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Boat Blog: Charity Cruise

Posted by indigodream on 22 October, 2009

Saturday 17th October

Paddington Basin to City Road (and back again)

Paddington Basin by night.....

Paddington Basin by night.....

We were excited to be having visitors today – 7 of the 8 charity places had been taken. It’s a modest contribution to Greyhoundhomer’s coffer’s but every little helps when you’re a small charity.

Note: apologies for the grainy photos, we forgot to adjust the camera setting from nighttime to daytime – d’oh!

The first to arrive was Greygal, and her husband Andy.  Greygal has been on board before so Indigo Dream’s like her narrowboat in the South; her own boat is moored up north at the moment. It was particularly great to meet Andy, known only as A on her blog. As her readers will know, Greygal and Andy have FIVE rescue greyhounds, though they left the pack at home today.

The next to arrive were Cheryl, Jan and Clive, three of Greyhoundhomer’s volunteer dog-walkers along with a horde of greyhound goodies just in case someone asked us for a calendar along the way.

Duke has made himself at home already...

Duke has made himself at home already...

Finally we were joined by Peter, Sue and their rescue greyhound Duke – a Spanish Galgo. We deliberately met a little way from the boat, Lou did her usual 1-minute bark then we migrated together back to the boat where Duke was allowed into the pack with no drama.

Now, our charity cruises are open to all comers, but by chance, we were all greyhounds lovers, and four of our party were experienced narrowboaters!

With our party complete, we set off from Paddington Basin with Greygal’s experienced hand on the helm while we made tea and coffee and hot danish pastries – lush.

With plenty of crew I had a very relaxing day. It couldn’t have been more of a contrast to yesterday, when I’d been on the helm by myself all day. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s much much better to have company, especially such good company…..

So instead of helming, I was able to relax indoors, chatting and making a fuss of Duke, who is absolutely adorable. He did eye up Lou’s sofa but wisely decided against it – he and Blue swapped between their three beds all day (two of Blue’s and Duke’s bed on deck).

Apart from a random run from Blue, then Lou, in the morning, the dogs were exceptionally well-behaved today. They rummaged around the locks, allowed themselves to be mascots for greyhound rehoming and still found time for a bit of loafing around. A narrowboat’s a confined space but the three of them got on really well – greyhounds are fantastic!

Our happy crew, well, almost, Clive and Richard are at the front taking the photos...

Our happy crew, well, almost, Clive and Richard are at the front taking the photos...

We had a good trip out to City Road lock passing the delights of Little Venice, Maida Vale Tunnel, Regent’s Park, Camden Locks, and the Islington Tunnel to name but a few. We noticed in passing that Camden Market has expanded since we were last here and now forms a lively and colourful backdrop to the top AND middle locks. We’d planned to go turn round in City Road Basin but the vote was to turn above the lock and spend the time loitering in the market on our way back.

But first we visited the London Canal Museum, where our guests had an extended rummage – it’s a fascinating place.  The three dogs stayed on board while our guests explored the museum – Duke was so good, once he’d worked out that his mummy was out for a while he just settled onto Blue’s bed, though he did keep one ear up. Our two were flat out on the sofa as usual. We had lunch on the fine museum moorings, just enjoying the ambience of Battlebridge Basin.

Amazingly, our crew outnumbered the gongoozlers at Camden top lock; that definitely wasn't the case on the way back!

Amazingly, our crew outnumbered the gongoozlers at Camden top lock; that definitely wasn't the case on the way back!

We said a reluctant goodbye to Greygal and Andy here – we were close to Kings Cross train station, the most convenient for them, and they had five hungry hounds waiting for them at home……

The rest of us set off towards Camden. The market was even busier on our way back – gongoozler’s everywhere. This gave the Greyhoundhomer team a great opportunity to talk to people about greyhounds and to raise awareness. They got some donations and sold a few Christmas Cards and a calendar. Blue and Lou were made even more famous as they were introduced as Mr and Mrs November!

Our guests had a wander around Camden Market with the three dogs while we found a mooring. We were pleasantly surprised. What used to be the lock moorings are now 4-hour ‘stop and shop’ moorings – brilliant! We moored up and went to join the others at the market. It’s an amazing place – foods from every corner of the globe, colour, sound and hundreds of shoppers. I was so proud of the dogs – they drew loads of attention, further raising the profile of retired greyhounds and they didn’t bat an eyelid at the crowds around them. They didn’t even steal any food, though some of the stalls were very tempting!

A true narrowboater's grin - of course, we all exist in this state of bliss....

A true narrowboater's grin - of course, we all exist in this state of bliss....

We did a round of the market then went back to the boat. We passed through London Zoo and as we were cruising past I spotted that the african hunting dogs were out. I hastily stopped the boat and reversed back so that everyone could have a view and take photos. Then we set off, but had another stop to look at the Warthogs!

By the time we’d stopped to photograph the animals, the light was starting to drain out of the day so we headed back to Paddington without further loitering. Luckily, we were able to moor at the same pontoon that we’d left just a scant 8 hours earlier. It was hard to say goodbye to our guests – we’d started out as strangers but by the end of the day they felt like old friends. The Greyhoundhomer crew had a long train trip through the weekend engineering works so they headed for home. We chatted to Sue and Peter for ages, they’re greyhound and boating enthusiasts; poor people – they must have wondered whether they’d ever escape 🙂

A well-deserved smile of achievement (or should that be relief?) after a neat single-gate lock entry

A well-deserved smile of achievement (or should that be relief?) after a neat single-gate lock entry

We were exhausted and elated by the end of the day – we’d been so anxious to make the cruise a success and the relief at having such a great day with our lovely guests was overwhelming.

We still had enough energy to explore Paddington Basin by night – it’s quite a place. It’s strangely empty during the evening, its pristine paving unsullied by the trampling of the hundreds of workers that inhabit it during the week. It gave us a chance to admire the sheer cleanliness of the place, the grand scale and the sculptures.  We found a superb lebanese restaurant – Massis in Sheldon Square (www.massis.co.uk) and had a truly scrumptious meal; more pricey than our usual but very special.

We’d left the dogs on board – they were exhausted after a thoroughly stimulating day. We had to force them off the boat for a final wee and they slept all night, almost all day on Sunday and most of the day on Monday. We managed to stay awake long enough to watch the end of Strictly then we were off to our (own) beds too – it’s been an exceptional day.

Photoblog:

With 9 experienced greyhound handlers on board it wasn't long before Lou found someone to rub her tummy....

With 9 experienced greyhound handlers on board it wasn't long before Lou found someone to rub her tummy....

Contentment.....

Contentment.....

Camdon Lock had really filled up by late afternoon; a perfect opportunity to talk to people about the merits of owning a greyhound.

Camdon Lock had really filled up by late afternoon; a perfect opportunity to talk to people about the merits of owning a greyhound.

The boys getting ready to visit Camden Market

The boys getting ready to visit Camden Market

The greyhounds coping very well with the crowds and the attention at Camden Market; they're very adaptable.

The greyhounds coping very well with the crowds and the attention at Camden Market; they're very adaptable.

Duke trying out Blue's bed - "it'll do" he said....

Duke trying out Blue's bed - "it'll do" he said....

One last photo of Duke - he really is adorable....

One last photo of Duke - he really is adorable....

2 Responses to “Boat Blog: Charity Cruise”

  1. Lesley said

    Hi Sue and Richard
    I am so pleased that you all had a grand day doing a bit more for Greyhounds – good to hear the Greygal and A managed to join you as well. Keep up the good work!!
    Lesley

  2. indigodream said

    We’re off again this Sunday – shame you’re so far north, we’d be glad to have you on board. Greygal’s a glutton for punishment – she may be back this weekend!

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