Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for May 3rd, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 6

Posted by indigodream on 3 May, 2011

Thursday 28th April

Berkhamstead to Marsworth

The Rising Sun - this spot will be full of gongoozlers later on...

We surprised ourselves today by managing to get to the boat by 10am – that’s an early start by our standards! Our plan was to go up three locks to the water point then divide our labours – Richard would fill with water and empty the rubbish while I went to Waitrose to stock the boat up with food and diet coke (!) for the odyssey.

We had a lovely start to the day – the weather was benign (though chilly in the wind), the dogs were relatively calm and happy (big improvements in Ty’s behaviour this weekend but more on that later). Needless to say, the boat had been fine on her moorings – Berkhamstead is such a friendly place – we always feel really welcome here. The towpath was already busy with walkers – I was taken by one fine dog – an improbable cross between a dachshund mum and an unknown dad, suspected to be an afghan hound – the mind boggles. Anyway, the result was a handsome medium-sized dog which looked like a miniature afghan!

We set off up the locks, admiring the hanging baskets which festooned the first two of the Berkhamstead’s three canalside pubs – the Rising Sun and the Boat. It’s interesting that the third pub, the Crystal Palace, looked drab and unappealing by comparison – its hanging baskets have failed to flourish for some reason! There’s a marketing message there somewhere……

I left Richard to single-hand through Lock 53 (there was a bit of a wait) while I popped round to Waitrose and did a mega-shop. They do a “carry to car” service – I asked whether they did a “carry to boat” service but the lady at the checkout seemed a bit bemused by the question! However I had a bit of luck – in theory you can’t take trolleys to the canal but I found a cunning route that enabled me to bypass the security – walk up to the parking barrier and cross onto the car park path there (makes sense when you see it) – the grid which normally locks the trolley wheels doesn’t seem to be working – that gave me access to the towpath. Richard had found a mooring right under the footbridge so we had the luxury of unloading the shopping from trolley to galley through the open side-hatch.

Sharry and Bess enjoying the view from the deck. I hope that's the right way round (it may be Bess and Sharry!).

But by now we were running late – not a huge problem except that our guests for the day had arrived and they had to put up with us sorting our domestics before we could get going. They were very gracious about it though – they are another pair of greyhound-mad boaters whom we met by chance last year. It was a memorable meeting – they were walking their greyhounds along the towpath and hailed us “are you the boat that does the greyhound cruises” – it turned out that they got their two rescue greyhounds from Greyhoundhomer! We’ve kept in touch since and it was great to have the opportunity to meet up again as we were passing through.

So Roger, Margaret and dainty black greyhounds Bess and Sharry joined us for the day. Roger and Margaret were very patient with our preparations for boating – their own boat, nb Mary Beth, is moored upon the Leicester Arm – we hope to visit there this year and maybe indulge in a 2-boat five-greyhound cruise! The hounds got on very well – Bess and Sharry enjoyed the open deck and spent most of the day looking out interestedly – Sharry’s still a bit keen when it comes to small furry creatures so her nose was a-twitch for most of the day! Lynx was very taken by his two new girlfriends – he even tried to go home with them at the end of the day – Roger and Margaret were amenable – everyone wants Lynx!

Richard and Roger did the car shuffle first, leaving me, Margaret and the hounds to get acquainted – like all visiting hounds, Bess and Sharry were very keen to explore the food cupboard and were happy to munch the little biscuit treats that the spaniels left behind last week (and which our lot treated with disdain). Sharry is very much ‘daddy’s girl’ and squeaked plaintively until he came back – what a joyful greeting that was.

Now that we’re on the odyssey proper, I’ve been more diligent about filling in my cruising notebook. But I may as well just write “here be greyhounds” when we have houndie guests on board because I’m so busy chatting that I don’t notice anything else around! Roger and Margaret are fascinating company, having been regular boaters since the 1970’s – they’ve seen massive changes in the canal system since they started and were really among the pioneers of leisure boating on some of the more run-down waterways. They are much involved with the Wendover Arm Trust and I admire their dedication to restoring the Wendover Arm – which, although short, is well worth a visit and maybe a restorative night’s stay in the blissful peace and quiet of what is currently the terminus.

The 'dog proof' deck was a big hit!

Roger had parked his car by Dudswell Lock and the intention had been for them to cruise to the summit at Cowroast and walk back to the car. But instead we moored up for a late lunch just above the first of the Dudswell Locks and stayed there chatting for 2 hours! By now it was gone 5pm and we agreed it would be more sensible for them to head for home – their hounds are used to being fed at 5pm! We said ‘goodbye’ with extreme reluctance as we’d really enjoyed their company and hope that we can meet up again later on in the odyssey.

With our guests gone we faced the decision of how far to cruise on. We did give some thought to staying put, but we had Sarah (aka Greygal) joining us tomorrow and we needed to find a spot with parking and easy offloading for more visiting greyhounds. We headed for the summit and Richard cycled back to get the car while I took the boat along the lock-free pound and scouted out potential moorings. Cowroast itself was full but there were plenty of towpath moorings further along, but all rather isolated for our purposes. I noted in passing that there are useful mooring rings along the towpath past Bridge 136.

By now, the gusty wind was becoming a real nuisance – I passed nb Valerie along the way and stopped briefly to say hello to Les (whom I haven’t met before) and pass on my good wishes for his life aboard with wife-to-be Jacqueline – surely the towpath romance of the century (so far!). Unfortunately as I was chatting, the wind blew me into the reeds offside and I was forced to beat a hasty and embarrassingly untidy retreat. It’s a shame as I’d hoped we’d meet nb Valerie in Marsworth and have time for a drink and a longer chat.

Having failed to find a mooring in Cowroast, I wended my way along the Tring cutting to Bulbourne – our next potential mooring spot. The Tring cutting was its usual atmospheric self – darkly wooded, shady and cold, serene and remote, with the rush of trains on the embankment above as incongruous as the soundtrack of “Apocalypse Now” dubbed onto the ‘Sound of Music”.

Relaxing over lunch - the time just flies by when greyhound boaters get together 🙂

I was moved to start singing here – a song from the repertoire that I’m preparing for my singing diploma (long story) about the spirit of water (music: Respighi; lyrics: Rubino). The Tring cutting is maybe the first place I’ve seen that makes any sense of the words:

“Water, your mellow flute plays your varying song, whose notes seem like the smell of mushrooms, of moss and of sleek, silken maiden-hair. All the tiny streams that refresh the lonely places, your sparkling presence laughs and ripples with the jewels of serene music. Water, along your banks the whispering reeds playfully shake their blue fingers, flickering long shadows in the light. You wind your fleeting way, seeing on my brooding forehead and on each of the leaves the passing shadows of clouds.” (talking about bad dubbing – that’s an almost literal translation of the original Italian!).

I soon had to stop singing – the first clue was the desperate flapping of the local pigeons trying to get away from the racket. I finally got the hint when Lynx curled up as tight as possible on his deck sheepskin and put his paws over his ears!

There were a few boats moored around the footpath up to Tring station but it was otherwise quiet here – it was getting late in the day so Indigo Dream seemed to be the only boat on the move. There were a few more boats moored on the approach to Bulbourne and I was very taken by a white bull terrier cross sitting serenely on the bow of a moored boat, watching the world go by with an expression of ineffable wisdom on his little face – hardly surprising as he was sitting in the lap of the buddha (well, a buddha statue…)!

Sunset over Marsworth - what a magical mooring this is....

I met up with Richard at Bulbourne – he’d parked up in the BW car park temporarily but didn’t want to leave his car there long as the locals seemed unwelcoming. The sun was shining, it was a pleasant evening so almost seemed a shame to stop so we headed off down the Marsworth flight.

I’d underestimated the temperature of the wind and I’d allowed myself to get cold – always a big mistake as that seems to amplify fatigue by a factor of 10. I was beyond of tired by the time we moored up above the last lock around 8pm. The moorings there were surprisingly empty. This is one of my favourite mooring spots and I still had the energy to admire the blazing sunset over the reservoir. This was a good spot for Ty as it’s very quiet and deserted after dark so he had the confidence to have a walk and a wee, then he felt bright enough to eat – all big progress on the geological timescale that we’re using to measure his evolution!

Note: We put out our fat fenders and had no problems with the boat banging around in the wind, but we have heard from others that mooring nearer the lock is better as the wind does not catch your boat so much.

We’d heard that the White Lion pub at the bottom of the flight is now closed, though the Anglers Rest is still open. But with the boat full of goodies from Waitrose, Richard cycled back to get the car and I got the supper ready. It was a late finish, even by our standards, but it had been well worth the effort. We’d reached our cruising target for the day, had a great mooring spot, a secure car parking spot (albeit pay ‘n display) and were well-placed to welcome Sarah and unspecified number of greyhounds on board the following day. When Richard moved the car the following day he saw that the White Lion’s car park was not locked and had a fair few cars in it, but it was more convenient to park up close to the boat in the pay and display.


Views of Berkhamstead (1) - it's great to be in such a welcoming town that's making the best of it's canal....

Views of Berkhamstead (2) - the signs and information boards show a real pride in the town's history...

Views of Berkhamstead (3) - This picturesque house used to be a dock building but the dry dock adjacent to it has now been filled in and it looks as if a housing development ie being built there...

Views of Berkhamstead (4) - the famous canadian totem pole - once symbolic of the timber trade hereabouts but now a notable landmark...

Heron fishing in the lock wash - you'd think he'd be frightened by people and all the noise.....

Aerial shot of the crew.....

That's a sharp bow line.....

Great to see another lock gate that doesn't leak - they're few and far between...

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »