“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson
We’re not tired of either, but I can understand why blog readers might yawn at yet another tideway trip!
Rewind to Thursday 11th July
Richard took the boat to a posh corporate do at Foreman’s this evening to celebrate the launch of the Design Council’s Beyond 2012 initiative. While other people slogged there by train, tube and cab, Richard turned up grandly on Indigo Dream and moored up right outside! . He had a fine time, managed to tell off a top Planner for not mentioning boats when she talked about the waterways and returned to Limehouse by boat at the end of the event – making it sensible for him to stay the night on board.
In the meantime I was at home with the hounds, feeling rather uncomfortable after receiving a threatening call from a “have you had an accident in the last 3 years” type call centre (probably in Mumbai) – I pointed out that we were registered with the Telephone Preference Service and the heavily accented man on the phone went ballistic – told me my address and said he’d be round in 15 minutes! I told him I’d ring the police and put the phone down. I rang the police – I knew there was nothing they could do, but I just wanted to flag the incident with them. They were certain that it was a crank call and that nothing would come of it, though they did stay on the line past the 15 minutes just in case. I could feel the truth of what the police said, but I still came down with a stress migraine and, after battening down the hatches against intruders, had a restless night’s sleep. In case you were wondering, Richard did offer to come home but that would have been silly. The police thought it was nothing and so it’s proved….
Friday 12th July
We had the usual Indigo Dream logistics to contend with – Richard and I met up at Limehouse with the intention that he would check the engine and top up the tank with two jerrycans of diesel, I would attend the briefing then he would go home to the hounds and I would cruise the weekend with faithful crew Sarah, Andy and lots of hounds. I should explain that the vet/physio have advised that Ty and Ollie shouldn’t go boating for another few weeks hence the division of our labours. However, it was never going to be that simple!
I went to the briefing (as planned) and was delighted to see that there were 17 boats taking part in this weekend’s convoy. Limehouse lock can fit three narrowboats (abreast) – sometimes four if there are two short boats that can fit in the length. If there are enough experienced people available, the SPCC aim to group two less experienced boats with an experienced lead boat. It was gratifying to see so many old friends at the briefing, but it was even more exciting to meet boats that hadn’t cruise the tideway before. We were scheduled to lead nb Teezy to the barrier on Saturday then nb Liberty Bell and nb The Lady C to Brentford on Sunday.
Although the formal briefing is informative, the best bit of the evening is the dinner afterwards. It gave us a chance to catch up with Doug and James – they were having another attempt at taking nb Chance through the Thames Barrier; their last attempt having been scuppered by the wind a few weeks ago. It also gave us an opportunity to talk to our locking companions and make individual arrangements for the cruise. By this time, though, I was being overcome by last night’s lurking migraine so we had the first change in plan – Richard would go cruising and I would go home to the hounds.
Saturday 13th July
Sarah and Andy turned up in the wee small hours with six hounds!
Andrew Phasey’s favourite phrase is “flexible is too rigid a concept” when planning these convoys, and so it turned out. The second change in plan involved a boat dropping out of the convoy in the morning and a change in the locking order – this meant that Indigo Dream would be locking out about half an hour earlier than expected and with different companions. From a tidal access point of view this was good news – the convoy was travelling to the Barrier then down to Margaret Ness on an ebbing tide; this gives a small locking “window” before the water drops too low over the cill at Limehouse. However Sarah and Andy had some chores to do in the morning so it all became a bit frantic.
I gather that the river was mirror still and that the convoy had a great transit – what a contrast to the convoy a few weeks ago, when we sat shivering on the balcony at the Grapes, watching the river being whipped by the gusty wind!
By the time the convoy came back, conditions at Limehouse were brutal – the relentless sun radiated heat from the water, the buildings and the surrounding steel boats – it was too much for the hounds. Everyone piled into the cars and came back to the house.
There was more shade in leafy Surrey and we were able to set up a paddling pool for the hounds – they weren’t impressed as Richard picked up each of them in turn and tipped them into the water! After watching the first three hounds go in, the others soon scarpered before being dragged out for a ducking. However, they got their revenge by running into the house and shaking water all over the floor. The kitchen was soon awash, making the paddling pool quite redundant 🙂
We were very worried about Big Sid – it took an age to cool him down, but eventually all the hounds stopped panting and we had a lovely evening talking cruising and hounds over a large chinese takeaway and several beers. We were sad to miss the opportunity to mingle with the convoy at the Grapes, but it was much more comfortable at home and I so enjoyed seeing the eight black hounds taking their ease around the garden….
As always, I’ve put a large number of photos into a public Facebook Album – maybe we should take fewer than 400 photos a day, but the tideway is so beguiling!