Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for June 13th, 2011

Boat Blog: Returning favours….

Posted by indigodream on 13 June, 2011

Sunday 5th June

We left Indigo Dream in Pelsall and headed off early for a big adventure – crewing for nb Matilda Rose and nb Henry H up the Stockton/Calcutt flights.

Lynx’s foot was still bleeding so it looked as if I’d have to drop Richard off to crew while I drove the hounds home – I was worried that Lynx wouldn’t be able to walk up the flight and it seemed such an imposition to put him on board nb Matilda Rose, especially as it meant that Daisy the cat would need to be securely locked away! I needn’t have worried – Jill was the perfect hound hostess, having laid two thick sheepskins on the dinette couch ready to receive the invalid!

The A Team - Sarah steering Henry H and Graham on the helm of Matilda Rose... (note how everybody moored up and hung onto their boats in terror)

We met nb Matilda Rose one lock up from the Blue Lias pub – not without some drama – Richard walked ahead while I got the hounds organised. I got Ty out of the car boot but when I opened the back door to get his harness he jumped onto the back seat and wouldn’t shift. There followed a farcical wrestling match while I tried to dog-handle an unwilling 5-stone hound out of the car. But I got lucky – normally the mulch of dust and mud on the back seat would have given him an unassailable grip on the back seat – but the car had been polished the day before so I was able to slide him out! Ty is not one to give in easily so I had to quickly catch him before he slithered nose-first onto the ground! It all took so long that Richard had rung me to find out whether I had, after all, driven back to Surrey, and Jill walked down the flight to see if she could help!

Jill and I walked up the flight – Muttley, the younger of their two tibetan terriers, happily rummaged with Lou and Lynx – no dramas from Lou – she was far too busy sniffing and weeing! Lynx hobbled along, making the best of the sympathy potential of a bandaged foot. When we got to the boat I took him on board and stayed on to keep him settled. In the meantime Jill walked Ty, Lou, Baxter and Muttley up the flight. Lou stopped for a lie-down at each lock, but she seemed very happy to bobble along with the rest of the pack. We shared locks with a hire boat whose ground crew seemed to consist entirely of children – they were quite efficient though and did as they were told, so we got up the flight in surprisingly good time.

At top lock, Richard walked back to get the car and shuffle it to our end point while Jill and the extended pack piled on board. Nb Matilda Rose is open and airy but with a really cosy feel – Lou joined Lynx on the dinette – the table makes a very useful chin rest! Muttley mainly sat on my lap (it took him a while to pluck up enough courage to lie next to Lou on the dinette!) – the terriers are soft, cuddly and a perfect size for  laps. Ty paced about, though he didn’t seem distressed – he was getting loads of fuss and cuddles from Jill, and Muttley, sitting on my lap, seemed quite happy to let Ty rest his head there too.

We cruised along in perfect harmony – it was great to get a chance to get to know Jill a little better and to talk boats, toilets and dogs! It was rather indulgent – Graham was on the helm, Richard on the locks and I was sitting indoors with very good coffee being made for me – I had a job to do, of course, being Muttley’s cushion was a serious business and I was nominally supervising the dogs, though they were all getting on so well it was really a matter of just making sure that they didn’t fall off their unfamiliar beds in their sleep!

A little way beyond top lock we met nb Henry H – Sarah was taking him down to turn around – we’d meet up again at the foot of the Calcutt Locks. We also passed nb Sanity Again moored up on the towpath – alas we didn’t see Bruce or Sheila, but we were able to admire their clean boat and shiny new blacking. Amazing how people hide from the combination of Henry H, Matilda Rose and an Indigo Dream ground crew.

We were reunited at Calcutt Bottom Lock – ah, you can’t keep a good crew down – Graham, Sarah and us – reunited after our marathon efforts last weekend. It was all change for the canine crew though – Sarah had only brought Miffy along this time!

The two crews moved smoothly up Calcutt locks, along to Napton junction and then along the canal towards Braunston. Henry H is booked into marina in mid-June ready for his makeover, so we all moored up by Bridge 102, where Richard had parked the car.

Hound hospitality on nb Matilda Rose - thanks for sharing your beds Muttley and Baxter! Ooh and thanks to Jill and Graham for the human hospitality - it was great!

Once we’d moored up we had the merriest time – Jill cooked us lunch, Graham had baked us a cake, and some fresh bread, and we settled down to relive our marathon experience and generally talk boats and hounds. All the dogs were flat out, apart from Ty, who couldn’t resist moving between Jill and Sarah to see who could give him the more expert fuss!

We had a wonderful afternoon but when the cake was eaten we realised that we had to move – we had a long drive home. We said goodbye with extreme reluctance and piled into my car for the trip back to Sarah’s car – the hounds were so relieved to see the car that Ty, Lynx AND Lou piled into the boot – interesting! We managed to close the boot and with remarkably little drama they all lay down! Miffy stretched out next to Sarah on the back seat for the short journey back to Sarah’s car. This was the most reluctant goodbye of all but it’s just as well – if Sarah and her hounds lived next door I’d never get anything done!

We redistributed the hounds into their normal configuration – Lou and Lynx on the back seat and Ty in the boot. We had a weary drive home – queues and delays the whole way back. Unfortunately our favourite dog-friendly services at Junction 10 of the M40 are being refurbished and the fields are not accessible at the moment. Not that is matters – Ty wouldn’t appreciate motorway services under any circumstances!

We got home late and weary but a chinese takeaway revived us enough to appreciate the wonder of our boating lives – the fresh air, the varied and interesting landscapes and, most importantly, the good people that we’ve met and the even better friends that we’ve made along the way…

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