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Archive for September, 2010

Boat Blog: Charity Cruise for the Greyhounds

Posted by indigodream on 27 September, 2010

Saturday 25th September

Yesterday we divided our labours in order to get the boat ready for today’s cruise. Richard came up early to Cheshunt by train (without the hounds), leaving him a clear field for cleaning; I came up much later with a car-full of provisions and dogs. I was highly amused by Lynx – he now occupies what used to be Blue’s space on the back seat of the car with Lou while Ty takes the boot. However I was feeling guilty as part of the boot was occupied by two trays of Tesco shopping so I lined the remaining space with a freshly laundered duvet and two fluffy pillows so that Ty wouldn’t be uncomfortable against any hard edges. Ty never got to enjoy these luxuries – Lynx took one look at the bedding and hopped in the boot; I ousted him 3 times to try to get Ty in, but no way was Lynx relinquishing his duvet. So Ty has had to learn how to lie on the back seat (Lou has very exacting requirements) on a bed merely made up of a fleece and sheepskin! And before you say anything, of course I don’t spoil my dogs…..

Once dogs and shopping were loaded, our travel arrangements worked well, though I missed the Country Park car park, which now shuts at 7.30pm – we offloaded the essentials and left the heavy stuff for the morning. I parked overnight in the adjacent Youth Hostel car park, having obtained permission from reception. Indigo Dream had been fine on her moorings – we’ve left her here before (in previous years) so we were reasonably confident that she would be. However, a passing boater on Saturday warned us that there had been some boat vandalism in the area – interesting. Richard had done a good job of the cleaning – it’s so much easier to do the floor when there aren’t 3 galumphing greyhounds occupying the space.

It was Ty’s first overnight stay on the boat – he was absolutely fine but there was a bit of pacing overnight as Lynx and Ty negotiated the invisible 6ft exclusion zone that Lou had decided to impose around her sofa – very tricky in a boat which is only 5′ 10″ wide inside!

Are you having a good time?

So we were all set to greet a boatful of dog-lovers on Saturday morning – Cheryl, Jan, Clive and their friend Vicky (most of whom are volunteer dog walkers at the Greyhoundhomer kennels) and Sue, Tony, daughter Ellie, neighbour Avril and greyhound Brennan, whom they adopted back in May. Like Ty, Brennan is a shy boy and they thought he might benefit from a day out experiencing something new in the company of other, mainly calm, greyhounds. Cheryl, Jan and Clive are old hands – they cruised with us through Camden last year and Cheryl cruised past the Olympic Park with us a few weeks ago – ah, her narrowboat addiction is gathering pace…..

We’d planned a ‘there ‘n back’ trip to make it easier for transport – we’d cruise up as far as the appropriate turning time then come back to Cheshunt for 5.30pm-ish to drop Cheryl and her crew off (unfortunately Jan and Clive needed to get home on time to look after their poorly cat). Then there was the option for the rest of the crew to have a little jaunt down to the winding hole above Waltham Town Lock to complete the day.

We left the moorings before 10.30am and cruised in perfect sunshine – sipping our lattes (and teas!) and scoffing warm danish pastries – what a way to spend a Saturday. Our guests had also brought a generous supply of cakes so we were assured a happy crew. As Jan commented, they’d loads of stuff to do at home, but then there’s always loads of stuff to do at home and how often do you get the opportunity to cruise. Couldn’t agree more 🙂

Yet again, I didn’t keep detailed notes, but we are cruising this way for several weekends so at some point I’ll do a more informative post describing the salient features. Today was about fine weather, good company, lovely views and supervising the hounds! Lou and Lynx are perfectly relaxed about everything; Brennan was a bit wary, but gained confidence from Lou and Lynx before cuddling up to fellow shy-boy Ty in the afternoon.

Ty having a little lean on soulmate Brennan....

Ty continues to progress – he’s getting much bolder at home and is well-settled. On the boat his progress is not quite as we’d anticipated. Last week he just wanted to stay on board and every now and then had to be carried up the steps onto the back deck before stepping on shore; today he wanted to be off the boat and leapt up to the back deck every time the boat slowed down and would try to jump ship. I admired and appreciated the crew’s fast hands in catching the ballistic hound before he made a leap for the bank – they showed fielding skills worthy of the England cricket team! We did have one drama when Ty, held on a short lead by Clive, unexpectedly tried the leap anyway (he’s a strong dog though he doesn’t pull on the lead when we’re out for walks) and Ty ended up with his bum in the water before being hastily pulled back on deck. No harm done, though Ty looked very disgruntled, and even more so when he was securely confined inside for the rest of the trip (only allowed out under very close supervision).

That’s the only downside of the Lee and Stort from Indigo Dream’s perspective – most of the lock moorings are just a little too high for us to be able to swing the deck doors after we’ve pulled in, so they have to be opened just before we moor and closed just after we set off, giving adventurous hounds the perfect opportunity to leap.

I don’t know where the time went today – we had ample crew so the nicely spaced locks went by quickly; there were very few narrowboats on the move, making the navigation quiet and peaceful. By the time we reached the junction with the Stort there was very little ambient noise above the shushing of the arctic wind. It had been busier around Broxbourne, but mainly with skiffs and random little hire boats meandering around the water. We passed by a rowing eight coming downstream – the navigation was barely wide enough for us, the boats moored at the end of their gardens and the skiff’s outstretched oars.

Broxbourne is as ‘urban’ as it gets around here – we were very nosy – admiring the eclectic mix of housing styles (especially the balconies) and commenting on the neat waterside gardens with their range of interesting plants and statuary. For the most part the navigation is green and lovely, surrounded by lakes which sparkled in the sunshine and reminded us of summer. But Summer’s fading fast – Autumn is here, straddling the divide between the seasons with warm sunshine in our faces and icy siberian breezes at our backs.

Lou and Lynx hogging the sofa - as usual!

We’d intended to fill up with water over lunch as our Nicholson’s shows the waterpoint above the Feidle’s Weir lock. We ascended the lock before realising that the water point and incongruous Elsan disposal is below the lock. We’d thought there was a rubbish point here but the words “no rubbish” crudely daubed on the fence suggested otherwise! Luckily we weren’t desperate for water so settled onto the useful visitor mooring bollards above the lock (NOT the lock moorings – honest!) for a ‘picnic’ on the side of the towpath.

Brennan’s favourite food is cheese sandwiches so he was delighted to see bread and cheese appearing on the picnic table! Lou, Lynx and Ty were sparked out on their various sofas and duvets and totally ignored the feast. The thing with inviting greyhound walkers on board is that they automatically walk greyhounds, any hounds. Our three have had a lot of walks today – the one before lunch just about finished them off for the day! And the thing about having other greyhound owners on board is that they invariably carry generous bags of dog treats which were enjoyed by all (the dogs, that is!). I was very grateful to our guests – they really looked after the collective pack of hounds – that made it easier for us to look after the pack of humans!

After lunch we had a choice of routes – following the Lee up towards Hertford or having a little wiggle up the Stort towards Bishops Stortford. The vote was for the Stort, so we turned right and were immediately transported back to an unspoilt rural idyll of wild green hedgerows, mellow red cascades of hawthorn berries and rolling fields, damply brown after the harvest. It is a truly beautiful river, its twists and turns delivering the abundant treasure of its views in small parcels so as not to overwhelm the eye. I had forgotten how lovely it is here.

Sadly we only had time to ‘poke our nose’ into the navigation – we were getting ready to ascend Brick Lock when we suddenly realised the time. Despite our early start, it was 3pm and we had to turn back. There’s a little ‘tributary’ below the lock which gave us plenty of room to wind. There are long-term moorings on the tributary – what a scenic, but remote spot, to occupy.

Brennan (foreground) and Ty cuddling up on one of the duvets - they did get on well...

Quite a few of the crew had had a turn on the helm, but on the way back it was 16 year old Ellie’s turn. She did very well indeed and seemed to enjoy gaining a new skill. With the aid of the doggie company, of course, Ellie seemed to really enjoy her day on the boat, lamenting the fact that she hadn’t brought her pirate hat along! We never can tell with teenagers – they either love it, get involved and so have a good time or are conspicuously and loudly bored!

As the afternoon vanished, it became a bit chilly on deck so all of the dogs, and a fair few of the humans, retreated to the snug interior. Lou and Lynx took over the back cabin while Brennan cuddled up with Ty at the front. Sue did a great job of comforting the two shy boys – Ty says that she gives the best ear rubs – even better than mine (though I’m still his favourite for cuddles)! We’ve since found out that Brennan shares one grandfather (Top Honcho) with Lynx  and his other grandfather (Larkhill Jo) with Ty, which makes them……related in some way, I can’t work it out. We’ve never found any of Lou’s relatives – she’s a real one-off!

Before we knew it we were back at Cheshunt. We said a regretful goodbye to Cheryl and her party – they are lovely people and so solicitous of the hounds – their help with Ty was invaluable. But it was only 5.45pm and it seemed a shame to stop so we took Sue and her party for a one-lock jaunt downstream towards Waltham Abbey. Ellie seemed to enjoy the extra time on the helm though by now she was wrapped up in my giant winter fleece and had the handwarmers on the tiller.

We arrived back at Cheshunt just before 7pm and I hastened to move the car out of the car park before they locked the gate for the night. We said another reluctant goodbye to the last of our guests – we’ve really enjoyed their company and Brennan has been lovely. He’d surprised us all by really settling down to boating and relaxing in the company of the other hounds – apparently he’s normally very scared and trembling in new places. Sue generously puts this down to Lou and Lynx’s calming influence – I agree, they really are good role models!

When we set off this morning, the sun was blazing over the east bank; when we moored up it was just a soft glow on the west bank – it had been a full day’s experience, and judging by the smiles on people’s faces, one they’ll be happy to repeat!

We’d decided to go back to the house so we did a quick boat-clearance before heading for home. It didn’t take long but it was just as well we’d moved the car – the car park gate was promptly locked at 7.30pm. Of course, if we’d been locked in, we’d have just gone back to the boat and enjoyed a comfortable night on board. The courting couple who got trapped didn’t have that luxury – they parked their little SMART car in front of the locked gate and started at it despairingly for some time before eventually finding a phone number for the park wardens. They turned up just as we were leaving and, judging by the warden’s expression, the courting couple were in for a large dose of sarcasm unleavened by even the slightest dash of sympathy.

The girls! Ellie hid from the camera (don't blame her!) - the rest of us got photographed with the less than flattering aerial! Captures the mood of the day though.....

We had a good trip back – Cheshunt is near to the M25 and so is home – it’s just a question of driving the half-circle of motorway in-between, which at this time of night was easy. Ty was ecstatic to be home – he strutted round the garden with his tail up – what a difference to the boy that we had to coax outside on a lead just a brief fortnight ago…..

The tale of the tillers…..

One of my ambitions is to turn Indigo Dream into a brass-free zone – we’ve got chrome mushroom vents and silver aluminised window frames but we did have a brass tiller handle. Now, we’ve had to replace the timber part of our tiller handle as it started to fall apart over winter and finally broke a few months ago – not a problem as we had an unvarnished spare. With work to be done on the tiller handle, Richard took the opportunity to make some improvements. One of his colleagues, who’d enjoyed a trip on the boat over summer, made us a new handle from an old oak gate post which we fitted to a spare brass tube and Richard had the unvarnished ash spare trimmed down to a slimer girth so that that the electric hand warmers fit perfectly. Richard has spent may weeks gradually varnishing the timber sections – is it 8 coats applied at least 16 hours apart – he was very diligent and the tiller looks beautiful. Richard then found an outfit who would chrome our brass for a reasonable price. Well, the result is great – shiny chrome tiller handles perfectly adapted to our seasonal cruising needs. The last part of the transformation is to get our  brass greyhound chromed – then he won’t need any grooming, unlike the rest of the greyhounds on board….

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Boat Blog: Exploring the Lee and Stort Navigations (1)

Posted by indigodream on 23 September, 2010

Saturday 18th September

Limehouse Basin to Cheshunt

Phew, I’ve managed to drag the keyboard away from Lynx and Ty – they’re becoming prolific diarists!

Setting off along Limehouse Cut on a fine autumn morning...

Our cruise last weekend was postponed because of the unanticipated happening of our second foster dog, Ty. We stayed at home to give him a bit of time to settle into his new environment; but it was just as well that we stayed put, we had an unexpected invasion of family followed by a 48-hour fever which laid us low all day Monday. Some cruises just aren’t meant to be!

Anyway, our latest plan is to mooch around the Lee and Stort for the next several weekends. We haven’t been here for a few years and it will be interesting to see how it matches our rather hazy memories. We also have two charity cruises booked for the 25th September and 2nd October – one thing that we do remember is that the Lee Valley Country Park, which surrounds the navigation, is particularly lovely.

We had a slow start on Saturday morning. Poor Ty still get confused about where the dog loo is (definitely in the garden Ty!) so we had a clean-up operation before we left the house. We were excited, Greygal and three of her pack (Miffy and Ranger, who’ve been before, and Sidney, who’s never been on a narrowboat) were joining us for the day.  They really went for it – parking their car in Cheshunt and taking the train to Liverpool Street Station where we picked them up (by car). Their hounds coped very well with the train and lapped up all the fuss they could from random strangers.

Note: The entrance to the country park and towpath near Cheshunt station is a very convenient place to pick up/drop off visitors. The station is close to the navigation and there is parking on the streets, in the station car park and in the country park car park though the latter is locked at sunset-ish.

In the meantime, we took our new pack to the boat. Ty coped very well – he was fearful but although the boat was totally unfamiliar, he did recognise the big fluffy duvet on the floor and curled himself up straight away. I got on with my usual boating chores – draining the water tank and refilling it with fresh while Richard collected our crew. We did have a small calamity later on when I offloaded the hounds to go and meet Greygal’s pack on neutral territory. Lynx and Ty got tangled coming out of the deck door and Lynx half fell into the water between the pontoon and the boat. He was quickly hoicked out but though there was no apparent damage done he screamed the place down for several minutes while I massaged the leg that he was waving in the air. I couldn’t find anything amiss – I think is was mainly fright. Luckily everyone on our end of the pontoon are dog people so they held onto Lou and Ty while I administered sympathy to Lynx.

The olympic stadium coming along nicely - could we offer to host this year's Commonwealth Games at short notice? Maybe not....

Lou had her usual ferocious barking session when she spotted the rest of the pack, but we soon had six calm greyhounds walking together and causing much comment. They had a run around the little dog park and once we were satisfied that a) they were empty and b) they weren’t going to kill each other, we wended our way back to the boat and got started.

It’s very relaxing to cruise with competent friends who are familiar enough with Indigo Dream’s steering to be left on the helm. The dogs settled down on various duvets and sheepskins (including 2 – 3 dogs on deck at all times!) and we cruised up the very familiar Limehouse Cut, reliving previous cruises and our tideway adventures.

We soon reached Old Ford Lock – the first of many electrically operated locks along the navigation. This was the first chance for the pack to have a rummage – Ty wasn’t at all sure – there weren’t any familiar items on the towpath. He did come out on the lead and although he didn’t look as if he was having a very good time, at least he didn’t panic. I know it seems cruel, but we can’t wrap Ty in cotton wool – he needs to experience new things and learn that they’re not going to harm him. The rest of the pack rummaged around interestedly – Lou joined Greygal’s pack and left the boys with Richard (Lynx likes to stay close – he’s such a sweetie). In the meantime, I held the boat and brought her into the lock. As I came in, I noticed that the lockside was thick with gongoozlers – a walking tour had arrived just in time to see the marvellous sight of a narrowboat coming through a lock and six hounds clambering on board at the top.

When we came up the lock we were amazed – the towpath moorings were jam-packed. This spot has certainly become popular – is that because of the Olympic security or just some weird narrowboat osmosis? We passed by Foreman’s again – their recent claim to fame is that they appeared on the latest series of Celebrity Masterchef – wish we’d seen that episode – we’d have been interested to know what their normal fare is like. Unfortunately you can’t download old episodes from the website so we’ll have to wait for the repeats (shouldn’t think it will be a long wait!).

Lunch at the Princess of Wales with four of the dogs in view - Lou and Ty were lying on sheepskins behind me - it's a hard life!

We soon passed the turn into Ducketts Cut and took Greygal and A into new territory. We were pleasantly surprised – Hackney is much nicer than I remember. In fact, the whole stretch up to Tottenham Locks, which I recall being a right dump, seems to have improved over the last few years. There’s still a bit of garbage around, but the water is clear enough to support a luxuriant growth of underwater weed and shoals of fish. I wondered about the prop, but the fronds appeared to be waving gently just below our baseplate!

We made good time through Hackney, but were so busy chatting that we forgot to look at the sights along the way – including the outskirts of the Olympic Park! It was a glorious autumn day – chill in the breezy shade but warm in the sun. Unusually for us, we hadn’t been shopping other than a cowful of milk for our lattes and a pile of Danish pastries (Greygal generously donated doughnuts and other goodies), so we had to find a pub for lunch. We stopped off at the Princess of Wales pub, just down from Lea Bridge (opposite the weir) – it was warm enough to sit outside with the six hounds laid out on sheepskins and duvets around our table. We noticed an inordinate number of people dressed as pirates walking down the towpath – they were doing a sponsored walk for the Pirate Club – a canalside youth club in Camden (their distinctive ‘castle’ straddles the canal there). A lady was video-ing the walk and asked whether she could video the dogs as well – she filmed us introducing each dog in turn – all a bit bonkers really but we were all excited by the thought of the hounds being on YouTube!

We had a good lunch here – plain and plentiful pub grub and they didn’t charge us too much for a whole heap of doggie sausages either. Poor Ty was too scared to eat (though he did lie down on his sheepskin) – not a problem – his share of the sausages soon disappeared! Richard did the traipsing back and forth to the bar and discovered that the barmaid came from Transylvania. We did discuss whether that was a real place or just a mythical land of vampires – it’s real, part of Romania, so Richard can take his kevlar polo-neck jumper off 🙂

Interestingly there used to be a lock just south of the pub. This site is putting together a fascinating history of the Lee and is well worth a read.

Smart new towpath - it does feel as if this area's on the up...

We were having a wonderfully relaxing day – it’s difficult to remember what it was like here before, but is seems that the progressive gentrification rippling out from the Olympic site has reached this far. The navigation is very pleasant – if you were teleported onto a boat there you’d never guess where you were. The navigation is flanked on the right by reservoirs and green parks for most of its length; on the left there is a mix of new and old housing with some interesting contrasts – the old Anchor and Hope pub looks totally out of place, huddling at the base of a series of towering blocks of flats.

Even Tottenham Locks seemed nicer today – the last time we came here, the prop stirred up a noxious fume from the sludge below – it seemed considerably cleaner today! There is a pair of wide locks at Tottenham – the right hand lock is electrically operated. We waited for the electric lock – this saved quite a bit of work – the manual lock gates on the Lee are very heavy.

Although the lower stretch of the Lee has improved almost beyond recognition, it’s fair to say that the navigation becomes more attractive with every mile cruised. This must be the case – the towpath moorings were jam-packed with mainly unlicensed boats – if the BW enforcement officers were paid by results then they’d bag a big bonus patrolling along the Lee. Worryingly one boat had the most dodgy looking gas installation, glancing at something as you go past is not a great test but no way did it look BSS compliant or even common sense compliant.

We stopped off for a pump-out above Stonebridge Lock – there are useful services here including rubbish and elsan disposal. There’s also a handy cafe – we sat and ate ice-creams while Richard dealt with the loo. We were a bit annoyed – we’d only done a pump out a scant cruising day ago when we stopped at Pyrford Marina. We knew that Pyrford’s pump-out machine wasn’t very good but we hadn’t realised quite how bad it was – it barely cleared anything from the tank. The pack came out for a bobble – Lynx was particularly bold, rummaging around by himself and lying down in the soft grass a distance away from the rest of the pack. Lou stayed on her sofa but we persuaded Ty to come out for a desultory wander.

There is abundant wildlife along the navigation, confirming yet again the importance of these waterways as green corridors. We even saw a kingfisher in Edmonton – it’s East London, who’d have believed it! We also saw another exotic beast – an asian fisherman relaxing under a bridge with the most beautifully crafted shisha pipe (or hookah) – we speculated on what he might be smoking – he certainly looked very happy!

This is East London! The reservoirs, lakes and associated parkland on the right make sure that the navigation never feels too urban...

The dogs go off at most of the locks – they were confined at a few because of roads or awkward footing. With Ty in the house we’ve been reminded of how accident-prone greyhounds are. He did hop off the boat by himself at one lock (the rest were confined and NOT happy about it!). It was interesting as we didn’t think he’d be confident enough to be that naughty. I caught him quickly but he didn’t try to run away – he’s quite clingy (good!) and his recall is coming along nicely (under controlled conditions).

It wasn’t just the dogs that were bobbling – we’d had a late start and a leisurely pub lunch but as the sun set, realisation dawned – if we didn’t get a move on then we wouldn’t get to Cheshunt until after dark.

We pressed on apace, but by the time we’d reached Waltham Abbey it was pitch dark with a gibbous moon pressing her pregnant belly against a thin veil of cloud. We turned on the navigation lights and headlamp, thinking that if we’d managed an entry into Limehouse Lock from the tideway after dark then these locks wouldn’t be a problem. And so it proved!

We reached our mooring point near Cheshunt Station at around 8.30pm – a LOT later than we’d originally planned. Greygal says we’re a bad influence, the tideway, long cruising days. cruising after dark, foster dogs (Sidney was a foster for a week before they relented and adopted him for good!)…….

They’d parked nearby and because it was so late they offered to drive Richard back to Limehouse. He could have done it by train but it’s slightly fiddly and it was getting late. So the pack was split after a great day’s cruising.

I wandered back to the boat with our three, fed them and started on the cleaning. We don’t like to leave the fridge on if we’re away for more than a day or so without shore power so that had to be cleared. Richard came back to the boat just after 10pm and we loaded up and headed for home. We got home after midnight but it was worth it – we had so many jobs to do at home, plus an unexpected visitor for Sunday lunch – we’d never have managed if we’d stayed overnight on the boat. It was also better for Ty – he coped with the boat better than I expected but it’s small steps. We were so pleased to see how ecstatic he was to be back in the house – he was scared stiff there last week so progress is being made. Anyway, the plan was to give him day at home to get settled before going to the office with Richard on Monday….

The Anchor and Hope as it is now.....

Today’s Trivia

East London has its fair share of old pubs, some of which have earned the moniker ‘historic’ with colourful tales dating back hundreds of years. The Anchor and Hope in Hackney certainly looks old and, according to Wikepedia is a ‘war survivor’. If the rather ugly post-war blocks surrounding the pub were built on properties destroyed in the blitz then it’s remarkable that the pub survived.

The pub is not quite as ancient as it looks – I found an useful website dedicated to the history of London pubs. I didn’t find out many colourful stories, but it does seem that the first publican resided here in 1871. The few reviews that I read called it an old cockney boozer, but apparently the locals are friendly and do allow strangers to join them for  a “welcoming, edgy experience’…..hmmmmm. It does look a nice pub, we do like Fullers pubs, most allow dogs so this could be somewhere to stop on our way down?

World War II Bomb Damage Map

Richard has scanned part of the old London County Council bomb maps. During the Blitz the London County Council Architect’s Department hand coloured large scale maps to indicate the severity of damage all with the aim of planning for post war rebuilding. This part of London is right on the edge of the old LCC area so the recording here was probably not so complete – think war time, right out in the border lands at the limit of their area, probably hard to get to. On the map you can see the blue shaded Lee Navigation, just north of the railway bridge is a red shaded building then a purple shaded building. Across the road from the purple shaded building are shown some unshaded buildings. We think these are the Anchor and Hope.

Now the circle is where a V1 flying bomb landed, purple shading indicates damage beyond repair, dark red indicates serious damage, doubtful if repairable. The various bombs must have missed the pub by a whisker!

This area has also got a fair share of known unexploded bombs – a list was published a few years ago by the then Armed Forces Minister Nicholas Soames – click here. Even now bombs are being found and more often odd shells and the like. Not so long ago and not a million miles away from here a guy digging found something and tossed it to his mate commenting “Does this look like a grenade?”. His mate thought yes so threw it across to his foreman who decided it was most certainly a grenade, put it down gently and legged it. Lucky there was no cricket on at the time.

Just to the south on the map you can see that there used to be a timber yard, there was another further south on the same bank which I think is where Lathams used to be.  These yards have all gone, though there seem to be ongoing discussions about the fate of Essex Wharf on the other side of the river. That debate is interesting as the archeology reports are online eg click here (warning – reasonably big 1.1 MB pdf file) and they contain all sorts of interesting maps showing how the line of the River Lea / Lee Navigation has changed!

Ty’s voice

Ty is very worried about how to present himself in the media – when he was being video’d during races he could just let his long legs do the talking but now….

He’s an Irish dog but he thinks that he’s lost his brogue on account of living and racing in Romford for so long. So, what a does a Romford accent sound like? On the other hand, he does look like a bit of a bruiser while still being a complete softie on the inside – he reminds me of Frank Bruno – so should that be his voice? Ty says he refuses to be a chavvy Essex boy like Lynx…….


Limehouse Cut feels as if it's really coming up in the world with these smart developments - shame about the graffiti though....

Ranger in the classic 'Indigo Dream' pose - Greygal's hounds enjoy being out on the back deck - we're trying to persuade her to modify her own narrowboat accordingly 🙂

Coming up Old Ford Lock - see the moorings above - they're really filled up recently...

Miffy, Sidney and Ranger - Sidney, the new boy, stayed on deck for most of the day - he's a natural narrowboater!

Towpath moorings filled with a mottley assortment of boats.... Richard is doing something with the bridge so took loads of photos.

River Arch Market - I wonder what it's like - the sun mural is very welcoming....

Remnants of the old copper mill - there seems to be a living timber yard next door with cranes over the canal - I wonder if they do still freight timber this way?

Greygal, A and their pack, hang on, that black dog is Lynx! We had to make sure that they took the right black dog home with them - all three are sweeties!

Lynx enjoyed his bit of ice cream at Stonebridge Lock...

Edmonton - probably the most industrialised stretch of the navigation - still doesn't look too bad though...

Nice place to sit and watch the world go by????

The pylons march through an otherwise tranquil landscape as we move up the navigation....

Black beauties - Ty and Lynx using Sidney as a headrest!

Five on deck - Ty was on his duvet inside. Now, if we had Greygal's full pack on board could we really fit nine on deck? Only one way to find out.....

Somewhat derelict lock cottage at Enfield - it seems like such a shame. There's a derelict pub just down the road as well - it does give the place a slightly forlorn air....

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Dog Blog: Ty’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 14 September, 2010

Note from Sue: Ty is foster dog No. 2. He was born on 25thAugust 2005, started his racing career as Garryglass Tyson in Newbridge, County Kildare,  his last race was in Romford in March 2009. We don’t know what he did for the next 17 months but we know that he was re-homed on August Bank Holiday (this year). We took him in on Wednesday after he’d been returned to the kennels which must be a very scary event for a dog. He’d had an extremely fearful reaction to some fireworks and seemed a bit scared of men – mind you who wouldn’t be scared of Richard suddenly looming at the door…..

Our aim over the next couple of months is to build up his confidence, tackle any noise phobia and get him ready for rehoming. We think he is a great dog, loads of personality to come out, it is so sad that his first home did not work out.  Our amateur diagnosis picked up a fear of men, strangers, anything new, confusion (what is happening to me now, am I going to be safe here?) and maybe a tiny bit of aggrophobia. I think that Lou and Lynx, being so calm, will show Ty the way forward, in fact they already have – it has been a delight seeing how he is changing every day.

We’re great fans of Cesar Milan, the dog whisperer – some don’t like his methods but he does talk a lot of common sense when it comes to rehabilitating dogs. One of his mantras is the division of the three basic dogs needs – exercise (50%), discipline (25%) and affection (25%) – Mr Milan reckons that humans tend to give 100% affection and that’s the root of many dog behaviour problems. With that in mind, Ty has been on long walks with Lou and Lynx – with me in the afternoon and with Richard after dark; he’s also had lots of rummages round the garden – initially we had to take him round the garden on the lead but he’s getting increasingly confident and is now going out by himself. As for 25% affection – well, it may be a tad more (!) but he has had plenty of time by himself to wander around and discover things for himself – we’ve definitely had to discipline him gently – that lovely comfy double bed upstairs is definitely ours!

This post is just a brief diary of our first few days with a new dog in the house – one who came from kennels. We forget, in the intervening years, the work involved in getting a hound settled so I thought I’d keep a note of Ty’s thoughts on his first few days…..

I'm Ty and I'm being a brave boy - see this is me outside hexploring.....

Wednesday 8th September

I’m a BIG black greyhound and whatever Lynx says about me, I’m NOT a big wuss. Big wusses don’t win big races – here’s a video of me going quick here, I am easy to spot as the handsome one in the red jacket.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a new home, I woz all happy, but last Friday  there woz all fizz, bangs and whizzes all over the place. I’m reely scared and I finks “Better not go out again, ever, ever, ever – what if them fizz bangs start again, and wot about them other things that make a noise”. It was no good, I had go back to Auntie Pat at the kennels and she said I could live with Auntie Sue for a while – is like a luxury hotel for hounds – I needs lots of TLC.

I met my new foster sister Lou yesterday and my foster brother Lynx – we gots on just fine so Auntie Sue took me back to the countryside. Was a bit scary – birds tweeting in the trees and flappin’ their wings an’ I was soooo hungry – I had to try to steal Auntie’s Sue’s dinner so she’d get the hint! Lynx said “don’t do that, just use your hypno powers” – I dunno if I got hypno powers, but Auntie Sue did feed me so maybe I does. I had a big sleep after dinner – Auntie Sue was happy – she sez if I can relax enuff to sleep then it’s not so bad.

Auntie Sue’s house smells of other boy dogs, so I had to have a few wees just in case she forgot that I was here. She says if I want somethin’ I just needs to give her a nudge with me long nose – weein’s a bit OTT.

D’oh, I got so much to learn.

Thursday 9th September

Auntie Sue says I’m like Goldilocks – there’s lots of dog beds in the house and I had to lie on every one before I could find the right one. I had a little grumble – I’m NOT some little girly girl – I’m a big boy hound –  “prove it” says Auntie Sue. Huh, she don’t understand! She did let me out for wees at 12.30am, Lynx came out wif me so that was hokay. I needed the toilet later as well but Auntie Sue was fast asleep so I ‘ad to go on the floor. I was well worried, I thought Auntie Sue might send me back to kennels. But she just give me big cuddles and showed me where the doggie loo was outside. Auntie Sue says I got to tell her when I needs to go, and she needs to learn my ‘signals’. She sez that all it takes is a little time. They was well-prepared – Richard had been to the shops to get lots and lots and lots of kitchen roll, and floor cleaner and ‘odour eliminator’.

I found the loo - in the garden - bit primitive....

I woz relieved, so when Auntie Sue went back to be for a lie-in I showed her how happy I was – I dragged some knickers out of the dirty linen basket and played with them on me bed an’ then I though it would be fun to pull at the curtains – they was hangin’ there at nibbling height, fluttering about, got to be a toy just for me. Auntie Sue thought not, so I’s just dragged me big fluffy blanket right close to her side of the bed and had a big sleep.

I had a day at home today – getting to know my turf, well, is not mine reely. I’ve tried me big hound act on Lou but she’s def’nitely the boss! I ‘ad breakfast, then a snooze, then I ‘ad a run around, then I ‘ad a long sleep, then I ‘ad a run, then another long sleep. I always wake up when cars go by but there’s not many here – is nice and quiet, apart from those pesky tweetin’ birds!

Auntie Sue went out today – she said “try not to destroy anything while I’m out” – no way, I woz too busy chewin Richard’s slippers to be bothered with trashin’ the house. Lou and Lynx told me to chill out – Auntie Sue woz going to Pets at Home so we woz in for treets. We woz all barkin’ when we heard the car come back – it was so hexcitin’ I forgots to be scared and ran out the door say ‘hello’ and stick me nose in the car boot. Then I remembered to be scared and went inside, then I forgots again coz Auntie Sue had a squeaky pheasant and  a squeaky lamb frisbee thing. I chucked me toys around – not in a girly way, I’m a big macho dog, even if Lynx did nick me squeaky lamb and Lou got the pheasant ‘ventually.

Just as well I had big snoozes – we went to dog-training this evenin’. I was a weeny bit scared but not much – there was other dogs and lots of words like “come here” an’ “stay” and “wait” – no idea wot they mean but Auntie Sue sez I’ll soon learn.

Friday 10th September

Me an Lou - she's showing me round the best smells....

Auntie Sue had go out wif Lou this morning’ so me and Lynx had a  boy’s rummage – we’s had a good look in the dog trainin’ bag an’ found our sheepskins and some chews – was fun, but not as much fun as chewin’ Uncle Richard’s boot…

Then Auntie Sue comes in, I danced around and around ran out the door wif me best pal Lynx; then Auntie Sue got the toys out and I had a mad moment runnin’ around and chucking me squeaky lamb in the air. Then I fell in the pond – not the one wif the pirhanas – the one that’s all green an’ looks like grass. “Ha Ha Ha”, I thought, it was great fun and when I comes out I woz all green as well. I ‘ad a good shake and duckweed went flyin’ everywhere. I’s a happy hound.

I’s still having a bit of trouble workin’ out where the toilet is – they’s very old fashioned here – the dog loo is in the garden! I want ensuite – I deserves ensuite – I knows coz I bin watchin’ ‘escape to the country’ on the telly…..

After all that hexcitement I had to have a big sleep, but the postman disturbed me with a hooge henvelope which went ‘flump’ onto the floor. Then Auntie Sue got the ironing board out – it looks like a big scary insect monster. Lynx says I’m a bug wuss and I don’t take that sort of cheek from no-one so I laid on his bed where I could keep an eye on the monster – I bet that Auntie Sue is so relieved that I’m watchin’ the beast an’ keepin’ it under control for her….

We get to go for lots of walks – we went for a bobble in the woods with Auntie Sue, then Richard took us for a big run after dark. There were wabbits and I had some off lead runs but I am not to tell Auntie Sue that I was off lead, so let’s keep it a secret, ok?

You know Auntie Sue sez I’m like goldilocks? Well, the best bed is Auntie’s Sue’s bed and the best food bowl is Auntie’s Sue’s bowl 🙂

Auntie Sue sez I’m a different dog today – she’s daft, I’m still Ty!

Me on my first big walk - I'm looking at the sheep - do I like sheep Auntie Sue??

Saturday 11th September

I had a whole dry night! Auntie Sue, don’t tell everyone, it makes me sound like a big baby!

And she calls me “Cuddle-bunny” – aaw, that’s all me street cred….. ooh that’s the spot Auntie Sue, just to the left…. yeah, my street cred gone……ooh not that ear the other one…….where was I, yeah I’m a big macho…..Aaah, I’ll just lean on you so you can reach my tummy……

We had hooman visitors today – Richard’s mummy came to stay – I woz a bit scared but Lou sez that Richard’s mummy gives the best fusses; then Richard’s sister came – she’s a vet, uh oh! I woz even more scared an’ went upstairs for a bit. But Auntie Sue was cooking lamb, oooh oooh oooh, it smelled so good, I ‘ad to go down for a look and I got lots of fuss and lots of food then I wosn’t scared no more.

Sunday 12th September

Auntie Sue is so happy, just coz I been out in the garden all by myself, an’ I had a big rummage wif me pals Lynx and Lou. Get a grip Auntie Sue, I woz just doin’ wot a big macho dog does…..

I woz macho at the vet too – I cut me foot and had to have some stitches without being knocked out – I dun exactly the same as me foster brother Lynx. He cut his foot and gets ham ‘n cream cheese with some crunchy tablets thingies – I thought “I got have me some of that” – the big blue bandage wosn’t so good but that’s be gone by tomorrow….

Monday 13th September

I had another dry night – Auntie Sue is very happy!

Lynx an’ me are not s’posed to be runnin’ coz of the cuts on our feet and now Lou’s banned from walks becoz she had a sedative at the vets’ – is all very quiet an’ peaceful here…..

Auntie Sue bought Lou some hot chicken – me and Lynx ate lots as well – was yummy.

Tuesday 14th September

Auntie Sue sez I’m banned from watching ‘Escape to the country’ on telly – she sez the garden is an ensuite loo for dogs – I can’t have an ensuite indoors – even she and uncle Richard don’t have one of them! Uh oh, is hard, I though you could believe everything you saw on the telly.

I am a morning dog – when Uncle Richard gets up at 6.30am I’m so pleased I got to do dashing about and spinnin’ and chucking me toys in the air and poking me cold nose under the duvet to give Auntie Sue some big kisses – “go  back to bed” she sez – “but why Auntie Sue” sez I “is time for playin’ – Uncle Richard’s been awake for ages”. Autie Sue’s not very good at playin’ in the mornin’ but she did get up and give me a BIG breakfast so I forgive her……

I am happy here tho’ – I dun runnin’ around, and rummagin’ and puttin’ me head in the bin an’ shoes, I loves shoes – they smell so good – I ot quite a collection in me bed now. Lynx can have the queeky toys – give me shoes…….

Note from Sue: Ty is doing very well – as he gains his confidence we’re getting glimpses of a BIG personality – affectionate, playful and just a bit mischievous – it will be great to see how he develops over the next few weeks. Remember, Ty is our foster dog and will be looking for a new forever home in November after Guy Fawkes – if YOU think you’ve got the patience to work with any remaining fears and carry on with his basic training then get in touch with Pat Philpott and her team at Greyhoundhomer….


See the trail I left in the pond...

Glad I didn't fall in the piranha pool tho'....

Lou an' Lynx are teaching me how to rummage....

Lou and Lynx showing me the way...

Me having a rummage all by myself - I'm so brave....

There's all sorts of good smells in the garden - is so hinteresting that sometimes I forgets to be scared....

Me an' my new best friend Lynx - we boys have to stick together....

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Dog blog: Lynx’s Diary (6)

Posted by indigodream on 13 September, 2010

From 1st September


I's so fast I's just a blur - Lou's quick for an old girl tho...

I's dun cleanin' the ice-cream pot....

I’s had to have lots of sleep after me holeedays – it was hexhaustin’

Is had a bit of hexcitement last Wednesday – we went to a greyhound kennel and got lots of fuss then we had a walk with a big black boy called Ty. Then Ty got in the car and came home wif us! Auntie Sue said that she knows I was quite new, but would I mind looking after Ty, who’d had a big fright and needed a brave boy like me to show him how to behave.

“Well, oh course, Auntie Sue”, I sez – I’s got me paws well under the table here – me and Lou will show him what’s what. I was pleezed – Is not the bottom of the pack no more, I’s the middle, is a BIG promotion.

Auntie Sue bought us some new toys, by us I means me, I got a squeaky pheasant and a squeaky lamb frisbee – I’s running fast round the garden, I’s chucking me toys in the air, Is beating all the other dogs – wheee, look at me…..

I’s runnin fast chucking me pheasant round and I see Lou in hambush at the top of the garden steps – she’s sneaky like that so I tries to stop – ow ow ow, I’s run into the garden wall – ow ow ow – I’s cut my foot and grazed my leg. Auntie Sue was a bit worried becuase she thought I’d reely hurt me toe but it didn’t need stitches or anyfing. I’s on anitiotics, well, I’s on cream cheese and ham, with antibiotics in the middle – yum yum.

I woz feelin’ a bit sorry for meself and left the loony runnin’ around stuff to Lou and Ty. But not for long……

Ty’s bin following me round, doin’ what I do and weein’ where I wee – is only nat’ral then that he cut his foot like I cut my foot. But he needed stitches – Auntie Sue sez he was such a brave boy at the vet – they loves him there.

I’s feeling a lot better now and woz lookin’ forward to some chasing but Ty’s got this big bandage on his foot (hasn’t stopped him tho’) and now Lou needed a sed-at-ive this morning for a routine test at the vet so she’s fast asleep! An uncle Richard and Auntie Sue has headaches so we’re having a quite Monday at home – tha’s ok – Auntie Sue’s been out for hot chickens so we’s all full of food and slumped out on our duvets….

Lou is a real hexpert when it comes to cleenin' ice cream pots...

I grins when I'm sleepin'.....

I likes lyin' in the garden...

Auntie Sue sez I got the silliest ears....

Remember 'spot the ball', well this is 'spot the sausage'.... We have to work so so very hard when we have a day in Richard's office.

Here's one with the ballistic sausage...

There is so much to learn about office life. Extracting the sausage from the sandwich - is delicate surgery - I might accident'ly eat some bread...

I loves me new squeeky toys...

Auntie Sue, I think there's a rat in the compost heap - I sure I saw'd it...

Lou in the long grass (1) - she don't let me have any other girlfriends so better make the best of it....

Lou in the long grass (2)

Lou in the long grass (3) - this is Auntie Sue's favrit...

you_should_not_see_this_text. It_is_just_here_to_con_wordpress_into_giving_me_a_blank_line_and_stop_photos_displaying_funny

and some more of me showing how speedy I am:

Lou's a canny runner - here she comes....

The chase is on - wheeeee!

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Boat Blog: Trip to the IWA National (by car!)

Posted by indigodream on 12 September, 2010

Monday 30th August

We were so slow to leave the boat this morning – we were pleasantly tired after our latest tideway adventure and we had to clean almost a week’s detritus from the boat (though we’d had an interim clear out on Friday).

We had to get to the IWA show by lunchtime – the St Pancras Crusing Club had kindly asked me to join their presentation team at the show to give six-minute insight into our tidal experiences with the club. I was honoured, and spent some time selecting 12 of my favourite photos (30 seconds per slide) from the thousands that we have on file! We set off rather vaguely from Limehouse at 10.20am and rang Andrew Phasey to confirm the time of the talk – 12 noon – aaargh!!!!

That certainly focused our attention and Richard did well to get us to Beale Park just in time for the start of the presentation – luckily I was the last speaker but I did want to hear what the others had to say. Andrew had a formidable team – David, the Port of London Harbourmaster, Jeremy, the senior lock keeper at Limehouse and Andrew himself. I was in illustrious company!

The A-team (and me)!!!

David gave a particularly interesting talk about the perils of the tideway and, more importantly, how to avoid them. He was beset by questions from audience afterwards – the presentation tent was jam-packed – it was obviously an engaging subject. Jeremy was drily witty and gave some excellent advice on how best to approach and enter Limehouse Lock. I found myself nodding vigorously behind him, having applied his flawless technique the night before! Andrew gave an overview of how to join the club’s many convoys and displayed a tiny selection of the thousands of photos that convoy members had sent him over the years. By the time Andrew started his presentation, the next occupiers of the presentation tent were starting to complain that we were over-running, by the time Andrew finished speaking they were seriously aggrieved and I graciously(!) agreed to forego my slot in favour of the Chesterfield Canal Society (I think). I did promise to put my presentation on the blog though – regular readers needn’t click on the link – I’m sure you’ve heard it all before! Sue IWA talk 2010

I was sorry not to speak, I am a bit of a diva and after presentations about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of tidal cruising I think that my bit about the ‘why’ would maybe have persuaded a few boaters that the small risk of tideway cruising was well outweighed by the benefits.

The show’s organisers, on seeing the popularity of the tideway presentation, promised the St Pancras Cruising Club a bigger tent and more time when the show returns to Beale Park in the future!

Andrew and Frances kindly offered us lunch back at nb Doris Katya and we spent a convivial afternoon listening to David and Jeremy’s fascinating tales. Lou and Lynx enjoyed their usual attention and were exceptionally well behaved – I’m so proud of them.

By the time we’d lunched there was barely time to wander around the show. Even then, we kept getting distracted – there were numerous lurchers and three other greyhounds at the show. Lynx took a fancy to a dainty black greyhound (he’s quite a flirt), racing name ‘Blushing Betty’ – they looked a handsome pair – it turns out that they have a common grandfather – the infamous ‘Top Honcho’. Lou defended her boy with a few low growls – I’m not sure what the male equivalent of a harem is, but she’s not about to let go of it 🙂 We also met another dainty black girl who’d never raced and a stunning white greyhound who’d been dumped because she was apparently too small for racing. We did look at a few stalls as well – they were numerous but somehow disappointing – the colourful clothes stands that I’d hoped for were absent. The purchase of the day was from a stand selling Normandy cider – I love french cider – it tastes of apples rather than chemicals and has a refreshing alcohol content (4.5% though I prefer the 2% that you can buy in France). Richard bought a new boat-washing brush to replace the one blown off the roof yesterday!

We wended our way home after an enjoyable but not terribly productive day – never mind, maybe that’s what bank holidays are for……

Note: I’ve finally caught up with our cruising blog – sorry it’s taken so long. We didn’t go boating last weekend and have postponed our trip up the Lee and Stort for a week while……well, let’s just say that the onboard greyhound count might have gone up a tadge!

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary – me holeeday snaps….

Posted by indigodream on 9 September, 2010

Auntie Sue sez I'm a back seat driver.....

I's quite likin' this boatin' lark...

Don't tell, her but I think Lou's a bit old to be me girlfriend, but she is quite pretty....

Lynx the lock-keeper - I's got so many job hopportunitees - lockie, train driver, car driver, boat's captain, food taster, drawin' checker, sausage quality control......

Life can't all be work, work work....

Me an' Lou chillin' by the pool - Auntie Sue, could you get me another pig's ear and a cool drink, oh yes, and don't forget my 1pm belly-rub...

Auntie Sue, AUNTIE SUE, there's a CAT on the TOWPATH.....

I's dun shoopin' in Kingston - was a big effort...

Lyin' down and eatin' cake is much more my style...

We's quite comfy, 'specially as we've trained Auntie Sue to always move our pillows to where are our heads are...

Auntie Sue, can we go and live in Syon House? I thinks your place is a bit small....

I dun the sights of London - no need to look at them again....

Ooh, I's just had a nice snooze - where are we now then?

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Boat Blog: Another trip on the tideway

Posted by indigodream on 8 September, 2010

Sunday 29th August

Shepperton to Limehouse Basin

Our overnight moorings – they’re very smart…

We had a very unusual day ahead of us – we were moored within a few hours cruise of Teddington Lock but the tide wouldn’t be favourable until late afternoon so we had a leisurely morning followed by a busy evening on the tideway.

Note: we had rung Limehouse Lock on Friday and booked our passage through on Sunday evening – they do appreciate 24 hours notice, well to be exact if you don’t give them 24 hours notice for an out of hours booking then you get  to spend a night on the pontoon outside.

Knowing that we had plenty of time, we had a slow start on Sunday morning, relaxing over a coffee. We eventually set off mid-morning and headed downstream. There was a fair bit of traffic on the water but far less than I expected – there were no queues and the lock-keepers didn’t need their specialist packing skills. Where is everybody?

We meandered downriver, noting in passing the ‘art sale’ on the towpath adjacent to Molesey Lock – it was such a civilised sight – tables and easels displaying paintings and little knick-knacks. I didn’t see anything that I fancied, but the cruiser behind us stopped off at the lock moorings to explore the display.

I love this stretch of river and enjoyed the usual sights – I’ll let the photos illustrate why the river is so fascinating.

We’d noticed that we were down to a quarter tank of diesel – enough to get us to Limehouse but we decided to fill up anyway – balancing the diesel tank at the back and the water tank at the front can improve the boat’s trim. We stopped off at Thames Ditton – we’ve bought diesel here before and the services are conveniently placed right on the river. I think that the diesel is slightly cheaper at Shepperton Marina but it’s not quite so easy to access. While we filled with diesel we admired the deft manoeuvering of the sailing boats downstream – I’ll never know how they didn’t capsize as they heeled over in the wind. Knowing that they were in control of their craft gave us a bit more confidence to move through them as we set off towards Kingston.

Double-takes from passersby are not unusual when you have two big hounds stretched out on the pavement…

We had a debate about where to moor in Kingston – there’s quite a choice, both on the ‘town’ side and the ‘park’ side. Our favourite John Lewis moorings were occupied so we ended up mooring outside ‘Gazebo’ – a riverside bar/restaurant on the ‘town’ side just upstream of Kingston Bridge, which has its own moorings. We were set to lunch there, but they weren’t doing food – however they didn’t mind our mooring there while we explored the town. Lynx and Lou came for a wander with us and attracted a lot of attention – they are both ‘people’ dogs and are the tartiest ambassadors for greyhound welfare/rehoming. We ate Costa paninis in one of the town’s market squares, noting with concern the rising wind. Kingston has a number of little squares and malls which make it quite an interesting town for an aimless wander. We discovered a ‘Paul’s’ bread/cake shop and enjoyed a luscious pastry before heading back to the boat at pace – the sky was looking very threatening. As we got on board a terrible squall broke over us with torrential rain, hail and howling winds. We battened down the hatches – I even had to close the window ‘lights’ – the rain was being blown in – it shouldn’t be possible with the angle of the openings!

The squall only lasted 15 minutes before it passed on, leaving a tossed salad of cloud above and a gusty wind chopping the river’s surface like an angry chef.

As soon as the rain stopped we hastened down to Teddington to talk to the lock-keeper. We needed to check whether conditions on the tideway would be ok – that squall would have affected us badly has we been in the busy pool of London. Our investigations were inconclusive – the forecast was unsettled but improving; the lockies could only tell us that it was in ok in Limehouse at the moment but couldn’t venture a guess at what it might be like in three hours time. According to the BBC, the winds at 7pm would be 10mph (no problem), according to Metcheck they’d be 20mph (big problem). We made a contingency plan to leave a little earlier so that we could divert to Brentford if the forecast worsened.

nb Concorde with skippers Henri and Bee – they had quite a thrill ride up the tideway in the squall that passed by earlier. They were cruising into the setting sun so this is the only photo of them that wasn’t hopelessly overexposed.

We had an hour at the Teddington moorings – the dogs enjoyed a little rummage in the adjacent park and we met a dainty black greyhound girl who looked to be a perfect match for Lynx (we don’t remember her racing name). The black girl greyhound was a grumpy little thing – she and Lou enjoyed an exchange of barks and growls – ‘birds of a feather’ I think!

Teddington Lock wasn’t too busy so we meandered down towards the lock at the appropriate time and hovered while they let out a trip boat. They waved us in and we locked down onto the tideway with a pair of canoes who were applauded into the lock. The young men had paddled all the way down from Lechlade (over a few days) – possibly a charity event. We let London VTS know that we were on the tideway and passed on our cruising plans and ETA at Limehouse. Predictably, our VHF signal is much better now that we have a working aerial!

The tideway was as lovely as even and conditions got better the further downstream we travelled. We missed the extra brains that you have available in a convoy – it would have been quite nice to discuss conditions with Andrew Phasey before setting off! However, it was quite nice to set our own pace – 1700 revs, punching the tide for the first hour, mindful that we’d be arriving at Limehouse just after sunset so we were racing the light. And before you ask, no, we didn’t create a breaking wash and we did slow down for random canoes and sailing boats! I did keep a close eye on the temperature gauge – a steady, and normal 80 degrees at 1600 revs and a warm but steady 85 degrees at 1700 revs – I love our engine 🙂 [Cue applause for Neil Coventry who fitted our engine and Mitch Knight for getting the propellor size right]

We passed a few narrowboats going upstream towards Teddington and suddenly recognised nb Concorde with Henri and Bee, our crew from last week, on the helm. We waved madly and they grinned and waved back – they looked so elated – it was their first ‘proper’ cruise on the tideway and they looked as if they’d had a great time.

We had a decision to make at Brentford – turn off the tideway and go the long way round along the canal (the following weekend!) or go for Limehouse. The wind was dropping and the skies were clearing so we decided to carry on. It was the right decision, though the wind did pick up later to create some choppy conditions.

The Thames guide – laminated and filed for easy reference from the helm….

Of course, as soon as we made the decision to carry on, a gust of wind blew the VHF aerial and life-ring onto the deck and the boat-washing brush straight into the river where it sank immediately. Oh well, there’s another thing for ‘Time Team’ to find in 500 years’ time!

As always, we found the trip downstream utterly fascinating – this time round I noticed the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery on the north bank. Much further downstream I noticed an ancient tall ship moored in a dry dock – she’s probably been there forever but I hadn’t noticed her before, in this month’s three trips along the tideway! We swapped over on the helm at regular intervals and topped up on coffee before Wandsworth – the tideway takes a lot of concentration – breaks for food, drink and mental relaxation are important.

The river was very quiet once we got past Brentford – there was hardly any traffic, commercial or otherwise. Two cruisers did catch up with us but they were bound for St Katherine’s Dock, well, they were then, but they had a change in plan a little way downstream – I’ll come back to that later.

It was pretty dark when we arrived at Limehouse Reach. Two clippers passed us here – one upstream and one downstream – they were barely moving, for which we were grateful. but instead of ‘wash’ their slow deep movement carved deep troughs in the water – I was on the helm and had an interesting time weaving through the waves. Obviously we’re quite experienced now, but I was surprised to find how calm I felt on the helm, the passing waves were just a logistical puzzle that needed to be solved.

After our run-in with the Clippers 2 weeks earlier, we’d had thought about what to do to avoid a repeat. The first thing was that in addition to our navigation lights we turned on all inside lights and some fairy lights on the roof – it all made us much more visible and perhaps explained why the Clippers were a bit more gentle with us. The second thing we did was to let VTS know that we would be crossing the tideway in order to do an upstream approach to Limehouse Lock. It was a good thing to do – Channel 14 is an ‘open’ channel so anyone around would have heard us telling VTS about our plans, but if they missed it then they’d definitely have heard VTS’s ‘traffic announcement’ shortly afterwards warning other craft that we were turning.

Hammersmith Bridge – there was a wonderful quality to the light as dusk progressed

I had decided to have a go at the turn into Limehouse – I haven’t done the upstream approach against an outgoing tide before. In discussion with Richard, I turned Indigo Dream across the river – possibly a little too early – the tide didn’t sweep us downstream as fast as I expected so I had to ferry glide across. This meant that I didn’t have as much room to get lined up into the stream before doing the turn into the lock cut. Nonetheless it went well, though it was a tadge more exhilarating that I expected as the combined forces of the tide and Limehouse’s famous ‘back-eddy’ swung the boat towards the downstream wall. There are few things that can’t be cured using a lot of revs and a tiller hard over! The neatness and control of my subsequent lock entry belied the adrenaline thumping of my heart at the tiller!

We were surprised to find that the two cruisers who’d overtaken us earlier were now behind us and coming into Limehouse Lock, together with a third who’d had engine trouble, prompting the change in plan from St Katherine’s to Limehouse. They thought it better to moor off the river with a busted engine! The lead cruiser, who we’d chatted to on the way down, commented on Indigo Dream’s turn of speed on the tideway – they reckoned we’d achieved 12 knots – blimey, grab the waterskis! Of course, a fair few of those knots were down to the tide itself which runs at a fair pace.

We got back to our moorings around 8.30pm and set off in search of food – the Grapes, our favourite pub, wasn’t doing food, the pub adjacent was doing food but wasn’t dog-friendly. Luckily we bumped into one of our Limehouse neighbours who recommended a stroll along Salmon Lane, which is replete with takeaways. We go a very fine takeaway pizza and pasts from a simple italian cafe called Sapore Italiano (0207 531 7492). It wasn’t cheap but it was delicious so we’ll get takeaway from there again.

Needless to say, we were knackered after our holiday! But at least Indigo Dream was home and we plan to spend next weekend at home for a change…..


There are craft of all shapes and sizes on the river…

Is this canoeist cadging a ‘lift’ in the barge’s wake?

Large covered dry dock – useful facility on the river..

Blue Peter boat????

We’re photographed this house before – very striking!

I love these thick rope ‘edgings’  (not sure of the right word) – they look so elegant but I suspect they wouldn’t last 5 minutes on a narrowboat in a narrow lock…

Lots of ‘private’ signs on this pontoon but it looks too rickety to trespass upon…

I really like the look of Ark Nouveau – she’s very eye-catching…

Sails on the water – they’re enjoying the brisk wind!

Raven’s Ait being restored – for community use as a boating centre – read more here

I may have photographed this boat before – certainly worth a shot – that’s eye-catching artwork

The surprising sight of cattle in Richmond….

The Fullers Griffin Brewery – it’s been there since 1845 (or possibly earlier) but I hadn’t noticed it before. They do tours – that might be of interest

One of the many rubbish sieves along the river – they’re apparently very efficient – this one had certainly captured lots of plastic bottles and the like…

Even less famous riverscapes look good in this light…

Atmospheric shot of the tideway with the glow of the post office tower in the background.

the landscape aglow in the sunset…

Moody riverscape….

Dramatic skies….

The photo doesn’t do justice to the real view, but it’s not bad!

I love this busy riverscape – gives a real flavour of how it must have been in its heyday..

Eerie lighting under this bridge – I wonder whether it changes colour from time to time?

Tall ship – now how could I have missed that on our previous trips along the tideway?

Tower Bridge – looks good all lit up..

The traditional riverscape upstream of Limehouse….

The icons of the future – the view downstream…

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Boat Blog: River Wey (5)

Posted by indigodream on 7 September, 2010

Saturday 28th August

Guildford to Shepperton

I'm sure this gate wasn't leaking this badly on our way up - has someone used it as a brake???

It was a fine day on Saturday though we were very slow to get moving. We said a reluctant goodbye to my family, making sure that they stocked up with home-made jam. I’d put them to work as fruit pickers when they’d stayed with us the previous week on their way to France so they’d earned a few pots! I’ll be seeing them again soon – I have to go to Cardiff for my uncle Dave’s funeral next Thursday so we’ll have another get-together then, though in less happy circumstances.

We came back to Guildford by train – we were aiming for Limehouse on Sunday evening and we had a car waiting for us there. Lynx seems to enjoy the train, in fact, he seems to enjoy just about everything!

We were a bit bemused by the kayaks on the river today. They seemed particularly ignorant when portaging around the locks – there was a group above Stoke lock that were busy launching their canoes into the water in front of AND behind a boat waiting at the lock moorings, causing congestion and inconvenience to us, approaching the lock, and to the boat coming out of the lock, who had to travel a way upstream before he could pick up his crew. If the kayaks had waited  few minutes the oncoming boat could have been out of the lock and us in without any bother to anyone. They told us they were beginners and asked us to hover while they launched directly in front of us – we refused as Indigo Dream was drifting in the combination of a stiff breeze and downstream flow. The next best thing we could do was to brest up to the other boat on the lock moorings – that got us stable while the kayaks launched all over the place and drifted upstream on all sides of the navigation. Now, I know it’s a fine thing to assert your rights on the waterways, but we thought that the kayaks were particularly ignorant and cause an unnecessary log-jam which would have been prevented if they’d just waited for two minutes for our narrowboats to get set in the lock and out of the way. The canoeists told us that we should hover in the stream ‘for our safety’ but WE weren’t in any danger! I think that the Wey could take a lesson from the Nene, which has canoe portage platforms separate to the lock moorings – safer all round.

Anyway, that’s my rant over, though we did encounter a similar situation with a different group of kayaks a little further downstream.

Lovely bridge just downstream of Weybridge Town Lock - when you see this bridge in front of you then turn sharp right into the lock - you can't navigate under this bridge!

We shared locks with various boats today – the hirers were out in force and moving at different speeds (all slower than ours). Snow Goose in the photo above was doing her first solo lock and it was a tricky one – we’d brested up to them so went into the lock first, they then had to do a sharp turn  and come in alongside us. The steerer did an expert job – would have looked like a veteran if he had not looked so concerned and worried over much about not touching us! There was also some upstream traffic with numerous cruisers enjoying a jaunt. One had a particularly happy lurcher loafing on the bench seat at the back – it’s a dog’s life on the water!

Pyrford Lock was typically busy with gongoozlers from the local pub – it was very windy here and I was glad to bring Indigo Dream smoothly into the lock! Pyrford Marina is just below the lock – we turned in here to get a pump-out. It’s a self-operated machine – get tokens from the office. It’s not a very good machine – the bit that connects to the tank outlet isn’t very tight and it timed out before our tank was fully empty. The dogs were confined on board – Lynx spotted two dainty red deer in in the undergrowth and was very keen to go and see them. I quickly locked him in – the doe was very cute but the hind had foot-long antlers which would have made short work of a marauding greyhound.

We meandered downstream, meeting relatively few boats once we were past the main canalside watering holes. Fortunately we got to Thames Lock just as the lock-keepers were thinking of closing for the day. They let us through and our little sojourn on the Wey was over. It’s been interesting to come back here (we moored at New Haw for a year when we first got Indigo Dream). I felt a bit oppressed by the pedantic rules and frustrated by the shallow, weedy, unkempt ‘navigation’ and lack of properly dredged mooring places. But you can’t deny the river’s beauty and the loveliness of the surrounding countryside. I’m glad we came back for a visit, it is well worth visiting but I’m equally glad to be moving on.

We stayed the night at the newly restored moorings just downstream of the entrance to the Wey (below Shepperton Lock on the Thames). Bah, I made a silly error coming into moor, poking the bow in, as I normally would, without considering the strength of the downstream flow from Shepperton Weir. I just couldn’t get the stern in and I finally did what I should have done to start with – I let the boat turn around until the bow was pointing into the flow and moored neatly! We ate on board – there are pubs to be explored in nearby Weybridge but I was too tired to contemplate it. The new moorings here are very smart though there aren’t any services. It’s a nice spot and generally quiet; unfortunately on Saturday night loud music drifted across the water from the boating club opposite – at least it stopped at midnight, leaving us with just the soft roar of water rushing over the nearby weir.


Lots of photos of Lou today – she was especially photogenic!

Nice portrait of Lou...

Lou having a contentment 'rub' - when they rub their faces on the ground it usually means that they're happy, or that there's a juicy bit of fox poo on the ground!

Lou enjoying a rest...


Greyhounds are so photogenic...

Deer at Pyrford Marina - Lynx was very interested indeed but those antlers would make short work of a hound....

Lynx watching out for the deer. Doesn't Pyrford Marina look serene in its tree-lined basin?

A commotion of kayaks - at least this group launched from one spot, communicated well and were expert - the group I was ranting about was all over the lock moorings and the lock cut...

This ugly edifice is the entrance to Weybridge Town Lock!

The approach to Thames Lock - there's no denying the Wey's beauty...

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Boat Blog: River Wey (4)

Posted by indigodream on 6 September, 2010

Friday 27th August

Guildford to Godalming and back

Assembling the crew at Dapdune Wharf - Wyn and Rhodri on the roof and Chris on the back deck....

We had a day at home yesterday, again filled with good intentions, none of which were achieved. Never mind, I did cook a fine roast dinner to welcome cousin Denise and family back from France. It’s such a cliché – cooking them roast beef to celebrate their return to England!

We had a great evening – it was a balm to spend time with them. We were delighted that they’re changed their holiday plans so that they could spend the day cruising with us on Friday.

We got to the boat late on Friday morning having had a very relaxed morning at home. There was no rush – the last of the rain was still persisting first thing so we sat and drank coffee until it stopped! We took two cars and arranged for a day’s parking at the Dapdune Wharf site – it’s free but you need a permit from the National Trust office. So, we welcomed old hands Denise, Wyn and Rhodri on board along with Denise’s dad, Chris. They’ve all cruised with us before so we could relax and set off upstream towards Godalming. Millmead Lock wasn’t quite as busy today and there weren’t any rowing boats about – hurrah!

We had a great cruise to Godalming – the river is seriously scenic and although there were a few hire boats around, it wasn’t that busy considering there was a bank holiday looming. The highlight for Richard was seeing a kingfisher snatching a fish from the clear water – sadly I was washing up and missed it!

Godalming is the very emphatic end of the navigation – the river straitens to a shallow stream. I wondered that the navigation ever went any further, but of course it didn’t – the Wey and Arun Junction Canal branched off a couple of miles north of Godalming. There’s just a stub evident from the current navigation – the Wey and Arun canal has largely been built over through Shalford. But this belies the activity going on further down – the Wey and Arun Canal Trust are working hard to restore the waterway and have enough water in the Loxwood section (Surrey/Sussex border) to run boat trips, or you can hire a day boat – we’ll have to investigate!

The junction with the old Wey and Arun navigation - part of it is in water and working...

We turned at the ‘walled’ bend in Godalming (makes sense when you see it) and reversed onto what we assumed were visitor mooring. We had a little exploration – Godalming is an unassuming town, quite attractive with a range of small high street stores as well as a pet superstore, Homebase and Waitrose within easy reach of the river. There is an ancient church and lovely riverside park – a nice place for an hour’s mooch. It might be good to spend a night here sometime and explore the local pubs.

But it was practical for us to get back to Guildford – the cars were there and we’d all be travelling home to spend the night before Denise and family drove back to Wales and we took the train back to Guildford on Saturday morning to resume our cruising.

Once again we whizzed back much quickly on the downstream flow. There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at Farncombe boathouse with the new hirers taking their boats out and receiving instructions. One boat which travelled downstream with us was crewed by a family group of women and their kids. They adopted Uncle Chris and he was more than happy to oblige, helping them at every lock and giving advice like a pro! Just as well, you have to rope up and turn off your engines in the Wey locks – unfortunately this boat turned their engine off before they were in the lock and used the time honoured “crashing into the lock gate” method to stop their boat! We administered some advice – it’s only a few weeks since a boat took out a lock-gate causing an extensive stoppage.

Uncle Chris will dine out for months on the story of Millmead Lock. Being mindful of the weir stream, we carefully manoeuvred Indigo Dream onto the lock moorings; Wyn and Richard went off to set the lock leaving the front tied and me holding the back (no bollard) with Uncle Chris’s assistance. The hire boat with the lovely ladies turned awkwardly past Guildford Boathouse behind us and headed at speed for the moored hire boats – Chris dropped Indigo Dream’s rope immediately and virtually ran back the towpath to help his favourite ladies (leaving me to hold her against the stream all on my own!). It made his day and, with his assistance, they managed to moor up safely. They didn’t come down the lock with us though – they were looking for a mooring convenient for ‘The Boat’ – a fine canalside pub just above the boathouse. They’d have been better off mooring on the meadows upstream of the bend – it’s a stunning spot.

We moored up at Dapdune Wharf just after 6pm-ish and set off for home. We stopped for supper at The Prince of Wales, yet another fine Fuller’s pub in Westcott  just outside Dorking. The trip home via the rural A25 is very scenic so we’ve seen Surrey at it leafy best today.


The family hard at work at Millmead Lock....

Wouldn't this make a great painting....

Boats moored on the stub leading to the Wey and Arun...

There's a cute mooring tucked in behind that rickety footbridge

Rhodri hard at work...

Rhodri enjoyed his time at the helm - he was pretty good too...

I can't actually remember where exactly this is, but it's a great view...

We liked this boat name - nice signwriting too....


Dramatic sky, wonderful vista

Are you having a good day Wyn?

This lad was planning to jump into the river directly in front of indigo Dream - we shouted at him and asked him not to - his parents were in a canoe on the other side of the river.....

The dynamic duo! Lynx is so dark it's almost impossible to get the light settings right...

Lou posing on the towpath...

The 'meadow' moorings above Guildford - what a scenic spot

I took quite a fancy to this house just upstream of Guildford - on the towpath side though so no mooring...

I'm not a big fan of stuff ont he roof but this colourful display of lamps was very attractive...

Chirs and Denise - big cheesy grins were the order of the day....

Uncle Chris jumped ship to help this boat-load of lovely ladies!

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Boat Blog: River Wey (3)

Posted by indigodream on 5 September, 2010

Wednesday 25th August

Cartbridge to Guildford

Random canoeists - you'll find a lot of these along the navigation!

The weather forecast for the day was pretty appalling so we decided to have a short day’s cruise. We had to go back home for an appointment in the evening and would be spending Thursday at home to meet up with cousin Denise and family who were staying with us on their way back from their holiday in France.

We wanted to move upstream so the first job of the day was to wind. We could have reversed back to the nearest winding hole, but it was through a bridge, a stop lock and a bend! But a quick chat with the friendly weir-keeper convinced us to cruise downstream and turn above Papercourt Lock. It’s not marked as a winding hole, but there’s plenty of room there to turn a 60 footer.

We headed back upstream, enjoying the spectacular views again as the sky became increasingly sullen. We met up with nb Fulbourne for the last time – grounded below Bowers Lock – there’s a right-hand right-angle bend out of the lock and a flow from the left which tends to push a longer boat onto the far bank. We tugged her off and waved goodbye – I think they’ve had a hard trip along the Wey. The weir keeper told us that the trick at Bowers lock is to just poke your bow out of the lock a little way and let the flow from the left take the front round before moving the rest of the boat out.

The rain started at 12 noon and by the time we moored up at Dapdune Wharf it was seriously persisting. We had lunch at the wharf while waiting for the National Trust office to open – they take their lunch-hours seriously around here! We arranged to leave Indigo Dream on the wharf for 2 nights – we’d be back on Friday morning with the family. We also found out about parking – the office was very helpful and we were relieved not to have to move the boat on Thursday. We had things to do at home and the weather forecast was seriously horrible.


Sadly, Dapdune Wharf is on the offside so it’s a bit of a trek to the town centre and to the train station. Fortunately we can get a direct train home from Guildford. Lou is very scared of trains – it’s really the only thing that frightens here. We’ve got no idea why – she’s fine with fireworks and other loud noises. However she soon settled onto her sheepskin and stuck her head under the seat – her usual refuge. We watched Lynx with interest – we’ve not taken him on a train before. Predictably, he took it all in his stride – he seemed to enjoy looking out of the window and didn’t try to do a runner at every station (which was Blue’s favourite trick).

It was persisting even harder at our home station so I got a cab home (it’s not far) and brought the car back down for Richard and the dogs. We got home full of good intentions. Richard did well to get down to Maplins for the gubbins he needed to fix out VHF arial. We’ve not done very well with aerials – our TV aerial has broken as well – it’s an expensive Omnicrom and we hope we can fix it with a bit of cheap cable. I just just mooched around aimlessly….


Lou getting comfortable...

I could spend all day looking at the grounds of Sutton Place...

I wonder how old this oak tree is, and what tales it could tell. I was amazed to find that it is still capable of putting out leaves..

I was worried to see these horses grazing in a field dotted with ragwort - I hope they've got the sense not to eat it. Interesting info here -

Lynx on the train...

Lou on the train - she's not as relaxed about it as Lynx...

There are many plays on the word 'Wey' along the river - we thought this one was quite clever...

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