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Boat Blog: One man and his dog…

Posted by indigodream on 15 October, 2010

……aka the adventures of Big Cassidy and the Sundance Lynx.


Indigo Dream all safe above Lattons Lock


Unusually, I was a bit unhappy with the idea of boating last weekend – Lou’s doing very well but she doesn’t have much stamina and I thought that boating would be too much for her (and be too far away from the vet in an emergency). But Richard was concerned about leaving Indigo Dream on the mooring above Latton Lock for another week, what with it being so remote and the towpath being closed (though we had got the ok to moor there from BW). We’d left it a bit late to recruit a crew – we’d been debating whether Lou was well enough to cruise right up until last night.

So what to do?  This morning Richard decided to go up to the boat by himself and single-hand to a more suitable mooring – either at Harlow Mill, Harlow or somewhere downstream! He seemed to be looking forward to the challenge of single-handing through the locks, so he and Lynx set off for a boys adventure while Lou, Ty and myself settled down for some serious loafing around at home…..

I’ll had the blog over to Richard now…..

Saturday 9th October

Harlow to Royden


Shall I help you with those jaffa cakes?


The boat was pointing upstream so the first choice was where to turn? Reversing back through the lock looked very feasible as there was quite a bit of space where the weir stream entered but that would mean missing out on the stretch to Harlow Mill so off we headed for Harlow Mill. The Stort is beautiful so worth doing, we got photographed by the crew re-building the towpath but then found the turn below Harlow Mill Lock very awkward – there are two streams coming with a low bridge over the main stream so not a huge amount of space to turn especially when the flows are contrary. I got round ok and headed down a little slowly as I had seen a Broxbourne boat coming into the Lattons Lock so I was bound to meet them on a bend, and yes we did. Fortunately I was expecting them so was nicely on the right side tight to the inside of the bend, they were a little wide but got over with just a slight panic. I think they were not enjoying the bends, I thought they were great and Lynxie Boy thoroughly enjoyed the constantly changing vistas.


Whoops. I recall reading that a gas bottle or 2 was involved. Nasty.


Out first single handed lock was Lattons. The previous boat had left the top gates open which was rather convenient but left me wondering? Should I close the gates behind me or not? Some locks have signs saying that gates need to be shut for leakage reasons so that is easy. Otherwise there are few clues. It is river navigation which suggests leave them open, the only written advice from BW for the London area is to shut gates but that is general advice to include gates on canals. Some people seem to shut gates behind them, some leave the open. Lattons Lock was one of only two set our way, others were set against us with the bottom gates left open and the paddles left up. Now leaving gates open is debatable on a river, but leaving paddles up is never right.

Lynx was a star at locks, he got off calmly, did not try to jump back on as I climbed down ladders but did get a bit disgruntled when I would not let him out at Harlow Town Lock. Now that lock is awkward as the bollards on the right as you go down are for “BW operational use” only and there is a locked gate between the mooring and the lock. The moorings on the left may well be the lock moorings but the only signs says Harlow Visitor moorings which an unoccupied, unnamed, unlicensed cruiser had interpreted as applying to all of the mooring including the bit with a  water point. That only left one alternative – put the boat into the jaws, tie the front rope to a lock gate and work the lock from there.  At least Harlow Town lock has electric gates on the downstream side


Awkward to moor above Harlow Lock ....


which make life easy, though the paddles being left up was a bit irksome.

These moans make it sound like I had a dismal day. Actually I had a fantastic day! It was warm, the sun not quite managing to break through so a little gloomy but the Stort is such a pretty navigation, well worth doing. I left the boat on the 14 day moorings outside Roydon station and travelled back to Harlow by train. Lynx was a little uncertain about the shakey train but he did really well. Best of all as we walked from Harlow Station back to the car he got to chase a rabbit, he was very very very pleased with himself!

Sunday 10th October


How to travel on a train


Wow, hark at this weather – isn’t it great! But the perfect weather for cruising is also perfect for a bit of work at home – we have made a spirited attempt to tame part of the garden today – it fought back with gusto but we won in the end!

Monday 11th October – Lou Update

After a dismal week of thinking the worse, I’ve just had a call from the specialist to say that Lou’s biopsy showed no sign of a tumour or malignancy – it’s great news.

The specialist now thinks the changes in her spine is consistent with an old injury but he never mentioned this as a possibility last week. He also told us last week that the MRI scan showed a mass on her spine but now he says he’s looked at the scan again and it’s not a mass, just changes in the bone that might have been consistent with a tumour. I’m feeling angry and confused – if we’d taken his first word last week then we could have euthanased her or gone for major surgery which she didn’t need and would have required lead only exercise for the rest of her life – the option of a biopsy was not his first choice and thank goodness we pushed for it.


Boating is such hard work ....


In the meantime, the latest view from the specialist is that her spine won’t actually get better, so it’s just a case of managing her with painkillers (which she tolerates very well) and keeping an eye on her just in case her back gets worse. Unfortunately our specialist isn’t the best communicator so we’ll be seeing our vet for a proper explanation and management plan once the specialist has forwarded the notes. Having gone through the process of thinking that Lou was mortally ill, I’m struggling to make the mental leap back to ‘oh, its nothing serious’ (especially having spent thousands on tests to travel that circle). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want her to be ill, I just need a bit more reassurance.

In the meantime Lou is quite cheerful and is able to enjoy those things that greyhounds enjoy most – a little rummage, a little food and a LOT of sleep! Oh, and bossing the boys around – she’s definitely not too unwell to maintain her dominance! It’s all in moderation though – a 15 minute walk now requires about 6 hours’ recovery time but that’s ok.

It is good news and I thank you for all your kind thoughts and good wishes – they’ve really helped us through a difficult week.

Tuesday 12th October


Bit too late in the day for clear photographs but that is Lou (complete with bald bits) giving Lynx a good chase


Honestly, I thought it was just the greyhounds that were accident-prone but I managed to break my little toe this morning – ouch, ouch, ouch……..OUCH! This means that I won’t be cruising for a couple of weekends as the only treatment is painkillers and keeping my foot elevated as much as possible. The hospital promised me it would be very painful for the first fortnight then merely sore for the remaining 4 – 6 weeks recovery time. I’ve been eyeing up Lou’s painkillers and wondering how low it would be to steal them from her! Only joking – I’ve got some good pills of my own.

Ah. make that greyhounds AND their owners are accident-prone – Lou has now done something to her elbow – the vet says that Lou is being a total drama queen – she’s giving us an extreme reaction considering the strength of the painkillers that she’s on. Gosh it is stressful at the moment, and I can’t go boating to alleviate it – bah!

Anyway, this means that our autumn exploration of the Lee and Stort is now doomed – Richard and Lynx will take Indigo Dream back to Limehouse, eventually, he may have a meander or two along the navigation with his work pals first. In the meantime, Lou and I will stay at home to recover while Ty dispenses greyhound cuddles – it could be a lot worse!

Mooring Guide:

I have finally updated the guide to moorings to include our 2010 travels – sorry it’s taken so long. I keep an updated version in Word but it’s not as straightforward to transfer it to the blog as it used to be. We’re heading back to Limehouse for the winter so the mooring guide will stay up-to-date for a while.

4 Responses to “Boat Blog: One man and his dog…”

  1. Carrie said

    Talk about an emotional roller-coaster! You must be exhausted with it all, but I’m so glad it’s good news of sorts 🙂 Very glad indeed.
    Sorry about the toe though!

  2. indigodream said

    Hi Carrie

    Thanks for your kind thoughts. We are totally washed out and Lou still isn’t well – she’s yelping every time she bends her elbow – despite being loaded up on painkillers. This is probably a ‘trivial’ injury caused by some rough and tumble with the boys, so it will resolve itself; but I don’t think we’ll be able to relax and rejoice in the good news until she’s out of pain.

    I’m sorry about my toe as well – ow ow ow!

  3. lesley said

    Delighted that Lou is going to be Ok – who’s going to shoot the ‘specialist’ though?
    ….and what’s this about taking time off for a broken toe?

  4. indigodream said

    Well, Lesley, I’m afraid that Richard’s single handing is a bit wanting – he can manage the lock work and manouevering the boat really well, but he can’t quite manage the waiting on me hand and, well, foot also!

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