28th December 2008
Merry Christmas one and all! Sorry we’ve been so tardy with our Christmas wishes. I’ve spent the festive season up to my neck in beef dripping and sundry accompaniments. Now this beats being up to my elbows in a turkey’s a**** but it’s a close run thing 🙂 Christmas for us is a bit excessive as Richard’s family celebrate it the Polish way on Christmas Eve and then the British way on Christmas Day.
We had a lovely little cruise from Packet Boat Marina up to Cowley Lock and back today. It was a crisp and sunny winter’s day (with freezing winds) and we fancied a bit of fresh air. We had the vague aim of checking that the boat was ok, giving the engine a quick run and eating lunch in a warm and dog -friendly pub! It’s a slow bobble up to the lock what with all the online moorings, but we weren’t in a hurry. To our relief, we found that you CAN wind a 60 foot boat just below the lock and the bollards on the towpath side are 24-hour visitor moorings – perfect.
But our desire to find a dog-friendly eaterie was thwarted at every turn. The dog-friendly tea-shop by Cowley Lock was closed (we guess they closed early due to lack of trade – the sign said they were open!). The Malt Shovel pub next door does food but they don’t allow dogs indoors and it really was too cold to be eating outside!
With the boat pointing the right way we headed back towards the marina. Despite having two walks already, Blue complained incessantly so Richard took them for a walk while I pottered down the canal towards the next pub. The Water’s Edge, just by Bridge 190, has convenient moorings right outside. The moorings were empty and there was plenty of room for a 60 footer. All looking good, but a sad smoker standing outside informed us that dogs were not allowed. When we checked, they would have been allowed in the conservatory but it was pretty chilly in there so we thought they’d be better off on board.
The Water’s Edge is an attractive pub from the canal and had a reasonable Sunday menu (£13 odd for 2 courses) with a nice selection of ‘proper’ food. There was a hefty surcharge (£4.50) if you wanted steak so we gave that a miss. But the pub just didn’t do it for us – we can’t put our finger on why that was but it just seemed mediocre where it should have been excellent. The service was friendly but slow; the food was well cooked, at times excellent but also lacked flavour in places; the desserts were processed and bland; the loos were spotlessly clean but somewhat shabby. It’s a shame as it’s the closest pub to the marina and might have become a regular watering hole.
But nil desperandum, there’s an unexplored Fuller’s pub a few yards up the road. It looks unappealing from outside but if it allows dogs and does decent chips, as many other Fullers pubs do, then it’ll be just fine! (Like Herbie we like the Black Horse in Perivale). I’ve been thinking of writing a page of dog-friendly pubs for easy reference (as per our guide to mooring spots). Watch this space!
The dogs gave us a rapturous welcome when we got back on board. Maybe this was because of the pocketful of leftovers I’d carried back or maybe because they were cold. For some reason the boiler had turned itself off. We’ve had this happen before but thought that the recent service had fixed it. The universal cure of turning the timer off and on again set the boiler running and we cruised round the corner to the marina with dogs wrapped in blankets.
I think we’re getting better at reversing into our mooring – despite a gustily inconvenient breeze, we easily got the boat into our spot, proving once again that practice really does make perfect!
We finished the afternoon with hot lattes from our most excellent espresso machine and we put my kitchen scales to unusual use by weighing the carbon dioxide cylinders in our life-jackets. We also did the other standard checks to make sure that they’re in working order. Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re going tidal again. We’ve decided to support this year’s St Pancras Cruising Club flotilla to the London Boatshow. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s a splendid adventure and although the cost has sadly taken a BIG upward hike this year, we can thoroughly recommend it. We’re going off on January 8th and then we come back on 19th January at some unearthly hour in the dark – no doubt we’ll makes a few posts then assuming that Richard gets round to putting some navigation lights on the boat and we manage to track down Diesel Lizzie for us first post-November fill up!
Poor Lou and Blue have been in the wars in the run up to Christmas. Having been in kennels for 10 days while we were on holiday, Blue escaped with his ribs sticking out (he’d lost 2kg) and with a deep cut in one eyelid; he followed up by pulling a muscle in his back two days later and finished the week with a flourish by ripping off one of his toenails on a walk; Lou joined in be acquiring two deep grazes and a puncture wound to her back legs on the same walk. We’ve had four vet visits in 6 days – a new record; not to mention that two of those visits were on one day because Blue managed to experience EVERY listed side-effect to the injection he was given for his back! Many antibiotics and painkillers later they’re recovering well though Blue is still on lead-only walking because of his back. He’s not impressed. Luckily, the house is full of roasted meats so I have been able to ease their distress!
Would we have greyhounds again, even after these two most accident-prone specimens? OF COURSE WE WOULD. They’re tremendous and just remember, Blue and Lou are collecting everyone’s bad luck so that other greyhounds can enjoy an injury-free life 🙂