Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

The Odyssey 2010: Day 2

Posted by indigodream on 7 April, 2010

Sunday 28th March

Cowley Lock to Croxley Green

We had a very leisurely start to the day today, luxuriating in the fact that we’re back on the boat and will be for nigh on every weekend for the foreseeable future.

The girls are in charge - Lena at the helm and doing well despite my instructions (I tend to mix up my lefts and rights!)

Richard and Liam went off to do the car shuffle in the morning while Lena and I had as relaxed a start as you can have with a squiggly 2-year old on board! Actually, Seamus is very good and Lena is possibly the most sensible mum since the dawn of time so it was no bother. Seamus and the dogs are getting on well, largely based on the fact that they all ignore each other so there’s no drama.

Of course, the most important job of the morning was to restore the sofa so that Lou could have her day-bed back – she gave the distinct impression that she hadn’t had a wink of sleep on her kitchen bed.

The menfolk bought the cars back to Cowley from Black Horse, crewed us through Cowley Lock then went off for an all-boys adventure with Seamus. They were to leave one car in Croxley Green (our planned destination) and drive one car back to meet up with Indigo Dream. This neat arrangement left Lena free for a lesson in narrowboat handling and lock operation – she did very well indeed, though like many novice drivers, she needs to build her confidence. It doesn’t help that the first lock that she attempted (Uxbridge Lock) had a lively bywash which pushed her right across the canal. But she didn’t panic, followed my shouted directions from the towpath and entered the lock in good order. I think that this is a good sign – as the proverb goes “smooth seas don’t make good sailors” – Lena didn’t panic or get flustered and unlike some of our other lady friends, didn’t declare that she’d never try the helm again – she’s game to learn and do better next time – brilliant!

Blue and Lou, of course, enjoyed rummaging around the locks – I’ve noticed that Blue’s recall has improved a lot, and Lou is less feisty with other dogs, though she will still make an exception for over-excitable spaniels (i.e. ALL spaniels). Maybe these dog-training classes are making a difference after all, though I think that it’s us being trained more than the dogs. We’re due to try the bronze good citizens test on 29th April – wish us luck!

Solo! Go Lena......

I didn’t take any notes today so I don’t have any detail for the blog, only random memories of a well-loved section of canal. The Grand Union is an interesting canal and deceptively rural along this stretch, which runs through Colne Valley. It is flanked by the abundant lakes left behind by the once extensive London Clay quarries that provided the bricks to build the city. We meandered along while Lena got a feel for the helm. The canal was deserted (apart from the uniquitous on-line moorings) – there were very few boats on the move, though it was a lovely day. The menfolk got some fresh air as well – they dropped a car off just north of Denham Deep lock and walked down to meet us. In the meantime, we paired up with an old boat, and an even older boater, at Denham Deep Lock – perfect timing. Lena was going to be on shore duty this time, but she was politely and firmly sent back to the boat by a random assortment of people from the boats moored below the lock who wanted a bit of exercise. Ah well, we didn’t complain – the shore crew seemed to be very competent.

We did have one little ‘incident’ where a young man was cycling up the towpath with his two little children – he’d been chatting to us for a while. I suspect that he’s missed out on his education somewhere but at least he was spending time with his kids in the fresh air, which can’t be a bad thing. He was fascinated by Indigo Dream and at Denham Top Lock actually stepped onto the gunwhales and started walking down towards the helm – I told the cheeky b”ยฃยฃ$% to get off my boat and so so he did – he didn’t think I’d notice!!!!!

The froth on the water hints at the strength of the flow opposite the pub - I wonder how much extra business is swept in by the fierce current??

How I love this stretch of canal – it’s so peaceful, with magical glimpses of the lakes through the leafless trees. I must have bored our guests rigid by pointing out to them again and again that we were in North London and still inside the M25. In fact, I behaved like an impoverished estate agent, desperate to sell the Grand Union to our guests; I needn’t have bothered – one glance at their contented faces proved that they’d bought the canal already. Over and over I repeated the phrase ‘this is one of my favourite places on the waterways’ before working out that I had a ridiculously large number of favourite places – it might be easier to keep quiet and just list the bits that I don’t favour! But the Grand Union is a bit special, even though it lacks the rural lusciousness of the Llangollen and Shropshire Union.

We made good time up the canal, passing through the very attractive lock at Black Jack’s Mill (have I mentioned that it’s one of my favourite places ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Lena continued with her lessons on the helm, though with four of us on board, time at the helm was hotly contested as we all enjoy a bit of cruising. We had a bit of bang just below Coppermill Lock – there’s a VERY frisky flow across the canal and although we were expecting it (it’s in the Navigation notes in the Nicholson’s)ย  and had warned Lena that it was coming, she didn’t quite manage to compensate enough and the back just swung into the bank. No harm done (apart from to Lena’s nerves). Would we have done any better on the helm? Well, it is a tricky spot and there was a LOT of water flowing fast across the canal. The main thing that we would have done differently is give it more revs to get more steer – something that novice helmsmen always find daunting.

There was a huge amount of water in the Grand Union – the bywashes and outfalls were lively and the locks were overflowing, making hard to open the gates at times.

Stocker's lock restored!

And here's the same lock during last year's filming - spot the difference in the sign??

Last year we passed through Lock 82 which had a very large sign in BW livery proclaiming it to be Fiddler’s Lock. Now, it’s on our map as Stocker’s Lock and we had wondered whether the production company filming an episode of ‘Lewis’ nearby had changed the lock name for dramatic purposes. Well, now we know! Lock 82 is now back to being Stocker’s Lock, with a tiny and very plain sign, unlike the fancy proclamation put up by the TV company.

By the time we got to Batchworth we’d run low on milk for our lattes so we had an ’emergency stop’ at the Tesco moorings. We were overtaken there by a trip boat which took no prisoners when passing moored boats, giving everyone a little rock to test the ropes! Amazingly no-one complained or shook a fist at the driver! We were also overtaken by one of the few boats on the move today – he went up Batchworth lock by himself – he hadn’t looked out for us because he’d assumed we were moored outside Tesco for the duration. Never mind, it gave Liam, Lena and Seamus time to explore the miniature canal below the lock and for me to get caught by yet another canal eccentric who wanted to know whether I’d seen a ‘canal squirrel’ – a cross between a red and a grey squirrel with a fondness for swimming. When I was a young woman I used to be a weirdo-magnet – it seems that I haven’t lost the talent, it’s just been dormant for a while ๐Ÿ™‚

The boat that had gone ahead of us waited at the next lock so we shared the last locks of the day with him. He wasn’t the easiest company but locking as a pair is convenient. We stopped for the day just below Lock 78 – there are useful mooring rings between the lock and the railway bridge (opposite the boatyard). But there was one more drama to come – Richard had cycled ahead to scout out the moorings but came back briefly to wave us forward before dashing off up to the lock. Our locking companion had carried on up Lock 78 single-handed and had managed to fall into the canal while trying to jump down to his boat from the lock gate. It sounded like quite a drop and must have been painful – Richard heard the thump of him hitting his boat before the big splash of him hitting the water. He managed to swim to the side but the canal’s deep here so he couldn’t actually get out of the water – Richard had to haul him out (with some difficulty – wet clothes weight a ton!). Luckily the boater seemed to be uninjured (other than to his pride) but obviously shaken and shocked (though I bet he’ll find some bruises later when the adrenaline has worn off). It was a sobering event, even though it didn’t affect us directly – it made me very aware of how careful you have to be when you’re boating single-handed.

After that excitement, the menfolk went off to do the car shuffle while Lena and I packed up. An hour later we were in the local Harvester with its poor service and indifferent food. It didn’t matter, all we needed was some fuel for the drive home – we were all pleasantly soporific after a day of fresh air and relaxation……

Ooh, I must mention that Lena, me and Seamus were singing ‘London’s Burning’ as a three part round from the back deck as we approached Croxley Green – magic ๐Ÿ™‚

Today’s Trivia….

Right, today’s trivia is about Black Jack’s mill and lock – as I’ve mentioned, it’s a very attractive lock and I wondered about where the name came from. I found out that Black Jack’s mill was a flour mill. The present mill building is Victorian, built in the mid-1800s, but there’s been a mill on the site for maybe a thousand years – it’s mentioned in the doomesday book. Apparently ‘Black Jack’ the miller was so called because he was notoriously cruel to his donkey! In more recent times, Black Jack’s mill has been an italian restaurant and was used as a location for an episode of Dr Who back in the 1980s. The restaurant sounds good in this write-up http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/270418.black_jacks_mill/ but sadly I’ve read that the restaurant closed in 2006 – if you know better then let me know – I can just imagine sitting in the mill enjoying a fine italian meal and a bottle of crisp white wine. The mill is now a private residence – what a great location! This link suggests that they do B & B but I’m not sure how recent this information might be.

It will be interesting looking up these random bits of canalside trivia – I’d assumed, for example, that the canalside pubs and mills were there BECAUSE of the canal. But it seems that some, at least, pre-date the canal by many hundreds of years and suffered the equivalent of having a motorway built in their back gardens……

Photoblog:

These 'maxi-grab' stickers festooned every lock and flat surface - cheap and tacky advertising by a company that should know better..... Where's that sea-searcher magnet?

Sunday 28th March

Cowley Lock to Croxley Green

We had a very leisurely start to the day today, luxuriating in the fact that we’re back on the boat and will be for almost every weekend for the forseeable future.

Richard and Liam went off to do the car shuffle in the morning while Lena and I had as relaxed a start as you can have with a squiggly 2-year old on board! Actually, Seamus is very good and Lena is possibly the most sensible mum since the dawn of time so it was no bother. Seamus and the dogs are getting on well, largely based on the fact that they all ignore each other so there’s no drama.

Of course, the most important job of the morning was to restore the sofa so that Lou could have her day-bed back – she gave the distinct impression that she hadn’t had a wink of sleep on her kitchen bed.

The menfolk bought the cars back to Cowley from Black Horse, crewed us through Cowley Lock then went off for an all-boys adventure with Seamus. They were to leave one car in Croxley Green (our planned destination) and drive one car back to meet up with Indigo Dream. This neat arrangement left Lena free for a lesson in narrowboat handling and lock operation – she did very well indeed though like many novice drivers, she needs to build her confidence. It doesn’t help that the first lock that she attempted (Uxbridge Lock) had a lively bywash which pushed her right across the canal. But she didn’t panic, followed my shouted directions from the towpath and entered the lock in good order. I think that this is a good sign – as the proverb goes “smooth seas don’t make good sailors” – Lena didn’t panic or get flustered and unlike some of our other lady friends, didn’t declare that she’d never try the helm again – she’s game to learn and do better next time – brilliant!

Blue and Lou, of course, enjoyed rummaging around the locks – I’ve noticed that Blue’s recall has improved a lot, and Lou is less feisty with other dogs, though she will still make an excpetion for over-excitable spaniels (i.e. ALL spaniels). Maybe these dog-training classes are making a difference after all, though I think that it’s us being trained more than the dogs. We’re due to try the bronze good citizens test on 29th April – wish us luck!

I didn’t take any notes today so I don’t have any detail for the blog, only random memories of a well-loved section of canal. The Grand Union is an interesting canal and deceptively rural along this stretch. It is flanked by the abundant lakes left behind by the once extensive London Clay quarries that provided the bricks to build the city. We meandered along while Lena got a feel for the helm. The canal was deserted (apart from the uniquitous on-line moorings) – there were very few boats on the move, though it was a lovely day. The menfolk got some fresh air as well – they dropped the car off just north of Denham Deep lock and walked down to meet us. In the meantime, we paired up with an old boat, and an even older boater, at Denham Deep Lock – perfect timing. Lena was going to be lock crew this time, but she was politely but firmly sent back to the boat by a random assortment of people from the boats moored below the lock who wanted a bit of exercise. Ah well, we didn’t complain – the shore crew seemed to be very competent and we had a smooth rise.

We did have one little ‘incident’ where a young man was cycling up the towpath with his two little children – he’d been chatting to us for a while. I suspect that he’s missed out on his education somewhere but at least he was spending time with his kids in the fresh air, which can’t be a bad thing. He was fascinated by Indigo Dream and at Denham Top Lock actually stepped onto the gunwhales and started walking down towards the helm – I told the cheeky b”ยฃยฃ$% to get off my boat and so so he did – he didn’t think I’d notice!!!!!

How I love this stretch of canal – it’s so peaceful, with magical glimpses of the lakes through the leafless trees. I must have bored our guests rigid by pointing out to them again and again that we were in North London and still inside the M25. In fact, I spent several hours selling the Grand Union to our guests, but when I glanced at their contented faces I realised that they were totally sold already. Over and over I repeated the phrase ‘this is one of my favourite places on the waterways’ before working out that I had a ridiculously large number of favourite places – it might be easier to keep quiet and just list the bits that I don’t favour! But the Grand Union is a bit special, even though it lacks the rural lusciousness of the Llangollen andย  Shropshire Union.

We made good time up the canal, passing through the very attractive lock at Black Jack’s Mill (have I mentioned that it’s one of my favourite places ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Lena continued with her lessons on the helm, thoughwith four of us on board time at the helm was hotly contested as we all enjoy a bit of cruising. We had a bit of bang just below Coppermill Lock – there’s a VERY lively flow across the canal and although we were expecting it (it’s in the Navigation notes in the Nicholson’s)ย  and had warned Lena that it was coming, she didn’t quite manage to compensate enough and the back just swung into the bank. No harm done (apart from to Lena’s nerves). Would we have done any better on the helm? Well, it is a tricky spot and there was a LOT of water flowing fast across the canal. The main thing that we would have done differently is give it more revs to get more steer – something that novice helmsmen always find daunting.

There was a huge amount of water in the Grand Union – the bywashes and outfalls were lively and the locks were overflowing, making hard to open the gates at times.

Last year we passed through Lock 82 which had a very large sign in BW livery proclaiming it to be Fiddler’s Lock. Now, it’s on our map as Stocker’s Lock and we had wondered whether the production company filming an episode of ‘Lewis’ nearby had changed the lock name for dramatic purposes. Well, now we know! Lock 82 is now back to being Stocker’s Lock, with a tiny and very plain sign, unlike the fancy proclamation put up by the TV company.

By the time we got to Batchworth we’d run low on milk for our lattes so we had an ’emergency stop’ at the Tesco moorings. We were overtaken there by a trip boat which takes no prisoners when passing moored boats, giving everyone a quick rock to test the ropes! No-one complained or shook a fist at the driver, so I assume that it’s such a regular feature that local boaters have given up on it. We were also overtaken by one of the few boats on the move today – he went up Batchworth lock by himself – he hadn’t looked out for us because he’d assumed we were moored up outside Tesco for the duration. Never mind, it gave Liam, Lena and Seamus time to explore the minature canal below the lock and for me to get caught by yet another canal eccentric who wanted to know whether I’d seen a ‘canal squirrel’ – a cross between a red and a grey squirrel with a fondness for swimming. When I was a young woman I used to be a weirdo-magnet – it seems that I haven’t lost the talent, it’s just been dormant for a while ๐Ÿ™‚

The boat that had gone ahead of us waited at the next lock so we shared the last locks of the day with him. He wasn’t the easiest company but locking as a pair is convenient. We stopped for the day just below Lock 78 – there are useful mooring rings between the lock and the railway bridge (opposite the boayard). But there was one more drama to come – Richard had cycled ahead to scout out the moorings but came back briefly to wave us forward before dashing off up to the lock. Our locking companion had carried on up Lock 78 single-handed and had managed to fall into the canal while trying to jump down to his boat from the lock gate. It sounded like quite a drop and must have been painful – Richard heard the thump of him hitting his boat before the big splash of him hitting the water. He managed to swim to the side but the canal’s deep here so he couldn’t actually get out of the water – Richard had to haul him out (with some difficulty – wet clothed weight a ton!). Luckily the boater was shaken and shocked but apparently uninjured (though I bet he’ll find some bruises later when the adrenaline has worn off). It was a sobering event (even though it didn’t affect us directly) and made me very aware of how careful you have to be when you’re a single-handed boater.

After that excitement, the menfolk went off to do the car shuffle while Lean and I packed up. An hour later we were in the local Harvester with its poor service and indifferent food. It didn’t matter, all we needed was some fuel for the drive home – we were all pleasantly soporific after a day of fresh air and relaxation……

Today’s Trivia….

Right, today’s trivia is about Black Jack’s mill and lock – as I’ve mentioned, it’s a very attractive lock and I wondered about where the name came from. I found out that Black Jack’s mill was a flour mill – it sounds as if the present mill building is Victorian but apparently there was a mill mentioned at this site in the domesday book. Apparently ‘Blakc Jack’ the miller was os called because he was very cruel to his donkey!

Immaculate lock entry...

Buffalo horns.....

"and which political party paid for your fine new house?"; "quack quack. quack quack quack quack"; "really? well, thank you, the voters will be fascinated..."

Conservation in action - this reed bed is very close to the 'stinkhole' - the notoriously fragrant mooring spot adjacent to a large sewage works. I wonder whether the reed beds are involved in water purification in some way.

Driver under instruction.....

I must find out the story behind this grinning gorilla - it's been there for years....

We're still in London but we're a long way from Shepherds Bush, or maybe not.....

Quirky exhibition below Batchworth Lock

5 Responses to “The Odyssey 2010: Day 2”

  1. I think the Maxigrab is better than a Seasearcher. Well better than the one I had anyway.

  2. indigodream said

    I thought it was really bad that they should put their little stickers on virtually every lock beam and every lock mechanism that we encountered that day. I would avoid any company that resorts to such tactics, as Sue wrote they should know better.

  3. Carrie said

    Ha! You made me laugh about being a wierdo-magnet. I used to have the same problem! The good company I now keep tells me this is now a thing of the past ๐Ÿ˜€
    Yes, reed beds are often used to trap sediment where there’s water contamination.
    Happy cruising you two x

  4. indigodream said

    Hi Harnser, it’s the advertising that we objected to, not the product! We can’t argue with you about the quality of the product as we’ve only ever used a sea-searcher, with variable success, it would so help if we only dropped magnetic things overboard ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Liam said

    I was singing too!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.