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Archive for July, 2010

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 28 July, 2010

Sunday 25th July

Auntie Sue, AUNTIE SUE, my pillow's in the wrong place, can you just put it right.....

It’s been a tirin’ day – first I was at mummy’s, then at Auntie Sally’s, then I had a long trip in the car to Auntie Sue’s – is a lot for a poor hound to take in ‘specially as Auntie Sue says our brains are only as big as a walnut. Is that big? It must be….

I’s stayin’ in Surrey for a few months with my new pack, Blue and Lou – they’s allright. Blue is my cousin or sumfink – his grandad was my great-grandad – we’re handsome ‘Honcho’s’. We done lots of weeing in the garden – I likes that.

Uh, Blue, do you realise you’re as big as a hephalu…..ooh, is that my dinner…..mmmmph mmmmmph – yummy, ooh is that a bit of milk….slurp slurp mmmmph mmph…..

I’s a bit confused coz Blue and Lou go runnin’ around like loonies and I thought I was retired. They said it was a ‘fun run’ – hmmm…. Better go an’ lie on Blue’s bed, or is it Lou’s, and sleep on it……

Monday 26th July

Auntie Sue sez I’m a very good boy – I asked nicely and she let me out for wees – at 5am! Lou forgot that I live here now and did barking. Lou’s  bottom smells nice – I’s sniffing it but she barked in my ear. I think that’s a good thing, don’t you?

I likes this big water bowl....

We been for a long walk – I got to do sniffing and weeing with Blue and Lou, but I like walking with Auntie Sue – she gives me nice ear rubs. Then we went to the vet to get some new food for Lou, I wonder if it’s as yummy as Blue’s food? I got weighed (31.5kg) and they made a big big fuss of me – we all look so handsome together, though me and Lou are a bit messy coz we had a splosh in the mud. When we got back we all had tripe sticks on the lawn – they’re super smelly and super-yummy. I had a little paddle in the pond. I’s had a busy afternoon so it’s time for a snooze – I like Lou’s bed best so I’ll lay there – she’s got plenty of others……

I’s got to get used to my new routine here – I thought we’d done walking in the afternoon but Richard took us for a big run before bedtime. I got to see a wabbit but it took me a while to work out what it was and I can’t accelerate instantly like the two oldies do. Richard says that now I am on holiday I can get fit again but  I was reelly tired then – I done sleeping on Lou’s bed and on Lou’s sheepskin which right next to Auntie Sue’s chair, now I’m back on Lou’s bed – it’s super comfy….

Tuesday 27th July

I woz a bit worried coz Auntie Sue had to work today – I thought I was going’ to left all by myself, but is ok, she works in the conservatory. I laid on the grass where she could see me – I’s a nice view. Blue guarded the lounge and Lou guarded the bedroom – is hard work laying down ready to trip up introoders. I’s mainly done sleepin’ today – Blue and Lou sleeps a lot – I’s very good at sleepin’.

We been for a little bobble – there was trees, and a stream and lots of smells to sniff but no wabbits. Auntie Sue does boring walks but Richard might take us for a run before bedtime. I’s back now – I helped Blue and Lou to scoff a little bag of dental biscuits – the vet gave us four free bags yesterday coz I looked so skinny, or was it coz Lou breathed on her? We’s all back in guarding position now – I’s lying under the front window, Blue’s lying by the back door and Lou is upstairs. Me and Blue is a pair, maybe Lou is upstairs coz I’s on her bed – hah, she’s not getting it back 🙂

Wednesday 28th July

Is pretty round here - all the prettier for having ME here....

Auntie Sue had to take Blue to the vet – she thought that Lou and me might trash the house when she was out but we just done sleepin’ – we been racing round the garden first thing so we’s far too tired for trashin’. I dun sleepin’ on my bed – is nice; I got lots of beds – my bed, the duvet under the window, the one in the corner, a duvet in the conservatory and a rug in the conservatory, ooh, and two sheepskins – is that enough, I’s not sure….

I’s tried a little bark today – Blue and Lou sez I got a good bark – they showed me theirs – they is so LOUD!

I’s mainly done sleepin’ today – Auntie Sue’s got a headache – I give her a big fuss to make her better so that she can take us out in the car. She says I have to wait for Richard – s’ok, I can do sleepin’. I could run in the big garden, but Blue and Lou said not to bother – there’s only lots of wabbits and squizzles – nothing of interest to us greyhounds…..

I’s well impressed – Blue and Lou have used their amazin’ hypno powers to train Auntie Sue to buy them a hot chicken every time she goes shoppin’. I’s got to learn how they do it 🙂

We’s all asleep – me, Blue and Lou in a tiny bit of floor – Auntie Sue and Uncle Richard are amazed – Blue and Lou never sleep this close – mind you, we’s all full of leftovers – haddock – yum yum….

Photoblog:

I's could get use to this rummaging.....

We's got lots of sniffin' to do....

Me and Lou got quite muddy - she splashed me!

After our rummage we had tripe sticks on the lawn - yum yum....

I's quite happy here, mummy, no need to worry....

It would be really good here if they didn't keep disturbing me with that camera.....

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Boat Blog: a good day for the greyhounds…..

Posted by indigodream on 28 July, 2010

Sunday 25th July

Limehouse Basin to Mare Street Bridge (and back!)

Plenty to see and plenty to talk about.....

It’s been a good day for the hounds today – firstly because we had four guests on board for a mini-cruise for charity, and secondly, well, I’ll tell you about the secondly later…..

Today we welcomed back on board Cheryl, who came on our very first charity cruise last October. We’ve noticed a pattern – it’s hard to persuade people to come on a charity cruise for the first time, but once they’ve been, people always want to come back.

Anyway, Cheryl had some visitors – an old friend, Nathalie, from France, and her two sons Fabien and Renon. They were charming company and the boys enjoyed their time on the helm. They certainly got a different view of London – firstly East London by canal, a brief tour of Three Mills with its mix of old and new tidal structures, a good view of the Olympics project and a lock, albeit not the genuine manual article! I hope they had a good time – it’s not a tour that’s generally available to tourists!

I picked up four random guests while waiting to go up Old Ford Lock – they were two couples walking the towpath who were fascinated by the boat and by the canals. I gave them a lift up to the top of the lock – they said it made their Sunday!

We cruised up to Mare Street Bridge and turned just beyond the railway bridge – there’s plenty of room to turn here – we must remember that as Richard has turned somewhere else up here where he only had a few inches to spare!

On the way up we stopped at Three Mills; on the way back we stopped at the Northern Outfall and walked over to Viewtube – it’s a great facility. We had a good look at the Olympic site before saying another reluctant goodbye to our guests. They had plans to visit Greenwich and were booked for a flight on the London Eye at 7pm so they needed a faster mode of transport! Luckily, Pudding Mill DLR is easily accessible from Viewtube.

The new weir which protects the new moorings at Three Mills

We’d had a lovely morning’s cruise, but now we had to race back to Limehouse for the second good greyhound happening – we needed to drive to Ipswich to collect our new foster dog, Lynx.

Lynx’s owner’s tale is not ours to tell, but she’s found herself in pretty dreadful circumstances and needs to get some pressure off by fostering Lynx for a while. She’d determined to get herself back on her feet and take him back – this may take some time so he may well be with us for up to six months. It could be less, but if we get to the six months then we’ll need to review the situation.

We picked Lynx up from Ipswich and so far he seems to be the most gentle of hounds – he, Blue and Lou are getting on famously. I am astounded at how harmonious things have been – it’s early days but keep your fingers crossed that it will continue. From time to time Lynx will be blogging so that his ‘mummy’ can keep track of his adventures and be reassured that he’s well and happy. Will we be good foster parents? Well, we know how to look after a greyhound, or two, or three, so Lynx will have the best care we can offer. He will be treated as ours whilst he is with us so will pick all sorts of habits, both good and bad! Will we be dispassionate, kind but emotionally detached – of course not! When it gets to the end of the six months expect sobbing, lots of sobbing 🙂 But if Lynx goes back to a happy home then we’ll know that we can manage a fostering and can  hopefully help another needy hound….

Photoblog:

The local people are turning their faces to the canal - these lovely, and very purple, gardens are obviously a local project; further on, the houses of Windsor Wharf had very well-maintained canalside gardens...

Approaching Old Ford Lock - the derelict land to the right is owned by Foreman's entrepreneurial boss - he's already got plans (and paying clients) for its use during the Olympics...

This unusual boat came into Limehouse while we were mooring - it's from South Africa, well, I guess that the crew are!

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Boat Blog: The East London Ring (again)

Posted by indigodream on 27 July, 2010

Thursday 22nd July

Does your commute to work make you smile like this......

Ah, the curse of the Jubilee Line strikes again! Richard and colleague Agnieszka took Indigo Dream to a meeting in Bow again. This time they were scrutinised by the men in black in a rib – it is hard to believe that now mooring under Bow Flyover is probably safer then in most parts of the country :-). While they were there, Richard arranged for a top of the diesel tank, long story but he ended up with proper ‘white’ diesel – she’ll be up on the plane on that rich mixture 🙂

Saturday 24th July

The East London ring

We came up to the boat late on Friday night after a busy day and a slow drive – the range of takeaways and the relatively new Tesco on Commercial Road were very welcome. We were a bit dismayed to find that there was a strong smell of diesel – some had seeped into the engine bilges – we suspect either a bit of overflow from a very full tank or, more worryingly, a small leak/hole near the top of the tank. It wasn’t so serious (diesel not being as explosive as petrol) so we added it to Saturday morning’s to-do list.

So, on Saturday morning we had to scurry round doing our chores before welcoming old friends Marek and Virginia on board. I filled the water tank and cleaned the boat while Richard went off to buy some nappies (for the diesel) and got his head down the engine compartment with the wet vacuum cleaner. We just managed to get everything done before our guests arrived.

Note: How do you know you’re getting old? When, on the sight of a pack of nappies, your friends ask whether you’re incontinent rather than pregnant/newly gifted with children 🙂

We had four cameras on board today (though I only have photos from 2 so far) so I’ll let the photos tell the story.

A glimpse of the Olympic stadium - shame about the graffiti - there's a lot around here at the moment....

The only thing I’ll write about is Foreman’s, above Old Ford Lock. We stopped there for lunch and I have to say that I’m very ambivalent about the place. The restaurant is on the first floor with a small terrace overlooking the canal; there is a fine mooring with a mixture of bollards and rings – there’s probably room for two 60 footers (maybe two 70 footers). But that’s where the waterfront appeal ends – the entrance to the building is down a side-alley and we think that they’ve missed a great opportunity to use the waterfront itself for dining. Anyway, the restaurant itself is very swanky indeed and I was concerned that they might have a dress code. But fortunately but they seemed happy to let us in – we were positively well-dressed compared to the (female) crews of two skiffs who came in later in their skimpy shorts! The waitress was very pleasant but not the most efficient; the menu was limited – they could do us ‘platters’ – we had one of mixed terrines and also one of smoked salmon. The portions were delicious but small (and costly) – we had to order extra bread, twice! The wine was good though I stuck to the water – I can’t do alcohol before 7pm (it goes right to my head). The restaurant has somewhat eccentric opening hours – 5pm – 9pm Thurs/Fri then 12pm – 5pm Sat/Sun. Overall, we thought that they weren’t making the best of their canalside location and their lunchtime offering was delicious but insubstantial.

Indigo Dream gracing Foreman's moorings...

We weren’t sure whether we come back to Foreman’s, but we got talking to its owner, who is an inspirational chef and businessman – he has a lot of going on in the building, including a salmon smokery, art gallery, conference/wedding venue and he has a commercial kitchen producing gourmet food for top London restaurants. We gave him our feedback so let’s hope that he makes more of his canalside location to attract more boaters.

We had fine day’s cruise – Marek and Virginia were easy company and really took to narrowboating – they’re never been before. It was with some regret that we waved them goodbye at 6.30pm-ish. We headed off for our second gourmet experience of the day – we found some space in the garden of “The Narrows” – the Gordon Ramsay pub  on the other side of Limehouse Lock. We’ve always wanted to eat there. Alas, the service at the bar was poor and when we saw the balance of choice to price on the bar menu we quickly decamped to the Grapes – our favourite local haunt. The Grapes is dog-friendly to the extreme – we found a table with plenty of floor space for the greyhounds’ sheepskins – they enjoyed a big fuss from the locals and a generous portion of sausages while we enjoyed a fine bar meal at a fraction of the price of the Narrows. The beer’s good too!

Photoblog:

Good company....

One of many 'Olympic' businesses that will spring up here - may need to smarten up before the games though 🙂

Part of the Viewtube....

View from Old Ford Lock....

View from Foreman's second floor gallery...

On Ducketts Cut...

Marek and Virginia loving the boat....

Hen party on Ducketts Cut - mind those pretty heads ladies.....

Colliding punts on Ducketts Cut - they're from the Regent's Canal (left after the turn) - watch out for them, they're fun, but a bit random!

Stunning landscape - view from the Regent's Canal through Mile End..

It must be love.....

Give us a kiss then....

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Dog Blog: Maths problem (temporary)!

Posted by indigodream on 25 July, 2010

Sunday 25th July

One greyhound, two greyhounds, three greyho….oops!

And they're off, Blue, Lou and.....Moo, only joking....and Lynx

They're going so fast that the camera just has them as a blur....

Lynx going a bit off course.....

Or have Blue and Lou missed something interesting.....

Busy busy - lots of new smells to explore in our field....

"Getting to know you....." - thank heavens humans don't have to do it this way 🙂

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Boat Blog: East End Revelations…..

Posted by indigodream on 19 July, 2010

Sunday 18th July

Apologies – no photos today, we forgot the cameras – d’oh!

Aha, so you want to know who murdered/had affairs with/hid the bodies on ‘Eastenders’. OK, Bradley is Dirty Den’s lovechild by one of the Slater girls……

Oof, that’s enough of that, how about I tell you about the real revelation. We cruised what I think is called the ‘East London’ ring today (Limehouse basin – Limehouse cut – Duckett’s cut – Regent’s Canal – Limehouse Basin). It was great – much more interesting, and scenic, than we expected, even though we’ve cruised its constituent parts many times.

Today we welcomed Richard’s mum, Renia, together with his sister, Alina, and brother-in-law Rysiek. We haven’t had a family cruise for ages and it was lovely to see them. You can tell that they don’t cruise very often – they always bring their own drinking water, as if Indigo Dream was a dodgy foreign country 🙂

We had a very relaxed start – we’d decided to travel up to the boat on Sunday morning – not too early, after all, Sainsbury’s in Greenwich doesn’t open until 11am (though you can ‘browse’ i.e. fill your basket from 10.30am). We filled our basket and had time for coffee and cake at the instore Starbucks – what a splendid place. It would be the perfect superstore apart from it’s horrifying lack of a hot chicken counter – probably could not afford the juice as this store is a Chetwood design claiming to be Britain’s first low-energy supermarket – write up here.

The weekend works on the Blackwall Tunnel caused us some pain on the trip there and back – the diversions are byzantine. Nonetheless we got to the boat before midday – plenty of time to get to know a few more of our neighbours at the marina, show one of them around the boat and have a nosey around his. Adrian owns nb City Of Sheffield which has an interesting provenance, having once been owned by actor and canal enthusiast David Suchet. It’s very lavish inside, with ornate carvings in the richly varnished panels, deep red furnishings and tasselled pelmets. Anyone who’s seen Indigo Dream will know that we prefer a light, modern finish but we always appreciate seeing different styles. Not a boat for Richard, though he was ok standing in the hatches.

The family arrived around 12.30pm and we finally set off around 12.45pm – we’ve logged the time as we’ve been trying to work out whether this ring would be possible in an evening – hmm, probably not, to get the best from it I think we’d need to allow a long afternoon or short day.

I had my first go at moving Indigo Dream off the mooring today – it wasn’t the smoothest move but I didn’t sink anyone at the marina so that’s a result – more practice needed I think!

We set off along Limehouse Cut – it was a very fine day and the cut looked great – you’d never believe that we were in the bowels of Tower Hamlets! Mind you, the car was still in the canal – I wonder who’s responsible for removing it? I now see the helpful locals have been throwing bricks onto the car roof – I’m not sure why – it defies explanation, like most moronic acts of vandalism!

We cruised past Bow Locks today, going up a stretch that we haven’t cruised for a few years now. We admired the unique buildings on Three Mills island. There has been a tidal mill here since ancient times though I’m not sure when the current building were constructed – there are many and complex layers of history here. The mills have been used to process many disparate substances, from flour to gunpowder! There was a good museum/visitor centre on the site – I wonder if it’s still open? We definitely need an update!

The Bow Back Rivers have been closed for a long while now – partly because of olympic security and partly because of the construction of new bridges and whatnot over the canal which might make for unsafe cruising. We resisted the temptation to unhook the boom blocking the navigation and carried on up the Lee Navigation though Richard did have his flashing orange light ready. I was surprised to see that the south side of the olympic ‘island’ was still industrial and somewhat derelict – I’d assumed that the whole island was to be given over the olympics. Maybe that bit will be done later. But as we cruised further north the olympic stadium’s steel skeleton became increasingly apparent.

One of the highlights of the day was mooring up just by the northern sewer outfall (marked as a footbridge) and having a stroll along the footpath to “view tube”  which gives a stunning views of the emerging olympic site – including the crown of the olympic stadium, the wing of the aquatic centre and the speedy curves of the velodrome. There are also comprehensive maps and guides and a little cafe for weary walkers and cyclists. We caught a glimpse of the Bow Back Rivers here and spotted bright orange security rib cruising along – apparently theft of metals from the adjacent site (especially copper cables) has been an issue so no doubt the ODA’s security team are ready to repel pirates coming across.

We had a lengthy wander around – Richard has been working on the enabling works for the olympics so he’s quite familiar with the site and was able to point out many of it’s interesting features (from an engineer’s perspective). Sadly we didn’t get a good view of ‘his’ bit of the site – it was blocked by some portacabins – a reminder of just how many people there are working on this site.

It was hot by now, much hotter than we’d expected – the morning mist had burnt off and we cruised under a flawless blue sky. As we got back to the boat, the security rib emerged from the far end of the Bow back river. “Are you having a good day” they shouted “of course” we replied – it felt as if they were checking us out, but we were legitimately moored on a public towpath! It wasn’t the last time that we were to see them…..

We went up through Old Ford Lock and moored for lunch just above. As we set out our towpath picnic, the security rib came up the lock behind us and there were two security guards walking along the towpath. As they passed, we noticed one of the security guards pressing his ‘radio’ against a tree – presumably they have sensors around to detect/track where they are – interesting. It felt very strange to be so scrutinised, allbeit in a friendly way. But the security is making a difference here. There were several boats moored unattended on the towpath above Old Ford Lock and at the entrance to Ducketts Cut. I don’t think it would ever have been considered a safe place to moor in previous years.

We lunched opposite a large factory and restaurant which was recently re-located to this spot – Foremans.  It’s an unusual place – it looks quite posh yet, at the same time, it looks like a big square warehouse. We must find out if they actually smoke salmon on the premises. Has anyone eaten there?

It was with some reluctance that we moved on, but it was such a nice day that we couldn’t bear just to do a ‘there and back’ and elected to do the whole ring. What a great decision.

As we turned into Ducketts Cut and ascended the first of the three locks on this section, the security rib emerged below the lock to see us off. We weren’t harrassed but it did feel a bit weird.

The water in Ducketts Cut is still crystal clear – not that there’s much to see on  the canal bottom – the occasional flash of tiny shoaling fish was welcome. The towpath was busy, both here and on the main navigations – plenty of walkers, joggers and cyclists. “Bit too hot for all that”, I thought, but later on, Rysiek, who is very fit, decided to join in by doing press-ups and scrunches at the locksides!

As we travelled up Ducketts cut we’d become increasingly aware of a pulsating drone, heavy on the bass, which we’d first assumed to be from passing cars. As we drew closer to Victoria Park it became obvious that there was a festival on the go. The Lovebox festival was well-boarded so we didn’t get a view of the stage but the noise was all-pervasive. The residents of the attractive canalside apartments opposite didn’t seem too bothered – apparently there are often events going on in the park.

Ducketts Cut is a little gem – it’s a surprisingly attractive stretch of canal – we can definitely recommend a visit. There’s the expanse of Victoria Park to one side and neat canalside developments on the other. The towpath is in very good condition and frequented by a mix of users – none of whom seemed menacing! There were even a few boats moored on the towpath. In fact, we’ve seen boats moored in places where we wouldn’t previously have dreamt of mooring – including the towpath flanking the canalside parkland in Mile End. Now, has this suddenly become a place to moor because the canal and its surroundings are on the up or are people being forced to try new mooring spots because the city’s more obvious moorings are so congested. I guess it’s a bit of both, but if ‘frontier’ boaters are establishing new ‘safe’ moorings then that can only be a good thing – for everyone. We did notice a large canalside house for sale by the top lock – it seemed be one of two substantial lock cottages. It had a sign up for sale by auction – we think it was lot 26 at last month’s Savills auctions –click here – a nice double fronted detached cottage that sold for £820,000. The surrounding land was sold separately for around £200,000. Ok no moorings but sounds amazingly cheap. I wonder what will be built there…..

Having locked up Ducketts Cut, it was soon time to lock down to Limehouse. The canal seemed much cleaner than on our last trip a few weeks ago. Having garbage-free water makes such a difference to the canal’s ambience but we still enjoyed the family’s surprise at the glorious sight of Limehouse Basin with the surrounding yellow brick buildings glowing in the westering sun. We arrived back in the basin by 6pm so, call it a 5.5 hour trip with stops.

We bid the family goodbye and packed up the boat. By now it was 7pm and we decided to eat in the Cruising Association – it seems to be a popular haunt with visiting boaters. Dogs are not allowed inside, but it was the perfect temperature for eating outside and the hounds just loafed on their sheepskins. The CA is  a welcoming place but the food, which is ok, wasn’t good enough to justify the 70 minute wait. There was only one member of staff on, and while she worked very hard, we weren’t happy customers as the wait just delayed our long, slow drive back to Surrey. Never mind, maybe we’ll just use the CA for the odd drink from now on – there are plenty of other eateries in the area.

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Vaguely a boat blog: Jubilee Line out, how do I get to my meeting?

Posted by indigodream on 17 July, 2010

Friday 16th July

Ah this working life is tough!

Note from Sue: any mention of work means that it’s Richard on the blog – I try to follow Blue and Lou’s example and do as little as possible!

I had to head over to Bow & Stratford today with Agnieszka (from my office) to recheck some work we had snagged a while back. Now this was steelwork down a tunnel shaft for electrical cables, so access is always a bit complicated. We needed gas detectors, flame proof overalls, a man riding crane, something to breathe if the atmosphere went sour, the list went on……..A world of safety precautions and organisation was in place especially for us, so we had to make it there. Sadly the Jubilee Line was suspended, so what could we do?

The sun was out, so we detoured to Limehouse and got on the boat!

As we cruised across the basin we saw a narrowboat coming out of the Lock – presumably it had come in through Limehouse’s front door after a ride down the Thames – this must have been interesting in today’s winds. Another narrowboater moored on the wall gave a big wave – thank you.

We had an uneventful journey up to Bow though that smell of fresh danish pastries just before Bow Locks was very enticing today. In past years I have moored for these meetings just past the Bow Flyover, could not find my old holes for pins but still managed to get some pins through gaps in the concrete behind the sheet piling. A short walk took us to Pudding Mill Lane where the rest of the team was waiting. But our transport had been delayed – clearly there has been an accident as the air ambulance had landed into the olympic park. We obviously hope that it was not too serious – this is one construction site where I think that the safety record up to now has been exemplary, yes you see loads of a$”e covering paperwork but there is a real commitment to making sure that people can work safely and more importantly far more engagement in the process then you normally see.

South Plaza security was keen today (again) – we all got directed through the airport style security system; though I suspect we must drive them mad as I think the zips on our flameproof overalls seem to trigger their machines, Well that’s all that’s left (apart from steel toe caps) once I’d put my keys, coins, torch, mobile phone, digital camera, laser tape measure, wooden rule, 5m tape measure, wallet, sunglasses, watch, belt, safety glasses, gloves etc  into the small tray they give you (I always feel a bit like ‘Mad Max’ checking his weapons at the thunderdome!).

We took loads of fascinating engineering photos today but nothing that Sue will let me publish on the blog (note from Sue: he can publish what he likes!). Next week I will get a few more photos for another “getting ready for a party post” – progress on the olympics is fantastic!

With the inspection over (went well, we liked what we saw, thank goodness), we walked back to the boat and had a gentle chug back to Limehouse. I like the DLR but it is such a let-down after a cruise on Indigo Dream.

My office is in Croydon – why oh why is the Croydon Canal still not open – I cycled to work today but how much better it would be to commute by boat?

Today’s Trivia

Continuing the engineering theme, last week’s NCE had a good article on St Pancras Station or more specifically the Hotel. Sadly NCE/Emap have had another one of their turns and you can’t get to see articles unless you subscribe so here are the good bits:

Those gothic towers that you see is not actually the station but the Midland Grand Hotel, designed by George Gilbert Scott and opened in 1876 as a 500 to 600 bed hotel (with no toilets and just 8 bathrooms). Funnily enough, it was not a spectacular success and was last used as a hotel in 1934; it was vandalised by the old British Rail and has not been used for anything since 1986. They are giving it a bit of a revamp now and splashing a bit of paint around (£478 million pounds worth of work!!!).  It sounds fascinating as they have not fully made sense of how the building works. There are varying storey heights so they keep finding oddities like walls that get bigger as you go up the building; when they took up floorboards on the first floor they found an unlit space the size of 2 portacabins which no-one knew about. It is going to open as a new hotel next spring….

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Photoblog: From Barking Creek

Posted by indigodream on 14 July, 2010

We can’t resist a few more photos but before you have a scroll down have a look at nb Willawaw’s post on the history of Barking Creek – click here ….

First up a few more photos from Saturday of boats passing under the Barking Barrage before jumping back to Sunday morning

Elk passing under the Barrage

We think this is Bewick passing under?

They are all going for it now!

Hope they got the hand brake well adjusted!

Greyhound agility course 1 - the ramps...

Dog agility course (2) - barge 1 to barge 2...

Greyhound agility course (3) - barge 2 to barge 3

Greyhound agility course (4) - one improvised step...

Greyhound agility course (5) - Indigo Dream's new gangplank - and we're home, phew..

We tied to this blue beast while waiting for the tide - we didn't try to offload the dogs here!

Bye folks, you've been great....

We've had such a great welcome here....

We've got ourselves a convoy.....

Mountainous scrapheaps - I wonder if they still freight it by water....

This is a familiar sign along the tideway - it's a miracle that Britain has stayed rabies free when you think of all the little creeks and wharves just along this one river...

Irresistible view - at least we're turning right and don't have to cross the broad tideway this time...

Having fun....

Plenty of room for 10 narrowboats, well, for 100 really...

We won't go skinny dipping here then.....

Cat on the water....

Choppy waters and a wide vista....

Yacht masts and landing lights (City Airport)

Always an impressive sight....

I assume that's raw sugar in Tate 'n Lyle's hopper - would it dissolve away if it rained???

Good view of 'F' span in defence....

I love this view....

The sailing boats are enjoying the wind - there was a speed restriction on the river past Greenwich Sailing Club....

The river is enjoyed by craft of all shapes and sizes....

Three generations on this family outing....

Almost at Bow Creek (on the right by the ship with the red bow). Regalia, moored mid-river on the left, was a party venue but is now for sale - http://www.thamesleisure.co.uk/pages/index.asp?area=2&id=86

Is this building on Bow Creek being demolished or renovated - we couldn't tell!

That bridge pier is sloping badly as its foundations slip away and has been reinforced - just as well that trains don't run on this bridge any more!

Annie the lockie's lovely lurchers - Blue and Lou felt it well worth the effort to come up on deck to bark at them....

Better view of the railings that the car flew through to end up in Limehouse cut!

nb Peace of Pearce back at her home mooring after an and exciting weekend, Jordy wondering which of his boats to use for the next trip?

The drive for regeneration hasn't reached this old warehouse yet, though we hope that they have at least put some bracing in to stabilise the gable. It looked just about ready to topple into the canal a couple of years ago so we reported it then ....

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Boat Blog: From Barking Creek

Posted by indigodream on 13 July, 2010

Sunday 11th July

Barking Creek to Limehouse Basin

Rafting up ready for the off....

With two barbecues on the go at the boatyard, the sound of music and laughter drifted across the water until past midnight, other than that there was no noise at all. The moorings were very peaceful and we felt secure enough to leave the hatches open all night. Well, any would-be thief would have had to clamber over three barges and a host of young ladies sleeping on inflatable mattresses on the spacious deck of barge Lennard (nearest the shore). We were shockingly tired, just from the heat and an exciting day; we slept straight through until 9am and couldn’t rouse the energy to get out of bed until 10am! The dogs were similarly exhausted, but they cheerfully clambered over the barges for a quick visit to a useful Tesco which is literally five minutes away.

We were amazed and guilty to find that the debris of last night’s barbecue had already been cleared up – thank you!

Tesco is on the bank of the River Roding which flows into Barking Town Basin. Needless to say, the Tuesday Night Club has explored further upriver but we contended ourselves by looking over the river wall, enjoying the briny scent of the distant sea rising from the muddy waters.

Bye bye Bill, thank you for your hospitality..

We got the dogs back to the boat and I was relieved that it was the last time that we’d need to negotiate the greyhound assault course.

We were due to leave Barking at 12 noon. We were pointing the wrong way, so at 11.40am we cast off and turned in the town pool – the locals warned us about the weed – there were mats of  weed floating in the channel and then growing abundantly in the pool itself. It’s probably out of reach of the prop when the tide’s in but it was just at snagging height now.

We turned and moored up to another enormous barge to wait for the tidal barrage to open. Richard checked the prop – we’d snagged quite a bit of weed and were glad to be rid of it. I was bit concerned about picking more up on our way out of the basin but I needn’t have worried. The tide comes into the basin in two stages – a surge when the water overtops the weir, then a second surge when the barrage is opened. The water comes in at quite a pace and as we waited (with our engine off) we saw the mats of weed being swept upstream out of our way.

On our way...

We were relying on the barrage operator to let us out of the basin – there aren’t many boat movements here so apparently the timing can be a little random. In the end we didn’t get out until 1pm. This led to a certain anxiety at the other end of our journey as we needed to power upriver to get to Bow Locks in time. We had a contingency – if we didn’t have enough water to get through Bow Locks then we could go round the Isle of Dogs to Limehouse, which quite appealed!.

Once again the locals were out in force – this time to wave us farewell and call out their hopes that we would be back again next year. We’d love to come again but in our case it will be subject to finding a dog-sitter!

We enjoyed the return trip down the creek, trying to take in details that we’d missed yesterday – I’ll let the photos tell the story. We also concentrated on trying to get photos of the boats in our convoy. Yesterday we were spread out over quite a distance but today we had a bit of a delay going down the creek as one boat cleared their prop so the boats stayed much closer together today which made for easier photography!

The Thames downstream of Barking Creek mouth - will we ever take Indigo Dream a little further.....

I was about to regale you with an entertaining bit of chat off the VHF but then I remembered that the content of all messages is confidential, well, as much as messages on an open channel can be. Anyway, as we got back onto the Thames tideway we spotted four ‘sunseeker’ type cruisers coming down at high speed, obviously enjoying a race. London VTS will be delighted to know that they were on  the correct side of the river, which meant they were almost half a mile away from us – we weren’t troubled by their wash!

As we got further up the tideway we noticed a brisk breeze – the river frolicked with the wind, raising more than a few playful wavelets. One of the boats at the front of the convoy reported looking back and seeing “a swaying snake of narrowboats” – great image! We were bobbing up and down rather more than we would on a canal – luckily we’re not prone to sea-sickness! We got a bit of spray across the bows and a bit of diesel puffed out of the breather but I emphasise that the convoy was not in danger – it was just a bit of a novelty in a narrowboat! Indigo Dream handled beautifully and, once again, we were glad of a big engine and prop.

Creeping past the sleeping dragon of the Woolwich Ferry....

Because the convoy was more bunched today, the Woolwich ferries stayed at their moorings until we were all past (there wasn’t a ferry sized gap to be had). Funnily enough, this made it even more imposing as we cruised below the ferry on its mooring, feeling the vibration from its impatient engines.

Maybe it was the depth of the water, but the wash from the passing Clipper ferries seemed to take an age to cross over the tideway and had largely come to nothing by the time it reached us. Nonetheless we did get to enjoy the sight of the convoy turning as one to cross a small bow wave.

The trip upstream seemed to take no time at all (under 2 hours), and we were soon turning onto Bow Creek. I was very ambivalent – I wanted to stay on the Thames – it’s such a fantastic waterway. On the other hand, Bow Creek was much calmer, with none of the swell that we’d encountered on the main tideway.

I'll never tire of the sight of narrowboats going through the barrier...

As we turned into Bow Creek we noticed that the water was starting to drain away. We added a few more revs – we’ve been here before and have seen how fast the creek drains once the tide turns! We did look at the sights, but we mainly watched the water and the emerging mud……

We were very relieved to reach Bow Lock, but a little dismayed to find that the locking order had changed and that nb Flora Dora was waiting outside the lock and would go in with nb Barbara and nb Castor. This meant that there wouldn’t be room for us – as designated ‘tail end charlie’ we had to resist the temptation to ‘barge’ our way in! Fair play to the lock-keeper – he did signal us forward but in the end he had to concede that three 7ft wide narrowboats just won’t fit across what must be a 19 ft wide lock. We did appreciate his efforts though!

We waited below the lock – we urged the lock to fill and for the three narrowboats to move on. From our perspective they showed a desperate lack of urgency, though I’m sure that they moved off as quickly as they could 🙂

Blue and Lou were even less interested today....

Now we urged the lock to empty, anxiously looking out for the emergence of a sunken washing machine, an informal indicator that there’s not enough water over the cill for a narrowboat to enter. The lock gates opened and we crept in, waiting for the scrape on the cill, but we were fine. I can’t tell you how pleased we were to get into the lock – the thought of having to wait for 12 hours on the mud with two bored dogs really didn’t appeal.

Nb Peace of Pearce had waited lockside to see everyone in, and as we came up to canal level, they moved off towards their moorings along Limehouse Cut. The rest of the boats had already vanished, our convey was abruptly over! We had heard the two boats going through to 3 Mills so we got in touch with VTS and reported that we were all off the tideway after a thoroughly enjoyable cruise. Thank you again Andrew and the St Pancras Cruising Club!

SPCC are doing 4 tideway cruises in August, if you have never been on the tideway then have a look at their events page – click here. These organised convoys are a great way to experience the tideway.

We cruised back along Limehouse Cut in good spirits and Richard easily manouevered back into our mooring. We were welcomed by our new neighbours, who proved to be every bit as friendly as the Barking Creek crowd.

Instead of our usual sunday night dash for home, we enjoyed a relaxed evening on board, getting to know our neighbours and generally soaking up the marina’s ambience. The dogs were delighted to be back in the marina, with its easy access to the shore. Greyhounds have many ways of letting you know that they’re contented – when Lou rolled over to lie on her back with all four feet in the air, long tongue lolling onto her fluffy sheepskin, we knew that they hadn’t been irrevocably traumatised by their visit to the assault course.

We weren't the smallest boats on Bow Creek today...

We stayed the night on the boat – it’s a long story, but my cousin Denise and three of her friends had borrowed our house for a girlie weekend. I’m sure that their targets, Tunbridge Wells and Brighton, will never be the same again. Obviously it was a terrible hardship for us to spend the weekend on the boat 🙂

We had a quiet night, but we were woken up early by the sound of Monday morning planes coming in to land at City Airport. Just as well, Richard needed to get his car away from the parking (which is restricted on weekdays) and into the office. He took the dogs with him and I enjoyed a lie-in and then a morning’s cleaning. Richard’s drive to Croydon took just 1 hour and that included a quick walk round a park and the obligatory stop for a doggie sausage sandwich. The boat is now pristine and ready for the next load of guests, which may be next weekend, or maybe during the week – we’re not too sure, there’s a queue!!!

Waiting for the lock at Bow....

Bye bye Bow - our trip's over but we'll be back for another adventure on the 31st......

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Photoblog: To Barking Creek

Posted by indigodream on 12 July, 2010

Here’s a selection of the many photos that we took on the first day’s cruise – enjoy!

Limehouse Cut - doesn't look too rough in the sunshine!

This is where the car flew into the water - big drop, must have been a big splash. Hope that the driver was ok.

Assembling the convoy at Bow Locks....

Our leader - nb Doris Katia

And we're off.....

Great view from Bow Lock

Lenny the lockie - better do as you're told 🙂

View of Bow Creek

Canning Town DLR station

Bow Creek mouth

Clipper ferry....

nb Leda at the O2...

What a view....

Narrowboat invasion...

A rare visit to the deck.....

Hmm boring, where are the wabbits?

Can we go back to bed now?

Happy happy....

It's good on the helm....

What a wonderful sight...

'B' Span....

The Thames Barrier is an awesome landmark...

'F' span in defence mode...

Playing with the big boys - the Woolwich Ferry...

Unimpressed...

Passing the entrance to the Royal Docks, so now new territory for us..

What a day....

Toy boat!

Making the turn across the tideway towards Barking Creek mouth...

Another impressive tidal barrage...

Does my butty look big in this??

Barking Creek...

We had a great welcome from this block of flats....

Bill Blaik's boatyard....

Barking Town pool...

Fine but derelict old wharf building and the 'gateway' to the River Roding...

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Boat Blog: To Barking Creek….

Posted by indigodream on 11 July, 2010

Limehouse Basin to Barking Town Basin

Friday 9th July

Limehouse Marina

If you have a boat which floats and has a functioning engine then you simply MUST join one of the St Pancras Cruising Club’s flotillas along the Thames Tideway – put it on your “to do before I die….” list.  It’s a magical experience. If you haven’t got a boat, or yours is moored too far away, then ask the club if they can find you a ‘crew’ space.

Honestly, it is the most fantastic thing to do, especially the trip to Barking Creek, which is a unique experience.

WARNING: This is a really long post……

We arrived on Indigo Dream on Friday night, revelling in our new home – the marina felt very pleasant after being alternately refrigerated on the over air-conditioned train and then scorched on the tube and DLR. I was anxious, we’d had to bring the dogs with us as our weekend dog-sitting arrangements fell apart at the last minute. Not a problem in  Limehouse but distinctly tricky in our destination – Barking Creek – but I’ll come back to that later.

One reason that the St Pancras flotillas are so good is that they’re immaculately organised and the club commodore, Andrew Phasey, does a very informative briefing on the night before the cruise. We got lots of information, a chance to ask questions and an opportunity to get to know other flotilla members over a meal and a drink at the Cruising Association. In preparation for lending a hand on the August cruises, we were down to be ‘tail end charlie’ – watching that we didn’t leave anyone behind, picking up stragglers if there were any engine or prop problems and generally herding the convoy forward from the back. Nb Doris Katia, with the ever reliable Andrew and Frances Phasey, were to take the lead and set the pace – time and tide wait for no man, or narrowboat!

The briefing was great but we had to cut short on the socialising as we needed to drive home quickly to get the dog’s painkillers (long story as to why they weren’t in my usual on-board pharmacy!). Our latest round of vet’s visits now suggest that Blue may have something chronic going on with his back – he has to have an X-ray next week – poor boy…..

Anyway, we got back to the boat at midnight, having done a late night Tesco shop as well. It was worth it though, the tides were particularly kind to us and we were on for a very leisurely start on Saturday. The marina’s great – we felt secure enough to sleep with the hatches open, which was a big relief!

Saturday 10th July

Car in Limehouse Cut....

We had a lazy start to the morning – we had to be at Bow Locks by 11am and it’s just a short hop up Limehouse cut. We had time for breakfast, coffee, filling the water tank, doing the engine checks and generally getting ready for an encounter with the tideway. But the forecast was good though and we didn’t expect much turbulence.

This was the first time we’d manoeuvered out of our new mooring – it’s tight, very tight. We estimate that there’s 62ft of wiggle space for our 60ft boat, and the ‘target’ opposite is probably the most expensive craft in the marina – a 3-storey floating palace whose giant TV probably cost more then Indigo Dream. We’re going to have to work on our technique. Richard got out flawlessly today but we’ll need a contingency for the wind (probably catching the back rope on our mooring pontoon and springing round)! Either that or go out at full revs.

We enjoyed our trip up Limehouse Cut – it’s been ages. It may be my imagination but I think that the surroundings are gradually being gentrified as the Olympics draw near. Mind you, that didn’t stop someone from reversing their car right through some iron railings, over the towpath and straight into the canal! Apparently it happened on Friday and was a genuine mistake – oops!

In Bow Lock....

We met the rest of the convoy at Bow Locks and mooched around while the tide gradually overtopped the cill. It was a good opportunity to give the dogs a little rummage, take photos and catch up with the inimitable double-act of Lenny and Annie – the lockies. Annie is greyhound mad and she properly admired Blue and Lou, as she did when she saw them the last time we came through. She herself has two rescue lurchers – lovely.

Note: There is room to wind a 60ft boat under the railway bridge above Bow Locks but be sure to stick the bow into the reeds and the stern towards the towpath as it’s too shallow to turn the other way.

We were due to into the 3rd locking – we’d sadly lost one boat, whose engine had conked out in Limehouse, but we were still a convoy of 10. Our lock was jam-packed – we shared with 60ft nb Barbara – no problem there, but it was very tight for 36ft nb Castor to fit behind us. The lock-keepers kept a close eye on proceedings and we locked out without incident, though nb Castor jiggled around a bit.

There was plenty of water in Bow Creek – it turned out to be a spring tide which was slightly higher than expected so we didn’t get that whole “who pulled the plug out” feeling that we got the last time that we raced up here. We were punching the incoming tide at this point so it made for a smooth and controlled trip.

bow creek and the looming landmarks of the Thames....

We’d already agreed that the convoy would keep in touch via a mix of VHF and mobile phones. Nonetheless I was surprised to actually get some calls – Andrew from the front checking how the back was doing, and nb Ketura telling us that nb Leda had broken down in the creek. More phone calls followed and we were all set to brest up and tow nb Leda, but as we approached they managed to repair the fault (a loose jubilee clip) and her engine sprang to life. Phew, we were back on track.

Now, there’s enough interest on Bow Creek – there seemed to be less industrial dereliction and more swanky office around; it was nice to wave at the sweltering commuters waiting for the DLR at Canning Town (one waved back – result!). The flocks of waders that we’ve previously seen here in abundance seem to have disappeared – presumably they’re winter visitors. We looked out for seals but we didn’t see any today. As we negotiated the creek’s twists and turns, we caught glimpses of the crown of struts around the O2 arena and we knew that the Thames was drawing nearer. But even if you closed your eyes you’d know the great river was close  by. Bow Creek was sluggish and calm, but gradually the swell increased and that feeling of restlessness under the helm grew until there it was, the vast Thames tideway. Well, it’s vast here but nowhere near as wide as it was at Barking Creek Mouth.

Here comes the Clipper....

The turn onto the tideway was as awesome as ever as we crept out from Bow Creek and right across the tideway, keeping a lookout in all directions. Just as well, a Clipper ferry dashed between nb Barbara and nb Leda – it made for a dramatic photo but there’s more than enough room for everyone. We’ve found the commercial traffic to be very considerate along the tideway.

We let our lead boat, nb Doris Katia, know that we were all on the tideway and off we went, heading for the Thames Barrier. Nb Doris Katia was putting on a fair pace in the hope that the rest of the convoy would get the hint – they knew how little margin we had to get through the tidal barrage in Barking Creek. We chivvied along at the back but there’s no rushing 8 narrowboats, especially if you’re enjoying the awesome views. We heard Nb Doris Katia on the VHF obtaining permission for the convoy pass through the barrage. The VHF radio has been invaluable, especially around the Thames Barrier, where it was easy to pick up on ferries coming up behind us by the fact that they’d just obtained permission to go through. There’s no substitute for keeping a 360 degree lookout though!

One of the barrier spans was closed this weekend – what a great sight. It’s very rare for all the barriers to be in ‘defence position’ – but just to see one span closed was tremendous.

Indigo Dream passing through Bravo span of the Thames Barrier...

The Tate ‘n Lyle wharf was empty today – their gigantic sugar ship had left for foreign shores yesterday (I say foreign, as you’d be hard pressed to find sunnier shores than we had here!). But we didn’t have time to study the sugar wharf, there was the gauntlet of the Woolwich Ferry to be run. Working on the optimistic basis that no-one on the river really wants to sink anyone else, we approached the ferries with some confidence. But they are BIG. One ferry had crossed in front of us and the other moved behind us as we went through. There were ferry passengers on deck so we gave them a big wave. Today we had the leisure to wonder how deep drafted the ferries were – they’re enormously wide and would have looked stable even it they had a 6 inch draft!

It was with some glee that we then went past the entrance to the Royal Docks. This has been our destination on previous adventures and I’ve always wanted to go further. We got to see the other entrance to the docks today, though the second lock is unlikely to be graced by narrowboats as it only leads to the yacht club. I was taken by the juxtaposition of the yacht masts and the gantries carrying City Airport’s approach lights – plane passengers must get a tremendous view as they land.

By now the river seemed gargantuan and the narrowboats less significant than bits of flotsam. The river is over 600 metres (or just shy of half a mile) wide at Barking Creek Mouth – the turn across the tideway seemed to take an age. But it was a grand sight, 10 tiny narowboats strung across the tideway (there was no other traffic – just as well!) and turning in almost perfect formation towards Barking Creek.

It's coming to get you Richard.....

But if the narrowboats were dwarfed by the sheer volume of the river, then they were squashed into oblivion by the imposing towers of the flood barrier at Barking Creek Mouth, looming 34 metres above the water (that’s to the bottom of the flood gate suspended above); the distance between the towers is 38 metres; the flood gate weighs 320 tons. The flood barrier is such an emphatic landmark that I can’t believe that you could ever get away with cruising down to Dartford, say, under the premise that you’d missed the turn!

There had been a bit of swell on the Thames, made up of tidal flow, a bit of wash from other boats, and the gentle propulsion of a light wind. Barking Creek was like a millpond, calm and sluggish, like it’s western counterpart in Bow. There’s an interesting contrast here – the emphatic concrete bank on the right is full of industry, including a huge scrapyard – the wharves look as if they’re still used to transport the metal. On the invisible left bank there are lush reed beds, which we found out later may be part of a water purification system.

As we approached the right turn towards the Barking tidal barrage, we were greeted by cries of welcome from the balconies of the adjoining blocks of flats. The resident were out in force, smiling, waving, taking photographs, videos – it was at one and the same time marvellous and somewhat sureal – we’re only narrowboaters, not visiting royalty.

Approaching Barking Creek flood barrier...

The grand treatment continued as we cruised into Barking town basin, winded and sorted ourselves out with moorings against the residential barges. Now these barges were at a much more appropriate scale for the river – once again the narrowboats were dwarfed. We’d explained the situation with our dogs, Bill Blaik, who owns the boatyard and moorings, and his guys were helpfulness personified. They recommended a mooring next to three barges which were roughly of the same height with a ramp up to the shore and helped us to turn Indigo Dream in the channel so that the stern would be in better position for offloading the hounds. Now, the result was a greyhound agility/assault course that we wouldn’t have chosen for our two arthritic hounds, but it was the best available and we’re grateful for the resident’s thoughtfulness.

But this is a thoughtful place – the residents were so delighted to welcome us to the moorings. Bill Blaik himself is a delightful man, whose credentials were much enhanced by the fact that he is besotted by his dainty lurcher, Gipsy. We got the dogs off for a walk and studied the logistics along the way. Now this is a boatyard not a marina, so it was full of the messy assortment of stuff that you might expect in a working yard – old oil drums, bits of timber, wooden sleepers, palettes – all sorts. You can tell that narrowboaters don’t live here – that wood would have been sacrificed to their stoves long ago 🙂

The upshot of this was that Richard managed to construct a sturdy gangplank linking Indigo Dream to the first barge – previously the most dodgy stage of the landing. I can’t say that the dogs approved, but I was a little less anxious – it made it easier for me to get on board as well!

Barking tidal barrage...

Once we’d got the dogs sorted I had time to muse on the incongruity of our mooring – the barge immediately next to us was a rusty hulk which had recently been bought, presumably for restoration. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t know where to start – there were big holes in the deck leading to who knows what in the stygian hold below. The next barge along was in much better order, though it seemed bare – I don’t think there’s anyone living there at the moment. The third barge, nearest the shore, was magnificent.

It was 3.30pm by the time we got settled and by now it was absolutely roasting – the temperature in the boat reached 33 degrees and although we’d hosed the dogs down when we took them on shore, Lou and Blue were panting alarmingly. Richard delivered bowls of iced water to their beds (gratefully received) and I fussed around getting the fan into optimum position and prayed for a breeze. They did cool down eventually, and once I’d satisfied myself that they didn’t have heatstroke, I settled down for a snooze. Lou, Blue and myself needed to conserve our energy for the evening’s social; Richard diligently sorted out the day’s photographs – all 250 of them!

At 6pm we clambered back to shore – the residents here are simply the most hospitable bunch of people that I’ve ever met. They’d laid on a barbecue and there were enormous amounts of food and drink. We took our own contribution, but really they’d laid on enough for themselves and their visitors. Blue and Lou settled quietly on their sheepskins and graciously received donations of sausages, burgers, and, from the generous crew of nb Peace of Pearce, about half a pound of steak.

Our mooring - if you look carefully you can just see Indigo Dream's 'nose' past the prow of the barge in the centre of the picture....

We had a very convivial evening – the residents were chatty, the local dogs and children played with abandon in the dirt, finding joy in the simplest of toys – a plastic cup, dust and water! Richard’s work on the photos paid off – he’d managed to copy them onto CDs and gave them to our cruising companions. In the meantime we relived the day with our cruising companions by browsing the photos on-screen.

As dusk drew in, we decided to take the dogs back on board along the obstacle course before it got dark. Once I was onboard I decided to stay too, but Richard went back to the party for a little longer. I can’t get over the tolerance of the local boaters, the residents of the swanky barge were very pleasant about our clambering along their deck with the hounds, weaving our way through their many guests lounging on lavish moroccan rugs. Lou took a fancy to their luxurious lounge, but although the residents seemed pleased to have the greyhounds on the roof, they didn’t seem quite ready to adopt one for the night!

We’ll post some more photos tomorrow when I have a faster connection at home, then there’ll be the photos of the return trip……

The fine folk of Barking Creek - thank you so much for your kindness and hospitality.....

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