Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for July 10th, 2010

The Odyssey 2010: Day 28 Charity Cruise

Posted by indigodream on 10 July, 2010

Sunday 4th July

Paddington Basin to Limehouse Basin

These canalside houses have made the most of their waterside gardens...

As you might expect, we had a very quiet night in Paddington Basin – these are very fine moorings – no wonder they’re so popular!

We were down to half a tank of fuel and wanted to fill up before our adventures on the tideway next weekend. Fortunately there were no fewer that 3 fuel boats in and around Paddington – our business went to the early bird (nb Baron run by P J Wakeham and Son – 07774 166497). The son knocked on the hatch at an unearthly hour – we were barely dressed – and asked if we needed anything. Being right on the towpath I didn’t think they’d be able to get their diesel hose to us, but they were well prepared, having the longest hose I’ve ever seen. The base rate was 70p and we declared a 60/40 split. Apparently some boaters are still declaring 100% at the low rate – ah well, air-conditioning must take a lot of fuel! They filled us up and we were able to take payment by card, which was very convenient.

We’d intended to fill up anyway, but as it happens the St Pancras Cruising Club advise filling tanks up for the tideway as it prevents a lot of unbalanced sloshing around if there’s a bit of swell.

We were expecting four guests on board for a charity cruise – Anne (the organiser), Sue, Graham and Pat. They’re all doggie people, and three had been boating before (and loved it). It was very generous of them to come on a cruise for greyhounds when they themselves own a motley collection of breeds. Their dogs all sounded adorable but they decided not to bring them – all that water would have been too tempting – their dogs like to swim.

We set off early – just as well, we had a full day’s cruising ahead of us. We’d originally planned a ‘there and back’ from Paddington, but our guests kindly consented to come all the way to Limehouse with us. This was tremendously helpful as it saved us two post-work cruises during the week.

It was very windy in Paddington Basin, but it’s always windy here, so I wasn’t too concerned. But it stayed windy all day which made for some very tricky moorings later on.

Our guests proved to be pleasant, competent and willing – they were very keen to do locks – just as well, there were plenty!

We passed out usual favourites – Little Venice, Maida Hill, Regent’s Park, London Zoo, Camden Market……..

We were a bit mystified by this (model) cow on the balcony - an import from Milton Keynes perhaps....

Our guests were entranced, as were we – it’s good to have new people on board because we see things afresh through their eyes. They elected not to wander around the market but decided to stop off at the London Canal Museum instead. They’d researched their tour very carefully and had a lengthy wander round the museum while we juggled the boat around. We had some difficulty getting into the museum moorings – the wind kept blowing us away. I was so pleased when we tied up and offloaded our guests, but then I was dismayed when the museum manager told us we’d have to move to make way for a trip boat. The trip boat had priority on the mooring but would be there for an hour so we could brest up to her to pick up our people. We let nb Tarporley into the moorings then had a fun time being blown around the basin in every direction before eventually breasting up to her. Tarporley has a resident historian on board – how fantastic – I’ ve always wanted one, and a resident botanist and other sundry experts…..

Richard had an interesting chat with the museum ‘manager’ – the famous bit from Richard here…..

Our group wandered round the museum for almost an hour and said they could have stayed for much longer, but it was lunchtime and they’d already taken in as much information as they could in one visit. We moored up in almost the exact spot that we’d left yesterday morning and set up a picnic on the towpath (which is very wide here). We had a lovely time, eating, drinking and watching the world go by – we moved with some reluctance, we could easily have spent the rest of the afternoon here.

One of the boats that passed us was lighting a barbecue on their roof – it seemed very dodgy to us, not least of which because they decided to go through the Islington Tunnel immediately afterwards. We ended up catching up with them in the tunnel – they were moving very slowly and by now their rooftop barbecue was a bright mass of yellow flame. It made for a very smoky passage but fortunately their boat wasn’t on fire, and there wasn’t any methane in the tunnel! By the time we shared City Road lock with them, the flames had died down. We were very wary of their company, though the boat’s owner was very genial and redeemed himself by having an utterly adorable 4-month old whippet puppy!

The ladies hard at work....

City Road Basin was still full of boats. Later on we noticed that the Victoria Park moorings were full to bursting with boats three abreast and mooring between Mare Street Bridge and Bonner Hall Bridge – it’s normally empty there. The sheer volume of boats caused a bit of commotion at Old Ford Lock. We were by ourselves by now – our barbecuing partners had decided to stop off at the park. But when we got to the lock there was a boat in there filling up with water. He said there wasn’t enough space on the lock moorings for him to water up so he moored in the lock. He’d just started to fill up and said it would take half an hour. Unfortunately we couldn’t wait that long. We asked whether he’d mind going down the lock with us while still connected to the water, then he could fill the lock again when we were out. Luckily he agreed and so we went. His boat has the most amazing vegetable garden and looked lovely, but we were a bit mystified that the owner wandered off while we were locking down. Luckily he came back as we exited the lock. We did shut the gates behind us but Old Ford Lock is notorious for having self-opening bottom gates – we’ve had to tie them together before now just to give us time to get to the top paddles and let some water in. Anyway, the consequence was that as we left the lock the bottom gates swung open leaving our locking partner with two gates to sort out in order to get his boat back to the top of the lock. I felt a bit guilty but I really don’t know what the etiquette is when faced with a boat filling their water tank in a lock – do they have priority over moving boats, should we have waited for him to finish? All particularly awkward when the guy goes off to talk to the other boaters on the end of the lock moorings.

Once we passed Victoria Park we had the canal to ourselves. This end of the Regent’s Canal is a lot less glamorous, but it does seem to be going up in the world, slowly, with tidy canalside housing and a towpath in very good repair. The towpath had lots of walkers and people having picnics and barbecues. Once enterprising fellow had set up an impromptu boat hire business with three punts. There may be a shortage of moorings in London but there’s certainly no shortage of water – the pounds lower down were full to the brim, barely an inch off from flooding the towpath. So, where’s all the water – ha ha, we’ve got it here 😀

The hard-working locking crew have earned that lunch!

The poor old dogs were flat out – we hardly saw them all day. Our guests were amazed at how calm and well-behaved they were. Having spent most of the day on her sofa, Lou suddenly rushed off the boat at Johnson’s Lock. I was a bit perplexed because she jumped off just as Blue had decided to jump back on. They mystery was soon solved – her keen nose had detected an open can of Spam that someone had discarded on the towpath. She daintily carried it back to the boat for eating and was very miffed when I confiscated it (it was rank). I’d been caught by a very chatty irishman at the lock – he was fascinated by the hounds and commented on how tough their stomachs are and how they can eat/drink all sorts of rubbish and they’re fine. I held my peace – I’ve washed too much goo off the carpet to agree with him on that one…….

We had a merry mob of young lads at Salmon Lane lock – they’d been loafing around the towpath but rushed to the lock as the boat approached. They were fine, but I couldn’t wait for the lock to empty – they were asking whether they could jump onto the boat (no!) and whether they could jump into the lock (no!) and were generally egging each other on; if we’d been there much longer I’m sure that one of them would have ended up in the drink.

The area had been getting rougher, and the canal dirtier, the further east we cruised. We therefore enjoyed the total contrast when the boat dropped down into Limehouse Basin. The marina looked as swanky as ever, though our excitement at finally reaching our new home was tinged with a little anxiety as to whether we’d actually be able to manoeuvre into our berth! I handed the tiller over to Richard and went off in search of our spot – we’d carelessly left our marina plan in the car not expecting to come down today. We spotted a likely gap and Richard reversed in nicely – the brisk wind dropped just as he started his approach – phew!

Indigo Dream in her new home...

We said goodbye to our guests – we’d had the most sociable of days and Pat, who’d never been on a narrowboat before, is now completely hooked! We got ourselves settled into our berth, said “hi” to Robyn, the marina manager, who’s moored a couple of spaces along. The people in the neighbouring boats seemed very friendly and there are no cats on our pontoon (though there are a few on the others so it’s still “constant vigilance”). We ummed and ahd about how to get home – the original plan was for Richard to get the train back to Paddington and drive back to fetch us but it was already 7pm. In the end we all decamped and took the dogs on the DLR and then on the District Line. They did very well though Lou, normally so bold, is very frightened of trains, don’t ask me why. However she calmly lay down on one of Richard’s sweaty T-shirts and slobbered all over my feet. It could have been much worse! Blue, normally so timid, was ok on the trains, though he’d much rather be in the car.

Even with all of us travelling together, it was still very late when we got home and we were dizzy with fatigue – we all dashed off to our respective beds. But it’s been a good weekend, well, a good week really, between generous donations from our many guests and a calendar sales we’ve raised almost £250 for Greyhoundhomer so it’s all worthwhile.

Of course, that the odyssey over for now – we’re home. There will be many boat blogs to come though and we’ll pick up the 2010 odyssey in the autumn when we’ll either be going up the Wey, or the Lee and Stort or both…..


Lou on the scrounge - food, fuss - either will do!

Canoes at City Road Lock - apparently they're from Richmond - that's a long way but their trip was blocked by the Islington Tunnel...

Amazing Artwork at Samuel House - read about it here

Blue and Lou on the DLR

Blue and Lou on the District Line - oh, and my feet, sorry!

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