Rewind to Wednesday 7th August
Staines (Swan Inn moorings) to Longridge (downstream of Marlow Lock)
We had a quiet night on the pub moorings and the hounds woke refreshed at 8.30am demanding a walk. I struggled out of bed reluctantly and decided that they could make do with a pyjama walk (me in pyjamas that is). Of course, this is not a problem in rural moorings, but can cause a few raised eyebrows in town. Nonetheless, I though a quick trip to the end of the pontoon and back wouldn’t be noticed. Alas, Ollie had other ideas – while Archie and Henry (on lead) were enjoying prodigious wees, Ollie (off lead) set off down the path at pace and disappeared round the corner! I wanted to run after him but Archie hound was luxuriating over his most enjoyable, and epic, wee – there was no moving him! Eventually I got Archie and Henry to move and set off down the towpath, where there was no sign of Ollie. I wasn’t too worried because the path was enclosed, but then I got to a gap which allowed access to an office car park – eeeek!
I stopped and asked some workmen whether they’d seen Ollie – they hadn’t, but were very kind and promised to keep an eye out for him; they were admirably deadpan at the sight of a middle aged woman running along the path in her pyjamas towing two large greyhounds! I went back to the original path and eventually caught sight of a black shadow in front – I ran to catch up, but at this point Archie and Henry just HAD to stop for an enormous poo-ing session, which, of course, I had to clear up!
I was truly desperate now as Ollie had disappeared again – but as I was getting ready to run after him, Ollie came charging down the path towards me, his expression a mixture of mischief and extreme innocence! I declared that his off-lead privileges were revoked and towed all three hounds back towards the boat. The workmen intercepted me and asked whether Ollie was ok and gave all the dogs a huge fuss – by now I was practising a sort of hysterical nonchalance at talking to strange men on the towpath while wearing pyjamas – you have to bear in mind that I was now some distance from the moorings so there was no telling which institution I might have escaped from!
When I got back to the boat, Richard was still drowsing – he asked me if I was getting up – Ha! I leapt back into bed and pulled the duvet over my head and snoozed until 10am 🙂
Richard emerged before me and valiantly went off to the Sainsbury’s (just off the roundabout on the left hand side of the bridge looking upstream) – he only did a small shop as I still had doubts about the integrity of our fridge, but it was good to top-up with a few essentials. Indigo Dream runs on bacon sandwiches and I’d ditched three packs the day before because of concerns about the cold-chain.
By the time Richard had done the shopping and I’d recovered my composure, we had a very late start to the cruising day, which was to make our life difficult when looking for a mooring later…
In the meantime, we had a very relaxed bobble upriver. Despite the late start, we stopped for lunch in Windsor – the river was busy but we found a decent town-side island mooring. The leisure centre staff had apparently been out in the morning to collect the £8 mooring fee – we didn’t stay too long – we didn’t want to be charged for a short stay!
I wasn’t feeling very bright in the afternoon, so despite this being one of my favourite stretches of river, I joined Archie hound on the sofa for a lengthy nap, interrupted at times by lock duties. I was quite proud of my rope-throwing prowess, despite the fact that I was barely awake!
Our overnight mooring target was Cliveden/Cookham. By the time we got to Cliveden, many of the prime spaces had been taken, though we did lay claim to our own small island for a while. We’d seen a narrowboat moored nicely there last October, but of course, the river was several feet higher then. We struggled to get into the shallows, and although we did moor, it was a bit of a performance to get the hounds off. They briefly laid claim to the island and vowed to return when the Queen or similar has erected a proper hound-friendly mooring platform 🙂
So we moved on to Cookham – it was jam-packed, as was Bourne End. We moved on to the river moorings below Marlow but we could see, in the distance, that they were full too. But then Richard spotted a “hole in the hedge” mooring opposite the Longridge outdoor action centre. It felt like a desperation mooring – despite being deep with the stern on a hard edge at a perfect height for the hounds – we had to tie the centre rope to a tree and secure the front with the anchor! We were perfectly stable though and, in the end, our “desperation mooring” turned out to be rather lovely. It was very peaceful and the water at dusk was mirror-still with infinite reflections of the wooded embankment opposite and splendid dog walking possibilities.
We finished the day with another Ollie drama – Richard took the hounds out for a last walk when there was an almighty bang – it was fireworks display in Marlow. Ollie is mortally afraid of fireworks though I believed that Archie and Henry were fine. I ran out to the path – Ollie had bolted as expected, but luckily he bolted straight back onto the boat where I was able to catch him before he bolted off again! Henry and Archie came back a moment later, supremely unconcerned.
By that point I was quite glad to shut the back doors and get to my bed….