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Boat Blog: Packet Boat to Paddington and back

Posted by indigodream on 25 February, 2009

Thursday 19th February

Blue enjoying the sunshine

Blue enjoying the sunshine

We came up to the boat this evening ready for the weekend’s cruise. I’d been working in London and it was lovely to come home to the boat. We did some nifty co-ordination as Richard came by car with the dogs from Croydon just in time to pick me up from West Drayton train station.

Blue and Lou had a wonderful rummage in the heathland by the marina. I think that the rabbits were all wide-awake and full of the joys of spring in the mild weather. Our walks are getting longer and longer – not in distance, but in time. The dogs get fixated on rabbit holes and I have to physically drag them away. We’re out for an average of an hour and half per walk now and last week Lou got so covered in clayey mud that she looked like a terracotta warrior! They’re a bit like kids at a theme park – what they’d like is for me just to leave them in their favourite rummaging place and pick them up when its time for tea 🙂

Even Lou left her sofa for a while....

Even Lou left her sofa for a while....

While I was wearing the dogs out, Richard did some more research on dog-friendly pubs in the area. Sadly the Packet Boat (the second nearest pub to the marina) is NOT dog friendly but we thought we’d give it a try anyway. What a strange place it is – the pub was plain to the point of shabbiness, almost empty and had a very unsavoury smell wafting across the saloon from the men’s loo. We almost walked out but the landlord caught us and deftly got us sat at a table (out of the draft from the loo!)  before we could run away. But we were in for a pleasant surprise, the pub offers Thai food and it was excellent. But we won’t be going back – the beer was off, so that’s that! We were so disappointed as both the pubs within easy walking distance of the marina are not dog-friendly and don’t meet our required standards. Ah well, it’s not our permanent home, in fact, we’re moving out of the marina at the end of March to start our 2009 odyssey.

Friday 20th February

Colourful bridges near Little Venice

Colourful bridges near Little Venice

This is such a well-travelled path now that we can virtually start the engine and let Indigo Dream navigate her own way to Paddington Basin!

It’s very frivolous to take a day off for cruising, so today’s good excuse was a text from Carolyn, Nick and children Laura and Josh,  old friends from South Wales, who were coming up to London and staying, by chance, in Slough. It was obviously too good an opportunity to miss so we offered them a cruise into Paddington Basin. It’s always worth seeing London by canal – if you didn’t have a map you’d never guess where you were, well, not until you saw the Wembley Arch!

Our guests made great time on their drive from Newport so we on the water just after midday. Instead of the usual car swap with 2 cars, bikes and the like, we sent Nick off to drop the car off in West Drayton and picked him up by boat. The canal runs right past the station – it’s so convenient. Nick has done quite a bit of sailing and is a very competent helmsman, this left me and Carolyn free to gossip – result. They’ve joined

Would the giant A40 viaduct benefit from a coat of red and gold paint?

Would the giant A40 viaduct benefit from a coat of red and gold paint?

us before in 2007,  and you’d think there would be a bigger contrast between the stunningly rural K & A (where they joined us before) and the Grand Union through London. But while the GU is not as rustically scenic, it really doesn’t feel at all urban, even where it crosses over the North Circular!

We had a stunning day’s cruise – the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it was warm. To think that less than a month ago we were forging through two inches of ice on this stretch.  We stopped off for supplies as Tesco in Bulls Bridge then set off down the Paddington branch.

Josh seemed to really enjoy the boat and took a turn at the helm with Nick . It’s funny what a twisting, turning course you can achieve on a straight wide canal 🙂 But it didn’t matter, we had the canal to ourselves. Laura seemed less impressed but she managed to extract a few feet of the sofa from Lou and had sensibly bought a good book with her so she was contented.

The building is an architectural icon, apparently.....

The building is an architectural icon, apparently.....

We ambled down the canal, catching up on old times and just enjoying the day. It was dusk by the time we got to Little Venice but we took a brief detour through Regent’s Park – it’s such a unique bit of water. Even with the African animals warmly tucked up in their dens, there’s still the marvel of the Snowden Aviary to be admired. We turned in Cumberland Basin and had an evening cruise back to Paddington Basin. Once again, everyone contrived to be indoors in the warm while I ended up on the helm in the evening chill!

We moored on the left near the entrance to the basin this time – there’s a walled-in bit of green there so Blue could have a good rummage. It’s also closer to the restaurants. We went back to Zizzi’s as they’re running really good offers on the internet with vouchers that you can print off. There are good branches of Zizzi’s, but Paddington isn’t one of them. It has possibly the worse service of any restaurant that we’ve ever been in – slow, badly timed and inaccurate. It was bad the last time we came here a few weeks ago but tonight it reached new lows. We can’t decide whether it’s because our waitress was

The REAL home of MI5!

The REAL home of MI5!??

particularly awful or whether it’s endemic to everyone in the place. Anyway, we won’t go there again, no matter how good the offer.

However terrible the service, the food was actually quite good and the company was excellent. I was sorry to say goodbye to Carolyn and Nick – we’d had a lovely day.

When we got back to the boat, Richard decided that there was too much traffic noise from the A40 virtually overhead  (the big downside of the moorings near the mouth of the basin) so he cast off and took us down to the pontoons. There were several spaces free and we had a peaceful and quiet night.

Saturday 21st February

Lovely views leaving Little Venice

Lovely views leaving Little Venice

We’re just not early birds and despite our vague plans for getting back to the marina by 2pm, we didn’t actually set out from Paddington Basin until 11am. We had a gentle meander back – it’s such a familiar waterway we just dozed along, under no pressure to admire the landscape. Even so, we were struck by the beauty of the canal bridges around Little Venice. They’re mainly painted sky blue and gold and looked stunning in the sunshine. Birmingham’s canal bridges are painted a more traditional black and white – equally beautiful but maybe more of a nod to the city’s industrial austerity.

It was another glorious day and it was enough just to be on the water in the fresh air without wearing all our clothes at once. Many other boaters obviously felt the same way and we passed as least 10 boats going towards Paddington – I bet there weren’t any spare moorings there that night!

Beautiful Bridges

Beautiful Bridges

It was well past 3pm when we got back to the marina. By the time we’d packed up and dragged ourselves away from the boat there was only time to go home and pick up a takeaway. So much for our grand plans to go shopping in Uxbridge! That’ll be an adventure for another day.

Dog Update:

For those cynics who thought we’d never manage three weeks without a vet visit, well, it’s been three weeks and two days, so there! Yet again Lou has bashed her leg against a wall while running at top speed. She needed three staples to pull the resulting wounds together, she’s also on a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. She got air under the skin so when you run your fingers over her leg it sounds like crinkly paper – urgh! Of course, I only knew it was air under the skin because Blue had a similar injury a couple of years ago. My diagnostic skills are being honed to a fine edge with these two 🙂


Just a few more photos – I’m not a photographer but there was just such a lovely light on Saturday, or did everything seem so radiant just because it’s the first warm day of the year?

"Simon's Bridge" (named for one of Richard's colleagues who had a hand in refurbishing this bridge)

"Simon's Bridge" (named for one of Richard's colleagues who had a hand in refurbishing it)

Useful dog-walking on the approach to Little Venice

Useful dog-walking on the approach to Little Venice

Coots make use of everything on and in the water

Coots make use of everything on and in the water

First signs of the martian invasion

First signs of the martian invasion

Old and new canal architecture

Old and new canal architecture

5 Responses to “Boat Blog: Packet Boat to Paddington and back”

  1. Lesley K said

    I am going to suggest to my young nephew that he becomes a Vet and specialises in teating Greyhounds – He will have it made after only a few years if your pair are the norm!

  2. indigodream said

    When will he be ready to start? We have a nice chalet in the back garden – he can live in….

  3. indigodream said

    Hmm we could charge rent for the shed, that would give us more scope for cruising…

    Our greyhounds are not the norm and I suspect that a lot of their injuries are down to their life style!

    It is a really tough call. We give our hounds a huge amount of freedom, more when recall is working well and they do spend a lot of time running at significant pace. They are useless hunters but fantastic runners and they are so so so very pleased with themselves after a high octane walk. The downside is that they are so thin skinned and brains don’t engage at all when they focus on running. If we kept them on a lead a lot more and not let them run through woods then they won’t get any of these minor cuts and grazes, but then they would miss out on all that high octane enjoyment. My mother’s garden is particularly high octane hence the last lot of cuts but then they have such a good time, awake and active for most of the day (highly unusual for a greyhound). It also means that they then sleep (and dream) for at least a day after a day with my mother, excellent peace and quiet. What’s a few cuts when you can have so much fun (and pay for the vet’s new car)?

    Fortunately they are getting older, not wiser but slower so injuries will hopefully get less!


  4. Greygal said

    I was just struck again by what a handsome pair L & B are – high octane obviously suits!

  5. indigodream said

    They are rather beautiful, though that is ‘doting mum’ talk! They get away with all sorts of naughtiness on account of being cute – what a sucker I am……
    Lou is in my good books today as she’s managed to catch a fat rat that was sitting outside my kitchen window eyeing up what was for tea – clever girl!

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