out of London. But although the canal has a timeless quality, the towpath and surroundings are restless, forming and reforming as buildings are demolished, rebuilt, demolished, developed; canalside cafes seemed to pop out of every hold in the wall, and the innumerable walkers and cyclists ensured that they’d stay in business – for today, at least….
Cruising with nb Cole was a great experience – Hazel being a considerate and competent locking partner, as you might expect. I drove the boat, Richard supervised the locking parties, Archie and Henry tarted up the towpath, Ollie snoozed and the Polish builders drank beer and sang songs (public singing being something that we reserved Brits don’t do enough of!). We found a mooring for lunch and I got Indigo Dream organised as a walk-through buffet (using the food that our guests had brought with them) – this is where the open-plan design comes into its own.
Locks and stops were always fun as we had to redistribute the crew at each one to make sure that Hazel only had 12 guests and we had 8 – this meant a really convivial mixing of the group as people swapped between boats.
We met yet more friends at St Pancras lock; then we passed by our old friend Leonie on nb Donella – everyone had a kind word for us – news of our leaving Limehouse has really spread – though it was such a last minute decision it still felt like news to us!
The next surprise was arriving in Paddington – it wasn’t just the canal that is timeless, it felt as if the whole clock had stopped – it was hard to believe that we’d arrived at our destination. It was late afternoon and a golden time to arrive. As we cruised down the basin, a boat popped out of a mooring right by the new entrance to the station. It was too good an opportunity to miss! We moored up and nb Cole carried on down the basin where they found a pontoon mooring. Our guests bid us an affectionate farewell – they’d had a most enjoyable day.
Richard packed the boat up while I made my way back to Limehouse to collect my car – I’m always amazed that it’s only 7 miles from Limehouse to Paddington by road.
We were soon on our way home – we were staying at home on Sunday because we were doing another infamous hound-swap – Ty would be coming home while Archie and Henry would go to their home. We have an unprecedented situation for the next 10 days – Sarah’s hounds would be at her house and our hounds would be at ours – we’ve been swapping hounds since January and it seemed very strange! It’s not for long though, we’ll soon have the Beanz clan (Henry, Archie and Herbie) back for a month…