Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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Archive for March 28th, 2013

Boat Blog: Make that our “winter” cruise….

Posted by indigodream on 28 March, 2013

Saturday 23rd March

City Road lock to Black Horse, Greenford

Amazingly swanky (and unoccupied) new visitor moorings at Kings Cross - the sign says they're "day visitor"  moorings - and are "arranged" via Estates Management on 0207 664 5700 (according to the sign)..

Amazingly swanky (and unoccupied) new visitor moorings at Kings Cross – the sign says they’re “day visitor” moorings – and are “arranged” via Estates Management on 0207 664 5700 (according to the sign)..

It made a nice change NOT to be woken by Ty needing to go out at 2.30am, but it was also slightly alarming as it meant that he was too distressed to wee, even in the middle of the night – city cruising is overwhelming for him. The stretch between City Road Lock and the Islington Tunnel is surrounded by high walls so, for us, it feels cut off from the world. But Ty was perturbed – whatever time of day or night there’s always a siren going off or a car horn beeping….

Although I wasn’t disturbed by Ty, the weather kept intruding, showering the boat with what sounded like fine gravel, though it was probably hailstones. This uninspiring sound  woke me properly at 7.30am-ish. Richard was up and about; I was very reluctant – we had to cruise at least part of the day and the forecast was dreadful. We layered up – it’s not often I wear my balaclava but it was absolutely essential today. I also added my battery-heated insoles – they didn’t seem to generate any heat (unlike the tiller hand-warmers, which get really hot – bliss!), but my feet did stay warm all day so they must be doing something.

We set off with hot drinks in hand and were soon in the relative shelter of the Islington Tunnel. How I blessed London’s builders today – tunnel and wide bridges – what great things they are when you want a moment’s respite from the day’s incessant blizzard.

As we came out of the Islington tunnel we were hailed by an old friend, Christine of nb Ketura – as waited for us to emerge, she wondered who was mad enough to be cruising in this weather “should have guessed” she tartly observed!

Strange craft - a narrowboat with a flat platform bolted on and heaped with stuff....

Strange craft – a narrowboat with a flat platform bolted on and heaped with stuff….

We plodded on – it was a truly miserable day, but again, though it was bitterly cold, I didn’t really feel cold – well, apart from when my so-called waterproof gloves got wet!

Once again, we noticed that every possible towpath mooring was occupied – London has become impossibly crowded, though that may be with winter moorers – it will be interesting whether there are a few more spaces when we come back this way in the Summer. Having said that, the canal to the west of Paddington has not been similarly colonised – I’m not sure why..

There’s a lot of canalside development going on – it’s nice to see the canalside being smartened up but I think that many of the developments are just too tall. In places they feel as if they’re falling over the canal, making it dark and uninviting. This was particularly so just below Camden Locks, where the concrete frame of a multi-storey building is already casting a considerable shadow over the water. I also wonder about the relationship between the buildings and the canal – they face the water and have balconies overlooking, but the offside buildings are right on the waterside with no room for a path or a bench; few,  if any, of the towpath-side ones have entrances that allow direct access to the canal, so they feel strangely isolated.

But the canalside sights were overshadowed by the weather – snow, sleet and biting gusts of wind. We didn’t see a single other boat on the move until we got to Maida Vale tunnel. I was inside and suddenly heard the engine turn to reverse – a boat glided by – I’m secretly convinced that it was a ghost boat, put there by fate to make our entry into Maida Vale tunnel more awkward!

This is a full-length butty full of soil and filled with potted trees/shrubs. It looked fab, even when dormant. It's part of the London Wildlife Trust Camley Street natural park..http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/Blog/hidden-paradise-of-kings-cross

This is a full-length butty full of soil and filled with potted trees/shrubs. It looked fab, even when dormant. It’s part of the London Wildlife Trust Camley Street natural park..http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/Blog/hidden-paradise-of-kings-cross

I like to tweet – it’s a totally trivial medium and I love it! I have many correspondents – disturbingly most of them are tweeting greyhounds, but some are female boaters. Today I’d arranged to meet, in person, a tweeter called “Inkognitoh” to whom I’d promised some chutney. She was moored somewhere in Paddington – I wasn’t sure which boat she was in when suddenly we heard a familiar voice shouting “where’s my chutney then?” . Inkognitoh was none other than…well, I won’t say in order to protect her anonymity, but she was an old friend and I hadn’t recognised her from her tweets – ooops! We exchanged quick greetings, and chutney, before allowing Indigo Dream to be blown to the bottom of Paddington Basin to turn. Some things never change – Paddington Basin, surrounded by very tall buildings, is an atrocious wind tunnel. We swept past the Crossrail Works, which have progressed beyond recognition – they were just a big hole in the ground last time we were here! We exchanged yet more gossip on the way back but couldn’t stay long – the wind was blowing us all over the canal and we either needed to tie up or move on!

Richard had a madly ambitious plan to get to the bottom of the Hanwell flight today; my aim for the day was to stop cruising as soon as possible. But practicalities first – we’d run out of milk for the all-important lattes that fuel our boat. The canalside Sainsbury’s at Kensal is a decent sized store with an excellent hot chicken counter – a MUST for boating greyhounds. Richard took the dogs for a walk while I started the shopping. The big news, (insert hallelujah chorus here!), Ty had a wee. We were jubilant – he hadn’t been for 30 hours and that can cause harm to the kidneys if it goes on for too long.

With the boat well-stocked, and the hounds emptied, we set off in weather that was getting worse by the minute.

Richard took the helm for an hour or so while I warmed up inside. Then he suddenly came to a halt – he’d come across another service boat, nb Denebola, and stopped off for a bit of diesel at under £1/litre.  I think that nb Denebola might have a bit of history – I wonder whether this is her?

Ollie and Ty spent the day swaddled in their fleece coats and blankets with the heating going full blast!

Ollie and Ty spent the day swaddled in their fleece coats and blankets with the heating going full blast!

At this point I got layered up again and went onto the helm – it’s a lock-free pound between Paddington and the top of the Hanwell flight so it’s an easy cruise. I sent Richard inside to warm up – as part of my writing work I’ve been looking into hypothermia – it’s a deceptive condition that can creep up unnoticed. He was keen to stay outside and keep me company (misery loves company :-)) but the way I saw it, if we’d been at home neither of us would have put a deckchair in the garden in a blizzard saying “isn’t it nice to get some fresh air” – boating is MAD!

The further west we travelled, the thicker the snow fell. Just after 3pm we got to Black Horse and snaffled the last of the mooring rings. Richard was contemplating going on to Bulls Bridge, but after the last appalling hour on the helm I was desperate to moor up. It was great to get indoors, get warm and rest out of the weather.

Richard, ever gung-ho, went out to find a plumbing store – we still had an intermittent leak (of clean water) from the back of the toilet which just needed a bit of sealant to sort it. I settled down for some R & R with the hounds. Unfortunately the local plumbing store shuts at 12.30pm on a Saturday, but he did manage to get some sealing tape from an old-fashioned ironmongers nearby. The tape worked perfectly and fingers crossed, the loo is now working perfectly.

We mooched around the boat for a few hours before setting out early for the Black Horse pub. It’s one of our favourites, an unpretentious Fullers pub which has friendly staff, serves plain pub grub and welcomes hounds. Ty and Ollie came with us – Ty has been to pubs before and is surprisingly calm about it – he likes being indoors, and as long as he can hide under the table and the other clientele are not too noisy then he’s fine. Of course he’s rewarded with sausages and sundry leftovers so maybe that makes a difference too.

"there's so such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing" - so who's appropriately dressed in this photo? ;-)

“there’s so such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” – so who’s appropriately dressed in this photo? 😉

As always, the hounds attracted a lot of attention  – we met a man at the bar who has worked with actress Annette Crosbie, a fierce advocate for retired greyhounds. Funnily enough, I’d met another man in Sainsbury’s earlier who’d also met her and was keen to tell me how much she supported retired greyhounds. The chap at the bar, Mike Parish (he gave me his card for some reason) is apparently filming a TV series which will cover every inch of the canal system – watch out for it!

After a filling meal in the super-cosy pub, we wandered back top the boat and, hellelujah, Ty had another wee, once we’d walked to the quiet area past the noisy and fragrant samosa factory with its humming machinery.

Battery Bulletin

Last night, after using a bit of power on the TV etc, our batteries crashed to 25%; we ran the engine for a bit and got them up to 37% then I went to bed. By morning, with no other input, they were up to 46% – this is a mystery! Well, not really, they’re on their last legs and need replacing….

Note: Yesterday’s wakeboarder on Youtube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkmWjhpXiKo

Photoblog:

Precipitation!

Precipitation!

Camden Top Lock - on a Saturday morning - it was deserted - there are normally hundreds of gongoozlers - that tells you how bad the weather was :-D

Camden Top Lock – on a Saturday morning – it was deserted – there are normally hundreds of gongoozlers – that tells you how bad the weather was 😀

The end of Paddington Basin - I wonder if that half-finished building will be the last of the developments here or will they start demolishing and putting up new buildings???

The end of Paddington Basin – I wonder if that half-finished building will be the last of the developments here or will they start another cycle of demolition to make way for new ones???

Crossrail at Paddington....

Crossrail at Paddington….

Portal to Paddington Station from the basin - handy!

New Portal to Paddington Station from the basin – handy!

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