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Archive for October, 2008

Good times and bad

Posted by indigodream on 31 October, 2008

I hope that Sue’s posts come over as cheerful. We love being on the water, yes sometimes things go wrong, sometimes the infrastructure is not up to scratch but being on the water is just great. The glass is always half full, well actually it gets emptied pretty fast but I am sure you know what I mean (and Sue counts the units completely incorrectly – I am sure it is a minimum dose).

SInce Sue started writing a blog we have gradually found other blogs and thoroughly enjoyed their adventures. Regulars for us include the cheerful and clever ones such as caxton, dogs on tour, sanity and sometimes even the big daddy grannybuttons though his glass is sometimes half empty.

This post is going to be a sad one.

As you read about more people’s adventures you also read about their dogs. Sadly they do not live as long as we do and when you read the accounts they can be a bit gut-wrenching. So earlier this month Will Chapman of Save our Waterways fame wrote on the uk.rec.waterways usenet group a post entitled “Goodbye Timber, dear friend”. Even some of the nuttier brigade on usenet were moved to sympathise.

nb Daniel Oakley’s blog is currently describing how one dog has cancer and the other kidney failure. We have had both with past dogs but never both at the same time, that is more than anyone should cope with. Indie towards the end was on some cat medicine to reduce blood pressure in her kidneys, kidney diet and then I had to stick her with a huge needle and pop a load of fluid under her skin on a regular basis to keep a decent quality of life going. Honey had a triple mastectomy but they never managed to achieve sufficient margin so the cancer came back after 6 months. The bad times are still vivid in my memory but I have to say that I have so many wonderfully good memories of all our dogs. Even from the bad times there are good memories. Very very shortly before we had to make that trip to the vet, Honey had the most fantastic chase after a rabbit barking away with sheer joy. I have a video on an old phone of Indie doing this fantastic joyful run across a park despite the arthritis, kidney failure etc.

Daniel Oakley’s blog is fantastically well written but oh so so sad. I recommend having a look at their dogs’ good times here. Unfortunately we’ve not been able to leave a comment on their blog but if the crew of the Daniel Oakley happen to read this then you have our absolute sympathy and understanding. As we’ve all rationalised at some time, “They’re only dogs”, who are we kidding πŸ™‚

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Dog Blog

Posted by indigodream on 28 October, 2008

Sue is away on the boat somewhere on the Paddington Arm, well she says she is working in Wembley ….

So dogs come into the office with me. The greyhounds are fantastic in the office – they needed to get used to the environment but basically greyhounds are just so well behaved and normally quiet. The exception was today when I was halfway through an awkward phone conversation and Lou decided to ask Blue did he really want that chew stick which was sitting uneaten on his bed.Β  Or last week when they had a bit of a windy dayΒ  πŸ™‚

However the poor dogs wish to have it know that they are having such a tough time in the office:

Any more fish & chips?

Any more fish & chips?

Whoops to much fish & chips

Whoops too much fish & chips

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Boat Blog: Slough Arm

Posted by indigodream on 27 October, 2008

Saturday 25th October

Looking back towards Cowley Peachey Junction

Looking back towards Cowley Peachey Junction

It’s been a bit dismal since finishing our summer odyssey – I’m not at all sure that we’re suited to mouldering in a marina after the joyful freedom of months of continuous cruising.

We’re not off to a good start at the marina, though we are getting to chat to more people there and relations with our fellow boaters are starting to thaw. Later in the day our neighbours were very helpful indeed when our prop was fouled and left us at the mercy of a brisk wind – I’ll tell you that story shortly!

We’ve had some trouble with the shore power connection. 16 seconds after plugging into the shore power, the circuit breaker on our post cuts out! If we plug into a different post it all works fine. We asked the marina to check their post and we got an electrician to check our electrics. The marina plugged a kettle in and that at first tripped the circuit breaker but then seemed to be ok.

Looking down the Slough Arm

Looking down the Slough Arm

Now, here’s where it get technical, as both appear to be fine but according to the electrician the cause of the problem seems to be with the power supply post. Our circuit breaker appears to have been changed from the standard GE type used elsewhere and the new type of breaker is not happy when our charger suddenly demands 10 amps. So now we’re in a bit of a stand-off – the marina’s not too bothered, no-one else is complaining so they’ve just put it down as a routine maintenance thing which they’ll see to at some unspecified future date. In the meantime, we’ve not got the proper shore power which is a large part of what attracted us to a marina in the first place (to protect our brand new batteries). We do have the option of setting our inverter to draw only 6 amps or sharing a post with another boater who’s not using his supply. The marina have been quite sharp with us about not running down the other boater’s credits and only using the post when absolutely necessary. This didn’t go down too well, we do try to live honourably and theft isn’t our normal m.o.! We have de-tuned our inverter, that seems to be working but have told our neighbour to simply disconnect us (and give us a ring) if we trip the post out – she is on board more than us so needs power more than we do. We don’t think that 6 amps is enough for the coffee machine.

Lou making a dash for home...

Lou making a dash for home...

Anyway, we’ve only paid up until February then we can review our mooring arrangements. We were thinking of staying at the marina for an extra month – we’ve got until early January to decide. I’m sure I’ll be pleased to be in a marina when the cold weather really sets in and I’ll want to spend weekends at home with a novel and large cups of tea!

Anyway, I’ve been booked to run a few training courses in Slough and in Brent – both conveniently placed near the canal. As I hate (car!) driving and both locations are nightmares to get to by public transport, I had the grand plan of moving the boat nearby and using it as my base. Hence our first ever exploration of the Slough Arm.

Now, both Nicholson and Pearson have very little good to say about the Slough Arm, but you know us,

Fly tipping

Fly tipping

ever the optimists! I had hoped that the suggestions that the basin at the end of the arm was a shallow midden were exaggerated and that it might have been developed since our guidebooks were written. I was looking forward to mooring peacefully there, strolling to the training venue just down the road, delivering the training to a keen and grateful group, then strolling back to the boat for a well-earned glass of wine. This will NOT be happening πŸ™‚

We set off in the late afternoon having sadly lost the early sunshine. We immediately got into trouble with very sluggish steering. We tried our standard prop-clearing measures (blast of full reverse, blast of full forward, blast of full reverse) – that helped a bit but we were still crawling along.

Traditional canal bridge - there aren't many on this stretch

Traditional canal bridge

Blue was complaining mightily about not having had an exciting walk yet, so Richard hopped off for a stroll down the towpath with them while I plodded on with the boat. With his own flair for adventure, Blue almost stopped my heart by shooting off up the embankment towards the M25; he was soon followed by Lou who was too scared to walk under the M25 bridge and thought she might be better off crossing over! For some reason Lou has a thing about being under bridges, especially railway bridges. Richard caught them both and I decided to get them back on board before I had a nervous breakdown! I knew there was something amiss though when I tried to bring the boat into the side. Despite Richard’s detailed advice on how to bring the boat into the side (he could benefit from some of Bruce’s wisdom πŸ™‚ )Β I failed miserably and he finally had to agree to catch the stern rope and pull me in. The culprit was a tough plastic coal bag round the prop – you can tell it’s winter!

Signs of another brick bridge - now long gone..

Signs of another brick bridge - now long gone..

With the prop cleared we carried on down the largely deserted canal. Even so we were struggling to move. There’s something about the shape of the canal here – we had 1400 revs on the counter but the boat was barely moving! The canal’s deep enough in the centre but seems very shallow at the sides. We did pass two boats going towards the mainline – they were friendly enough and there was enough room for us to pass without going aground!

I haven’t been able to put out finger on why, but this is a bleak and cheerless bit of water. Yet it’s quiet and wooded and, for the most part, amazingly rural considering where it is. I think that part of the problem is the garbage – the canal’s in quite a deep embankment – does anyone know why fly-tippers like to dump rubbish down embankments? There’s also a lot of garbage in the water. Maybe it was just the day – although it was dry, there was a fast cold wind, heavy grey clouds and a general air of autumnal gloom. I wonder how I’d feel about the canal if I came down here on a sunny day.

Online moorings at Iver

Online moorings at Iver

The first bit of excitement after the M25 was the boatyard at Iver. We came here several years ago (by car) to view a second-hand boat (lovely boat but not enough internal headroom for Richard) and did consider mooring here. The yard has over half a mile of online moorings – most are residential and the boats are brested up – double for the most part, but triple in places. When we visited we were impressed by the friendliness of the place but I’m so glad that we didn’t moor here. Given how slow the canal is, I think we’d have found it a bit of a slog to get back to the mainline every time we fancied a cruise. I think we’d have also got fed-up with carrying things down the long path from the car park to the moorings.

Bit narrow in places....

Bit narrow in places....

It’s pretty narrow here with moored boats, especially in the bits where three boats were brested up – it would have been impossible to pass another narrowboat here. We were surprised that it was allowed but, quite frankly, I don’t there’s enough boat traffic here for anyone to care!

Past the marina the canal takes on an even more neglected air. We got the impression that no-one travels any further than the winding hole just below the marina. Having said that, foot traffic increased a bit and we noticed some good dog-walking on the offside between bridge 7 and 8. There’s plenty of water in the canal (but watch out for shallow edges) and it’s not overgrown. But you do get a nagging feeling that this is a dying waterway. Maybe its the absence of moored or moving boats other than at the boatyard.

Tidy housing and the natives are friendly

Tidy housing and the natives are friendly

A little further down we got into the suburbs of Slough. There were a few parks and tidy enough housing. There were lots of young people out and about and they were no bother. The older people on the towpath smiled and waved delightedly as we cruised past. Funnily enough, there wasn’t any more trash in the water here than further up so maybe the locals do care for their waterway.

The housing was only a temporary bit of interest – the rest of the outskirts lapsed into industry, most notably a gigantic chemical works which exuded a strange smell into the air. Not a nasty smell, just chemically pervasive – strike this from the list of potential mooring spots!

Call that a basin!!!

Call that a basin!!!

According to the map, we were near the end of our trip – we couldn’t quite believe it. Ahead of us was a widening which only the most wildly imaginative, with the benefit of mind-altering drugs, would have called a basin. It was the most miserably abrupt end to a canal that I’ve come across – surrounded by the back-ends of industrial units. Despite this, the water was NOT full of garbage and there was plenty of room and water for us to wind. We had a bright chat with some local lads who were very interested in the boat and were greeted very cheerfully by some local fishermen. We felt welcome down here. But I think I’d worry about mooring here overnight (especially by myself) but I’ve got no rational basis for that belief.

Plenty of room to wind though

Plenty of room to wind though

It was seriously gloomy by the time we headed back – our aim was just to get back to the marina as fast as possible. Obviously, this wasn’t very fast at all – we couldn’t make any headway and the more revs we put on the less we seemed to move. It was a bizarre phenomenon. There weren’t any moored boats to worry about apart from the stretch near the boatyard, where the canal’s entire boating population is huddled together for comfort. Because of the way the brested up boats were tied, it was only possible to pass them at the slowest crawl imaginable. Richard chased me off the boat for a bracing walk with the dogs – I hopped off at Bridge 8 – cross the canal to the offside and there’s a footpath through a field which was perfect rummaging territory for the dogs. It’s strange but this signed footpath ends at a locked gate.

Friendly natives at the basin

Friendly locals at the basin

Fortunately generations of walkers before me had forged a clandestine trail through the undergrowth so we did just manage to get onto the road and across the canal to rejoin the towpath. This scrambling through the bushes put us well behind the boat, but it’s such a crawl past the boatyard that we actually caught up by the time Richard pulled the boat in under Bridge 6.

It was nigh on pitch dark by the time we got the last stretch – I was desperate for our cruise to end. I’ve been full of cold all week and was feeling a bit feeble, not helped by the chill and gloomy surroundings. But it would be a while before I’d see my bed….

Vast chemical works on the outskirts of Slough

Vast chemical works on the outskirts of Slough

When we got back to the marina it was getting dark and there was a ferocious wind blowing across the pontoons. In fact, blowing in such a way as to make it almost impossible to reverse into our berth. Richard tried valiantly but in order to back into the berth we had to turn broadside to the wind and we just got swept away. We turned and tried again. We had our headlight on and the inhabitants of one boat looked up through their picture window as went past – I waved but they just kept staring at me in the most hostile manner. Richard turned the headlight off.

So here’s the scenario, it’s a bit dark, we’re manoeuvring without lights, the marina feels like hostile territory and the wind is making life impossible. At this point, we lost all steerage – as we found out later, the prop was totally immobilised by bits of ragged clothing, plastic bags and other detritus.

This incongruously bright roof cheered us up though...

This incongruously bright roof cheered us up though...

We were feeling pretty hopeless when we saw the other side of the boating folk here. One guy saw that we were helpless and being swept (literally) towards the end of the marina, and called out to his mate on a neighbouring vessel – “boat in trouble”. Unfortunately we were too far from their pontoons for them to catch our rope but we we appreciated their help and support. They even suggested that we take up an empty berth nearby but without steerage there was only one place we were going – straight into the side of the dutch barge moored at the end of the marina. Fortunately we were broadside on and we did manage to slow the boat down using the pole so that we only touched the barge (rather than a wholesale clang). The lady on board the barge was lovely – she just told us not to worry, apparently they often make new friends in this way as the crosswind regularly blows boats their way! She told us to moor alongside for the night, no problem with offloading across her bow, move in the

Surely it has the makings of a canal that boaters could enjoy...

Surely it has the makings of a canal that boaters could enjoy...

morning when the wind dies down etc. She had a wonderful attitude because by now we were cold, tired, frustrated and extremely embarrassed and needed all the reassurance we could get. In the meantime, Richard was down the weedhatch and after 5 minutes of unwinding and cutting off various unsavoury items finally cleared the prop.

Despite the barge’s kind offer, we decided to try for our berth one more time. We were relieved to make it (not very elegantly, but who cares). It was gone 7pm by now and I was at the end of my tether. We bundled the dogs into the car and headed for home and a soul-renewing take-away from our favourite chinese.

Would we do the Slough Arm again? Out of desire – probably not; out of principle – YES! As with near-derelict waterways, we believe that the trick is to use them more, so that means cruising down and back many times until others join us. Cruising along, you can almost see Slough Arm’s future written in the water – first the basin will fill up; then the next part of the arm will be abandoned for lack of a winding place; the canal will stay open as far as the Iver moorings but if the boatyard folds then I sense that’ll be the end of the arm. “No great loss”some will say, but as the many canal restoration societies around the country will tell you, once it’s lost it’s b****y difficult, if not impossible, to get them back again. The biggest encouragement to use this waterway would be if Slough itself actually made something of its basin – then at least there’d be something worth cruising to…. Mind you the pub at the end looked quite nice.

Search Terms:

Today someone has reached our blog by searching with the term ‘big bum’! No comment πŸ™‚

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Dog Blog: Calendar Girl (and boy)

Posted by indigodream on 22 October, 2008

BIG NEWS – Blue and Lou have hit the big time.

Calendar girl and boy

Calendar girl and boy

A photo of the pair of them peering charmingly over the side of the boat has been featured in the Greyhoundhomer calendar for 2009! They’re on the July page – a fine month for boating! They’ve already featured on a Greyhoundhomer bookmark so they’re not total strangers to fame, and, of course, there’s their fan club on the blog.

We’re so thrilled (I know, it’s sad)! Everyone we know will be having a calendar in their Christmas stockings!

Blue and Lou are taking it all in their stride, but they don’t know that they’ll be spending the whole of December autographing calendars!

Greyhoundhomer is the Ockenden branch of the Retired Greyhound Trust. This is where we got Lou and where we also sponsor three dogs.

Pat and Mary, who run the shelter, were great. They’re so dedicated to greyhounds and were patience itself as we dithered over the momentous decision of which charming young lady to bring home. Blue was no help at all – he’s so laid back that he just shrugged his shoulders at each new introduction and said “s’pose she’s ok” – he had roughly the attitude of a 10-year old boy to girls πŸ™‚

We chose Lou for the little glimpses of character she showed when we met her. Once she got to her forever home that character really blossomed – she’s probably the most expressive dog we’ve ever had (and the vet and her nurse agree with me so it’s not just my doting ‘parent’ view!).

Anyway if you want to join their adoring fans, and support a great greyhound rescue kennel then you can order a calendar from this link. It’s a bargain at Β£6 plus Β£1 postage. Blue and Lou usually charge far more for signed prints…..

Order Now.....

Order Now.....

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Getting ready for a party (in a bit less than 4 years time) (2)

Posted by indigodream on 22 October, 2008

Back in September we had a post on what is happening in East London.

Well things are moving on very nicely. A mooring just there in 3 and a bit years time would be nice!

This is much the same view as this one just a little over 1 month later. You can see the stadium starting to take shape though most of it is hidden behind the earthworks, cables have started to come down and is that a beach they are forming?

October 2008 - Serious work!

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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Index

Posted by indigodream on 21 October, 2008

It occurred to me that the advantage of a paper based log was that it was easy to flick through the pages to find the one you wanted. It’s not quite so easy with the blog so this page is just an index to where we’ve been and a link to the appropriate page. Read no further unless you’re a complete anorak (or want to find out information about a particular location, of course)!

Odyssey Day…

Canal Location

1

Grand Union Northolt to Cowley Peachey Junction

2

Grand Union Cowley Peachey to Batchworth

3

Grand Union Batchworth to Kings Langley

4

Grand Union Kings Langley to Berkhamstead

5

Grand Union

Berkhamstead to Tring Reservoir

5

Grand Union Wendover Arm Above Tring reservoir

5

Grand Union Wendover Arm

6,7

Grand Union Aylesbury Arm Tring Reservoir to Aylesbury and back

8

Grand Union Marsworth Junction to Soulbury Three Locks

9

Grand Union Soulbury Three Locks to Stoke Bruerne

10

Grand Union Mainline Stoke Bruerne to Bridge 8 Grand Union Mainline

11

Grand Union Mainline Bridge 8 to Stockton Top Lock

12

Grand Union Mainline Stockton Top Lock to Warwick

13

Grand Union Mainline

Warwick to junction with Stratford on Avon Canal

13

Stratford on Avon Canal Junction with the Grand Union to Lapworth Top Lock

14,15

Stratford on Avon Canal

Lapworth Top Lock to Bridge 27

16

Stratford on Avon Canal

Bridge 27 to junction with Birmingham & Worcester Canal

16, 17, 18

Worcester and Birmingham Canal Junction with Stratford on Avon Canal to Cambrian Wharf

19, 20, 23

BCN and Dudley No 1 Canal Cambrian wharf to Merryhill (and back!)

19, 20, 21, 22, 23

BCN – old and new mainlines, Wednesbury Old Canal, Tame Valley Canal, Saltley Cut, Digbeth Branch Around Birmingham

24

Dudley No 1 Canal

Stourbridge Canal

Merryhill to Stewponey Locks (Stourton)

25

Staffordshire and Worcester Canal Stewponey Locks to Caunsall Bridge

26

Staffordshire and Worcester Canal Caunsall Bridge to Stourport on Severn

27

River Severn Stourport on Severn to Worcester

28

River Severn Worcester to Tewkesbury

29

River Severn Tewkesbury to Gloucester Dock

30, 31,32

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal Gloucester Docks

33, Stranded in Sharpness

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal Gloucester Docks to Sharpness

34, Escape from Sharpness

River Severn (Tidal)

River Avon (Tidal)

Sharpness to Bristol

36

River Avon Bristol Floating Harbour

37

River Avon (Tidal)

Kennet and Avon Canal

Bristol to Bathampton

38

Kennet and Avon Bathampton to Seend

39

Kennet and Avon Seend to Horton Bridge

40

Kennet and Avon Horton Bridge to Great Bedwyn

41

Kennet and Avon Great Bedwyn to Kintbury

42

Kennet and Avon Kintbury to Woolhampton

43

Kennet and Avon Woolhampton to Reading

44

River Thames Reading to Marlow

45

River Thames Marlow to Boveney Lock

46

River Thames Boveney Lock to Shepperton Weir

47

River Thames Shepperton Weir to Teddington Lock

48, 49

River Thames Teddington Lock to Brentford

50

Grand Union Canal Brentford to Cowley Peachey

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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 50

Posted by indigodream on 18 October, 2008

Brentford to Cowley Peachey

Indigo Dream on a dreamy day

Indigo Dream on a dreamy day

We actually managed to get up before 9am today and enjoyed the sight of a fine morning with bright sunshine and a crisp blue sky completely devoid of the big planes that roared over yesterday.

Blue was in good spirits this morning, yesterday’s discomfort seemed to have been forgotten. That’s a good sign – no lasting harm done then. Of course, he may have been feeling cheerful because the morning started with a ride in the car. The dogs like the car. Even though many trips seem to end at the vet, they always seem to take the optimistic view that I might be taking them for an exciting walk or back home to their duvets.

This time we were doing the car shuffle to the Packet Boat Marina in Cowley Peachey – our new winter

Kool Karolina....

Kool Karolina....

home. We had a great drive there – no traffic and easy to navigate. Richard got there first and went to the office to sort out which was our berth and collect the relevant gate keys. In the meantime I took Blue and Lou for a high-energy rummage in the heathland nearby. You can’t beat this marina for dog-walking! It was only a quickie though as we had to get back to the boat to meet today’s guests – two lady engineers from Richard’s office and their partners.

We had a nightmare journey back – it was totally gridlocked – where on earth had all this traffic come from? We had to do a cunning backtrack to get to Brentford or I’m afraid we’d still be stuck on the sliproad to the M4!

Captain Voytek!

Captain Wojtek!

Our guests, Karolina, Duncan, Agnieszka and Voytek were already at the boat when we finally got back. No big deal – it was such a sunny day and there are worse places to spend a morning than the basin at Brentford. Agnieszka had thoughtfully bought a round of Costa coffees with her so we were off to a brilliant start. She also brought 10 doughnuts, adding to the 12 we already had on board. We knew then that we’d have to throw some ballast overboard just to cope with our increasing weight as we cruised along πŸ™‚

The first bit of interest was the looming edifice of GlaxoSmithKline. I always have to fall on my knees and worship as I go past here. We once ‘borrowed’ one of their magnificent training rooms to deliver a course for NHS nurses. We almost lost

Duncan - our lockkeeper

Duncan - our resident lockkeeper

our participants in a stampede for the HR department – we all wanted to work here. GSK provide the most amazing facilites ever – the ground floor of the building has a mini-city for the staff with a small supermarket, several coffee bars, a couple of staff restaurants, a hairdressers and a beauty parlour, all set in a lavish atrium with soothing fountains and modern art installations. I knew I’d struck gold when the chef in the staff restaurant asked me how I’d like my salmon pan fried! GSK also have very good moorings – I don’t know under what conditions a boat would get to use them – maybe I should apply for a job and find out.

There’s plenty of interest for man and dog on this stretch of the Grand Union. The Hanwell flight is amazingly rural and apart from the first and last lock seem to be totally isolated from the road. The dogs love it here – plenty of rummaging and we predictably ‘lost’ Blue in exactly the same places as we did last year! The dogs were very relaxed with our guests – they’re spending every Friday in Richard’s office and move from desk to desk looking for food and fuss (in that order). Being as there were so many people on board, and as Blue had been in wars, we allowed them to have a ‘sofa service’ meal (see the dogblog below!) – what a great life!

Interested parties....

Interested parties....

We saw very few boats after we left Brentford so we largely had the canal to ourselves. But although we were locking up by ourselves, with our multitude of crew we shot up the flight. There were lots of interested walkers on this stretch – it was a beautiful day and people were out in force. It’s always a bit amazing here because the Hanwell flight is surrounded by some truly rough old areas of London as well as being flanked by a large prison. Yet on the water it feels as rural as any shire we’ve visited.

Sadly, though, the Grand Union here has one typical feature of an urban canal – garbage in the water. We came up the Grand Union on the first part of our odyssey, 50 wonderful cruising days ago. It wasn’t anywhere near as dirty then, it seems that the locals have spent the summer throwing stuff into the water. Despite passing an almost

Rear Admiral Richard

Rear Admiral Richard

overflowing BW rubbish barge, there was still plenty of trash in the water. I’m a bit amazed that we only had to clear our prop once!

One interesting feature hereabouts (which I don’t find offensive) is the presence of large numbers of coconuts in the water. We’ve heard that this is an asian custom – giving gifts to the holy ganges; all water being spiritually linked to the sacred river. What have you heard? We’d love to know.

Everyone on board took a turn at steering the boat into the locks – we started off by generously opening both gates (well, we had to do something with that many crew members) but we soon reverted to just one lock gate. I got to the helm for one of the lock gates and went through quite fast (without touching the sides I might add, and yes, it was just one lock gate open!). Speed rarely concerns Richard so I had to grin when he warned the next person at the helm NOT to try a lock entry as fast as me πŸ™‚

After all the activity at the locks, the rest of the afternoon passed quiet and balmy along the lock-free

Able crewman Agnieszka

Able crewman Agnieszka

stretch up to Cowley Peachey. It was a VERY relaxed cruise – we caught up with a narrowboat which had a very novel idea of how to save diesel. They put on some revs for a few seconds then went into neutral and coasted for 5 minutes, when they were almost stopped they put on a few revs then coasted again. I know narrowboating is a slow pursuit but this was ridiculous. We put Indigo Dream into neutral and STILL caught up with them. The only thing that kept us going was the fact that we’d be turning into the marina soon. Bad news, so were they! It took ages as they seemed determined not to use any revs to make the turn and just jerked the tiller back and forth while the boat coasted – it was painful. As we now share a home with them maybe we’ll find out the logic for their mode of propulsion and advocate it to all of you in blogland (NOT!).

Once we’d moored up at our new home, Richard took our guests back to their cars in Brentford while I took the dogs for a walk and packed the boat up. We’ve had mixed views of our now home – it doesn’t seem as friendly as some of the other marinas we’ve inhabited. We’d just

So that's what lock beams are for!

So that's what lock beams are for!

moored up when one of our near neighbours walked past, determinedly looking away, avoiding eye contact and lips tightly sealed. The boat behind us seemed a little more promising – he was a residential moorer who helpfully told me about all the local dog walks.

However, the staff are very helpful and as we’re not actually living here then maybe it doesn’t matter if the folk here don’t seem so welcoming. On the other hand, maybe we just haven’t given them enough time. I must remember that we’re back in the reserved South East now; we’ve come from the west where people tend to be more open. Just as well we weren’t tempted to go right across the channel to Wales, where it’s a person’s human right to know everyone else’s business, I’d never

The marina by moonlight

The marina by moonlight

have adapted πŸ™‚

The dogs enjoyed another fine walk in the heathland by the marina; now that we had keys we could even cross the canal to the far side where they could have a splosh in the river. They had a brilliant time but we made ourselves even more popular (!) when I got distracted by trying to take photos and failed to spot another walker until after Lou had chased his dog away. No harm done, they hadn’t gone far and its rural so they were in no danger but I couldn’t help but think “oh lordy, Indigo Dream has landed”. Lou built on her ‘bad girl’ image by barking ferociously at another boater’s dog (she was on the lead this time!). Blue topped off the evening by cleverly catching another fat rabbit. He proudly strutted down the towpath with his catch but he considerately buried it out of sight before anyone saw him!

Lou rummaging in the - oh damn, where's she gone......

Lou rummaging in the - oh damn, where's she gone..

Richard came back a short while after and we reluctantly packed our possessions feeling both sad and happy. Happy that we’d got here before the winter closures but desperately sad that our 2008 odyssey was over. It’s been a remarkable summer – we’ve had such a great time. According to the excellent canalplan we have done just under 500 miles and 439 locks and are so looking forward to the next odyssey – we’ll be plotting that one soon.

One of the greatest pleasures has been keeping this blog and getting to know new people, and, if I can presume, making new friends. It was great to meet Sanity in the flesh and I hope that we’ll catch up with the rest of you on future cruises.

The BIG question now is do we retire gracefully from the blog, like nb Martlett or do we carry on with such trivia as catches our eye and gentle cruising notes from our winter tours back and forth between between Slough and Camden.

Are you kidding??! We love the blog so it’s very likely that we’ll be adding bits and pieces as we go along though probably not quite as often. Of course, Blue and Lou have their own fan club so I expect they’ll be at the keyboard replying to their fan mail. We’ll also be adding an index for the odyssey – even we forget where we’ve been and when! Then Richard took some photos last week of the Bow Back Rivers which he wants to post once he gets them off Agnieszka’s camera.

Thanks to all of you for you support – it’s been great. Can’t wait to see you all on the cut. Don’t forget to let us know if you’re passing by Cowley Peachey on a weekend – we’ll get the coffee on!

Dogblog:

Lots of photos for the fan club!

Hound of the Baskervilles (1)

Hound of the Baskervilles (1)

Hound of the Baskervilles (1)

Hound of the Baskervilles (2)

Blue leads the way - don't jump in without your water wings...

Blue in the lead - don't jump in without your water wings!

Some greyhounds just like to go their own way...

Blue just likes to go his own way...

Your greyhound may enjoy agility training....

Lou's getting very agile on lock gates....

Don't separate them from their duvets...

It's drastic but sometimes you just have to take the duvet away.....

Always elevate their food bowls to a convenient position

We always elevate their food bowls to aid digestion!

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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 49

Posted by indigodream on 16 October, 2008

Teddington to Brentford

It was already warm and sunny by the time we emerged from our cocoon at the front of the boat on Saturday morning. Richard was showing more signs of life than me so he walked the dogs and did the engine checks while I was still in the shower. I caught up eventually and we set out for Teddington High Street for breakfast.

I’ve done quite a bit of training at the Primary Care Trust in Teddington and was familiar with the coffee bars on the high street. The one nearest to the M & S Food store does structural slabs of cake, so big you could build houses with them; but the other place does a wonderful Croque Monsieur – difficult decision! In the end we plumped for the second because the tables outside had more room for the dogs. We’d carried their little sheepskin rugs with us and they were soon stretched out asleep on the pavement (out of the way, honest) while we settled down to some fine coffees, rich croque monsieur and watching the world go by. I know that the people of Teddington will be horrified, but your cafe culture it just not as good as it is in Staines! Teddington High Street is narrow and noisy with traffic and the people seemed remote and uninterested; not unfriendly, just terribly aloof. Blue and Lou, our resident celebrities, were very surprised not to be noticed (to the point of almost being run over by yummy mummies pushing ergonomic buggies at a great pace along the pavement!).

Birthday girl.....

Birthday girl.....

Slightly disappointed, we moved back to the boat and started the great car shuffle. Later on we’d be hosting Richard’s sister’s birthday cruise and it would be really useful to have a car in Brentford so off we went. We had a very good trip via the leafy back roads of Richmond. The traffic wasn’t too bad but this was to change later when every green orifice filled up with people desperate to catch a bit of summer.

Note: we found useful parking in Commerce Way and in Ham Road in Brentford. Commerce Way looks very rough and derelict but it was actually fine.

We got back just before Richard’s family arrived – Danusia (the birthday girl), her adorable dog Polo, Alinka (Richard’s eldest sister) and Richard’s mum. Sadly Alinka’s husband, Rysiek, wasn’t well and couldn’t come – such a shame.

Billionaire's Row aka Richmond Hill

Billionaire's Row aka Richmond Hill!

Such a shame because it was perfect day on the water. We passed through Teddington Lock just before high tide and set off downriver. The sun was shining and it was warm, even on the Thames (where there is often a chilling breeze on the water). The riverbanks were lined with hundreds (literally) of people basking in the sunshine. One adventurous soul was lying on the bank in a bikini. I thought that was pushing it a bit – it wasn’t that warm!

This stretch of river surpasses all others in opulence. The Thames passes through lush royal parks and the manicured grounds of stately homes. Kew gardens was decked out in carnival array of colour from the autumn trees. I can only imagine the magnificence of the view down from the houses (reputedly of pop stars and the like) high on Richmond Hill – the view up is pretty spectacular! That’s the joy of boating – from the road you just see the back ends of these grand houses, usually surrounded by high walls and security cameras, but from the boat you get to see them in all their grandeur.

Famous land, sorry, river-mark!

Famous land, sorry, river-mark!

By complete contrast, there’s a unique heap of garbage moored on the river almost opposite all this finery. It is someone’s home and has apparently been there for years, as much of a landmark as the majestic mansions surrounding it.

We passed quickly and smoothly down the Thames – there wasn’t much traffic apart from two narrowboats which we overtook soon after leaving Teddington lock. There were a few large old-fashioned hired rowing boats around, looking very precarious in the hands of their uncoordinated crews. We’re still not sure whether they were on totally the wrong side of the river because they didn’t know the ‘rules of the road’ or because they were taking the path of least resistance against the retreating tide. We avoided them with ease but our tip would be to go wide on the bends as there’s no telling what might be in the water!

Coll hands at the helm....

Cool hands at the helm....

Surprisingly, Alinka volunteered to steer the river section. I was very proud of her as she did really well and I hadn’t realised she was interested in getting more involved. It was nice for me because I could concentrate on drinking coffee, eating birthday cake and generally leading the singing of happy birthday (in English and Polish) very loudly. I’m still waiting for the pop impressarios on Richmond Hill to give me a call – I’m sure the sound would have carried that far. As you can see from the photos, we’d make a great girl band!

We got to Thames Lock in Brentford at the precise time we were booked for. But I felt we’d arrived there far too soon – I was so sad to leave the river, and sadder still that we almost at the end of the day’s cruise.

The new girl band sensation!

The new girl band sensation!

The first stretch of the Grand Union just after the lock is strangely shabby after the splendour of the river, but just round the bend the canal is surrounded by a swanky modern housing development cradling the Brentford guaging locks and broad basin. There are ample permanent moorings here and we’ve contemplated moving here a few times. But the parking’s a bit awkward and it’s very barren for the dogs. There’s also a long stretch of 14-day visitor moorings but these can get pretty full, even though BW encourage you to brest up here. Today it wasn’t so bad and we got a space on the towpath which made it much easier to unload dogs and people.

Brentford was on the flight path to Heathrow today and the planes were unbelievably low and loud. We waved at the planes but none of the pilots waved back!

Aaaah - almost romantic!

Aaaah - almost romantic!

We went out for lunch at Prezzo’s on the other side of the basin. Unfortunately the service as a bit erratic thought the food was sort of ok. I was disgruntled because I ended up with the wrong meal for the second time, gave up and ate it, then regretted not insisting on the right dish.

After lunch, Richard drove us all back to the cars in Teddington and I embarked on a mission with Danusia. Earlier that morning, Blue managed to cut the back of his leg quite badly and Danusia, who is a vet, said it would benefit from being stapled. We just wrapped Blue in a bandage for the morning (Danusia didn’t have any equipment with her) and got on with our cruising (priorities – ‘time and tide wait for no man’ and all that!). Before you get worried he was in no danger of bleeding to death or anything. We were sure we’d find a vet in Brentford but it was impossible – the local surgery didn’t provide weekend cover, the next vet in the chain didn’t either and the nearest they could recommend was a place in Ealing! So, the plan was that I would go back to Danusia’s surgery which was marginally closer than home and get Blue fixed up there.

Family portrait

Family portrait

Stress city! We had a horrendous journey back to Yately (where Danusia’s surgey is) – just getting through Richmond took the best part of an hour. That’s the trouble – if the riverbanks are thronged with people then the obvious question is ‘how did they get there, and how are they getting home?”. The answer: “by car!”. It took about an hour and a half to get to the surgery and Blue was well unhappy. It was nothing to how he looked when he realised he was at the vet! Danusia did a good job of stapling him up and she kindly raided the surgery cupboards and stocked us up with a mountain of dressings, bandages and emergency antibiotics. She also gave us our own surgical staple gun – I’ve got NO intention of using it myself, but if we’d had one board then she could have just repaired Blue there and then. By the time he’d had his three staples, large bandage and injection of antibiotic Blue was well distressed (my nerves weren’t too good either).

Just up the canal from Thames Lock, Brentford

Just up the canal from Thames Lock, Brentford

I bundled him back in the car and headed back for the boat. Blue whinged nigh on the whole way – by the time we got to Sunbury we was whimpering so badly I thought he was dying and parked the car on what I thought we a resident’s parking bay. Unfortunately it was actually just a very wide bit of pavement but it was an emergency, or so I thought. I let Blue out of the car and he made a miraculous recovery. As he strolled up and down the road, weeing and looking interestedly into people’s gardens I wondered whether the defence of “sorry, I thought my dog was dying” would wash if a passing police car caught me parked in the middle of the pavement. I forced him back in the car and, accompanied by his pitiful and loudly penetrating whining, finally, finally got back to the boat – the drive back felt like the longest hour of my life!

I really shouldn’t get stressed over vet visits- this was our THIRD this week – a check up for Lou after last week’s misadventures, then Blue pulled a small muscle in his back, then this latest incident!

Busy ferry service just upstream of Richmond

Busy ferry service just upstream of Richmond

Richard, in the meantime, had enjoyed a productive few hours at Brentford, filling up with water (there are excellent services here – water, pumpout, waste disposal, you name it..) and filling up with diesel from “Diesel Lizzie” – a well known fuel boat that plies the Grand Union. He paid a bit more than is our norm – 85p a litre (the most we’ve paid all holiday in fact). But we only needed a small top-up and we do want to support Diesel Lizzie – she provides a useful service – there aren’t actually that many places to fill up on the Paddington Arm (in particular).

Richard, on seeing my usual ‘post Blue traumatic stress disorder’ prescribed his usual remedy – beer and food. We dosed Blue up with a BIG dinner and some strong painkillers to keep him happy (Lou was fine) and sent off in search of good

Shouldn't the gondola be in little venice?!

Shouldn't the gondola be in little venice?!

food. We found it at the Weir pub on the other side of the basin. It was too chilly to sit in the garden overlooking the canal, so we sat in the cosy conservatory instead and enjoyed a very good meal and extremely good service. Aah, just what doctor Richard ordered!

I felt a lot better by the time we got back to the boat. Blue had also stopped whining and seemed much happier – I guess it must have been pretty traumatic, being whisked off to an unknown vet’s surgery and being stapled without anaesthetic (he is a brave boy), then whisked back to boat (rather than his home comforts). It wasn’t Blue’s fault that some litter lout had left broken glass on the common for him to run over. Yes, once again I forgave him, it’s those big brown eyes, I guess he’s escaped from Battersea yet again…..

Photoblog:

To Susie, Miffy, Monty, Ranger and Arthur – I’m really sorry but all the photos of Blue and Lou were out of focus and yes, I’ve been sacked as their official press secretary but I’m still allowed to be their chauffeur!

But I do have a few more views of the Thames….

Polo loves boating....

Polo loves boating....

Syon House

Syon House

Colour at Kew

Colour at Kew

Hordes of people in Richmond

Hordes of people in Richmond

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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 48

Posted by indigodream on 15 October, 2008

Teddington Lock moorings

I don’t normally let stress into my working life – there’s no reason to. I work from home and my β€˜desk’ is a large squashy recliner armchair where I type away on my laptop with phone, tea, diet coke, chocolate and remote control for the radio within easy reach. The presence of two ultra-relaxed greyhounds in the room has a further calming effect.

This week, though, I’ve allowed a few tendrils of stress to catch at my mind, especially on Friday when I was running a training course which is causing me particular anxiety (long boring story).

But the silver lining was that my training course was in Kingston, finished at 2.30pm and the boat was conveniently moored just a mile and a half away at Teddington. Richard had the dogs so I was free to go to Sainsbury’s, stock up on doughnuts and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine.

Note: There’s good street parking convenient for the lock on Riverside Drive; for the moorings further back from the lock head for Beaufort Road or Burnell Avenue. For your satnav, the town is Ham (not Teddington).

When I got on board, the benefits of having our own boat hit me forcibly once again. As I set up my chair and computer on the front deck I felt all the stress of the week just falling away to be replaced by a bubbling euphoria. It’s mad – I’d only been away for 4 days! But the weather was glorious and Teddington is quite beautiful from the water.

Euphoria!

Euphoria!

There was a multitude of walkers, with and without dogs, passing by and I smiled rapturously at each and every one – I was completely suffused with wellbeing at my fellow man. Remarkably, no alcohol was involved though there were clouds of suspiciously sweet smoke wafting across the river from the dutch barge moored behind us πŸ™‚

My joy was enhanced when I heard the phrase “lovely boat” drifting down the towpath. I was immediately captivated. The charming people saying all the right things about Indigo Dream were Neil and Jenny from nb. Victoria. They didn’t have their boat with them but were just enjoying a walk along the river. In my benign mental state I invited them on board for a nosey and they delightfully complimented every aspect of the boat. We then sat on the front deck in the last of the evening’s sunshine and shared our common love of boating (my second favourite subject after greyhounds).

Neil and Jenny had particularly interesting tales to tell about their cruise (on a cruise ship) along the great rivers of Europe. It sounded wonderful and showed me another option for getting round the continent. We do have a vague ambition to cruise Europe’s waterways one day. I’ve already concluded that we need a bigger boat for that. But now I’m wondering whether to just book a cruise and avoid the anxiety of being run over by a mega-barge! Uhm, lots to think about.

After Neil and Jenny had moved on (I wonder if they were glad to escape from the mad woman who’d kidnapped them onto the Indigo Dream?!) I got chatting to another couple who had a lovely lurcher. The lurcher was a small greyhound/german shepherd cross by the looks of it, only 14 months old, big brown appealing greyhound eyes (irresistible) and lots of puppy charm. Our two hadn’t arrived at the boat yet and just as well, excitable puppy types are one of Lou’s favourite targets – she’d have chased him right round the park! I was reassured by their tales of the lurcher’s exploits – sounded remarkably like Blue and, for a moment, I felt that maybe I only had the second naughtiest dog on the towpath!

I did spot another greyhound plodding down the path, but despite the fact that it looked quite old and slow, it was still too fast for me to catch up for a chat with its owner!

Fuzzy photo but I hope you get the idea..

Fuzzy photo but I hope you get the idea..

The sun was setting and the autumn chill settling in when Richard, Blue and Lou arrived. It was such a lovely evening, clear indigo sky, twinkling stars and the reflection of the full moon softly rippling on the water.

Despite the lovely view, we decided to abandon the water and explore Teddington High Street for food. There’s a wide choice of restaurants here to suit just about any taste. Most were quite pricey – it’s that sort of area! We settled on ‘Thai Smiles’ and had a very good meal – we don’t often eat Thai and it was just what we fancied.

I was full of contentment when I got back to the boat, the pack was together, we were warm, comfortable and well-fed. What more could we ask for?

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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 47

Posted by indigodream on 9 October, 2008

Shepperton Lock to Teddington Lock

Rainy day.....

Rainy day.....

It was a wild and stormy night but we slept safely on our mooring. The forecast for today had predicted torrential rain in the morning then torrential rain and 20 mile per hour winds in the afternoon! I was concerned about the wind and wondered whether we should aim for an early start. But the morning was already wet and windy so we didn’t bother. Just as well, the forecast was topsy turvy – conditions got better and better as the day progressed.

Our first stop was Shepperton Lock where we had a chat with the helpful lock-keeper. The Thames lock-keepers are really tremendous – they’re great sources of information and most are cheerful souls. At the very worst, we found that some the younger lock-keepers lacked the affable banter of their more experienced colleague but they’re helpful when asked. If you get good service from the Thames lock-keepers then write to Head Office to let them know -Navigation Office, Lock Island, Shepperton, Middlesex TW17 9LW

Our concern today was whether the overnight rain would make for tricky cruising conditions. Having walked through ankle-deep water on the morning dog walk, I was surprised to hear that there hadn’t really been enough rain to bother the river and that any effect wouldn’t be felt until Monday anyway. Reassured, we pressed on downstream.

Crowded islands...

Crowded islands...

There’s a change in the nature of the river now. Up by Marlow it’s all well-spaced estates but down here every bit of land is occupied. The islands are crowded and instead of the traditional and spacious mansions there is a completely eclectic mix of old bungalows, designer chalets and nutty houseboats. It may be the most typically english stretch of the river – wildly individual and rioutously eccentric.

I did notice that there were a LOT of ‘for sale’ signs around – I looked up a few details and I think that prices have really dropped here. Once place that caught my eye a 6-bedroomed house with a long mooring which was Β£850k – I’d expected it to be nearer a million. Is this the recession or the flood risk – who knows? All academic as it’s still well out of our price range πŸ™‚

It rained and rained but mercifully the gale-force winds never materialised. This gave a good combination of a fast flow in the river but stability at the helm. We were surprised by the large number of rowers and sailors on the water. We were actually very comfortable wrapped up in full waterproofs and boots – as Bruce from Sanity said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. But the sailors and rowers seemed woefully underdressed. My heart went out to a crew of four young women, wearing just shorts and T-shirts, sitting motionless in their skiff in the middle of the river being lectured by an instructor in a motorboat. Personally I’d have been rebelled – surely that bit could have been done indoors!

Memory lane for us in Walton on Thames

Memory lane for us in Walton on Thames

As always, Walton on Thames evoked fond memories. I used to live and work nearby and often walked my first dog, Honey, down by the river here. She was a terrier mix and would hurl herself into the river at every given opportunity. Once she was in the water, she considered that how to get her out again was entirely my problem! We also used to mess around in an inflatable rowing boat on this stretch – we had a great time (and usually got soaking wet). If we saw our younger selves now, from our perspective as narrowboaters, we’d be grumbling about feckless rowers getting in the way of proper river traffic πŸ™‚

A little further down we passed Walton Rowing Club, sporting a huge banner featuring the names of all their Olympians from the 2008 games. I’d forgotten that many of our rowing medals had come from this end of the country. I did muse on whether narrowboat handling should be introduced as an olympic sport in 2012. I think that tricky manouvering between random rowers and zig zagging sailors taking into account wind and current would be fine spectacle!

The Albany - don't all rush for the moorings!

The Albany - don't all rush for the moorings!

We flew downriver and soon passed by Hampton Court Palace and our favourite pub on the water – The Albany. We’ve stayed many a night here having enjoyed fine food, good company and a few bevvies. We’ve even moored here to get to the rugby at Twickenham (the pub was compensated by four lunches, four dinners and a few liquid refreshements). There’s even good dog walking nearby (upstream of the pub) – it’s got it all.

There was very little motorised traffic on the river compared to last weekend. In fact, you wouldn’t have thought it was the same waterway. But there were plenty of rowers, sailing boats and ferries around – enough to make us review the ‘rules of the road’ on avoiding collisions! You’ll be

Hampton Ferry

Hampton Ferry

glad to know that we didn’t hit anything but we did have tight squeeze between a sailing boat on a collision course and a moored barge.

I’ve never seen the Hampton Ferry in action before but today a man and his dog just walked up to the ferry point and over came the boat. I thought that the man was just stopping to enjoy the view. I have no idea how he signalled to the ferry but there it was.

Kingston’s a fine place from the water – there are plentiful moorings all along this stretch with great access to the town centre. We’re always threatening to come Christmas shopping here by boat because the car parking’s diabolical! Richard did offer me a shopping trip but I decided to move on. I was very snug in my waterproofs

John Lewis' moorings in Kingston

John Lewis's moorings in Kingston

and it really wasn’t the outfit for wandering around John Lewis….

Shortly afterwards we came to Teddington Lock. There’s a long stretch of lock moorings on the right – it can get pretty full here when boats are waiting for the tide but there is a LOT of room. You can moor overnight here by arrangement with the lock-keeper and they’re quite amenable to longer periods, especially off-season. It cost Β£8 a night to moor Indigo Dream and we’ll be here for a week before venturing down the tideway next weekend.

NOTE: Brentford Lock is now on its winter hours and you MUST book your passage, even during their core hours. Don’t miss this step or you’ll be stuck on the mud ’til the next tide! You can contact Brentford Lock on 020 8568 2779. Opening hours and lots of useful information available here.

Old lock gates never die they just go faster (in a butty)

Old lock gates never die they just go faster (in a butty)

The lock-keeper advised mooring upstream of the footbridge (which he says can get noisy) but he also said that they haven’t had any trouble at the moorings. One of the lock-keepers that Richard spoke to earlier in the week reckoned that Teddington Lock was the safest place to moor in flood conditions. The weir can shift a gigantic amount of water so you’re unlikely to get huge fluctuations in river level above the lock. It’s worth checking your ropes though – we were told that one time, when the red boards were up, the river was running at 14 knots. Even Indigo Dream’s big engine and prop couldn’t argue with that…..

There were only half a dozen boats on the moorings and most were sealed up against the weather so we didn’t get to exchange any boater’s gossip. However we had a bit of interest towards the end of

All wrapped up (but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!)

All wrapped up snug against the weather.....

the afternoon when nb Bounty came to moor here. Bounty belongs to Tom Crossley, the editor of ‘Narrowboat World’ – self-styled ‘voice of the waterways’. So now we’ve met two illustrious editors on our tour – it’s a small world on the water.

As well as being safe and sociable, Teddington Lock offers fine dog walking on the adjacent common. Blue ecstatically chased squirrels, Lou just mooched around – she’s still a bit sore after her encounter with a car park bollard last week. In the meantime, Richard got a taxi back to the car and I packed the boat up. It’s worth knowing that there’s a rubbish disposal point by the lock – it’s not marked in our Nicholsons.

...but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!

...but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!

There’s convenient parking by the chandlery across the weir. On the way back to the car I noticed that the pub below the weir has useful visitor moorings but you can only stay during opening hours. I guess that may be ok for lunch but I’m not sure I’d fancy moving along the tideway in the dark after an evening in the pub. It was all academic – we were heading for home and work with two tired dogs on the back seat.

Despite the weather it’s been a great weekend – all hail the Thames – my favourite waterway πŸ™‚

Photoblog – curiosities:

Is this James Bond's stealth boat?

Is this James Bond's stealth boat??

The incredible hulk????

The incredible hulk????

An eclectic range of houseboats...

An eclectic range of houseboats...

Nice house.....

Nice house.....

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