Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for December 1st, 2008

Boat blog: Cowley Peachey to Perivale to Denham

Posted by indigodream on 1 December, 2008

Saturday 22nd November – Wednesday 26th November

I’ve been a bit slow with the blog this week – I blame the cold and the dark. Never mind, we’re determined to cruise throughout the winter so Indigo Dream’s in JP Marine’s yard in Denham for a general service and bit of TLC. I’ll let Richard do the technicalities later!

As regular readers may have guessed, I was working in the Wembley area again this week. I’m wondering whether this will be as reliable a weather forecaster as the seaweed outside the door – “Sue and Camilla in Wembley, weather be chilly”. Based on our two visits here I can say it’s 100% reliable!

We moved the boat down to Perivale on Saturday after stopping off at the marina’s pump-out machine and filled up with water. The wind was very gusty and made for interesting manoeuvering – the service pontoon is a bit awkward for a 60 footer – if you go in bow first then you have to reverse out because there’s not quite enough room to turn. I think that this is yet another little niggle to add to the list – I don’t think that this marina will become our long-term home.

Having said that, the marina have sorted out the electricity on our mooring bollard, having apologised profusely for the delay. We also had excellent help from the marina staff which enabled Richard to make cunning use of the wind to move Indigo Dream out of the marina without any drama.

Once he’d done all the hard work, I took over on the helm and he drove off to drop the car in Perivale. The plan was for him to park the car then cycle back along the towpath to meet me. “Rather him than me”. I thought, but if I’d realised just how cold it was maybe I’d have volunteered to stay in a warm car for another hour!

I was better prepared this time though – I’d worn extra layers (the phrase ‘michelin man’ comes to mind, unlike Greygal’s rapidly streamlining figure) and I’d invested in cashmere socks. This worked up to a point – I was warm for the first 90 minutes but then I had to resort to dancing around at the helm again. The towpath was deserted – just as well, I may be the only dancer that’s worse than John Sargeant!

I met six narrowboats – more than I expected. We all looked like aliens at the helm – bright eyes glittering in the narrow gap between woolly hat and woolly scarf (or balaclava in my case). We all waved cheerily with heavily gloved hands – you can’t keep a narrowboater down!

We’ve done this stretch a few times now so I’ll have to sharpen my observation skills for the blog. Today I noticed that the tug and butty had disappeared from the cement works and I didn’t spot them further down the canal. I wonder if Debdale spotted them in Paddington?

I also noticed that the Nescafe factory (which sadly didn’t smell of coffee today) has a windsock on one of its buildings – I wonder why?

I forgot to mention two rats that I saw last time I came this way – one on the towpath and one swimming across the canal. I have a friend who thinks that rats on the canal are ‘nice’ rats and much cuter than the ones I campaign against in my garden. I don’t think so – these looked like common brown rats to me (rather than water voles) and far from cute. They are agile though and amazingly adept swimmers.

Unlike my solo cruise of a few weeks ago, I had Blue and Lou on board today. They were snuggly wrapped in their coats and spent most of the time inside with the central heating, looking smug and laughing at the little jig I was dancing at the helm. Blue whined almost continuously – he’d spotted a cat at the marina but we didn’t let him chase it; he spotted a cat on the towpath, I didn’t let him chase it; he spotted a squirrel on the towpath, I didn’t let him chase it. His life was just full of unreasonable restrictions 🙂 Of course, he chose to forget the three high-energy walks he’d had on the way to the boat!

I met Richard on the towpath just before Engineers Wharf. I’d made good time though Richard had a slow drive to Perivale. He came on board and elected to go inside and cook lunch while I turned into an ice lolly on the helm. Bacon sarnies (sorry, Greygal) and a large hot latte thawed me slightly. When I whinged about the cold to a boater at his mooring I had a stereo response as he and Richard shouted “it’s not that cold” from the comfort of their cabins – Bah!

We headed for home on Saturday. I had friends coming round to make Christmas Puddings on ‘Stir up Sunday’, the traditional day for stirring fruit and fortune into your puddings. I was back on Indigo Dream by Monday afternoon and was joined by Camilla in the evening. I had a car in Perivale and it only took 20 minutes door-to-door to get to where we were training – it was perfect. We had a lovely time, the boat’s such a relaxing place to stay but it’s so hard to drag ourselves away from it. We loitered around both mornings, sipping tea, having a second cup, making a second pot and generally forgetting that we were actually there to work! But we had plenty of time and our course went very well with a friendly and dedicated group of learners. It’s a wonderful life!

In the meantime, Richard had the dogs in the office for a couple of day and I think it’s fair to say that sausage sandwiches were scoffed!

With the days now impossibly short, there wasn’t time for me to take the boat back after the training course on Wednesday. To think I was complaining about short days when it was going dark at 5.45pm! So Richard took the afternoon off and moved the boat for me. We had a serendipitous afternoon – Richard had just started emptying Cowley Lock when I caught up with him and took the boat through. Then I took the car up to JP marine and waited for him. The friendly woman at the boatyard was showing me where we should moor when Richard turned up. We like this boatyard- they’ve been very friendly so far. if they do a good job of the service then we’re quids in!

We packed up and drove back to Perivale for Richard’s car then headed to the Black Horse pub for supper. Blue and Lou like it here – the staff always give them a big fuss and they scoffed four sausages between them, together with our leftovers. We figured that by the time we’d eaten, the M25 would be clear and so it was!

The Dog’s view

First Patrol run

First Patrol run

G’day mates, Lou here to set the record straight.  It’s gen’rally not known but it’s tough being a dog ‘specially when the Sheila’s away. Richard gets up way too early and then has to stop off at his ma’s house. He just strolls in, but for us, well, stone the flamin’ crows, we’ve got heavy duties. That garden’s full of foxes and cats hiding in the wood or behind the hedges. So our first job is to do a high speed patrol of the garden.

Top o’ the morning to yez all, this is Blue taking on Lou’s tall tale coz she hasn’t told you the half of it. Our toils are endless, we have to check the park by Richard’s offices for squirrels.

How come Blue got his sandwich first? Surely should be Ladies first?

How come Blue got his sandwich first? Surely should be Ladies first?

More wild runnin’ and still no breakfast. Mind you, Richard does stop off at ‘Fat Boys’ sandwich bar and gets us a sausage sarnie. We used to get them in one piece but now they are cut in 4 with no mustard and no tomato ketchup – just because oi’m Irish doesn’t mean I’m not refined. But it’s cruel hard to sit in the car with the smell of a sausage sarnie.

Starvation being abated, sonic booms echoing as sausage breaks sound barrier

Starvation being abated, sonic booms echoing as sausage breaks sound barrier

Richard makes us wait ’til we get to the office before we can finally stop dying from starvation – something pathetic about allowing the sandwiches to cool…….

2nd bit goes down a bit slower

2nd bit goes down a bit slower

We’re not on squirrel duty then ’til lunchtime but there’s no rest for us poor hounds. We spend our time helpin’ the engineers with their drawin’s – steel beams with paw print designs are Richard’s speciality!

At lunchtime it’s back to the park for more squirrel clearnace duties, hungry work but we have to wait till all the humans have eaten before we get anything – sigh….. At least on Tuesday we got left over fish and chips (and half of Agnieszka’s salmon sandwich). Fish is very healthy for us, that’s why my coat’s so glossy! Then it was back to the serious technical consultancy – Richard and Simon had 10 book credits to use up and couldn’t decide what to buy. We sorted them – recommended this book. It was hungry work so we finished the day off with some tinned dog food – well, someone’s got eat it and Richard won’t eat his supper if Sue offers him ‘meatloaf’!  Cor, what a day, by 7pm we’re totally bushed.


It was good on Wednesday though coz Sue and Richard ended up in the nice Black Horse that Herbie rates but for quite the wrong reasons. Far better reasons: Sue couldn’t quite finish her steak…. oh, and the nice Chef cooked us 4 !!! sausages. Oh course, we were almost too tired to eat but we just about managed to lift our heads above the carpet – it’s a tough life, as I may have told yeh before…..

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