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Archive for January, 2011

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 28 January, 2011

Friday 28th January

We’s heard that Mummy Sue and Daddy Richard are going to France tomorrow – WITHOUT US!

I doesn’t understand – why can’t we go – we goes EVERYWHERE wif Mummy Sue and Daddy Richard. Me an’ Lou had a emergency meetin’ and we thinks that we’s being left behind becoz we don’t speak the lingo. Mummy Sue’s bought some French langwidge CDs last week, so me an’ Lou thought that maybe if we learnt French then maybe we could go tomorrow too.

As you all knows, I’s pretty good on the computer and Lou knows how to turn Mummy Sue’s laptop off wif her chin so she could prob’ly turn it back on again. So last night we got the French CDs out and had a listen….

Lou’s an old girl so she started off wif “Oooo eh le vet?” and “Je suis tres mal”

I started on “Je t’adore belle mademoiselle levrier/caniche” but Lou gave me a nasty look so I tried “Oooo eh le ros bif”

I thought that anuver langwage would be too much for Ty but he’s givin’ it a go. Got to keep fings simple for him so he’s concentratin’ on saying ‘sausage’ in every country we get to visit….

“Selsig” he sez

“No, that’s Welsh” I sez

“Saucissississississsisssississis….” he sez

“…….ON….” I yelps


Oh dear, he’s started so he’ll never finish…..

Mummy Sue heard Ty sssssss-ing away so she sat us down an hexplained that we could go if we wanted but then we couldn’t come back – not for 6 munfs. We had a conflab an’ decided to stay at home – I’s heard that the trouble wif the french is that they don’t have a word for “Duvet”….

Mummy Sue’s and Daddy Richard are only going’ for a day trip and they’ve promised to bring us some French doggie treats. We’s going to stay wif hu-nanny – she’s nice – she finks I’m too thin – har har – that’s lots of treats for me then! Only trouble is, she also finks that Lou and Ty is too thin so they’ll get lots of treats too – oh well…



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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 23 January, 2011

Sunday 23rd January

Mummy Sue sez it’s not worth blogging this week because it’s been a very boring week and we haven’t done anything. Are you kidding, Auntie Sue, we’s done lots, in fact, it’s been action-packed…….if you’re a dog. Dur, these humans have some funny ideas!

As you know, we’s had a busy weekend in Wales so we needed some serious snoozing on Monday – Lou didn’t get out of bed until 2pm! Ty wozn’t much better tho’ he did have a little patrol round the garden wif me – can’t have all the critters thinkin’ we’s too tired to sort them out – they might start sniggerin’ and that’s reeely annoying. Altho I woz reely tired, I had to work a bit on Monday – Lou an’ Ty woz sleepin’s upstairs so I had to stay downstairs to keep Mummy Sue company. Ok, so I kept her company by lyin’ on my side wif my eyes closed but is a hard job and someone’s got to do it!

I’s confoosed about passports – we’s don’t need passports for wales coz wes a bit welsh, but we’s a bit polish too becoz Daddy Richard adopted us, but we need passports for Poland. So on Monday, Mummy Sue woke Lou and Ty up in the afternoon and we all got dragged to the vet for a rabies injection. Uh, did you say INJECTION, mummy Sue? Mummy Sue woz expecting bit greyhound death screams but we woz all ever so brave and didn’t even whimper. My vet is blonde and very pretty – I fink she fancies me, she’s always trying to give me a fuss and sez “aaaw Lynx” but I’s playin’ hard to get in case mummy Sue gets jellus.

Talking about pretty blondes, Lou havin’ physiotherapy wif anuver nice lady. I’s reelly jellus coz Lou gets to go in the car and she sez that the physio wraps her in hot blankets and gives her big massages wot feels like fuss for a whole hour, and she gets liver cake – just for touching her nose to her knee. Huh, I can do that easy but I don’t get liver cake! I’s got to watch out coz Lou’s physio is keepin’ her fit and I have to run extra fast so she doesn’t nip me bum when we’s chargin’ about. Ooh, we had haggis for our tea on Wednesday – yum yum!

Ooh, talking about chargin’ about, we’s had an eventful walk on Wednesday. Mummy Sue took us to our favrit woodland walk but when she parked the car there woz this funny hissing/bubblin’ noise, like when Ty’s trying to slip a quiet fart so no-one notices. But it woz the tyre – it woz leekin’ – “uh oh”, I thought, “that’s the end of our rummage” but she sed she’d fix it after we had our walk -phew! So hoff we went – me an’ Lou woz having a good rummage then Mummy Sue thought Ty could come off the lead for a rummage too – we woz all havin’ a good time when there was this ‘flump’ noise – I wozn’t bothered, nor woz Lou – it woz clay pigeon shooters a long way off and we’s not clay pigeons so that’s ok. But Ty, well, he don’t know wot he is, so he ran off – Mummy Sue woz yellin and yellin so Ty came back but just as she woz gettin’ hold of him he heard anover ‘flump’and off he went full speed back towards the car. Mummy Sue woz afraid he wouldn’t stop and would run off to the road, so she wobbled and wheezed off after him and Me and Lou ran round her in circles – it woz a great game! Ty stopped by the car and mummy Sue let him inside -that woz the end of his walk! But me an’ Lou woz full of beans so off we went again.

When we got back to the car I though I woz goin to drive us home coz mummy Sue put me in the front seat – I fink it might be good fun to drive a car then I could take Lou and Ty for adventures all over the place. But then mummy Sue woz muttering an’ started getting stuff out of the boot. I got a bit bored and then a bit uncomfortable coz the gear stick woz getting a bit pers’nal, if you know wot I mean.

Mummy Sue half fixed the tyre then daddy Richard came and fixed it all the way so we could get home – wot a busy day!

But that wozn’t the half of it. On Thursday I had to help mummy Sue get a new tyre – Lou an’ Ty wozn’t interested – they woz back in bed. We had to wait an’ wait an’ wait at the tyre place but Mummy Sue took my sheepskin to I could have a nice lie-down in the waitin’ room. I’s not sure who woz the most bored – Mummy Sue sez that I woz lucky coz I had my bed and my brain wozn’t being turned to cheese by celebrity mags! Then afterwards we had to go to dog trainin’ – mummy Sue, I’s so hexhausted, do I have to? But she got that look in her eye, so me an’ Ty got dragged off to dog trainin’. Ty just did leanin’ and cuddlin’ the boss lady – mummy Sue sez it’s enough for him just to practice not bein’ at home. I had to work – I done walk to heel – round an’ round – then I done a recall – then the boss lady sed I woz “switched off” and I got lie down on me sheepskin for the rest of the class. Mummy Sue’s startin to say that maybe I should be in the puppy beginner’s class, but I’s got my pride – is beneath me dignity to be wif the puppes – after all, I’s got 3 rosettes and a certificate -so is best for me to be in the advanced class, so long as I don’t actually have to do anything advanced, of course…….

On Friday I had to help mummy Sue wif her tyres again – but this time she made me walk up the hill from the tyre place to the vet. I’s plodded up the hill, the pavement woz hard so I’s started to limp an’ I gots lots of sympafy. Then I pretended to be afraid of the cars and asked mummy Sue if I could walk on the other side of the pavement – “poor Lynx” she sez and swaps me over. Har har, now I could look over the garden walls – sometimes cats play hide ‘n seek behind garden walls – is no game if someone doesn’t seek them! It wozn’t so much fun today tho – there wozn’t any cats and mummy Sue rumbled me and kept me on a reely close lead – spoilsport!

It woz only about 100 yeards to the vet but wot wif me limpin’ and watchin’ for cats an’ stopping to wee it took about 20 minutes to get there an’ mummy Sue woz looking a bit grumpy. But woz ok, my favrit blonde woz on duty and I got lot of sympafy -the vet came out to see my limp coz I woz quiet lame by the time I got there. I showed her my best greyhound gait – I woz boucing around wif me tail up – I don’t want the nice vet to think I’s lame. Mummy Sue woz muttering a bit – can’t fink why. Then we went back to the tye place an’ waited an’ waited an’ waited – the tyre men woz amazed – they’s never ever seen such a well-behaved dog – but I woz too hexhausted to cause a commotion and I did have my nice sheepskin to snooze on. Mummy Sue looked a bit serious when she paid the bill – she didn’t just need one tyre – she needed two an’ she got 2 snow tyres as well. I heard her muttering “£350 – aaargh!”

When we got home she had a chat wif me an’ Lou an’ Ty about rationing our treats and maybe not eatin’ quite so many piggy lugs……

Well, we woz worried hounds when we went to bed on Friday but on Saturday daddy Richard went to Pets at Home and filled the whole boot of his car with lushus stuff so we’s ok after all. Oooh, and mummy Sue found some just out of date sosidges in the fridge so she cooked them for our tea. So we’s not on rations after all; with that worry gone we woz able to settle down to a proper snoozy weekend at home….

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Boat Blog: The 2011 Odyssey takes shape….

Posted by indigodream on 18 January, 2011

18th January 2011

There are too many canals…..

Too many to choose from that is…..

We’ve been plotting our 2011 odyssey and our vague plans so far include:

  • leaving Limehouse at the end of March heading along the Grand Union
  • bearing east rather than west
  • maybe we should explore the Nene properly
  • or maybe the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union
  • how about visiting Nottingham?
  • and then again there’s the tidal Trent
  • and the Chesterfield canal
  • or up to Ripon
  • on the other hand there’s the bit down to Sheffield
  • though we’ve heard that Lincoln’s worth a visit……..


Let’s do the 2011 BCN Marathon Challenge – YES, that’s IT!

That’s right, the good folks at the BCN Society are organising another BCN Marathon Challenge, having been reassured that there will be enough water in the system this year to support the boat movements (last year’s challenge was cancelled because of works on the Chasewater reservoir).

We received our application form yesterday and are now plotting our cruising around the challenge – the choices are still as above, with the possible exception of Ripon, which may be a canal to far if we’re to beat the stoppages back to base!

Regular readers will understand that we’re excited because the BCN Marathon Challenge is a 24 hour cruise around as much of the BCN as you can manage. The 24 hours is cruised over a period of 30 hours – starting at 8am on the Saturday and finishing at 2pm on the Sunday. The finish point is the Walsall Town Arm but you can start wherever you like and follow whichever route you like – there are lots of choices! There are points to be accrued along the way – you get extra points for cruising more obscure bits, for locks, for answering quiz questions and for spotting original BCN boundary posts/markers. You get details of how points are allocated in a comprehensive ‘planning’ pack. We had the best time doing the challenge in 2009 – we kept a running blog of our travels, posting every few hours – the index is here.

So, if you fancy a whistlestop tour of Birmingham then here are the details

BCN Marathon Challenge

Saturday/Sunday 28th/29th May 2011

Application forms available from the BCN Society:

Cost: £15 per boat – this also buys you a year’s membership of the BCN Society (Bargain!)

We may be looking for crew, but only among people who know us really well and who are willing to forego all of usual hospitality in order to accrue points!

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 16 January, 2011

Sunday 16th January

Whoo, this New Year thing is soooo busy, I’s hardly had time to sleep at all – I’s had anuver busy weekend – “mummy Sue, weekend’s is for chillin’, what’s wrong wif you…”

Yesterday we know there woz something going on – mummy Sue got out of bed before 9am and they woz packing all stuff into the car – includin’ us!

“Where’re we goin’ mummy Sue?”

“Back to the land of my fathers’ she sez…….

I’s got no idea where that it is, but we’s goin’ to get our pet passports on Monday. Uh oh, we woz going to the land of her fathers on Saturday – “Mummy Sue, are you sure they’ll let us come home coz we qwite likes home…..” Phew, Mummy Sue sez that we don’t need passports for Wales – ooh whales, they’re reely big, can we eat them? “No, WALES” sed mummy Sue “you don’t need a passport because you’re a bit welsh now because I’ve adopted you”. Ah that’s nice, I likes being adopted, but does I like being a bit Welsh? Wot do you fink?

We drove an’ drove an’ it rained and rained – it woz qwite boring tho we had all of our duvets in the car so we woz comfy at least. We went over a big bridge thingy and mummy Sue sed “we’re in Wales now” – Ty got up and looked out of the window coz he needed to check whether or not he needed to be scared of Wales!

Lou an' Ty woz too tired to eat all of their dinner so I had a little look in their bowls - ev'ryone knows that what's in their bowl is better than wot's in mine - oh I know mummy Sue sez they're the same....

After ages and ages we gots to a place in the middle of nowhere – Ty jumped in an’ out of the car coz he had to decide whether to be scared of the new place. But there wozn’t any hairy planes, or cars, or funny noises so he had a rummage and a wee – result!

Then mummy Sue and daddy Richard carried loads of stuff from the car – Mummy Sue sez she’s never ever going to laugh again at her friends who carry the whole house with them when travellin’ with their babies – the car woz mainly full of greyhound stuff – can’t see anyfink wrong wif that meself. Then when they were ready they invited us inside and we found our own little greyhound cottidge –  it had our duvets an’ our blankets an’ our coats an’ our water bowl an’ our food bowls an’ our food an’ our chewsticks – it was loverly! It had a BIG bed, but that woz for mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard – shame!

Mummy Sue had to go off to see her mummy so daddy Richard took us for a long walk – it woz so hexciting – we’s never bin here before and there woz lots of new stuff to be sniffed and wee’d on. Ty woz so happy – there woz trees an’ a river an’ a teensy narrow bridge over a fierce waterfall an’ a stile wot daddy Richard had to lift us over – Lou made a big fuss but daddy Richard woz relieved that none of us fell off the bridge into the river. We had a long long walk right up to the top of a big hill an when we got back to our little cottidge I woz almost too tired to eat  but I managed……

We woz so tired we settled down for a big sleep and didn’t even mind when mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard went out for a few hours. They went to mummy Sue’s cousin Denise’s birfday party – cor, is so hard to keep track of fings in Wales coz they’s always goin’ on about their cousin’s mufer-in-law’s sister’s son an’ whatnot. Mummy Sue and daddy Richard wozn’t gone for long – they woz worried that we may spend the evenin’ causin’ mayhem an’ chaos but we woz far too hexhausted for that caper. We got some sosidges for being such good houndies and we’s all settled down – it woz so quiet and so dark – no need for us to wake mummy Sue to tell her about foxes in the garden tho Lou did ask for some more dinner, or woz it breakfast, at 4am. It woz good, coz I woz a bit peckish by then as well….

We snoozed an’ snoozed on Sunday mornin’ – it woz oh so quiet until daddy Richard suddenly sprung up and said “It’s 9am we’ll miss breakfast!” – wot, miss breakfast? WOT no spare sosidges for us? Well, me, Lou an’ Ty got on their case an’ started dancin’ round our cottidge so mummy Sue and daddy Ricahrd would get dressed super-quick. Phew, they made it and they brought us four spare sosidges – it’s not much, when you fink about it – now four sosidges for me, well, that’s fair but one and one-third sosidges each is not nearly half enuff.

But we couldn’t eat too much coz we had some rummagin’ to do – we went down to the woods again – over the bridge and the stile and into the trees. Ty went native – he woz so so happy runnin’ around wif his tail up and rushin’ up to trees an’ poking his head into old tree trunks and jumpin over fallen branches – he woz sniffin’ an’ weeing like a proper dog. Ty likes Wales big time – he woz even picking up the lingo –

“Yo bruv” I sez,

“shwmai” he sez,

“yer wot?” I sez,

“SELSIG” he sez,

“yer wot” I sez

I can’t unnerstand a word he’s sayin’ – we’s got to get him home so he can speak proper english like wot I does.

We woz very snug in our speshal greyhound cottidge tho Lou had to practice her 'devil eyes' so we could take over the spaniel's house later....

Lou woz rummaging like a puppy too – she woz reely lively so mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard woz reely happy. I’s just plodded along an’ had a quiet rummage coz I doesn’t like wastin’ my henergy – there woz no wabbits, sqwuirrels, deers or sheeps for me to chase. No sheeps – I thought Wales woz full of sheeps!

When we got back from our walk, mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard started to pack the car – oh no, Ty wanted to stay in Wales forever – he kept runnin’ back into our loverly cottidge. It would have been nice to have a sleep, but we had to go to see mummy Sue’s cousin. Woz ok – they got a big house. but there woz two dogs there already – Guto the annoying spaniel an’ Choccie the labrador – she’s going to be a mummy labrador soon.

We woz a bit worried coz it woz their house, but we soon took over – Lou took over the bit under the table an’ she let Guto and Choccie know that it was HER house wif little growls; Ty moved into Guto’s bed then spread out over Choccie’s bed and I took care of the humans. I woz doin’ me best ‘poor waif’ act – I woz going from human to human, puttin’ me head in their laps and turnin’ me big soulful eye on them and the toast wot they woz eatin’. I woz also bein’ helpful by looking at the top of the table – in case sumfink fell off it and needed picking up off the floor. I gots LOTS of fuss but cousin Denise wouldn’t let me have her toast – she’s so tough! Cousin Wyn gave daddy Richard some proper lamb chops from his father’s sheep farm and do you know wot he said, do yo? He sed “don’t put these in the car where the dogs can reach them” – can you believe it – the bestest lamb chops were for the humans! So I’s had no sheeps to chase and no sheeps to eat – honestly, wot is the point of coming to Wales….

We’d had an hexciting time so we woz all ready for a long sleep in the car but we stopped after an hour and mummy Sue took us for another walk – ooh ooh ooh a new place – me an’ Lou laid claim to it – I wee’d and Lou barked at some local dogs – sorted! But Ty woz scared of this bit of Wales, well, it woz by the M4, wotever that woz is.

Well, we’s done more than enuff walking so we told mummy Sue to just get on wif it and drive us home – it took ages which woz a shame co we woz starvin’ – reely! But then we got home and we’s had a BIG dinner and we’s all found our favrit duvets – I hopes we stays at home next weekend – I needs my beauty sleeps…..

Note from Sue:

We stayed at a truly lovely dog-friendly ‘hotel’ called the Mill at Glynhir – our room was a little building with its own porch and front door, with plenty of floor space for the hounds to stretch out – perfect!

But we musn’t forget Cwm Ban Fawr the lovely B & B where Blue’s brother lives together with human pack Sara and Alan and dog pack Lindy! We couldn’t stay there this time because we needed to be closer to Ammanford and there was a distinct possibility that we’d never had got round to our relatives if we’d got chatting greyhounds to Sara and Alan!

The photos are a bit grainy because they were taken on Richard’s phone – we’re cursing that we forgot the camera but then again, it rained constantly so  we may not have taken many photos anyway – but we’d have liked to have got a shot of Ty – he was so happy here.

And finally, Happy X0th birthday to my cousin Denise, whose party we enjoyed on Saturday!

Home sweet home, tho you'll notice that we has to share a duvet for eating our pig's ears, well, we don't HAVE to but I wanted that duvet and Ty got it first, so I sat on him!

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 14 January, 2011

Thursday 13th January

Do you know wot, I don’t fink that Mummy Sue believes half the stuff I’s telling her – she don’t trust me at all – can you believe that? She keeps giving me them ‘looks’ – you know, the ones where she’s saying “ha, you’re getting away with it this time my lad but I’m on to your caper” – Huh!

Just as well the nice people at dog training believes me or I’d get no rest at all, not one little bit. See, I’s got to go to class by meslef now coz if me, Lou an’ Ty go together we just get into a greyhound huddle in the corner and we don’t do nuffink. I thought that if I was by myself they might expect me to reely work hard coz I’s in the hadvanced class wif all them border collies – you, the keen ones wot obeys every command at the twitch of a finger. But I’s found that I can still wander off to me bed in the middle of the class and the boss lady’s laughing so much I don’t get told off. The boss lady’s always yellin’ at mummy Sue tho’ – she says mummy Sue should be getting me all hexcited about fetchin’ an’ playin’ an’ whatnot. I let mummy Sue take the flak – I’s busy showing the border collies how to chill out…..

So tonight I put on a virtuoso performance, even tho’ I says so meself. We had to do ‘walk to heel’ – now I could do this perfectly but I’d much rather trail behind mummy Sue an’ make like I have such a hard life and I’s likely to collapse from hexhaustion any second. The boss lady made mummy Sue walk fast, run round, walk slow but I just kept on plodding and looking dumb – see how clever I am. In the end the boss lady said I woz retired so it was ok for me to trail behind a leetle bit!

Then we had to do recall – now I could do this perfectly but I’s got some cunning plans:

  • first I doesn’t wait but I follows mummy Sue, then mummy Sue gets told off for not ‘commanding’ me right
  • then I doesn’t wait but wander off to me bed, then mummy Sue gets told off for bringing me out of a night when I’s so tired I reely should be catching up on me beauty sleeps
  • then I’s done sit (not a lot of greyhounds can do that) and mummy Sue and the boss lady looked reely happy so I decided I needed a lie down as a reward. I woz qwuite comfy so I flopped right over and  done me best ‘dead dog’ impression.

Mummy Sue sed “wait” – I ignored her and kept laying down where I woz so she sed “Good wait” – fair enuff! Then she wandered off down the hall so I keeps laying there; then she sez “Lynx come” and I keeps laying there; then she does this little caper like a dance but more despirate and I keeps laying there; the mummy Sue starts running backwards so I lifts my ear but basically keeps laying there. The boss lady told mummy Sue she should let me rest in the day before coming to class – har har, she didn’t know that I’d bin fast asleep on me favrit duvet all day. Then all the other people gave me lots of sympafy coz I could hear them saying ‘poor Lynx he did hurt his lung” – so I just keep laying there for a bit longer (tho me lung is better reelly). Mummy Sue woz laughing so hard I think the boss lady thought she might have an haccident so the boss lady came over and prodded me wif her toe and sed “come on Lynx,you lazy old thing”. So I put on me best ‘put upon’ look and got up and went towards mummy Sue, tho I did stop halfway to contemplate runnin’ back to my sheepskin instead, but I saw that mummy Sue had some liver cake so I thought it was worth the effort to go back to her….

After that the boss lady said “right we’ll do some advanced work, but what can Lynx do?” I half-lifted my head in a pafetic sort of way then I laid down flat and sighed, like breathing woz the hardest thing I could be asked to do this evenin’. So the boss lady gave up on me and I finally got to lie on my sheepskin and have a snooze. There woz all commotion going on around me – border collies flying here, there an’ everywhere doing ‘retrieve’ and ‘scent’ and all the daft stuff collies do to keep humans happy.

I shut me eyes and caught a few zzzzzzzzzzz’s – every now an’ then I’d crack open an eyelid and look at mummy Sue – she looked very happy wif me and I didn’t have to do nuffink – how clever am I? 😀

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Boat Blog: Back to Limehouse…

Posted by indigodream on 13 January, 2011

Monday 10th January

Mild peril? Of course, look there's a jet-pack - it must be James Bond!

If today’s post was a movie it would probably come with a warning of ‘scenes of mild peril’ but with a PG rating, so you know it’s going to be all right in the end 🙂

One of Andrew Phasey’s favourite phrases is “Flexible is too rigid a concept” and so it’s proven today.

We’d heard yesterday that City Mill Lock was closed because of an electrical problem so the convoy’s plan was to go back through Bow Locks, while we aspired to got round the Isle of Dogs direct to the marina via Limehouse Lock. However on Monday morning we heard that City Mills Lock was operational so we’ve decided to join the convoy – we can get through Limehouse Lock any time, but we can’t miss an opportunity to use the new ‘Olympic’ locks. But then, while we were waiting to lock out of the Royal Docks, word came back that the Waterworks river was still in flood so we would be going through Bow Locks after all. We still decided to stay with the convoy – it can get a bit choppy round the Isle of Dogs at the best of times and today’s wind was a thing to be reckoned with!

We were expecting to leave our moorings at noon but that was pushed back to 1pm with a view to locking onto the river at 3pm-ish. The only downside of the delayed start was that the weather steadily worsened during the morning (especially the wind) and we’d arrive back at our berth well after dark.

Our first bit of mild peril was trying to get away from the dock wall. At 1pm there was a STRONG southerly wind pinning us to the wall – I was on the helm and Richard was the grunt at the front, giving us a big push to get us away. Sadly, as I pulled out, nb Doris Katia was being pushed backwards into our path – I put Indigo Dream into neutral and the wind immediately slammed us back against the quay wall. I’d cleared loose objects from all but the kitchen (I’d planned to do that while waiting at the lock) so mugs and bottles (plastic fortunately) and my coffee (tragic!) went flying around inside; in the meantime the dogs came flying out onto the deck leaving me with three wishes…

a) I wish I’d closed the deck doors

b) I wish I’d closed the cabin doors

c) I wish I had 10 hands- two for each of the dogs, two for the mooring rope, one for the tiller and one to spare (maybe for biting my nails!)

Low flying aircraft - no wonder Ty was disturbed...

Any of the above might have stopped Lou and Ty from leaping off the boat onto the quay – I managed to get hold of Lynx and threw him back indoors but then had to quickly secure the boat before leaping off to chase the others. Lou was running around the quayside but scaredy Ty, in a panic, had reached the road. Fortunately there was very little traffic but I had horrible visions of Ty being run over by the few cars that passed. But I couldn’t indulge my dread – I had to catch Lou while Richard set off in pursuit of Ty. It probably didn’t take that long to round them up but it felt like an eternity and I was so relieved to get them back on board, unhurt. Lou and Ty, of course, didn’t know they’d been rescued, from their perspective they’d been cruelly bundled back into a dangerous greyhound torture chamber being driven by a mad woman – they sulked for the next several hours!

So, back to the wind, with a gargantuan effort, Richard managed to get us off the quay wall and I gunned the engine to get away. Keeping away from the dock wall proved to be a challenge, especially past the airport where we’d been asked to cruise near the quay wall as far away from the runway as possible. Ahead of us we could see the convoy being gradually pushed towards the quay wall –  we scraped along some dockside mooring pontoons and nb Tastoma got pinned against the quay wall a bit further on. It was a strange sight seeing all the boats moving parallel to the dock wall whilst pointing well away from it, then every so often the wind would change and so would the angle of the boats. We were a bit relieved to reach the relative shelter of the lock. We rafted up and settled down to drinking coffee, eating lunch and chatting to our neighbours – we needed to wait and hour or so for the tide to rise. Richard was very jealous as the crew of Tastoma lived in the Gower.

We did notice that there weren’t any planes landing or taking off when we cruised along the dock – I assume that our convoy was timed for this lull so that we didn’t inconvenience the airport’s operation.

The convoy working hard not be blown against the quay wall..

At 3.15pm-ish the vast curved lock gates opened and there was the tideway. For the first time ever, I didn’t worry too much about a lookout – we were closely following the convoy leaders and we were turning upstream and didn’t need to cross the tideway, so it seemed unlikely that we’d run into any traffic. Imagine my surprise, then, when I looked around and saw a Thames barge pulling a HUGE container butty approaching upstream at speed; the barge was itself overtaking an enormous (120 METRE long) sand dredger, Sand Falcon, that was inward bound to Angerstein Wharf just beyond the Thames Barrier.

We weren’t in any danger (honest!) but it was a bit thrilling. I have to say that Sand Falcon made a dignified passage up the tideway – she maintained a slow, steady course and she didn’t create a ripple, let alone a bow wave. In contrast, the Thames barge overtook the convoy at speed creating a 2 foot-ish wash – it looked spectacular but Richard turned the stern into it and Indigo Dream barely noticed the wave. Then there was the Woolwich Ferry – hovering mid-stream to let the first part of the convoy past – we’d thought to go behind the ferry but that would have meant cutting in front of Sand Falcon. Fortunately the ferry waved us forward so Richard gunned the engine (again) and scuttled past quickly before the garganutan vessel changed its mind! Fortunately there was only one ferry operating today so we didn’t have to do the usual waltz with the two ferries!

We had a strange role reversal today – I’m normally the more cautious, but today I thought the tideway wasn’t as bad as I’d expected (I have a VIVID imagination when it comes to potential disasters) but Richard looked concerned, commented that he found it hard work (the tiller is heavier on the tideway than on the canals and the wind was interesting) and he expressed relief when we turned into Bow Creek. Maybe I should have taken the tiller earlier – I thought he’d enjoy the thrill of navigating past the big boys!

"What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?" - yes, monster ships!

We actually enjoyed our trip up Bow Creek for – we were coming in on a rising tide for a change, so weren’t worrying about stuck on the mud outside Bow Locks. There was a bit of an awkward wait at Bow Locks – with the tide running in and the wind still blowing strongly, hovering wasn’t such an easy task. Nb Flora Dora had a cunning plan – she moved a little way upstream and turned her nose into the tide. This meant that she had good control against the flow, though she had a more awkward angle for the turn into the lock. Nonetheless I thought it was a nifty bit of boat handling. We just pushed our nose into the lock jaws and waited there (having snagged a bow line onto a handy lock bollard) while poor old nb Arthur Dent behind us seemed to be entirely at the mercy of the wind. At least with the tide running in there was plenty of water and the river’s wide so there was no chance that they would get grounded or wedged!

It was pretty dark by the time we got back onto Limehouse cut. With Ty’s health in mind, Richard got the boat back to Limehouse in no time at all, though the wind was to have a last game with us. He needed to reverse into our berth – tricky at the best of times, but with an adverse wind he had to reset the boat three times before deftly sliding into our space. We missed cruiser White Lady by an arm’s length- my arm’s length – outstretched to gently fend us off and hold us steady while Richard wiggled the stern into position.

Richard immediately took the hounds for a walk in the park by Limehouse Marina (Ty wee’d – hurrah – he likes this park!) while I packed the boat up. We drove home rather wearily – it had been an exciting day. But our fatigue was as nothing to the dogs’ – they got home and collapsed onto their duvets. I had to do some proper work on Tuesday and we had debated whether to leave the hounds with Richard’s mum (she has a garden full of foxes and the smell of foxes, which usually keeps the dogs on the go all day). But they looked so weary we took pity on them and left them at home to snooze and so they did…..

I’ll finish with a BIG ‘thank you’ to Andrew Phasey and the St Pancras Cruising Club – it’s a monumental task to organise these convoys, especially to the Royal Docks, which required lengthy and persistent negotiation. The cruises are really friendly and great fun. Do keep checking their site and see what is happening – click here. If you have never been on the tideway then make a point of joining one of their tideway cruises, you will be in excellent company which makes it very safe – their next tideway cruise is on 22nd April when they are doing the entire ring and a pub festival! Talking of excellent company,  I’d also like to thank our cruising guests – they were a real tonic – let’s hope they come again sometime.

A note on wind….

Now  both in my professional capacity as a pharmacist and as an owner of three guffing greyhounds I could write a very long post on the subject of wind! But I’ll focus instead on some of the factors that we think about when considering whether to venture onto the tideway…….

Anyway, sticking a wet finger in the air, we reckon that Indigo Dream is generally good for a wind speed of up to 16 mph BUT the direction is critical. If the wind is blowing against the tide then it can make the water quite choppy, hence the 16 mph speed ‘limit’; but if the wind is blowing with the tide then we can contemplate cruising up to perhaps 20 mph. If the wind’s blowing across the river then you have to take extra care as the wind takes you in addition to the tide, but despite the 20 mph winds on Monday the water was quite calm.

I reckoned that windiest cruise was on the Manchester Ship Canal, where squally force 5 wind (19 – 25mph) blew up as we came to Weston Lock – I’d say that was the most wind that we’d want to deal with on Indigo Dream. However, when you’re planning a trip you’ll want to take into account your draft and freeboard as well as confidence/skill on the helm! Wind is an important factor when planning a trip on the tideway, the other big factor is visibility – I don’t think we’d ever miss dredger Sand Falcon in the mist but I reckon we’d be invisible to them…..


The boatshow 'marina' - plenty of flash cruisers for sale but not a single narrowboat - shame!

The convoy turning past the end of the runaway on the approach to the lock..

The other Royal Dock - to the south of the runway - I wonder if we are allowed to explore down there? 🙂 Obviously the TNC will have been down there!

The yacht marina at the Royal Docks - they have their own lock onto the river but their access to the docks themselves is impeded by the bridge and a fearsome underwater ledge which will snag any craft with a draft of over 2.5 METRES. Wouldn't bother a narrowboat then!

Plane spotting - the inevitable hobby when moored in a lock next to an airport!

The blue thing is a flood defence barrier - it was actually tested that morning at the same time as they tested the main Thames Barrier

A 'raft' of narrowboats....

Big barriers need big mechanisms...

Here we go - a view onto the deceptively deserted tideway - I thought the curved lock gates were so graceful - despite their bulk...

This tug must have been on a schedule - it was making good speed up the tideway and soon left us (and Sand Falcon) behind....

Lou and Lynx helping Richard to keep an eye on the bow wave from the container barge...

The ferry and the falcon.....

nb Flora Dora and nb Arthur Dent sharing the water with Sand Falcon...

"It's behind you...."

The queue for the Woolwich Ferry...

Working on the 'Ernest Bevin' - we were glad because this meant we only had to dodge ferry 'James Newman'; all river traffic had been warned to slow down here so as not to endanger these workers - they weren't troubled by our convoy 🙂

The container barge leaving us all behind at the Thames Barrier...

Form an orderly queue....

The photo's a bit dark but this is just the front of Sand Falcon about to go through the barrier - gives you an idea of her size....

Indigo Dream at the Barrier - we were able to fit through the smallest upstream span with room to spare!

The tail end of the convoy approaching the barrier...

That's a familiar view - we can't be far from Bow Creek now....

I'll never tire of seeing a fine line of narrowboats on the river....

Another tug on a schedule.... They look such powerful boats

Another aggregate ship at the wharf just east of Bow Creek mouth...

Sand Falcon turned around behind and slipped gently on to her wharf - still an impressive sight....

The front of the convoy approaching Bow Creek mouth...

Jinking around the working barge to get into Bow Creek mouth...

Tug "Assassin" - the James Bond theme continues!

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Photoblog: Outward bound to the Royal Docks

Posted by indigodream on 12 January, 2011

We can’t resist a few more photos of our outward journey……

two by two - the convoy approaching Bow Lock...

The first boats head down Bow Creek - the water level was quite a bit higher by the time we locked out....

Lovely story to this name - it became possible because of an inheritance hence "Ta's to ma"

The crew of nb Peace of Pearce - they've become tideway afficionados since we first met them in August!

nb Flora Dora and nb Ketura - both familiar faces from last year's convoys....

Crossing the Thames tideway from Bow Creek mouth...

nb Lotus No 10 approaching the turn from Bow Creek mouth....

The giant Andgersteen sand wharf and one its dredgers - we were to have a closer look at dredger 'Sand Falcon' on Monday.....

nb Arthur Dent at the Thames Barrier....

nb Lotus No 10 at the Thames Barrier - we first met them on the campaign cruise past Westminster a few years ago

Today's Indigo Dreamers (Richard's behind the camera of course) - it looks like a nice dream!

We were actually on this ferry on Sunday - looking down on the water (a long way down) and wondering what it would look like with a few narrowboats!

Waltzing with the Woolwich Ferries (1)

Waltzing with the Woolwich Ferries (2)

nb Ketura and nb Flora Dora crossing the tideway into the Royal Dock - see the mighty Barking Creek flood barrier in the background?

nb Panacea proving that you don't need a big boat to travel the big river!

"you lookin' at me?" - the end of the runway really is very close....

Eye-level from Indigo Dream's side-hatch!

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 11 January, 2011

We’s had such a busy weekend – I’s qwite hexhausted but not too hexhaused to keep in touch wif me friends….

Ooh, wassat?

Friday 7th December

We’s bin on the boat – mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard woz all hexcited about going on the Thames, wotever that is. But, as you all know, we’s not spent a lot of time on the boat so we had some more important stuff to do, like sortin’ out which dog reelly reelly owns the sofa. Is a matter of vital importance so you’d fink that mummy Sue would be more understanding when me and Lou had to discuss it overnight.

See, it woz like this, Ty’s obviously not a sofa dog, he’s a scaredy wuss who likes to sleep in a little nest by mummy Sue’s bed so he’s sorted.

Now, I’s got a duvet next to the sofa, but I qwite fancied bein’ on the sofa so I hopped up next to Lou. Now she wozn’t too happy ’bout this but insted of sorting it out dog-to-dog, she went and complained to mummy Sue! I woz reely comfy, but Mummy Sue sed the sofa had to be 50/50 so I had to move my nose and give Lou the 1% I owed her. But I liked my nose where it woz so I sneaked over and Lou started this pitiful wailing  and mummy Sue came to sort us out again. Well, this went on for a bit, Lou kept going to get Mummy Sue to help her divide the sofa and eventually mummy Sue made me get off the sofa coz Lou wanted my side and barked and barked about it. So we swapped sides – I still had 50% and that woz better for a bit but then we got restless again – thing is, I’d qwite like the sofa all to meself, but Lou wants it too.

I thinks we may have overdone it a bit coz mummy Sue woz qwite cross by 5am so we thought we’d better settle for the 50/50 deal – woz ok – so that’s sorted.

Mummy Sue woz too grumpy to give us big cuddles the next morning (can’t think why!) but it woz ok coz we had wunnerful friends come to visit. Now I thought that Lou likes mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard, but Lou LOVES Adam – he does the best ever tummy and ear rubs. An’ we had a new friend, Alison – she’s good for a fuss too, but Neil and Kath came with a whole pack of sosidges wot they’d cooked ‘specially for us. I loves Kath – she’s the best…..

We woz  on the boat for a while then we stopped off with a lot of other boats – it woz good – there woz only one other dog so there woz about 5 humans per dog to do proper fussing duties – I went around givin’ everyone me best cute hypno-dog stare so I gots lots of fuss. Ty woz a bit scared so he he hid on his duvet and Lou stuck wif Adam – have I mentioned that Lou loves Adam? Oh course, that mean that I had lots more humans to give me fuss – it woz luverly.

Me at the Thames Barrier, wotever that is....

Then we woz on the boat for another while – I woz a bit bored coz everyone woz outside, but we were waitin’ for our tummy rubs inside – ‘ventually I had to go out and get a fuss – it’s a hard life. I gots me photo taken but reely I just wanted a fuss, oh, and another sosidge….

Then the boat stopped and guess wot – we woz in a totally new place!

Mummy Sue’s blood pressure was back to normal so we thought we’d give her heart a jump-start by fallin’ off the quay wall when we woz all getting off the boat – it woz either me or Ty, the eye-witnesses are divided and I’m no snitch. Lucky we still had our lifejackets on – Daddy Richard grabbed the handle quick and hoicked the guilty dog out before they could fall into the water proper.

There wozn’t much grass and no hope of a wabbit in the new place, tho we did sniff a few rats. But it don’t matter – me an’ Lou woz busy making sure that everyone would know we’d bin there – we sniffed an’ we wee’d then we wee’d an’ we sniffed – woz himportant work! But Ty, well, he just wandered about lookin’ worried – he didn’t sniff or wee at all – are you sure he’s a proper hound, mummy Sue?

We woz proper hexausted after our hexploring – and we hadn’t slept all day just in case we missed a fuss, so me an’ Lou settled nicely on the sofa. But the wind woz howlin’ an we got a bit cold so we had to ask mummy Sue for extra blankets – then we woz snug and had a nice lie-in.

Saturday 8th January

Our boat beds - do you fink it's good enuff, I's not sure? Oh, we has got another 2 duvets an' a pillow at the front of the boat as well.....

In the mornin’ we went for a long walk, but Ty STILL didn’t want to be a proper dog – me an’ Lou showed him how so sniff and wee but he wasn’t havin’ any of it. Mummy Sue looked a bit worried and rang the vet – “a 2-hour walk” she sed – WOT? Mummy Sue, our paws will fall off! But we had to go – we woz goin’ to walk and walk until Ty had a wee. Well, me an Lou plodded on an’ on an’ on  but Ty still didn’t get the hint. “Get on wif it” we sed “wee already so we can get back to bed” but no, he woz just too scared to wee – can you imagine, I told you he wozn’t a proper hound.

So we gave up on walking and went back to the boat, then Daddy Richard got the car and we came all the way home so that Ty could have a wee. He woz so happy and wee’d and wee’d and wee’d – then he ran into the dustbins an’ grazed his leg – never mind! But just as he woz getting reeelly happy they trooped him off to the vet – poor Ty. Mummy Sue woz sad coz Santy Claws hasn’t give her a vet-free week yet – we bin twice this year already coz Lou pulled a muscle a few days ago – we loves the vet – NOT!

The vet said that Ty’s bladder woz ok but his mind’s not quite right – so he got some tablets to chill him out – me an’ Lou is mystified – we don’t need tablets to chill us out – we’s pre-chilled – ooh talking of chilled, can you bring me an extra blanket mummy Sue?

Sunday 9th January

We had to leave our nice comfy home duvets and come back to our nice comfy boat sofa today – we went for a long walk – me and Lou pretty much own the place now but Ty, well, what is it with him and not weeing?

We mostly did sleeping today coz mummy Sue and Daddy Richard went to the boat show – they got a life-jacket for Ty so he’s a proper boating dog now – shape up Ty, you’s in it for the long haul mate!

Lou doin' snoozing....

Mummy Sue gave Ty some special tablets so he chilled out a bit and had a wee – cor, what a fuss, we all held our breaths until he was done then Mummy Sue and Daddy Richard woz saying ‘clever boy Ty’….just coz he had a wee! Huh, I can wee no problem, ain’t nuffink clever about it….

Me and Lou shared the sofa nicely until 4am then we Lou woz reelly sneaky – she told mummy Sue that she needed to go out for a wee, so muumy Sue got up and tried to open the door. I thought I’d like a wlk meself so I got up and quick as flash Lou pinched my place on the sofa. She didn’t need to go outside at all! Mummy Sue woz NOT happy so she gave me a big fuss and let me get onto the other half of the sofa with Lou. Mummy Sue woz muttering “b$%%^& dogs” and “off to to Battersea…..” when she went back to bed – I wonder wot she meant, she knows you can’t moor the boat in Battersea and she can’t talking about us dogs, we’s perfect!

10th January

Mummy Sue woz all better in the morning – she went to the shop and got us a chicken for our breakfast – now I loves chicken but I prefers steak – Mummy Sue brought some back from the pub last night – she said it was tough and I agreed, fancy giving us sub-standard steak to eat. I asked her to get another one for us to check but the pub doesn’t open on Monday mornings – oh well, chicken it is then.

Me doin' sleeping - I's a champion sleeper....

We’s had a BIG drama today – Mummy Sue woz a bit clumsy steering the boat and stuff went flying around inside so we hounds all flew outside. Mummy Sue woz all in a panic coz Lou and Ty jumped ship – lit’rally – they hopped off the boat and ran down the quay, in fact, Ty woz off the quay and onto the road. Oh oh oh, wot a commotion, I woz a good boy and stayed with Mummy Sue on the boat but I qwite fancied joining the others for a bit of mayhem. Durr, Mummy Sue saw me looking and chucked me inside while she ran off to catch Lou and Daddy Richard ran off the catch Ty. They had a great adventure and I woz a bit jealous coz they had lots of fun and got back on the boat with no harm done. Lou and Ty wozn’t talking to Mummy Sue after that so I stepped in an’ gave mummy Sue a big fuss and she rubbed my ears – result!

The rest of the day woz a bit boring – we woz on the boat for ages but me and Lou enjoyed looking out at the river and telling Daddy Richard how to drive the boat – he woz ever so grateful!

Now I qwite like my life jacket – is warm and I thinks I look very smart but Lou decided hers was a tortunre jacket and every time she moved she screamed the place donw. Mummy Sue and daddy Richard was baffled – it’s her jacket, she’s worn it lots , but not it was killin’ her, or so Lou said. Mummy Sue had to take the jacket off and told Lou that she musn’t fall overboard without it – huh, you’d better not sink us either mummy Sue!

The best bit about the boat is leavi’ it – Mummy Sue has to empty the fridge and we gets to eat all the leftover chicken and ham and cheese – this was ‘specially good today coz Ty woz too scared to eat and Lou woz sulking so I got the whole lot – yum yum yum yum!

We’s had an hexciting weekend and we’s so glad to be home – we’s all on our proper duvets – Lou and Ty is fast asleep – I fink I’d better join them – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Me photo halbum…..

Me and Lou keepin' an eye on the ferrets, sorry, ferries...

I's borrowed this jacket off my friend Mr Biggles who lives three boats down from us - it matches my collar!

Me an' Lou supervising at Bow Locks but we found time for a bit of fuss while we were at it......

Lou checking out the Royal Docks

Lou checking out the Royal Docks

Not sure why, the funny flying white things don't look worth chasing

Come on, that big thing just overtook us

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Boat Blog: A weekend at the Royal Docks….

Posted by indigodream on 10 January, 2011

Saturday 8th January

Looking down from the Woolwich Ferry - can you imagine seeing a narrowboat down there???

Coo, it isn’t half windy in the Royal Docks – it’s such a huge expanse of water and although it’s lined by multi-storey developments the wind seems to blow unimpeded. It was a stormy night – the wind alternately rocked us gently then slapped us against the quay wall. We had fat fenders down, but it was a noisy night – the howl of the wind, the relentless tattoo of the rain on the roof, the insistent tapping of a pencil fender (Richard joined the fenders up brigade at 1am), the alarming gurgle of the deep water moving under the counter and the occasional patter of Lou’s claws when she came down the boat to ask us for an extra blanket….

Just as well we didn’t need an early start!

We woke early but curled up in our mega-comfy bed with a good book – we’ve pretty much read our way through the sci-fi/fantasy genre and are now starting to explore crime fiction. Our Christmas stockings were full of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsen – dark materials indeed! The hounds were a bit restless but once the central heating was going and we’d rewrapped them in their blankets they were happy to settle for a lie-in as well.

Our plan was to visit the boat show today but we had a bit of a dog crisis (I know, it’s amazing). Ty seems to feel quite safe on the boat but the Royal Docks are a bit overwhelming for him – he’s still tense when presented with new places/situations/people. Now, a nervous hound is not a problem, but hound who’s too afraid to wee is! He’d gone for 24 hours without and despite a long walk in the morning, he still wouldn’t relax enough to let go. We rang the vet to find out if this was a problem – we were worried about back pressure on his kidneys and whatnot. They advised us to take him for a 1 – 2 hour walk and if he hadn’t wee’d by then we’d need to take action…

We set off around the docks – it’s very barren around here, in fact, it’s quite soulless, but we walked on until we got to Lyle Park. The Tate ‘n Lyle refinery dominates the landscape – as a physical presence and in the surrounding road names! Lyle Park was a nice little green overlooking the river with a good mix of lawns and shrubbery and two huge gates left over from the Harland and Wolff shipbuilders that used to operate hereabouts and built so many of the woolwich narrowboats which still survive to this day eg Fulbourne. Lou and Lynx tried their very best to be weeing role models for Ty, but he wasn’t having any of it – we plodded on and on but to no avail.

One of the locals - there's a very large flock of swans here....

So, instead of visiting the boat show, we had to collect the car from Limehouse and drive home to Surrey so that Ty could have a wee (!) – which he duly did, for over 2 continuous minutes, in the comfort of his own garden! We took him to the vet for a check-up – he’s physically fine but the vet recommended got some Zylkene capsules – they’re a complementary therapy for treating anxiety and can be used  short-term to help dogs to cope with specific episodes which are likely to cause them stress.We had to take action – we’re going to Wales next weekend and won’t be able to pop home quite so easily if he refuses to use the facilities there!

So, we stayed at home on Saturday so that Ty’s new treatment can start working and, in case it doesn’t, he can have a big wee here before we go back to the boat on Sunday. We have to go back to the boat – we want to visit the boatshow for a few bits ‘n pieces, but, more importantly, we need to be in place ready for a prompt getaway at noon on Monday.

Sunday 9th January

Yesterday we crossed the river on the Woolwich Ferry – just for the hell of it! There was a long wait for the ferry but how fascinating to get their view of the river – the narrowboats yesterday must have looked like flotsam on the water!

We came back to the boat via the Blackwall Tunnel today – much quicker! We got back late morning, having given Ty ample time to empty first – just as well, I can’t describe the depths of his angst at being back in the Royal Docks – fortunately he see the boat as his ‘place of safety’ so that’s positive. But we’re back to no weeing and, if the engine’s running, no eating either, though his appetite soon comes back when the engine’s off!

The dock area seemed to be deserted on Friday and Saturday, but today it was alive with walkers and joggers, many walking conspicuously close to the quay wall for a look at the narrowboats. It was good to see some life here – it seemed almost derelict  yesterday.

This photo is a bit dark but of all the ones we took this captures the atmosphere the best...

We had a little mooch around the boat show today – it seemed much smaller than in previous years and was so quiet – there were hardly any people there, it was jam packed on our first trip here in 2007. However the stall-holders said that it was busier than 2010 – I’m not sure how businesses can justify being at the show – it must cost a fortune. One exhibitor thought that numbers were low because ticket prices had risen beyond the reach of the general tourist market.

As always, there was little on offer for narrowboaters, though we did get a lifejacket for Ty and some toilet chemicals as well as plenty of useful technical advice. We also ordered a new VHF aerial with a magnetic fixing – that should come next week but we should be able to limp back with our existing one (which came a cropper when one of the hounds tripped over the wire and pulled the connection out).

There weren’t any narrowboats or dutch barges on display this year – it was a bit disappointing as we’d have liked a walk through a dutch barge. Richard’s been musing on where we go next with boats – I suggested that we did the same as greygal – instead of trading up to bigger boats we just get our own fleet of narrowboats! We had to content ourselves with having a nosey at some yachts and a substantial gin palace worth £450,000 – we didn’t order one as we thought the dogs would find the deck stairs too steep!

It’s been the most beautiful day – crystal blue skies and no wind at all – perfect weather for cruising! But there’s no changing the arrangements – I understand that Andrew Phasey, Commodore of SPCC, had been negotiating the terms of this trip with the Royal Docks management for a whole year. We really appreciate the SPCC’s efforts to get these things together – they welcome non-members, they put loads of effort into expertly organising these trips and they don’t charge other than the costs incurred in locking/mooring fees (this time a modest £30 per boat – bargain).

Great new sculpture outside Excel - installed in 2009....

We left the boatshow at dusk and took the dogs for a walk. The scenery was awesome – a smoky peach sunset along the western horizon, a velvet blue sky above pinned with a crescent moon brooch and the cliched diamond pins of the first stars, then, against this spectacular backdrop, the dark silhouettes of the dock cranes and the glowing faux moon of the O2 arena. It was quite magical and we tried to capture it on camera but we’d recommend that you come and see it for yourself!

Ty did not appreciate being taken for a walk – we had to manhandle him off the boat and he spent his time walking nicely but looking worried – he wasn’t interested in joining Lou and Lynx for a bit of mischief (barking, running, sniffing and weeing). It’s the weirdest thing but him not weeing is the most difficult anxiety symptom to deal with – we’d cope better if we was soiling inside the boat, but no, he seems determined to hold everything in until he gets home.

But we had a secret weapon – a small supply of doggie diazepam (aka valium) authorised by the vet for emergency use. We gave him a dose, went out for dinner, and when we got back he was relaxed enough to get off the boat by himself and he had a wee – hurrah! Sorry, this is far more information than you need, but one day, hopefully in the near future, we’ll look back at this blog and be amazed that Ty was ever that scared…..

It was a beautifully calm night on the water so we settled in for a good night’s sleep……


View round the dock (1)

Views round the dock (2)

Views round the dock (3)

Views round the dock (4)

Night view - just magnificent....

Another night view - see the crescent moon just above Canary Wharf tower?

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Boat blog: And we’re off…..

Posted by indigodream on 9 January, 2011

There's no wrong weather, just the right clothing! Alison taking a turn at the helm - she's a natural!

Thursday 6th January

Today was an important day – the first cruise on Indigo Dream since November – a chance for us to check that the ice had melted, that the engine was still working and to fill up with fuel.

Fortunately for me, Richard took on these important tasks as he had a meeting up in Bow and could use the boat to commute from Limehouse. Unfortunately for him, the weather was truly foul and he got soaked, but he still enjoyed his little jaunt and reported that Indigo Dream was none the worse for wear after the harsh December.

Much later in the day, we moved into the boat for the weekend (or so we thought – Lynx will tell that tale later!) having stocked up with food on the way; I was surprised that it took almost as long to move into the boat as it does to move out – I didn’t get to bed until 1.30am, oh, hang on, all the boat clocks are on BST – things looked much better once I’d reset them all!

Friday 7th January

We’d been watching the weather forecast anxiously for the last two weeks and were relieved that although the day promised to be wet and gloomy, the wind speed had reduced considerably. This meant that we were on for a flying start to our cruising year – a St Pancras Cruising Club convoy to the Royal Docks for the boat show. Although the weather in the morning was appalling (torrential rain), we were expecting four hardy guests – fellow bloggers Adam from nb Debdale and Neil and Kath from nb Herbie and Alison who left a comment on our blog a few weeks ago. Do check their blogs for a more entertaining account, and more fab photos! We were very excited but also a bit amazed that they all turned up – if I’d seen the rain I’d have been tempted to go back to bed!

The safety briefing....

As an aside, when recruiting cruising companions, always ask how they are with the weather before you take them on board 🙂 The Herbie’s were the first to arrive and, as the rain beat down on the boat roof, they commented “It’s always like this when we get on a boat”. Fortunately we decided to use Adam from Debdale as our weather mascot – the last time he cruised with us it poured with rain in the morning but then cleared by the time we got underway and so it proved today.

We set off from Limehouse at around 11am – it was a relaxed start. The original cruising plan had us going out onto Bow Creek via City Mills and Three Mills Locks, but the overnight/morning rain had sent too much water down the Waterworks river so we were rerouted through the now familiar Bow Lock. We were very disappointed not to be going out via the new locks but with a bit of luck we’ll come back that way on Monday; though we do have the option to come back round the Isle of Dogs and Limehouse Lock (we’ve booked the lock) – we’ll decide on Monday morning.

We had plenty of time so we had a mosey up to Old Ford Lock before winding and heading back to Bow Locks for the safety briefing. There were 11 boats in the convoy, all very experienced,with many familiar faces from previous convoys, so there was no need for us to take on ‘tail-end charlie’ responsibilites, though we were still in the last locking onto Bow Creek. This gave us time to have lunch and watch the rest of the convoy locking out – it’s a fascinating sight, not least because the rising tide fills the creek at an impressive rate so every lock out has a slightly smaller fall.

We set off down Bow Creek, enjoying (again) its twist and turns and the contrasts between the industrial dereliction, trendy green walls and the resident flocks of wading birds (probably redshanks) which lined the banks. Sadly we couldn’t loiter – we needed to move on to catch the convoy and the tide down to the Royal Docks.

I hope never to lose the sense of awe that I get when I take Indigo Dream out of Bow Creek mouth – the O2 dominates the far peninsula, Canary Wharf and the distant city towers are an ever-changing backdrop as the Shard emerges from the ground and there, downstream, is the looming majesty of the mighty Thames – priceless.

What better way to see London's skyline??

It was great to be able to share the view with out guests – we’re totally enamoured of the whole tideway experience and can’t wait to convert other boaters!It did help that the river was like a millpond – still and serene, with very little wind or commercial traffic to disturb the peace. It was so still that we felt confident to let Adam take the helm through the Thames Barrier, dance with the Woolwich ferries and manoeuvre into the entrance lock to the Royal Docks. He handled Indigo Dream with aplomb, certainly giving the outward appearance of unflustered competence throughout. His final challenge was to brest up to nb Flora Dora – he did a perfect bresting manoeuvre, handling Indigo Dream as if she was his own – Flora Dora looked mighty relieved – she has immaculate paintwork so she might not have appreciated a bit of rough ‘n tumble!

The lock-keepers decided only to use one-quarter of the vast entrance lock today – our flotilla of 11 narrowboats didn’t even fill half the available space in that quarter-lock!

I always feel a bit sad when we lock into the Royal Docks, as if the trip is all over, but we still had a good half-hour’s cruising to go – past the soaring lift and swing bridges, City Airport and Excel itself. As we cruised down the immense dock, both light and weather gradually deserted us and it was pouring with rain when we moored up. It didn’t deter us and the other hardy narrowboating folk from converging on nb Doris Katia, our lead boat, for a post-cruise warmer! Not only is Andre Phasey, nb Doris Katia’s skipper and Commodore of SPCC, a great organiser but he is also very generous with the post-cruise spirits! After half an hour so (I don’t drink spirits) I rather soberly realised that I was freezing cold and soaking wet so we retreated onto Indigo Dream for some more chat with Adam, Kath and Neil (Alison having left earlier).

Now, what can possibly divert boaters from talking about toilets? Well, the righteous indignation of ‘Archers’ fans at the New Year plot line – Adam and Richard were quite bemused as Kath, Neil and I dissected the characters!

We said a reluctant goodbye to our guests at around 6pm – we’d so enjoyed their company. Blogging has been such a positive experience – how would we have met such wonderful characters otherwise?

But the day wasn’t over – we joined a contingent from the convoy for a meal at the “Fox” pub – good food and good company rounded the day off nicely though the conversation mainly revolved around VHF radios – not the usual narrowboater’s topic! But fine company notwithstanding, by 9pm I was ready for my bed – the hounds had long since retreated to their duvets…..


We had to pop home (Ty needed a wee, more about that in another post) and just bought one camera back with us. I will post photographs from the other camera in another post.

Me, Kath and Adam enjoying the ride - the weather had much improved by this stage...

Me (again), Alison and Neil

One of my favourite views - there's something timeless about this stretch of water...

nb Lotus 10 giving a nice sense of scale behind us!

The Thames Barrier never fails to impress....

Adam ably piloting Indigo Dream through the Thames Barrier - it's not quite as tricky as a narrow lock!

Thing is, we don't feel so small when we're going through - it's only when you look back.......

Woolwich ferries Ernest Bevin and James Newman dodging the narrowboats - the VHF comes in handy here because they'll often say which line they're going to take - we dashed through while they were both loading/unloading!

The turn into the Royal Docks.....

Our flotilla assembling in the quarter lock - plenty of room for more if you want to join the convoy next year!

Andrew, Commodore of the SPCC, getting the 'raft' organised!

The lock gates closing behind us and a plane coming in to land - they seem low enough to touch when we pass the end of the runway....

The last stage - into the Royal Docks - see that plane - that's the end of the runway - very close to the water's edge!

Plenty of headroom! Just as well, it costs thousands to have that bridge lifted...

They don't like narrowboats getting too close to the runway but there's only so far we can go! They were taking off in the direction as we were travelling so plane and boat momentarily moved as one....

These office workers seemed amazed to see the convoy - although this is a vast expanse of water I don't there's much boating activity - what a waste.... They were a friendly lot and waved back to us (probably thinking who are these mad people ...)

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