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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey – Day 2

Posted by indigodream on 8 October, 2012

Rewind to Tuesday 11th September

Kingston to Desborough Island (via Teddington!)

Kingston under a moody sky…

The mooring on the ‘park’ side at Kingston is a peaceful spot, but we had a far from peaceful night as Lou was not well at all – when we got back from the restaurant she was panting and restless, despite my giving her some strong painkillers before going out. I gave her the rest of her cocktail of medicines, including some diazepam for the muscle spasms that seemed to be waving down her back. Half an hour later and she was pacing the boat, in obvious pain, so I gave her some more tramadol and sat with her, trying to massage the spasms out of her muscles. After an hour or so, she finally relaxed as the extra painkillers took hold and she fell asleep sometime after midnight.

She continued to be stiff and out of sorts in the morning so I gave her a full dose of her painkillers/muscle relaxant. I was on the verge of ringing her vet, as we didn’t have enough diazepam to last the holiday if she was going to be this ill throughout, when he rang me! He had the results of her latest urine tests – sadly there are signs that her kidneys may have been damaged by the intensive chemotherapy – there’s nothing much we can do about it – she’s already on medicines to protect her kidneys so we’ll just have to see how they recover from the ‘shock’ (or, more accurately, whether they stop declining). Lou’s vet is great – they arranged for a supply of diazepam to be dispensed from her ‘home’ surgery and shipped to Banstead – which is not far from Teddington (well, nearer than her home surgery anyway).

The fine towpath that runs alongside the river from Kingston to Hampton Court..

So, after a short bobble with the dogs (even the boys seemed a bit tired), we headed up to Thames Marina at Thames Ditton and filled with diesel – we weren’t quite running on fumes, but the tank was probably as near empty as we’ve ever dared. Luckily it’s just a short trip from Kingston to the marina, though the brisk wind made for a high speed mooring that had nothing to do with the revs on the engine! We put 160 litres into the tank at Β£1 per litre (before duty) – they accept any self-declared split there. Richard also topped up on oil from the chandlery.

We then headed back downstream to Teddington – my car was parked there, and in my fantasy holiday, I would not have been racing back to the vet just 24-hours into the trip! Luckily Lou didn’t need to come with me – she was fully drugged up and spent the morning fast asleep on the sofa – the vet said that the rest would do her a big favour. He was absolutely right – by the evening she was really cheerful, walking well and full of bounce. This was such a dramatic improvement – though a 15 minute walk was enough for her and she did have a lie-down and a roll in the grass halfway!

We moored up in Teddington, wondering whether we ever going to get cruising this week! I set off to do my chores in Banstead while Richard did his chores aboard – it was quite a useful stop as there’s more good dog-walking here and a handy rubbish point by the lock. I got back to the boat just after 3pm and we had attempt number two – maybe we’d finally get upriver….

Big works at Walton on Thames – there are signs warning of divers working – brrrr….

It was a breezy afternoon and I got quite cold, despite wearing my splendid “Gamesmaker” windcheater! It’s amazing how many people recognised it and went on to ask about the Games. I may have to stop wearing it though – I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to be a good Gamesmaker, though Richard has enough great memories for both of us!

I almost cheered when we went through Molesey lock – at one time I thought we’d spend the entire holiday cruising between Kingston and Teddington!

The rest of the day was marked by us dodging the many rowers that were out on the water – they were amiable enough but sometimes a bit random – especially the ‘coaching/safety’ boats! I was musing that the river was big enough for all of us (while silently gnashing my teeth) when I was struck by a wry thought – in the glow of the Olympic legacy, what if rowers were given absolute priority on the river – after all, we’re never going to win gold medals for GB in a narrowboat πŸ™‚

One cheeky rowing coach asked if I’d nicked the Gamesmaker jacket, but concluded that no-one would be that low! It was a particularly peculiar thing to say – I mean, why would he think I wouldn’t be a genuine Gamesmaker – we came in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes!

We toyed with stopping at the Weir pub, then at the Anglers, both of which have tidy moorings nearby; but we wanted to get a few more miles under the keel. We pressed on through Sunbury Lock – I’m very glad that we did because the lock-keeper was a mine of information about accessible moorings – Lou absolutely cannot be allowed to jump up/down from the boat. We had her thoroughly checked out at the vet last week and the ‘good’ news is that her pain is almost certainly being caused by arthritis/pulled muscles rather than a relapse of her cancer.

We enjoyed the trip up through Walton, reminiscing, as always, about the fun we used to have here with our first rescue dog, Honey, and our inflatable rowing boat! We were impressed by the scale of the bridge works going on at Walton – the existing road bridge was, apparently, meant to be a ‘temporary’ structure, but it’s been there since 1990 at the very least! They are now working on a new structure – there’s a news article here and even a link to a live video stream of the build here! The ‘artist’s impression’ of the new bridge looks very handsome compared to the rough ‘temporary’ bridges that have kept the traffic flowing here for the last 20 years!

The lock-keeper at Sunbury recommended two mooring spots round the back end of Desborough Island – so instead of going up Desborough cut (which takes you straight to the next lock/junction) we turned right and meandered round the island.

Our overnight mooring on the ‘mainland’ – it was a great spot – provided you’ve got provisions on board!

There are decent moorings on the island itself (free for 24 hours) – we stopped for a look – the lower mooring was accessible for Lou, but there is an access road rather than a footpath adjacent and it would be quite a walk before we got into the ‘countrified’ bit of the island. We moved on, admiring a narrowboat that had managed to moor in the rough at the ‘top’ end of the island. We were tempted to join them; but I’m glad that we carried on as we soon reached the District Council moorings on the ‘mainland” (at the back of Lower Halliford). What a superb spot – we had to use pins (though there are some rings) but the mooring is well mown, neat, clean, quiet and flanked by superb parkland for dog-walking. We’ve not moored here before and would never have thought to leave the main channel to find the spot had we not been alerted by the lock-keeper. Shhhhh, keep it to yourselves!

Actually, it’s not that big a secret – there were only two spaces left by the time we arrived – several narrowboats had already colonised the spot….

We did have some vexation with the local paddlers – there’s probably a good reason for why 20 of them came round the corner on the wrong side of the river, focusing on the tips of their canoes and studiously ignoring other river traffic. We waited for the to get out of the way then tried to nip across to the moorings, signalling to the next group, some distance away, that we were doing so. Five of them still paddled between us and the bank, necessitating an emergency stop! It seemed like sheer ignorance to us – the errant five did not acknowledge our presence in look, word or gesture – I forcibly restrained the gesture that my fingers were straining to make πŸ™‚

We eventually moored safely (without squashing anyone) then we took the dogs for a walk, feeling immensely relieved to see Lou looking (and moving) so much better. The mooring does not seem to be near a pub so we ate on board, there’s a good TV signal, though a patchy internet signal, so we had a lovely evening in. One day into the holiday and the dogs are already knackered – cruising is very stimulating. I’m afraid to report that Indigo Dream’s “Olympic Looking” team prospects for Rio have collapsed – Lou’s too ill, Ollie just likes lying on deck out of the wind and young hopeful, Henry, has already given up ‘looking’ in favour of the comfy beds in the cabin. So we had a quiet evening – all the hounds ate their dinners and retired to their beds – the human crew did likewise (but to our own beds not the dogs’ – that’s for the pedants out there :-))

Turks Pier just downstream of John Lewis in Kingston – it looks as if the place has been spruced up and there’s a “to let” sign – I wondered whether Turks Cruiser had gone out of business but their boat were still active on the river. The company has a fascinating history http://www.turks.co.uk/about-us

nb Quercus – we last met during the jubilee pageant – we also saw a cruiser flying their pageant ensign – maybe we should do the same…

We weren’t sure whether these floodlights (pointing at Kingston Bridge) were new – I had a little dig for information and apparently the bridge has been illuminated since 2003! http://www.kingston.gov.uk/information/news_and_events/news/news_2003.htm?id=14238

Nice new build going up here – a bit “architecty” for our taste – with those big windows you either need a big, ahem, ego or big net curtains πŸ˜€

Hampton Court Palace under wraps – the normally golden gates were grey with primer last time we passed! We played ‘hopscotch’ up the Thames with nb Bacas Mist..

Molesey Boat Club – justifiably proud of its Olympic achievement…

I’ll never tire of seeing this colony of houseboats – I’ve always fancied one, but the island behind is tiny and crammed – not enough room for the hounds!

This houseboat has a “room to let” – this surprised me, though it looks to be a substantial dwelling πŸ™‚

There’s something timeless about Port Hampton – I don’t know how it’s resisted redevelopment into something more swanky….

Rowers – lots of rowers….

Under construction! There’s not much substance to these ‘huts’ but they’d set you back a pretty penny (well, nearer Β£250,000)!

The rowers were uncomfortably random at times – I don’t think they realise how difficult it is to stop/change the direction of a 17 ton narrowboat!

Fine moorings at the Anglers – there is long stretch of free (24-hour) public moorings just upstream – we took particular interest in mooring sites during this trip as we were looking for ‘old dog’ accessible for Lou!

Big works on shore at Walton on Thames – no use having a new bridge and no approach roads!

Another view of the works at Walton on Thames – the hexagonal blocks will be an integral part of the new bridge’s structure..

I know that the photo is a bit dark but that’s Desborough Island straight ahead (upstream), Desborough Cut goes off to the left and the meandering river (with some very fine moorings) to the right. Nicholsons warns of shallows on the river section but there was plenty of water for us!

The river section around Desborough Island is lovely – even if the local paddlers, rowers and sailors disapprove – but there’s not other way to get those fine moorings…

Ollie is now a fully fledged Indigo Dreamer – he loves sleeping on deck…

“Hurrah” we though, Henry’s going to revive the Olympic looking team…

The Olympic looking team prospects collapse as Henry sneaks a quick snooze on Lou’s sofa…

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