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Archive for June, 2010

The Odyssey 2010: Day 25

Posted by indigodream on 22 June, 2010

Sunday 20th June

Berkhamstead to Kings Langley

Unusual denizen in this canalside conservatory (old wharf in Berkhamstead) - they also had a naked female mannekin in there - oooh er missus!

We slept quite well at these moorings despite a bit of noise during the night – the band at the football club until midnight, then ducks pecking at the weed below the waterline and a motorbike travelling the towpath. Richard didn’t notice any of these things so if you’re a sound sleeper you won’t either!

Brrrr, isn’t it chilly for almost-midsummer – Lou was whimpering with cold at 6am and had to covered with a blanket – poor thing!

We welcomed Ken and Ginny on board today – never a dull day on Indigo Dream! Richard picked them up from King’s Langley and bought them back to Berkhamstead – mega-efficiency as we now had a car waiting for us at journey’s end.

We set off soon after 10.30am with our lattes and warm chocolate chip brioche in hand – yum! I felt a bit sorry for Ken and Ginny – this stretch is more built up than others along the canal and arguably not as scenic, though the canalside developments have been finished to an excellent standard and make for a very civilised backdrop. Of course, it’s a heavily locked section so they didn’t get to relax quite so much – no sooner had they got comfortable than they were up again for locking duty! There were few boats on the move today but lots moored up along the towpath, which was also populated by a fair number of walkers, cyclists and fishermen.

Bess and Sharry (Sharry's very inquisitive and Bess is the quiet one......)

Luckily, Ken and Ginny share the welsh (or maybe it’s just my family!) interest in properties for sale – even though we can’t afford them and that moving to the area isn’t practical – they’re fascinating anyway (and before you tell us off, we’re just looking, from the outside and on websites – not wasting the residents’ time with spurious viewings). There’s a property just outside Berkhamstead that I’ve alway fancied – it has a very sriking canalside garden – would make a great end-of-garden mooring! Well, it’s for sale (details here) and not too badly priced either (by Surrey standards!) – will we be making an offer? Well no, not unless they build a high speed train link from here to Richard’s Croydon office!

The dogs were very subdued today – we’ve become used to the fact that Lou likes to lie on her sofa and only gets out to rummage at every fifth lock. But Blue, our champion rummager wasn’t well at all – he was very quiet, didn’t want to rummage, came back to the boat before he was called and was generally whiney and grumpy. He does have an infected rash in an embarrassing place – this may be making him very uncomfortable (vet seen on Friday – cream dispensed) but I think we’re on for another visit on Monday. They were both so glad to be home and they’re comatose on their duvets.

As we approached Top Side Lock we spotted two greyhounds being walked along the towpath – we called Blue and Lou on deck to say hello and the walkers shouted “are you the boat that’s offering dog cruises”. We were nonplussed and warily replied “maybe” 🙂

Four greyhounds getting on....

It turns out that the couple with the greyhounds, Roger and Margaret, got their two (Bess and Sharry) from Greyhoundhomer, where we got Lou, and had seen a circular email offering the charity cruise in July. As well as having two greyhounds, they also have their own narrowboat, Mary Beth, moored further north up the Grand Union on the Leicester Line. Working the lock gave us the perfect excuse to chat- the greyhounds were getting along very well (even Lou), though both of ours soon lost interest and went back to their beds. Sharry was a very keen girl and couldn’t wait to get onto the back deck for a sniff, then to the door, then…..well, everyone may as well come on board for a nosey round; how about a mini-cruise down one lock, maybe just one more, what about a beer – yes please! We gently kidnapped these two innocents and their lovely hounds. Having proved last week that Indigo Dream had plenty of capacity for three hounds, today we proved that she has more than enough space for four. Blue and Lou were supremely unbothered by the invasion. We found that four humans and two dainty greyhounds can easily fit on the front deck – we chatted greyhounds and boating while Richard and Ken worked us through the locks – it was such a great thing to happen. Really, what’s the chances……

We said a reluctant ‘goodbye’ to the extended pack at  lock 58 – they promised to email and keep in touch – we so hope that they do, it was such a great greyhound mini-gathering!

The weather got better as the day progressed and we finally divested a few layers – it proved to be warm in the sun and cool in the shade – where does that biting wind come from?

Mallow, possibly marshmallow attractively adorns this lockside...

We stopped for lunch just above Winkwell Lock then worked our way through the swingbridge (much to the delight of our guests). There were crowds in the Three Horseshoes’ canalside garden, waving and smiling as we cruised past. Ginny commented that before now she’s been part of the hordes on the towpath admiring the idyllic sight of boats cruising by – today she so happy to be part of the idyll. How wonderful – we enjoyed her enjoyment as much as our own, if that makes sense.

The day drifted by – lock followed lock and fine canalside development followed fine development. It’s a different aspect of the Grand Union – maybe it does lack the rural charm of other stretches, but it is very welcoming and the canal towns offer a bit of interest as well as good amenities. Apsley Marina looked as lovely as ever, though there were many boats moored on the towpath just outside as well. One day we will stop here – there’s a Fuller’s pub to explore as well as a few nice-looking cafes and bars. Now that we have a BWML mooring of our own, there’s a reciprocal agreement with other BW marinas so a visitor mooring in Apsley Marina would be a cost-effective and secure option if the towpath was full (as it was today).

The day was over too soon – we reached our destination by 5.30pm with the weather the best it had been all day.  An evening cruise through the Grove was such a temptation, but commitments were calling and it was a sensible time to stop. We moored above lock 70 – it’s very shallow here but a residential moorer opposite told us where it was a little deeper and we managed to get to within a few inches of the towpath. Ken and Ginny kindly gave Richard a lift back to get his car (very efficient) and I did the usual packing up – Blue helped by eating the remnants of food in the fridge (which I won’t carry home because of concerns about the cold chain)! So, Blue is eating, so he can’t be drastically unwell……

We got home around 8pm – not bad at all. We’re drawing ever closer to home now and our journeys are getting a bit easier. Hard to believe how we slogged up to Chester and the like last year – ah well, it all made sense at the time!

I can’t tell you how delighted I am with Indigo Dream – she’s proving to be everything I’d hoped for in a boat. We’ve had more guests on board this year than ever before and she’s such a sociable narrowboat – the decks are made for entertaining and the layout makes it easy for guests to move around the boat without seeming to encroach on our personal space. Four years on and we’re enjoying her more than ever.

Today’s Trivia

There’s a dreadful bit of demolition and dereliction on the offside between Nash Mills Lock and Red Lion Lock. I’ve been meaning to look it up for a while but wasn’t sure where to start. D’oh – the clue’s in the name – the large industrial site now half-chewed away is the sad remnant of Nash Mill. There’s been a mill on the site for a thousand years – in the Domesday book it was listed as a corn mill but from 1811, soon after the construction of the Grand Junction canal on its doorstep, it’s been a papermill. Although it’s had a succession of owners, papermaking was only stopped in 2006 and the site sold off for development. What a shame – I’d have loved to have seen it in its manufacturing heyday.  Anyway, it looks a right mess now though I did find this sneaky site where some enterprising gatecrashers have taken photos of the newly closed works – naughty but fascinating! I also found some plans submitted by Linden homes in 2008 – they’re proposing a new footbridge across the canal just below Nash Mills lock to allow easy access to Apsley and its train station – the report is well worth a browse.  I wondered whether the development was going ahead – well, apparently it received planning permission in 2009 but the ‘vision‘ in this snippet looms quite horribly over the canal – but then again, so did the working mill I guess…..

Blue Update:

Blue has a sore back, from his ribs to his hips – ‘sporting injury’ according to the vet. Blue is now on lots of antinflammatories, muscle relaxants, massage and limited exercise for a week. He is quite grumpy – bit like a typical ma…… better not say it 🙂


Apsley - the entrance to the marina

It's not all built up on this stretch......

What sort of force is needed to pull a mooring ring AND its concrete anchor from the ground? There was a BW butty attached to this ring when we came up but surely a speeding boat didn't do this damage????

This wharf has been restored since we last passed this way - I'm not sure what it's for - there were 'floating classroom' type boats moored here....

Lockside cat (on the offside) - Blue must be ill, he didn't even notice and came back on board without any prompting!

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The Odyssey 2010: Day 24

Posted by indigodream on 21 June, 2010

Saturday 19th June

View from home - this pheasant thinks he's a bluetit!

We didn’t do any cruising today, having spent the day at home watching rugby on Sky and picking at our home to-do list (without much motivation or success). We gave up at 4pm and came up to the boat instead. For all depressed English football fans – your rugby team did much better today, beating Australia by 1 point in a thrilling match.

We’d left Indigo Dream in a different spot in Berkhamstead than on our previous visits – right opposite the local football club. I was worried that she’d be in a state when we got back but she was absolutely fine. Of course, Mrs Paranoid had already checked the Berkhamstead local news website for any report of football-related disturbances – there weren’t any!

It’s an interesting mooring – it’s very handy to be just opposite the water and rubbish points – we filled with water and emptied the rubbish on Sunday morning ready for our cruise – perfect! It’s also right next to Waitrose and it’s useful car park where you can pay ‘n display for a day for just £3 – this suits our style of cruising very well. But it’s not a quiet mooring – the football club had a good band on this evening but it was loud. Well, loud until midnight then silence abruptly fell.

Note: Waitrose shuts at an 7pm on Saturday – amazing – I didn’t think that any supermarket closed that early any more!

We got in to Waitrose a whisker before closing and got some essentials for Sunday – but being so close to closing there was next to no fresh bread and no hot chickens for the dogs – maybe that’s why Blue was a bit depressed all weekend!

We’ve been meaning to explore Berko’s pubs for a few years but have never got round to it. Well, tonight was the night – we walked down the canal to peruse the 3 canalside pubs available – the Rising Sun by Lock 54 looked homely and is dog-friendly but it was packed (no floor space for Blue ‘n Lou to lie down) and it didn’t look as if they were doing food. The Crystal Palace looked a little quiet and had been damned by the faint praise of some other boaters that said the food was ‘ok’. So, we plumped for the Boat – this is a large and spacious pub, with very, very dog-friendly staff – they were so solicitous of our comfort and even more so of Blue and Lou’s (we ordered them some sausages and they bought out some chicken drumsticks as well!)! We found a great table with plenty of room for the hounds (the staff helped to clear some chairs so that the dogs would have plenty of room to lie down) and the service was good, as was the beer – it’s a Fuller’s pub so say no more! BUT the pub was let down by its chef – I’m afraid s/he wouldn’t get through the rounds in Masterchef – lumpy mash and raw ‘carmelised onions’ – what a shame!

The locals loved the dogs – one young lady squealed with delight when she saw the hounds – in fact, squealed at such a high pitch that it’s possible that only the dogs could hear the full extent of her joy! They got lots of admiring glances and a fair amount of fuss – we’ll definitely come here again, lumpy mash or no!

I must mention the young ladies of Berkhamstead – slender and shapely of leg, looking down beatifically from the lofty heights of their vertiginous stilletos. The water levels in Berko’s pounds are abnormally high – to within half an inch of flooding the topwaths. I did wonder whether that was deliberate – if these local lovelies ever toppled from their tottering towers then how much easier it would be to fish them out from a full canal!

We had a very pleasant evening in Berkhamstead – we’ll try to spend some time here when we next pass this way – it’s a fine boater’s town with it’s smiling face turned to the canal!

ps. Is anyone moored out in the dark wilds? Have you seen the green comet yet? It’s not here for long – I had a look with the binoculars in Berkhamstead but the moorngs are brightly lit (which is a good thing, security-wise) so there was no chance.

pp We met Felonious Mongoose in Berko last week – star of a review in Canalboat last year – we’re hoping to meet them again on one of the St Pancras cruising club’s tideway outings – looking forward to it! Oh, and I had a long chat with Mr Ubique – not the blogger but the proud owner of a 70ft narrowboat decked out in dark wook like an old ship – beautiful but a long way from Indigo Dream’s modern interior. We had a nosey around each other’s boat’s, honestly admiring but I suspect that we both secretly felt that our own boats were the best 🙂

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Boat Blog: Anyone interested in a charity cruise?

Posted by indigodream on 17 June, 2010

See London from a different viewpoint – you won’t believe it!

Date: Saturday July 3rd

Route: Paddington Basin to City Road Basin and back

Interesting sights: Little Venice, Regents Park, London Zoo, Camden Locks and Camden Market, Islington Tunnel. There will be time for an optional stop at the London Canal Museum (for a bit of history) or at Camden Market (for some of the most colourful shopping in London). Click here for a sneaky peek of last year’s cruise.

Cost: £20 per person, payable direct to Greyhoundhomer, our chosen charity. The cruise will take around 6 hours and we’ll provide lunch and liquid refreshments of all sorts!

Numbers: We can take up to 8 people and 5 dogs (no cats!)

If  you want to know more then please get in touch by clicking on the comments tab below or directly to richard at

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Dog Blog: By our guest dog blogger……

Posted by indigodream on 15 June, 2010

Saturday 12th June (aka The Odyssey Day 23!)

Marsworth to Berkhamstead

My southern floating kennel was here - nice, eh!

Hello, this is Arthur here, the guest dog on the guest blog. My mummy is Greygal and the fact that there’s a non-Sue blog post in the offing can only mean one thing: mum and dad invited themselves on board the Indigo Dream yet again. Honestly, they’ve got no shame. However, as I got a day trip out of it, I shouldn’t complain too much. I have to confess, I was a bit worried at first. Whenever I’m split from my pack and put into the back of the wheeled kennel on my own, it means I’m going to the vets – and that usually ends up with me either getting a prick in my leg or a finger up my bottom, both of which I don’t particularly like. Would you? But this time I ended up in a floating kennel, like ours but only better – it has this amazing dog deck at the back, perfect for stretching out your paws and getting in everyone’s way. Plus there were two new playmates to welcome me, Lou and Blue. They were great – they let me eat all their food and didn’t say a word. Well, Lou had a little grumble once but that was because I’d already put my nose in her bowl 108 times and she thought that the 109th was pushing things a tad…

And things got even better. When we set off, we went up some locks and we dogs were allowed out to rummage. We even have our own little dog doors on deck to go through! Now I’m never allowed off with mum and dad when we’re going along – we’re not even allowed out on deck as it’s tiny (though we did all bust out once just to prove that 5 dogs and 2 humans could stand on a trad stern).  But Lou, Blue and I were off at every opportunity and although I’m a bit doddery these days, I was still able to run away at speed from Richard when he tried to put me back on board.

Plenty of room for a hound to stretch out here - got to have a fleece though, those rubber mats are nasty.....

Anyway, we went up some locks with a lovely couple on a boat called Autumn Venture but had to say goodbye to them when we turned down the Wendover Arm. This was quite narrow and reedy and twisty and mum kept wiggling all over the place blaming the fact that she was used to wide canals for her inability to stay in the middle of the cut. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t let us up on deck – she doesn’t want us to know how pants a helmswoman she is. We’re always getting frightened in our floating kennel because there’s lots of banging – now I’ve seen her driving, I’m not surprised.

We had lunch at the end of the arm. I joined in, trying to clean the plates. There was bread and pate and cheese and cake and it was all yummy. Aunty Sue also gave me some roast chicken which was so much better than that processed economy stuff mum gives me. I was hoping that I might be readopted by Sue and Richard as I like them very much and the catering is of a very much higher standard than at home. I might put in for a transfer…

It was quite a hot day so we were very pleased to get into the Tring cutting. It was cool and bosky and as the cut wasn’t very busy, it was really tranquil – I lay down on the fleece kindly provided and had a kip as I was quite tired from all the running around and eating that I’d done. I wanted to get ready for supper – plus there were rumours of a Chinese

Oh oh, dad's on the helm - I'll just keep my eyes shut for a minute.....

takeaway for the humans, so I needed to be on top form if I was to avail myself of both kibble and chow mein. While I was snoozing, I did hear mention of a roast cow and I thought my luck was really in. But it transpired that they were talking about Cowroast marina – how dreadfully disappointing. The boat headed in for diesel and while Richard did a self-serve, we dogs went for an on-lead rummage but we were all so shattered that we just collapsed on the grass and refused to budge. Thankfully, by the time we tied up in Berkhamsted, we had recovered and I was once again feeling ravenous. Apparently, I have this disease that makes me hungry all the time. Mum says she’s got it too so I better make sure she doesn’t nick my pills.

Aunty Sue made me my dinner but I had my eye on the bigger prize. Richard and mum went off to do the car shuffle and were reckless enough to delegate the task of choosing the takeaway to Sue and daddy. They pored over the menu and rang  in the order – honestly, it would have been quicker to tell them what we didn’t want and I could hardly contain my excitement as I knew there’d be loads….and humans never finish a Chinese, never. Well, you can imagine my reaction when I saw Richard coming back with a whole big box

Time for a little nap - rummaging and eating is all very hard work.....

of food! I was very patient though and didn’t take anything until everyone had finished, and I shared with Lou and Blue as well – least I could do given that I’d devoured all their nosh. Then, just as I was trying to get to grips with the prawn crackers, I was put back on my lead and led back to the car – oh no, it was home time! I was very sad to leave my new floating kennel – such an improvement on the other one, and no bossy Susie either! I hope I get to go again. Thank you Aunty Sue and Uncle Richard – it was a lovely, lovely day and you, Lou and Blue are the most welcoming and generous of hosts.

Lots of love, Arthur. xx


Views of Marsworth...

We got to rummage 'offside' here so we didn't get bothered by other dogs - but I thought 'offside' was a bad things when England do it........

Locking with Autumn Venture - they were efficient locking partners, especially with our additional crew....

Jamaican shanty town on the Wendover (offside!)....

That sinking feeling....

We also welcomed Deborah and Stuart on board on Saturday but Arthur didn't notice them because it was me feeding him roast chicken all day! This is Deborah having a good time!

Fulbourne - how great to see her.....

Coming in to moor at Berkhamsted - opposite the football club, on the night of the first England world cup match - not for lovers of peace 'n quiet but there wasn't any trouble (well, not when we left at 9pm anyway!)

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Dog Blog: Greyhoundhomer Calendars 2011

Posted by indigodream on 11 June, 2010

Have you bought your 2011 calendar yet?

What do you mean ‘no’ – it’s almost midsummer 🙂

Greyhoundhomer’s 2011 calendar is now available – it features Lou as Miss March (on the MSC) and Miss June (this time posing on the BCN). See, her bum may be too big for the catwalk but she’s a top glamour model – that’s the third year in a row that she’s made it into the calendar!

Sadly though, she has only has a solo spot this year – the photos of Blue and Lou together ended up on the cutting room floor 😦

The calendars are available by post from for the bargain price of £6 plus £1 p & p

But if you want a signed copy (fee: 1 sausage per dog per ‘signature’) then why not avoid the postage fee and pick one up direct from Indigo Dream.

Go on, you know you want one…….

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Boat Blog: Charity Cruise for Greyhoundhomer

Posted by indigodream on 10 June, 2010

Sunday 6th June (aka the Odyssey Day 22!)

Bridge 111 (Globe Inn) to Bridge 130 (Marsworth – Red Lion pub)

Aggessive swans - this one wasn't letting walkers past her cygnets on the canal till Richard distracted him/her so the swan turned on him before huffing and hissing his/her way back to the water......

We spent the morning de-cluttering and de-cobwebbing!

Today we were welcoming on board Pip and Nick, who came on a charity cruise with us last October and their party of four friends, Norma, Mark, Val and Malcolm. I’ll let the photos tell the story – needless to say we had a fine day in good company cruising through a beautiful landscape AND we have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s raised a bit of money for Greyhoundhomer……

Ooh, I must mention nb Mulciber who were our locking companions today – what great people they are – we thoroughly enjoyed their company. I hope we meet again (not least because Mr ‘Mulciber’ took a shine to Indigo Dream and has asked us to let him know if we ever want to sell her!)

Cruising for charity with Indigo Dream…..

This year we’ve done something different with our charity cruises. We will be offering a ‘fixed’ cruise or two through London later on, but this year we’ve also opened up the odyssey for charity. If you can get a party of five to eight people together (and up to five dogs) then we will arrange a day trip for you wherever the boat is located at the weekend you choose (subject to our not being on the tideway, of course). We’re suggesting a donation of £20 per person (which includes the day trip, lunch and refreshments) with the money to go directly to the chosen charity. We collect for Greyhoundhomer but we are equally happy to support YOUR charity if you’re bringing a group on board. If you’re interested then do get in touch and we can tell you more…..

We should offer a big thanks to our insurers for allowing charity cruises – they are Nautical Insurance Services in Leigh-on-Sea Tel: 01702 470811


Are you having a nice day?

Working party at Grove Lock - we all changed roles randomly and frequently during the day though I don't think we persuaded any of the ladies to go on the helm.....

Cormorant in flight - they're one of my favourite birds, but I'm not a fisherman!

Ladies who lock....

weight training - canal style!

Weight training - canal style!

Thanks for doing all the hard work, Pip......we cruised on and only remembered to pick her up 500 yards later - oops, sorry!

Cruising past Pitstone Wharf...

There's no rest for the workers....

Great mooring by Bridge 130 - it has a useful rubbish point and the Red Lion pub (over the bridge) is charming. We didn't eat there but it looked very promising....

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The Odyssey 2010: Day 21

Posted by indigodream on 9 June, 2010

Saturday 5th June

Bridge 86 (near Eaglestone) to Bridge 111 (Globe Inn)

New and old - such a contrast between bridges....

We woke up unnaturally early today – we hadn’t slept that well – nothing to do with the moorings, they were very peaceful.

Anyway, we set off from the moorings at the extraordinary time of 8.10am. It’s not our earliest start ever, that the unbeatable 5am during last year’s BCN Challenge, but it was pretty good by our standards. We were delighted – we had a busy day ahead with all of the outstanding items from yesterday’s to-do list plus a visit to the Greyhound Extravaganza in Newmarket.

Richard went off to do the car shuffle and I carried on along the canal, enjoying the peace, the view, everything really. It was a fine morning and the perfect temperature for cruising but I knew it would soon get hot, hot, hot…..

Grass coating....

Luckily Richard did short car shuffles today otherwise he wouldn’t have had any boating time at all. His first stop was Fenny Stratford, and he was able to cycle back to meet the boat and get some time at the helm. We spotted the name of the fragrant factory just outside Fenny Stratford – that’ll be the subject of today’s trivia.

We stopped for water at Fenny Stratford and gave the boat a wash. BW have been out strimming again and when we got back to her yesterday, Indigo Dream was plastered with grass cuttings. I’m very ambivalent about it because I do like a well-maintained towpath but I don’t like a grass-encrusted boat – hmmmmm.

We met a hire boat full of New Zealanders at Fenny Stratford Lock – sadly they didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves – they were finding the locks a bit difficult and hadn’t built enough experience yet to feel confident. We helped them through while our tank was filling. They looked a bit horrified at a lock AND a swingbridge in one place! I hope they get to see the benefits of boating as their hire progresses. Richard swung the bridge for them and then helped nb Patricia through the lock – he had nothing else to do whilst waiting for the tank to fill.

Once the tank was full, Richard went off to do the car shuffle again and I pressed on down the canal. This time he left the car at Soulbury and cycled back to Stoke Hammond Lock in time to help me through. He had plenty of time – the canal was exceptionally slow today – the towpath has sprouted an unbelievable number of moored boats since we last passed this way. The pounds were also quite low – just by a few inches but enough to make the offside shallow.

Fenny Stratford - another attractive boater's village....

We caught up with nb Patricia at Stoke Hammond – she’d overtaken us at Fenny Stratford while we filling with water. Now, the crew of nb Patricia consists of a very spry, I assume, pensioner and his extremely well-behaved border collie. We shared lock with him right up to Soulbury and he was delightful company. His narrowboat is named for his wife, who died five years ago. He said that she was a landlubber and would never have taken to boating, but when he lost her, he decided to take to the water. He loves his new life on board with a passion – he was especially enamoured of the friendly people he’s met on the canal. Well, it’s impossible not to like him, so no wonder everyone he meets is so genial!

My dad died over 20 years ago – he was a flamboyant character and my mum was always rather in his shadow. The meeting with nb Patricia reminded of what my mum said recently, that you wouldn’t chose to lose your life’s partner, but when it happens it can be an opportunity to find yourself . That’s certainly what she did – she’s a different person, and I suspect that nb Patricia’s crew is too.

We got up the Soulbury 3 in no time at all and we had the last car shuffle of the day – Richard took the car to the Globe and I cruised again – I’m such a lucky girl!

Despite our early start, the slow pace meant that we didn’t get to the Globe until 12.45pm – we’d expected to be in Newmarket by then! We packed a hasty lunch, bundled the dogs into the car and set off for the Greyhound Extravaganza.

We had another immensely slow journey, having been led through the roundabouts of Luton – why oh why do we not check the map before listening to the satnav!

Five narrowboating greyhounds - from left - Blue, Lou, Miffy, Susie and Ranger; oh, and some people as well........

We got to the Greyhound Extravaganza at 3pm and soon found Greygal and three of their pack. This is the first time that our dogs have met and it was much more peaceful than either of us expected. Susie and Lou are both top bitches (in every sense of the word!) but after a few little growls just to establish who’s who’s they were fine. The two of them took delight in synchronised, quiet but exceedingly ominous growls at any passing male dogs, none of them loitered, they all got quickly clear of the two bolshie dames. We admired Ranger’s rosettes – he came third in the over 10’s class – quite an achievement because there were hundreds of hounds there – more than I’ve ever seen in one place. We enjoyed watching the last of the hounds compete – Ranger was robbed in the ‘dog the organiser’s would most like to take home’ class. Mind you, we were very taken with little Miffy – she’s such a sweetie. If you don’t know the pack then read Greygal’s blog – you don’t know what you’re missing 🙂

We’re so glad that we made the effort to go to the show – it was a long drive but well worth it to meet up with old friends and support the cause.

It took a while to get back – we picked a better route, 1 hour quicker that our route there but got caught up in a queue around a very nasty head-on collision between two cars.

By the time we got back it was far too late to clean the boat ready for our guests. We decamped to the pub and had a fine meal. The dogs came with us and made friends with the landlord, who gave them a few leftovers. He’s an interesting chap – he and his wife rescue battery hens and have done a lot of fundraising for a battery hen rescue charity. Richard offered him a charity cruise – we exchanged business cards and it will be interesting to see whether he gets in touch. Now that would be a departure from cruising for rescue greyhounds!

The dogs have been exceptionally quiet today – Blue’s been off for a few bobbles but it’s been too hot to bother. Luckily we have a fan on board and both dogs drooped on the sofa for most of the day.

We’d had another busy day but it was fun…..

Today’s Trivia

If you’ve ever cruised through Fenny Stratford you may nave noticed the large factory by bridge 94 and the sweet fruity smells wafting across the canal. Well, we’ve found out that the factory belongs to a global giant Sensient Technologies which manufactures a whole range of products from food flavours and colourings right through to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and industrial inks.

The factory at Bletchley produces a range of  botanical extracts which can be used in food and drinks but also in household products and fine fragrances. The site also produces “beverage and sweet flavors and systems alongside a dedicated area for sensory evaluation”. I wonder if this is what we smelt when we went past?

I did find this interesting article about the chemistry of what they do at the plant – is seems that the art of distilling flavours needs a lot of science!

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The Odyssey 2010: Day 20

Posted by indigodream on 8 June, 2010

Friday 4th June

Old Wolverton (Bridge 68) to Bridge 86 (Near Eaglestone)

Wolverton is looking so smart these days - it was still a bit run down when we first came through here a few years ago - the development on the left is almost finished - those warehouses were derelict.....

Well, it’s day 20 of the odyssey – in previous years we were only at day 1 on 4th June! I’ll say it again – fancy us being worried that we wouldn’t get to cruise enough on Indigo Dream 🙂

Our plan was to sneak away from our desks early, stock up at Tesco’s Wolverton (we have guests coming on board on Sunday), have an afternoon’s cruise, clean the boat, find a pub etc etc. But our already over-ambitious plans were totally scuppered by the M25 – what a nightmare – it would honestly have been faster by narrowboat! We got to the boat at 5.30pm, somewhat hot and weary.

We’ve had a bit of a drama this week. Richard hasn’t been able to find one of his key rings, we looked everywhere, but they weren’t at home, or in the car, or in his many pockets…….

Then this morning we had a phone call from Janet, the Mooring Officer – Richard’s keys had been found – in the boat door! Now, the boat was locked AND padlocked so it was secure, but nonetheless we did feel a bit daft! The keys had been spotted by one of our boating neighbours who’d taken them in. When he had to move on, he gave the keys to another of our neighbours who rang the moorings officer because he wasn’t sure when we’d be back. We’re very grateful – if we’d done the equivalent in the car it would be burned out in a ditch by now – boaters are the best 🙂

We recovered our keys from Brian of nb Swish – thank you so much for looking after them. We had a long chat with him, which was lovely, but dented our plans even more!

We’d planned to drive to Tesco as it would be easier to get shopping to the boat at the mooring rather than down the steps at Wolverton itself. But by this time I couldn’t be naffed!

Then Richard did possibly the most romantic thing he’s ever done in all the years I’ve known him – he offered to do the shopping while I cruised the boat down the canal. He would catch up with me later in a convenient spot – what a hero!

Milton Keynes......

I had a blissful cruise down the canal – you just can’t beat Milton Keynes – no really!  It was good to see a few boats moored in Wolverton near Bridge 71 – we’ve always wondered whether it would be safe there overnight. The moorings looked peaceful, the boats looked unmolested and the walls of the new developments haven’t been graffitied so it bodes well.

It was spring when we came up here a scant few weeks ago. But now the canalside is marked by the potent urgency of plants who know, without knowing, how brief  the summer might be. The towpaths were lined with an overwhelming abundance of life – “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…..” as Dylan Thomas once wrote.

The plants are not the only ones who are aware of the summer’s brevity – the boaters were out in force – not moving but moored up for the evening. Most of the crews were either down the pub or sitting on deck enjoying a fine evening with a bottle of wine. At least three different boaters asked me “did you get your keys back ok?” – it was very kind of them to be concerned but made me feel even more of a idiot for leaving them in the door in the first place 🙂

It was as stunning evening – the heavy heat of day was replaced by a cooling breeze – just right for cruising. The willows have finished flowering and the down drifting gently in the air gave everything a dreamlike quality. The canal was softly white where the down had settled – I felt marvelous on the helm – steering Indigo Dream through the creamy water like some modern Cleopatra in her milky bath!

Note: Age does wither me and custom can definitely stale my infinite variety!

Richard caught up with me at Bridge 79 and we loaded the shopping on board. Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere convenient for him to park the car here so he drove away and I cruised on.

We eventually moored up at our next rendezvous point near Bridge 86. We contemplated going a little further but it was dusk and we had a fine spot all to ourselves with a bit of parkland adjacent. It’s almost impossible NOT to moor next to parkland on this stretch!

A slow day ended well and we all fell into bed contented……


Great artwork! This prompted me to sing the song as I cruised along - too many boats around for it to be at the top of my voice though!!

I liked the look of this house - it has enough canal frontage to moor TWO 60 footers!

But new houses are creeping over the green - not enough to encroach on the canal though...

nb Funion Bargee - I hope that the kids enjoy the boat....

48-hour visitor moorings available at Great Lindford - so tempting as the adjacent park is great.

Lee Valley hire boat - we weren't sure whether it was a boat out on hire or an old boat that someone's bought from the fleet.

Lionhearts Cruising Club - nice long mooring pontoons....

Lovely evening - those cruisers have found a good spot in the shade....

Willow down on the water - Cleopatra's bath!

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The Odyssey 2010: Day 19

Posted by indigodream on 4 June, 2010

Monday 31st May

Stoke Bruerne (long pound) to Old Wolverton

Note: the photos are a bit random today – we forgot to  take them until we were well down the canal – we blame Adam and Adrian – we were too busy yakking!

We had a fantastic night’s sleep on the moorings – there’s nothing like a long day’s locking in the fresh air, a big supper, good company, a glass of wine and a quiet mooring spot to put us to sleep!

Swan demanding his modelling fee!

We were up and about by 9am and texted the Debdales to tell them we were decent. In the meantime Richard took the dogs for a walk and picked up a fellow greyhound fan who is much involved with fundraising for greyhounds via ‘greyhound friends‘. She came to admire the 2010 calendar and heaped lavish praise on Blue and Lou – we must get a stock of 2011 calendars (due out soon) – I’m sure we could sell a few on our travels. Adam and Adrian then arrived – Lou’s day was made!

It took a while to get underway – so many distractions – teas, coffees, plans and a meeting with the dainty blue lurcher from the boat moored behind us. He was cute – even Lou took to him! The boat behind us was a very unusual design – an aluminium self-build with a particularly noisy engine (we’re too used to Indigo Dream’s heavily silenced and insulated engine!). The aluminium boat’s cabin looked far too high to get under your average narrow canal bridge, but apparently they’ve been ok.

We set off with Adam who was keen to get his fix of locking; Adrian got his boating fix on the helm. He really enjoyed Indigo Dream’s slightly more powerful engine and large prop – she is a very responsive boat (especially as there was no wind today!).

It was Clapham Junction on the water. There were so many boats on the move, though the ratio of competent handlers to boats was a little low! One little boat coming up to the lock that we were just vacating first set a collision course for Indigo Dream then turned abruptly and drove his bows directly into the bank! Why? He had plenty of room just to tuck into the lock next to us. “We’re not very good” shouted one of the ground crew, Adrian and I contrived to look surprised at this revelation. It’s so good that they were going the other way – imagine if we’d been sharing locks with them!

Instead we shared locks with a very genial old couple who were moving the boat by themselves for the first time – they usually have friends to help. They were so pleased to see our trusty ground crew – the lady from the boat just couldn’t manage the heavy locks and didn’t drive – it’s not a good combination. Never mind, Richard and Adam just flexed their muscles and sorted out the locks with ease – they’re simply the best!

Lovely lurcher....

Blue and Lou were quietly cheerful this morning, mind you, I had increased the dose of their anti-inflammatories last night. If they’re having a quiet day it may be because they’re tired, but it may because they are in a bit of pain with their various arthritic joints. They had a good rummage down the locks and were very well-behaved.

Adam and Adrian stayed on for a little cruise down the lock-free pound. It’s just as well we didn’t press down this far last night – the moorings below the bottom lock were jam-packed. We had a serene cruise down the canal, enjoying the ambience – I was very surprised to see that the oilseed rape was still in flower – that’s a long season. But the main feature of the day was traffic – so many boats – it’s such a different world to the Nene. Of course, there was the all-important chatting to be done. Adam and Adrian told us about various boats on show at Crick – it was fascinating. It’s a dilemma – we didn’t go to see any of the boats not least because we were soaking wet and so were the dogs. Talking to Adam we wished we had, but then again we would have been ‘time wasters’ because we’re nowhere near wanting a new boat (though new ideas are always welcome!)

We let Adrian stay on the helm – we know what it’s like to have a share boat and how acute the withdrawal symptoms between cruises can be!

We dropped our guests off a couple of miles down the canal – they had a bit of a trek back to their car in Stoke Bruerne. It was ok though – it was a fine day for walking, dry but not too hot, and they are in training for a sponsored walk later in the year. It was so great to see them – we hope they’ll join us again when we’re back in London.

We toddled down the canal, getting to Cosgrove in a surprisingly short space of time. There was a bit of chaos around Cosgrove Lock – the infamous hotel boats Oak and Ash were brested up on the water point below the lock and were very much in the way, especially to wide beam boats. Narrowboats could get past them but only if the one on the right went out first and the second boat shuffled across to get out of the right hand gate. Above the lock, there’s a trip boat moored between the lock moorings and the narrows, which means that there’s only room for one narrowboat at the lock moorings – I stayed back on the far side of the narrows but had to stop other boats from jumping the queue! When I pulled in I thought I heard a scraping noise as if we were grounding at the front; but there are mooring rings here and it’s more than deep enough. Where was the noise coming from? It took a while for me to work out that it was coming from something flowing through the pipe bridges overhead.

Pipe bridges at Cosgrove - I wonder what was rattling through them?

The moorings around Cosgrove Lock were jam-packed, especially below the lock. This canal has really filled up since we last passed this way. It’s no wonder really – Cosgrove and Stoke Bruerne are proper boater’s villages….

I must have cruised up here in a dream – the distinctive iron-trough aqueduct over the river Great Ouse came as a complete surprise – you’d think we’d never seen it before! Never mind, it meant we could enjoy it as new……

Despite the traffic, the odd bit of congestion and slow lengths past moored visitors, we made good time. We had discussed several possible targets but decided on Old Wolverton. We’ve moored securely there before and there’s good access to the car via the industrial estate by the canal. I’m pleased to report that the Galleon pub by Bridge 68 is now open so the Wolverton moorings are no longer parched. The drinkers in the pub garden said the food was good as well.

Richard got the train from Wolverton to Northampton with his bike and collected the car. I did the usual domestics and packing. We were away by 5pm and despite a few detours we had a good trip home – once again we’d eluded the worst of the bank holiday car traffic.

We’ve got some people coming on board for a charity cruise next Sunday so we’ll be back on Saturday to take Indigo Dream down to the rendezvous point and give her a thorough clean. In the space of a short weekend we’ve managed to undo all of cousin Denise’s good work……


Cosgrove is so attractive....

Oak and Ash doing their thing....

Congestion below Cosgrove Lock

Clapham Junction at Cosgrove....

We liked this signage - may be on Indigo Dream 2! The dogs are two labradors......

That's the river Great Ouse - shame we never made it to the navigable end!

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The Odyssey 2010: Day 18

Posted by indigodream on 3 June, 2010

Sunday 30th May

Billing Aquadrome to Stoke Bruerne (long pound)

Awkward angles to exit the aquadrome....

I said yesterday that nothing much could dent our pleasure in cruising. I was proved wrong today – the WIND made for a hard day’s cruise and by the end of it I was thoroughly fed up at being blown off lock moorings that I wanted to reach and pinned on to the ones that I wanted to escape – aarrgh.

We left the aquadrome quite early, having said goodbye to the friendly ladies in the visitor centre and collected the deposit for our marina key card. We almost prolonged our stay – a gale blew up as we were getting ready to leave and it was a bit of a struggle to get out. We just needed to move straight ahead from our pontoon – no chance – it was sideways or nothing. In the end Richard had to hang onto the centre rope until the very last minute before leaping onto the helm; in the meantime I was at the front with the pole trying to pin the bow for long enough to get us moving forwards. This worked and Richard grounded the front, swiveled the back around and reversed off – aha, now we were in a straight line and heading for the narrow channel between the long narrowboats moored on the visitor pontoon and the shallow bank opposite. But the wind had other ideas, it just caught us and grounded the middle and back – aaaaaargh aaargh! There followed an anxious five minutes of jiggling around while we tried every trick in the book to get Indigo Dream away. The security guards on the traffic gate were very interested in our lack of progress but we got out before they sent in the heavies to help us!

The next tricky bit was the turn from the marina onto the river – it is a tight turn upstream but we were pleasantly surprised that the recent rain hadn’t really affected the river levels or flow – phew.

We knew that Billing Aquadrome had filled up for the weekend but we hadn’t realised the full extent of the site until we got onto the river. The campsite alone stretched from Billing Lock up to Clifford Hill Lock and beyond – the right riverbank (looking upstream) was filled with a tent village, make that town, no, it’s a tent city…..

But it looks better from here!

The dogs were so tired today – they both got off for a brief bobble at Billing Lock, we forced Lou off at the next and she pointedly laid down on the grass and refused to move. That was it for her – she didn’t get off the boat again until we were off the river and on the Northampton flight! Blue had a rummage just for show – I think he’s pulled a muscle in his back – he hasn’t been so active this week. This meant that he got lifted onto the boat where there was a big step – he wasn’t happy! He was even more unhappy to be kept on board above Weston Favell Lock, but the ponies were right by the lock moorings – one of the stallions did a little dummy charge towards the boat when he saw me mooring – we all stayed on board!

It was a fine sunny day with blue skies and puffs of clouds scudding along at supersonic pace! It was so windy. This wasn’t an issue when we had some forward momentum but it was a right pain at the locks when the boat was utterly at the mercy of the wind. I came to grief at Clifford Hill lock – I just could not get her into the moorings above the lock – I got the stern in but the bow just got blown across the river. In the end the best I could manage was to reverse the back into the jaws of the lock and let the boat rest on concrete edge where the wind put her. The only other alternatives were to let the wind blow me onto the weir or just move on upstream and leave the entire crew at the lock – aargh aaargh arrrgh!!!!! Richard, who was emptying the lock and opening the guillotine behind was alternately laughing and rolling his eyes – he seemed to think my plight was hilarious. Let’s just say that I was NOT amused…..

Oh, we didn’t get anywhere near the weir, the crew boarded safely and with a bit of grunt from Richard pushing us out and a fair few revs we got away ok…..

To add to the day’s stress, there were lots of rowing boats on the stretch above Weston Favell lock (which is marked as a canoe slalom on the plan). I did blow the boat’s horn at one who had his back to the boat and was rowing straight across the river towards us! He looked very shocked but I don’t think it would have ended well if I’d let him row straight into us! We kept a sharp lookout as the canoe slalom goes straight downriver across the turn to the navigable channel. There were some kayaks horsing around there – they got neatly into the left hand side as we passed but I was very anxious – 16 tons of narrowboat with 60 feet of ‘sail’ in high winds slowing down on a lock approach isn’t the most responsive of beasts!

The turn onto the canal is quite acute - I was very tempted to go further upriver - I don't think I'd have got very far!

We stopped off at Midsummer Meadows to do another pump-out (surprisingly the red light was on). Richard did a thorough job – well, it is free! The pump ‘handle’ was broken – we need to report that to the Environment Agency, but a few lengths of duck tape held it all together so that we could finish the job. Richard picked up a weirdo here – an old man with a walking stick who followed Richard up and down the ramp haranguing him about something or other – I think he doesn’t like the environment agency, or was it the local council, or possibly it was boaters he didn’t like – maybe he just didn’t like anyone – Richard stopped listening after the first 10 seconds and I stayed out of the way inside! The Waterways World feed had a link to this article – perhaps it was Mr Little which would explain some of the rant.

We got to Northampton in good time but I was anxious about the long trek uphill to Gayton so we didn’t stop to shop this time. There were a few boats moored at the town moorings – the river’s obviously been a bit busier over the weekend, though we’d only seen one boat on the move during the morning.

We met the second boat of the day at the lock off the river – it’s worth keeping a lookout as you can’t see the lock from the turn. We snuck onto the lock moorings while the other boat came down – Richard went up for a chat and found out that they had a five day river licence but weren’t sure of where to moor. We gave them our print-out of nb No Problem’s excellent guide – we hope they have a good time on the river. Luckily the entrance to this first lock is in a bit of a cutting and we managed a neat swap as I moved into the lock and they moved onto the lock moorings to pick up their crew. That was the last of our non-wind-assisted cruising!

We worked our way steadily up the flight with the dogs coming off for a bobble now and then, but often missing a lock or two and having a rest. Our lock entries were variable, the combined forces of the bywashes and the wind made for some interesting challenges; hovering in the lock jaws while Richard closed the top gate was just out of the question, though it worked well where the lock moorings were placed where the wind wanted to put us 🙂

I was feeling more than a little grumpy by this time – other boaters (moored up), passersby and fishermen kept saying “lovely day”, and so it was, “Grrrrrr, b”££$% wind” I replied…..

But we had a few bright moments. At Lock 14 we met a couple walking with their two young granddaughters. The girls hadn’t seen a canal before so they were entranced at the sight of a narrowboat coming down the lock and delighted when Indigo Dream then came up. Grandad and Grandma so reminded us of our old friends Steve and Margaret (owners of nb North Star ) that we invited them on a little cruise to the next lock. They were delighted and the girls, Sophie and Faith, were ecstatic. They ran from end to end of the boat – they loved the novelty and were fascinated with every aspect. Blue and Lou huddled on the sofa out of the way – ballistic six year olds are definitely on their ‘least favourite’ list! Our impromptu guests came up the next lock with us, experiencing their first rise in a narrowboat. We dropped them off at the top of the lock – they’d had a great time. Grandad and Grandma were lovely people – they can come again; Sophie and Faith had the obscene amount of energy available to all little kids – they can come on board again if they’re tranquillised, or maybe tied to a chair 😀

We noticed with fresh eyes how pretty this flight is – by now the surrounding fields were a fine tapestry of daisies, buttercups and purple clover. This time the roar of the wind in the trees drowned out the traffic noise from the A43!

That's a low pound...

From lock 5 upwards the water levels took a drastic dive – I have no idea why. At Lock 5 the pound was down by about a foot; between locks 3 and 4 it was down by over 18 inches and there was barely enough water in the pound to keep Indigo Dream moving. The long pound at the summit seemed to be down by a couple of inches – that’s a LOT over the several mile length of the summit stretch.

We hadn’t noticed on the way down, but apparently Lock 2 is a listed structure – there was a planning notice on the lock gate – BW have had to apply for permission to put a hazard warning sign on the lock!

We reached our target destination of Gayton Junction by 5.30pm – we’d had a very efficient day’s cruise. But it seemed a bit early to stop. Our decision was made when we spotted that the boat adjacent to where we’d planned to moor had a cat conspicuously curled up on its front deck. On we went…….

We decided to press on to Stoke Bruerne – either just past the tunnel, to the long pound, or, at a stretch, to below the bottom lock.

After so long on the virtually uninhabited Nene, the Grand Union mainline was a shock. Boat after boat came our way – amazing! Where do they all come from? We must have seen more boats in 5 minutes then we have done in days on the Nene.

Big smiles from Adam - he likes a bit of locking!

Just as we got to the Blisworth Tunnel my mobile rang – it was Adam and Adrian from Debdale ringing to arrange a meeting on Sunday. Alas, I had to cut them off as we went into the tunnel. We had a very slow passage through Blisworth – we caught up with a boat that was taking it’s time going through, much to Richard’s frustration. But in the end the slow pace worked in our favour. As we emerged into daylight I noticed two men waving from the towpath – ‘how kind’, I thought, but then I realised it was Adam and Adrian – they’d driven down from Crick to meet us. It was so great to see them – they’re such good company. I cheered up immediately!

Now, what to do? There was a mooring space just outside the tunnel but it seemed a shame not to cruise now that we had guests on board. We headed off to Stoke Bruerne, keeping our fingers crossed for a mooring space in the long pound. We quickly dropped down the first two locks – what a difference an experienced crew can make!

Although there were many boats moored in the long pound, there was a generous space left for us and we moored up for the night. The wind had dropped a little so we all headed off to the Navigation Inn for supper. It was mild enough to sit in the garden with the dogs; once they’d turned on the outdoor heaters it was positively balmy. They were full of stories about the boats at Crick which was great – with two wet dogs and no intention of buying another (narrow) boat we thought we could not justify going round the showboats so had missed out a bit there.   We had a great evening – Lou and Blue love Adam (they ignore Adrian – no idea why!). Towards the end of the evening Lou was making sheep’s eyes at Adam and begging for a fuss in the most endearing way. He kindly obliged…..

We made loose arrangements to meet up with Debdale’s crew on the next day and headed off to the boat. Our sociable evening had wiped out the stresses of the day – result!

Today’s Trivia

The Carlsberg brewery - can you see the viking longboat in the design?

Well, it has to be the Carlsberg brewery – gateway to Northampton – you can’t miss the enormous building complex and the warm smell of the barley mash.

Although there’s been a brewery on this site for some time, the Carslberg brewery is relatively recent. It was first built in 1970 when Carlsberg decided to reduce its transportation costs by brewing it’s Danish Lager in the UK. According to an article in ‘Concrete’ magazine in 2003, the original building was commissioned to be the best in modern danish design. The main building is, apparently, based on the shape of a Danish Viking longship. Now I didn’t notice this when I passed by – do have a closer look yourselves. I was more taken by the tall fermenting towers and whatnot that seem to have sprouted around the main glass facade. It sounds as if the site’s been expanded many times since 1970 so maybe the orginal design concept has been buried along the way.

As lager is basically malted barley, hops, yeast and water I did wonder what’s the difference between the brands (and there is a difference!). Carlsberg have their own species of yeast – Saccharomyces carlsbergensis which has been in use since the original lager was brewed in 1847. The Carlsberg website is a mine of information – something for drinkers to look at between matches during the World Cup season (or all the time for us as we have no interest in football) 🙂 A big surprise was Carlsberg Special Brew – I associate the 9% lager with street drinkers (all the drinkers that have been moved out of the more reputable parts of Northampton, in fact!). I never realised that it was originally brewed in 1950 to commemorate Winston Churchill’s visit to Copenhagen – it was developed with ‘cognac notes’ to appeal to Churchill’s taste (cognac was apparently his favourite drink). I never imagined that Special Brew would have such a refined history.

I knew I’d be looking at Carlsberg this week, so how fortuitous that Radio 4’s “Making History” programme covered the history of british lager in its broadcast on 25th May!  It seems that the brewery in Northampton really is recent – the first lager (as opposed to cold pale ale!) was brewed in Wrexham in 1882, but this claim to fame is hotly disputed by a brewery in Shepton Mallet! Wrexham lager is no more – the brewery (which was owned by Carlsberg) was closed in 2000 thought the brand name was sold to a local man for £1 so it may be revived one day! The locals seem very proud of their lager, even though it’s no longer made – there’s lots of information on the Wrexham borough council website!

Anyway, a chap from CAMRA did explain that the word ‘lager’ meant ‘storage space’ (a little like our word ‘larder’). What distinguished lager from traditional ales was that it was slow-conditioned in very cold conditions (historically in deep caves) and also the fact that it was filtered – this gave it a longer shelf-life for transporting to the hotter parts of the empire……


'tent city' at Billing Aquadrome...

Bit close to the edge??

Lou's MO at today's locks...

This fine fellow charged at us above Weston Favell lock before retreating, satisfied.....

This big building outside Northampton is like an old film set - the facade (which you see round the next loop of river) is complete but it's hollow at the back!

Open floodgate on the Nene at Northampton - we're pretty sure this was closed on the way down, but then again it has been raining!

The Northampton flight has top rummaging for greyhounds...

Interesting - I'm not sure what was done but the surroundings are green and pleasant....

busy busy.....


It is a pretty flight.... (but watch the paddles at Lock 11!)

Cyclists beware - the towpath is uneven in places....

The grass is always greener (or should that be the rabbits are fatter!) on the other side of the canal.....

Looks like they've been busy at Gayton Marina.....

This boat name is an acronym - can you work out what it is?

Now we'd be glad to update our first aid training on this boat.....

Some of the ground paddles spit - a lot!

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