Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for March, 2011

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 30 March, 2011

Monday 28th March

Four has a hadventure.....

Mummy Sue sez that maybe I’s not appreciatin’ the good life enuff, but I thinks that she duzn’t happreciate how my hard life is. I means, the uvver day daddy Richard went off to work – I’s watched him go out the door, then I’s heard the car leave, “all clear” I thinks, so I jumps right up onto their bed. Would you believe it, mummy Sue woz still in there – she said “gerroff”, well, actually she sed ‘aaaaaarggh’ then ‘gerroff’! I’s shook me head – is goin’ to take longer than I thought to train her so I’s called in re-hinforcements.

Me friends David and Ellabella came for a weekend sleepover – they’s got their mummies prop’ly trained – they’s always sleeping wif their mummies, ‘cept when they wants to sleep on their other beds. I sez to them “help me sort mummy Sue out – she’s gotta learn that greys sleep in their mummy’s beds”. “Hokay dokey” they sed.

Me cunnin’ plan is workin’ – we’s got house rules and dog rules – so, like, house rules is that we duzn’t go on the sofa but David’s dog rules is that he needs the sofa and dog rules over-rules house rules – geddit?! So David woz on the sofa and him and Ella woz allowed on the beds, and on the boat I sneeked onto David’s mummy’s bed and GOT AWAY WIF IT – hur hur hur….

Coz mummy Sue felt guilty that I woz cuddled up to David’s mum, she let David onto her bed (result!) but he didn’t stay – he woz full of energies, IN THE MORNIN’, wot’s that all about?

We’s dun lots of lookin’ – our olympic lookin’ team is brilliant – we’s gonna be big champions. We’s thought of uvver retired greyhound ‘ympic hevents – not runnin’ obviously, coz we’s retired! So here’s our list:

  • Synchronised lookin’ – solo, pairs, three, fours, boys, girls, brindles, blacks – we’s guaranteed 8 medals already!
  • Speed eatin’ piggy lugs – Ty’s gotta get gold
  • Speed eatin uvver chewies
  • Distance event – spread of crumbs from one bonio all over the floor (mummy Sue sez we’s gotta get medals there)
  • Area of sofa/bed covered by one hound (needs research on ‘lympic standard sofa/bed size)
  • Distance between legs when roachin’ (front, back and across!)
  • Shoe carrying – furthest wins, wif extra points for dropping the shoe in sumfink yucky (needs research on ‘lympic standard shoe – duz slippers count?)
  • Poo rolling – the winner has most area of fur covered in poo (mummy Sue duzn’t favour that event – dunno why)
  • Some sort of farty competition – no use going for noise coz we tends to specialise in the ‘silent but deadly’ – we needs a smell-o-meter – better get hinventin’….

Oh course, that’s just the start – I’s sure that there’s lots of uvvers – we’s concentrated on them that we’s ‘specially good at!

I’s not dun much ritin’ coz me famus friend David has dun ritin’s – he’s my hinspiration!

Me weekend holeeday snaps….

These are me favrits – there’s more on facebook coz mummy Sue luves all our photos –

"Pleeze can I stay on the sofa Auntie Sue?"

"Of course you can David" - result! I's will be on there next....

We's looking - there's lots of ducks and whatnot in Little Venice....

See, three hounds duz fit onto one sofa.....when we's too tired to argue!

Oooh, is a bit early for me,,,,

David luves lookin'.....

We's met anuvver hansum greyhound - he's dun modellin'!

We's getting the hang of lookin'...

David lookin' very dignified on the back deck...

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Boat Blog: New friends, old route…

Posted by indigodream on 28 March, 2011

Friday 25th March

Our guests bravely negotiating their first lock gate bridge! Shame about the trash in the water.

Sharp-tongued satirists will often pour scorn on social media and the notion that people don’t meet in person any more. But although I can see how blogging/tweeting can take over your life (it’s a lot more entertaining than housework!) I’ve found it to be a great way of making new friends. We’ve met and had adventures with so many boating bloggers and, of course, we’re meeting up with other greyhound obsessives owners.

This weekend we met famous blogging greyhound David and twitter queen Ellabella, oh, and their hu-mums Becky and Nicky! We’ve been ‘corresponding’ for a while and seemed to have a lot in common, well ok, we’ve got greyhounds in common, but that was enough for me to grieve that we might never meet what with them being up in Suffolk. But this weekend, they kindly agreed to an adventure and drove all the way down to Surrey to stay the night before spending the weekend on the boat.

A bit of drastic cleaning was needed, but my garden office (known as ‘The Shed’) is perfect accommodation for guests – now that we’ve ousted the mice!

We decided to leave Ty with Richard’s mum again – she enjoys his company and he certainly enjoys staying with her, being lavished with care and attention (not that he lacks any here – honest!). It was a shame, as I think that it would have done him good to spend time with some other greyhounds and I’m sure that Becky and Nicky would have been smitten. However, Ty would have been miserable on the boat through London – we’re looking forward to the Odyssey when we can get into quieter parts and gradually work on his confidence.

It was a funny thing waiting for our guests to arrive – as Richard said “we’ve just invited two total strangers to stay over ” – but because of the blogs/tweets, I didn’t feel that they were strangers at all. Of course, this led me to muse on the fact that because Becky and Nicky were fellow greyhound lovers I’d imbued them with a whole set of associated virtues. But are there axe-murdering greyhound lovers? Were we about to find out?!

Lou and Lynx supervising the crew....

Our guests arrived late evening – minus axes but equipped with David’s bottom, which proved to something of an offensive weapon. We were without our big guns i.e. Ty’s bottom, but Lou defended us admirably!

As I’d anticipated, they were charming guests – David and Ella settled in right away and got on famously with our hounds – Lou accepted her new pack with grace (and silence). We had a great evening talking greyhounds – I had wondered whether we’d run out of things to talk to about, but this one topic kept us going all weekend!

Saturday 26th March

We’re getting very blase about the drive up to the boat in Limehouse – I think the odyssey will come as a bit of a shock – the long drives, car shuffle logistics, running the engine for power, searching for waterpoints….. Actually, we can’t wait to be on the go again after the best part of a year in London – definitely time for a change of scenery.

But today we were on familiar ground – the trip up to Paddington and back. It was a good day, colder than during the week, cloudy, but mainly dry. The boat was already full of water and diesel so were good to go. Ah no, hang on, have we got enough comfy beds down for four greyhounds? We added a new foam chair-bed, which proved to be popular, and we set off up the Regent’s Canal.

Lou supervising Nicky at the lock...

We’d only gone up one lock before we had to stop to clear the prop – there was the usual collection of plastic bags, but what scuppered us was a short length of thick rope. I guess it’s natural that rubbish migrates ‘downstream’ but there is a serious amount of garbage around the first three locks (coming up from Limehouse) – it’s a shame as it detracts from the otherwise interesting and increasingly attractive canalscape. I’ll just have another little rant here – another boater further up had also cleared their prop – then left the debris on the side of the lock. I was surprised – that debris will end up back in the canal – why not just pick it up and put it in the boat bin for disposal later? And while I’m at it, why don’t people shut lock gates behind them? And why are boats with no visible licences moored up on lock moorings? Nigh on every lock was set against us today – tedious enough at the best of times, but sheer hard work when you’ve got one crew (Richard) having to do all the walking round. It made for a slow journey but with good food and good company on board it was still a great day’s cruise.

The towpath was alive with joggers – why? Were they were all in training for the London marathon or had they just been drawn out by the fine weather – they looked terribly serious. The greyhounds treated them with the complacent disdain of retired athletes. The hounds had a good day – Ella and David were amazing considering it’s their first time afloat. Ella was very dignified and took boating in her stride – she’s a dainty little greyhound – the perfect size for a narrowboat! Lou and Ella divided their day between lying indoors and popping up on deck every now and then to check on the boys. Lynx spent most of the day on deck, as did David, who was beside himself with excitement and seemed to really enjoy watching the world go by.

We had little stop at Camden Market – it’s such a unique place – noisy, colourful, tacky and fascinating – you could wander there all day and not see it all. I was fascinated by the shisha parlours with customers lying on crowded couches, each furnished with its own ornate shisha pipe wreathed in fragrant smoke. Fronted by the colourful oriental couches, the stalls behind seemed darkly mysterious – a scene straight from the day when opium was legal and fired the imaginations of romantic poets. I guess that these customers were smoking tobacco – perfectly legal, perfectly deadly….

David makes a great figurehead for the Indigo Dream...

The hounds came with us for a stroll around the market and were so very calm, despite the sussurations of the crowds – “look at those dogs, greyhounds, amazing dogs, like a tiger……” – there’s no better advertisement for greyhound rescue. Many people stopped to talk to us so we were able to reassure people that greyhounds don’t need much exercise! Then there was more unwelcome sussuration – “Uh sir, dogs aren’t allowed in this part of the market” – oops! The very polite security guard escorted us to the street entrance and we worked our way back to the boat along the ‘open’ part of the market, where they are allowed!

We were just starting to lose the light when we came through Regent’s Park, but to our delight, the African hunting dogs were out. Like many predators they combine great beauty and power – I saw a documentary about them last week – they run almost as fast as greyhounds but they can keep it up for hours on end. I’ve since found out that they can migrate up to 30 miles a day and have huge ranges. I sighed and wondered, yet again, about the morality of zoos – the dogs’ enclosure is really very small therefore I can’t believe they’re happy. But they are an endangered species – so what’s best – captive but alive or wild but extinct? The option of wild, happy and thriving doesn’t seem to be available 😦

We got to Paddington just as the weather deteriorated especially the wind – typical! The moorings were pretty full, but we found a space on the towpath at the far end – it took some time to moor – the wind was gusting strongly between the tall buildings and kept sweeping us off the mooring. The kindly crew of the narrowboat moored behind our space offered to catch our ropes and with their help we finally moored. We’d spotted Carrie in nb Blackbird moored a few boats away – she waved and walked round the basin to see us. It was lovely to catch up with her, albeit briefly. She did come aboard to give the greyhounds some extra cuddles – they were very grateful!

We went back to See Cafe for dinner – the food is really very good there – just as well because we were very tired by now and it was the closest eaterie to the boat! We were back on board by 8.30pm and Richard and I were ready for bed! For the sake of our guests we made a bit of an effort to stay awake until an adult bed-time – it took a little time to sort out the beds – amazingly, it’s the first time that we’ve had two friends (rather than a couple) to stay on board so we had to deploy the bed settee and the bed chair. We were short of one dog duvet and we’d carelessly left the sheepskins at home so there was some to-ing and fro-ing before the hounds got settled. Lynx is so cheeky and took advantage of the lack of room to hop up and sleep with Becky! Lou, David and Ella all moved around during the night, trying out different beds for size – Lynx, predictably, stayed right where he was – he knows a good thing when he lies on it!

Today’s trivia:

In Johnson’s lock I spotted a spiral-shelled mollusc hanging from the lock wall – I’d not seen one like it on a lock wall before (and I’ve seen the inside of lots of locks!). But maybe I’ve just been very unobservant because I found out that it was the common great pond snail –Lymnaea stagnalis – the largest species of water snail in Europe.They graze on organic detritus so it wouldn’t be lacking for food in these slimy locks! The pond snail has lungs rather than gills which means that it would survive quite happily when the lock was empty; nonetheless I was interested to find it six foot down a lock wall where it would have a long climb up to get air when the lock was full. However they apparently have special adaptations to allow them to respire through their tissues so that they don’t have to surface so often – they can just float up to the surface to get air  so no climbing required! They also have a snorkel which can be extended to the surface – I doubt whether it’s 6′ long though!

Great pond snail!

Sunday 27th March

We had a very relaxed start to the day with a boat full of lolloping hounds swapping beds and getting used to the idea of being awake! The boat works as a huge hound bedroom, provided the humans don’t mind being smothered by living hound blankets with sharp elbows! The new bed chair works well as a bed – as ‘comfy as an air bed’ was Nicky’s generous verdict. This means that we’re now set up for overnighting our mottley crew during the BCN Marathon Challenge!

Richard volunteered to take the hounds out for their morning essentials while we ladies converted the boat back into a doggie day lounge! Richard was soon back – he’d run out of poo bags – oh yes – you do the math – four greyhounds, minimum of three productions each……

Lou and Ella declined another walk but the boys went out for an age – Paddington Basin can consider itself watered!

We set off at 11am – the change in the hour having eaten the morning away. The late start gave the sun time to break through the cloud and we had a glorious day’s cruising. Human and hound crew basked in the abundant sunshine and enjoyed the adoration of the masses – there were literally THOUSANDS of people on the towpath today – walkers, joggers, cyclist, fishermen and picnicers – London was really making the best of its canal. In turn we marvelled at the blatant exhibitionism of the towpath denizens conspicuously doing lock-side press-ups or showing off their hula-hooping skills  on the path. It could have been worse – they were fully clothed!

Needless to say, the hounds attracted immense amounts of interest – people were amazed to see two hounds on deck, little knowing that there were another two indoors! While we were waiting for one lock, a smart, rather aloof couple with a beautiful blue greyhound came up the towpath. I advised them to look onto our deck – they looked at me as if I was mad! “No really” I said “Look onto the deck” – they suddenly dropped the whole cool act and squealed with delight at the sight of Lynx, Ella and David lying on deck – they were soon joined by Lou who never misses a chance to bark at another greyhound. We had a happy 10 minutes of talking greyhounds – their blue (also called Blue) was very cuddly so I enjoyed a few hugs, remembering our own beautiful Blue, who would have enjoyed this day’s cruise.

I've never noticed this cafe before - I think it's called 'Towpath' and was doing a roaring trade from its barbecue...

We saw another greyhound on the towpath but no apparent owner. Obviously we all went instantly into ‘welfare’ mode as the greyhound trotted down the towpath, picking up (and relishing) random bits of food from discarded take-away containers. It was wearing a collar and looked in good condition, but we cracked when the hound stopped and looked a bit bewildered – Richard said ‘bring the boat in’ and in a rush I did a rotten job and ended up across the canal with the stern grounded at the back, rudder stuck on the edge, while the bow thunked gently on the sheet piling opposite. Richard got off to check the greyhound and its owners, a woman and child, miraculously appeared out of nowhere to demand what he was doing with their dog! Ah well, the hound was happy so I’d got the boat into a mess for a good cause 🙂

Some boater had left most of the top lock gates open yet again, but today we benefited because most of the locks were set our way and were able to cruise right in. This made to a very fast trip down to Limehouse and we seemed to get there in no time at all. I was a bit sad because it had been a great weekend but I was also relieved to have an early finish because Nicky and Becky had a long trip back to Suffolk. We packed the boat up in record time and we set off with the four hounds for a last rummage around the little dog park.

It had been the most wonderful thing to meet these fellow bloggers/tweeters and get to know them a bit better. The hounds were a delight and we enjoyed having an extended pack on board. I hope they come again sometime, maybe on a rural route where Ty can join us, though we’ll need to get a few more dog duvets on board before that happens!

Sad news….

When we got home we picked up a melancholy email informing us of the death of an old friend from Motor Neurone Disease. He was the same age as Richard.We knew it was coming, he’d been battling with the disease for five years, but we’d so hoped that he would be the one who beat the odds.  Our hearts go out to his wife and young son – their grief and shock are all too evident and I can see that there’s a hard road ahead of them.

The news made me think back to the start of this post and settled in my mind that you have to grab new friendships and make the golden moments when you can – who knows when they’ll be taken away from you….


Hordes on the towpath - it was even busier on Sunday!

What's this I wonder - lockside at Sturts lock.

Sharing locks with the pirates - just as well there were two sober crew members to handle the boat/locks!

It's a wonder that only the parrot fell overboard - you'll be relieved to know that it was safely recovered!

One of the many elaborate horse sculptures in Camden Market - a nod to the market's original use as a stable for working horses back in the 1800s

Market scene - everything's on show, including this fishy foot massage - and NO, they are not MY feet!

More elaborate scenery at Camden Market - it's a strange place....

How's that for a mooring?!

African hunting dog - we'll try to get a better photo next time they're out...

Fearsome face - warthog at London zoo...

Magnificent detail on this bridge - cast by founders Masefield and Co., Manor Iron Works, Chelsea - can you imagine what would happen if they tried to put an ironworks in Chelsea today? 🙂

The coat of arms of the metropolitan borough of St Pancras which existed between 1900 and 1965, when it became part of Camden. This coat of arms dates from 1936 and has elements from the arms of traditional landowners in the borough.

St Pancras lock looking lovely in the sunshine...

Serious camera - wonder what they were filming?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 23 March, 2011

Saturday 19th March

We's doin' chargin' around - I's so fast in the front that I's just a blur...

We’s not dun boatin’ this week but I’s decided to rite about me doin’s anyway coz I’s had a dretful week….

It all started when mummy Sue made some liver cake – she liquidised a pack of raw liver – it smelled disgusting lushus, then she added some garlic – it smelled terrible lushus, then she mixed it up with raw egg and flour – it smelled awful lushus then she cooked it in the oven and it smelled of garlicky liver – oooh – I’s almost died o’ dribbling it was so good. But then, THEN, mummy Sue cut it all up, put it in little bags and put it in the freezer wif the ice cream – she sez it’s a special treat for when I goes to dog training. Oh sure, we got all the nice crispy edges to eat but I wants the whole cake – I’s been smellin’ it for over and hour and all I gets is crumbs – huh.

Mummy Sue forgot to go to Pets at Home last weekend so we ran out of nice chewy treets – the cupboard woz bare – we woz sad. So we guilted mummy Sue into feeding us nice stuff like sardeens. Her friend Jenny, wot has the mad spaniels, gave mummy Sue a recipy for sardine cake! I woz hexcited but mummy Sue sez she’ll only make it when she gets over the smell of the liver cake!

Talking of smell, has you had tripe? It is be bestest, most delishus stuff in the whole doggie world. When mummy Sue remembered to go to Pets at Home she filled the whole cupboard wif treets and bought two packets of frozen tripe. The cupboard full is worse than the cupboard empty – we knows the treets are there – we needs to eat them – all of them – now! We’s prowled and paced, we’s whined, we’s tried our hypno-stares, but mummy Sue just won’t put the whole box of piggy lugs on the floor for us to help ourselves.

See, Lou's cutting the corners to catch me - she's a big cheat! We's still a blur - even tho we's retired!

Then she sed “if I feed you prop’ly you won’t need treets” so she boiled one pack of tripe for us. She defrosted it in the microwave – it didn’t smell o’ nuffink; she put it in the saucepan wif hot water – it didn’t smell o’ niffink; then it came to the boil and blew the lid off the saucepan – the most lushus wonnerful smell filled the house – woz in every room – we’s sniffed it like perfume. I duzn’t unnerstand mummy Sue at all, she woz makin’ funny gagging noises and she run out the front door an’ let all the cold air in.  “Shut the door, mummy Sue” I sed “you’s spoiling the lushus smells” but she ran back thru the house and opened the back door as well. We hounds woz inside wif the saucepan, enjoying the smell, an’ mummy Sue woz outside making funny sicky noises. Then, all of a sudden, she put a cloth over her face, ran into the kitchen, grabbed the saucepan and ran outside wif it to the back garden. Help, mummy Sue’s gone mad! We followed the saucepan, but it woz boiling hot so we wozn’t allowed to help ourselves. So we woz inside and the saucepan of lushus stuff woz outside – but wot if the foxes ate our tripe? We’s sat by the window and wotched it and wotched it. When it woz cold, mummy Sue put the cloth over her face again and used a long long ladle to put the tripe in our bowls. I duzn’t like eating outside in the rain but the tripe  woz worth it – ooohh it’s so lushus – we’s scoffed the lot and woz looking for more. But mummy Sue she’s NEVER EVER EVER cooking tripe in the house again – we’s got to wait until daddy Richard lights a barbecue and she’ll cook the last packet of tripe outside. I duzn’t unnerstand – barbecuse are for making sausages and steaks not tripe……

The only good thing is that mummy Sue sez liver smells luvverly compared to tripe so maybe we’ll get more liver cake instead!

She woz afraid that the smelly tripe would make us smelly too – but it woz ok – we wozn’t more smelly than normal, well, that’s pretty smelly, but she sed it could have bin worse.

I is the champion....

Mummy Sue’s bin makin’ all funny noises this week – she woz larfin’ and larfin’ the uvver day coz Ty stole doggie treet sausages from the worktop and ran off trailin’ a string of sausages behind him – just like a cartoon dog. He’s a clever thief – by the time Mummy Sue caught him he’d eaten the evidence! Mummy Sue reckons Ty should have a world record in eatin’ fast, ‘specially piggy lugs – one crunch and they’s vanished!

We woz full of energies after our tripe, so after we’s had a little sleep me an’ Lou did chargin’ round the garden. Lou’s a big cheat – she duzn’t chase me prop’ly – she ambushes me round the side of the shed and the side of the bonfire pile. We’s had the best time tho’ – I’s very fast an’ I woz runnin’ round, whee, I’s winnin’ the race, I’s Lynx the champion – look at me mummy Sue – look at me stopping an’ lyin’ down an’……coffin’……..cof coff coff. Then in the night I’s had to sneeze – not girly snuffly backward sneezes, but proper big manly sneezes – achoo, achoo, achoo – I woz very hygienic – I’s sneezed into mummy Sue’s jumper and I wiped my nose on her trousers so snot didn’t got ev’rywhere.

Mummy Sue finks I’s got doggie man flu – i.e. there’s nuffink wrong wif me. I fink she’s not givin’ me proper sypafy so I’s coffed again and she took me to the vet. Coz I had coffed, the vet wouldn’t let me inside – I’s had a thermometer stuck up me bottom in public in the car park where all the lady dogs could see. I’s hid me face behind mummy Sue – hope no-one recognised me. Anyhoo, the vet sez that maybe perhaps I’s got kennel coff, wot is contagious, and I’s in qwar-an-tine for the weekend. Is nice qwarantine – at home wif Lou and Ty and all the treets and me beds. Mummy Sue still finks I gots doggie man flu – I hopes so, coz I’s got some doggie pals coming for a sleep-over next weekend!

That's enuff charging around - time for a little kip...

Me dretful week went on and on – one night I asked mummy Sue if I’s could go out and she said “you’ve just bin” and she went to bed, but I woz bustin’ so I’s had a hooge wee inside the front door – mummy Sue heard and she came charging down the stairs to let me out. “Stop stop” she’s yelling – but there’s no stoppin’ a hound in mid flow. Anyhoo, mummy Sue put on her wellies and opened the front door – coz she’d woz yellin’,  Lou got hexcited an’ went chargin’ out the door, but I slipped in me own wee and went flying into the door an’ bashed me leg. Mummy Sue woz all of a panic – she thought I’d broken me leg so she got Richard out of bed to do sum mopping but he forgot to put his wellies on – oops! I woz bein’ all pafetic coz I thought maybe she didn’t luv me no more. Mummy Sue wiped me down wif a fluffy towel and checked that me leg wozn’t broken an’ made sure that I gots cuddles, then she got busy wif the mop. It woz all a big commotion, but she sez she still luvs me loads and now she’ll always let me out when I asks – I’s forgived her – it takes time to train hu-mums – as Fudge and Friends say.

Now mummy Sue loves me, so she can’t ever believe that I woz weein’ becoz I woz naughty, so back we goes to the vet – I’s stopped coffin’ but then I gots a runny eye so I had to see the boss vet man ‘stead of my favrit Blondie. Is sort of good news – my coff has gone so we can have our houndie sleepover this weekend; then the vet sez the weein’ is a hinfection – I’s not bein’ naughty at all so I’s got some tablets for that; and I has epi-scler-itis wot means that my eyes get sore when I’s bin sunbathin’. I’s got speshal eye drops for sunny days but I’s liking the idea of cool shades, coz I loves sunbathin’ and I duzn’t want to stop. I’ll have to tell mummy Sue wot to buy coz I’s got me street cred to think about and, oh course, they got to look good in me holeeday snaps.

But the most dretful thing of all is that mummy Sue is lookin’ for a proper job – “oh no” I sez “wot about my cuddles?” She sez is ok – she’s hoping to work 3 days in a hoffice and have four days at home, an’ she promised me that all four home days is just for cuddles. If she gets a proper job we’s got to work too – one day walking on checking drawins at Richard’s office, one day protectin’ nanny Renia from sqwirrels and one day to rest in our beds. I’s very wurried, but then mummy Sue sez she’s got to do a ritin’ test. I’s cheered up straight away – mummy Sue’s gramer and spellin’ is atroshus, not like wot mine is. I woz wond’rin’ wether to help her coz if she gets a job then she can buy more treets but if she duzn’t get the job then we gets more cuddles – wot do you fink?

Is a very big moon tonight – is you doing howlin’? I’s asked mummy Sue wether we should be doin’ howlin’ – she sed she’d rather we didn’t!

Lynx’s guide to eatin’ a chikkin sandwich:

  • Take your sanwich to a quiet corner – don’t forget to dribble all over the floor
  • pick out the chikkin and eat the chikkin
  • look at your mummy to see if there’s any more chikkin
  • if the answer’s ‘no’ then lick every bit of the butter off the bread
  • look at your mummy so see if there’s any more chikkin
  • if the answer’s ‘no’ then eat the bread
  • ask your mummy for another sanwich – wif extra chikkin, hold the bread…..

This is me wurryin' about stuff - like why does I get dog food when there's a rib of beef roasting in the oven?

I likes to rest my head on mummy Sue's chair so that she knows that I loves her......dinner!

Me an' Lou doing the 'watch me' command - we's very good so give us our treets!

Just showin' mummy Sue how big me mouf is so she doesn't waste time cutting the food into little bits.....

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Boat Blog: East London Ring (again…..)

Posted by indigodream on 18 March, 2011

Saturday 12th March

I wonder how many treasures are recovered from the trash at Limehouse Lock?

Of course, those of you that follow Lynx’s diary will already know everything you need to know about our cruising last weekend, but here’s the human version – just for the log!

I’m afraid that Guy and Reckless don’t tickle my fancy, but the programme has had the unexpected benefit of bringing some old friends onto the boat. Now, Gil and Nick have been bored on board many times before, but Nick, a keen biker, has decided that if Guy the biker hasn’t lost his street cred on a narrowboat then maybe he won’t either!

So, for the first time ever, Gil and Nick invited themselves on board for an unspecified trip round London. Having seen Guy in action we made an early decision not to let Nick on the helm and to keep him firmly on board when cruising under low bridges!

We left Ty with Richard’s mum today – he was so miserable last weekend we thought he’d be better off having a nice time at her home, rummaging round the garden and being spoilt outrageously. We WILL work on his fears and get him used to boating, but I think that London’s proving to be overwhelming and, with friends on board, we can’t give him our exclusive attention. I may have a long chat with the vet about how to proceed –  we’re making progress with Ty’s noise phobias, but I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing with his general panic when out and about.

Richard’s mum was very keen to keep Lou, but given how Lynx mopes by himself, we took her with us. She quite likes the boat – she’s happy to settle onto her sofa when we’re cruising and comes out for a rummage when it suits her.

We had another good journey to the boat – Saturday morning is THE time for driving through London! Getting there early gave us time to do our various chores – Richard got into the bilges and had a good clear out; I filled the water tank, replenished our drinking water bottles and had a general tidy. I should do a BIG tidy at some point, but it was a sunny day and I’d much rather be cruising! Gil and Nick arrived before 10.30am and by 11am we were off.

The stoppage on the Lee should have been set up last Monday, but our spies in Bow had reported no activity during the week, so we headed up Limehouse Cut in the hope that the canal was open. Hurrah! The canal was open so we were able to show our guests the best and worse bits of East London. Gil was born and bred in the area and Nick works hereabouts so it was particularly interesting for them to see their home turf from the water. They admitted that it looks a lot better from the canal, and chided us for just taking them on “boring cruises through idyllic countryside” in previous years – I did have some sympathy for this view – we also like a mix of the urban interesting and rural relaxing.

Smiling faces and a blue sky - we're all set for a perfect cruise.....

As we passed, we noticed that New Era Diesel was open and that a narrowboat was just leaving their ‘moorings’ (easy to tie to the steel pilings) so we stopped off for a top-up. It’s an interesting place – boaters around Limehouse will tell you it’s the cheapest diesel around, and means that denizens don’t have to wait for Diesel Lizzie or fuel boat Baron to visit (though we like to support fuel boats where we can). The diesel was 88p per litre – no questions asked – literally!

We weren’t sure whether the canal was open because they just haven’t started the works yet or because they’ve decided to open the navigation for the weekends. Opposite New Era fuels there were sections of what seemed to be a floating bridge so they may still be getting their infrastructure into place.

We moored up for the walk to Viewtube again and marvelled at three things. Firstly, as we came into moor there was a very pampered looking cat on the towpath – I’m not sure where it would have come from – there are no houses or moored boats on the olympic ‘island’. I shushed it away while yelling to the crew on the back deck to grab the greyhound’s collars just in case they made a leap for the bank. Fortunately I don’t think they spotted the cat so all was calm. Secondly, there were hordes of people on the footpath – mainly large groups of tourists on guided walking tours – so the olympic site is already a worthy landmark, even 17 months before the athletes arrive! Thirdly, as I walked along the path, I realised that the huge ‘batching’ plant and heaps of materials for making concrete on the right had been replaced by a giant mound of something resembling topsoil. The site seems to be changing daily and I’ll be fascinated to see how it all looks when we get back to London in October. Assuming that they still allow scruffy narrowboaters to pass the site….

View of the marina - with White Lady looming large as we leave the mooring - there's not much clearance....

Although the canal was open, workmen were busy closing the towpath – all the way from Old Ford Lock down to the end of the olympic ‘island’. I was appalled. I’d assumed that if we cruised the long route round to the moorings above  Old Ford Lock to avoid the stoppage, then we’d still be able to walk the towpath down to Viewtube; but the towpath is being blocked properly, so that’s out. I know that essential works are, well, essential, and that’s fine; but I have a fear that this island Olympics is intent on isolating itself from the very waterways that formed its geography and history.

It was too lovely a day for these gloomy musings. We cruised up through Old Ford Lock and stopped for lunch on the towpath just up from and opposite the turn into Ducketts Cut. We gave Foreman’s a miss today and went back to the Indigo Dream staple of soup and paninis. We sat outside on the back deck, enjoying the warm sunshine and watching the world go by. There was a lot to see – there were abundant walkers, joggers and cyclists on the towpath and, quite suddenly, a rush of boats coming down from Ducketts Cut.

We gave our guests the enticing choice between a there ‘n back cruise to Hackney or a round trip via Mile End! The ring won the vote, so we turned into Ducketts Cut to be greeted by oncoming boat after boat. They were a cheerful lot – mainly scruffy, be-dreadlocked and possibly under the influence. We recognised many of the boats from the winter colony at Victoria Park. Given the large numbers on the move we have to assume that the enforcement officer has been having a clear out!

We locked up smoothly though the dogs were a bit disgruntled not to be allowed off for a rummage until we got to the top lock – the locks were mainly set our way so there was just time to drop the human crew off quickly and move on, but not enough time to bring the boat right in and let the hounds off. Although he looked very intently, Lynx did not spot any rats on the towpath today 🙂

Spring is really springing - the coots are busy building their nests - I wonder when we'll see the first chicks...

Gil and Nick particularly enjoyed the waterfront, or rather, water-backs along Ducketts Cut – the left bank is densely developed, with a myriad of tiny back gardens which Gil found particularly fascinating. Gil works as a writer/researcher for ‘Gardening Which’ and is herself a keen gardener. But a fundamental truth is that all on board are just plain nosey! Gil had seemed a little discomfited by the lockside gongoozlers – we’re used to it by now! I told her that peering at back gardens was our compensation for being part of the towpath entertainment!

I confess that I did a particularly ugly turn from Ducketts Cut into the Regent’s Canal – I’m not sure I’ve ever done a tidy one – there’s plenty of room to take the bow forward, but the opening is quite narrow so there’s very little room to turn the back until you’re out. But no excuses – it wasn’t pretty! But I cheered up no end when I saw another refugee from Victoria Park (a dutch barge) attempting the turn into Ducketts Cut. They did a dreadful job of it and I don’t know how  the crew weren’t hurt as the barge clanged into the bridge wall then literally barged its way into the opening. They finally found their way under the low bridge with half the crew still sitting on the roof and overhanging the sides – mad!

We headed off through Mile End, where the towpath moorings were full almost to overflowing and were soon locking down towards Limehouse. There’s been a recent tendency for lads to hang around Johnson’s lock, but they seem good natured enough – by chance Richard was on the helm and when he said ‘no’ to their requests for a lift they didn’t seem inclined to argue or give any backchat.

Quite suddenly we were back in Limehouse – it was only 4pm – we’d had a quick trip round the East London Ring but it didn’t feel as if we’d rushed it at all. Maybe it was just that sort of day – good weather, good company and the time flies.

We've passed Colne on the Grand Union mainline, laden to the gunwhales with gravel..

Now we had a quandry, the crew had already started drinking some dodgy mulled wine which Gil carefully warmed on the stove to ensure that the alcohol wasnt boiled away. We sat on board for a while then wandered over to the Grapes for an early supper. The Grapes was comfortably full – just enough people to make it welcoming but not so many that we couldn’t get a good table with space for the hounds sheepskins. We settled in and tried to order food – oh dear, they don’t start serving food until 6.30pm and it was only 5pm. What a dilemma – move somewhere to get food or sit and drink until 6.30pm then eat. We elected for the latter – there’s a nice atmosphere in the Grapes (though it’s a thoroughly spit ‘n sawdust’ sort of place) and a few bags of crisps would absorb most of the damage. It was all the same to me, as designated driver (no hardship – I can’t drink before 7pm anyway) I was sitting there primly with a virtuous pot of tea. It will be of no interest for you to know that as well a delicious draft cloudy cider, the Grapes also does a good pot of tea!

At 6.30pm on the dot we ordered our food – a few pints had been imbibed by then and some food was needed before Nick started singing! The food is plain pub grub but was well done, so we were happy. The dogs enjoyed a hot beef bap (no horseradish) with the bread dipped in the gravy from my beef stew – that went down very satisfactorily.

By now, the effects of a day’s fresh air, locking and drinking on an empty stomach were starting to put the crew to sleep, so we all piled into the car and I drove us home, dropping Gil and Nick off on our way. With two humans on the back seat, Lou and Lynx had to share the boot – we lined it with sheep skins, put down a buffer of pillows in the middle and waited for the argument – none came. The hounds were exhausted and immediately settled down to sleep – we were amazed.

On the way home we rang to see how Ty was doing. He and Richard’s mum were having a lovely time together – Ty hadn’t missed the pack at all! It was getting late so we decided to leave him where he was and pick him up on Sunday. Gil suggested that we might like to give Ty to Richard’s mum in order to keep her company and make his life a bit easier. I was surprised at how the thought of it hit me – life without Ty cuddles – ooohh noooo!!

It had been another great day’s cruising – there’ something very special about getting out in the spring – it’s still early enough for each fine day to feel like a gift….

Today’s Trivia:

One of the photos below is of a smart retail/industrial development on the junction of the Hertforshire Union and Regent’s canal just below Victoria Park. I decided to find out more about it and was surprised to find that this area is Bow Wharf – but it’s not in Bow! Never mind, the older buildings and the chimney are part of the original Victorian site which was a glue factory! The area’s been much restored – the original plans having been to convert the wharf into a “stylish water city” in the style of Amsterdam. I guess that’s Amsterdam the city ON the water as opposed to Amsterdam’s plans for a city UNDER the water! I wasn’t able to find out much more about the original factory, but there is a lot of information and the delights of the site’s clubs, bars and cafes….

When we’ve cruised the tranquil Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, it’s alway been difficult to imagine the industry that created the canals. Likewise here, when you think that this victorian glue factory probably rendered animal/fish parts from local abattoirs the stench hereabouts would have been awful; mind you , maybe it was like perfume compared to the polluted Thames! As I said, hard to imagine the difference between then and now…..

Here’s a trivial bit of trivia – apparently ‘glue’ is made from organic products (including plants) and ‘adhesives’ are made from synthetic chemicals!

In the last boat blog, we were musing about the significance of the granite blocks along the Greenaway etched with numbers and “AOD” – we did some digging and here’s the answer – “They are markers that give the ‘Above Ordnance Datum’ (AOD) above sea level and are for sitting/resting. They were designed by Adams and Sutherland“. So now we know!

Coincidentally the orbit features in this week’s New Civil Engineer, here are scans of the relevant pages, just click and zoom in, hope they don’t mind as the link to the online version did not seem to work – gives a page on flooding for some reason.



First Page

First Page

Second page

Second page

Last Page

Last Page

It is impressive that the three dimensional swirl is formed of straight members. I know a lot of technology has gone into forming the joints at exactly the right angle and right length but it is still exceedingly impressive.


New Era red diesel - its' easy to tie onto the pilings and their diesel hose will reach the canal....

Vivid green fencing in Bow - Gil was speculating that it was the same green as the 'bluescreen' they use for filming CGI type stuff - hmmm, seems a most unlikely film set!

Floating bridge sections - I wonder how stable it feels when it's all put together - the bits look very dodgy!

The power of nature - bridge support gradually being torn apart by what looks like a Buddleia root...

New features and landscaping at Viewtube..

A close-up of the skate wing of the aquatic centre peeping out from between the spectator stands. See the red V sections on the left of the image? They're sections that will be bolted on to the orbital mittal sculpture.

Gil and Nick posing beautifully in front of the stadium - I wish the greyhounds were as obliging....

I'd heard that cats had good balance but this is impressive - that's a first floor balcony!

Victorian buildings at Bow Wharf and a glimpse of the modern development alongside....

Mind yer heads!

Seriously eroded walls - I think this is at Johnson's lock - bit of a disaster if those coping stones come loose...

Canary Wharf by night - it's never gets really dark there...

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 15 March, 2011

Sunday 13th March

Mummy Sue reckons this is the best olympic photo yet!

Do you know wot – I fink that mummy Sue fink’s that I’s maybe ritin’ too much but the fing is, stuff keeps happ’nin’ so I’d need to puts in in me diary so’s that I can remember it when I’m an old hound and needs to heducate uvver hounds on how to have hadventures!

Anyhoo, I’s had a busy week – I’ s been restin’ an’ snoozin’ an’ sleepin’ an’ SUNBATHING – I loves the sun – its all toatie on me belly. I’ss also bin lookin’ after mummy Sue – well, I’s bin lookin’ at her mainly just in case I miss a hadventure.

Me an’ Lou an’ Ty bin to the vet this week. Ty has to go to the vet by himself coz it’s in Pets at Home – they have live wabbits by the door, BY THE DOOR, LIVE WABBITS, MUMMY SUE, MUMMY SUE THERE’S LIVE WABBITS, IN PETS AT HOME….” For sum reason she duzn’t take me any more! She woz goin’ to take Lou, becoz Lou’s is Miss March on the Greyhounhomer calendar wot is hanging up on the vet’s reception at Pets at Home. Lou is famus and likes to grace her fans wif a visit, ‘cept Lou is always naggin’ mummy Sue to buy her a live wabbit. Mummy Sue sez that putting the wabbits by the till is panderin’ to pester power!

So Ty went to the vet by himself – he’s so scared he duzn’t even notice the wabbits – I knew he wozn’t a proper dog! When mummy Sue came home she woz sayin’ ‘poor poor Ty’ coz he’s got a bad leg wot isn’t getting better, she sez he needs a CAT.

“Lucky Ty” sez I, “we all needs a cat to chase – we’s all feeled much better for chasin’ a cat” – mummy Sue sez I’s silly – Ty needs a CAT scan.

Me an’ Lou’s vet duzn’t have wabbits – is very very boring. I didn’t even see my favrit Blondie – we had to see the big boss vets wot looks after Lou coz she is such a medical marvel. The vet prodded Lou an’ she woz yelping an’ complainin’ so I’s hid behind mummy Sue. When it woz my turn I sed “no, s’ok, I’s just fine, I woz only pretendin’ to limp reelly” – but the sneeky vet sneeked round mummy Sue an’ got me. He prodded and poked, he’s not as nice as Blondie the vet, wot gives me a big fuss an sez “good boy”. Woz ok tho, coz I’s got a proper manly dog hinjury – I’s strained my biceps doing manly dog fings round the garden. I’s got to rest – at last! Lou’s jus’ bein’ a big fairy but she has got arfritis in her back so maybe she duz sometimes have the odd twinge.

I's doin' lookin' - there's cats an' allsorts in them gardens....

I’s got a big dilemma now – I’s need to take BIG anti-inf-lam-atorory tablets wot mummy Sue glues to a slice of ham wif a bit of creem cheeze then wraps it up into a roll for me to eat. Now Ty an’ Lou got to take tablets too an’ they just gobble their little ham ‘n creem cheeze parcels, no questions asked. But I’s a superior intelligence to I know there’s tablets in the parcels so on principle I should say ‘no’, but I loves ham ‘n creem cheeze. Spit or swallow – is an old dilemma – har har har………….sorry mummy Sue.

The vet sez that we’s all prob’ly medical marvels on account of the rabies vaccine not workin’, but just in case he’s sorted it for mummy Sue to take us back for more injections, WOT? The vet sez it he’s fixed it good so that we can get our passports wifout payin’ any more. Mummy Sue sez he’s a star – I finks he’s a needle mad maniac wif vampire tendencies coz he’s goin to give us TWO injections and take our blood! Mummy Sue sez we’ll have our passports for Christmas. Duz I want a passport for Christmas? I’d rather have a roast turkey and a bag of pigs ears!

We’s bin on the boat again this weekend – Ty stayed wif nanny Renia again coz he’s a big scaredy wuss boy – I thought Lou woz goin’ to stay there too but mummy Sue sed “Lou’s got to come an’ keep Lynx company” – mummy Sue loves me!

We’s dun cruisin’ wif some friends wot are not dog people – WOT? Woz ok tho’ – as long as I’s got mummy Sue doin’ me biddin’ it’ll be ok. We dun cruisin’ and’ lookin’ an’ walking’ and lyin’ on our sheepskins in the pub. We didn’t do posin’ for photos – we duzn’t do posing! Lou woz very pop’lar – ev’rywhere we goes people is pointin’ an’ saying “…..amazin’, bootiful, just like a tiger” – one man sed she must be crossed wif a tiger – that explains why she’s so feroshus! When she woz on the path she woz a right tart and pranced round flashin’ her beautiful brindle – it glows in the sunshine so she looks like one of them l’oreal girls wot flashes their shiny hair on the telly.

Lou's lovverly brindle face....

Everyone woz pointin’ and grinnin’ so Lou went up to them an’ said “Give me a fuss puny hoomans!” then she chased a pigeon all feroshus so they knew wot would happen if they didn’t do wot she told them to.

Richard tied us to the olympic railin’s and tried to get us to pose for a photo – we dudzn’t do posing, well, not unless there’s a sausage in it for us. He accidentally got a good photo then we woz careful to put our heads all over the place, then a hu-woman helped us by walking in front of the camera just when we’d posed prop’ly – har har har!!!

We’s had a little wander at the locks – I woz lookin’ our for rats so I’s could show them who woz boss, but mummy Sue sez maybe Brennan’s scared them all away coz he woz so butch!

When we got back, all the hoomans got inside the boat – Lou woz on the sofa, of course! Then mummy Sue sed “hop, do you want to sit here” – oh, course, she woz talkin’ to ME but Gil thought mummy Sue woz talkin’ to HER so she sat down qiock as a flash and sat on MY sofa! She left me a tiny tiny space wot I had to squash into – I’s riskin’ life an’ limb coz I had to use Lou as a pillow. Woz all ok in the end – Gil tickled me ears an’ mumm Sue tickled Lou’s ears so that she didn’t notice me head on her rump!

Me an’ Lou woz lookin all day so we woz hexausted and lay straight down on our sheepskins when we got to the pub. Mummy Sue always carries our beds to the pub coz the pub’s got a hard floor and we’s got to be comfy. But do you know wot, there woz people in the pub wot woz larfin’ at us – I woz all curled up an’ tryin’ to get some kip and people woz pointin and larfin’ – cheek! Mummy Sue sez they’re only jellus. We did gets a bit of sympafy from someone who liked Lou’s tiger brindle and thought that we had soft beds coz we woz so delicate and might rub our fur off on a hard floor. Mummy Sue told them we woz just big wusses – honest, who’s side is she on? Maybe she’s on our side reely coz she got us a hot beef bap and soaked it in stew gravy – woz luvverly but it woz a shame I had to share wif Lou – I coulds have eaten one, two or maybe three all by myself.

Now, for the doggie 'lympic synchronised looking (pairs) should Lou team up wif me or wif Ranger??

When all the humans got as sleepy as us, we’s got in the car to go home. Oh no, the non-doggy people woz comin’ wif us – in our seats! Me an Lou got bundled into the boot – we only had two blankets, two sheepskins and three pillows to lie-on – woz disgraceful but we woz too hexausted to complain so we slept all the way home – then we run inside and slept all night and all day on our proper duvets.

On Sunday we’s went to get Ty – he didn’t want to come home! He didn’t look happy to see us at all, then he ran upstairs to hide! He’s had a luvverly time wif nanny Renia, an’ nanny Renia’s had a luvverly time wif him. She sez he’s the perfec’ hound! Mummy Sue hinsisted that he came home – he didn’t want to but when he got back he woz pleezed to see his duvets and’ his special upstairs bed and his fluffy banket by mummy Sue’s bed an’ his food bowl, an the box of pig’s ears.

He wozn’t home for long – on Monday mummy Sue had to do proper work again so we had to work as well – protectin’ nanny Renia from sqwirrels, again! I thought I’d sorted this wif mummy Sue last week – we Is retired after all. But she sez that times is hard and that we can’t retire on account of a shortfall in our pension hinvestments so we’s got to work part time to make ends meat! Oh allright then – is not fair but I does love meat!

Me olympic album….

I dunno – which is me best side? Wot do you fink?









I's can do me lock-keeper job lyin' down - I's not restin' I just get a better view of the boat's line from here - looks good, Richard....

Now I's can have a rest - boat safely in and ready to go... mind you can't relax too much, ypou cannever tell how much they forget over winter.

Oooh nooo, there's a human on my sofa - I's got to use Lou as a pillow - oooh noooo!

I s'pose hoomans have their uses.....

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 11 March, 2011

Thursday 8th March

Last Week

Six hounds on deck - woz never 7 coz Ty's to scared to look. Mummy Sue sez there's always a doggy bottom in the picture - why can't we have six doggy faces?

I’s bin qwite busy since I last rote me diary. Mummy sue sez  “get up you lazy lot” she sez “spring is springing – time to stop hibernatin”

Hibernatin’ – we’s not hibernatin’, we’s retired, we’s ‘sposed to be like this all the time. But there’s no hescape when mummy Sue’s got a bee in her bonnet so me an’ Lou got hauled out for long walks in the countryside. Ty duzn’t have to come coz he’s still lame – so when me and Lou are bein’ bundled into the car he’s bundling himself up in mummy Sue’s duvet. On Wednesday we’s gone back to the first ever walk I dun when I came to live here. I walked all nice wif mummy Sue an’ Lou did big rummaging. Now, when I’s in trainin’ class, mummy Sue wants me to walk ‘heel free’, but when I’s out on walks she wants me to rummage like Lou – hu-mums, there’s no pleasin’ them! I did have a little run after a wabbit – that woz hexcitin’ – tho’ I woz cery careful not to catch it in case it bit back! I ‘ad a tiny rummage before goin’ back to mummy Sue – she sez I’s a mummy’s boy through an’ through.

Mummy Sue sed that Lou could give me rummaging lessons, but she sed I musn’t copy Lou when she’s showing cheeky Westie dogs who’s boss….

I’s hexcelled in dog trainin’ this week – we did the “go to bed” command – I woz much better at goin’ to bed than the collies wot just want to race round bein’ helpful. Bossy Barbara wot runs the class woz impressed – she sed to the bouncy collies “see ‘go to bed’ must be eezy peezy if Lynx can do it” –  cheek! I done “touch” and “send away” too, tho my favrit is ‘go to bed’ – I woz so good at it I just done ‘go to bed’ wotever mummy Sue woz tellin’ me to do. In the end I sed “tell you wot, mummy Sue, shall I just stay in my bed so’s you can rest your voice”……

Coz it’s spring, mummy Sue is eatin’ ice cream – I loves ice cream but is hard to get some coz I can’t open the freezer door. But Ty came to the rescue – I thought that if I licked mummy Sue’s cornetto just a little bit then she’d just give me the cone. But mummy Sue was despirit for ice cream so she pretended she hadn’t seen me an’ carried on eatin’. Ty had a quiet word wif me, he sez “bruv, you need some serious slobber before she’ll let go o’ that treet”. He went up to mummy Sue’s chair like he woz goin’ to give her a nice cuddle then quick as flash we give the cornetto a huge slobbery lick. Mummy Sue sed “ughhh” but she woz too soppy to throw the cone away so Ty got the last quarter – see, crime always pays. Coz we got no passports, Ty don’t need to learn more langwidges but he’s says that he’s got a hitalian aria to sing…..

“Just one cornetto, it’s not enuff, delishus ice cream, is luvly stuff,

I needs two, deer mummy sue, get me another, and I’ll love yoooooo”

The potential olympic synchronised lookin' team getting into formation....

The weekend

Mummy Sue and Richard left us all by ourselves on Saturday and I slept on their bed all day reely missed them. But guess wot, GUESS WOT, they’s bought me four new trees! They’s planted in the big field and I’s so hexcited – coz now I’s got extra things to wee on and sumtimes wabbits and whatnot hide behind trees so we can have a proper hadventure lookin’ for them. Mummy Sue sez we’s got to be careful and we got to run round the new tress and and not headfirst into them – sorry, mummy Sue, I duzn’t understand the point of that at all…..

OK, last weekend I’ll admit I woz a bit lonely wifout me pack, but mummy Sue’s just gone too far….. On Sunday we’s got on the boat wif Ty an’ Lou, so far so good; THEN two more hounds came – ooh it woz Ranger and Miffy – I qwite fancies Miffy; THEN two mad spaniels, Max an’ Hugo turned up. Huh, no chance of bein’ lonely today then. I woz worried that there’s be hardly any room on deck, but woz ok coz the spaniels is ‘space-saving’ dogs wot fitted underneaf us hounds like them nest o’ table thingies. Spaniels do talk a lot – Max went “rooooooo” all day long, then Ranger sang along wif the chorus – wot a racket!

Me an’ Bren woz brilliant at synchronised lookin’ last weekend so I thought it should be a new ‘lympic sport for hounds. It wood be so hexcitin – like there’s the solo look, the duo and the team – we’s wood win paws down! Is got to be new for 2012, coz not all ‘lympic stadiums can take the boats wot is essential for the sport!

We went to the ‘lympics today and Richard tried to get a photo of us there, but I woz feelin’ very pafetic. I woz walking along when all of a sudden me leg wozn’t working prop’ly so I walked slower and slower then I stopped. Mummy Sue came and sed “poor poor Lynx” – “that’s more like it”, I thought, then she rubbed me leg better. I gots lots of sympafy on account of me hobblin along and looking sad – oh course, I wozn’t hobblin’ when we woz doing fun stuff, like chargin’ round the garden.

The team at the 'lympics - we's goin' to need smart 'lympic coats for the opening ceremony (tho mummy Sue sez that dog teams isn't invited - huh?).

But scared boy Ty got the most sympafy – he woz looking tragic all day long  – he woz the most mizrable hound I’s ever seen – he woz too scared to do weein’, which is the best bit about bein’ a boy dog. Miffy liked Ty lots and tried to do duvet cuddles wif him but he woz too scared to take hadvantage – silly boy!

The humans left us at lunchtime – they looked at us, then the spaniels – we woz getting on reely reely well – the spaniels woz doin’ spaniel stuff and we woz doin’ hound stuff – hokay dokay! But they decided to lock the spaniels away in the front of the boat and us hounds at the back (wif the sofa, of course). We’s all settled nicely – first me an’ Lou woz on the sofa, then me an’ Ranger woz on the sofa – uh oh, Lou wozn’t too happy wif that; nice Miffy stayed well out of it on her duvet an’ Ty just hid in the corner on his duvet. We reelly need a bigger sofa so that me, Lou and Ranger can share. The spaniels didn’t like bein’ locked away – they complained the whole time – they’s got too much energy and us hounds never got a wink of sleep all day long.

We gots lucky tho – we had to stay on the boat coz the rest’rant woz too posh for hounds – WOT? But it wozn’t too posh to mess up the food so we got a big doggie-bag of leftovers – woz pork skin wot hadn’t been crisped up prop’ly and it still had bristles sticking out of it – yum yum yum!

This week…

I woz well hexhausted when we got home from the boat – we duzn’t have a sofa at home but our duvets looked lushus. But we’d hardly been asleep for 12 hours when mummy Sue and Richard bundled us into the car and left us wif Nanny Renia. Mummy Sue woz doin’ proper work so we had to work too – protectin’ nanny Renia from skwirrels. But I is retired – I’s had a long chat wif mummy Sue about it so we had a proper rest for the rest of the week – we slept and we snoozed and we sunbathed then we snoozed some more – ummmmm – woz luvverly.

It woz Ty’s turn to go to dog trainin’ on Tuesday but he’s still lame, so Richard took Lou to agility instead. Mummy Sue and Richard woz convinced that Lou would like agility, but no, she thought it woz a big bother and them 6″ jumps is way too high, not like the garden wall wot we jumps over at home wot is 2′ 6″ high. Wot Lou did enjoy woz bossing all the other dogs and showin’ them who woz in charge – we knows she dun this reely well coz she bossed us around when she got home – she’s one sassy lady!

Auntie Greygal, that’s Ranger and Miffy’s mum, sez my ritin’ is gettin’ much better, “well, I does live in Surrey now, dahling” I sed…..

Me weekend holeeday snaps….

I likes to keep an eye on fings when we're cruising....

Ranger an' Lou - Ranger's lookin' sad coz the humans woz eatin' all day long and we hardly has nuffink, 'cept for hot chikkin and leftover pork rinds - 'snot fair!

Lou an' Ranger doin' synchronised lookin' - could be a new olympic sport.....

And a close-up - they's a handsome pair....

There could be a solo synchronised lookin' event - Miffy could get a medal....

Miffy an' Ranger heard mummy Sue opening a plastic bag in the cabin.....

Oooh, is it food in that bag? Sorry Ranger and Miffy - it wozn't!

Poor Ty just lay on his duvet an' worried 'bout stuff - he's such a scaredy boy but at least he likes his boat duvet - is extra fluffy for wusses....

Lou got a bit fed up wif all these hounds on her territory...

Max the spaniel - see - they's just little enuff to walk underneaf us!

Me doin' me lock-keeper work at Old Ford Lock - I's can supervise prop'ly from up here... BW are looking for volunteer lockies but I reckon a lockie should be paid big stakes.

"Mind yer line Mummy Sue, you needs to come away from that bank or the bywash will catch you" - how did she ever manage wifout me hinstructions?

Happy Days! Greygal, Ranger and Miffy enjoyin' the view at Old Ford Lock - they's could relax coz I's in charge o' lockin'

All good in that lock....

An' a quick check on the other side...

All aboard.....

Hugo the spaniel - much better view when there's no giant hounds in the way!

So cute - I luves you Miffy!

Mummy Sue luvs Ranger - she kept giving him big cuddles - is ok tho coz I know she luvs me more.....

Just catching a few zzzzzzz's

Even spaniels has to stop movin' sometimes!

Ranger lives wif five other hounds so he's used to bein' used as a pillow!

Ummmm, comfee rump Ranger!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Boat Blog: There and back again….

Posted by indigodream on 10 March, 2011

Sunday 6th March

Too busy photographing hounds, so here's one of the few human photos - stocked up with coffee, just in case you were worried about the crew's welfare on board!

With a major stoppage about to block the section between Bow Locks and Old Ford lock on the Lee Navigation, we were determined to have one last cruise to the Olympics and Viewtube before we set off on the odyssey at the beginning of April. It’s big stoppage – there’s more information here – I was amused the computer enhanced photograph of the lovely new bridge/towpath – superimposed on the existing manky graffitied wall alongside!

Our major aim for the day was to get as many greyhounds on board as we could and see if we could get a quality photo of them against the background of the Olympic Stadium.

As the annoying adverts say “need more greyhounds? Who yah gonna call?” – Greygal!

Well, actually she tweeted me, but it was another serendipitous meeting – three wasn’t half enough hounds for a good photo so she brought Ranger and Miffy to swell the ranks. Old friends Neil and Jenny also came along with their two mad spaniels, Max and Hugo. Neil and Jenny’s daughter, Hannah, and Greygal’s husband Andy had both virtuously stayed at home to work – a decision I’m sure that they regretted later! The dogs got on very well – the spaniels were indefatigable – they were full of enthusiasm and particularly enjoyed bounding around under the greyhounds – the greyhounds bore it with dignity! Lynx will no doubt tell their tale in his diary.

I made a huge contribution to the zen philosophy today by washing the floor before the 7 dogs and 5 humans walked all over it!

It was a very chilly day but it was wonderfully dry – just nice for a winter cruise. We set off up Limehouse Cut at 11am with warming mugs of coffee and the handwarmers on the helm. We took merciless advantage of Greygal’s skill at the helm and left her on the tiller for most of the trip. I reckon she knows Indigo Dream as well as her TWO narrowboats Greyhound and Henry H!

The humans posed nicely but impossible to get seven doggies to face the camera at the same time!

Once again we enjoyed the contrasting scenery – this area is definitely on the up, yet there are still a few derelict canalside buildings overlooking the canal – there’s not really enough time to get them smartened up for Summer 2012 unless they get a move on now. I’m very surprised that the owners haven’t taken advantage of the local gentrification.

We stopped off near the northern outfall, just below and round the corner from Old Ford Lock. We offloaded the dogs, and our extended pack was the cause of much pointing, whispering and smiles from the abundant walkers on the path. We didn’t quite make it as far as Viewtube – Lynx pulled up lame and was being very pathetic so we turned back early – thought not before we got some olympic hound photos. I’m not sure whether we got a better photo than the one we took last year – the hounds absolutely refused to pose nicely! The human pack got as far as the main information boards, which Neil, in particular, found fascinating.

After rejecting the pricey menus in Islington last week, we had something of an about turn this week when we booked a table in Foreman’s for lunch. They have fine moorings, so we tied up right outside the restaurant, locked the spaniels into the front cabin, piled the greyhounds into the back cabin and headed to the restaurant. Unlike our last visit, the full lunch menu was available today and we enjoyed immaculate service at our table overlooking the canal. We enjoyed the drinks and the desserts were delicious but the pork main course was disappointing (the fish main courses were fine). We didn’t want to make a fuss in the presence of our guests but we did email them some feedback and got a very courteous reply from the director. In the light of that, we’ll give it another go next time we pass by – which probably won’t be until October/November unless we make a special (and lengthy) trip up the Regent’s Canal and down Duckett’s Cut.

We had a leisurely lunch – oops! Too late to do the East London ring then. No-one seemed to mind very much – a contented somnolence had overtaken the crew, making the prospect of locking distinctly unattractive. We cruised up to Hackney in order to get a water’s edge view of the rest of the Olympic Park and show our guests the wonders of Hackney, which is much more attractive from the water then you’d imagine! Greygal’s been here before so we just tied her to the helm (again!) while Richard pointed out the landmarks and I made toasted teacakes with jam and clotted cream (yes, on top of our rich lunch – well, it was cold, we needed the calories to keep warm….).

Almost a pose! The stadium hasn't changed so much since but the surrounding area has been cleared of stuff so there's a much better view..

Greygal picked her spot and turned us round just above the Princess of Wales pub and we headed back for Limehouse. Now, Indigo Dream is a powerful boat but we always slow down for moored boats, honest! But imagine my surprise when I got a call on my mobile from an unfamiliar number complaining that we’d rocked his boat and his food was all over the floor and his tea had spilled all over his trousers. It was Kevin from nb Peace of Pearce, ringing to exchange some good-natured banter  – well, I hope it was good-natured – we had slowed down well in advance of his mooring  🙂 He’d spotted us cruising by a few minutes earlier, well he may have been woken up by the sonic boom as Greygal dropped her out of warp speed, and kindly got in touch. It was great to hear from him – we’ve really enjoyed their company on many and various tideway convoys, and Lou will always love them for giving her and Blue about half a pound of steak at the Barking Creek barbecue!

It reminded me that we had lots of boating friends in London and I was a bit sad to think that once we start out trip up-country then we won’t see them again for months. However, I consoled myself with the fact that Greygal’s got a standing invitation to join us wherever we are, so we won’t get lonely, and there are always our friends cruising the Midlands and new boaters to meet…..

We packed up the boat in record time, having said a sad goodbye to Greygal, Ranger and Miffy – they’re such fine hounds (not Greygal obviously – she’s a fine woman!). We almost swapped dogs – I quite fancied taking Ranger home, Jenny fancied taking Miffy and Greygal would have been happy to offer scaredy Ty a home. We all checked our respective packs very carefully and, with the right hounds in place, set off for home after another exhilarating day’s cruising.

Today’s Trivia:

There’s a derelict shell of an old warehouse overlooking Limehouse Cut (photo below). I’m a bit mystified as to why it hasn’t been either demolished or developed – it must be costing a fortune to scaffold/stabilise that gable end so that it doesn’t fall into the canal. I wondered whether demolition was not an option because of a listing. So I looked up English Heritage’s list of listed buildings. As far as I can make out, the facade is not listed, but as always my research led me down some strange paths…..

Firstly, I found that although the warehouse facade isn’t listed, the lock entrance walls to Limehouse from the Thames have a Grade 2 listing.

Then I found a fascinating photo archive called ‘Viewfinder’ – this link should take you to the ‘Tower Hamlets’ photos but you may need to start a search again – using the drop-down menus for the search seems to give a wider range of results. There were over 900 images just for Tower Hamlets and I was entranced – I’ve had to drag myself away from looking at them!

I was particularly taken by photos of all the barges on the Thames and people out with deckchairs on the beach at Tower Bridge! I love this archive – I spent ages looking a the results for just this small slice of London – check out the contrast between the West India Docks as were and Canary Wharf as is! I couldn’t resist these unique views of Narrow Street (which crosses over Limehouse Lock and overlooks the Thames) either :

Works on Narrow Street

Workers at Narrow Street – check out the cranes….

The Prospect of Whitby – check out the difference between its surrounding then and now (scroll down to the photoblog to see the Prospect of Whitby)

Finally, I found this BW document about the regeneration of Limehouse Cut – there are some great photos which I thought were really old, but the document’s dated 2000. A lot of the planned regeneration has happened, though I’m not sure that the entire vision has been accomplished yet…..


Quite fancy for a manhole cover - not sure what's underneath - probably the sewer..

We are wondering about these sculptures. We know that a whole load of small scale art work has been put in, but is this simply saying that some point on this stone is 10.01m above ordnance datum (AOD)?

Richard thinks that these sculptures were designed by the team from Allies & Morrison, this picture is from a trip with that team last July. Richard needs to make some inquiries!

The shapely 'skate wing' of the aquatic centre had been somewhat obscured by the additional wings of seating put in for spectators. The red 'tower' is 1/3rd of the mayoral artwork and viewing platform - the ArcelorMittal orbit

Incongruous 'bus' shelter - on a footpath!

Abundant toadstools growing alongside the footpath to Viewtube - entrance so some faerie realm where Boris and the other politicians live maybe? 🙂

Looking down to the salmon smokery from Foreman's viewing gallery....

Great view from Foreman's restaurant balcony - this is bound to be a popular spot during the games...

Another view of the Olympic site from Foreman's balcony - still a lot of building left to do but we reckon they'll be finished well on time....

And the best view of all - Indigo Dream on Foreman's moorings....

Housing developments well under way - wonder if they're got buyers/tenants for these flats yet?

Energy Centre tower looking like it is functioning

The view down to Old Ford Lock with the turn to Ducketts Cut on the right...

But it is art? Not in our book, but it did lead to a debate about if Banksy defaced Indigo Dream with one of his graffiti's, would we be outraged and clean it off or would we sell her to the highest bidding art collector 🙂

The area's gradual gentrification hasn't reached all of the old canalside buildings... though the building on the left may be housing an exhibition next year?

This building near Bow Locks is all boarded up - we think it'll be demolished and replaced...

This canalside company is taking its security very seriously!!!

The big guns......

The only other boat on the move today - one may have passed by while we were at lunch but the canal was very very quiet....

I'm really surprised that this building is still derelict - it's falling apart and must be costing money just to stop it from falling into the canal. I wonder whether it's listed?

The Shard is visible for miles around - it will be a distinctive feature when it's finished....

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Odds Blog: Is that a lock?

Posted by indigodream on 9 March, 2011

Saturday 5th March

How do you know when boating had become an obsession?

Well, when you keep looking out for navigable waters and saying “is that a lock?” when you’re meant to be concentrating on driving, of course!

Looking downstream to the medieval bridge at East Farleigh

We had a little trip down to Maidstone in Kent today to pick up some new fruit trees for our field (which we are gradually converting to an orchard/vineyard eventually). The nursery was near the delightful village of East Farleigh – a compact settlement nestling comfortably at the bottom of a Medway valley, surmounted by orchards marching neatly up the surrounding slopes and graced with many interesting features, including a unique Victorian water pumping station (now converted to office/flats) and yes, a LOCK…..

We collected our trees from Keepers Nursery – we’d ordered them back in November with the intention of planting them over winter but then December landed with vengeance so we delayed collection until the ground was a little less hard. We liked this nursery because it has a good range of named varieties so we could be a bit scientific about which trees we chose for flavour and to suit our micro-climate. We were delighted with the service – the son of the business came out to give us the pre-prepared trees and he was charming – I was impressed by his committment to the business and to keeping it small and traditional. I hope he and his family make a success of it. I told him about my charity jam-making and he generously gave me four rhubarb plants for the cause. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I made 350 pots of jam from the fruit in the garden last year – most of which went to Greyhoundhomer, where it raised around £500.

I’ll have to get the rhubarb into the ground soon – I may get a crop this year, maybe two. My existing rhubarb is already 6″ high – I hope it hasn’t spouted too soon – the frost will scupper the May crop if it has. Anyway, the orchard now has a quince, an apricot, a crabapple and a cherry in addition to the damson, greengage, cooking apple, cider apple and cherry already there. I wonder whether we’ll ever get to eat a home-grown cherry? We’ve had 3 cherry trees that have been fruiting for five years or more – I doubt whether we’ve beaten the birds to more than 10 cherries in all that time! We’ve also got another blackcurrant and a couple of grapevines.

Yet another type of paddle gear - very well constructed gates here...

So how many pots of jam will I make in 2011? Too soon to tell yet but I certainly have enough empty jars – I’m just waiting to see whether I’ll get a harvest to match!

Anyway, back to East Farleigh. We parked up in the train station car park and walked back to look at the bridge and the lock below. The bridge over the Medway is very narrow and it’s 2-way without traffic controls which calls for a great deal of goodwill between drivers – bit like the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct then :-). The bridge itself is ancient – 14th century according to Waterscape’s walking guide. It has beautfiul stone arches overlooking a wide weir and accompanying lock. There is a stretch of mooring upstream the bridge , presumably run by the East Farleigh Cruising Club – the moorings are mainly occupied by cruisers but with a couple of narrowboats. There’s a boatyard here with a mobile crane – a cruiser had just been craned into the water and was heading off as we arrived – how we wished we were cruising there too! There’s a potted history of the village on the Farleigh’s History Society’s website.

Alongside the medieval bridge is the incongruous Victorian water pumping station – it’s very obviously built in the Egyptian style, strongly reminiscent of the temple at Karnak. I don’t know what possessed the architect to uset his design back in 1860, but it certainly adds a quirky interest to the scenery.

We walked down to inspect the lock. It has the typical Environment Agency signage – prominent and informative and the lock gates had a smooth balance, making then surprisingly easy to move given their size. A swan took great umbrage at our visit and headed into the lock at speed in order to hiss at us and peck at my foot – thank heavens we’d left the dogs at home (the car was full of trees!).

View downstream of the lock...

We were well-satisfied with our little bobble along the Medway and sighed with regret – we’d love to cruise it, but it seems unlikely that we’ll ever bring Indigo Dream here – the cost might be prohibitive. The cost of bringing her here on a low loader or, of course, the cost to our nerves of cruising here via the Thames Estuary (though we’d be up for it in a convoy!).

It was lovely day, so we had an impromptu stop at another garden centre just outside East Farleigh. Once again we were served by the son  of the business who was courteous and had interesting tales to tell. Again, it was great to meet a young man who was so enthusiastic and committed to the family firm. We added some more decorative shrubs to our collection – if we’d had a trailer we might have been bringing home a larger than life cast iron sculpture of Diana the huntress to which we took a fancy. Sadly they didn’t have any cast iron greyhounds or we might have loaded the car to the axles to bring one home!

Picking up trees and having a wander through the lovely Kentish countryside was very relaxing, a pub lunch with some local cider would have rounded the afternoon off nicely but we had to spend the rest of the afternoon planting trees. We only managed to get four into the ground before dark. I’ll have to do some more during the week because, typically, we’re dropping our domestic responsibilities in favour of cruising tomorrow….


The natives are NOT friendly!

I wonder if these are the people who made this lock gate? It was made in 1987.

Isn't that amazing - the egyptian water works building

Interesting signs - didn't see the hogweed but it might still be dormant at the moment...

The low arch accommodating the footpath - Richard had to mind his shoulders rather than his head!

The navigable arch doesn't look that high either!

A view across the fertile Medway valley with East Farleigh nestling close to the river..

See the old oast house - I don't think that hops are processed here anymore but the buildings make a fine feature....

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 2 March, 2011

Friday 25th February

Ooooohhhh, I’s so lonely, Lou and Ty is havin’ a holeeday at nanny Renia’s. Now I knows that I’s got mummy Sue and  Richard but is not the same as having me girlfriend Lou and me little bruv Ty around. Nuffink is right at all, oooooohhhh.

I's too lonely to rummage so I'll just lie here and sigh...

I’s been in the car this morning – I norm’ly share the back seat wif Lou. Now me an’ Lou has got an understanding – if I moves then she causes a commotion, and if she moves then I causes a commotion. But today I had the whole back seat to myself but I couldn’t get comfy at all – in the end I had to curl up in a tiny ball on my side of the seat and sigh.

Then we got to the boat – woz ok, I qwite likes the boat but rummagin’ around an’ doin’ mischief by meself isn’t the same so I just wandered up and down the mooring pontoon and sighed….

Then some new people arrived – they woz luvverly but I wozn’t about stop me sighing just coz o’ that, oh no, I laid all pafetic on the sofa and let me head droop off the edge and I sighed again. Result! Marian, who’s also blonde, I’s very lucky wif blondies, stroked my ears and gave me a hooge fuss “poor poor Lynx” she said so I just flopped back and rested me head in her lap, showed her me best sad face and sighed again. All the new people thought I was dyin’ of depression so they all said “poor poor Lynx” and gave me a big fuss.

Then I saw the look on mummy Sue’s face – do you know what, I think she thinks I’ve been layin’ it on a bit thick!

We’s done lots of cruising today and I got to walk on the towpath an’ wee all over the place – was ok to wee today coz mummy Sue didn’t have a sample pot wif her. Wozn’t the same without Lou though – she wees first, then I wee on her wee coz it smells to lushus. Oh, sorry, was that too much information.

I pottered around at all the locks and then I decided to lay on my sheepskin in the middle of the deck. I likes it on deck coz I can keep a close eye on mummy Sue and tell her how to drive the boat – is an important job. She done some elegant lock entries fanks to my supervison! But I’s so tired – they woz cruising all day and I never got no sleep at all, none! I’d complain to the union ‘cept there isn’t one for downtrodden hounds like me.

Got to keep an eye on the boat....

When everyone left I tried my act on mummy Sue and she crumbled  – “poor poor Lynx” she says “what’s to be done?”. I lifted my head pafetically “I ‘spect I could just about force down some hot chikkin” I says, so mummy Sue hand-fed me some chikkin and rubbed my ears “poor poor Lynx” she sez; “feed me faster woman” I sez, oops, did I say that out loud?

After supper, mummy Sue and daddy Richard hopped onto MY sofa – mummy Sue sed it was so I could have some nice sofa cuddles. Now, me houndie friends, here’s the dilemma, how can I get sofa cuddles without having to give up more than half me sofa to the humans? I sighed and I huffed and I puffed and ‘ventually daddy Richard went to bed so I could stretch out a bit better. Mummy Sue hung round on my sofa for ages after that, but she did rub my ears for a whole hour so maybe I could forgive her….

Saturday 26th February

I’s had a busy day yesterday so I slept all night long on my sofa – was luvverly! It woz all rainin’ in the morning but I had a wander round wif daddy Richard and had a last wee on everythin’ so that the local hounds would know I’s the boss. Only there wozn’t any other hounds reelly – I woz still an only dog. I’s put my sad face on and got mummy Sue to feed me some more chikkin to cheer me up.

Then guess wot happened! Greyhound Brennan came to see me – I likes Brennan, he’s a bit of a wussy boy, like Ty, only Brennan’s a lot braver than Ty. Brennan and me look like bruvvas, ‘specially when we both got our smart red coats on, but we’s not reelly  – we share a granddad or a great-granddad or something like that. Is confoosing coz he shares a great-grandad or sumfik wif Ty too. Did you know that Brennan’s mum is called Sue as well. We’s one big happy family!

Mad or wot! That's water's freezin'

I woz so glad to see Brennan – we woz a pack so we woz able to do wot packs do – we’s ate a bit of chikkin, then we laid on our beds, and on the sofa, and we stayed up on deck looking handsome and watching out for int’restin’ stuff on the path. Of course, I had to tell mummy Sue how to drive the boat. Me and Brennan did synchronised lookin’ – sometimes he woz looking to port and I woz lookin’ to starboard (we’s proper boating hounds); then we swapped sides, then sometimes we both had to look the same way coz there woz something reelly important that needed looking at. We didn’t do synchronised weeing coz Brennan woz a little bit like Ty in that department and only went when he woz desp’rit.

I’s had a big drama today – me and Brennan woz standing by a lock just mindin’ our own bizness when a ginormous rat climbed out of the lock right under my nose. Well, I had to grab it quick, but it bit me, then it bit me again and hung off me chin – owwwwww! Owwwww, owwwwwww, help help help, owwwww. I woz dancin’ around wif this hoooge rat hanging off me chin – mummy Sue woz whacking it, but it wouldn’t let go – owwwww! Me friend Brennan is the best – the rat loosened his grip for a second so Brennan grabbed it and sorted it out for me. Our mummies Sue woz all of a dither and woz after a nice calmin’ cup of tea but then my mummy Sue realised I woz drippin’ blood from me chin. I woz qwite happy to wipe me chin on the furniture and on mummy Sue’s clothes, but the hinsisted on chasin’ me round wif a bowl of antiseptic and cotton wool. Me chin got washed and soaked an’ I got one of me big pink antibiotics.

We’s been to two pubs today – Brennan’s not been to the pub before so I had to show him what to do. We both laid down on our sheepskins, just a little bit in the way so that everyone had to stop an give us a fuss. We got’s lots of attention – everyone sed we woz beautiful, and elegant, tho one cheeky man sed he’d lost money on me – huh! Then mummy Sue sed “she wouldn’t be surprised” – aaw mummy Sue, you’s s’posed to be on my side.

I's soopervisin' - is himportant job...

Me an’ Brennan woz allowed into my mummy Sue’s favrit boating pub – the Grapes, but Brennan’s hu-sis got banned coz she’s too young so we went back to the boat for a snooze. Brennan ate his supper, then I let him eat mine as well, then he went for a snuggle on the big fluffy duvet at the front of the boat. Brennan’s mummy Sue and hu-sis Ellie sat on my sofa and I cuddled right up to them so they could rub my ears. They’re superior ear-rubbers – I squiggled about an’ let them rub me ears for half an hour solid. They loves my ears – tho’ I had to give my mummy Sue a look coz Ellie wanted to steal my ears! My mummy Sue sed that if they wanted my ears they’d have to steal all of me! That woz fine by Ellie 🙂 Woz very tempting – me an Brennan is best friends an’ Brennan is very brave when he’s wif me. But my mummy Sue looked all sad – she sed if I ran went off to live wif Brennan then she wouldn’t have any hounds left to cuddle. So I decided to stay, but I got my mummy Sue to get Brennan’s mummy Sue to promise to come back wif me best friend and do ear rubs again.

I woz a bit sad after the mummies Sue went off but then my mummy Sue came back wif her friend Carrie – Carrie’s dead soppy so I snuggled up to her on the sofa and got her to rub my ears for another hour or so – woz luvverly…..

Sunday 27th February

I woz extra-specially tired last night so I curled up on my sofa under a big blanket and slept all night long. We’s had a nice lie-in then mummy Sue took me to the park for a walk. Woz not the best walk – I’s got attacked by a brindle concrete block called a staffie wot went for me throat. Lucky I’s so quick, I’s danced out of the way but I got slobber all on me neck – ughh. Mummy Sue wozn’t impressed but the staffie woz runnin’ around and his hu-dad wozn’t doin’ anyfink about it so we only had a short walk.

Almost there - where's me crew to open this lock gate?

I didn’t mind too much – I woz still tired and had a good snooze in the car on the way home – I gots the whole back seat to meself again adn this time I stretched out proper. It didn’t last, we got to nanny Renia’s and look, there’s Lou and Ty, hello hello hello. Lou sniffed an’ sniffed an’ sniffed me bottom, just to check I woz still me, so I sniffed hers to make sure she woz still her – is important. Then we got on wif ignoring each other like we oosually do.

When we got in the car Lou wanted to get on the back seat wif me, but it’s mine, that’s the whole point of being an only dog! I give a little growl and got told off big time, I’s got to share now I’s back wif the pack.

Once we got home we all got on our duvets and compared notes –

“We chased foxes and skwirrels round the garden” sez Lou

“I caught a rat” sez I

“Cool” sed Ty, he don’t need to know that the rat caught me and that I sqweeled like a girl….

“We had chikkin and mince and rice” sez Lou

See, I can do agility stuff....

“I’s had chikkin and…” I sez, hang on, I’s not had half enuff, where’s my mince and rice mummy Sue

“We’s slept on comfy beds all round the house” sez Lou

“I’s slept on the sof…” uh oh

“Wot woz that” sed Lou “did you say you slept on MY sofa..”

Oh deer, I’s got a feeling that me an’ Lou might have a bit of a discussion over who reelly owns the sofa next time we’s go boating. I ‘spect mummy Sue will help us out – ‘specially at 3am when it’s reelly important!

Me an' me new best friend Brennan...

We don't do posing - is b'neath our dignity, unless you've got some liver cake or sim'lar in your pocket...

I cuddled up to Brennan - was nice but the hu-mums kept disturbin' us wif their cameras....

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Boat Blog: Paddington Basin to Limehouse Basin

Posted by indigodream on 1 March, 2011

Saturday 27th February

We had a great night’s sleep in Paddington Basin – it’s remarkably quiet there despite being surrounded by stations and main roads. The buildings that create the Paddington wind tunnel also insulate it from the sounds of the city – it’s a unique spot. The only real noise was the torrential rain, which arrived in the middle of the night and persisted well into the morning.

The slightly damp crew - that's Brennan on the right - the hounds are very alike...

But the weather was irrelevant. Sometimes we have cruising days of such perfection that I can only describe them as diamond days – ones that will sparkle in the memory for years to come. Today was such a day – we started with a fine crew of friends, then serendipitous meetings of the waters added more good company as we went along.

Sadly we didn’t take many photos, though we know that Ellie took a load on her super-duper camera, so we may add some more later…

The day started with the arrival of friends Sue, Tony, daughter Ellie and greyhound Brennan, who first came cruising with us last October. Lynx was delighted to see another greyhound – he’s really moped without his pack. At the same time, old friend Neil arrived and we set off down the basin. At first it was hard to persuade the crew to leave the warmth of the cabin and see the sights from the sodden deck! As always we enjoyed the lavish vista of the pool at Little Venice – such a contrast to Paddington Basin in its deep cutting of high-rise buildings. The Maida Vale tunnel provided some shelter from the rain and there we were in Regent’s Park – pretending that we were wealthy enough to live there! The african animals were sensibly ensconced in their dens today, though we did see an enormous warthog yesterday. I’m not sure whether they’re new, but the Snowden Aviary had a flock of pelicans – we’ve never seen them before – they’re much larger than I realised and very smart in their pale pink plumage.

Camden was much busier today with just the right number of appreciative gongoozlers – I was on the helm and responsible for making the immaculate lock entries that our audience expected! It was all fine – after all, I’ve had a bit of practice! I handed over to Richard for the Islington Tunnel though – I still find tunnels quite disorientating when I’m on the helm and the subsequent clanging and banging is just too embarrassing!

Earlier in the day we’d realised that fellow blogger Carrie from nb Blackbird was in the vicinity so we texted her other half, Simon from nb Tortoise, to see if they could come out to play. Simon said he’d cycle to meet us somewhere on the canal. As we approached City Road lock we had one of those magic meetings – Simon was waiting for us as the lock together with Christine from nb Ketura, a veteran of many St Pancras Cruising Club convoys. We moored up above the lock and the entire crew went off in search of a dog-friendly pub. The Narrowboat is not dog-friendly and the menu is rather pricey so we wandered towards Islington to the Duke of Cambridge. What a great pub – it’s dog friendly and has a range of interesting organic brews, including the diet cola! The dogs were immaculately behaved in the pub – it was Brennan’s first time and he took his cue from Lynx – they both relaxed onto their sheepskins and graciously put up with all the attention that they got from the natives! The locals were very kind – they stepped around the hounds without complaint and most stopped to admire or fuss them. The pub does food and we even managed to get a table, but again the menu was a bit pricey so we decamped to the boat for soup, paninis and rugby on the telly!

The willows are greening and the blackthorn are already in flower through London - Spring is definitely on its way...

What a jolly time – the boat was warm with laughter and chatter – we could have sat there all afternoon. I always fret a little when we bring together disparate groups of people, but we found common interests in boating and/or dogs so the conversation flowed freely…

We got moving with great reluctance and sadly said goodbye to Christine, who was going back to nb Ketura moored nearby. The rest of us set off down the next few locks, desperately trying to shake off our post-lunch snooziness. Here the weather helped, with a nippy breeze to sting us awake, though by now the rain had largely stopped.

We worked our way past the crowd of boats at Victoria Park then had a big debate on which way to go next. While the crew dithered, I headed straight down the canal towards Mile End, but suddenly it was all change – we were going for a cruise down Ducketts Cut to have a quick look at the Olympic Stadium before returning to Limehouse in the dark. I had to do a frantic bit of reversing back to the junction but managed a neat turn into the Cut. Sadly the reversing sucked a pile of plastic bags onto the prop so we were soon stopping to inspect the weed hatch. Just as well, in addition to a clogged propeller, the engine bilge contained a substantial amount of water. Our trim had been a bit off all weekend – we put it down to uneven crew distribution but it was probably water sloshing in the bilges.

Considering how full the moorings at Victoria Park are, it’s surprising that was only 1 boat moored on Duckett’s cut – after all, it flanks the same park! This meant that there was plenty of room to stop and clear our prop. Sue B and I left the men with the stricken boat and set off with the hounds to set the next lock. We met the first boat of the day here – a widebeam with a charming be-dreadlocked skipper who reported that the pound between the top and middle lock was very low – he’d had to flush a lock-full of water down just to get between them – a previous boater had left gates/paddles open.

It took ages for Indigo Dream to catch up – it took some time to empty the engine bilge but she finally hove into view. I was getting ready for the lock by closing one gate and was about to cross over to sort the far paddle when we had the drama of the day. An enormous rat climbed out of the lock right under Lynx’s nose with predictable results. Yep, Lynx caught the rat then the rat bit Lynx on the cheek and then clung onto Lynx’s chin while he yowled – luckily he shook the beast off and Brennan the greyhound rather efficiently finished the rat off! I’m sure that Lynx will have something to say about that in his next diary!

Duckett's Cut - deserted!

The onboard crew were quite absorbed by this drama but couldn’t quite see what was going on so it’s no wonder that Richard almost crashed the boat into the lock! We met the second boat of the day at the next lock and by the time we got to the bottom lock, the water in the pound was within half an inch of the towpath – so that’s where all the water had gone!

While the crew locked down, I was busy bathing Lynx’s wounds – he was dripping blood all over the boat and looking quite pitiful, though I think he was more distressed by my attention than by the bites themselves. Fortunately he’s on antibiotics already for his bladder so that should protect him from infection. Interestingly, dogs are immunised against rat-borne Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease in humans) so we didn’t have to worry about that.

We got a magnificent view of the Olympic stadium as we turned out of Duckett’s Cut – many of the workmen’s cabins that had previously obscured the view are gone. The white framework glowed in the vivid light from the sunset’s orange blaze. The Aquatics Centre has suddenly sprouted two wings for spectators which look impressive but does obscure the manta ray roof. It was just light enough for us to get a feel for the site, witness the pace of change on the park ande marvel at the view before we descended into the relative gloom below Old Ford Lock. We headed down Limehouse Cut in full dark. We’ve cruised down Limehouse Cut after dark many times and I’ve always wondered whether we’d encounter trouble down there, but the early evening towpaths were quiet and civilised.

We had the last of our serendipitous meetings at Limehouse when we met up with Carrie from nb Blackbird at the Grapes pub. The dogs were made very welcome and suddenly everyone in the back room was talking greyhounds and boats. Lynx and Brennan were stars – Brennan has now become a pub dog and I think that his family are looking forward to many more visits to dog-friendly hostelries! We all settled down in front of the pub’s roaring fire to wait for Tony and Richard, who’d gone off to do the car shuffle. Sadly our plans were scuppered – the dogs were very welcome in the pub but teenager Ellie was not. The barman fretted until she left – I went back to the boat with Sue B, Ellie and the hounds. Lynx was a complete tart – lying prone on the sofa while Sue and Ellie stroked his ears. Now, Lynx has particularly soft ears and stroking them is peculiarly addictive, but I was in serious danger of losing my third hound – Sue and Ellie were completely besotted and threatening to steal him away. I don’t think Brennan would have minded – he’s quite brave when he’s with Lynx!

The start of the sunset....

Tony and Richard finally came back with the cars – they’d had a slow slog across London and we said a particularly sad goodbye to Sue, Tony, Ellie and Brennan – we could find eateries that were either dog-friendly or teenage-friendly but not both, so they decided to head for home. We joined Neil, Carrie and Simon in the Grapes for some food and dodgy but delicious cloudy cider. Neil headed for home at 10pm-ish and the rest of us headed back to Indigo Dream for some more wine and chat. Of course, Lynx promptly cuddled up to Carrie to have his ears rubbed some more! Simon and Carrie are simply delightful – we could have talked all night but we were worried that with weekend works on London transport they might not get home, so they left at 11pm. They could have stayed the night, but I doubted whether gentle Carrie would have had the heart to chuck Lynx off the sofa so that she and Simon could have a bed!

Sunday 27th February

We had such a good day yesterday and went to bed full of cheer and contentment – but the fresh air wiped us out and we had another great night’s sleep – even Lynx slept through ’til 9am!

We were all set for a snoozy morning when we realised that we were due to join Richard’s mum for her birthday celebration. I’d thought it was the evening but we found out it was lunchtime so we had to scurry! I took Lynx for a walk while Richard packed the boat up. Poor Lynx, he’s had a few too many adventures this weekend, a nasty little staffie went for him in the park. Luckily Lynx danced out of the way and came away with slobber on his neck rather than a bite. The staffie’s owner seemed a bit simple – he didn’t put his dog on a lead, so it was me and Lynx who had to cut short our walk and leave the dog park. I think that we’ve met the staffie before but luckily on different sides of the fence – Lou and the staffie hated each other on sight and it was a noisy encounter (saved from mayhem by the fence).

The sky was ablaze as we turned onto the Lea Navigation...

We picked Lou and Ty up on our way home – the pack reunion was boisterous though Lou gave Lynx a thorough inspection before he was accepted back into the pack. We dashed home and changed into our gladrags – ohhh noooo, we were back in civilisation…..

Navigation Note:

Sadly there is a long stoppage on the Lee Navigation between Bow Locks and Old Ford Lock from 7th March to 26th June. Duckett’s cut and the Lee Navigation above Old Ford are open, as are Limehouse Cut and Bow Locks for transit to/from Bow Creek.

So we may try to get a last cruise up to Viewtube and the Olympics next weekend, but that’ll be it until we come back in October/November – shame! I’m hoping that it just a temporary stoppage and that there won’t be any more moves to block the waterway up to and during the games themselves.

The stadium's coming along nicely!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »