Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for December, 2011

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 28 December, 2011

From Tuesday 20th December

A speshal houndie Chrissmis card wot we can eat - Ty steeled it and had a nibble, just to make sure it woz not poizon.....

It woz a nice day on Toosday before Chrissmas so me and mummy Sue walked right round our field “inspecting the estate” sez mummy Sue. Well, tha’ sounds very important, so I strutted round doin’ sniffin’ an’ weeing an’ looking.

We woz doin’ hinspectin’ when mummy Sue sed “Cor there’s a lot of rabbit droppings here – we’ve had an invasion of rabbits”

Well, I woz qwite hinterested coz I luves wabbits and I luves wabbit poo coz it looks like the raisins that mummy Sue put in the Chrissmis puds wot she made in November. So I asked mummy Sue…

“Coulds you make me a speshal Chrissmis pudding out of wabbit ‘raisins’ being as hooman raisins is poiznus to hounds?”

“No” she sed

“but wabbit poo is luvverly” I sed

“No it’s not” she sed

“But how do you know, mummy Sue?” I sed “you’s never tasted it, but I has – is good to eat and yous can roll in it and wen you smells like a wabbit the real wabbits get confoosed and come out their holes to play.”

“Good point” sed mummy Sue “I have never tasted and never will eat rabbit poo”

“So will you makes me a speshal wabbit ‘raisin’ Chrissmis pudding then?”

“No”…..

Ty woz scared of his prezent but he gots the hang of it 'ventooally...

Oh well, if she duzn’t wants to make me a pudding then I’s will just have to eat it raw like I normally duz – wot’s that mummy Sue “blah blah……..stop that you disgusting hound…..blah blah blah……..how can there be this many rabbits in the field when we’ve got three greyhounds on guard………..blah blah blah….”

I sumtimes fink that she duzn’t appreciate that we is retired greyhounds wot duzn’t do chasin’ wabbits for work,  for fun maybe, but never work…..

While I is on the subject of lushus stuff, sum of mummy Sue’s friends sent us a speshal houndie Chrissmas card wot we can eat – yep, a hedible Chrissmas card – woz a lot more delishus than paper Chrissmas cards but not as good as liver cake and heart risotto wot mummy Sue has been cookin’ speshally for us…….

Mummy Sue woz pretty bizzy cookin’ for Chrissmis so Richard took us out for long walks – we woz hexhausted, in facts, we woz so hexhausted that we didn’t even complain wen they tooks all the luvverly food away to Richard’s sister’s house – I meant, wots the point, their little doggies isn’t even allowed to eats proper food like wot we is.

But wen they gots home we hads luvverly leftovers an’ we had our presents – Lou had a parcel wif “Lou” written on it, and I had a parcel wif “Lynx” written on it and Ty had a parcel wif “Ty” written on it so it woz obvious that they woz all for me…..

I’s had already helped meself to one sqweeky toy wot looked like a sqwashed ferret then I helped meself to a squeeky toy wot looked like a cow wot had twisted itself in cow yoga class – mummy Sue sed I steeled them and I is a vandal. But honest, they woz just lyin’ there in the boot of her car so they must have bin for me. So I has had a good Chrissmas coz I gots all six sqweeky toys in MY bed where they belongs – even the big sqweeky teddy that mummy Sue bought speshally to be Ty’s new friend wot would help him to be brave. But he’s been brave anyway so all the toys is MINE – ha ha ha ha…..

I hopes that all me houndie friends wot has found their foreva sofa has a luvverly Chrissmis wif loads of luvverly pressies and I hopes that all me houndie friends wot is shiverin’ in the kennels finds their foreva sofas soon….

Mummy Sue, MUMMY SUE, Lou's got me prezent, well, she's got her prezent but it shoulds be mine.....

Tha's better - I's got me prezent...

This is the view from where I lives - Richard woz all hexcited coz of the colours but is all grey to me.....

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: Back to Limehouse

Posted by indigodream on 24 December, 2011

Sunday 18th December

Dawn at Teddington....

We’d had such a bad night with Lou that the alarm going off at 6.15am seemed superfluous – I’d stayed half-awake because I was waiting for it to go off!

We got ready quickly – the lockies had advised us to get to the lock between 7 and 7.30am so we needed to get moving. Richard took the dogs for a walk – needless to say, they were very reluctant to move – they’d had an active night and were ready for a lie-in. There had also been a hard frost overnight so the prospect of leaving their warm beds didn’t appeal – hmm, I could sympathise with that!

I’d had a small technical hitch yesterday because I’d left my glasses at home – I need them for driving/distance. I had contemplated going back home to get them but then I figured that the only things that I needed to look out for on the Thames were bridges and ferries and my eyesight’s not that bad….

In the end, a little rummage yielded one of my spare pairs in the boat wardrobe – sadly the prescription sunglasses weren’t much use in the darkness of 6.30am but another rummage yielded a spare set of ordinary glasses so it was ok!

It was quite magical as we set off from the mooring – the sky was watered ink tinged with the peachy blush of the sunrise along the horizon. It was so quiet and Indigo Dream’s engine at tickover barely rippled the silent air. We slipped gently down to the lock where we found the gates closed and the landings deserted. The boat decks were treacherously icy but I managed to slither off the boat onto the lock’s ‘nose’ and set off to find the lockie. He was astonished to see me – yesterday’s crew hadn’t left him a note to say we were coming so he wasn’t ready for us. It was a shame because it took a bit of time to set the lock – we were only 15 minutes late entering the tideway but we only had 3 hours to get down to Limehouse before they ran out of water over their cill. Now we’ve done the trip in 2.5 hours before but it is reassuring to have time in hand because the water drains away at an alarming rate once the tide has turned.

Cold and frosty morning - waiting for the lock...

Now regular readers will know that dawn is a stranger to the Indigo Dreamers so we cruised downriver all agog – the brilliant flashes of sunshine as we glimpsed the rising star through the tall building, the flashes of light from the shiny underbellies of the planes bound for Heathrow, the dazzling reflections from the numerous glass buildings and the mounting glow of the sunrise turning all to gold – magic!

As always we were entranced by the river – the water was glassy smooth and it was far too early for the commercial traffic to have started carving the water. There were plenty of early morning rowers out – the ones out in darkness had the good sense to carry a strong flashing headlight.

We did have one strange incident today – I was approaching Hammersmith Bridge to go through the right hand side of the large centre arch when I spotted some rowers and a small outboard powered ‘coaching boat’ i.e. tin bath with an outboard, heading upriver. No problem – the rowers have a well-marked channel to the right of the river (looking downstream) so there was no problem there. The ‘coaching’ boat was heading upstream through the correct side of the centre arch i.e. on my left and looked as if he would pass me on my left as was proper. Now the coaching boat was some distance across river from the rowers but I had thought that s/he would pass behind me to get close to them – but no. As I maintained a steady forward course, the coaching boat suddenly turned towards me on a collision course and cut right in front of my bows, disappearing from view as s/he did so.

I had already slowed down because of their antics but with them right in front of me I slammed Indigo Dream into reverse and hoped for the best. To my relief they emerged unharmed onto Indigo Dream’s right hand side – the helm seemed to be totally engrossed with the rowers and when s/he finally spotted me s/he looked totally astonished – as if this 17-ton narrowboat had abruptly popped up from the deeps rather than being visible for about half a mile upriver!.

I was a bit shaken – the advice given to narrowboats when dealing with unpowered craft is to slow down but to maintain a steady course – that’s what I did! In hindsight I should have used the Thames sound signal where five short blasts of the horn means, in the vernacular, “what the “££$%^ “£$$% are you doing?” Even if the full message didn’t get through they would at least have heard a loud noise and looked up!

Dawn glow (1)

We got to Limehouse in very good time – we radioed ahead from Tower Bridge and the lockies had the lock ready for us when we arrived. As is our new custom, we informed Thames VTS that we were about to cross the tideway – both to inform others that we were there and to get information about any Clippers that we might encounter. There were none and Richard did a smooth turn across the tideway and an equally smooth entrance into the lock.

Note from Richard: We follow the guidance in the Waterscape Tidal Thames Guidance so go past the lock and the work back against the tide. With no one about we did not need to slow down, turned at 1800 revs which got us across the tideway very quickly, stayed perhaps 70′ of the wall drifting closer as we approached the lock. If you start from a bit further out it is easy to keep the boat central in the entrance.

Limehouse lock had much less trash on the way back – maybe because the tide had carried it away briefly. Nonetheless there were a number of balloons floating in the water – they got trapped between the boat and lock wall – I was amazed at their resilience – despite being squashed against the lock wall they didn’t burst – just as well, exploding balloons always make me jump! We had caught a plastic bag as we came into the lock so we asked Jeremy for a few minutes extra in the lock to clear our prop.

As we manouevered into our berth we managed to snag a fishing line – not round the prop but, we suspect, round the tiller. Richard wound the line in for ages before the float and then half a dead fish, the bait, emerged from the water – the fishermen were obviously after pike. As we were about to walk round and give the fishermen their tackle back, one of them came onto the pontoon – we apologised for snagging his line and expected a mouthful of abuse but he was exceptionally pleasant. I expressed surprise that there were large pike in the marina – he proved me wrong later when they landed a whopper – it must have been a metre long.

We took our time leaving the boat – the hounds needed a walk in the park and we had some engine checks and cleaning to do. I went through the cupboards and chucked the out-of-date stuff then I gave the floor a quick once-over. I also emptied the fridge of perishable so we’ve left the boat in good order compared to recent standards.

Now here’s a mystery for you – I was dismayed to find that a can of lemonade – part of the stash of soft-drink cans under sofa – had emptied (with no visible split) and drenched the floor in sticky lemonade.  A thorough investigation yielded a couple more empty cans and a few half-empty ones! Now, in all the years we’ve had Indigo Dream, in every extreme of temperature, we’ve never had this happen before. But since the beginning of October we’ve had around half a dozen cans emptied – presumably via a microscopic hole/split somewhere. What is going on?

So, this magnificent cruise is probably the last of our 2011 cruising – unless we fit in a post-prandial refresher between Christmas and New Year. So we’ll wish you all a merry Christmas and a spectacular year’s cruising in 2012 – we were fortunate to win a special Herbie award for hospitality in 2011 – so do invite yourselves on board in the New Year 🙂

Photoblog:

Kew railway bridge....

In Teddington lock...

Detail on Kew railway bridge - just for enjoyment of passing boaters...

Barnes "on sea" - one of these days I'll go there just for the pleasure of promenading along the riverfront...

Dawn glow (2)...

The moon? I should be in my bed!!!

Waterscape - the north bank at Fulham (near the site of the disused Townmead Road power station)...

And the south bank at Fulham - the glass and steel revolution marches upriver....

The north bank downstream at Fulham - the gentrification continues...

This Sainsbury's is apparently where Jamie Oliver does the TV adverts. Of more interest is the huge derelict wharf in front - this is where they unloaded coal for the Townmead Road power station....

View downriver - the water was glassy smooth....

The development at Chelsea Creek - fancy a 1-bed apartment for £550k - http://www.chelseacreek.co.uk/

The tower at Chelsea Marina is the "Belvedere" - the brass ball on the spire rises and falls with the tide....

Disused power station - north bank...

The sun was bright but lacked the warmth to thaw the frost on the boat roof (or thaw our fingers and toes!)...

Go on, tell me you're bored of that view 🙂 As Samuel Johnson said "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life"

The floating restaurant is already on the mud - better hurry, the tide is going out fast....

Dawn glow (3)

Big works at Blackfriars - it's worth checking the river broadcast as the closed arches change regularly during the day as the works progress..

The battleship and the bridge....

Look at the delicate spire of St Dunstan in the East - almost lost in the surrounding solid monuments to wealth. The spire was built around 1700 and was designed by Christopher Wren. The church apparently has a tranquil garden which is open to visitors.

No mistaking the Tower of London....

St Katherine's Dock - a popular resting place on the river...

The Thames police wharf in Wapping - apparently they've been based here since 1798

They eventually caught a whopper - that's just its tail in the photo...

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Boat Blog: Christmas shopping by boat….

Posted by indigodream on 22 December, 2011

Saturday 17th December

We had a gentle start to the day – somewhat unfairly I, who had not had a drink the previous night, had a headache, while Richard, who had drunk substantially, did not, though he seemed a little quiet! There’s probably a moral there somewhere 🙂

The hounds eyeing up the hog roast stand...

I like these moorings so we relaxed for a few hours drinking coffee and eating pastries – I was reluctant to move, not least because it was raining hard! But Richard had bumped into the mooring warden while he was walking the hounds – the warden reminded Richard that the first 24 hours were free and thereafter we’d have to pay £5 a night. Actually, that’s very reasonable but we’d decided to move back to Teddington Lock in the afternoon ready for Sunday morning’s early start. The boat was regularly rocked by speeding boats – speeding skiffs that is! The rowers were out in force even though it was bitterly cold and pouring with rain. I was musing that some of the Thames rowing clubs (especially the nearby Thames Ditton) will be training Britain’s Olympic rowers so let’s hope that their dedication pays off.

Once the rain had stopped we moved over to the John Lewis moorings – we were surprised to find them unoccupied, but by 1pm they were full. We started out by having a bobble round the main department stores in search of the posher items on our Christmas lists. We were shocked by how empty Kingston was – we’d expected to be crushed but it was no busier than a normal Saturday. We then went back to the boat to let the hounds out. We had intended to take Lou and Lynx round Kingston’s Christmas market and leave Ty behind, but he was keen to come along so we took all three. Ty was alarmed by passing buses but was otherwise very calm – this is a great improvement in his behaviour. All three hounds got lots of fuss – there was a certain pattern – Lou broke the ice by smiling endearingly at people and doing a waggle-bottomed approach for a fuss, then, as the conversation progressed, people would find out that Ty was a big wuss and give him extra fuss- in return Ty would lean on them (all 5+ stone of him!). Lynx was very aloof, as befits a celebrity author of his status!

The John Lewis moorings in Kingston....

We all enjoyed a german bratwurst for lunch – Lou, Lynx and Ty were perfectly behaved but I felt a little pang of sorrow for old boy Blue’s panache -when we were here 2 years ago he hoovered the streets clean – no sausage was safe. But the current pack waited politely to be fed and didn’t think about foraging.

After our brief visit to town we went back to the boat for another relaxing coffee before wrapping ourselves up for the trip down to Teddington. We conveniently vacated our mooring just as nb Oliver’s Dreams pulled in – what timing…

View downstream to Kingston railway bridge...

We had a good trip and were soon moored up at Teddington – Richard went to see the lock keepers to pay the mooring fee and make arrangements for our passage tomorrow. In the meantime I took the hounds for a walk around the adjacent park. The squirrels were out in numbers so the hounds were very happy!

After this burst of fresh air, the boat’s sofa and the promise of a little snooze seemed very enticing. But we had to force ourselves to move for a complicated car shuffle. We had two cars in Teddington and we needed one in Limehouse; there were many options, but in the end Richard took my car to Limehouse (being the emptier for dog transport) and I took his car (full of stuff) back home! Then we both caught trains back to Teddington – it’s so much easier to do the car shuffle where there is a comprehensive network of public transport.

In a testament to fate, Richard and I, entirely by chance and with NO planning whatsoever, caught the same train to Teddington – he got on at Waterloo and I joined him at Clapham Junction – result!

Teddington High Street has some very nice restaurants we, rather contrarily, wanted a chinese takeaway. I didn’t think there was one on the high street, but we found a little “hole in the wall” takeaway. Admittedly the food was not very good but it was what we fancied so it went down well. We caught the end of Strictly but by now the migraine I’d been brewing for 2 days became overwhelming and I was cold – we’d turned the heating off when we left to do the car shuffle and the interior temperature had dropped 6 degrees in three hours. An early night with a hot water bottle beckoned……

We set the alarm for 6am-ish and settled in our beds for a good night’s sleep. Alas, Lou did not agree to this plan and spent most of the night pacing – she was hungry, she was cold, Lynx was on her sofa, the sheepskins had fallen off the sofa – all major dramas in Lou’s world which needed our urgent attention right through the night…….

Photoblog:

That floating bungalow would do nicely for my mum - shame it's not for sale - I wonder if I could persuade her to move to Kingston...

What a perfect day for cruising...

This grand house belongs to a wealthy somebody or other who hosts fabulous fireworks parties - we saw his display from a mile upriver few years ago - amazing!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 21 December, 2011

Sunday 18th December

Me speshal chair made of cow - pleeze can I haves this for Chrissmas mummy Sue?

I has had a very bizzy weekend doin’ boatin’ and’ Chrissmas shopping an’ chasing sqwirrels….

On friday mummy Sue sed “save your energy hounds, you’re going to the boat”  so we’s just chilled out an’ waited ages for her to get ready. She woz ready well early but we wozn’t dun wif snoozin’, so Lou had the dire rear all over the kitchin floor then she frew up all over the carpet. I fink that mummy Sue woz pleezed reelly cos we gots more rest and she woz not early any more an’ she’s bin sayin’ all week how the kitchin floor needs a wash….

Heventooally we woz ready to go, so mummy Sue bundled us all in the car and we wents to Teddington. I likes Teddington becoz there is a park right next to the boat wot is full of sqwirrels. But mummy Sue sed “There’s not time to chase sqwirrels” so we’s had to do croozing. Woz ok tho’ – we mets sum new friends wot are mummy Sue’s friends – they said “what gorgeous hounds” and give us lots an’ lots of fuss.

Wen we gots to Kingston we’s stopped by anuver park wif BIG trees wot needed weein’ on – there mights have bin sqwirrels but they woz too high up so we’s just concentrated on wees.

Mummy Sue an’ Richard went to town so we cuddled up in our jarmies – mummy Sue sed “leave the heating on” so we’s were toastie on the boat. Then, wen we’s had a little snooze, mummy Sue an’ Richard came back and gave us sum hot chikkin wot woz only from Sainsbury’s but it woz better than no hot chikkin. Then they went out again and we’s had anuver snuggly snooze – Lou let me share her sofa I woz all manly and took my share of the sofa….

This woulds be a good frone for queen Lou....

Wen they came back again we’s had a little walk for more wee’s then we’s all snuggled up – it woz cold so we had our jarmies and blankets – brrrrr…..

On Saturday we wents shopping – I likes Chrissmas shopping coz I gets lots of nice fings all for ME, and Lou an’ Ty o’ course. I’s seen a chair wot I qwite fancie – it is made of cow so, like, you can sits on the fur, you can sniffs the luvverly cow smell AND you can eats if if mummy Sue forgets to buy a hot chikkin – perfick! So that’s my pressie sorted – it woz only £999 wot is a bargain compared to Lou’s specialist vet appointment wot woz £950! I seed a chair for Lou too wot is like a girly frone – we didn’t see a chair for Ty – he just likes mummy Sue’s bed!

After that we wents to the Chrissmas market so that people could gives us a fuss and we coulds choose our own sosidges from the speshal sosidge stand wots woz put in town just for hounds like us. Lou luves the market coz she can grins at people and wiggle her bottom so that she can have lots of fuss; Ty woz ever so brave so he gots lots of fuss too; but I is a famus author an’ soopermodel so I woz a bit more choosy about me fussin’ – anyhoo, no-one gives better ear rubs than my mummy Sue so I stuck wif her.

We woz a bit hexhausted after our shoppin’ but Richard bought us a top quality hot chikkin from Waitrose wot woz luvverly. Then we’s moved the boat back to Teddington an’ I got to chase some sqwirrels wot woz bein’ cheeky. Mummy Sue an’ Richard left us to do sum snoozin’s before comin’ back wif a chinese takeaway wot is our favrit leffovers in the world.

How about sum hog roast then....

I duz qwite like the boat but the sofa is not long enuff for Lou an’ Richard an’ me – it woz very uncomf’rtable so mummy Sue had to sit on the end in a deckchair and put a cushion and a sheepskin on her lap so that I coulds rest me had prop’ly. Once me hed woz comfy I coulds have a proper snooze and dream about me luvverly day….

But me weekend wozn’t dun – Lou woz pacing all night long so we’s hardly got any sleeps at all so at 6am I woz ready for a lie in. But mummy Sue and Richard got up and they made us get up too – wot!? We woz crooelly forced to go out for a walk in the cold – it woz so dark even the sqwirrels woz still asleep – not fair! But mummy Sue sed we coulds snooze on the river – d’oh mummy Sue, we can’t snooze on the river becoz we’s got to do lookin’, how’s we ever goin’ to be a winnin’ olympic lookin’ team if we duzn’t practice??

We’s dun lookin’ for hours but then we got back to our place in Limehouse – we’s bin to the dog park for wees – I luves the dog park coz it smells of all the dogs in London coz they all goes to wee there. I’s had hoped we could go straight back to our house home buts we stayed on the boat so mummy Sue could do cleening. I hates it wen she duz cleening! So me an’ Lou an’ Ty lay curled up and puts on our sad faces – sad faces is good becoz:

a) random strangers cumes and sez “you poor poor houndies” then gives us lots of fuss

b) mummy Sue sez “you poor poor houndies”and feeds us more hot chikkin

c) mummy Sue sez “I’m really worried about our poor hounds, lets take them home straight away”

So sad faces is a useful fing wot works well wif me famus hypno powers for getting hum-mum to do me bidding….

On maybe sum german sosidge - luvverly....

Fanks, mummy Sue, but next times why duzn't you buy a longer sofa....

Sumtimes is too chillies to do looking....

Lou woz a bit sad coz she duzn't like her orinj jacket....

Ty is lookin' sads coz he duzn't like anyfink that isn't home tho he wozn't qwite so much of a jellyboy this time....

I is doin' looking on the Thames - I is very brave....

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Boat Blog: Christmas party by boat…

Posted by indigodream on 20 December, 2011

Friday 16th December

The reason for mooring the boat in Teddington last weekend was so that we could have a short cruise up to Kingston for Richard’s office party on Friday. His team was returning to Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant, where they celebrated Christmas in 2009. It’s perfect for us because we can moor in Kingston with the hounds – we can let them out regularly and it’s a handy distance for a late night stagger from bar to bed!

Kingston by night - the view downstream from our moorings...

We got to the boat just after 2pm, where we were joined by two of my colleague/friends – Lucy and Denise. We’ve worked together on stop smoking training for many years though this was the first time we’ve managed to co-ordinate a boat trip. It had been snowing heavily in Surrey in the morning, but by the time we cast off the heavy snow clouds had been replaced with bright blue skies, incandescent sunshine and an icy breeze. We enjoyed a bracing cruise upstream to Kingston – around half an hour away – even against the river’s flow. It was a sparkling afternoon and I was so tempted to go just a little further – maybe up to Hampton Court and back, but Richard said our restaurant slot started at 3pm so we had to tie up and go (your time slot is inviolable in a Jamie’s restaurant).

We moored on the ‘park’ side of the river – on the right upstream of Kingston Bridge. We had thought of mooring ‘town side’ but Lucy had warned us that Friday was reputedly expected to be the busiest night out of the year and we wouldn’t want late-night revellers throwing up over our decks! The far side mooring is much better anyway – it’s perfect for dog walking, though a bit muddy underfoot, and much quieter for poor Ty’s nerves.

As it happens Kingston was surprisingly quiet and with its tastefully monochrome swags of Christmas lights draped gracefully between buildings it really seemed far too genteel for any post-party shennanigans.

We set off for Jamie’s where we found that our slot actually started at 3.30pm – ah well, time for an aperitif then. I can understand the popularity of Jamie’s Italian restaurant – it is distinguished by the quality of the service and the food is good. But for some reason it doesn’t thrill me – however it a convivial place for a party.

Table tennis relay - the team really threw themselves into the game....

After the meal we checked in with the hounds before going back into town for some 10-pin bowling. I love bowling but I’ve developed surprisingly painful tennis elbow (from various domestic activities rather than tennis!)  – I shouldn’t really have played but it was too tempting. I strapped on a tennis elbow support and got bowling – Richard’s team is quite competitive and so am I, so we had a great time. This was followed by the most entertaining version of table tennis you’ll ever see – two bats and six or seven players running around the table taking turns to pick up a bat and hit the ball back to the other side. The bowling centre staff were laughing – I don’t think they’d ever seen the like – the 10-bin bowlers around were very tolerant as the ballistic ping-pong ball went bouncing around the room!

By now the group was starting to dwindle, but there were still enough people left to make it a party in O’Neill’s, where there was a live band. The only downside of live music in bars is that it is very loud, and, as most of the people weren’t listening, they were talking even more loudly to be heard so it became one big din. By now I was very weary (I was brewing a migraine but hadn’t realised at the time) so I went back to the boat to walk the hounds, leaving Richard to enjoy himself with his team.

After walking the hounds and tucking them up in their pyjamas, I tucked myself into pyjamas and went off to bed with a hot water bottle – it was seriously chilly.  It was quiet on the mooring with the well-muted sound of music and chatter drifting over from the town side. There were two party boats racing up and down the river but their wash wasn’t a bother – the river’s deep and we were well-tied.

Richard came back to the boat in the wee small hours and wrapped the hounds in an extra layer of blankets so we were all comfy. Unfortunately Ty had an attack of the dire rear towards morning and he woke me up at 6am in desperate need for a walk. It was still pitch dark and the town-side revellers, who were still shrieking and shouting at 4am, had disappeared, so Ty felt confident enough to do what needed to be done. Lynx came with us for company, though Lou wasn’t having anything to do with it – the outside temperature was minus 2 degrees. Our little walk was refreshing but I was very glad to get back into Indigo Dream’s snug interior.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 19 December, 2011

Me hadventures up to 15th December….

Mummy Sue's got a wabbit on her hed - that's not right at all...

The last time I dun ritin’s I woz hexhausted after a houndie sleepova – well, I is still hexhausted on account of me hextitin’ life wot is full of drama and hincident….

“Far too much drama and hincident” sez mummy Sue, but is good for her to get out an’ see people – ‘specially the vet, wots are very luvverly to her, ‘specially wen she pays the bill….

So, where’s to start….

Wif ME, o’ course – remembers how I told you all how to coff, well, I’s been doin’ sooper-coffs so the vet dun lookin’ down me froat and sez I has got got tonsillitis – he gived me a hantibiotic injection wot reely hurt so I’s did me loudest greyhound screem of death and dun collapsing. But you know wot, I didn’t get any sympafy at all – mummy Sue sed I woz bein’ a big wuss coz Lou an’ Ty had the same hinjection last week and they didn’t screem at all – huh, I duzn’t believe her, I woz bein’ speshally tortured wif a spashal hinjection just for me – huff!

An’ I has to take tablets – wot is a problem – mummy Sue sez “Hey Lynx, here’s some yummy thinly sliced sandwich beef with cream cheese” – huh, she finks I is stuoopid – I has SEEN her putting the tablets in. But I has a cunnin’ plan – if I is very careful I can eats the beef an’ creem cheese (wot is lushus) and spit the tablets on the floor. THEN mummy Sue has to wrap the tablets up again so I gets more beef ‘n creem cheese – I is a genius!!!!!

So, Lou hads a hantibiotic injection coz she woz proper poorly sick wif a hinfection and a fever – mummy Sue woz ever so wurried but Lou is better now – I knows coz we dun chargin’ round the garden wif her tryin’ to bite me bum…..

Eeeek - an auntie Sarah's got a wabbit on her hed too....

Then mummy Sue woz lookin’ at Ty’s foot wen she sez “EEEEK” – Ty got a big angry red lump on his toe – mummy Sue thought “oh it’s just an infection, soon get it sorted” but no, the vet sez it woz a tumour wot would need a hoperation. Then, while Ty woz sleeping the vet took one of his teef as well!

I is never goin’ to sleep at the vet’s – you duzn’t know wot they is goin’ to do…..

It woz good wen Ty had his toof taken out coz the vets sed “Ty MUST have soft food for 10 days” –

“Wot Mr Vet? Soft food like finely chopped liver an’ chikkin’ an’ rice an stuff?”I asks

“That’s right Lynx” he sez.

So we’s all had soft food in case Ty ate our kibble and hurt hisself. I has tried to put me sad face on – 10 days wifout kibble – “Tragic” I sez, but I duzn’t fink that mummy Sue believes me….

Me an’ Lou has also been to see Blondie the physio wot gives Lou nice massages. I’s got a sore back an’ elbow an’ shoulder an’ ……..the more the physio dun proddin’ the more sore bits I got – WOT??

Monty, Ranger an' Susie woz chillies but we woz hot dogs at home...

Lou luves the physio but I dudn’z luv the physio – well, not until she sed “mummy Sue, you is a very bad mummy because Lynx needs more sardeens in his diet to keep his skin nice and smooth” – mmmmm, sardeens – maybe Blondie the physio is not so bad after all…..

Mummy Sue sez her nerves is in shreds so I sed “why duzn’t you give me a fuss, evry’one knows that fussing hounds is good for nerves”

But she sed “No, I is going’ for a relaxin’ criuse on the boat and you lot are staying at home so I don’t have to worry about you falling in the river…”

So we’s had a nice snoozy day in our comfy warm beds at home. But Auntie Sarah thought that mummy Sue would be sad wifout any greyhounds so me pals Ranger an’ Monty went cruising; and coz Auntie Sarah thought that mummy Sue would miss having a feisty top girl around she brought Susie too. They had a luvverly time tho they woz cold and mummy Sue had to wrap them all up in blankets. I duzn’t like it wen mummy Sue duz croozin’ wifout me, she duz strange fings wen I isn’ there to look after her – see them photos – her an’ Auntie Sarah have got wabbits on their heds – WABBITS – ON THEIR HEDS! Is not right, wabbits belongs in my tummy not on mummy Sue’s hed….

Note from Mummy Sue: We’ve had quite a fortnight with the hounds seemingly inventing new illnesses for me worry about! But the good news is that Ty’s tumour was benign and all the hounds are on the mend – so they should be – a week ago I fitted in 7 vet appointments into as many days!

This the silver cup wot I won at dog trainin' in 2010 - mummy Sue took a picture before giving it back becoz she sez I is so hoomiliatin' in training class that I will never wins anuvver - wotever.....

Ty wonned a medal in 2010 - but he's bin a big scaredy wuss jellyboy so he won't get anuver unless there's a medal for bein' a total jelly boy. Lou is fed up coz she didn't win anyfing tho' she did enjoy barkin' at all the uvver dogs in class wot is reward enuff...

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Boat Blog: A bit of fresh air…

Posted by indigodream on 14 December, 2011

Note: Republishing this post to get things into the right order – WordPress sometimes gets very confused about the dates!

Saturday 10th December

Limehouse to Teddington

It was a fine morning at Limehouse...

After Thursday’s apocalyptic winds it was hard to believe that we could contemplate a tideway cruise today, but the day dawned coldly calm with a blue sky so crisp and bright it hurt to look at it – perfect conditions for a jolly up the Thames.

We’d booked our passage through Limehouse Lock at 10am – plenty of time for us to drive up from Surrey and for Greygal to join us from Suffolk. We’d decided to leave our hounds at home – they’ve been in the wars this week with a variety of ailments, so we thought it best to let them rest in the warmth and comfort of their memory foam beds. Of course, as soon as she heard we were cruising without our hounds, Sarah (aka Greygal) and Andy stepped into the breach with greyhounds Ranger, Monty and Susie – the senior members of their extended pack.

We got to the boat at 9am-ish – it was colder inside the boat than outside (we have internal and external sensors to our weather clock), so the first job was turn on the Webasto! It is a very efficient heating system and the boat seemed to heat up quickly. It’s all relative though – by the time we got to Victoria Rail Bridge the outside temperature was 8°C but the inside of the boat felt toastie warm at just 11°C! We filled with water – both to help the boat’s trim and to see us through a stay in Teddington; Richard did the engine checks, including making sure that the bilge pump was working! I had been wondering about our fuel levels and was relieved to see a fuel boat (well, boat and butty) moored on the Limehouse wall – fuel services are few and far between down here. As it happens our tank was almost three-quarters full so we didn’t need any diesel today but we may well fill up if the working pair is still in Limehouse when we get back.

And we're off - but heading upstream and leaving the Isle of Dogs behind us....

Sarah, Andy and the hounds turned up at just the right time. Andy, an electronics whizz-kid, rigged up our winter tiller – fitted with electric hand-heaters, while Sarah and I went to the local dog park to make sure that the hounds were empty – no stopping on the tideway! In the meantime Richard kept in touch with the Limehouse Lockies via the VHF – they gave us a call when they were ready for us so we were able to cruise straight from our berth into the lock – sweet!

We reversed roles today, with me at the helm with Sarah while the menfolk went to the front to hold the bow against the surge when the lockies opened the gates to let the water out. We were soon coasting through the rubbish that tends to accumulate in the cut, before pushing on the revs and heading upriver. I enjoy steering onto the tideway – the feel of the tiller resisting the restless river, with its accumulated weight of tides and time, is thrilling.

I took the first shift at the helm, taking us through the pool of London and its famous landmarks – I don’t think we’ll ever tire of this trip. I was listening to “In our time” on Radio 4 on Thursday when they were discussing Greek philosopher Heraclitus who, in the 5th Century BC, came up with the famous saying “No man ever steps into the same river twice.” That’s how I feel about the Thames – the cruising conditions, traffic and moods are different each time and there’s the ever-changing panorama – the landmarks which have been there for centuries but which we haven’t noticed, as well as the cycle of demolition and rebuilding that marks London’s restless and evolving history.

Wow - just as well there were very few people on this walkway when it collapsed...

One thing we did notice today was the dramatic sight of the collapsed walkway that used to connect HMS Belfast to the shore – apparently it collapsed at the end of November but we’d missed the news item. We also noticed a City Cruisers trip boat coming downstream towards us – they were moving at a snail’s pace (or should that be a narrowboat’s pace?!) but, as we’ve observed before, this sometimes creates a deeper, though less turbulent, wash. I turned Indigo Dream into the deep waves and she dived into the troughs and rode the peaks as if designed for it! It’s a shame that we were boating alone – I think we might have had a photograph worthy of nb Leo (below) as the spray leapt over the roof!

That was the only excitement though – the pool of London is always a bit choppy, as are the areas shaded by the big bridges – a combination of geography, breeze and centuries of being carved up by passing boats – but nothing that Indigo Dream couldn’t handle with ease.

The sun was shining low in the sky – enough for us all to need sunglasses, even though we were wrapped up head to toe against the icy breeze of our passing. All three hounds decided to lie on deck (on sheepskins of course) – they huddled together but even their coats and lifejackets couldn’t keep them warm enough, so they ended up swaddled in fluffy blankets. Sarah was speculating on what the passengers on the very low-flying airliners coming into Heathrow would make of our cargo – if anything, the soft blanket swathed heaps looked like illegal aliens – good job we were well past the police wharf by then 🙂

There was wonderful quality to the light today – the clock tower at Westminster Palace glowed as its gold-leafed facade caught the sun’s winter-waning radiance. Further along, old and new buildings were softly illuminated and a calm settled over the river as we left the pool of London and approached the seaside-resort frontages of Barnes and Putney with their eccentric mix of old terraces and modern apartment blocks.

The figure of Agriculture on Vauxhall Bridge...

Richard took the next turn on the helm just past Lambeth Bridge, while I warmed up and enjoyed the view. It’s a good idea to take turns on the helm – the tideway is tiring – a combination of fresh air and constant vigilance take their toll, as does the more physical effort of working the heavy tiller in the tidal flow. There’s also the cold to contend with and the endless distractions from all the interesting things to be seen along the way. The bridges are quite incredible – there are details on the piers and parapets that only boaters will be able to appreciate – they can’t be seen from the bridge decks and the river is too wide for promenaders to see any detail from the shore. Vauxhall Bridge is maybe the best example with its larger than life statues representing various arts and sciences. To settle an on-board debate, the figure holding a scythe represents agriculture rather than death and/or war! I was surprised to find that the current Vauxhall Bridge was only opened in 1906 – its classical decoration makes it look much older.

There was very little commercial, or other, traffic on the river today – until we got to Putney that is – the rowers were out in force all along the river as far as Richmond. I know that rowing is physical work but the crews looked underdressed to us – most in singlets and shorts! Mind you, I imagine they generate a bit of heat when toiling downstream against the force of the incoming tide then rowing double time back up with the tide. Still, I know in which boat I’d rather be 🙂

Susie making the train her own.........

We enjoyed the opulence of Richmond’s riverfront, though we were a little disappointed to have missed the raising of the half-tide barriers – they were well up by the time we got there, allowing unimpeded passage upriver. This section is so luxurious – the river is now a more affable width and surrounded by parklands graced with tall trees, planted by people who would never live to see them reach their magnificent maturity. Even in its winter clothes the landscape seems affluent – it’s a sign of great wealth that this open land has been preserved rather than turned into real estate – the fate of many a country park and manor as the industrial and social revolution marched across the country.

All too soon we had travelled 21 miles and arrived at Teddington Lock – the lock was ready for us and we were soon ascending the substantial rise – the tide had a way to go yet. There were plenty of spaces on the lock moorings and we arranged a week’s stay with the lock-keeper. It costs £8 a night now, but we don’t begrudge it as these are superior visitor moorings – there’s a fine view over the weir and upriver, generous parkland for the hounds and the delights of Teddington High Street are a short walk away. We haven’t been here for a while and I’d forgotten how nice it was – possibly my favourite visitor moorings of all time!

We walked the hounds then retreated indoors to warm up and eat lunch before we reluctantly packed the boat up and headed off to Teddington train station – about 15 minutes walk away at the far end of Teddington High Street. The day’s adventures weren’t over – I was taking the train to Clapham Junction then home to liberate our hounds. In the meantime, Sarah, Andy, Richard and the three hounds travelled by train, tube and bus back to the cars at Limehouse. The hounds were very good and attracted an extravagant amount of attention (as always). Susie, being a Lou-type top girl, enjoyed every minute of it, especially when she purloined two seats on the train and imperiously scrutinised the other passengers from her new throne. If you’re horrified by the sight of a dog on a train seat well, I reckon I’ve suffered enough overcrowding, delays, cancellations and poor service on public transport that I feel I’ve earned the right to some misbehaviour (no human was deprived of a seat!). Susie then strutted her stuff through Waterloo, all 3 greyhounds attracted loads of attention but it was Susie who really seemed to enjoy it.

The hounds then had their first ever ride in a lift (this after their first ever ride on a train) down to the Jubilee Line platform. Richard glanced up the platform and saw everybody looking at the hounds, he looked down the platform and yes, everybody was staring at the hounds. Even timid Monty did well on the tube and we were soon in Canary Wharf where the hounds attracted even more attention before their first ever bus ride back to Limehouse. Today was an extreme number of experiences for greyhounds Susie, Ranger & Monty – bet they slept well that night!

We’ve done some epic cruising with Greygal this year – today was another magical journey to add to the fund of memories that will keep us smiling when winter gales keep us from the water….

Next Tidal Adventure…..

The grand plan, weather permitting, is to take Indigo Dream back down to Limehouse on Sunday 18th December – it’s a cruel early start – we’ll need to get through Teddington Lock at 7am! If you’re up for an early start, have an up to date will and a few euros in your pocket in case we miss the turn then experienced boaters are welcome to join us (and the hounds, all being well) – just leave a comment and we’ll get in touch with arrangements.

Photoblog:

Regular readers will have seen it all before but we’re hooked – we love the river views….

What a view - the stretch between Limehouse and Tower Bridge - replete with riverside warehouses - all converted to other uses now...

The Shard dominates the landscape around Tower Bridge...

'New' London is being built of glass and steel - Richard has remarked that most of these buildings have a design life of less than 100 years so what will the next generation see on the skyline?

I don't mind having my photos taken in the winter because I'm so wrapped up that I could be any fleece-wrapped yeti - Andy is still recognizable though 🙂

The London Eye looked particularly fine today - you get a good view of the 'drive' mechanism from the river. Are the pods heated? Would be a bit chilly at the top if not...

You can't beat the light at this time of year...

The bright, low sunshine made the best of the lights and shade of Westminster's gothic facade...

Sarah though this might be a nice pied a terre for the hounds - with convenient access to the foreshore at low tide...

They could have been snug indoors but Sarah's hounds love the back deck....

The boys....

The waterfront is full of surprises - these houses provide a welcome splash of colour...

Sarah looks happy on the helm...

This Starbucks needs a mooring pontoon or maybe a cruise thru' window for passing boaters - that's if you don't have your own espresso machine on board of course!

Those platforms are interesting - we're a long way from high tide here but they look a bit high for mooring....

Great riverfront....

More colourful houses in Kew...

The Thames islands are havens for wildlife - what I thought were crow's nests high in the trees might be heronries...

Sculpture (or windbreak) at Brentford - this is a useful landmark near the entrance to the Lock onto the canal - the big BW sign seems to have vanished!

The planes really are low over the water as they approach Heathrow...

Popular ferry service - well, bridges are a lot further apart here...

Richmond - from the left - the lock (1st arch), lowered half-tide barrier (2nd arch), open navigation (3rd arch)....

Richmond is wonderfully opulent....

The hermit's 'boat' - now ashore - it looked as if it might be being dismantled.....

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 11 December, 2011

Sunday 13th November

Wheee - tha's Archie an' Henry an' Lou an' Ty an' Monty doin' chargin' round - we luves chargin' round...

A whole munf ago we’s had a hexcitin’ weekend wif FIVE of me houndie pals wot came for a sleepova – I’s never had that many pals to stay before. We’s dun evry’fing that houndies luves to do – we’s dun eatin’ and rummagin’ an’ chargin’ round and sniffin’ an’ weein’ but we’d not dun qwite enuff sleepin’ coz we woz so bizzy.

Auntie Sarah and Uncle Andy brought our old pals Henry an’ Archie an’ Monty’ an’ Big Sid THEN we’s found a new pal – Herbie – wot is Auntie Sarah’s new houndie. Herbie has had a sads life coz he woz habandoned and woz in the dog pound where they sends hounds to the rainbow bridge real quik if they isn’t rescued. Elaine from Greyhoundhomer saved him but he woz so fin he had to be sooper-patient and eat lots before he woz ready to find his forever sofa. I woz happy coz now Herbie is in the bestest place ever for houndies (‘speshally now that mummy Sue had told Auntie Sarah how to make offal risotto).

We’s had a luvverly time but we is all so tired – mummy Sue sez we is in a comma – well, we are sort of curled up…..

I’s goin’ to let me piccies tell me story – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Note from Mummy Sue: We had the loveliest weekend – on Sunday we sat outside in the sunshine for hours, in our t-shirts, drinking coffee, eating pastries and watching our combined pack of eight hounds having a wonderful time – the two packs bonded well and we hope that it will be the first of many such gatherings 🙂

Lou woz top girl wif SEVEN boys to boss 'round...

Henry an' Archie - they luves our field....

Bootiful brindles....

Me - I is bootiful too....

Big Sid wot has had his corns taken away - he woz in little booties but he duzn't like chargin' round anyhoo...

After chargin' round Lou showed Henry an' Archie an' Monty the best place to rummage - sumtimes there is skwirrels there...

I likes to lie down looking handsum and guardin' my tennis ball...

The tennis ball is mine, all mine!

See, I TOLD you it woz MY tennis ball....

Monty showin' us his luvverly teef...

Archie duz look sads - mummy Sue, can you gets Archie a pillow- I would be sad if I didn't have a pillow...

See, a hound wif a pillow is much better...

I has got luvverly teef too...

Ooh, is it snack time? I's could fancy a piggy lug or maybe a jumbone...

time for snoozies....

Even Henry did snoozin's, wot is amazing coz he mainly duz chargin' round...

Mummy Sue sez that Monty is 'speshally cute wen he is doin' snoozin'..

Chewie time for Henry....

Monty usin' his luvverly teef to chew a chewy..

Is you enjoyin' that, me ol' pal?

Where is you takin' that chewy Archie??

Look, Herbie's worked out sofa's an' chairs already - he's only bin' home for like, a week...

Time for anuvver charge - Lou finks so....

Wheeee - look, Henry can fly - wot must be useful for chasin' sqwirrels an' stuff up trees...

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Dog Blog: Lynx’s Diary

Posted by indigodream on 10 December, 2011

Sunday 13th November

You has to lie just so on your mem'ry bed so it 'members you prop'ly...

Well, so much for mummy Sue doin’ me typin – I can’t believe it’s almost been a whole munf since me last diary – and I has had a bizzy time wif lots of hexcitement – I’s bin framed for a crime I didn’ts commit, I’s been teachin’ me new beds to remember me, I’s bin to the vet (lots) and I’s bin to see me Aunty Pat at Greyhoundhomer and I’s bin scared by feroshus pumpkin hounds and I’s bin watchin’ pretty fizzy lights in the sky.

I’s also had sleepova wif me pals Henry an’ Archie’ an’ Monty an’ Big Sid and a tot’ly new friend Herbie, wot is Auntie Sarah’s new dog wot has only had a forever sofa for 2 weeks but I’ll rite about that next time……

Anyway, is important to start by clearin’ me name – I’s totally did not bite Ty – I’s had me mouf open an’ he ran into me teef – honest – I wouldn’t never ever ever bite me mate Ty – an’ anyway it woz MY tennis ball. Mummy Sue sez I is a vandal and she is takin’ the vet bill out of my pocket money – d’oh mummy Sue, you duzn’t give me any pocket money and you can’t take away me treets coz I woulds starve, anyway it was a haccident, no, actooally it woz totally Ty’s fault for runnin’ into me mouf….

I woz feelin’ a bit sorry for meself coz I woz well behind in the sympafy stakes wot wif Ty bein’ pafetic about his self-inflicted bites so I’s did a bit of coffin’ – but is no good doin’ “coff coff” – for proper sympafy yous got to do “coff coff aargh coff yeuch gragh graaaaghhhh coff…….coff………coff………brlarghhhh” – trubble woz, Lou copied me coffin’ and we both ended up at the vet. The boss vet sez we’s got a little virus or maybe it woz dust hallergy coz mummy Sue did hooverin’ – I sed she should never do hooverin’ – is bad for me fizzical and mental health. Then I’s got all lame and I woz stickin’ me elbow out an’ hobblin’ – Blondie the vet sez I’s hurt me leg and me back – ow ow ow. Lucky for me that we wents to see Auntie Pat and Uncle Dick from Greyhoundhomer coz Uncle Dick duz the best massages, like wot he duz for the hounds wot is still racin’ – “ooooohhh, aaaaaaaah, that’s the spot, just a bit more, uuuuuuuhm”…

Uh Lou, you is s'posed to lie ON your new bed....

Wif me an’ Ty bein’ pafetic, mummy Sue got all soppy and bought us all luvverly new beds made of memory foam – she sed they is orfopedic for Lou’s joints. They is clever beds coz they remembers who has done lyin’ on them and gets all comfy round you wen you comes back. So I’s had to get bizzy lying on ev’ry bed – I lay on my bed and sed “I is Lynx – and I wants you to remember that this is MY bed and this is how I likes to snuggle…..” then I lay on Ty’s bed and sed “I is Lynx – and I wants you to remember that this is MY bed and this is how I likes to snuggle…..” then I lay on Lou’s bed but she see’d me so I sed “uh, maybe you’d better just remember that this is Lou’s bed and she is THE top lady dog”.

See, we needs our new beds an' our pillows an' our food right by our noses....

But I has a BIG complaint coz our new beds has got bones on – but they isn’t real bones, they is picture of bones so wen you tries to eats them they just tastes of fluff – yuck

I woz wurried becoz Mummy Sue sed our new beds woz instead of our smelly old pillows an’ duvets, but we has convinced her that we needs mem’ry foam beds and our old beds coz we’s would hurt our necks if we didn’t have proper pillows for our heds….

I’s just about got over me coff wen it woz halloween – mummy Sue and Daddy Richard carved feroshus hound faces into pumpkins – I thought they mights come alive and move in wif us but they woz locked outside so that woz ok. But then I is worried coz I gots to see Blondie the bloodsucker – the vampire vet wot takes me blood – aaaaaaargh! She didn’t take me blood but she scraped me skin an’ ev’ryone knows you can use scrapin’s for voodoo magic. But it woz worse than that – Blondie sez I mights have got mange off foxes and I’s had to have smelly drops wot makes my luvverly shiny fur all dull. Mummy Sue woz hembarrassed coz she’s had to tell all me friends I has mange – ‘cept I hasn’t reelly coz Blondie sed me tests woz negative so that’s ok…

Now, duz you ‘member how scared big scaredy wuss jellyboy Ty woz wif the fizz bangs last year? Well, mummy Sue woz so happy she woz leekin’ coz this year Ty woz reelly brave and wozn’t a jellyboy at all wen all the fizz bangs woz goin’ off. O’ course, Lou slept through the whole commotion and I wents outside so I’s could watch the pretty fizzy stars –

Mummy Sue sed “aren’t you a brave boy – see the lovely colours”…

“D’oh mummy Sue” I sed ” I’s can’t see colours, I’m a dog……….oh, uh, no I didn’t mean an actual DOG, likes wot eats dog food…….”

Ty woz scared of his new bed like he is scared of all new fings....

Ty will work his new bed out 'ventooally....

Feroshus hound pumpkins an' a cat pumpkin in the middle an' a demon at the end - eeeek!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: A bit of fresh air…

Posted by indigodream on 10 December, 2011

Saturday 10th December

Limehouse to Teddington

It was a fine morning at Limehouse...

After Thursday’s apocalyptic winds it was hard to believe that we could contemplate a tideway cruise today, but the day dawned coldly calm with a blue sky so crisp and bright it hurt to look at it – perfect conditions for a jolly up the Thames.

We’d booked our passage through Limehouse Lock at 10am – plenty of time for us to drive up from Surrey and for Greygal to join us from Suffolk. We’d decided to leave our hounds at home – they’ve been in the wars this week with a variety of ailments, so we thought it best to let them rest in the warmth and comfort of their memory foam beds. Of course, as soon as she heard we were cruising without our hounds, Sarah (aka Greygal) and Andy stepped into the breach with greyhounds Ranger, Monty and Susie – the senior members of their extended pack.

We got to the boat at 9am-ish – it was colder inside the boat than outside (we have internal and external sensors to our weather clock), so the first job was turn on the Webasto! It is a very efficient heating system and the boat seemed to heat up quickly. It’s all relative though – by the time we got to Victoria Rail Bridge the outside temperature was 8°C but the inside of the boat felt toastie warm at just 11°C! We filled with water – both to help the boat’s trim and to see us through a stay in Teddington; Richard did the engine checks, including making sure that the bilge pump was working! I had been wondering about our fuel levels and was relieved to see a fuel boat (well, boat and butty) moored on the Limehouse wall – fuel services are few and far between down here. As it happens our tank was almost three-quarters full so we didn’t need any diesel today but we may well fill up if the working pair is still in Limehouse when we get back.

And we're off - but heading upstream and leaving the Isle of Dogs behind us....

Sarah, Andy and the hounds turned up at just the right time. Andy, an electronics whizz-kid, rigged up our winter tiller – fitted with electric hand-heaters, while Sarah and I went to the local dog park to make sure that the hounds were empty – no stopping on the tideway! In the meantime Richard kept in touch with the Limehouse Lockies via the VHF – they gave us a call when they were ready for us so we were able to cruise straight from our berth into the lock – sweet!

We reversed roles today, with me at the helm with Sarah while the menfolk went to the front to hold the bow against the surge when the lockies opened the gates to let the water out. We were soon coasting through the rubbish that tends to accumulate in the cut, before pushing on the revs and heading upriver. I enjoy steering onto the tideway – the feel of the tiller resisting the restless river, with its accumulated weight of tides and time, is thrilling.

I took the first shift at the helm, taking us through the pool of London and its famous landmarks – I don’t think we’ll ever tire of this trip. I was listening to “In our time” on Radio 4 on Thursday when they were discussing Greek philosopher Heraclitus who, in the 5th Century BC, came up with the famous saying “No man ever steps into the same river twice.” That’s how I feel about the Thames – the cruising conditions, traffic and moods are different each time and there’s the ever-changing panorama – the landmarks which have been there for centuries but which we haven’t noticed, as well as the cycle of demolition and rebuilding that marks London’s restless and evolving history.

Wow - just as well there were very few people on this walkway when it collapsed...

One thing we did notice today was the dramatic sight of the collapsed walkway that used to connect HMS Belfast to the shore – apparently it collapsed at the end of November but we’d missed the news item. We also noticed a City Cruisers trip boat coming downstream towards us – they were moving at a snail’s pace (or should that be a narrowboat’s pace?!) but, as we’ve observed before, this sometimes creates a deeper, though less turbulent, wash. I turned Indigo Dream into the deep waves and she dived into the troughs and rode the peaks as if designed for it! It’s a shame that we were boating alone – I think we might have had a photograph worthy of nb Leo (below) as the spray leapt over the roof!

That was the only excitement though – the pool of London is always a bit choppy, as are the areas shaded by the big bridges – a combination of geography, breeze and centuries of being carved up by passing boats – but nothing that Indigo Dream couldn’t handle with ease.

The sun was shining low in the sky – enough for us all to need sunglasses, even though we were wrapped up head to toe against the icy breeze of our passing. All three hounds decided to lie on deck (on sheepskins of course) – they huddled together but even their coats and lifejackets couldn’t keep them warm enough, so they ended up swaddled in fluffy blankets. Sarah was speculating on what the passengers on the very low-flying airliners coming into Heathrow would make of our cargo  – if anything, the soft blanket swathed heaps looked like illegal aliens – good job we were well past the police wharf by then 🙂

There was wonderful quality to the light today – the clock tower at Westminster Palace glowed as its gold-leafed facade caught the sun’s winter-waning radiance. Further along, old and new buildings were softly illuminated and a calm settled over the river as we left the pool of London and approached the seaside-resort frontages of Barnes and Putney with their eccentric mix of old terraces and modern apartment blocks.

The figure of Agriculture on Vauxhall Bridge...

Richard took the next turn on the helm just past Lambeth Bridge, while I warmed up and enjoyed the view. It’s a good idea to take turns on the helm – the tideway is tiring – a combination of fresh air and constant vigilance take their toll, as does the more physical effort of working the heavy tiller in the tidal flow. There’s also the cold to contend with and the endless distractions from all the interesting things to be seen along the way. The bridges are quite incredible – there are details on the piers and parapets that only boaters will be able to appreciate – they can’t be seen from the bridge decks and the river is too wide for promenaders to see any detail from the shore. Vauxhall Bridge is maybe the best example with its larger than life statues representing various arts and sciences. To settle an on-board debate, the figure holding a scythe represents agriculture rather than death and/or war! I was surprised to find that the current Vauxhall Bridge was only opened in 1906 – its classical decoration makes it look much older.

There was very little commercial, or other, traffic on the river today – until we got to Putney that is – the rowers were out in force all along the river as far as Richmond. I know that rowing is physical work but the crews looked underdressed to us – most in singlets and shorts! Mind you, I imagine they generate a bit of heat when toiling downstream against the force of the incoming tide then rowing double time back up with the tide. Still, I know in which boat I’d rather be 🙂

Susie making the train her own.........

We enjoyed the opulence of Richmond’s riverfront, though we were a little disappointed to have missed the raising of the half-tide barriers – they were well up by the time we got there, allowing unimpeded passage upriver. This section is so luxurious – the river is now a more affable width and surrounded by parklands graced with tall trees, planted by people who would never live to see them reach their magnificent maturity. Even in its winter clothes the landscape seems affluent – it’s a sign of great wealth that this open land has been preserved rather than turned into real estate – the fate of many a country park and manor as the industrial and social revolution marched across the country.

All too soon we had travelled 21 miles and arrived at Teddington Lock – the lock was ready for us and we were soon ascending the substantial rise – the tide had a way to go yet. There were plenty of spaces on the lock moorings and we arranged a week’s stay with the lock-keeper. It costs £8 a night now, but we don’t begrudge it as these are superior visitor moorings – there’s a fine view over the weir and upriver, generous parkland for the hounds and the delights of Teddington High Street are a short walk away. We haven’t been here for a while and I’d forgotten how nice it was – possibly my favourite visitor moorings of all time!

We walked the hounds then retreated indoors to warm up and eat lunch before we reluctantly packed the boat up and headed off to Teddington train station – about 15 minutes walk away at the far end of Teddington High Street. The day’s adventures weren’t over – I was taking the train to Clapham Junction then home to liberate our hounds. In the meantime, Sarah, Andy, Richard and the three hounds travelled by train, tube and bus back to the cars at Limehouse. The hounds were very good and attracted an extravagant amount of attention (as always). Susie, being a Lou-type top girl, enjoyed every minute of it, especially when she purloined two seats on the train and imperiously scrutinised the other passengers from her new throne. If you’re horrified by the sight of a dog on a train seat well, I reckon I’ve suffered enough overcrowding, delays, cancellations and poor service on public transport that I feel I’ve earned the right to some misbehaviour (no human was deprived of a seat!). Susie then strutted her stuff through Waterloo, all 3 greyhounds attracted loads of attention but it was Susie who really seemed to enjoy it.

The hounds then had their first ever ride in a lift (this after their first ever ride on a train) down to the Jubilee Line platform. Richard glanced up the platform and saw everybody looking at the hounds, he looked down the platform and yes, everybody was staring at the hounds. Even timid Monty did well on the tube and we were soon in Canary Wharf where the hounds attracted even more attention before their first ever bus ride back to Limehouse. Today was an extreme number of experiences for greyhounds Susie, Ranger & Monty – bet they slept well that night!

We’ve done some epic cruising with Greygal this year – today was another magical journey to add to the fund of memories that will keep us smiling when winter gales keep us from the water….

Next Tidal Adventure…..

The grand plan, weather permitting, is to take Indigo Dream back down to Limehouse on Sunday 18th December – it’s a cruel early start – we’ll need to get through Teddington Lock at 7am! If you’re up for an early start, have an up to date will and a few euros in your pocket in case we miss the turn then experienced boaters are welcome to join us (and the hounds, all being well) – just leave a comment and we’ll get in touch with arrangements.

Photoblog:

Regular readers will have seen it all before but we’re hooked – we love the river views….

What a view - the stretch between Limehouse and Tower Bridge - replete with riverside warehouses - all converted to other uses now...

The Shard dominates the landscape around Tower Bridge...

'New' London is being built of glass and steel - Richard has remarked that most of these buildings have a design life of less than 100 years so what will the next generation see on the skyline?

I don't mind having my photos taken in the winter because I'm so wrapped up that I could be any fleece-wrapped yeti - Andy is still recognizable though 🙂

The London Eye looked particularly fine today - you get a good view of the 'drive' mechanism from the river. Are the pods heated? Would be a bit chilly at the top if not...

You can't beat the light at this time of year...

The bright, low sunshine made the best of the lights and shade of Westminster's gothic facade...

Sarah though this might be a nice pied a terre for the hounds - with convenient access to the foreshore at low tide...

They could have been snug indoors but Sarah's hounds love the back deck....

The boys....

The waterfront is full of surprises - these houses provide a welcome splash of colour...

Sarah looks happy on the helm...

This Starbucks needs a mooring pontoon or maybe a cruise thru' window for passing boaters - that's if you don't have your own espresso machine on board of course!

Those platforms are interesting - we're a long way from high tide here but they look a bit high for mooring....

Great riverfront....

More colourful houses in Kew...

The Thames islands are havens for wildlife - what I thought were crow's nests high in the trees might be heronries...

Sculpture (or windbreak) at Brentford - this is a useful landmark near the entrance to the Lock onto the canal - the big BW sign seems to have vanished!

The planes really are low over the water as they approach Heathrow...

Popular ferry service - well, bridges are a lot further apart here...

Richmond - from the left - the lock (1st arch), lowered half-tide barrier (2nd arch), open navigation (3rd arch)....

Richmond is wonderfully opulent....

The hermit's 'boat' - now ashore - it looked as if it might be being dismantled.....

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »