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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for December 21st, 2009

Dog Blog: Fun in the snow

Posted by indigodream on 21 December, 2009

We can’t resist a few photos of Blue and Lou enjoying the snow – of course, they’re only outside and going ballistic for about 10 minutes – it’s only fun if you can spend the next several hours warming your toes on a snug duvet 🙂

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Boat Blog: Winter Wonderland (1)

Posted by indigodream on 21 December, 2009

Friday 18th December

Teddington to Kingston

Blue and Lou enjoying the snow...

We did indeed wake up to a winter wonderland on Friday morning – 4 inches of snow with a few drifts to 6 inches. Laughably little if you live in, say, Canada, but a catastrophe in Surrey – we’re just not used to this sort of thing!

The garden and surrounding countryside looked bright and beautiful, the trees were attractively etched in snow that glowed silver in the sunshine. Blue and Lou went ballistic – they chased each other round, kicking up great clouds of snow as they romped around this new landscape.

In the meantime I stood inside and grumbled – I hate snow, mainly because it almost always contrives to fall on days when we need to get out and about. Today we were due to go up to the boat and cruise to Kingston for Richard’s office Christmas dinner (at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant). There was no question of cancelling – although we had to dig ourselves out of our road (ungritted and steep), once we got onto the main roads it was clear and Teddington/Kingston hadn’t had any snow at all!

No snow here - cruising past Teddington Weir...

Once we’d got out of the countryside, the roads/traffic weren’t too bad. We had a surprisingly good drive up to the boat. She’d been fine on the lock moorings. It wasn’t warm on board but Richard had set the central heating to come on once a day during the frosty weather so it lacked that bone-chilling edge. Nonetheless, the heating went on straight away, the dogs snuggled into their beds (well wrapped in their coats) and we set off upriver. We had a fine cruise up to Kingston and had a choice of moorings – what a relief. We’d been afraid that the recent red boards might have filled the moorings with stranded boats.

We were hoping to moor on the townside left bank (looking upstream) – we remembered that there were visitor pontoons but we couldn’t remember exactly where they were. The first visitor pontoon was on the left immediately after Kingston Bridge – I think it may be a new. The moorings were comprehensively signed – the mooring fee is apparently £10 from 9am – 9pm, then £10 from 9pm to 9am – outrageous! There are also signs warning that boats mooring without paying the fee (or overstaying) will be ‘clamped’, or rather chained etc etc. Hmmm, very friendly!

Looking back towards Teddington - what a lovely day it is here...

Out of sheer curiosity we rang to find out about what happened if you moored from 2pm on the first day until 11am the following day – would it be £30? The phone number on the signs got us through to the local office, the man on the end of the line was exceptionally courteous but said it was a new arrangement, he didn’t know how much it cost, or anything else for that matter. He would ring his boss and get back to us. That he did, within 10 minutes, but his manager didn’t know either but if we rang the relevant person in head office then they might be able to advise us…….sorry, can’t be bothered! The new mooring pontoon’s very convenient, but it’s not that convenient, especially when you consider that it’s surrounded by FREE short-term moorings by John Lewis, on the pontoons a little way upstream and on the opposite bank!

We moored on the opposite bank, where there are FREE 24-hour mooring rings, there’s also a bit of parkland for the dogs, it’s within easy reach of Kingston Bridge and a mere a 5-minute walk into town. Now, it is a bit muddy and slippery, but since when has that bothered narrowboaters!

The boys on deck - It was very cold and I think Blue's taking shelter behind Richard...

With the boat safely moored and the heating running full pelt we set off to the restaurant – Blue and Lou stayed on board but they were already tired from their many dashes through the snow earlier. We had a very convivial meal at Jamie’s restaurant – the main courses were amazing, though the desserts were a little disappointing. The portions were HUGE so there were plenty of leftovers for Blue and Lou. We had to be out of the restaurant by 5pm but the party was to continue in Ha Ha’s riverside bar. We popped back to the boat to check on Blue and Lou before we re-joined the party. It was snowing in Kingston by now so I was doubly glad that we didn’t have to face the drive home and the slide back down our road!

On one of our trips back to the boat we got acquainted with one of our neighbours on the mooring – nb Shenanigans, a previous denizen of the Thames and Kennet Marina in Reading – one of our favourite mooring spots. He had some hair-raising tales to tell about high high the water rose when the river was on red boards – the mooring rings were underwater and he had to wade out to his boat!

We had a lovely evening, but by 8pm everyone had gone home (concerned about the snow) and we were back on the boat; by 9.30am we were all tucked up in our respective beds. The boat was toasting by this time – we’ve got the winter quilt on and I finally found the hot water bottle which I’d stashed on board in January but promptly lost! The dogs were snug in their pyjamas and wrapped in blankets so were set for a good night’s sleep.

nb Shenanigans - when the river was on red boards the water was just below the level of where the boat's roof is now..

Except it wasn’t to be – there were a couple of trip boats carrying parties up and down the river – it may have been the one party whizzing up and down several times. Whatever! ‘Whizzing’ was the operative word – they created a big wash which rocked Indigo Dream on her moorings with tedious regularity. It’s not just the movement (which would have been enough to induce nausea in the sensitive) but it’s also the noise – the slurp and gurgle of the water against the concrete bank which lasted for long minutes after the boats had passed.  The last trip boat passed at 12.15am and we finally got some peace.

Except that Lou then got me up twice in the night – once to tell me she was cold and the second time to tell me she was hungry! Blue joined in and looked hopefully at the cabin door (he’d been frightened by a distant firework and had adamantly refused to go out before we went to bed). I gave him permission to whatever he needed to do indoors – no way was I opening that cabin door with the outside temperature reading at minus 4 (the external thermometer transmits a reading to the clock indoors)! Luckily Blue didn’t have any really urgent needs and went back to bed – by the time I’d got them settled and re-wrapped in their blankets I was despairing of getting any sleep at all. But it was lush under the duvet so I needn’t have worried.

I spent some of my waking hours musing on how we’ll reconcile the needs of commercial traffic and leisure users in the future. I think that calls to bring the waterways back to their commercial use have a bit of a rose tint, harping back as they do to a romantic notion of quiet horse-drawn freight boats replacing the roar and rumble of trains and trucks. But the reality is that new commercial vehicles will need to work hard in order to compete with road and rail – they may well become the waterways equivalent of “white van man”.

I support commercial use, in principle, as I think it is a means of protecting the waterways in the future; but I find myself bleating about the cost of our Gold licence and what that rights that might entitle us to. I hope that the rights of both types of user are not mutually exclusive and that we can find a way forward that allows commercial traffic to make money and for leisure users to have a peaceful mooring!

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