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Archive for April, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 5

Posted by indigodream on 27 April, 2011

Saturday 23rd April

Kings Langley (Home Park Lock) to Berkhamstead (above Bridge 143)

nb Heathen and Indigo Dream waiting below Kings Langley Lock - the start of a good day's locking...

We had a very relaxed start to the day – it was very comfortable on board and the hounds were very tired after yesterday’s adventures. We’re still experiencing a total lack of urgency on this odyssey – prompted in part by the fact that we’ve got another long weekend to come. After that we need to do some serious calculations to make sure that we’re in place for the BCN challenge.

We set off sometime mid-morning and bobbled along the canal – many of the locks along here are slow to fill – usually because of terribly leaky bottom gates. Once again we met several boats on their way south – I suddenly realised that they weren’t necessarily royalists but on their way to the Cavalcade at Little Venice! There were few boats going north but we were fortunate to meet up with nb Heathen at our first lock of the day (Kings Langley lock) and we shared locks with them right up to Hemel Hempstead. They were a super-efficient husband and wife locking team and our trip went very smoothly indeed.

The hounds mainly stayed on board today – many of the locks had roads nearby and we wanted to keep Lynx out of the intense sunshine – I’ve probably mentioned this before – he’s got an inflammatory eye condition which is made worse by intense sun. We’re managing it with anti-inflammatory eye drops and it’s under control, but this is the worse weather for his eyes and he does love sunbathing! Of course, you can buy cool shades for hounds – Richard’s been doing some research and that may be an option as it’s a lifelong condition. I can just see Lynx on bright winter days with his iridescent red collar, cool red coat and shades – the mind boggles!

Lou and Lynx did get out at the more rural locks, but they just headed straight for the nearest soft spot in the shade and lay down. Ty came out for the odd bobble but he mainly stayed on his bed and worried. I think he worried a lot less today, so we may finally be near the right dose of valium, and, of course, he may finally be getting used to the boat.

There were greater contrasts in the landscape today with quintessentially neat towns, bits of living industry and the constant recycling of land as old industries are demolished and replace with housing. There is a lovely stretch above Kings Langley lock with a scenic lagoon that is a mini-Tixall wide! It reminded me of our exchange of prop-clearing stories with nb No Problem and nb Rock and Roll – George has a great anecdote about some prop debris that he picked up at Tixall Wide – we were all astonished that there was anything to be picked up in such a famously scenic place!

The 'lagoon' above Kings Langley lock...

As we cruised through the lagoon we saw the crew of nb Heathen pointing at something on the offside – we assumed it was a bird but we couldn’t see it ourselves. We found out later that they’d spotted was another large terrapin basking on the side – these reptiles are obviously defying the odds if they’ve survived the harsh winter.

Nearby, cunningly hidden by the trees was a large working scrapyard with its ‘grab’ shifting heaps of metal around – “scrap never sleeps” I thought, what with the price of metals going through the roof (or off the roof with the widespread theft of lead!).

A busy road crosses the canal at Red Lion lock so the dogs were firmly confined, however the adjacent stream/bywash looked perfect for doggie paddling. I was looking forward to the stretch between Red Lion and Nash Mills locks – the development of the mill site was the subject of a ‘today’s trivia’ on last year’s odyssey and I was interested to see how things had changed. Well, the site has suddenly gone from silent dereliction to bustling building site in less than a year – the old canalside mill buildings have been totally demolished, the site is largely cleared and there are half-built apartments going up all around. I believe that planning permission was granted for a new footbridge over the canal but there’s no sign of that yet. However, there is a little stub of water which I haven’t noticed before – that might be the start of a little canal branch which will eventually circle around the new development. The planning brochure for the development is well worth a look – it has great photos of how the site used to look when the old paper mills were still intact.

Note: The pound between Red Lion and Nash Mills locks is very shallow – including the lock moorings below Nash Mills Locks – make your crew walk(!) between locks and wait in the centre if you can.

A view down from Nash Mills lock - that development on the left is coming on apace...

We enjoyed our trip through Hemel Hempstead though we lost our most excellent locking partners above lock 65 – they were doing what we’ve been threatening to do for years – stop and explore the charming surrounds of Apsley basin. But we moved on , enjoying the sheer englishness of Boxmoor Lock and the adjoining cricket ground. We’ve been this way many times and never thought we were in danger from flying balls, but nonetheless I fished a cricket ball out of the lock and Richard chucked it back onto the ground. Now, that’s an interesting thing – cricket balls float – being so hard I thought they’d sink! It was safe for the hounds to come off and have a rummage here – Ty came out for a little look but soon elected to come back on board – it was all too scary for him!

If you look across the cricket ground from Boxmoor Lock you see an elaborate confection of a building with stepped gables. I found out that it’s Boxmoor Hall – originally built in 1889 by the Boxmoor Trust (from surplus money). It was used as a magistrates court at one time, but has mainly been used for community meetings, theatres and whatnot. It’s now a venue for hire – you can even get married there! It’s a striking facade and much later than I imagined.

Once you get part Hemel Hempstead, the canal becomes increasingly rural. We confined the dogs through Fishery Lock, though this would be a good place to moor up with dogs on a hot day – the River Bulbourne is shallow here with beachy banks perfect for paddling hounds. The river’s surrounded by lush water meadows, mostly empty but a few meadows had cattle and, unfortunately, Lynx is showing all the signs of a dog who thinks that cowpats make the perfect cologne! Having said that, a busy road runs nearby so we wouldn’t let them rummage at Fishery Lock. They could come out at Lock 62 a short way up the canal, but the just walked straight into the deep shade under the tall  leylandii hedge rather ominously surrounding the lock cottage.

We stopped for lunch below Winkwell lock – it’s a great spot, well-fenced and flanked by a lovely fishing lake surrounded by tall pine trees which comfortably shaded the canal. We had our big drama of the day here when Ty, who’d been trusted off-lead in this quiet spot, found a hole in the fence and nipped over to the fishing lake. Of course, being the scaredy wuss boy he is, he couldn’t work out how to get back to the towpath but did run to the spot where the boat was moored and just stared at us through the fence. What a dilemma – there was no sign of an entrance to lake from the canal so Richard headed off to the road to find a proper entrance. In the meantime I walked along the fence and managed to find an almost Sue-sized hole to squeeze through. It was a wire fence which snagged and tore at my T-shirt – I was worried that my clothes would in tatters by the time I got to Ty but on the basis that a topless woman is rarely unwelcome I pressed on through to the other side 🙂

The ornate facade of Boxmoor Hall...

I caught up with Ty and he came to me willingly – in the meantime Richard had spotted us from the entrance (right on the opposite side of the lake) so he know that he could stop the search. We were all somewhat hot and bothered by the time we got back to the boat. I had to muse on the difference between our hounds – now, our old boy Blue (much missed) would have really enjoyed escaping through the fence for an adventure – it would have made his day! But I don’t think that Ty enjoyed his little diversion at all – he just seemed bewildered by it all….

Lunch restored a bit of equilibrium but our visit to the local boatyard heated us up again! We stopped there for a pumpout – it was £18! For that price we expected a gold-standard service leaving us with a tank clean enough to drink from (only joking!) – what we actually got was a very average pump-out and they didn’t even rinse the tank with a hose – they just used buckets of canal water AND they’d have just used one bucket per rinse – Richard made them use a lot more!

A boat also using the boatyard’s services came to us with an unusual request – they asked whether we’d carry their two teenage-ish children through the swingbridge – they’d just brought their boat though but the kids had missed the ride. We were happy to oblige, especially as the mum opened and closed the bridge for us!

It was getting towards our planned stopping time of 4pm and we needed to look for a mooring with road access. There are wonderfully quiet moorings along the way but we decided to press on to the outskirts of Berkhamstead, just past Bridge 43 (below Rising Sun lock). There’s convenient parking in the lane nearby and the mooring is overlooked on the offside by some apartments with friendly denizens who waved and raised a glass to us while they sat on their balconies. The apartment development is still under construction (though some are obviously occupied) – they occupy a narrow strip of land between the canal and the railway. It’s a curious spot – the canal frontage is lovely but the noise from the passing trains is substantial.

We were relived to be able to chain up to the armco instead of using pins – the few boats that passed seemed to be going along at a fair pace – Indigo Dream didn’t move on her chains (with a spring at the back) so we’re not worried that she’ll break loose in our absence (unless some vandal sets her loose, but it doesn’t seem to be that sort of area).

While we were getting organised we spotted an old friend – nb Fulbourne – on her way south. It doesn’t sound as if they’re doing the BCN challenge this year. Sadly, being a share boat, the crew on board today had never met us so they were bemused by the warmth of our greeting – we’ve had a few adventures with nb Fulbourne, but not with this particular crew.

Richard cycled back to get the car and I packed up the boat – we’re starting to get into our cruising routine now. I did an inventory of the food on board – we haven’t really stocked up with staples for the odyssey so we’re hoping for a mooring by the Berkamstead Waitrose next week – we’ve run out of diet coke – aaaaaarggh!

Although we were running a little later than planned, we had a good trip home and got ready for a domestic weekend with family on Sunday and int he garden on Monday. The hounds were predictably exhausted and have slept pretty solidly for three days now – they’re saving their energy for next weekend, which promises to be another hound-fest…..


Community boats moored on their wharf below Red Lion lock - watch out for canoes here!

The slopes around the community boat wharf (below Red Lion lock) are surprisingly bare considering that vegetation is bursting into life elsewhere - I wonder why?

The view down from Lock 67 in Apsley - it's all so neat here - a place for sitting on deck drinking wine and hobnobbing with passersby...

The trees have burst into leaf just in time to shade us from the intense sunshine....

Look very closely at the position of this boat's chimney, and now work out how the boat's plank would fit (or not!) into the brackets - got it yet?

The nets at Boxmoor Cricket ground - the white heap is flock stuffing or something similar - bit of a mystery as to why it's there or where it came from...

Water overflowing a the lock gates - the water levels in the pounds were generally very high (apart from below Nash Mills lock!).

Another tame heron....

A small view of the extensive water meadows below Fishery lock...

...and the cattle on the water meadows...

Falling blossom turns the water to milk....

Long term moorings above lock 60 (Winkwell) - there are some very friendly folk here and we felt very safe when we've moored on the towpath opposite on previous odysseys

The view back to Bottom Side lock - this is a beautiful stretch of water..

This lock is full - and the bottom gates are watertight - amazing - I don't think we've seen completely watertight gates anywhere on the network before!

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The Odyssey 2011: Day 4

Posted by indigodream on 26 April, 2011

Friday 23rd April

Coppermill Lock (Harefield) to Home Park Lock (King’s Langley)

We had a proper day’s cruising today with a boat full of excellent company, great scenery and, if you follow Lynx’s diary, you’ll know that we had several mini-dramas worthy of a boating soap opera (could be the new Archers!).

The greyhounds gathering below Coppermill Lock..

Once again we failed to travel up to the boat the night before but had a wonderfully quiet drive up on Friday morning. We were shocked to see that our front pins were almost out of the ground – I suspect it’s because the path here is so dry and gravelly – boats can’t be travelling too fast because they’ll be slowing for the lock, though they were coming very close.

Everyone had a good journey – by 10am we were all gathered by Coppermill Lock, introducing the hounds and getting ready for a day’s cruise. First to arrive were Sarah (aka Greygal) with experienced boating hound Ranger and her new ‘foster’ hound Henry, who’s never been boating before! They had met up with Catherine and greyhound Beren in the pub car park and walked up the towpath to meet us. Catherine is contemplating life aboard and wanted to know more about cruising with greyhounds – well, it was too good an opportunity to miss – a chance to look over Indigo Dream’s layout (designed specifically for our elderly lurcher Indie), to find out how Beren would take to cruising and, of course, the chance to talk to Sarah – THE greyhound boater! We were also joined by old friends Neil and Jenny with their spaniels Max and Hugo. That was another golden opportunity, to see how Henry would react to non-greyhounds!

I’m glad to report that the hounds got on famously – you’d think that the boat might have seemed crowded, but the spaniels can fit in underneath the greyhounds so it was a very ergonomic arrangement 🙂

We started the day with a car shuffle – Richard, Neil, Catherine and Sarah went off to drop cars at our planned destination on the outskirts of Kings Langley. In the meantime, Jenny and I stayed behind to supervise the extended pack – the hounds were curious but happy – the greyhounds soon found the selection of duvets and the spaniels just ran from one end of the boat to another. One day we’ll have to calculate how many miles the spaniels run in a cruising day as they traverse the boat endlessly. It’s a wonderful contrast – they spaniels are always so busy and the greyhounds are so indolent!

If you look at the frame of the building on the right you'll see that the large toy gorilla is still hanging there - it's been there for years and I don't know how it's survived out in the elements...

We cruised through a wonderfully scenic stretch of the Grand Union today – the gloriously dappled shade of Cassiobury Park, the manicured opulence of the Grove, Batchworth’s neat suburban apartments and the monumental Gade aqueduct, carrying the M25 – an unwelcome reminder of our faster lives in cars.

But the motorway, and other trappings of the real world didn’t really intrude – our day was occupied by the canal and the hounds – we cruised in the contentment of our mutual devotions.

As usual, we put Sarah on the helm at the start of the day and left her there! I flitted around doing my best “Mrs Doyle” impression – wouldn’t it be awful if someone came on board Indigo Dream and DIDN’T have enough to eat and drink! Richard and Neil were our trusty locking crew and Jenny and Catherine supervised the hounds – a VERY important job! The canal had a nice atmosphere with just enough boaters on the move to make it live as a waterway, but not so many that we had to queue at locks. Most of the traffic was heading to London, though we did share a couple of locks with an impressively agile single-hander who asserted her independence by hopping off to do her bit at the locks, despite the fact that there was ample crew available.

Note: Lock 76 – the bottom left paddle (looking down from the lock) has a dodgy catch. Be wary.

We had a thoroughly convivial day – both amongst ourselves and with the many gongoozlers along the way – the loudly whispered comments were along the lines of “look they’ve got three, four, five, six, no, EIGHT dogs on that boat”! Some of the younger dog-loving gongoozlers were supremely envious of our hound count. The hounds took it in their stride – Lou and Lynx were happy to wander from person to person having a fuss.’ The pantomime of getting all the hounds back on board after they’d rummaged round the locks provided endless entertainment for the local walkers….

I don’t know where the day vanished, well, I do actually – there were lots of moored boats along the way so we cruised along at a very sedate pace. Our locking efficiency was hampered a little by the need to do a thorough dog-count before we moved off (especially after we lost Lynx at lunchtime!). Then we set up camp on the towpath for lunch (leaving enough room for walkers/cyclists) – we were sitting in a comfortable patch of dappled shade (between Lot Mead lock and Common Lane lock) while a gentle breeze showered us with a confetti of white cherry petals – we were well-fed, warm and comfortable – it’s a wonder we’re not all still sitting there! With great reluctance we had to force ourselves to move on, but we needed to get to our destination – the moorings just above Home Park lock on the outskirts of Kings Langley. We’ve moored there before and the cars were handily parked on a lay-by nearby.

As always, it’s been interesting to look out for changes since we last cruised this way. The toy gorilla hanging off the building by Springwell Lock is still there – I’m amazed that it hasn’t rotted away yet and been carried off in someone’s prop! One day I will find out the story behind that gorilla – but I’ve failed so far!

The other feature of note was the truly mountainous pile of earth that has been built up around Junction 20 of the M25 (a distinctive landmark visible from Lock 71). I did a little report on this on day 3 of last year’s odyssey when I found plans to widen the motorway and to build a soil bund to supposedly shield Abbotts Langley from the traffic noise at the junction – the Parish Council had no objection at the time. However, far from relieving the noise, the works themselves may had added to it – as this local report suggests! Richard thinks that the truly enormous mound of earth is just a soil dump from other parts of the widening works and that the final bund will be much smaller – we’ll have to take a look if we come back this way in the Autumn.

More of the rampantly 'individual' boats that line the canal hereabouts...

We arrived at our destination after 6pm, when the soft light turned the water to silk. Sarah made a quick getaway – she had the longest journey back to the rest of her pack. The good news was that following Henry’s successful day on the boat, his adoption is looking hopeful, so good news at a time that their beloved pack member Arthur is very ill. Neil and Jenny gave Richard a lift back to get his car while I gave Catherine a tour of the engine bay (very hypocritical of me as I’m not that familiar with its contents myself!); then we sat on the front deck and talked boating and hounds until Richard came back, then we chatted some more. My rumbling stomach put a stop to the chatter but we’re pleased that Catherine and Beren got what they needed from the day – definitive proof that boats and greyhounds can get along just fine!

As Catherine headed for home, we set off to find food in King’s Langley – we’ve previously had a horrible meal in Oscar’s pizzeria and Richard doesn’t do Indian food (the Cinnamon Lounge Indian looks lovely) so we plumped for the Rose and Crown pub just on the outskirts. It was gone 9pm by now, but they were still serving food and what magnificent food it was! As you might expect, the gastro-pub menu had a price tag to match but it was delicious. My mission on this odyssey may end up being the exploration of “Eton mess” as a dessert. The ‘Coy Carp’ version had the quirky twist of strawberry mousse which lightened the whole dish, but it didn’t have many fresh strawberries. The Rose and Crown’s was a more traditional version with velvety whipped cream at just the right consistency packed with ripe strawberries – marvellous! The Rose and Crown has a website here if you want a sneaky peek of what’s on offer – sadly dogs are only allowed in the garden.  We got there by car – on foot I think you’d need to moor just below bridge 158 then head left along Water Lane then along Church Lane to the High Street – I’m not sure how much a trek that is, but the food is definitely worth it!

When we got back, Ty was confident enough to eat his dinner and come for a little walk along the towpath – we’ve upped his dose of valium and that seems to have helped considerably…


Our hounds had quite a loud conversation with these boating lurchers.... (again!)

There are a lot of leaky gates along this stretch of the GU...

I'm not sure what the story was here but it's wonder that Sarah didn't take a dive into the canal (unlike her hound Henry who had an accidental dip in one of the locks!)

Cassiobury Park - you can't beat it - great place to moor for a bit of peace and quiet (if you've got enough onboard food/beer :-))

Gongoozlers at Iron Bridge Lock....

Henry and Beren posing for the onlookers....

Brand new lock gates - we could do with a few more of these along the GU

I love this mature woodland surrounding the canal - awesome to think that it would be irreplaceable in our lifetime, or that of the next generation....

Ah, so that's why there were no kids swimming in the locks today!

Bridge 164 - a famous confection of a bridge built to placate the local gentry who didn't want a mucky canal running through their land...

Lovely scenery through Grove Park and the golf course - pick your view - it's all fabulous here. Just watch out for the two right angle bends by bridges 165 and 163!

Bridge 163 - turnover bridges are so elegant - both in form and function...

The herons are so tame hereabouts - they don't let the passing of a noisy diesel engine disturb their fishing...

The inland waterways are enjoyed by boaters of all types!

This man-made mountain of earth is part of the soil bund being built to shield the village of Abbotts Langley from the noise of the M25 at Junction 20

The giant Gade aqueduct carrying the M25 - it feels like a boundary of sorts - we're finally out of London....

This section of a tyre stopped the prop quite nicely - as we were approaching a lock of course!

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Dog Blog:Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 25 April, 2011

Well, I’s had an action-packed weekend and we’s got anuvver day off tomorrow, and anuvver long weekend next week – I’s not sure if I’s got the energies for all these days off. At least mummy Sue and daddy Richard had the sense to go out today and leave us in peace – we’s had a luvverly snooze and I might have anuvver snoozy day tomorrow, and myabe the day after that  – phew, this forward plannin’ is tirin’ work.

Friday 22nd April

Me and sum of me houndie friends - shame those hu-mums are in the way...

Anyhoo, on Friday we’s had a BIG houndie gathering on our boat – there woz me, of course, boss lady Lou and jelly boy Ty; then, auntie Sarah comes down the towpath wif me best friend Ranger (mummy Sue luves Ranger) and Henry the hound – auntie Sarah’s got a boat called Henry too – is just tooo confusin’. Then I saw a new auntie – Catherine and her hound Beren, wot is a luvverly bridle boy. Henry and Beren hasn’t been on a boat before so we’s had to show them how to behave. We woz all dignified when the mad spaniels, Max and Hugo turned up. Auntie Sarah woz worried that Henry might eat the spaniels, but mummy Sue had chikkin in the fridge so he didn’t bovver…

So, we eight houndies settled down for a cruise – we’s had such an hexciting day wif dramas all over the place AND we’s invented a new sport – houndie crikkit! They was playin’ hooman crikkit by the canal and I thought we could do that. So here’s the game – us houndies score ‘runs’ by hescaping from the boat an’ getting as far away as we can before our hu-mums catch us! We’s so good at this new game that I think it’s anuvver one for the houndie ‘lympics. We’d found that a mixed team of greyhounds and spaniels is a winnin’ combination – the spaniels is little and they’s good for single runs – they’s escaped a lot but duzn’t get very far; we big hounds escape less but we can get further on our long legs – geddit?

Anyhoo, Henry an’ Ty scored the first runs – Henry hopped over the deck dog-proof doors (dog-proof – hur hur hur!!!!) – he slipped past his mummy but got fielded by mummy Sue; that woz our big chance – mummy Sue had Henry in one hand and the boat rope in the other so Ty hopped over the deck door and legged it! Oh course, mummy Sue’s hands woz full so Ty did a neat side-step and woz off – Auntie Sarah had to dash after him – well that’s gotta be four runs straight away!

Then later on the spaniels got a lot of single runs – they jumped off the front of the boat then the hu-mums got them on the back, then they’d run through the boat an hop off the front then the hu-mums got them on the back; in the meantime, we hounds just kept getting on and off  the back deck. Doggie crikkit is a great spectator sport – there woz people at the lock larfin’ and larfin’ coz our hu-mum ‘fielders’ couldn’t get all eight doggies on board all at the same time. Henry needs a bit of practice tho’ – he tried jumpin’ in at the front, the same as the spaniels woz doing and SPLASH – in he goes and there was a big commotion as the hu-mums fished him out of the water. Mummy Sue got bizy with the fluffy towel – Henry the hound looked a bit shocked – he sez we needn’t put any swimmin’ events into the houndie ‘lympics!

See - we's can all fit on deck if the spaniels go underneaf us....

Like in human crikkit, we’s all stopped for lunch tho’ Ty scored anuvver four runs when he legged it into the woods with Richard in hot pursuit; mummy Sue woz making dinner so all the rest of the pack went for a walk on the towpath. Then I’s scored a mega- amount of runs – six isn’t maximum enuff reelly. Richard thought I woz wif the rest of the crew an’ the rest of the crew thought I woz wif Richard, but I woz actooally havin’ a little rummage in the woods by myself. I woz sort of wandering back to the canal when I saw some nice people going’ my way “You poor lost houndie” they said and put me on their lead and rang mummy Sue. But mummy Sue woz lost! I knew where I woz – I woz at Lot Mead lock; but when my new friends asked mummy Sue where she woz, she didn’t know! She’d bin inside and didn’t know where we’d moored. Auntie Sarah thought she knew and headed off up the towpath – in the wrong direction! Lucky that Richard came back wif Ty then – Richard wozn’t lost and cycled back quick to fetch me – I woz VERY pleased to see him – me new friends woz ok but I’s needed a sleep now and they didn’t have a boat or even a sheepskin handy.

Mummy Sue woz a bit upset coz she didn’t even know she’d lost me – she’d seen Henry hound on the towpath and though it woz me! Me an’ Henry had the same granddaddy as we’s is very sim’lar.

Them spaniels is mad  – after my big hadventure I woz happy to settle onto my favrit deck sheepskin with Ranger dog as a pillow – he’s a luvverly pillow. But the spaniels woz frantic – they wozn’t goin’ to settle until they had ALL the food that woz on board – Max woz so despirit he jumped right through the side hatch onto the galley counter – only the galley counter is very slippery so he just slid backwards on to the floor! Ohh, we’s had a little giggle, once we knew he woz ok, of course!

I woz qwite sad when we moored up at the end of the day coz all me doggie friends went home, ‘cept for Lou and Ty, of course. Henry’s a foster dog just like me an’ Ty woz, ‘cept that auntie Sarah sez that now she knows that he likes boating and didn’t eat any spaniels he can stay forever – wheee – that is one lucky hound and now I knows that my winnin’ houndie crikkit team will play again! Beren woz a very good boy tho’ he didn’t score any runs at all, Lou didn’t either – maybe brindles are just no good at crikkit. Beren’s hu-mum sez that she’s very happy coz now she can buy a boat becoz Beren likes boatin’. She’s also learnt how many hounds you can fit on a boat – one greyhound is hardly enuff reelly!

Mummy Sue and Richard went out for supper but we didn’t mind- we woz fast asleep. It woz nice an’ quiet where we moored – there wozn’t them pesky ducks pecking at the sides and making a right racket – that made Ty very happy so he woz able to have a wee and eat his supper and he didn’t hide under mummy Sue’s bed – result!

Saturday 23rd April

We’s had a luvverly lie-in this mornin’ – is very important for us ‘lympic athletes to have rest days.

More room on deck today....

We didn’t do houndie crikkit today – it woz far too hot – me an’ Lou did ‘lympic lying down instead – we laid on the boat, and on the grass, in the sun an’ in the shade; we’s very versatile – we’s done lyin’ on our right sides, then on our left sides but we didn’t do roaching – is not dignified in public!

Ty mainly did worryin’ on his new bed – he’s a big worry-er. But yesterday he woz less worried than last weekend, and today he woz less worried than yesterday so he’s gettin’ better bit by bit.

I’s didn’t have any big adventures today – mummy Sue sed she woz watchin’ me; Richard woz watching Lou – she dun eyeballin’ an hexitable spaniel and dun barking, so Richard yelled – he wozn’t sure who the spaniel’s hu-mum woz most scared of – Lou barkin’ or him shoutin’ – hur hur hur!

Ty’s had the biggest hadventure today – we’s stopped for lunch – again! Mummy Sue woz in the kitchin so we all went for a rummage wif Richard. It woz nice and safe coz there woz canal on one side and a big fence on t he other. Ty woz doin’ OK so Richard let him off the lead – d’oh! Ty went the wrong way wif Richard in hot pursuit; Richard got him back then tried Ty off the lead again coz we woz all walking so nicely together – then Ty found a gap in the fence and went onto the path round the fishing lake next door. Oh deer, wot a commotion – see Ty’s a BIG hound but a Ty-sized hole in the fence is nowhere near a Richard-sized hole so Ty ended up walking the paf on one side and we woz walking on the uvver, but we couldn’t get to him an’ he couldn’t get to us. It woz a bit pafetic reelly coz he kept lookin’ at us through the fence like it woz OUR fault that he woz stuck.  Richard went off to find a proper gate into the fishing lake and mummy Sue locked me and Lou on the boat and found a mummy Sue-sized hole in the fence wot she squeezed through to rescue Ty. Richard got a bit of earache for letting Ty off the lead, but Ty woz ok and Richard found a shop on the way round the lake and bought mummy Sue a peace offerin’ of ice-cold diet coke so it woz hokey-dokey.

I’s had a chat wif Ty about his hadventure….

“Yo bro” I sez “if you’s such a scaredy jelly boy why did you go thru’ the fence instead to runnin’ back to your safe place on the boat”

“Well” sez Ty “I’s had a problem wif the towpath so I squeezed through to the next path wot looked nicer”

“But it wozn’t nicer” sez I “you’s woz just as scared there”

“Aha” sez Ty “but I’s had solved the problem of not likin’ the towpath”

“You mean you solved one problem wif anuvver” sez I

“You got it” sez Ty, all happy, like it was sumfink that made sense “and it’s good coz then it woz mummy Sue’s problem too, and ev’ryone knows that a problem shared is a problem halved”……..

Sunday 24th April

I’s had a luvverly day sleepin’ then I’s had a good rummage in the field – now, if daddy Richard duzn’t want me to roll in rotten pond weed then why did he put it on the compost heap, eh? Huh, is not fair – I’s come in and they all goes “phwoar that STINKS” – they bundled me into the barfroom and give me a barf – oh no! Mummy Sue sez I smells worse than tripe – she had to wash my ears and my head – TWICE. She sed if the smell didn’t go she’d put in my pyjamas and make me sleep outside but she was only joking – I finks….

I duzn’t like barfs at all but I luves bein’ rubbed down wif a fluffy towel – ooohhh yeah, that’s the spot……

Lynx’s easter holeeday snaps….

See, I duzn't have a big head at all, but I is handsum!

Max and Hugo looking for escape routes....

Lou on her sofa - you can share her sofa if you's brave but no-one else gets to lie just there...

Henry and Beren getting the hang of synchronised lookin'

Of course, I's a champion looker....

Henry on a mission.....

Henry checking for doughnuts...

Yum - Henry enjoying the last of Neil's doughnut - with permission!

Henry and Beren doin' boatin' - as understood by 99% of greyhounds 🙂

We's dun lots of lookin' - 'specially when auntie Sarah's watchin' to make sure we duzn't do runnin' instead!

Time for a little rest - mummy Sue had to put extra sheepskins on deck...

Henry and Ranger look like they've had a good time....

Lou's expert at lyin' around...

Coz I dun runnin' yesterday I's got to do lyin' down today - is part of my 'lympic training regime....

I luves grass - is so good to lie on and when you're poorly you can eat it....

Me an' Lou enjoyin' the shade - Leylandiiiiiiii gives the best shade...

I's dun lots of soopervisin' today - is a sit-down job of course, I IS management!

Arghh baftime

Ahhh peace & quiet, finally ....

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 21 April, 2011

Thursday 21st April

Mummy Sue sez "wot a mess" but I fink Lous got her bed sorted just perfect...

Oooh I’s bin too hexhausted to write me diary – I’s bin very busy coz mummy Sue made me try my good citizen’s silver award in dog trainin’. I woz hopin’ that I’d be hexempt coz of me bad back, but mummy Sue decided I woz better coz I woz jumpin’ over the garden wall again. I passed the test, o’ course, but I woz a bit hembarrassed coz mummy Sue had to answer lots of questions about how to look after doggies and I didn’t fink she’d dun enuff swotting. Mummy Sue couldn’t believe I passed, on account of me sleepin’ through all of the classes, but I’s just got a diff’rent learning style – collies learn by doing, I learns by fallin’ asleep quick so that me brain can take stuff in – like hypnosis and I’s got amazin’ hypno powers.

The test took ages coz we Silver awards had to do road walks and stuff first, but then we had to wait and wait and wait while the pesky beginners did their bronze tests – I woz well bored and a bit tired so I laid on me bed and had a little kip. Mummy Sue kept tryin’ to cheat coz she thought the examiner should give me a pass straight away when a little dog wot looked just like a wabbit was pawin’ at me face and I DIDN’T EAT IT! The examiner was so rude – she woz waftin’ her hands about going “phwoar who’s making that horrible smell” – I’s just laid there fast asleep an’ mummy Sue kept quiet, but then the examiner stared at my bottom and sed “ugh it’s YOU Lynx – but you’re asleep” – mummy Sue had to explain that I’s so talented I can make bottom smells even when I’s fast asleep! Mummy Sue tried to persuade the examiner to give me my rosette there and then so she could take me smells away. But I thought that the luvverly smells from me bottom woz calming down all the beginners so I’s had a duty to stay. The hexaminer was rude the whole night long – she sed “can you bovvered to get up for the test then Lynx” then when I woz havin’ a luvverly photo wif me rosette she sez “hurry up I’m bein’ gassed here”. Huh, I turned my nose up and hignored her – even when she woz waving a chocolate chewy bar under me nose! You know wot, I duzn’t fink that the examiner happreciates the finer points of livin’ wif greyhounds.

Mummy Sue is so proud – I’s bin here 9 munfs and I’s got four rosettes, two certificates and one silver cup – I’s a superstar, but mummy Sue sez I musn’t get too big-headed – she’s so silly, I’s not got a big head, my head’s slim and handsum.

When it comes to locks Is best suited to a management role....

We dun boatin’ wif Ty at the weekend. I’s qwite like boating ‘specially now we’s in the country – I’s can relax an’ have little sleep in the sun and sumtimes I’s can have a little sleep on the towpath. Now we’s out of London I duzn’t have to do so much olympic lookin’, though mummy Sue sez we’ll have to get back in training ‘ventually. Sumtimes me an’ Lou has a rummage, but  we’d rather be sleepin’ reelly. Poor ol’ Ty is still a big wuss jelly boy – he duzn’t like boatin’ or anyfink that isn’t loafing around at home. Mummy Sue and daddy Richard tried practising ‘Ty COME’ on the towpath coz it woz nice an quiet – but Ty’s not so good as me – he ran past mummy Sue, so she ran the uvver way – wot a good game – we’s all run after her at top speed but me an’ Lou stopped and Ty ran on. Mummy Sue woz frantic but then Ty worked out that it woz more scary bein’ away from mummy Sue than wif her so he come back – phew!

I thought that if I passed my test then I could finish goin’ to classes but oh no, mummy Sue got that glint in her eye and sed “You’re such a clever boy we should go for gold” – aaaawwww! Then she sez “We should take Ty back to classes too” – double aaawwwww! I reckons my new friend Fudge got it dead right here –

Lou’s bin a bit grumpy this week – she’s a bit poorly an’ she’s bin to the vet lots – Lou duz the best LOUDEST greyhound death screams – the vet woz prodding her sore kidneys and she told him hexactly wot she thought about that, wif extra teef – lucky that mummy Sue woz holdin’ Lou’s head! Ev’ryone in the waitin’ room heard the racket, well, probably ev’ryone in the whole high street heard it – Lou gots lots of sympafy so it was well worth makin’ a hooge drama over it. Mummy Sue sez she’s broke – no, not Lou, mummy Sue’s bank account! Anyhoo, me an’ Ty has learnt a new fing – if you steps on Lou you is in BIG trouble but if Lou steps on you then you’s just gotta take it coz that’s Lou’s rules – she’s top dog!

See, Is such a good citizen I even let ducks walk all over the boat....

So that’s me week – now, wot do you fink about Spring – I mean, is nice in the sun and all, but these bumble bees wot is as big and hairy as mice keeps buzzing in the house and distrubin’ me sleep; and I needs my sleeps, ‘specialy this week, coz I’s got lots of houndie friends comin’ for a cruise this weekend…..

Lynx’s guide to milk and cream….

I likes milk and cream – I sumtimes gets milk for breakfast and we all gets to pots of cream to lick out when mummy Sue’s finished pourin’ most of it over her puddin’.

Anyhoo, I likes semi-skimmed milk but full fat is nicer, and I prefers ordinary double cream to extra-thick double cream coz it’s easier to lap up from me bowl. But I’s had the best today – leftover Jersey milk – woz lushus. Then I licked out a pot of clotted cream – woz a bit rich for me but Ty sez it’s the bestest cream ever –  he finished his pot off, then he nicked mine, then he looked at Lou’s – uh oh, BAD idea – Lou give him a look so he went back to bed like he never wanted her cream anyway.

Mummy Sue sez that when she woz little she lived on a farm with four Jersey cows and had lushus fresh milk ev’ry day. I fink we should have a cow – we’s got a field. I’d qwite like to keep chikkins as well – is very fashionable. Mummy Sue sed “NO” – she duzn’t trust me not eat cows and chikkins – d’oh, that’s what they’re for mummy Sue…..

Me and Lou ignoring the ducks - wes both good citizens......sumtimes!

"It woznt us" - the ducks are gone but wes lying in hexactly the same place - see!

Locks has a good design - see, theres nice soft grass for me to lie on while Im soopervising...

Mummy Sue sez I reaaly knows how to drape meself on a duvet - of course, Is expert on lying down!

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Boat Blog: Best laid plans…..

Posted by indigodream on 21 April, 2011

Monday 18th April 

We were so disappointed to have missed Sue and Vic of nb No Problem over the weekend but all was not lost. Thanks to the wonders of Twitter and some frantic plotting from all the crews involved, we contrived a meeting at the Coy Carp pub on Monday evening. Sue and Vic moved down from Cassiobury Park with Carol and George from nb Rock ‘n Roll and moored below Coppermill Lock; we piled Indigo Dream’s crew (human and canine) into the car and drove up to join them. Taking the dogs gave us the option of staying overnight on the boat. We didn’t take the hounds to the pub – it was a mild enough evening, but the air was too full of midges to consider eating outside.

We had another nice meal here, though the food and service weren’t as sharp as on Saturday. Nonetheless, the staff were pleasant and we did get some compensation in the form of a free pint of beer when they forgot to deliver one of the side-dishes!

The service and meals might have been ok, but the company was outstanding. You can’t go far wrong with a group of dog-loving boating bloggers – it’s guaranteed that we’ll have enough to talk about and enough unexplored subjects left over to ensure that we’ll look forward to meeting up with them again! I hadn’t realised that nb No Problem and nb Rock ‘n Roll were on their way to join a St Pancras Cruising Club Tideway cruise in a couple of weeks’ time. We were thrilled on their behalf and a little envious – we’ve always enjoyed the convoys and it seemed a little odd not to be taking part. We really hope that they find the convoys to be a positive experience.

The evening flew by and it seemed like hardly any time before we had to say a reluctant ‘goodbye’. We headed back to the boat and after much debate, we decided to drive home. But our visit to the boat had been well worthwhile – our front pin had worked loose in the dry gravel of the towpath and was barely hanging on, so it was a good opportunity to put another one in. We were also able to turn the fuses off (which we’d forgotten to do on Sunday); alas I forgot, again, to take out the two packets of cheeses slices I’d left in the turned-off fridge – umm, they’ll be lovely by Thursday!

We had a bit of drama with Ty – as we were leaving he just slipped out of my grasp, got spooked by something or other, and hared off down the towpath in the direction of the road – I called him and ran in the opposite direction – his recall’s not bad so he turned and followed me, but then failed to stop and ran up the towpath the other way, his black coat swiftly disappearing into the surrounding blackness. He didn’t go far and came back once he’d run off his first panic, but it’ll be a long time before we can trust him off lead. In the meantime, Lou and Lynx showed no enthusiasm for our company – they’d arranged themselves on the sofa and had settled in for a night’s sleep – they didn’t want to move, even if it was back to their luxury duvets at home!

We had a mega-efficient drive home along empty motorways and were home by midnight – it had been a very special evening and I’m so pleased that we took the opportunity to meet Sue THE blogger who has been such a source of inspiration and information for many years 🙂

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The Odyssey 2011: Day 3

Posted by indigodream on 21 April, 2011

Saturday 17th April

The moorings below Cowley Lock - these are good moorings with a park, a pub, a tea-shop and a waterpoint nearby....

On Thursday I came down with a bad dose of ‘man flu’ so we abandoned plans to come to the boat on Friday and had the slowest start to the day’s cruising on Saturday. We arrived at Indigo Dream just before lunchtime – she’d been fine on the moorings and we were pleased to see that there were still plenty of spaces available. Indigo Dream was absolutely filthy – she was covered in a thick layer of towpath dust and had turned grey – the roof was also covered in dried flower casings from the trees above – what a state! As we cruised along a boater shouted “but your boat’s not indigo” to which we replied “she might be if we gave her a proper wash!”

We didn’t have any guests on board this weekend, so we though we’d try taking Ty with us – the stretch from Uxbridge upwards is as rural a piece of London as you could wish for – it’s a lovely bit of canal. The Grand Union lacks the flashy glamour of it’s rural cousins the Shroppie and the K & A but it does have its charms. Black Jack’s lock must be one of my favourite spots on the whole network – it’s so beautiful – especially at this time of the year with the apple trees flowering gloriously in adjacent gardens. If the flowers are anything to go by then there’ll be a monster crop this year – ummm, jam or cider – difficult decision!

Anyway, back to the beginning – remember that new canalside Tesco that’s being built in Uxbridge? Well, we found out that although it’s not open from the water yet, it IS open from the road. Supermarkets are not everyone’s cup of tea, but this one is particularly light and airy and has a Costa coffee shop. We had a quick stop for essentials before heading for our mooring, about 10 minutes drive away. We found a parking space in Iver Lane, noting with dismay that the road has been largely converted to double yellow lines with residents’ parking bays – mercifully not operational at the weekends.

Unfortunately Ty had transformed from ‘Ty the brave’ (who lives at home with us) to ‘Ty jelly boy’ the minute we started packing the car – luckily he sees the car itself as a safe place but so far he hates every destination apart from our house or Richard’s mum’s house. Seeing him change into ‘jelly boy’ is simply the saddest thing, but we have to keep gritting our teeth and reminding ourselves that our first two rescue dogs took 6 – 12 months to get settled so it’s a question of time, patience and DRUGS! We got him on board, where he was so distressed that we gave him some diazepam and he gradually calmed down over the next hour. We’re trying Ty on Zyklene (complementary therapy) for a month – I think it might be making a difference, just not quite enough yet. We’re in discussion with the vet and have strategies up our sleeves – if the Zyklene’s not working then we’ll try the DAP collar – our vet is very good and went out of his way to research whether a DAP collar would work in the open space of the boat – it should, apparently!

The Colne Valley is very beautiful and you often catch glimpses of the river as it weaves around the canal

Our first lock of the day was Cowley – it took an age – the bottom gates are leaky and although it makes no sense, as the lock fills, the water overtops the bottom gate before it’s equalised at the top, making it very difficult to open the top gates, especially if you have shut the far paddle already. In the meantime, Lou and Lynx stood on deck on lapped up the attention from passersby – even Ty came up on deck – that wasn’t so positive because the drugs hadn’t kicked in and what he really wanted was to run back to the car! We’ve got him a harness now – it’s so useful for stopping spontaneous leaping. Richard took him for a little bobble up and down the towpath and he finally settled. We filled with water above the lock and filled our drinking water bottles – we’ve given up on buying bottled water if we think we can fill our bottles with fresh every day. We also rinsed the worst of the dust off the sides.

We eventually got away from Cowley and bobbled slowly up the canal – very slowly – there are on-line moorings right up past Uxbridge lock. Still, it was a lovely day for just being in the fresh air. We weren’t in a hurry so we stopped off at the Uxbridge Boat Centre’s chandlery for some new toilet chemicals (see below).The staff were very pleasant and helpful there, though I think that ‘Mary queen of shops’ would faint dead away if she saw the dusty selection of brick-a-brac arrayed on their shelves and counters – ummm, the perfect chandlers then!

We selected a new toilet product to try – it comes in dissolvable plastic sachets designed to be flushed down the loo into the toilet tank. We looked at the sachets and decided that the macerator impeller wouldn’t cope with the wrapping so we decided to drop the stuff direct into the tank from the pump-out outlet. Unfortunately the sachets refused to go down the pipe so we had to open them up and pour the powder down instead. Richard decided to try this while we were on the move – I was watching him thinking “is this the best time for that – it would be so easy to drop the key, cap or both into the water” and was wondering whether to say anything, when there was a splash and the brass filler cap went flying into the canal – oops! Richard bought a new filler cap on his travels the following day – in the meantime he used a temporary one marked ‘diesel’ – oh wouldn’t the thieves have a fun time if they tried to syphon that tank!

Above Black Jacks lock - its so lovely here - the garden below the lock has half a dozen apple trees in full flower - spectacular...

As we travelled along the canal, my ‘man flu’ gradually descended to my chest and turned into bronchitis. We were so hoping to meet Sue and Vic of nb No Problem this weekend but I felt so contagious I thought we should have a doleful bell at the front warning visitors off!

We did pick up an impromptu visitor on our way – a man called Tim who was researching his own boat and was quizzing us about Indigo Dream’s design. Rather than keep shouting information across the water, we invited him on board for the tour – he made all the right noises and was very complementary about the great sense of space on the back ‘drinking’ deck and in the open-plan interior. Of course, we warmed to him immediately, though I was little doubtful whether he’d get his desired boat – a second-hand 60′ narrowboat in good condition (he doesn’t like DIY and ‘projects’) for £40,000. We haven’t looked at the second hand prices recently, but we wouldn’t want to sell Indigo Dream for that little!

Past Uxbridge, the canal became quieter, with fewer moored boats and fewer canalside developments. As I’ve mentioned before, you’d never guess that you were still inside the M25 – at this time of year, just before the trees come into full leaf, you can see the lakes surrounding the canal and it’s very quiet with little road, rail or aeroplane noise. Of course, there’s always that annoyingly loud and enthusiastic chorus of birdsong, but what can you do 🙂

As I mentioned, Black Jack’s lock is wonderfully scenic and although the mill is no longer a restaurant (shame!) they do offer B & B – they had a little stand of postcards advertising their rooms so we grabbed one for interest (they also have a website here) – these canalside B & Bs may come in handy sometime for those guests that don’t like sleeping under a heap of greyhounds!

As I became more feeble, our targets for the day became less ambitious. We’d planned to get to Cassiobury Park to meet up with nb No Problem, but by the time we got to the ‘Coy Carp’ pub I was ready to stop. Of course, the lure of a nice pub may also have had something to do with our decision!

We moored up above Coppermill Lock – it’s a lovely spot – very quiet and it felt very secure being opposite Hillingdon boat club. The towpath is reasonably busy with walkers, joggers and cyclists but there is an additional hazard here – the towpath is used by cars accessing their houses a little way down the canal. There weren’t many cars and most drove slowly and carefully (as you might with an unguarded edge to the canal!) but watch out for your hounds here.

The canal feels cherished here - this is the stretch between Black Jacks and Coppermill locks..

We’d stopped ridiculously early (by our standards) so there was time to do a little training work with Ty – wouldn’t you believe it – we got him off the boat in this quietest of spots and ‘bang’ – two shotguns went off nearby – typical. Ty quickly hopped back on board, but surprisingly came out again soon after. We actually think that we’re almost on top of his noise phobia – it’s his ‘everywhere that isn’t home’ phobia that’s more difficult to crack! We did some recall exercises with him and he showed some promise – he’s a fine hound and very trainable when he’s not panicking or worrying about things. We kept this up for 10 minutes or so, but by now I was shiveringly cold (despite the thermometer reading a balmy 20 degrees) – I wrapped myself up in my thick winter fleece and curled up in a little ball of misery on the sofa next to Lou. She wasn’t too impressed with this incursion so we formed a perfect little enclave of gloom!

In the meantime, Richard polished the boat on one side – he’d completely forgotten just how long the boat is, but she did look very fine when it was done. He had much gentle ribbing from passersby – by the sounds of it he could have made a nice business polishing their cars. He was wondering how much he’d pay a troupe of boy scouts or similar to polish the boat for him – I suggested £10 between 15 of them because they were doing it for the good of their souls rather than for the money! He didn’t think he’d polish anyone else’s boat for less than £50 – and there’s the rub – I’m can’t see him paying that much either!

After a few hours, I’d revived enough to go down to the Coy Carp – click on the link to get to their swanky website. We’ve eaten here before on our 2008 Odyssey (came down by car from our mooring in Batchworth) – we recalled a fine meal though we had to eat in the garden because dogs are not allowed inside. We left the hounds on board and ate inside this time – it was lovely – very good food and very courteous service.

Richard took the hounds for a last walk and Ty had a wee! Regular readers will know that this is something of an event because when he’s scared, Ty doesn’t eat, drink or wee. However he had a bad night – there are very inquisitive ducks hereabouts – two of them hopped onto the boat roof soon after we’d moored up. Amazingly the greyhounds weren’t interested. No doubt emboldened by this experience, the ducks pecked at the boat’s hull all night long – this makes quite a racket inside, and just as we were going to bed, a few fireworks went off in the far distance – poor Ty ran down the boat and squiggled his way under our bed. He looked wedged in and uncomfortable but he didn’t seem to care – under our bed was obviously THE safe place to be!

Cheeky ducks above Coppermill Lock - they hopped onto the roof the instant we moored - Im amazed that the greyhounds allowed it!

We had a disturbed night what with me tossing, turning and coughing, Ty fidgeting as he got jammed in beneath the bed, the ducks pecking at the hull and occasional visits from Lou to complain about Lynx sharing her sofa. It was a shame because this mooring is lovely – I could imagine spending a few days here – the Hillingdon Trail is nearby for dog-walking, there’s a decent pub and just enough activity along the water and towpath to make it interesting while sitting on deck with a beverage….

Toilet talk….

We changed to ‘odorlos’ enzymatic ‘green’ a few years ago and for a while it worked well. But then they changed manufacturers/suppliers – they swear that the formulation hasn’t changed but it looks more dilute and we don’t think it works as well and is now called “odourlos”. I’ve always thought that you know where you are with ‘Blue’ – full scale germ killer making no pretence at being kind to the environment – it just kills stuff! But with ‘Green’ it’s complicated because some ‘greens’ are also full scale germ killers, but formaldehyde-free, and some are not germ-killers and work enzymatically to break down waste. This is important because the ‘gern killing’ green actually stops the ‘enzymatic’ green from working so the two can’t be mixed. We were after an enzymatic ‘green’ (an alternative to odorlos) so Uxbridge boat centre suggested that we try ‘bio-magic’ but they were out of stock, so we thought we’d try the ‘ecoloo’ sachets, which are enzymatic ‘green’, except that the powder is blue. Are you still with me????

Anyway, a box of sachets should look after our tank for a month or two – that’s £11 worth – if it works it’ll be good because I wouldn’t want Indigo Dream to become the pariah of the waterways, sitting in a little cloud of noxious gas as we blithely drive away for home!

Sunday 17th April

Oh what grand plans we had for the day – it should have been day 4 of the odyssey, but I woke up still feeling weak and shivery and definitely not up for cruising. I was so disappointed – the odyssey’s off to the slowest start ever and it was a lovely day and I love this bit of canal – but it was no good. Richard cycled back to the car on his new bike (his old boat bike was stolen a few months ago, during the day, from his office, which was full of people – the cheek of it!). It was the first test of the bike’s broad saddle and shock absorbers – Richard says its the most comfortable bike he’s ever ridden.

"Have you got a light?" - Im not sure whether this cheeky swan knew that the boater was holding a cigarette rather than food!

It was a bit sad to see that Indigo Dream was covered a fine coating of dust – the cars coming down the towpath raise huge clouds of the stuff – it’s just so dry here.

Because we hadn’t moved very far yesterday he was soon back and we benefitted from the towpath also being a road, as Richard could bring the car very close to the boat for loading. We set off towards Cassiobury Park, where we knew that nb No Problem was moored. The satnav took us down some very bumpy lanes but we finally parked very close to the canal and had a bobble along the towpath. As it transpired, we were looking for them on the wrong stretch of towpath – we reluctantly turned back having assumed that they were on the move, but if we’d walked 500 yards further we’d have seen them! Never mind, I’d have felt very guilty taking my germ-ridden self too close to them! Maybe we can contrive a meeting next week sometime as they’ll still be in the vicinity of London and we’ll have access to the car.

By now I’d decided that I needed to see a doctor for some antibiotics and possibly steroids for my painful lungs – a bit of a palaver in the current NHS. We have a local walk-in centre close to home which doubles for the out-of-hours service and it was hopeless. I had to wait over 2½ hours in baking hot waiting room with uncomfortable seats – in the end I sat on the floor because it was more comfortable there. It’s sometimes very inconvenient being a pharmacist – I knew perfectly well what was wrong with me and what treatment was needed, but I had no means of generating a prescription for myself or helping myself from  the pharmacy shelves (which I never did even when I worked in a pharmacy – it’s very naughty!). So after this long wait I saw a nurse who agreed with my diagnosis – she did give me some antibiotics but wouldn’t give me steroid tablets for the inflammation because she wanted to ask a doctor about it but she couldn’t find one – what, no doctor, in a huge county hospital – aaargh!

I have never been more tempted to try to pass myself off as a 2-legged dog – I’ve never had such poor service at the vet!


I’ve not cruised the waterways of Europe but I find it hard to believe that any country other than the UK would have such rampantly ‘individual’ craft moored on their canals. Many of the most eccentric seem to be moored around London – especially the houseboats on the Thames, but there are a few unique craft on the Grand Union too.

This luxury liner wouldnt look out of place in Portsmouth harbour!

The much-photographed galleon - Im sure that tourists would love to see these sights if a trip boat were to venture out here....

Showboat! Unique paddle-gear - Ive seen this boat going along the canal at a fair pace so this unusual propulsion system obviously works!

Poor old nb Cornwall was listing badly - we werent sure whether that was because she was well aground on the towpath side or because she was taking on water. There were other boaters around so hopefully they will keep an eye on her....

Wide-water lock - some of the lock gates along this stretch are a little worse for wear - there are many leaky gates, but there was also plenty of water in the pounds.

Overhanging branch - now if I was moored below that I'd want to get my chainsaw out and cut it back before it fell on my boat! It's a eucalyptus tree so it should go up like a torch in a boater's stove!

Very nice residential moorings below Coppermill Lock....

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s diary

Posted by indigodream on 11 April, 2011

Monday 11th April

How mummy Sue likes our beds - all neat 'n tidy wif no crumbs on the floor (tho' Ty's making amends wif that gravy bone....)

Me friends will remember that I woz a bit stiff last time I dun ritin’.

Well, I’s bin tryin’ to keep it quiet, but the uvver day I woz trying Ty’s new bed out for size and I sed “Yip!” – mummy Sue gives me a look but I sez “is nuffink”…..

Then I’s tried lyin’ in me own bed and I sed “Yip” – mummy Sue give me a look but I sez “is nuffink”…..

Then I’s tried lyin’ in Lou’s bed and I goes “owwwww owwwww” –

BIG mistake coz them mummy Sue bundles me in the car and off we goes to the vet.

I’s had to see a man vet wot stuck his thumbs in me back – ouch ouch ouch.  The vet man is mega-stupid – he sed “I’ll just check Lynx’s temperature – that’ll relax him a bit then I’ll check his back again” – WOT? Like having a thermometer stuck up me bum is relaxin’ – I’s hid behind mummy Sue then I’s hid behind a girlie student wot woz there speshaly for me to do big greyhound leaning on. Anyhoo, I’s pulled a muscle in my back and in my hip – I is very sore and I’s havin’ to stay at home an’ rest. Mummy Sue sed we couldn’t do boatin’ and she let me off dog trainin’ coz I woz a bit pafetic about jumpin’ into the car – result! Is a bit tragic tho’ coz I can’t get up to the back garden coz I’s too sore to jump over the back wall – oh sure, there’s steps an’ a ramp – mummy Sue keeps sayin’ “walk round to the steps” but that’s like, 3 feet further to walk – huh!

So, I’s bin the vet on Tuesday, then on Wednesday  it woz Lou’s turn – she’s bin a bit grumpy – no wonder – her man vet prodded her until she went “owwwwww”, then he did the whole vampire thing and tooks her blood. Lou wozn’t happy, so when she went for a walk down the High Street she kept poking her nose in shop doors and used her hypno-powers to get the shop assistants to give her fuss an’ sympafy. Mummy Sue had just found out how much Lou’s blood tests cost, so she had to have a sit down wif a BIG coffee – Lou had some Costa tap water – is much better than ordinary water! Then mummy Sue took Lou to the physio – Lou luves the physio – she had a luvverly massage and fell asleep for almost a whole hour wrapped in a warm magnet blanket. Mummy Sue sed she could have a whole spa day for the price on one doggie physio session – Lou opened one eye and gave her a look – ev’ryone knows that happy dogs makes happy owners so if mummy Sue spends money on US then is like a 2 for 1 offer!

Then on Thursday it woz Ty’s turn to go back to the vet – he definitely duzn’t need a CAT now but he did gets to see the wabbits in Pets at Home. Ty met a nice lady greyhound at Pets at Home – she’s called Grace and we sumtimes sees her down the park – Grace is all soft and luvverly – she give Ty a big cuddle and Grace’s mum gave Ty a cuddle and anuvver lady wot has five greyhounds at home gave him a cuddle as well. Fing is, Ty duzn’t see the wabbits coz he’s such a scaredy wuss boy and he duzn’t like cuddles either – why duzn’t mummy Sue take me to Pets at Home – I luves cuddles, and wabbits…..

How we likes our beds - all higgledy piggledy an' covered in crumbs - that's better!

Now that mummy Sue’s got nuffink else to do ‘cept look after us, she’s bin busy workin’ out how scaredy wuss jelly boy Ty can get comfy on the boat – see when he’s all jelly shakin’ he shakes himself right off his duvet! So mummy Sue’s got him a new snuggly boat bed – is all soft and squashy wif big comfy sides for curlin’ up in. But mummy Sue is daft, she’s only bought a large one but we need hextra large – is a bit inadeqwate but Ty can make it work – he can curl his bum into the new bed, then he curls his front into his uvver bed then he rests his front paws on a duvet. Mummy Sue sez at this rate she’ll have to buy a wider boat just to make room for Ty’s beds!

Ty’s bin a happy happy hound at home – he luves home – mummy Sue is very happy when Ty is all big an brave – on Sunday he just sat around while daddy Richard used his big noisy hedge trimmers to do the garden – wot a himprovement. Ty was almost brave when we went to daddy Richard’s office too, so maybe we’s will have to stop calling him a wuss jelly boy soon….

Ty’s bin a very good boy this week – he’s dun helping mummy Sue to unpack shopping from the back of the car – she sez he’s very helpful when it comes to gettin’ stuff out of the boot but he’s not so good at putting stuff away in the cupboards. Honestly, wot is the point of puttin’ stuff in cupboards – we’s can ‘store’ fings in our tummies! Today Ty thought he’d help mummy Sue to put away a pack of chocolate digestives – he sneeked the pack into his bed and he scoffed half of them before she noticed. He tried to look innocent but his bed woz covered in incriminating crumbs, so Ty thought “uh oh” an’ legged it wif wot woz left of the packet. He ran round and round the house wif mummy Sue in hot pursuit but she cornered him by Lou’s bed and took the rest of the bicuits off him. Now, we hounds duzn’t have food dilemmas – we just sees it and eats it – but mummy Sue woz looking at these biscuits – they woz delishus and she really wanted to eat them herself, on the uvver hand, they woz covered in a serious amount of slobber – Ty said she could give them back to him coz he duznt mind a bit of slobber, but in the end she put them in the bin instead. Is important lesson for all of us – you’s can steal anyfink and mummy Sue will just larf, but you mustn’t come between mummy Sue and chocolate – I’s sure she woz mutterin’ “Battersea Dogs’ Home” when she woz chucking her lushus biscuits in the bin…..

That duzn't look like evidence to ME mummy Sue - after all, those crumbs duzn't look anyfink like chocolate digestives...

Is springing outside so we gots up early one mornin’ and had a big houndie commotion right to the bottom of the garden – mummy Sue woz larfin’ and she sed “good boy” coz Ty woz runnin’ back top the house with a grey fluffy thing wot mummy Sue though woz one his toys – mummy Sue likes it when he brings his toys back in from the garden coz it saves her a job. Only this weren’t no toy – it was a HOOGE dead rat wot he’d picked up – so mummy Sue went “EEEEEEK” and shut the door in his face. Poor Ty, he duzn’t unnerstand at all – he woz bringing a grey fluffy playfing back to his bed – is not his fault if mummy Sue has unreasonable rat prejudice!

We’s all bin so helpful this week – mummy Sue an’ daddy Richard dun DIY this weekend – they woz diggin’, so Lou dun diggin’ too – a big greyhound sized hole – she put the soil all over the paving – it looked much better there!

Woz good this mornin’ coz mummy Sue went to the vet all by herself – maybe we could always just send her and stay at home ourselves – but she sez ‘no’ – she woz picking up some antibiotics for Lou wot has got a kidney infection. Mummy Sue sez that after this week’s vet visits she’s got no change from 500 squids. Squids? Is that wot woz in the pond? That sounds like far too many – good riddance to the squids sez I……….

So we’s basic’ly had a luvverly week at home – we’s all on tablets so we’s eating lots of ham and creem cheese – yum yum. Mummy Sue’s bin doin’ a lot of mutterin’ – is like havin’ an annoyin’ bee buzzin’ in yer ear all day long!

Daft questions wot mummy Sue keeps mutterin’ about…..

  • “I wonder what I’d use my money for if I didn’t have hounds”
  • “Would my computer work better without a great hound head lying slobbering on the keyboard”
  • “Why do you have to splash water all over the floor when you’re drinking”
  • “Why can’t they invent a telly remote control that works when there’s a sodding great greyhound standing in front of it?”
  • “If you hounds can learn to open doors then why can’t you learn to close them behind you?”…………..

There you are mummy Sue, almost ready for planting your little flowers, sorry, big trees.....

Don’t forget – Birmingham Canal Navigations Marathon Challenge – 29th May 2011:

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The Odyssey 2011 – Day 2

Posted by indigodream on 9 April, 2011

Friday 9th April

Paddington Basin to Cowley Lock

Unique dwelling - fancy living in that old water tower?

The plan for today was for me to move Indigo Dream to Cowley Lock, finally getting us out of central London. I’ve cruised this route solo many times, but I’d been a bit worried by nb Balmaha’s report of terrible trash in the water around Bulls Bridge. The local moorings officer had also mentioned in passing that there was a substantial amount of  “turn-up” happening on the Paddington Arm from Norwood to almost Park Royal i.e. “rubbish, weed and yuck floating the surface with the remains of vegetation such as last year’s autumn leaves”.

As I mentioned in the last post, I was a bit worried, because although I know the principles, I’ve never actually cleared the weed-hatch myself. We’d been considering various options, including Richard joining me later for the worse bits – I blush with embarrassment for being such a wuss! But then my knight in shining armour turned up in the form of a text! Adam from nb Debdale gallantly volunteered to cruise with me – I was grateful for the company and for the spare pair of hands. It would have been churlish of me to send him down the weed hatch, but I felt better knowing that I’d have someone on board to hoist me out of the engine bay if I got stuck down there myself!

In her email, the moorings officer had assured us that BW were doing their best to clear the ‘turn-up’ – well, they succeeded! Despite my misgivings, the Paddington Arm was as clear of trash as I’ve ever seen it i.e. plenty of plastic bags but not the bank-to-bank raft of rubbish seen in Balmaha’s photo. I don’t know whether the rubbish has:

a) sunk back to the depths

b) been cleared by BW

c) been cleared by other boaters’ props

d) all of the above

But whatever the reason, we had  a great day’s cruise with NO visits down the weedhatch to clear the prop. I did have to  do a few prop clearances using the throttle (hard reverse, hard forward, hard reverse) to dislodge the odd bit of plastic but otherwise we had an untroubled trip – hurrah!


The only canal denizens that seem to appreciate the trash are the coots – they’re busy building nests out of the available materials including highly insulating polystyrene takeaway boxes. One female coot had quite obviously sent her partner out to forage for a sheet of plastic  for the nest – he was very diligently investigating each available piece (there was a selection!) before carefully choosing the right one to line his home. While on the subject of nest, we saw a very large terrapin sitting on a moorhen’s nest (with the moorhens) – they didn’t seem to be too pleased but the terrapin was unperturbed by their fluttering or by the noise of a narrowboat being reversed back so that we could take a photo! Now, I used to think that terrapins were seen as a pest, but according to this article they’re not seen as particularly harmful to native wildlife.

But back to the start – it was a most glorious day and, for once, there wasn’t a breath of wind in Paddington Basin. I had a smooth journey by train (minus hounds) and got the boat ready for cruising. With a bit of time in hand I also did some singing practice (sorry Paddington) and listened to the recording of my last singing lesson – excruciating! The thing is that my voice is improving, which begs the question of how bad was it before? 🙂 Ah well, learning to sing is a journey not a destination (a b”££$% long journey given that I’ve been singing in public since about age 6!).

Luckily for Adam, I’d given up on the singing by the time he arrived, and with teas and coffees in hand we got underway with an air of peace and tranquillity on this most perfect of boating days. The water in the basin was crystal clear, revealing the bottom of the canal deep beneath us – the bottom was remarkably clean – often when canals are clear it reveals a tableau of submerged crisp packets and beer cans! It’s not often you can say that there’s a cloudless sky, but that was literally true today – off with the fleeces and on with the sunhats and suntan lotion!

We seemed to get out of London proper in no time at all, noting what’s changed and what, by and large, has stayed the same. The wall under the M40 is now so graffitied as to be almost black and someone’s futile attempt at growing flowers there has been utterly abandoned – so it’s back to its previous dismal state. Other than at Kensal Green and Black Horse, the towpath is largely empty of moored boats. So London isn’t really full – the (wild?) West is there – enticingly empty- rich pickings for the pioneers who dare to moor there 😀

"It's behind you" - giant hopper barge leaving Old Oak Wharf on its way to Cowley..

I haven’t worked out the etiquette for sharing the helm with visiting boaters. We always assume that visitors want to be on the helm so tend to plonk them on the tiller and get on with chatting and making coffee. But what if they wanted to relax and not do any helming for a change? And what if we’re all too polite to express our preferences? Ah, it’s an etiquetty minefield 🙂

Adam and I solved the problem by taking relaxed turns on the helm as the fancy took us!

One of the notable changes along the canal was the transformation of the old concrete water tower by the Sainsbury’s in Ladbrook Grove. Years ago it look like a martian tripod from War of the Worlds, looming darkly above the landscape. Today it looks as strange as ever, but windows have been installed and the whole thing clad in timber – it’s quite a sight. According to this link it’s being turned into a 9-storey four-bedroomed house – the view from the roof terrace will be great and the owners are sensibly installing a lift!

Further along, we came across the Powerday recycling facility at Old Oak Wharf – it’s changed beyond recognition as the photos below show. As we approached, the canal was blocked by a gargantuan hopper barge being deftly manoeuvred by a tiny Wood, Hall and Hereward tug. The helmsman cleared the bridge hole and we overtook him, assuming that he was stopping a the wharf, but as we edged past we realised that the barge was empty and the helmsman asked us to warn oncoming boats that he was on his way behind us. I was very pleased that we’d got away in front of him, though when we looked back he was pushing the barge along at a fair pace. Typically there were many oncoming boats – the canal was busier than I’ve seen it for a long while – we told each boat about the behemoth behind us – I’m sure it would still have been a shock for them to see that mountainous craft coming towards them  mid-canal!

We made good pace along the canal, gaining ground on the barge. This allowed us to stop for provisions at Sainsbury’s in Alperton and move on before we were overtaken. Actually, I’m not sure that he would have caught up with us – there are a few narrow places – the aqueduct over the North Circular for starters and, further on, bridge works where work vessels narrowed the channel on one side, while piles of earth/rubble blocked the towpath side – Indigo Dream’s bottom scraped ominously as we went through – I’m not sure how the barge managed behind us, though at least it was running light.

Seeing this cottage go back to the earth always makes me sad...

As the fine afternoon wore on we relaxed as we move through increasingly familiar and attractive scenery – it felt like home to me, but this was the first time Adam had cruised this way so he had a sharper eye for the scenery.

The old BW cottage at Bulls Bridge is continuing to decay – there is now the sad sight of a fireplace standing along against a wall that’s long gone. A man with a van was unloading some timber but I think that the cottage is beyond saving now – I wish someone would do something with it – I can never understand how owner can afford to leave properties empty. Mind you, looking at our house maintenance to-do list, I can quite understand why they can’t afford renovate either – a classic catch 22!

Bulls Bridge had its usual crop of garbage but not too excessive – unless you count the paved area under the big road bridge (? A40) – that was strewn with a substantial heap of mattresses and blankets – we wondered whether it was a haven for fly-tippers or some desperate soul’s home. Either way, we hope that the mattresses don’t end up in the canal – we’ve heard that they’re very hard to untangle from a prop.

I was really at home now – goodness, the number of times I’ve cruised this stretch. I can’t take anything for granted though – half-built housing developments are now finished, the aggregate wharf is silent and empty, and the new canalside Tesco which was just a few steel beams the last time I came through is nigh on complete – it’s a huge development. The towpath round the development is particularly smart – it’s still closed for the moment but I wonder when it will be finished.

As we cruised past the entrance to the Slough Arm I realised that we were near the end of our cruise. Oops, time to get rid of the rubbish – I’d forgotten to get rid of it at the rubbish barge in Paddington Basin and, unusually, there wasn’t a rubbish barge at Bulls Bridge. We stopped off at Packet Boat Marina’s service wharf and I took a little look around our old winter home – it looked very fine but I don’t miss it – Limehouse is much more friendly!

New Tesco development - huge superstore, blocks of flats and towpath improvements...

Surprisingly, the towpath moorings at the end of the Slough Arm were empty, but the moorings on the mainline around the junction were full. I was a little worried about whether we’d find a spot below Cowley Lock but there were plenty of spaces available. I chose a spot on the last of the 14-day moorings but there were spaces on the 7-day moorings nearer to the lock.

The nice thing about having visiting boaters on board is that they understand the mundane necessity of stopping at rubbish points and sorting out the boat before departure. Adam helped me to moor, clear the boat roof (we don’t want our centre ropes to be stolen this year!) and sorted out a taxi while I locked up. The moorings at Cowley looked quite idyllic in the westering sun – it was a fitting end to a fine day’s cruise.

We got a cab to Uxbridge tube station and abruptly we were back in the real world. My trip home seemed to take an age but by this time a day in the fresh air and sunshine had taken it’s toll as I started to suffer from fatigue, sunburn and lack of cold beer! I picked up Richard’s car in Croydon (he was having a night out with his work-mates), picked up the hounds from Richard’s mum and hastened home for an ice cold cider which soon put the world to rights. By 10pm the hounds and I were fast asleep – a good day all round then 🙂

Today’s Trivia

Old Oak Wharf as it is now....

I don’t know much about loading/unloading freight from barges, but I was surprised to see the new high walls now separating the Powerday ‘sheds’ from the wharf itself. These relatively new walls made the whole operation look terribly inaccessible from the water, though there were two empty barges moored there – the rusty old behemoth that followed us down the canal and what looked like an ‘olympic’ class barge.Previous photographs (including the one in the 2008 report mentioned before) show a rubbish lorry coming right down the water’s edge – I doubt if that’s possible any more.

According to this 2008 report, the ‘Olympic’ class hopper barge was specifically designed for british waterways in order to minimise wash and avoid the problem caused by high-displacement vessels that lie close to the canal bed, restricting the amount of water that can reach the propeller at the stern. The Olympic barges are lightweight and shallow-drafted so that when fully loaded (85 tonnes) have a working draft of less than 4′ 6″. Now, this still sound pretty deep to me!

Land and Water’s report paints such a glowing picture – but the ‘olympic’ class barges that we used to see around Uxbridge have gone – the quarry at West Drayton no longer carries its freight by water. Apparently there are many, and somewhat contradictory, reports of why sand/aggregate is no longer being moved by canal along this stretch.

Powerday Wharf in December 2009...

I had a look at Powerday’s website, and though they mention the wharf and its capacity for mooring 3 barges carrying around 90 tonnes of waste apiece. I’ve never seen that many barges regularly travelling along the Grand Union, but resident moorers may disagree. Althought Powerday’s green credentials are strengthened by its reported capacity to freight waste by water, I didn’t find any mention of actually how much waste they ship by this method. Powerday are planning a new facility in West Drayton, but their plans don’t seem to involve the canal at all.

So the question is – “Will the Grand Union realistically to be used as a commercial waterway again?”. It doesn’t look hopeful at the moment, but although I love the idea of the canal being used for freight, I was glad that I didn’t have to follow that barge for the slow trip from Old Oak to Cowley!

Don’t forget – Birmingham Canal Navigations Marathon Challenge – 29th May 2011:

My Charity Page Sponsor Me Now


From last week's trip - tame cormorant at Camden top lock

From last week's cruise - I loved this bird - totally fearless!

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Charity Blog: A marathon with a difference……

Posted by indigodream on 6 April, 2011

Wednesday 6th April

People often run marathons in order to raise funds for their favourite good causes – well, lacking the drive and physique to run we’ve decided to do a marathon cruise instead!

The BCN marathon challenge is a boat ‘race’ in which narrowboats compete to cruise round as much the BCN as possible in 24 hours. It’s a real challenge as there are around 100 miles of canal in Birmingham and around 120 locks – you have to choose your route carefully to make the best of the points available. Points are awarded per mile and per lock and extra points are awarded for cruising less well-known parts of the canal system and for answering the ‘treasure hunt’ style questions along the way. If the organisers suspect that you’ve broken the canal’s speed limit of 4mph then you’re out – It’s possibly the only marathon where you can be disqualified for going too fast!

I won’t pretend that we’re going to win – there are some very competitive crews out there – but our target is somewhat ambitious, we want to cruise 44 miles and get through 78 locks – with the help of some experienced crew from nb Matilda Rose and nb Greyhound.

We want to dedicate our Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Marathon Challenge to our favourite good cause – Greyhoundhomer! This is a small charity where all the money raised goes to the care and rehoming of retired racing greyhounds – any money we can raise will make an immense difference to them.

We are looking for sponsors for our BCN Marathon Challenge cruise. You can sponsor us per mile, per lock or choose an amount you’d like to donate – just click the “sponsor me now” button below and it’ll take you to our sponsorship page. On behalf of all the hounds waiting for their ‘forever sofas’ – THANK YOU!

My Charity Page Sponsor Me Now

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Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 5 April, 2011

Tuesday 5th April

I’s had brilliant news this week – mummy Sue is NOT getting a proper job – see, I knew her ritin woz atroshus! She woz lookin’ a bit sad but she still gave us sardeens for our breakfast – she woz opening the tins all careful when all of a sudden they sprung up an’ sprayed her all over wif fishy oil.I fink she smelled lushus – she likes her clothes to smell of lavender but I loves her better when she smells of fish! I’s dun weeing on the proper lavender by the front door so that smells better too…..

So me life is all good – mummy Sue smells of sardeens an’ she’s stayin’ at home to look after us prop’ly. She sez “what about my self-esteem” – I told she duzn’t need self-esteem – she’s got ME 🙂

I’s not bin to the vet all week, tho I’s a bit stiff so Mummy Sue’s givin’ me a vet look. S’ok tho’, Ty’s keeping the vet’s bizzy tho I woz a bit sad coz he didn’t need a CAT – well not yet anyways. I finks we would all feel better for having a CAT. Mummy Sue woz sighing – she sez I duzn’t unnerstand the different between a CAT an’ a CAT scan! She’s daft – I knows what a cat is, an’ a wabbit, an a guinea pig….

Ty’s a bit mystified coz his vet had a big poster about doggie poison – eeek! Ty made sure that mummy Sue looked at it so she could look after us prop’ly but then, BUT THEN, guess wot, the poster sed “PUT YOUR LEFTOVERS IN THE BIN NOT IN THE DOG” – WOT?  Ty woz well worried – wot if mummy Sue stopped givin’ us leftovers? He woz quick tho’ – he gave mummy Sue a big cuddle so she didn’t read the poster right to the end – good work Ty, you’s the best.

We woz very very tired after our boaty sleepover – we slept for 2 days solid and mummy Sue boiled us lamb mince to get our strength back – lamb duzn’t smell as good as tripe but it’ll do…

Lou’s bin all hup and down – she’s had the dire rear so we’s been helpin her to eat her food but she’s not that ill coz she still eats treets! When Lou woz a bit better, Mummy Sue gave us all a jumbone – little ones like wot silly ratty dogs eat – Lou scoffed hers but I wozn’t eatin mine – I’s a proper big dog. So Lou stood over me and barked and barked and barked so mummy Sue gave Lou MY jumbone – WOT! Well, I gives mummy Sue me best hurt look so she got me anuvver jumbone – oh course, I didn’t actooally want to eat it, I just wanted to look at it. So Lou stood over me and barked and barked and barked for a whole half hour – but mummy Sue sed she couldn’t have anuvver one. In the end I’s had to move to the garden for sum peace ‘n quiet an’ quick as a flash Lou woz in an eatin’ her third jumbone. Mummy Sue sighed but she finks it’s ok coz three tiny jumbones is prob’ly the same as one big one which is wot she should have bought us anyway – we’s proper dogs!

Talkin’ o’ treets, we’s bin tripe deprived so mummy Sue bought us a bag of tripe sticks – she took them into the garden so we followed her quick; she opened the bag and shared it out then she ran indoors and locked us out in the garden wif the tripe! She sez that even tripe sticks isn’t allowed inside. We wozn’t bovvered, even when we heard her ringin’ the henvironment agency to warn of a flood risk from all the slobbering we woz doin’!

We’s bin boating this weekend but it wozn’t no fun wifout our houndie friends – Ty woz a scaredy wuss jelly boy an’ Lou woz grumpy an’ I woz quiet – I jus’ laid on deck – I didn’t do lookin’ – I’s dun lookin’ in London – we needs a change in scenery mummy Sue! Mummy Sue’s very wurried about Ty bein’ such a scaredy boy – she’s got speshal tablets for him, and she’s got him a new snuggly boat bed so he can hide and she’s goin’ to get him a new harness so she can keep hold of him when he gets in  a panic. Huh, I’s a good boy and I’s not scared but’ wot do I gets – just chikkin and treets and a sheepskin on deck an’ one on the sofa – is not fair!

Lynx’s food review….

I’s thinkin’ that I’s should hexpand me ritin’ into food reviews – after all, I luves food, and I knows that me houndie friends do too. So I’s got a duty to make sure that our hu-mums get us the best stuff.

I’s startin’ wif hot chikkins….

In order of bestest for hounds to worstest for hounds…

1. Sainsbury’s – they is pretty juicy an’ sumtimes they’s hextra tasty and their BIG chikkens are the biggest – like almost two whole mouthfuls!

2. Waitrose – yummmmmm, sooo juicy, soo suckulent, mmmmmmmmmmmm, taysteee……….sorry, where woz I? They’s could have the top spot for lushusness, but their big chikkins is only little and I has to share wif two others so is no joke!

3. Tesco – is gen’rally over cooked and not so suckulenet but they is a good size

4. Mummy Sue’s home-cooked chikkin – yummmm – perfickly cooked but I’s can’t give it top spot cos daddy Richard eats it all himself – that’s not right!

We’s had sum Tesco cold chikkin slices too – they woz luvverly – thick meaty slices and surprisingly suckulent – will do if there’s no hot chikkin counter.

Oh course, any hot chikkin is better than no chikkin at all but if you is a clever houndie like wot I is, then you’s will use your hypno-powers to make hu-mum buy you the bestest……

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