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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for May 4th, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 7

Posted by indigodream on 4 May, 2011

Friday 29th April Marsworth to The Globe Inn (bridge 111)

Plenty of crew today!

Sarah (aka Greygal) has been very concerned about our dawdling along on the odyssey and threatened to join us at 9.30am to give us a kick start. It was with some relief that we got her text at 8am to tell us that she’d overslept and wouldn’t get to us ’til 10am. Hmmmmm – just time for a lovely snooze then….

We had managed to get up and dressed by the time she arrived with hounds Ranger and Miffy (experienced Indigo Dreamers) and Henry, who was back for his third boating outing having had his first cruise ever on Indigo Dream last weekend followed by an inaugural cruise on Sarah’s Midlands narrowboat Henry H last weekend.

We set off in good spirits – we had good company, coffee and, thanks to Sarah, Krispy Creme doughnuts – the vital ingredients for a great day’s boating. Today’s stretch of the Grand Union was fabulous as always and the hounds had the time of their lives racing along the towpath. Even Ty was persuaded to have a little walk and a daytime wee!

The Seabrook and Ivinghoe locks are particularly scenic and so very quiet after the bustle of Marsworth. We did meet a hire boat at one lock – a bit unfortunate as they had a tiny labradoodle puppy who literally screamed with fear just at the sight of the greyhounds – it was a frightful racket. This is never a good thing as distress calls can potentially trigger a ‘predator’ response, but the greyhounds were just curious and didn’t get anywhere near the puppy. Nonetheless we were all a bit shaken by the noise – Richard shouted at me to come out (I was making coffee – again!) and I assumed that I was needed to hold a greyhound, but all was under control. Richard had actually called me out to hold the boat, which was slowly drifting into the canal because Sarah had understandably let go of it to grab a greyhound! Richard ran up  to save the boat and all ended well!

The pounds on this stretch were generally low and the towpath sides often too shallow for mooring. We were looking for an idyllic spot for lunch and managed to find a deep enough space to moor between Ivinghoe bottom lock and Horton lock. The hounds had a great time here as the towpath was deserted – they found a muddy ditch to wade in and a path into an adjoining empty field where they could have a proper rummage. They had plenty of time – our gas cylinder ran out just as I started cooking so it took a bit of time to deploy the spare. That’s only the third cylinder we’ve used since we launched Indigo Dream almost five years ago – more a testament to the numerous pubs we’ve visited rather than the efficiency of our gas appliances!

Thatched cottage by Marsworth bottom locks....

When lunch was ready, human and canine  crew settled onto the back deck and enjoyed the afternoon sunshine. Bearing in mind our recent extended lunches, we didn’t allow ourselves to get too comfortable and forced ourselves to move on. Except it wasn’t that simple – Richard cycled on to set the lock, leaving me and Sarah to get the boat out – but she was fast aground! Of course, while we were jiggling around trying to get free, a boat came up from Horton lock and another came down from Ivinghoe bottom lock – always an audience when you’re doing something awkward!

We shared the next few locks with the narrowboat that came down at Ivinghoe – sadly the name wasn’t painted on the side and I didn’t ask – that’s a shame as they were pleasant and efficient locking partners. They were fascinated by the number of hounds we had on board, as were most people that we met. One set of young fishermen thought it was amazing that we had three on board (standing on deck at the time) and when we said we had another three indoors they eloquently said “bloody hell” followed by the question “do they shit inside” – 11 year olds can be so…..fundamental!

As we approached Church lock, there were some ominous rumblings in the distance – we hoped it was a train or a plane, but out here in the empty countryside it could only be one thing – a thunderstorm approaching at speed. Richard thought he could outrun it on his bike so he decided to jump ship and cycle back to get his car. Unfortunately the storm arrived at the lock just as he set out so he got soaked. In the meantime I quickly wrapped myself up in my super-long raincoat, I already had on my waterproof trainers and I added wide-brimmed hat. So despite a generous serving of torrential rain with a side-order of large hailstones, I didn’t actually get wet. In the meantime, Sarah had retreated inside to keep an eye on the hounds – Miffy and Ty are scared by loud noises, though the other four weren’t at all bothered. Ty didn’t panic as much as I might have expected – maybe the desensitising ‘sounds’ CD we used last year really did work (it’s certainly helped to blunt his response to fireworks).

nb Albion is very like Sarah's new boat Henry H - I think this is where her love affair with the tiny boat started...

The lightning sheeting from cloud to cloud above us prompted the usual debate – what would happen to a narrowboat, or more pertinently, its steerer, if it was struck by lightning? The consensus is that people inside would be ok because of the ‘Faraday cage’ effect. But what about the steerer standing on the outside of the cage? Would it make a difference if she was standing on rubber matting (as we have on Indigo Dream’s deck)? Would it be ok if she were holding the wooden part of the tiller rather than the brass? We didn’t come to a conclusion on this, but we were all agreed that holding up an umbrella and cursing the gods probably wasn’t a good move!

The downpour soon passed and it was dry by the time we got to Grove lock, though we did feel very sorry for the two hire boats coming out – Wyvern’s hire base is in Leighton Buzzard and the changeover day was today so they’d had a very wet start to their holiday! Sarah and I took turns at working the last two locks of the day – we’re both used to being on the helm and having our menfolk running around doing the heavy work so there was a certain adjustment to be made. At Grove lock it took me a long moment to work out that I needed to get off the boat to close the top gate behind me while Sarah turned the paddles at the bottom. Our fellow boaters got lucky here as their side of the lock was sorted by an enthusiastic group of scouts coming up on a trip boat.

We felt much better at Leighton Buzzard lock – we lost out efficient locking partners at the water point but gained new company in the form of nb Comfrey. They pootled down the canal at an inordinately slow pace and when we got to Leighton Buzzzard lock I found their ‘ground’ crew looking at the lock gates in some bewilderment. “We haven’t moved the boat for so long we’ve forgotten what to do” they said cheerfully – they have a long-term mooring by Tesco, and with all that they need within easy reach they usually stay put. The arrival of a guest on board had prompted a little cruise and this was their first lock. I demonstrated the procedure and we soon got going, though Sarah brought Indigo Dream in first while their helmsman was getting organised. We met up with Richard on the approach to the Globe Inn, our target for the day. He found us a mooring spot a little way down from the pub – a group of fishermen obligingly made some room for us and Sarah did a swanky mooring between the dual hazards of fishermen and a plastic cruiser. She’s a great helmswoman and one of the few people that we trust to do what she will with Indigo Dream!

The pack enjoying a bit of freedom at Ivinghoe Locks

We took the dogs for a walk, passing a boat with an intriguingly empty cage on the towpath – it normally contains ferrets but fortunately they weren’t around when the greyhounds went past! Mind you ferrets are fearsome predators so I’m not sure who’d come off worse – best not to test it really! If you walk away from the pub back towards Leighton Buzzard then around five boatlengths along there is a kissing gate leading to a path through the adjacent water meadows. There were cattle in the next meadow along but they were fenced off so we could let the dogs have yet another rummage – Ty was a bit scared at first, but calmed down as we walked along, surrounded by peace, quiet and five completely chilled-out packmates. In addition to his calming medication, this weekend Ty was sporting a new harness – this has increased our confidence because he can’t squiggle out of it when he’s scared and the tough handle on the back means that we can grab him if he were to try to jump off the boat or fall into the water. Because we’re more confident I think he is as well! We have to thank Lesley from nb Caxton for finding the harness – she did the research for her own hounds!

Note: There is an interesting array of industrial bits ‘n pieces opposite the Globe Inn – all part of an Anglian Water treatment works – there’s a link to a leaflet here – I wonder if they do tours for adults as well as kids – that’s the sort of thing we’d enjoy! If I understand it correctly, ferrous chloride is used as a ‘clumping’ agent to help remove solids from waste water.

When we got back to the boat, Richard and Sarah drove off to pick up Sarah’s car and I fed our extended pack. I like to feed a good appetite and these hounds were hungry! After a big supper the hounds all settled down to sleep on board and we went off the Globe to eat. Sarah kindly treated us to a delicious supper – I’m afraid that the Globe doesn’t do Eton Mess so I can’t continue my investigations on that score!

There was a live band at the pub and though it tends to kill conversation, Richard, in particular, loves to hear live musicians. We didn’t stay for the whole performance though – Sarah had a long drive home to Suffolk so she collected her hounds and we said an extremely reluctant goodbye. However we had the enticing prospect of her company on Sunday – maybe with a different tranche of hounds – she’s got almost infinite combinations now that her pack’s up to seven!

We debated going back to the pub but we’d had a long day’s cruise and I was almost catatonic. We’d started watching a DVD of “The time traveller’s wife” last night and finished it off tonight. Now, the DVD’s we have on board are an eclectic mix of carefully chosen films/programmes and those that were on sale for 99p at the supermarket! The ‘time traveller’s wife’ fell into the latter category so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t the best film we’ve ever seen – I found it slow and dull, but as that was the ambient state of our brains at the time it adequately filled the hour or so before we went to our bed…..


Six on deck - even Ty's come out for a look (in his new harness)...

Our un-named locking partners - very efficient they were too!

The water treatment works opposite the Globe Inn...

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