Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for September 5th, 2012

Boat Blog: Getting into position

Posted by indigodream on 5 September, 2012

Saturday 1st September

Our first sight of the Paralympic symbol suspended from Tower Bridge..

We’re planning another mini-odyssey in September – hopefully completing the journey up the Thames which was interrupted by the almost constant red boards during April and May. However, we have a backup plan for a jaunt up the Grand Union – we are cruising – come what may! We were waiting for the ‘Indian Summer’ to start, and it’s looking quite promising so far….

With this in mind, we decided to move the boat up to Teddington, a perfect staging post for either a trip up the Thames or a quick diversion down to Brentford and up the Grand Union. The tides, and the weather forecast, were favourable for us to make the move on the 1st, though we won’t head upriver for another week.

In a wonderful bit of serendipity, virtual friends Marina and Si, who have two rescue greyhounds (magnificent black boy Dudley and dainty white/black girl Snowy) as well as a cruiser (Merikala) on the River Great Ouse, got in touch to express an interest in a trip up the tideway. This weekend worked for them, so our plans were set!

We left Ty with nanny Renia this weekend – he’s been quiet and a bit spooked all week after his tideway adventures last week – poor traumatised hound! Lou was having a good day, though, so she was up for a cruise and Ollie just wants to be doing whatever we’re doing, so that’s ok.

I had left a car in Teddington on Friday to facilitate our end-of-trip dog shuttle; this worked very efficiently but I’ll come back to that later. We drove up to Limehouse on Saturday morning, arriving, a bit embarrassingly, about 15 minutes after our guests! The dogs were introduced and we piled on board with just a few minutes to spare for taking on fresh water and completing engine checks. There wasn’t even enough time for a coffee before we slipped from our mooring and headed for the lock.

You can see the state of the water around this trip boat – it was quite bumpy!

There was a really high tide today, so we didn’t have quite the dramatic drop onto the river that we experienced last week. We left Limehouse a couple of hours before high tide (London Bridge), that gave us the benefit of the flow up to Teddington. When we left, the tide was around 5.2 metres – high tide today was expected to be 7.4 meters – one of the highest we’ve ever cruised, though we arrived in Teddington just before the tide maxed out there.

We had another dramatic entry to the tideway – ribs, clippers, trip boats – the river was buzzing! We headed upstream and I took the helm – the weather was much more sullen than forecast and there was a brisk breeze across the water; Saturday lunchtime was probably the busiest time for commercial traffic so the Pool of London was very choppy indeed. I had hoped that Richard would put his ‘barista’ hat on, but we decided to delay the refreshments until we stopped rockin’ & rollin’ and passed onto the calm waters beyond Vauxhall Bridge. The front of the boat got a good wash, but Indigo Dream is very stable on the water and we had no dramas. I was a bit worried that Marina and Si might find it a bit alarming, but they seemed to be enjoying it tremendously! The hounds took it all in their stride; Ollie looked a bit disturbed when we first entered the tideway, but he soon got his ‘sea legs’ – Lou, Dudley and Snowy settled immediately – first to a bit of Olympic lookin’ and later to some world class deck snoozin’…

One of my major tasks before setting out had been to unearth all the dog’s sheepskins and pillows from where they’d been stowed in our front wardrobe. It was an important job, fully warranting my taking out every bit of spare human bedding – duvets, pillows, the lot – in order to reach and extract sufficient dog beds to line the back deck. I had a tremendous sense of familiarity and comfort from seeing the deck entirely covered by four greyhounds lying at their elegant ease, while the humans tiptoed uncomfortably around them!

Four go boating – typical Indigo Dream deck scene!
(with thanks to Marina for the photo!)

We seemed to get upriver in no time, especially after we’d filled up on coffee, bacon sarnies and a superb home-made coffee and walnut cake which Marina had generously contributed. Both hound and human crews got on famously – meeting virtual friends is always a calculated risk, but our common love of boating and rescue greyhounds guaranteed a fine afternoon. The hounds shared a common love of comfy beds and food – sweet!

All too soon we locked off the tideway at Teddington and moored up for a dog-stop and to plot our next move. Marina and Si needed to get back to Suffolk, but as we moored the sun broke out and it became a stunning day on the water. It seemed a shame to stop, though whatever we did we’d need to come back to Teddington as we’d planned to moor at the lock for the week (by arrangement with the lockies – £8 per night for a 60′ boat). While we were plotting, we spotted another greyhound being walked along the towpath with her whippet companion, they were soon joined by another two whippets and we had a little sight-hound party! As we were chatting, the high tide arrived at Teddington and came just to the top of the weir – we knew that might happen, in fact, it can overtop the weir, but we’d never witnessed it for ourselves. It was a dramatic sight, but also sound – the water usually roars over the powerful weir at Teddingon, but now it just sighed as the tide kissed the stream…

It was no good, we just had to cruise a little bit further. We all piled on board and had a bobble up to Hampton Court – the river was busy with boats of every conceivable size and shape – the big ‘paddle’ cruisers seemed to be doing a brisk business. As always, I really enjoyed our trip along this most familiar of waterways – I can’t imagine ever getting bored, especially when we’ve got guests on board – we took pleasure from their enjoyment of the sights and sounds of the river. The highlight for me came in Thames Ditton – I was at the helm, wearing my Olympic Gamesmaker jacket, which is really smart, when I heard a commotion from the far bank. There was another Gamesmaker out on the balcony of his home, waving his Gamesmaker T-shirt in salute – it was a golden moment. I know I had a horrible time as an Olympic volunteer, but I’ll never forget that for a brief time Richard and I were part of something great, and I’ll always cherish that.

The riverscape is full of contrasts – I’m not sure about the merits of the Shard but you certainly can’t miss it…

We got back to the moorings and left the dogs on the bank with Marina and Si while we quickly packed the boat. We had a plan – Richard would drive Marina, Si and the four hounds back to Limehouse – Marina and Si would then head off for Suffolk and Richard would pile our dogs into his car and head for home. In the meantime, I would finish packing the boat, pay for our week’s moorings and take the train to Limehouse, where I would pick up my car and head for home (luckily I had spare keys). The plan worked even better than expected – although I dithered over leaving the boat (nothing new there), I had a wonderfully efficient train journey to Limehouse and got there just after Richard had said ‘goodbye’ to our guests!

We decided to eat in Limehouse and went for the pricey but excellent La Figa Italian restaurant just off Narrow Street. The restaurant opens onto a pleasantly lit square with a melodic fountain and colourful mosaic benches all around. We couldn’t take the dogs into the restaurant so we ordered two delicious pasta dishes and a few drinks to take out – I had to charm a waiter into lending us two forks! We sat outside, with Lou and Ollie lying contentedly on their blankets, and ate our meals al fresco. Maybe it was the fine day, the fresh air, the ambience, but the food tasted superb and it was a lovely way to end the day.

Feeling full and contented, we sorely regretted that the boat wasn’t still in Limehouse! Instead we had to pile into our cars and drove back to Surrey, amazed as always, that it was only 12 hours since we’d left the house – it felt as if we’d been away for an eternity – that’s the magic of the waterways….

Photoblog:

This is one of the landing craft from the warship that’s moored just downstream..

Giving the boat a quick wash!

Busy Busy – there is a lot of traffic on a Saturday afternoon but it all calmed down just beyond Westminster..

The Ribs look alarming but they’re generally up on the plane and the wash is shallow….

I would rather take Indigo Dream across the channel in a storm than get on that ‘fairground’ ride 😀

The yellow pole is a headroom marker for Westminster Bridge – I wonder how often the commercial traffic is restricted by the height of the tide?

We’re up in the calm waters of Richmond here – we still thought that these paddlers were a bit brave though!

The ‘Hermit’ is rebuilding (his home was in pieces last time we passed)…

Cadging a lift…
The snoozing greyhounds didn’t even notice our guest!

Most of my weir photos were overexposed (I hadn’t noticed that the camera was on the wrong setting) – but here’s Teddington Weir at high tide…

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