Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Boat Blog: Reunion….

Posted by indigodream on 14 November, 2009

Wednesday 11th November

Perivale to Paddington Basin

I had planned to move the boat yesterday but it seemed wiser to stay at home and keep an eye on Lou post-anaesthetic. I’m glad to report that she’s recovering well. Nonetheless, my nerves were totally frazzled by the end of the day – Blue ran into a thorn bush at the park and I spent the latter part of the afternoon bathing the grazes and picking the thorns from his forehead, fortunately all superficial.

I was therefore somewhat relieved to hand the care of the dogs over to Richard on Wednesday morning and head off to the boat. I had a good trip, though Perivale is a long way down the Central Line. Thankfully much of it is overground and I got a good view of the BBC Centre at White City (or does it count as Shepherd’s Bush?) and the art deco monument of the Hangar Lane Tesco. What can I say – if I do puzzles on the train I’ve been know to miss my stop and I’m between novels at the moment!

Herbie asked whether there were any pubs/shops in Perivale so I did a quick eyeball survey today. I’m afraid to report that Perivale has a tube station (useful), newsagent/sweetshop, dry cleaners, community centre, industrial estate, library and a decent looking cafe attached to the Christian Centre but no pubs or supermarkets. I’m up for doing a more comprehensive survey next time I’m there by car but I guess that defeats the object a bit! There is good dog walking up Horsenden Hill.

I never did find a pub but I did get chatting to an old couple passing by – they were on their way to try out the cafe, which is new, apparently.  It was a serendipitous meeting – they’re from Wales, she was a teacher in a primary school two villages up the road from where I was bought up – that practically makes her family. We’d only been chatting for 5 minutes and they invited me to join them for a coffee – give us enough time and we’d work out all of our mutual friends and relatives! I had to decline – the boat was calling – but it was great to meet them and get a taste of Wales in England – I always get hopelessly homesick after I’ve been to Cardiff.

I was buoyed by this meeting, and felt even better when I caught sight of Indigo Dream – safe, sound and looking mighty fine on her mooring. My spirits soared at the sight of her – what a marvellous thing it is to have this boat.

I had my comeuppance shortly after – back in Uxbridge I’d grumbled at Richard for banging the pins in too firmly; today it took me the best part of 20 minutes to undo my own work in the pin-banging department 🙂

The mooring in Perivale is a fine spot, but it is shallow here. When I arrived the water was crystal clear – testament to the relatively infrequent boat movements at this time of year. It was pretty turbid after I’d reversed her off the shallow mooring.

So what did I notice today on this most familiar of routes……

Perivale itself is mainly housing (and no pubs!), all tucked neatly away behind the high hedge bordering the towpath. The houses are arranged in terraces of four, solid, respectable and filled with the silence of the commuter belt – the streets and houses seemed deserted from my vantage point. The nice thing about autumn is that the naked trees expose a wider view of the surroundings so there’s always something to see. A little further along I saw a huge demolition site with just one solitary hut left behind – I can’t remember what was here before, as the demolition looked relatively recent. The solitary hut had a scrawled warning in red paint – “Danger Live” with a cartoon frowny face with it’s hair sticking up on end (for vandals that can’t read, of course!).

I decided to not to stop at Sainsbury’s in Alperton today – I got there in no time and it seemed too soon to stop. But by now it had started raining, a cold and persistent drizzle which became increasingly unpleasant with every passing minute. I was ok – I was thoroughly waterproofed and when I bought an umbrella out later I was in clover – the weather was wet but I wasn’t. Neither were the crowd of young men in high-vis jackets tasked with tidying the towpath vegetation in Alperton – Ealing Road Bridge was more than wide enough to shelter their gang of 10 as well as the four resident lager drinkers!

The new footbridge a little further on seems to be progressing apace – the towpath’s open again and the floating paths have gone, but the bridge isn’t open yet. It’s an attractive structure though it seems very hefty for a footbridge – I wondered whether the architects had gone ‘football crazy’ as the white tubular steel bridge is reminiscent of Wembley – maybe it’s the new local look.

The famous arch itself merged with the mist today; but there was a strange atmospheric effect here – the North Circular roared below the canal but when I looked over the parapet there weren’t many cars at all – the mist seemed to amplify every engine.

The food factories were disappointingly odourless today – just when I could have done with the comforting smell of waffles all I got was the whiff of solvent and, in one place, mince pies – I’m not keen on mince pies so it didn’t hit the spot!

I had a moment of whimsy as I passed by what looked like a power station near Acton Lane, which is flanked by a ‘wharf’ offside. If land-owners don’t want you to moor you’ll frequently see signs saying “private – no mooring” or similar; here the signs say “Danger of Death” with the graphic picture of a man being hit by lightning – there’s no mention of moorings but I took the hint 🙂

Richard tells me that is Willesden Sub-station which apart from the hair raising voltages inside is protected by 7,000V on the outside. Rumour has it that a few years ago someone broke into one of the rooms full of live exposed high voltage equipment, ran a cable from a 3 phase socket to their caravan and then rebuilt the wall. As that part of the room was behind locked fences – too hazardous to go in normally – no one noticed till they had a major outage for maintenance.

Even though the weather had the low-level foulness typical of a November day, the towpath had  it’s fair share of joggers again. They all seemed so intent, but I guess there’s no point in going to all that effort for no gain. At least they were better clothed today…..

I had such a good trip down the canal – the waterway was deserted apart from one BW boat and a tug pushing a rubbish-laden butty. I had plenty of time, so I stopped off a Sainsburys in Kensal Green. It seemed more inviting today, especially as one of the boats opposite seemed to be burning joss sticks in their stove – the exotic smell wafted enticingly over the moorings. I can’t remember whether I’ve stopped here before, but it’s a useful store and the mooring bollards seem to be more conveniently spaced than at Alperton. The area around the store (town-side) looked interesting – a strange mix of old and new; the new buildings were featureless brown constructions but the older buildings grandly proclaimed their identities – an ornate tower (probably for water) and a massive block loudly labelled “Pall Mall Deposit” – I wonder what that was all about.

Ooh, while I remember, the costumier resides on nb. Sea Mistress – she’s a fine looking boat…

With the boat stocked up with supplies I made myself a latte (don’t tell Richard or he might stop making them for me….) and got underway for the last couple of miles. It had stopped raining by this time so I had a pleasant trip into Paddington, passing this year’s “Apprentice” penthouse on the way – it’s really obvious from the water though we went mad trying to identify it while the series was on telly (until Adam from Debdale enlightened us, that is).

I was concerned that there might not be any spaces in Paddington but there were two available on the pontoons. Having done a picture-perfect single-handed mooring at Kensal Green, I proceeded to make a pig’s ear of trying to reverse Indigo Dream into one of the spaces – the ever-present breeze at the end of the basin (well that’s my excuse!) just swung my front out – I was winding whether I wanted to or not! Discretion being the better part of valour, I decided to drive into the space instead – it would be so much better to do it that way you understand….

I loafed around on the mooring for the rest of the afternoon. My good intentions re. cleaning etc were wiped out by my lengthy chat with our Kiwi neighbour on the pontoon. Never mind, I was sure that the guests arriving later would forgive a bit of fluff on the floor.

Reunion....After a relaxing and solitary day, I was ready to welcome my old friends and colleagues on board. This was the reunion of a pharmacy team that I used to work with many years ago – we’ve all gone our separate ways now but we’re still London-based and try to get together every few years for a catch-up. Richard joined us as well – he was to be our crew while I got busy with the garlic bread. By 6.30 we had the early crew on board – Beth, Barbara A, Barbara J, Bola and Veronica – it was so very good to see them all again.

We had the most wonderful evening – we had an evening cruise down to Camden and stopped off there to find a takeaway. I was amazed – the market was locked up and deserted; for some reason I’d though the food stalls might operate right into evening. Fortunately we’d tanked up on garlic bread, and Beth brought us a home-made ginger cake, so the sole Chinese food stall that was open just filled the gap nicely. There may be more food stalls open on the road, but as we’d found what we wanted we didn’t venture further – we needed to get back to Paddington to pick up the last of our party.

Barbara J, Veronica and Bola all had a turn on the helm and did a brilliant job – I must have been such a clunky learner – everyone else who takes the helm for the first just seems to get it straight away; mind you, Richard is a good teacher.

All cosy on board.....We cruised back to Paddington, chewing the fat and setting the world (well, the NHS, to be precise) to rights. We were joined there by the rest of our crew – Vicky and Josie. Richard popped us back into the mooring before setting off home to see the doggies. The rest of us retired to the cosy cabin (the Webasto is efficient) and chatted some more. I’ve said this before, but an evening just isn’t long enough to spend with old friends – no sooner had they left than I thought of all the things I meant to ask about. I guess that’s a fine excuse for another get-together soon.

We usually ask visitors to put some money into our retired greyhound charity collection box instead of bringing wine. The ladies were very generous – they brought wine AND contributed a substantial £37 to the collection. Thanks for your generosity, ladies, the money will be much appreciated at Greyhoundhomer.

It was late, so I decided to stay on board and do a reverse commute out from London and into Surbiton (where I was working) on Thursday morning – cool! Or rather hot, although I’d turned the Webasto off, it was so warm that I had to open the side-hatch for an hour just to cool it down…..

I had a peaceful night on the moorings – you wouldn’t believe how quiet it is here (once the builders have stopped working on the new high rises!). I was greeted by two of the basin’s security men this morning – they were very solicitous and promised to drop a welcome letter through the hatch for me.

“How nice” I thought, confident that the boat would be watched over – both for its own safety and to stop us from overstaying our welcome, of course 🙂

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