Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for January, 2010

Boat Blog: Starting as we mean to go on….

Posted by indigodream on 1 January, 2010

Friday 1st January

Lock 97 (Grand Union) to Black Horse (Greenford)

Happy New Year to you all!

We’ve had a sparkling day’s cruise today with the benefit of wonderfully crisp winter weather, a great stretch of canal and tremendous company in the form of old friends Gil and Nick (who saw the New Year in with us at home last night) and new friends (if I can be so bold) – Simon from nb Tortoise and Carrie from nb. Blackbird.

We got to Indigo Dream a little after midday – we’d been so organised in bringing some milk with us for the lattes but had forgotten that we’d run out of bottled water, so off Richard went to the shops. In the meantime  Gil and Nick stood on deck, enjoying the bright sunshine and the relative warmth of this sheltered spot. Blue and Lou bobbled around the towpath, enjoying a bit of attention from the many passersby, including another dainty greyhound – she was on a long walk to Greenford which her owner admitted would do her for the next few days. Likewise our two, the Hanwell flight usually yields enough excitement to make them sleep for two days!

The towpath was buzzing – so many walkers; hardly surprising, it was a glorious day. We did spot one bit of drama – a woman was walking her great dane along and speaking very loudly to the dog “be  good girl now, be a good girl” etc etc – the great dane growled and made a lunge for Blue (who was minding his own business) and just pulled the lady over and walked all over her – the woman holding the lead ended up lying on the towpath under her looming dog. No harm done (the towpath was soft) but I get the impression that this isn’t the first time that she’s been pulled over – scary…….

Simon and Carrie walked up from Brentford to meet us and arrived just in time for coffee! Carrie had brought her lovely dog Milou  – there was the usual 1 minute commotion from Lou then all the dogs settled onto the boat as if they’d been travelling together for years.

We headed off up the flight with our unusually large crew making easy work of the locks. It was a particularly sociable day – there were a lot of curious gongoozlers, observing every lock entry with an eagle eye – I was extra-careful not to disappoint them. We did well on bonus balls today – Simon fished a rugby ball out of the canal (this was later donated to a young lad we met on the towpath) and a small red ball for Milou to chase. Carrie and Simon also fished out another carrier bag full of garbage from the water, though our prop didn’t get fouled at all today. I, of course, stayed on the helm with the hand-warmers – they’re brilliant!

Nick, who is a serious biker, tells me that there is a wide range of heated clothing that can be plugged into the boat battery – he suggests that I try a waistcoat next. At this rate I may yet become the first cyborg helmswoman 🙂

Blue, Lou and Milou thoroughly explored every lockside; Blue had an extended rummage between two of the locks – there’s an offside path through some scrubland which he’s obliged to investigate every time.

The canal seemed even more exposed today, as if the vegetation had retreated a little further in the freezing weather. This meant that there was plenty to see but I didn’t take notes because the story of this day is the story of our companions. We chatted the day away, enjoying the easy familiarity of our old friends and getting to know the new. We’ve already sung Simon’s praises but Carrie is a delight – she’s got that instant charm which made us feel as if we’d known her forever. She currently moors up in New Mills (one of our favourite places) – she ‘s welcome on Indigo Dream anytime she’s down south (as is Simon, of course!).

Richard left us at the top lock and went off to do the car shuffle while the rest of us bobbled along in the boat. Carrie and Simon enjoyed sitting in bow with Milou, watching the world go by – it was a rare chance to see the view from the front – they’d normally be busy on the helm. I gossiped with Gil and Nick and the afternoon drifted by smoothly.

Richard had cycled back from the Black Horse – we picked him up just past the Uxbridge Road moorings. With the full complement of crew on board, we had a change on the helm (the hand-warmers are good but they don’t do anything for the feet and mine were two ice-cubes by now). As the sun disappeared over the horizon we gradually found excuses to be indoors until Simon and Richard were left on the back deck while the rest of us (human and canine) cuddled up to the radiators. We did pass a few boats on the move along the Paddington Branch, including Diesel Lizzie – it’s good to know that she’s operating on the canal. Between the heating and powering through the currents on the Thames we’ve used up almost half a tank of fuel since we filled up in Willowtree a fortnight ago.  Oh, while I’m on technicalities, the batteries had only dropped by 2% since we were last on board.

The company made the time pass quickly and before we knew it we were at the moorings at Black Horse, Greenford. It was nice to come to our winter home – the flight was largely ice-free but when we got to the summit the canal became increasingly solid, the ice first whispered past the boat then it cracked. It’s good to know that we could leave her for 3 months if we needed to (not that we will – no way!) and that we’re moored within a few boat lengths of a waterpoint, a winding hole and a dog-friendly pub.

We finished the day with supper at the Black Horse – we had three sheepskins on board so Blue, Lou and Milou could stretch out on the pub floor in comfort while we enjoyed a slap-up meal (Blue and Lou later indulged in some sausages but Milou was too fast asleep to join in).

It really had been a diamond day but the satisfaction borne from a fresh air, a full stomach and a few beers (note from Sue: I had diet coke!) meant we were nodding off and we still had to drive home. Richard dropped Carrie, Simon and Milou off in Brentford them came back for the rest of us. We had a good drive home and we said a reluctant goodbye to the last of our guests.

The human and canine crew of the Indigo Dream are now contentedly dozing off in front of the telly – if this day is a sign of things to come then we’re in for a marvellous year’s cruising…..

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