Saturday 24th October
We got back to the boat on Saturday evening though we felt as if we’d hardly left – Richard and I took a gang from his office down to City Road Basin on Thursday, then on Friday, Richard cruised back to Paddington with some clients. Indigo Dream really does know the way now!
We didn’t manage to get back to our pontoon mooring in Paddington Basin on Friday evening, but we did get a spot on the ‘towpath’ on the train station side. There are lots of boats moored here so it’s obviously a secure spot, but I felt more vulnerable as there are more footsteps passing by in the night. We had no trouble though – they were just innocent passersby.
The highlight of the evening was spending some time with Kath and Neil from Herbie; we’ve been reading their blog for a while and it was great to meet them in person. We popped over to say hello and once they’d finished their supper they came over to us for a glass of wine. We whiled away a pleasant hour nattering about narrowboats – we could have spent much longer! They might be recoiling in horror at the thought, but we’d love to spend an evening with them sometime – we’d barely touched on their passion for music and many other important things (we only talked boat paint, we never even broached the boater’s favourite subject of toilets :-)…….
Sunday 25th October
Well, we’ve not long since come home after our second charity cruise for Greyhoundhomer. What a day – we’ve been so lucky with the weather – it was glorious. The only real touch of autumn was the brisk wind which dented the promised balmy 17 degree temperature forecast. But we had sun aplenty – in the sky and in our hearts as we enjoyed the company of another crew of greyhound lovers.
We had a busy morning before our guests arrived, we needed to finish the food shopping, fill up with water and wage war on the ever-present fluff on the floor. The water point at the Little Venice services is a bit hopeless and the fill took ages. However it did give me time to go to the small Sainsbury’s in Sheldon Square and get that job done. The walk to the boat took me past the life-size, and very realistic, sculptures of the walking men. I couldn’t see a plaque nearby – does anyone know who the sculptor was and why they were erected here? The water took so long to fill that we were afraid we’d miss our guests, but we got back into Paddington Basin just in time to pick up Greygal.
We were delighted that Greygal decided to join us for another cruise – she’s a great crewman, or should that be skipper – she was soon issuing decisive orders from the helm 🙂
Shortly afterwards we got a phonecall from Pip and Nick – owners of two rescue greyhounds who sadly, from our point of view, stayed at home. Apparently Bella, their girl greyhound, is very nervous and wouldn’t have enjoyed the new experience, and Archie, their boy, is bonkers and might have run amok – fair enough! We picked Pip and Nick up from Little Venice Basin, invoking the wrath of the waterbus crew who objected to us stopping at their empty mooring for 20 seconds to pick up our guests. C’est la vie!
It was too nice a morning to be bothered by a bit of rudeness and we set off on this most familiar route. But we’re not bored yet – even though the canal’s the same, the people we meet on the way are not, neither is the weather, neither is how we feel, and there are always new details to be spotted – like a couple of information plaques which I’ve never noticed before (next time I’ll read them properly and try to remember what they said as well!). We also take a great deal of pleasure from seeing our guests enjoying the cruise.
We were expecting another couple, Ian and Ann, this time from the boating fraternity, but sadly Ann has come down with the flu. Get well soon Ann, there’s a trip on Indigo Dream ‘in the bank’ for when you get better.
You know the route by now – Maida Vale tunnel, Regent’s Park, London Zoo (no hunting dogs today but we did see the warthogs), Camden locks, Battlebridge Basin, Islington Tunnel, City Road Basin……
This time we went right into City Road Basin and our guests generously bought us a drink in “The Narrowboat” pub. The pub’s had a make-over since we last ate here (several years ago). The food coming up from the kitchens looked very good indeed though we decided to lunch on the boat. The pub food errs on the pricey side and it was too nice a day to spend inside. The pub wasn’t dog-friendly either, though Blue and Lou benefited from the rest – these cruises are very stimulating for them, even if they don’t get to run around so much.
We got back on board and headed back towards Paddington – this is a really neat 1-day there-and-back trip. We stopped for lunch above St Pancras lock and watched the Eurostar trains come and go – they’re big beasts – all the more so when they’re passing just a few feet above the boat!
Our guests had decided to give the boat museum a miss in favour of spending a little more time in Camden Market. We were very conscious that with the clocks having changed, we had 1 hour less of daylight for cruising today. We needn’t have worried – we had a very smooth day’s cruise and there was plenty of time for everything.
I dropped Pip and Nick off at the second lock so that they’d have a little more time to explore the market while Richard, Greygal and I (or should that be me, Richard and Greygal?!) took her up the last lock and moored at the excellent ‘stop and shop’ moorings just beyond. The three of us then took the dogs for another wander around the market. It was amazing – more packed with people than I could have imagined and far far bigger than I realised. Today we wandered towards the back of the market to the covered hall which is characterised by vast and intricately carved wooden panels around the entrances. They are astounding. There are also many just more than life-size hollow bronze statues of the horses that used to put the barges along the canal. Add to this the colour, smells and sounds of a market in full swing and you have an almost overwhelming sensory experience. Blue and Lou behaved magnificently today, all day, but particularly in the market. They had lots of fuss and drew lots of attention as always. Greygal, who, at one time, was walking behind us, commented on the ripple of talk that the greyhounds generated as they passed through the crowds. She was impressed that the market’s denizen’s seemed aware that Blue and Lou were greyhounds and were also aware of the plight of many retired hounds. So, our cruise has not only generated a little cash, it’s also raised the profile of retired greyhounds – you can’t ask for more.
We got back together at the mooring – Pip and Nick had very modestly managed not to spend any money; we’d been tempted by hot chocolate and crepes, while the dogs had two Polish sausages in a bun (bought not stolen!). We had our umpteenth latte of the day and almost reluctantly set off for the final leg of the trip. There’s a lot to be said for sitting on the back deck in good company, soaking in Camden’s unique ambience and talking about many things, mainly greyhounds!
We’d all come by car today, and were parked in the vicinity of Warwick Avenue so we dropped our guests off in Little Venice (not on the trip boat moorings this time!!). We weren’t returning to Paddington Basin – we’ve exhausted our 7-day allowance there and needed to find a 14-day mooring. We headed west and were pleased to find a mooring not far from the park in Little Venice. We were pleasantly surprised – we hadn’t expected it would be so easy to find a space and it is 14-day. This takes the pressure off next weekend – we could do with a few days at home to catch up with some decorating and whatnot.
However, it’s all ‘negotiable’ – by next week we should be in a position to make a decision on how/where we want to spend the rest of the winter – 3 to 6 month mooring spot or continuous cruising? Of course, if the weather stays this fair we may well have another little trip – with the days so short now I feel a bit desperate to get out and enjoy every last drop of sunshine available. We certainly made the best of it today……