Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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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....

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