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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for January 21st, 2009

A Day at the Boatshow

Posted by indigodream on 21 January, 2009

Sunday 18th January

We had a leisurely start to the day after waking up to blue skies, cool breezes and bright sunshine. There was not trace of last night’s tempest and, blessedly, no damage done to us or the boat. Blue, in particular, was tired after his disturbing night on board; Lou, of course, is always up for a day in bed. So after a brief walk, we went off to the boatshow with barely a twinge to our collective consciences at leaving the dogs behind.

Excel - bigger than my home village in Wales!

Shadows of ther old dock cranes stalking the vast Excel building

As Adam mentioned, there was very little at the show for the inland boater and it seemed much smaller than two years ago. It was also miraculously quiet considering it was the last day. Even so, it took several hours to walk round the show, research our wish-list of random parts and have a drool at the Bavaria yachts and other expensive toys. Bavaria make something like 2000 yachts every year and it shows in the very clever finishing. Obviously we would not want a plastic narrowboat, but if people like Bavaria were to build narrowboats that could be very interesting.

After a first run round, we went back to the dogs, measured up for a few bits and pieces then went back into the fray. We got some great ‘end of show’ discounts which made it all worthwhile. Richard’s boating DIY list is now that much longer as our search for the self-fitting gadget continues 🙂

As the show was relatively quiet we managed to have a good chat with some of the technical reps. The guys on the Victron stand were very helpful, great combination of good gear and good backup. Webasto was confusing as the new distributers from Kings Lock and the guy from Webasto were not quite singing from the same hymn sheet yet with some prodding both were very helpful – mind you we have found Kings Lock good to deal with in the past.

A miraculously co-ordinated marching band finished the show with a flourish

A miraculously co-ordinated marching band finished the show with a flourish

We were out to buy some new pmr radios but could not find any at all at the show. We talked to Icom about their new digital pmrs, very smart kit but they are simply too big. We went to the Redcar Electronics stand and asked them why no pmrs, got a bit of a tired end of show answer. We explained and told them that we had bought our vhf radio from them in the past. They woke up and offered a combined vhf and pmr portable for a remarkable £69 but again too big.

One top tip if you’re visiting the boatshow – it is terribly hot and stuffy in the exhibition halls. I get caught out every year when I wear warm clothes for the blowy walk to Excel then get faintingly hot in the show itself.

After a successful (and feet achingly long) day in the show, I couldn’t be bothered to wander around the restaurants just to be served another poor meal. The local Spar shop was surprisingly good and I was able to whip up chicken tortillas and finished up with a luscious GU toffee pudding. We also replenished our beer supplies (very important!).

No safety equipment up there, well, apart from the high vis jackets which mean we'll see them when they fall!

No edge protection, no harnesses, dismal lack of safety equipment up there, well, apart from the high vis jackets which mean we'll see them when they fall!

But by now we were starting to think ahead to the morning. We were due to move the boats at 5am but we had forecasts of winds of anywhere from 20 – 40 miles per hour. We didn’t fancy it but we were aware of the fact that we were in a convoy and that we’d likely stay or sink (!) together. We pressed our leader, Andrew Phasey, for a decision as we could nip home and get a day’s work in. But he wouldn’t let us off the 5am start – that’s when the decision would be made.

We’re not morning people so this made us groan and grumble but there was nothing for it. We couldn’t control the morning but we could, and did, decide to end the day with a good meal and slumped contentedly on the sofa with Blue and Lou while we watched Dancing on Ice on the telly – bliss!

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A night at the Royal Docks

Posted by indigodream on 21 January, 2009

Saturday 17th January

With our cruise back to Limehouse due to take place at an unearthly time on Monday morning we thought we’d spend some time on the boat soaking up the ambience of the Royal Docks, visiting the boatshow and generally pottering around.

Night scene at the Royal Dock

Night scene at the Royal Dock

We arrived at the boat mid-afternoon, just in time to welcome Adam and Adrian from Debdale. We haven’t had the chance to invite any of our blogging friends (if I can presume) onto the boat before. I was a little nervous looking around Indigo Dream’s grubby interior – Adam’s used to so much better when he gets to review lovely new craft for Canalboat magazine. I needn’t have worried – they were tactful and charming guests and a bottle of wine and canal chit-chat soon took care of a couple of hours.

It was such a thrill to meet them – especially Adrian who calls himself the ‘silent partner’ on Debdale’s blog. I was delighted to find that he’s far from silent in person! In his blog Adam is typically modest when he says he met Lou. It just doesn’t to justice to the event – it was love at first sight; well, on Lou’s side at least. She absolutely idolized Adam and he spent the entire visit tickling her tummy and stroking her ears while she lay next to him on the sofa, rested her head in his lap and looked up at him adoringly. We will publish the photos but they are on the camera we forgot to bring home with us!. Blue typically treated everyone with disdain!

As you’re aware. blogs come in various different shapes and sizes – Debdale’s is beautifully contained while ours is luxiuriously lengthy. Small wonder – I found out that in his non-blogging life, Adam writes professional articles averaging 90 words; in the meantime, the last training pack that I wrote came in at 60,000!

Adam and Adrian’s visit was definitely the highlight of the day. Soon after they left we found that we’d left the dongle at home and without it we didn’t have an internet connection – disaster! I volunteered to go home and fetch it – I had an amazingly effective trip home with all train connections working beautifully. Even so, I’d lost the shine off my usually sunny outlook by the time I got back. In the meantime, Richard’s task was to wear the dogs out on a long walk – they needed to run off the stress of yet another trip up on public transport.  I think I got the bargain here as it was pretty cold and gusty around the docks.

With our respective missions accomplished we set off to explore the restaurants scattered around Excel. We weren’t naive enough to think they’d be cheap but we we were surprised by the general lack of quality. The pub looked promising but the live band was deafening so we tried the nearby Italian restaurant – Zero Sette (70). Everywhere was packed with staff from the boatshow which may explain why we had a miserable meal – the service was chaotically slow, inefficient and we’ve never been to a restaurant before that managed to make a mess of garlic bread! The first portion was cold, we sent it back, their next attempt was luke-warm but they seem to have omitted the garlic. The main courses were tasteless, unless you count the taste of salt, the addition of parmesan at least elevated the flavour to that of salty cheese!

We did bump into the crew of Young Adam, the exhibition Dutch Barge who’d travelled down to the boat show in our convoy. We were pleased to hear that they’d had a busy show and had lots of interest in the barge. They’d also manage to order a palatable meal at the Italian restaurant though they’d apparently bombed at the adjacent chinese with their order of shredded jellyfish!

We were a bit out of sorts as we strolled back to the boat but we were relieved to get back on board just as the storm of the winter rolled over us. We offered Blue and Lou a walk but they peered out of the hatch and went straight back to their beds! No wonder, as the night wore on the winds increased to what must have been the forecast 38mph and we were in for a rough ride. The boat pitched and tossed in the wind, heeling over to bang against the dock wall then swinging back to allow the waves to thrash alarmingly around us. We were well tied and secure but it was still scary.

Blue cuddling up to Lou for comfort in the storm

Blue cuddling up to Lou for comfort in the storm

I think it’s the noise that bothered me most – apart from the general buffeting, the  sound of the water flowing so ferociously around us was akin to the sensation you get when you put your head under the water in the bath then let the taps run. When the wind finally abated at around midnight, it was replaced by absolutely torrential rain. I was left awake and wondering gloomily which would be wetter – abandoning ship and standing on the shore or just going down to the bottom with the boat!

This is where the mettle of the crew was tested. Me and Blue fretted and paced and jumped every time the boat moved in the roaring wind. Richard and Lou slept through the whole lot unconcernedly.

The storm abated in the wee small hours and I finally got some sleep, having resolved that if the forecast for Monday was anything like this then NO WAY would we be venturing on to the river.

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