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Boat Blog: To Paddington with the Poles…

Posted by indigodream on 3 November, 2011

Here come the girls (including Lou!)...

Note: Yes, I’m a month behind with publishing the blog again but I wrote this on the 8th – allow me my little thrill at the Welsh rugby team’s performance – alas time proved that it wasn’t to last…..

Saturday 8th October

We travelled up to the boat this morning after another busy and tiring week.

We had thought that we were off to a flying start with Wales’ rugby team triumphant in New Zealand; but after this morale boosting victory things quickly went downhill. As we drove to the boat my recently and expensively repaired car started to go wrong in a totally new way and was showing distressing signs of having a dodgy gearbox (clutch, flywheel and starter motor replaced last week) – waaaaaah! Then when we got to the boat we found that something had gone wrong with our shore power – the batteries were down to a knackering 2% and the warm fridge had developed a flourishing but inedible cheese-based ecosystem; to top it all, a can of coke under the sofa had spontaneously split, covering the floor and rest of the under-sofa stash with brown sticky stuff.

Thank heavens that our guests for the day were running late!

Today we were welcoming Karolina, one of Richard’s ladies from work, along with her parents, who were over from Poland, and two of her friends. It was a merry day – not least because they all seemed to enjoy boating and instantly fell in love with the hounds….

Learning the fundamentals of locking...

But back to the pre-cruise preparations – mercifully we had time to clear up the general food/drink related mess, get rid of the rather pungent cheese, fill the water tank/drinking water bottles and get the shore power working. The batteries are Indigo Dream’s second set, having been replaced in 2008 when our originals failed quite abruptly in Gloucester Docks. We were seriously worried that they might be totally ruined, but apparently they are of the sort that can take the occasional complete discharge so we hoped that a long day’s cruise would regenerate them – we really don’t need any more big repair bills after our recent expenditure on cars.

While all this was going on, I took the hounds for a ‘comfort break’ around the basin – we bumped into a group of amateur photographers, most of whom were quickly seduced by the hounds. Lou had her photograph taken many times, obligingly posing and smiling at the camera. I mentioned that Lou had featured in the Greyhoundhomer calendar four years in a row and the photographers quipped “we didn’t realise we were working with a professional model”.

That put a smile on my face and shortly afterwards our guests arrived and we set off just after 11am. Richard tried to take us out of the mooring, as he has done, smoothly and efficiently, many times before. But the wind just caught the boat on the way out and he was forced to try a new move – turning the bow away from cruiser White Lady (the most expensive boat in the marina) and going out backwards. It worked very well – it’s a move recommended to us by Christina from nb Ketura, who kept our mooring spot warm (in a 70 footer) while Three Mills lock was being built.

Approaching Camden middle lock...

We gradually worked our way up this most familiar of canals – Lou and Lynx got off for a bobble at the first few locks (most of which were set our way with gates open) and, after two locks,our guests became confident enough to offer their help and have a go at steering. We had a pleasant trip – it was a bit chilly in the breeze but although heavily overcast, it stayed dry all day. One of our guests was appalled by the sight of the hundreds of plastic bags revealed by the crystal clear water. However, the canal didn’t seem quite as trashy to us today and I don’t think we went down the weedhatch at all – result!

We moored up for lunch – Karolina and her family had carried all the food for lunch from Epsom to Limehouse via public transport – they’d insisted! Thanks – it was a great lunch. It was actually mild enough for us to sit on deck (in our fleeces), so we had a chance to get acquainted with a dainty greyhound called Susie Q, who raced at Romford (like Lynx and Ty) and whom he’d adopted from Ockenden, like Lou and Ty….it’s a small world!

The canal was very quiet today – we didn’t see another boat on the move until we got to Old Ford lock, which we shared with a community boat – they seemed very efficient and we shared locks with them as far as City Road lock – they were turning above the lock so we proceeded through the Islington tunnel by ourselves. Richard had seriously frightened one of our guests by telling her that the tunnel was haunted – she looked petrified – not helped by the range of demoniacal laughter and ghostly wailing heard during our passage! However there may be something in it – my car’s gear lever conspicuously shifted itself from fifth to neutral several times on the way home – we’d obviously picked up a poltergeist! Now, do exorcists cost more than car mechanics…..

The usual busy-ness at Camden top lock..

We met a familiar boat at Camden locks and cordially exchanged greetings with nb Angel II’s skipper – next time we meet I will ask his name! He was single-handedly ferrying a different group of subdued revellers along the canal today. Another familiar boat was nb Muskrat – magnificent winners of the BCN Challenge in 2009 and 2011 – although we try to be sporting about it we still tend to go “grrrrrr” (in the nicest possible way) when we see them – they were just so far ahead on points!

Camden was packed, as you might expect – our guests were stunned by the thousands of gongoozlers, but this didn’t put them off having a trip into the heart of the market’s melee. Unfortunately the ‘stop ‘n shop’ moorings were occupied and there weren’t any spaces on the visitor mooring either. We dropped our guests off and moored up opposite the pirate castle using makeshift ‘bollards’ made of heavy items (see, our new isolating transformer is coming in handy already)! I took the hounds for a walk but they were weary by this time and didn’t want to go very far. Ty came out with me but he was petrified by the passersby, though he did walk nicely to heel (on lead). In the meantime I tasked Richard with inspecting Ty’s bed – Ty has managed to wear his skin raw on his bottom in the exact same spot as he did a fortnight ago. We haven’t been able to find out what’s causing the rubbing – we’ll have to do a more thorough examination next time we’re on board.

Our guests came back after an hour or so – just as well, the day was drawing in quickly and we were losing the daylight at an alarming rate. Nonetheless we enjoyed the sight of the brightly lit floating chinese restaurant, caught a glimpse of the birds in the Snowden aviary and had a great view of a family of Warthogs. Our guests admired the posh houses in Regent’s  Park, I told them the tale of ‘Blow up Bridge’ (almost impossible to translate into Polish) and they marvelled at the magical surroundings of Little Venice and its basin.

If the posh houses ever come up for sale I think we should get a percentage – we’re always showing them to prospective buyers -ok, so none of our guests could afford a house there (to the best of our knowledge) but that’s a minor technicality 🙂

Paddington Basin looked very fine and there was enough artificial lighting for us not to worry about the gathering darkness. After our experiences a fortnight ago, we were relieved to see a mooring space on the right on the towpath under the glass bridge. We moored there immediately without risking going to the end of the basin to turn around – it is an excellent spot with very good access to the station and nearby road parking, and it’s under a pigeon-free bridge which will protect the boat from the elements.

We bid our guests a fond farewell – we’d enjoyed their company. Richard set off to the tube station with them – he was off back to Limehouse to collect the car. In the meantime I packed our stuff ready for the trip home. We’re leaving Indigo Dream in Paddington for a few days – weather permitting, Richard will be back on Friday with his staff for an office outing back to Limehouse….


See the bottom window on the left (with the umbra logo) - that had a balcony sticking out of it a fortnight ago - we thought it looked temporary...

See - there was a balcony on 24th September - it looks dodgy now that I know it's not a permanent structure!

Lou got a lot of attention...

Our crew was well practised by the time we got to Victoria Park...

Big smile - so the paddles aren't that stiff then...

The boys having some helm time....

Karolina's mum taking her roping responsibilities very seriously...

The calm before the storm - quiet reflections below the busy-ness of Camden Locks..

Karolina is becoming a handy helmswoman...

2 Responses to “Boat Blog: To Paddington with the Poles…”

  1. Capt Ahab said

    That balcony looks scary.

  2. indigodream said

    You’re telling me – I can’t believe the man took an infant onto it – I assume they’d load tested it first…..

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