Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for October 8th, 2008

The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 46

Posted by indigodream on 8 October, 2008

Boveney Lock to Shepperton Lock

We’ve got a bit of photo famine on today’s blog – we’re waiting to get some images from our friends, especially of the adorable baby Seamus!

It’s been a funny day. We’d planned to come back to the boat on Friday but we had a night out with Richard’s family instead. It was Richard’s mum’s ‘name day’ – the day of the saint after whom you were named. It’s a Polish thing and, no, it doesn’t replace the birthday – they celebrate both! We had a lovely night out then it was on with the alarm clock for the following morning.

This time it was my family – I had to pick up my cousin Paul from the airport (at 7.30am – aargh!) after a disastrous holiday in Sri Lanka. Very long story but we’ve been teasing him that he’d better stick to safe holidays in Tenby (preferably with my mum) from now on!

So, we didn’t leave ’til gone 10am and finally got to the boat at 11.15am. But things got a bit more efficient from there. I dropped Richard and the dogs off at the boat and then went to do Sainsbury’s and drop the car off in Windsor.

In the meantime, Richard took the boat off downstream. The lock keeper came out for a chat with him and confirmed that the boat had enjoyed a peaceful week below the weir. It’s worth knowing that some of the Thames locks have visitor moorings – Boveney lock is very secure and the lock keeper was extremely helpful.

It’s a shame that only Blue and Lou were on the boat to hear Richard’s commentary as he passed down this stretch of the Thames. Twice he’s cadged a lift of the trip boats and is now an accomplished tour guide 🙂 I missed the sight of Natalie Imbruglio’s house and a house where Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin used to live. Where on earth do the trip boats get this information?

In the meantime I was toiling round Sainsbury’s and negotiating the narrow streets of Windsor. There is a brilliant riverside car park just by Vansittart Estate (aka Windsor Trading estate) – if you come here then go via Alma Road. DO NOT go down Vansittart Road, no matter what your satnav tells you – it does not have access to the car park and is impossibly narrow.

It was perfect timing – Richard had just moored the boat downstream of Windsor Railway Bridge when I finally found the car park. He came to find me and it turned out that the car was no more than 500 yards from the boat.

Windosr Castle

Windsor Castle

There’s plenty of very fine mooring in Windsor. We moored on the public mooring rings on the right (looking downstream) – £4 a night if you’re staying on. These moorings are adjacent to a narrow stretch of park and inhabited by a tiny cafe and LOTS of walkers (even on a cold October afternoon). As we walked back to the boat, it was very funny to see lots of passersby staring into the boat and generally having a good nosey. One group of Polish tourists were admiring the boat then decided they wanted a photo – five of them posed, leaning on the side of the boat, feet on the gunwales. I walked up behind them, quietly got onto the back deck and grinned – they scarpered quickly! Richard asked whether I’d said anything to them but I’m afraid my polish doesn’t stretch to “get off my boat”!

The alternative 'london eye'!

The alternative 'London Eye'!

Unfortunately the park is way too close to the road for dogs to let be off the lead, but the mooring on the meads on the other side of the river looked promising (had we been staying longer). But we just needed couple of hours to get the boat tidy before being joined by some friends for lunch. Talk about ‘goldfish bowl’ – the world and his wife (and kids) walked past the boat – all staring in through the windows and looking heartily embarrassed when they realised I was at home. My favourite ‘incident’ was when I heard a tap on the side hatch – there was a smart young man blowing me kisses – I opened the hatch, naturally, and found that he was trying to wheedle a bit of the lovely looking lunch that I was preparing (all courtesy of Sainsbury’s ready meals counter). His girlfriend called him a ‘cheeky b*****” and so he was, but it still made me laugh.

I now understand why the lock-keeper at Bray told us not to moor in Windsor – you’d never have any peace! I quite enjoyed being an exhibition piece for a few daylight hours but it might have been uncomfortable after dark. Aah, the strain of being in the public eye is just too much…..

Happy smiling faces (despite the weather)

Happy smiling faces (despite the weather)

At around 2pm were joined by some old friends – Simon, Caroll and their daughters Sarah and Robyn then Liam and Lena and their 14-month old son Seamus. There were two firsts for Seamus – first time on the boat and first meeting with the dogs. He loved the boat and ignored the dogs – perfect! Lou thoroughly approved of Robyn who was too soppy to shift her off the sofa – Robyn ended up perched awkwardly on the edge rubbing Lou’s tummy!

As we set off, the fine morning that we’d enjoyed was replaced by grey skies and cold winds, but luckily the rain held off for a few hours so we had a sociable cruise past Windsor Castle and Runnymeade. The back deck was crowded and I think just about everyone had a turn at the helm. Once again we enjoyed the sheer affluence of the Thames – properties were inspected, discussed, valued and sighed over. It was our turn to be the gawpers! I think that our guests enjoyed the opportunity to see the unique veiw from the riverside. As Caroll commented, from the road you just see the bland front doors and anonymous parking spaces but the river frontages range from the lavish to the downright weird.

Indigo Dream crashing a wedding!

Indigo Dream crashing a wedding!

As we cruised downriver, the weather gradually worsened. As we had plenty of crew I had the luxury of being able to sit on the bow deck chinwagging with Lena (while Seamus tried to steal my tea). We noticed that the river was getting choppy and after being showered by spray a few times we gave up and went inside. The boat was toasting – we’d run the heating earlier to get the boat warm then battened down the hatches to keep it that way. We found that the other ladies had retreated inside, leaving the chilly decks to the boys. Simon made a bid for the warmth but he was soon dragged out to be acting lock crew. The lock-keepers are on their winter hours now and go home at 5pm.

Deep thought - Simon and Robyn at the helm

Deep thought - Simon and Robyn at the helm

By then, the fierce wind had been joined by torrential rain. Luckily Liam was at the helm, grinning like a pumpkin. He really enjoys filthy weather – the more it rains the more he grins. It’s a fine sight (from inside the boat!). We girls abandoned any pretence at liberation and sat watching the telly while the men finished off the last few locks and sorted out the mooring. We stayed the night on the free 24-hour moorings just above Shepperton Lock, conveniently placed just outside the Thames Court pub.

If it had been just the two of us, I’d have had to spend the afternoon in the rain out of a sense of marital solidarity but having a big crew had absolved me. But I had my come-uppance – Richard and the boys caught a taxi back to Windsor to

No-one likes a wet rope!

No-one likes a wet rope!

get the cars and I took the dogs for a walk. It was a long walk – there’s a road (albeit a quiet one) between the river and the pub so we had to walk quite a distance before we got to a ‘proper’ towpath where dogs could have an off-lead rummage. Carol very kindly joined me so I wasn’t alone in getting cold and wet. I only realised afterwards that we’d left Lena babysitting, but luckily she didn’t seem to mind! The boat was warm and comfy, and as an ex-headmistress of a primary school, she was well able to manage our crew to three extremely well-behaved kids!

After an hours’ walk the dogs were glad to get back to the boat – I’d left their coats at home so Caroll and me weren’t the only ones who were soaking. No need to report us to the RSPCA – Blue and Lou were fine, really! They soon warmed up after a vigorous towelling and gigantic dinner. Despite several phonecalls from the boys telling us to go over to the pub and get the beers in, we stayed on board and dried off until they (and their wallets) had arrived at the bar! I know, the women’s libers are probably sobbing into their saggy cleavages but it’s all about choice ladies, and we chose to take advantage of our menfolk today!

We had a wonderfully convivial evening in the pub – good food, great company and very fine service – the staff were so helpful. I was impressed that our junior crew, aged 14, 11 and 14 months, were welcomed. This is not a dog-friendly pub but Blue and Lou were mollifed by a huge doggie bag made up of scraps from 8 meals (rather than the usual palrty two). As almost everyone had steak, we were particularly popular when we got back on board!

We were moored directly across the river from the ferocious Shepperton Weir so our last job before turning in was to check the ropes, add a spring and get some fat fenders down. Satisfied that we wouldn’t be swept to our doom, we went off to bed – alternately lulled and alarmed by the roaring weir, whistling wind and pounding rain.

Photoblog:

For some reason we have a few photos of Simon and Robyn on the helm – having shown them in full concentration I can’t resist adding this one. I’m not sure what they’ve just successfully dodged (or sunk) but they’re very pleased about it!

Yeah!

Yeah!

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