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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…..


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

2 Responses to “The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 49”

  1. Greygal said

    Girl band? I don’t know why but I was thinking more Beverley Sisters! What a handsome family!

    And get that collie thing out of here – we want hounds, we want hounds, we want…yes, okay, you get the message.

    Sue, ever thought of retraining as a vet?

  2. indigodream said

    Funnily enough, a publisher recently paid for some work by letting me choose free books from their catalogue – “The veterinary pharmacist’s handbook” was top of the list!

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