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The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for November, 2012

Dog Blog: Henry Beanz Holidaze..

Posted by indigodream on 28 November, 2012

Youz own corrispondent…

Dear Henry

Just so that you know we’re ready for you, Ty chewed the remote control of the TV that we borrowed from the repair place, the remote that we have to give back to the shop! He could have chewed any of our old remotes but no, it had to the newest, most embarrassing one! And Lou had a poo on the carpet yesterday and Ty raided the bin – we are totally ready for you 🙂

Ooh, I though you’d like to know that we’re formally adopting Ollie 🙂

xxxx Mummy Sue

Hello step mummi,

Ize also didz chewin of the remote and I had a litel haccident this mornin cos mum and dad slept layte so I iz totely reddy for you too. Its nyce that u is doptin Ols – keep doptin dogz that don’t do chewz.

Seez you soon, luffs HB.

Ps. Mummi iz gettin anoid she can’t find her fone as its still in me bed so I can keep in tutch with my favrit step mummi

Fis is Monty wot is ancient – but gurls luffs stripy brindles – huh!

Dear Henry

I have a little job for you and the gang – mice have moved into my garden office – could you sniff them out and eat them on Friday?

As a reward I thought we could take you to the pub for some extra fuss – they love houndies in our local pub. In fact, I expect that we’ll spend a lot of time at the pub (don’t tell mummy) – there are two nice girlie hounds that visit our local – you and Archie can do some flirting!


xxx Step mummy Sue

Deer Step-mummi Sue

I will put Herbz on the case. He luffs squeekie myces. 

Wow, zoomies, fuds, kuddels, chikkins, treatz, myces and gurls – soundz like parradice. Archie may have the lookz but ladies luff pursenalitee so I will be well in. Fink Monty better stay home with Ty in his den – pubz is scarey for wussy boyz and I dont want him crampin my stile. Silly hoomans luff strypee brinduls

xxx HB

Dear Henry

Richard has just ordered £150 worth of chewies – will that be enough???

xxxx worried of Surrey

Dear step mummi Sue,

That will be enuf for me, wots everiwun else having?

xxx HB


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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 14

Posted by indigodream on 27 November, 2012

Rewind to Saturday 6th October

Henley to Cookham Lock

Fine morning in Henley – the boys were in much better spirits this morning 🙂

Note the date! We are well behind!

Richard single-handed the boat from Henley to Marlow this morning under blue skies and sunshine – such a contrast to the overnight rain.

We were feeling the impact of that rain all weekend though – Richard reported that river was “fast but gentle”. He got to Marlow without incident, though he says that the currents at Henley Bridge made for an interesting approach.

I met up with the Richard, Ollie and the boat at Marlow – having parked in the Pound Lane car park, which has excellent access to the river. It was busy, as was the river walk, Marlow is obviously the destination of choice for a sunny Saturday! We piled the hounds on board, along with the supplies that I’d brought along and settled down to wait. The moorings in Marlow were unusually deserted and Richard got pole position. There were lots of gongoozlers – most looking at this lovely English riverscape…..and feeding the ducks! I mused about the concept of ‘personal space’ – is there an equivalent ‘boat space’? I felt a bit uncomfortable as people, especially toddlers on scooters, passed very close to the edge of the path i.e. almost on our gunwhales – yet most weren’t interested in the boat – they were just innocent passers-by!

I should add that we have no problem with mooring close to other boats – it’s so frustrating when boats fill a mooring leaving a little gap between each that would have added up to enough space for another 2 boats if they’d budged up!

Today’s cruise was a chance for a family gathering for Danusia’s (Richard’s younger sister) birthday – the birthday girl arrived next, along with husband Martin and adorable dog Polo – all seasoned cruisers. The rest of the crew arrived shortly afterwards – Richard’s elder sister, Alina, husband Rysiek and mum Renia.

Rare rays of sunshine…

We set off downstream – there was a lot of flow in the river, so we gave Marlow Weir a very wide berth, though the draw didn’t feel too fierce – maybe because of the EA tugs and butties that were moored across it. Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic and the lock was open – we shared it with dutch barge Izambard. As we got into the lock we were surprised to see a red board on the upstream gate – the lock-keeper told us that the upstream stretch had just gone on to red board (Caution – strong steam) because the weir was almost fully open and they were concerned about the flow across it.

Luckily the downstream stretch was on “yellow – stream increasing” so we felt that we could carry on. Again, the flow was fast but perfectly manageable so we settled down to coffee, cake and enjoying the gentle scenery between Marlow and Cookham. Needless to say, we got to Cookham in no time at all! The moorings in Cookham were busy but there were a few spots available – including a prime 60′ space near the footpath to the village. We had booked a table at Bel and the Dragon, one of our favourite dog-friendly pubs on the Thames. Unfortunately we had to leave the dogs on board – our table was for 10 people, which was set up in the non dog-friendly restaurant area – never mind! The pub was as cosy as ever, with a roaring fire in the bar and professional, if somewhat slow, service – the food was superb. The family was delighted and a good time was had by all. However, Richard and I were disappointed – Bel and the Dragon is far more upmarket than we remember and it has lost the personable friendliness that we valued so much on previous visits. I suspect that the next time we go to Cookham we’ll be exploring other dog-friendly pubs…..

What a glorious autumn day – such a contrast to yesterday’s gloom..

The meal ran much later than we expected – we could easily have sat in the bar in front of the fire all afternoon! But our plan was to cruise down to the Cliveden Islands, moor up for cake and then run the family back up to Marlow (we had now been joined by Richard’s niece, Emilia, his nephew Aleksander along with Alex’s girlfriend Tara). But the river scuppered our plans…

Although it was still on yellow boards, by now there was quite a bit more flow in the river. Indigo Dream is powerful enough for the job so we got to Cookham’s lock cut without any drama, though the current to the weirs was impressive! The lock-keeper was very concerned about conditions on the river and he told us that if we decided to go back up to Marlow then we should moor up below the lock and NOT attempt to pass the weir above Marlow lock. So that became our new plan – go upriver and moor overnight below Marlow lock. River conditions permitting, we’d then cruise down to Cookham lock on Sunday morning where we’d arranged a week’s mooring – it seemed unlikely that the red/yellow boards would allow a long cruise on Sunday.

We did consider whether to stop at Cookham on Saturday night and send the drivers by cab to collect the cars from Marlow. In hindsight, that would have been a very good plan!

We went through Cookham Lock and had a spin round the Cliveden Islands – this is truly one of my favourite spots on the river! But the river flow was significant enough for us to decide not to stop for cake but to make best speed back to Marlow. It was a very good decision. Once we turned into the flow, our progress slowed dramatically! On the way downstream we were whizzing along with the engine barely in tickover (just enough to give some steering); on the way upstream, we were at 1400 revs and barely moving! Never mind, Indigo Dream has power to spare so we soldiered on. Needless to say, it took an age to get back to Marlow, especially where the river narrowed past an (unnamed) island – the flow increased and Indigo Dream came to a virtual standstill! We weren’t too worried though – although there wasn’t a mooring in the narrow channel, we’d only need to turn the boat round and we’d be back in Cookham in the blink of an eye 🙂

Cliveden Reach – the day looks so benign but the river was racing – and this is just on yellow boards!

We crept forward and started to look out or the 24-hour moorings below Marlow Lock – the ones which the Cookham Lock-keeper had recommended. We weren’t familiar with them, so I was on the front as a lookout. There were no obvious moorings though there was a submerged line of posts in the water which I assumed were marking a shoal. Ah, they weren’t – the submerged posts WERE the moorings – now under 6 inches of water! A group of fishermen were wading around retrieving their equipment – they said that the river had been rising all day but had come by 5″ in the last hour. NOW we were worried! The lock moorings were close by so we headed for them, noting, with dismay, that these were within 4″ of being submerged. Normally it takes some time to get the family off the boat – there’s a lot of kissing and extended goodbyes – but the threat of having to wade ashore was a powerful motivator for them to leave – the river had come up another inch while we were offloading them!

There was a real sense of urgency on the boat now – we couldn’t moor in Marlow and would have to head downstream to find a safe haven. Danusia stayed on board with Polo while Martin got their car. Richard turned the boat well, considering the flow, and we were off…literally! I took the helm and Indigo Dream raced downstream – the boat felt very stable but our speed around the bends gave us the nearest sensation to flying that’s available in a 17 ton narrowboat 🙂

We estimated that we cruised downriver at around 7 mph – 5mph from the river and 2mph from the engine! I’m not sure how it looked from the shore, but one wag walking along the towpath said “there’s a 30mph speed limit you know”! “Tell that to the river” I thought while easing the helm around the currents!

We walked to Cookham Dene station over the old bridge – we like this plaque. The old bridge had plenty of headroom over the water; for some reason though, the new road bridge is lower and has markers to show cars how deep the water is when it’s flooded…  Note: Cookham Dene station is a long walk from Cookham lock!

We toyed with mooring in Bourne End – there are some decent high moorings there. But then we’d either have to move down to Cookham tomorrow (in uncertain conditions) or leave her there and be worrying about the river coming up over the towpath during the week. We decided to press on to the lock moorings at Cookham – we reckoned there was just enough light to get there and so there was!

We moored up above Cookham lock (the moorings below the lock are not dog-friendly) – by now it was full dark, but the day’s dramas weren’t over. While Danusia and I walked the dogs, Richard went to meet Martin. We knew that the lock area is gated and locked after 5pm but Richard had thought that there was some sort of pedestrian access – unfortunately there wasn’t! Martin had to use some advanced gymnastics to climb over the gate (with a hand up from Richard) to get to the boat – we don’t have a step or rope ladder on board so it seemed unlikely that Danusia would manage the climb back. She wasn’t set up for an overnight stay, so there was nothing for it but to cast off and take them back up to the Ferry pub landings just downstream of Cookham Bridge. I was reluctant to do the trip, but at least we didn’t need to go through the bridge and we were soon back at the lock moorings. I was relieved to moor up – Cookham lock cut is effectively protected from flooding by the two weirs either side; there is good dog-walking and the bank is at a convenient height for Lou so we were very comfortable!


The river and rowing museum in Henley – see those 2 dodgy characters – they’re sculptures, reminiscent of the ones in Paddington Basin! I can’t find any information about them on the website –

Richard met this hotel boat in Henley while waiting for Marsh Lock to be repaired – they only just made it to Henley on time for a night out! He said that the owners seemed really genial, knew what they were doing and had a nice looking boat – anyone fancy a holiday…

Cookham Dene station has the air of one long disused – we were grateful for the hourly trains though – the line follows the river – it was interesting to see all the back gardens – you only see the posh fronts from the river…

Sunrise at our house (1)

Sunrise (2)

Sunrise (3)

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Dog Blog: Henry Beanz Holidaze…

Posted by indigodream on 26 November, 2012

The secrit of a good holidaze is good plannin’ – so I’s bin texting step-mummi Sue hevery day so’s she’s reddy for me 🙂

Deer step-mummi Sue (yooz haz bin promotid),

Weez megger xcitid cos it’ll soon be holidaze agen.  I haz hidun mummi’s fone in my bed as I dont won’t to risk her briefing agenst me. Lyke tellin yu ize not to have hot chikkins wenz I luffs hot chikkins. Or that ize a bad boy that duz rippins.  I nose yu understand me witch is why I iz so lookin forwud to my holidaze.

 Xxx Henry B Beanz

Dear Henry

I’m so pleased that you got in touch – we’re excited too. Your mummy did say something about your being a big pudding and needing a diet, but there’s no need to worry – you’re coming on holiday, no-one diets on holiday

xxx Step-mummi Sue  ps. I like my promotion 🙂

Deer step-mummi sue,

Me, Herbs and Arch are xcitid cos we knose we are definitly cumming to stay and eat hot chikkins for a munf. Mummi Sarah – who iz not as nice a mummi as yu – haznt decidid who else to bring. Duz she bring Eddie, the big thick Irish puddin whoze a bit mioppick, or duz she bring monty, whoze a big jelly barky wuss boy an eatz postmens shortz?

 I dunt no why it carnt be just the three of us – more chikkin that way. Mummi Sarah is wurried as well that yooz have no idea wot you ar lettin yorself in for – charming! Woznt I the bestest Beanz ever on holidaze? And arch is yor speshal jiggolo. And herbs…well herbs looks out for yor well-bein by eatin the things you wont to eat but shudnt. Likes icescream, chocklit, biskits, well, anyfing reelly. Yu will have a nice immpromptwo diet befor Xmas! Herbs is fortful that way. Only 9 sleepz to go now!

 Luffs, HB

Fis is me, Henry B Beanz, I alwayz haz a pensil so I’s can rite down himportant messigis for step-mummi Sue – sumtimes mean mummi Sarah duzn’t let me have her phone – huh!!

Dear Henry

Don’t you worry about getting enough love – you’re my special boy and there will always be enough to go round (and enough hot chicken!). We’d be happy to look after Monty – it might be nice for Lou to have an oldie to keep her company.

 xxxx Step-mummy Sue

Dear Henry

Today I’ve been clearing up and dusting upstairs so that there is enough room for you all to sleep and so that you don’t get wheezy asthma from dust during your visit! We’re almost ready for you…

 xxxx Step-mummy Sue

Deer step-mummi sue,

 I iz so xcitid, I mite wizz myself. Luvvin my step mummi sue. How iz the treatz stash lookin? Iz it piled high with guddies? With my name on them?

 xxx HB

Dear Henry

The treat pile is looking great – they’ve got your name on because Lou has to have some dental work and may not have enough teeth to eat them and Ollie doesn’t Like treats, though you may have to share with Ty. I will be ordering lots of chickens!

 xxxx Step-mummy Sue

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 13

Posted by indigodream on 22 November, 2012

Rewind to Friday 5th October

Reading (Thames and Kennet Marina) t0 Henley


I confess that I wasn’t keen to cruise today – I wanted to minimise Lou’s time on the boat and……..I’d seen the atrocious weather forecast 🙂

However, we had Richard’s family joining us in Marlow on Saturday morning, and Richard was reluctant to change the plans, so he single-handed from Reading to Henley. It was a brave move because the river was on the rise after a week of solid rainfall. He took Ollie with him for company, though the rain meant that Ollie couldn’t occupy his favourite spot on deck.

They didn’t have a bad start to the day, but later on it persisted down – Ollie, who had been so keen to have an adventure, was confined inside out of the rain; in the meantime, Richard was confined outside in the rain. When I spoke to Richard later, I’d have been hard pressed to work out which of the boys was more despondent!

This was our visitor pontoon at the Thames and Kennet Marina – I’d lobby for the dog-owner who allowed this to happen to be evicted!

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Boat Blog: End of an Era

Posted by indigodream on 20 November, 2012

Rewind to Saturday 29th September

With Indigo Dream safely tucked up at the Thames and Kennet marina for a fortnight, we had a free weekend. But what to do?

nb Greyhound looking mighty fine (and that is before she got tidied up for a sale)

Well, my weekend was set for me – Lou was really unwell this week after suffering an awful drug interaction – the story’s here – and ending up in houndie hospital. She was discharged on the Saturday, but she wasn’t really well enough for much activity, so that was that.

But Richard (with my blessing I should add) spent Saturday crewing for Sarah and Andy on their No 1 narrowboat, Greyhound.

It truly is the end of an era – nb Greyhound was on her way from her winter home in Sawley to ABNB broker’s in Crick. Yes, Sarah and Andy are selling nb Greyhound to fund the next stage of “project liveaboard”. That’s not my story to tell, though we do spend a lot of time discussing it! Of course, she won’t be left without a narrowboat – her 40′ runaround, Henry H, is currently being restored in Braunston and will, along with Indigo Dream, assuage their cruising withdrawal syndrome!

If you’re interested in making a bid for nb Greyhound then you’ll find her brochure here – nb Greyhound sales brochure

Sarah and Andy had had an epic week’s cruising since we’d last seen them, cruising from Sawley and through Birmingham via the notorious Wolverhampton 21. The next stage was the long drop down from Birmingham.

Richard joined them near the top of the Lapworth flight (one of our favourites!), with his bike. Judging by the texts I received during the day, there followed a day of near supersonic locking – they got down the Lapworth, Hatton and Cape locks in a day (we’ve done that trip up in a day before) and Richard was virtually home in time for tea!

Note from Richard: I would have been home earlier but we stopped for a pint! I joined Sarah & Andy a few locks down from the top, yes shock, horror they had got up early. We got down from there in 90 minutes. Going down Hatton we joined up with a game couple who had a boat with a remote control throttle, yes, I want one! Hatton and Cape took 2 hours 15 minutes, we sadly missed the 2 hour target as we waited for one boat to come up through locks set their way and their progress up was a bit slower then we thought it would be! It was a fantastic day’s cruising, it’s time I did a lock or two!

A few more photos:

Andy learning bad habits …

Almost at the bottom, Lapworth is such a pretty flight

Getting a bit flash ….

Sarah is keen not to damage her blacking!

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 12

Posted by indigodream on 19 November, 2012

Friday 19th September

Moulsford (Beetle ‘n Wedge) to Reading (Thames & Kennet Marina)

nb Rock ‘n Roll on her way upstream – we exchanged greetings, but sadly we were travelling in different directions today – shame, it would have been great to catch up with our fellow bloggers….

This turned out to be the last day of holiday, and I confess that I was relieved. Lou has been so clumsy on the boat steps and I’ve had to give her ‘backup’ doses of painkillers almost every day (usually in the middle of the night) – I was actually looking forward to getting home.

We had originally planned to spend an extra day on board and go down to Marlow or Cookham. But Richard had been concerned by water in our engine bilge, which he thought was coming from our stern gland. We have a Vetus stern gland which is normally totally dry; but Richard was concerned that we were getting more vibration from the engine and that our stern gland might be wearing out. He wanted an engineer to have a look at it and give us an opinion. Now, the leak wasn’t dangerous, but it definitely needed to be fixed before we got onto the tideway!

As we cruised downstream, we researched marine engineers – our first plan was to stop at Reading Marine, but although the receptionist was very pleasant and helpful, she needed to talk to the engineer to book our slot and arrange a week’s mooring there. They kept promising to ring back but they never did, so, onto plan ξ. We rang the ever-pleasant Thames and Kennet Marina, arranged a week’s mooring and a visit from an engineer.

We made haste to the marina and met the engineer there for an initial diagnosis. He didn’t think that there was much amiss with our stern gland – he recommended greasing it (again) – it only takes about a teaspoonful and to use a silicone grease. Richard had been wondering whether it was time to replace the Vetus gland, but rumour had it that the crane in the nearby basin would cost £1,000 – a bit much for a repair that would cost tuppence ha’penny (well ok, maybe a bit more than that but you get the drift!). and lastly do the tappets

Despite the river’s moods, we still fantasise about having our own plot of land with a mooring – this one just upstream of Cleeve lock would do us nicely – 90′ of river frontage, 50′ depth, parking and a dry dock/slipway in that shed – perfect! Now we just need to find £250k down the back of the sofa!

We were reassured and moved onto a visitor pontoon – it was quite disgusting – someone’s dog has been using it as a toilet – they are obviously quite happy to let them as it’s not their mooring. I don’t like that at all – marinas are tight-knit communities that rely on the goodwill of all in order to work – it’s that sort of irresponsible dog control that ultimately leads to dog-free marinas.

Anyway, I helped to pack the boat up quickly then I headed off by train to get my car from Teddington. It’s quite a trip – by the time I got to Teddington, the weather had turned nasty and I spent most of my trip back sitting in traffic jams on the M4 while the rain bounced off the windscreen. I felt quite sorry for myself, but luckily the rain had stopped by the time I reached the marina so we were able to pack the car without getting everything soaked. We warmed up the contents of the fridge and ate that for dinner before starting the tedious drive home. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, by M4/M25 standards, we were home by 10pm. Ty ran up to his precious safe den upstairs; Lou and Ollie sank into their memory foam beds; we found our own bed shortly after with a fervent wish for an uninterrupted night’s sleep!

The Engineer who came out to look at our Vetus was not one that could work on our tappets, which was the other job that Richard wanted doing. So we commissioned another Engineer to take apart our flexible coupling, see what state it was in, what the alignment was like, how the stern tube felt. He found time to look at our boat during the week, reported that he could feel our prop moving slightly but managed to tighten it through the weedhatch, coupling was fine, stern tube with no gearbox attached felt fine, alignment was perfect, tappets were a bit tight. We need to get the boat out of the water to have a good look at the prop and stern tube from the outside but it is looking good. After more greasing we still have some dripping but it amounts to perhaps a quarter of an ice-cream carton over a few days.

Note: We had a nice weekend at home and although I’d found the holiday a bit fraught with Lou’s health, I was surprised at how refreshed I felt when I went back to work on Monday – so “a change is as good as a rest” then 🙂


This notice made us smile – as if we could stop swans from cadging a lift in the lock!

I forgot to mention dutch barge Baglady – we shared locks with her for a couple of days. The crew was very genial despite their habit of throwing out very fat fenders every time they saw us approaching a lock behind them. Unsurprisingly she’s immaculate outside – I guess the inside must be lavish as well because she’s a hotel boat –

Lovely views….

Working boat Archimedes making the best of the deep water displacement! We’ve met her on the Grand Union with sister boat Ara, where they struggled with shallow water below Nash Mills lock…

I love these quirky barge-based businesses – you could just fancy a cuppa if you were walking the towpath..

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 11

Posted by indigodream on 11 November, 2012

Rewind to Thursday 20th September

Sandford Lock to Moulsford (Beetle ‘n Wedge)

Lou and Ollie having an uncharacteristic cuddle at Abingdon Lock – Lou has really mellowed recently…

Oh dear, another day without notes, but who cares, I can always be relied on to remember where we ate!

Luckily, the photos prompted me to remember the excitement at Abingdon Lock. The lock is basically being rebuilt over the winter (major stoppage – it’s shut until March!); but today they had a partial stoppage while divers did some structural surveys. We joined the queue, taking the last mooring above the lock – it was a warm, pleasant day, so the dogs had a bobble and Lou enjoyed lying in the soft grass. We had to hoped to fill up with water when the queue shuffled forward enough for us to get to the water point. But alas, there’s always one – a narrowboat that tried to jump the queue! We decided to forget the water (we weren’t desperate) so that we could take our turn at the lock. The lock-keepers were shutting the lock for an hour or so, opening it to get rid of the queue, then shutting it again – it was obvious that they’d had a long morning and that they weren’t looking forward to the afternoon!

Once we got through Abingdon we noticed that there were now a lot of moorings available upstream of the bridge – this was a great improvement (the downstream stretch was still jam-packed) – we were tempted to stop but Richard had set his sights on the Beetle ‘n Wedge.

We saw an immense number of Red Kite today – their story is remarkable – once forced to the brink of extinction and now wheeling over the river. They weren’t here the last time we cruised this way – ooh, back in 2009 I think. We took loads of photos – they’re irresistibly photogenic – we’ve put them in this facebook album – let me know if the link doesn’t work.

A red kite…

We moored up for the night outside the Beetle ‘n Wedge restaurant. We’ve been wanting to come back here since our last visit in 2009 – we remembered the warmth of the grill, the flavoursome food and the fine mooring, with great dog-walking in the fields downstream.

However, we know that the moorings get busy, so we rang ahead to check – the manager told us she had a boat booked in for later but that we should take the main mooring ands he’d sort it out later. We booked a table for 7pm, but we actually got there by 5pm. The restaurant now hires out little day boats – these made it a bit awkward for us to moor a long narrowboat – we had to use stern and centre ropes and leave her bow sticking out, but she was very stable. At 6.30pm-ish the boat that was actually booked came in – it was a shallow drafted launch which fitted in just nicely on the bank alongside (rather than the mooring platform) – they made quite a meal of the mooring, even though the restaurant manager came to help them. The owners were not happy – they wanted our spot and kept giving us evil looks accompanied by much tutting – we ignored them – they could moor in the 6 inches of water available at the bank, we couldn’t – end of story!

Ok, I’m not normally that spiteful, but we had made arrangements with the restaurant and weren’t just being mooring pirates…..:-)

Moored at the Beetle ‘n Wedge – we wouldn’t normally moor with our centre rope but when there’s a good pub involved (and the river was not in spate and no rain forecast)….

It was nice to finish early and spend some time watching the world go by. However the enticing smell of steaks sizzling on the restaurant’s wood grill made us wish that we’d booked an earlier table. We got into the restaurant at the dot of 7pm!

The Beetle and Wedge seems to have changed hands – although it is definitely moving towards the high end of the market, the owner/manager is a charming presence – he still waits on the tables, and his staff were friendly and efficient. The restaurant  has some of the refinement of fine dining, but my dessert was a syrup sponge roughly the size and temperature of Vesuvius but with a thin custard that wasn’t man enough to mop up the lava stream of hot treacle pouring down the sides – I couldn’t finish it; four of me would have struggled! Still, I’m not one to complain about having too much food, and the sponge (minus the syrup) and other leftovers were welcomed by my otherwise starved and neglected hounds!

I really enjoyed the local cider so I was ready to appreciate the welcome simplicity of mooring right outside the restaurant!

We got back to the boat early, gave the hounds a final walk and got to bed – we’ve hardly had the TV on at all during the holiday and we’ve generally been asleep on the sofa before getting to the end of any DVD’s! That’s fresh air for you – oh, and not having a single complete night’s sleep since we got on board.

Tonight was Ty’s turn – at 2.30am he wanted to go out – this is Ty favourite hour – the engine is off, everyone is in bed, there is no traffic or other scary noise – bliss! I had hoped that he would just have a wee near the boat, but he needed to be sure that Moulsford was totally safe so we wandered through the village before he found a suitable spot for annointing. I used to sleep in pyjamas in case the dogs wanted to go out in the night; by this stage of the holiday I was just sleeping in my clothes!

Some divers get to search for treasure – these get to sit at the bottom of a muddy lock looking for loose bricks!

Big works at Culham Motorcross site – you get a good view of events from the river, as we found in 2009 –

Can’t resist another one…

This made me smile….

Moorings upstream of the bridge at Abingdon – plenty of room today – Hurrah!

I love this photo – we were so busy taking photos of the birds that we almost forgot to steer the boat – the birds were so close to us we barely needed a zoom…

Forget about hanging conkers in your boat to deter spiders – go straight for direct action! This sign is at Clifton lock – the lock-keeper also sells less aggressive plants!

Repairs being made to Clifton Hampden Bridge – the new pointing is really obvious but if it helps the bridge to stand for another 150 odd years then it’s worth it!


There’s a story here involving what looks like a rower recovering from a capsize and the hire cruiser on the far right who was waiting to cut across to speak to him. We didn’t see the assumed incident but they all seemed to be quite shaken.

I recently asked the vet about hydrotherapy for Lou – he said “just find a river” – done! That water is a bit chilly though!

Great dog walking and sploshing area downstream of the Beetle ‘n Wedge. Poignant for us though – the last time we were here, Blue was in this photo 😦

2009 – happy memories – though we miss Blue terribly – even now…

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 10

Posted by indigodream on 9 November, 2012

Rewind to Wednesday 19th September

Swinford to Sandford

The remains of Godstow Abbey (just upstream of Godstow Lock) – there’s not much left, but then, it was originally built in 1133! More on its history here –

I took no notes whatsoever today – I do hope that the photos act as an aide memoire!

I don’t remember what time we set off from Swinford, but I do remember that we stopped off at the moorings downstream of Osney Bridge – we’d decided to have lunch in Oxford and have a little bobble round the city. A local recommended a hop on/hop off bus tour – in hindsight that would have been very sensible. Instead, we followed our noses – luckily, if you cross over Osney Bridge and keep walking you’ll eventually get to the city centre and there are lots of tourist maps and signpost once you get there.

We stopped off at the Angrid Thai cafe for lunch – although the restaurant was large and far from full, the waitress put us right next to a couple having an intense but strangely stilted conversation at the next table. I was fascinated trying to work out the relationship between the two of them – if I had to guess I’d say it was a first date of 2 people who’ve met online – he seemed desperate to get closer; she seemed desperate to stall him (not that he noticed!). People watching – you can’t beat it for entertainment – the noodles were good too!

We then had an aimless wander around Oxford – the trouble with this city is that there is just too much to see – we really needed a plan! We wandered into tourist information but everything was for sale – there wasn’t even a free ‘throwaway’ city centre map. The atmosphere in there was one of a fleecing shed, and, unwilling to be sheep, we decided not to spend a whole £1 on a map and carried on drifting.

Floral display at Godstow Lock – some lockies work really hard to maintain a beautiful environment – imagine the impact this would have on visiting boaters from afar. We’re used to it, but we always appreciate their work and never take it for granted…

There’s no doubt that Oxford is an imposing and interesting place to visit, but we didn’t give it enough time to shine. A couple of hours was just enough time to get sore feet and to feel overwhelmed – but we saw enough to want to come back…with a plan next time!

We got back to the boat and started wondering where to moor for the night. We quizzed the lock-keepers who told us that the moorings at Port Meadow, just downstream of Oxford, may not be secure – apparently a lot of Oxford’s ‘disadvantaged’ hang out there. It’s a shame because they looked like tidy moorings and there were a few boats there.

We decided not to risk it – after all, we are on holiday and there’s every likelihood that I’d  be out on the path with Lou in the middle of the night so security was important.

We went back to Sandford Lock and snaffled the mooring weir-side below the lock – although it’s a bit of a jump for Lou, it is a quiet, secure mooring with a good pub and excellent dog-walking.

We moored up, took the hounds for a walk then wandered across to the pub, where we stuffed ourselves again – we may have missed out on a good night’s sleep during this holiday but by God the food has been fantastic 😀

As predicted, I was indeed wandering the canalside with Lou at 2.30am – just as well we’d moored in a quiet spot…


We really liked the eagle figurehead on this boat – maybe something similar for Indigo Dream 2 (if she’s every built!)…

Ah, we had a little detour in Oxford – we thought the channel was on the right by Folly Bridge and ended up here (we got through perfectly fine!) but I think we were meant to go left past the trip boats – oops! Ah, I now read that either channel is fine – phew!

All the boathouses have their own coat of arms…

The riverbank in Oxford is lined by boathouses – rowing is obviously a BIG pursuit for college students; Richard reckons that the grandeur and state of repair varies with the wealth of the college 🙂

I’ve always found Oxford to be a bit dreary from the river, but that’s a nice view – just above Iffley Lock I think…

We found it hard to work out what was what – these ‘heads’ seem to surmount the walls around the “Museum of the History of Science” – the building has a long history dating back to the 1600’s –

The “Bridge of Sighs” – a modern addition (1914) that links two parts of Hertford College. Apparently parts of the college building themselves date back to 1280.

The Bodleian Library – we didn’t venture any further than the courtyard – even that had traditional “silence” signs!

The Radcliffe Camera (camera being latin for “room” apparently) – build in the 1700’s as a library but now it’s additional reading space for the Bodleian….

There are gargoyles and ornate carvings all over Oxford – it is really overwhelming…

The magnificent gateway to Christ Church – Sarah (aka Greygal) recommended this as a must-see (amongst must-see’s!) but sadly by the time we found it we were exhausted and didn’t venture in – next time!

A bit of whimsy….

According to the plaque, there has been a ferry crossing at Sandford since the 13th Century (Wikepedia suggests that it might be even earlier). This ancient stone is a ‘mounting block’ that allowed people to remount their horses after crossing the river…

Lou enjoying yet another splosh – at Sandford this time – shame the water’s not warm (and bubbly like a jaccuzzi – oh hang on, it is, but we wouldn’t want her that close to the weir!) – as it is we have to rush to dry her off before her muscles get cold and start to spasm – sigh….

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Boat Blog: New Thames Information Website

Posted by indigodream on 6 November, 2012

5th November 2012

The launch of Thames Cruising – a new blog/website containing essential information for cruising the tidal Thames and River Wey; also on Twitter – @Thamescruising

Our current ‘signature’ photo – we hope to add many more to the website as we go along…

Back in August, we published a post with lots of links to information about cruising the tidal Thames. We published the post in response to changes to the CRT website which made it increasingly difficult to access what we think are the most useful tideway cruising guides. The feedback that we’ve had has been positive – boaters have appreciated having the information in one place. But Indigo Dream’s blog has a limited readership and information posts are soon buried by the infinitely more important (and more popular) dog blogs!

A couple of weeks ago, Kathryn of nb Leo No 2, whom we befriended during the jubilee preparations, got in touch to enrol us to the cause of setting up a separate website with the Thames cruising information, as well as information on her beloved home water – the River Wey.

Like most good ideas, it started in the the pub – we got together at the Anchor in Pyrford, which, incidentally is under new management and much much better, as well as now being dog-friendly.

But back to the plot – we spent a pleasant evening coming up with names for the new website, testing each one to check whether the domain name was still available. Amazingly, Thames (and all the variants) was available – we registered it immediately (well, ok, the minute we got home). We generated an extensive list of what information should be included – I put all the ideas into my notebook, wondering how on earth we were going to get it all organised.

But we all had a tremendously productive weekend – Richard registered the domain name, set up a blog/website with WordPress and designed the core structures. In the meantime, Kathryn and I got busy with the content. A week later, after much tweaking from the three of us, we have a live website – it has most of the information that you’ll need in order to cruise the tideway safely, but we are still adding photos and various bits and pieces as well as giving the site a good de-bugging and proof-read.

We would like to thank Kathryn for prodding us to do something  more inclusive than just squirrelling the information away on our own blog! We also owe thanks to Andrew Phasey of St Pancras Cruising Club and Jeremy Batch at Limehouse Lock who have produced many of the tideway guides that we’ve linked to in the new site; we also need to thank them for the practical advice and support that they’ve given us over many years of cruising the magnificent Thames tideway.

We hope that you’ll find the new website to be a useful resource – we would welcome your feedback – both on the content and on its ‘navigability’ – please be gentle – this is the first website we’ve built without the help of our more literate greyhounds 🙂

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 9

Posted by indigodream on 5 November, 2012

Tuesday 18th September

Kelmscote to Swinford

Lou blending in with the fabulous flagstone wall at Kelmscott..

We had a quiet night in Kelmscott and woke up late and refreshed.In fact, by the time we emerged all of the boats that had moored overnight had moved on – and we never even noticed!

We didn’t have any guests today and, after discussions with Danusia yesterday, we had a new cruising plan. We were now aiming to end our holiday in the vicinity of Marlow so that the family could join us on 6th October for Danusia’s birthday cruise. This took the pressure off our timing as we were no longer heading for Teddington this week. So, we took a morning off to have a bobble around the village of Kelmscott. We’re always saying that we’ll explore the shore, but the lure of cruising is always too much for us!

It was a fine morning so we set off with the 3 hounds – we had an aimless wander as far as the pub, admiring anew the flagstone wall, the traditional dry stone walls and the stone houses – yep, there’s a lot of stone around! Yet the village seems very mellow – maybe it’s the soft grey colour of the stone, or the fact that it’s been weathered by yellow lichens and being eroded by the slow creep of ivy.

Kelmscott village has a decent website here

It took us a while to find the church – the pub is the heart of this village! The church is a little way out, but well worth a visit – not least for the interesting gravestones, including the tomb of William Morris. But the real gem is inside – faded red ochre murals dating back to 1280 (see notes below). They were fascinating and more naive and ‘honest’ than any church decoration I’ve seen.The murals are badly faded and I wonder how much longer they’ll last – it’s a dilemma – if you tried to restore/repaint them then they wouldn’t be originals. I suppose you could try to protect them from further fading but that might mean that fewer people see them. I guess that both options would involve spending money that might be better used on structural or human projects! Ah well, the murals have been there for nigh on 800 years – maybe they’ll last a while yet.

Wall paintings dating back to 1280 – I was moved by their great age and simplicity – there are photos of the notes below…

We took turns to look at the murals while the other sat with the hounds in the church porch. The hounds liked the porch – Lou lay on the mat, Ty enjoyed the protection of its thick walls (we had to drag him out) and Ollie was quite interested in the prominent mouse hole and abundant mouse droppings – this place must be alive at night!

Our bobble round the village was enough to wear the hounds out for the day! They settled down for a good snooze while we set off downriver.

We had a red light on the toilet, so today’s mission was to find a pump-out. The lockie at Grafton lock was very helpful – we wanted to buy a new pump-out card – sadly he didn’t have any but he did offer to drive down to Rushey lock to get us one. We didn’t want to put him to the trouble so we carried on.

There were several pump-out machines along our cruising route but the question was whether our stock of “dual cards” would work on the EA machines. We tried one out at Rushey Lock (??) – ah, that would be a “no” then! There is a pump-out and rubbish disposal at Rushey lock but no water point. There is a tap but it has a “no hoses” notice on it – I wonder if it can be used to fill water bottles though?

Now that we knew that the cards we had on board wouldn’t work, we were under a bit of pressure to find another lock-keeper who could sell us a new card. This proved to be more tricky than we anticipated – there seemed to be shortage of lock-keepers – many of the locks were “self-service” even though it wasn’t the lunch hour. We finally tracked down a card at Shifford Lock (for a reasonable £8) but then we had to make haste down to the next pump-out at Eynsham lock. We managed to make time to say “hello” to greyhound Handsome Pa and his family at Northmoor lock though…

I think this is Hart’s Weir footbridge (the weir has long since gone) – the upper Thames is so beautiful…

I was in a whimsical mood today – the countryside was wearing its muted autumn colours – wine red hawthorn berries, bruise purple sloes and faded velvet greens of the myriad leaves. The wind in the trees was like the slow sussuration of a New Orleans funeral and I wonder whether the trees would be sad or glad to lose their heavy burden of leaves. How incongruous then the vivid purple of the himalayan balsam – still a riot of blossom and as alien as a lap-dancer in a nursing home!

We arrived at Eynsham Lock, just downstream of Swinford Bridge, late afternoon – the water point is above the lock but, to our dismay, the pump-out was below. I had a little bobble with the dogs – there are 24-hour moorings just above the waterpoint and the lock is flanked by a nice green picnic area. We went through the lock – there is large weir right next to the lock and it exerts a considerable pull – it would make for a tricky single-handed mooring. It’s definitely worth tying the boat up properly – I would have struggled to hold the boat just on the centre rope while waiting for Richard to set the lock.

Once we were thought the lock, we were dismayed again because there was a man fishing at the pump-out mooring. There was no way to work around him, we’d have to ask him to move. Luckily he was extremely obliging and moved his gear without complaint. I locked the dogs inside and Richard got on with the pump-out. He says that the machine is very slow to start – so much so that he thought it wasn’t working, but once it got going it was very good.

It was quite late by now and the light was starting to drain away – we decided to move back up through the lock as the moorings above are much better than those below (and not colonised by fishermen!). Richard did quite a lengthy turn in the weir stream while I set the lock – we were soon back at the 24-hour moorings.

We set off for the pub immediately – the Talbot Inn is around half-a-mile away across Swinford Bridge and IS dog-friendly in the bar. We took all three hounds with us though it was not the most pleasant walk as the pavements are ridiculously narrow, especially over the bridge itself. The only saving grace was that the traffic had to slow down to pay the toll that’s still collected on the bridge. I’d say it’s essential to carry a torch after dark here – just in order to be visible! The bar at the Talbot Inn was a bit ‘spit ‘n sawdust’ but we had a good welcome from the locals, that is, the hounds had a good welcome! We found a table the alcove of a bay window – this meant that jellyboy Ty could be tucked away – he felt very safe there and peered out every now and then to see whether his sausages had arrived. The food was good plain pub grub and the dog sausages were very fine indeed.

It was a chilly clear moon dark night by the time we got back to the boat. There is a wide pool above the weir at Eynsham Lock and by the time we got back the water was mirror still and mirror dark. We turned our torches off and as our eyes adapted the stars came out……out of the river that is. The brightest stars and planets were perfectly reflected in the water’s surface – it was quite magical – infinity had never felt so present…


Lou shares every dog’s aversion for b-a-t-h-s but a paddle in the river doesn’t count!

Ollie having a mad greyhound moment – it’s wonderful to see how much he’s enjoying his life with us..

Lou and Ollie sightseeing in Kelmscott – it’s a charming village….

The history of the Kelmscott wall paintings…

This faded mural depicts the expulsion from paradise – I don’t know how long this be visible – see the notes…

The notes to accompany the “expulsion from paradise” – I think that the photos here is much clearer than what we saw on the wall..

The hounds enjoying the peace of the church porch….

Mouse hole in the porch of Kelmscott church…

The surprisingly unassuming tomb of William Morris….

This carving shows William Morris himself, reclining with his hat and satchel – it is carved on a pair of ‘memorial’ cottages commissioned by his widow and designed by artist Phillip Webb.

That’s Kelmscott Manor on the right – watch your dogs on this lane – it does carry traffic – this morning we had to dodge an enormous tractor which filled its entire width…

Dry stone wall…

The moorings at Kelmscott – looking upstream – these were full last night!

The moorings at Kelmscott – looking downstream – we got a neat spot by the lane to the village but it would only work when there’s not much water in the river as a tiny tributary drains into the river where we moored.

These ducks were in a hurry to get to the back of the boat – I think they were hoping for some bread, the greyhounds were hoping for some duck!!

The horsechestnut trees at Grafton lock are diseased and dying – they will be cut back this winter – grim, especially in the light of the news about the spreading disease that might kill off our ash trees…

Hawthorn – such good value – white blossom in the spring, toothy textured leaves in the summer, red berries in the autumn, and sculptured black thorns in the winter just waiting to be softened by a dusting of frost…

Pirates at Radcott bridge

We’ve passed nb the cornish navigator before and we always admire this artwork…

That’s an ugly sky in the distance….

Wonderful day…


Dappled sunlight….

Out of Africa – the last time we saw water buffalo we were on honeymoon in Zimbabwe! There was a large herd here…

Thames view…

The green corridor that leads to Northmoor Lock (I think!)….

Heron in flight – a commonplace but astounding sight – they’re just so BIG!

Windy day….

Newbridge – except it’s ancient – built in the 14th Century!

Swinford bridge – one of the few toll bridges left on the Thames – cars are charged a handsome sum of 5p to cross!

Sunset at Eynsham lock – looking upstream….

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