Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for June 4th, 2008

The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 1

Posted by indigodream on 4 June, 2008

tired doggies!Grand Union Canal: Engineers Wharf, Northolt – Cowley Peachey Junction

Hurrah – we’re on holiday at last! Let me tell you about Day 1 – please forgive me for including boring things like location of water points etc – this blog is replacing our logbook in which I normally record all our practical cruising tips!

Following the month’s rainfall that fell in the west yesterday we’ve totally replanned our holiday as the Thames is basically unpassable until all that extra water flows through. Not a big issue as our mooring is a perfect spot for us to just join the Grand Union mainline and head north on the sedate canals rather than the raging river!

We had an extremely relaxed morning without our usual regimented rush to get packed up and out of the door. This may have been our downfall as I’ll explain later! We didn’t arrive at the boat until about 11.30am – the poor dogs were so excited to be out in the car and then so disappointed when we arrived at the boat! Blue whined non-stop for the usual hour after getting on board but it could have been worse – he’s kept it up for half a day before now! Lou just wanted her bed as usual! The basin at Engineers Wharf is looking very picturesque now as almost all the moorings are full and the residential moorers have the usual array of pots and troughs full of flowers. I’ve put a ban on flowers on the Indigo Dream – mainly because my major talent is growing stinging nettles (regardless of what I actually planted!) and I’m allergic to almost everything that produces pollen!

So, with big cheesy grins on our faces we left our picture-perfect mooring and set off in the warm sunshine for our first adventure. The Grand Union was looking serene, with lush overgrown hedgerows which deceive you into thinking you’re in a rural idyll rather than round the back of some hefty industrial parks in West London! Unfortunately you don’t get to see much animal life on the canal (apart from the odd drunk, joggers, dog walkers etc) as the grumph of the big diesel engine tends to frighten everything off – even so there were birds aplenty and the green scenery made up for it all. Though we were most fascinated by a large chemical plant which turned out to be a factory for producing bitumen, followed closely by a cement batching plant! The main reminder of our industrial surroundings was the amazing smell of roasting coffee from a large factory (presumably a coffee processing plant!) which was enticingly aromatic for the first two hours of our cruise.

First stop was Tesco in Bulls Bridge – great 24-hour moorings right by the store – you can bring your trolley to within a couple of feet of the boat – fantastic. So we stocked up for the hols – I went shopping with Richard so there is more in cupboards than just chocolate and beer! There’s also a water point here and good facilites for recycling. Just up the mainline were two BW rubbish barges which are good for getting rid of other domestic waste. On a more interesting front, the Grand Union used to be a major commercial waterway which linked London with the Midlands. Tesco have preserved a bit of this heritage by restoring an old dry dock – it was a great bit of engineering – the ribs which would have supported the boat when the dock was drained were magnificently built of a blue engineering brick with fantastic brick arches all along to allow the water to drain (yes it is Sue writing this – Richard was even more enthusiastic!). What an elegant bit of canal history!

It was shortly before this that I discovered the flaw in our relaxed departure – I’d left a bag of stuff at home -I’d assumed that Richard had packed it then didn’t do my usual fingertip search of the house to check if I’d left anything behind. It was a crucial bag (of course!) – the one with Blue’s antibiotics – essential because he’s got staples in his side (from Sunday) and there’s a high chance that they’ll come into contact with canal water which would be a great source of infection. The reason I’m writing this blog tonight is because poor Richard has had to go back home to get said bag – big drama as he was intending to cycle back to the car (about 6 miles) but he got a slow puncture and had to abandon his bike with some friendly boaters at the ‘halfway’ point while he got a taxi back to the car. What a saga!

However, I’m ahead of myself – after Bulls Bridge we went a bit further along the mainline until we got to the PERFECT doggie mooring near the entrance to the Slough Arm of the Grand Union. This mooring was recommended to us by some great boaters we met in Bulls Bridge – owners of narrowboat ‘Wet Dream’ – so called because it’s their dream and it’s on the water – what other interpretation could there be?! 🙂

The Slough Arm of the Grand union is amazingly rural – this bit runs through the Colne Valley and it’s been preserved as a wildlife haven (don’t know how – the land would be worth a mint if it were developed!). Blue is ecstatic – we moored up just before 7pm and he didn’t get back on board until 9pm – and that under protest! He’s been rummaging round the woods, chasing rabbits and allsorts. It really is lovely here. On one of our longer walks we even saw a Muntjack Deer bounding into the undergrowth – luckily Blue didn’t see the deer or we’d have been here for a fortnight! We walked to Little Britain Lake – so called because it’s shaped like the map of Britain. It was getting late so I didn’t read the information board properly – I’ll take Richard there in the morning and fill you in on the details tomorrow. There are a lot of lakes in this part of the valley and I wonder if they’re the remnants of old quarries. The strangest thing about all of this was being able to walk freely with the dogs in this verdant parkland while, in the background, the M25 roared loudly and incessantly – unseen but definitely not unheard!

The photo is of our knackered dogs sleeping on the sofa – they don’t often share and since this photo was taken Lou has ousted Blue to his duvet in the front of the boat and she is stretched out along the whole length of the sofa!

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