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Archive for August, 2013

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (2)

Posted by indigodream on 29 August, 2013

Rewind to Wednesday 7th August

Staines (Swan Inn moorings) to Longridge (downstream of Marlow Lock)

Henry and Archie visiting Royal Windsor - the flag was flying on the castle but the hounds just didn't have time to pop in for a cuppa with the queen...

Henry and Archie visiting Royal Windsor – the flag was flying on the castle but the hounds just didn’t have time to pop in for a cuppa with the queen…

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!

We bumped intot hie raft (and accompanying narrowboat) several times over the next few days - they were scout leaders taking boats up to Oxford for a weekend's scout camp....

We bumped into this raft (and accompanying narrowboat) several times over the next few days – they were scout leaders taking boats up to Oxford for a weekend’s scout camp….

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ยฃ8 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!

Henry exploring "Beanz Island" in Cliveden Reach - the moorings need a bit of work!

Henry exploring “Beanz Island” in Cliveden Reach – the moorings need a bit of work!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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….

Photoblog:

Colourful - the Thames has such a variety of craft...

Colourful – the Thames has such a variety of craft…

Interesting facility - I wonder if we could refuel there?

Interesting facility – I wonder if we could refuel there?

Archie is the only "looking" crew left - he has been an outrageous tart on this trip - everyone on the river knows him :-)

Archie is the only “looking” crew left – he has been an outrageous tart on this trip – everyone on the river knows him ๐Ÿ™‚

Our "hole in the hedge" mooring below Marlow Lock - it proved to be a very good spot for the hounds...

Our “hole in the hedge” mooring below Marlow Lock – it proved to be a very good spot for the hounds…

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Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (1)

Posted by indigodream on 28 August, 2013

Rewind to Tuesday 6th August

Teddington to Staines (Swan Inn moorings)

Waving goodbye to nb Matilda Rose - I'm not who'll be sadder - us for their company or Muttley for the "chikkin boat" :-)

Waving goodbye to nb Matilda Rose – I’m not sure who’ll be sadder – us for their company or Muttley for the “chikkin boat” leaving ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s just as well that we didn’t go for the pressured cruise round the Thames ring – we had yet another relaxed start – waking late and having our usual visit from Muttley and Baxter from Matilda Rose –

“That’s fine boys, come aboard, our boat is your boat”

“We know” they chorused complacently ๐Ÿ™‚

We said a regretful goodbye to Jill (Graham had been called away to a funeral) – we so hope that we see them again before they head away for the winter.

We bimbled along, enjoying a day on waters that are very familiar to us. I’ll let the photos do the talking, but this was a restorative cruise. The last time we came this way, it was Lou’s last cruise, though we didn’t realise at the time. I don’t begrudge her one ounce of the care she needed, but it’s very relaxing to cruise without a desperately ill hound on board. Ollie is very quiet and Henry tends to snooze inside when we’re cruising – Archie is the only real contender for the Rio Olympic looking team ๐Ÿ™‚

We’d barely started cruising when we stopped at the services above Molesey Lock to fill with water and do a pump-out (not the same tap!). A boat using the water point before us commented on the excellent water pressure, but it seemed to take ages to fill our tank – I think we might have been down to the last drop! While we were at the services, I took the hounds for a bimble and we enjoyed watching a tug skilfully manoeuvering a barge into place at the building site above the weir – impressive…

We had planned to get as far as Runnymeade, but when we got to Penton Hook Lock, the lockie told us that Bell Weir lock, the next upstream, was closed for emergency repairs – apparently there was a problem with the hydraulics. It would need a few hours to fix so we decided to decided to stop either in Laleham or Staines. The visitor moorings at Laleham were full, but we did pull over briefly at the boatyard opposite. We’d hoped to have a chat with “4 all marine” to arrange some winter maintenance – sadly the boatyard seemed to be deserted so we’ll have to give them a call instead.

We pressed on to Staines and moored on the town pontoons on the right just downstream of the road bridge. We’ve moored here before and liked the spot very much. Richard took Henry and Archie for an extended bobble while Ollie and I mooched around the path and gardens that surround the moorings.

I then had one of those very special moments – I’d seen a middle-aged couple sitting on one of the benches – on the way back they made a fuss of Ollie and I ended up sitting with them for ages. We were later joined by Henry and Archie who stayed with me while Richard went shopping. The couple were very interested in the hounds and boating – they were easy company and we were comfortable together, chatting like old friends. Then the woman revealed that she’d just had her first session of chemotherapy that morning – they’d decided to spend the afternoon somewhere beautiful, determined to make the best of the lovely weather and the river scenery. I felt for them – the man was fierce in his determination to seize every moment and see something beautiful in every place every day, because who knew when it would be taken away. I didn’t pry into her cancer or her prognosis, but I did invite them to visit the boat. Sadly they had to head for home – they’d had to pay for town centre parking and they didn’t have much time left “on the meter”. I wish them well – I can’t explain why, but it was a tremendously moving encounter which made my day.

Name that structure!

Name that structure!

We had planned to visit Staines’ town-side hostelries, but at 7.30pm, the steps adjacent to the moorings were colonised by some insolent youth – children, in fact. They were just being loud and irritating, in the way of young teens, but we were unnerved enough to move the boat across the river to the moth-eaten pontoon outside the Swan Hotel. Of course, not long after we’d moved, the kids vanished, but we were happy with our new mooring as the Swan is dog-friendly pub (garden and bar) which did good food and had extremely pleasant service. We sat outside with the hounds, but Ollie got spooked by a wasp and was soon back on board – at least that’s easy to accomplish with the mooring right outside the door!

We wondered why we’d never moored here before……

One of the affable barmen told us that there used to be a ยฃ10 per night mooring fee, so the moorings were never used; however, now that it’s free, they have far more customers from the river. However, their pontoon was quite rickety, with two significantly broken planks – I’d be willing to pay a mooring fee if they promised to use it to repair the pontoon!

Today’s Trivia:

Other bloggers, and, indeed, this geography site, have commented on the strange brick structure on the path just downstream of Hampton Court. I thought I’d have a go at working out what it was and found lively speculation (as you might expect!) on Canalworld Forum. However, definitive answers to the purpose of the structure have been hard to find. I believe that Hampton has many more intriguing things to look at – including Hampton Court Palace itself. The local historical society have a website, but the “shaft” is not mentioned. Alas, I’ve run out of time – the search for the definite answer will have to wait until we come downstream again – never mind, it will still be there!

In researching the strange structure, I did answer another question – while we were in the area, we passed, by car, “Seething Wells road” – a name with a story attached if ever there was one! This document explains that the “seething wells” are/were a spring (now part of the waterworks) where the waters were reputed to have “opthalmic qualities) – make of that what you will, but plans for a spa on the site were apparently abandoned. The Seething Wells are is now classified an an “area of special character”.

As always, along the way I found some interesting but irrelevant websites – including this for “Derelict London” – there’s a book also! Hmmm – might be worth a download onto the e-reader…

Photoblog:

The spirit of Indigo dream - Henry Beanz looking forward - he cruised with us here last year too...

The spirit of Indigo dream – Henry Beanz looking forward – he cruised with us here last year too…

nb Reckless, of TV fame, looking mighty fine - it would be interesting to talk to her new owners and see what they've done (or undone!) since she was last featured on TV...

nb Reckless, of TV fame, looking mighty fine – it would be interesting to talk to her new owners and see what they’ve done (or undone!) since she was last featured on TV…

Oh yeah! Archie hound loves cruising...

Oh yeah! Archie hound loves cruising…

We like to see the water being used for freight - in this case a barge full of what looked like large pipe sections being manoeuvred into place very skilfully above Molesey lock...

We like to see the water being used for freight – in this case a barge full of what looked like large pipe sections being manoeuvred into place very skilfully above Molesey lock…

Out with the old - the "temporary" road bridge at Walton on Thames finally being demolished..

Out with the old – the “temporary” road bridge at Walton on Thames finally being demolished..

We love that nb Bubles has a bubble-making machine on the back deck - such fun...

We love that nb Bubbles has a bubble-making machine on the back deck – such fun…

I do like the Staines town moorings - maybe we should have stuck with them and not allowed our discomfort with the local "yoof" to make us move...

I do like the Staines town moorings – maybe we should have stuck with them and not allowed our discomfort with the local “yoof” to make us move…

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Boat Blog: Logistics!

Posted by indigodream on 27 August, 2013

Rewind to Monday 5th August

Archie was first in - what do you reckon then Archie?

Archie was first in – what do you reckon then Archie?

Today I had to deal with the first of the vexations that I mentioned last week – except it was a good thing that was happening, it’s just that the timing sucked!

Several weeks ago, my old car failed it’s MOT – it needed major and costly work. However, my brilliant regular garage sellotaped it together and scraped it through the MOT on the basis that I change my car ASAP. I went out and bought a car some weeks ago but I needed to arrange a numberplate transfer (I have my grandfather’s numberplate – long story)ย  which just took ages. I should have predicted that the paperwork would come through at the most inconvenient time and so it did!

So today I took a day out of our holiday to travel over to Lakeside to pick up my new (second-hand) car. In the meantime, Richard decided to take his car home and have an afternoon in the garden with the hounds. I’d have to drive past the house to get back to the boat anyway so I could pick him and the hounds up on my way through.

The arrangement worked very well, but it all took a lot of time.

Firstly we were very slow to get going in the morning then, when we finally emerged, we spent some time chatting to Jill. One of her Tibetan Terriers, Muttley, associates Indigo Dream with unlimited supplies of hot chicken, so he popped over every time he came out for a walk. He didn’t wait for an invitation, he’d just jump on board with a cheerful grin on his face – and the greyhounds didn’t react at all!ย  Once we’d got going, it just took a lot of time to finalise the car deal before I got snarled up in traffic on the M25 (nothing new there). By the time I’d picked up the crew from home and driven back to the boat it must have been nigh on 6pm. We thought about moving the boat up to Kingston but we couldn’t be bothered – Tedddington is one of my favourite moorings! Richard went to pay the lock-keepers for another night’s moorings and I cooked dinner.

What's that Henry? You think the boot's a bit cramped.....?

What’s that Henry? You think the boot’s a bit cramped…..?

But I wasn’t happy – we’d noticed some water on the floor earlier – it turned out that it was coming from the fridge. On inspection we found that the ice cubes had melted. We’ve had trouble with the electrical connectors at the back of the fridge before soย  we checked and reset them and hoped that would work. However,ย  I was concerned that the cold chain had been broken so I condemned the raw meat in the fridge, leaving us with a very basic dinner. However I did take pity on the hounds – I kept their chicken and cooked the sandwich steak (that had been intended for fajitas) for them. Dogs have much stronger stomach acids than humans so I wasn’t worried that they’d come to harm from the contents of the fridge!

I attempted to catch up with the blog, but I was discouraged by an erratic mobile signal so had an early night instead – best idea I’d had all day ๐Ÿ™‚

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Boat Blog: A meeting of the waters…

Posted by indigodream on 26 August, 2013

Rewind to Sunday 4th August

A merry meeting....

A merry meeting….

Yesterday, The Jameisons from nb Free Spirit got in touch to say they were in Hanwell and would bide there awhile until we brought Indigo Dream up the canal on Sunday or Monday. Of course, our cruising plans had changed, but we were determined to meet the Jameisons so we drove to Hanwell instead.

But there were the usual logistics – Richard’s car was in Kingston, but it was nigh on impossible to move it because of the many road closures involved in the “Ride London” event. Sarah’s car, and mine, were in Teddington – so we took Matilda Rose and Indigo Dream back to Teddington Lock. Jill was feeling a bit under-the-weather so Sarah took the helm on Matilda Rose. She was moored on the outside so they left first – as they peeled away I heard the cry “so long suckers – eat my wake” – I think Sarah’s preparations for competing in next year’s BCN Marathon Challenge might be getting a bit too extreme ๐Ÿ˜€

We soon arrived in Teddington and piled six humans and five greyhounds into two cars and headed off. We parked outside the Fox and soon found nb Free Spirit – in exchange for their tea/coffee, we supplied a continental breakfast. We also took duvets for the greyhounds and were soon eating, drinking, laughing and chatting – the Jameison’s account is here. It was a marvellous gathering – we might be chatting there still, but after a few hours, Sarah and Andy had to head for home; Jill and Graham needed to get back to Matilda Rose for their dogs. We said a sad farewell, though we hope that our path will cross Free Spirit’s before they head back North for the Winter.

As regular readers will know, Ty hounds absolutely hates adventures, especially on the boat, so he and Bertie went home with Sarah and Andy while Henry, Archie and Ollie stayed with us for a cruising holiday.

Oh go on then, Jill#s almost visible in this version :-)

Oh go on then, Jill’s almost visible in this version ๐Ÿ™‚

So by lunchtime on Sunday, our tideway party had dispersed – the parting felt a little sad but we were to spend a bit more time with the Matilda Rose’s. We have planned to cruise upriver in the afternoon, but we stayed put in Teddington with Matilda Rose instead. Graham kindly sorted out (and paid for) a night’s mooring for us, as well as a few nights for Matilda Rose. With that sorted, Graham and I set off in the car (handy!) for the local Sainsbury’s for a top-up shop (they’d run out of wine – crisis!) while Richard cycled to Kingston to get his car. Once we’d got these chores done, there was time for a nap before we joined Jill and Graham for an exploration of Teddington High Street’s eateries. We left the dogs on board, though as it happens we found a very nice pub called the Clockhouse which actually allows dogs, on the patio at least. We sat inside though, I was chilled, mainly because my skin was too hot from having sunburned earlier in the day (very careless). The clockhouse offered very good food and service so we had a lovely evening and strolled back to the boats well contented….

The Thames is at its most benign at the moment, with very little fresh to flow over Teddington weir; nonetheless there is a constant rushing noise – I had thought it might disturb our sleep, but it’s amazing how you get used to it. It might even be considered to be soothing after a while….

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Boat Blog: Tideway Escort 2

Posted by indigodream on 17 August, 2013

Saturdayย  3rd August

Limehouse to Teddington

Leaving Limehouse

Leaving Limehouse

We had a choice of cruising on an early or late tide today. Although a dusk cruise through Richmond would be quite magical, we decided to take the morning tide. We’d then be cruising when the river was at its quietest, and would hopefully be off the river before the gusty winds forecast for the afternoon.

Sue of nb No Problem travelled with Jill and Graham today while we cruised with our trusty regulars Sarah, Andy and hounds. Jill had originally though that we might have a “girl only” crew on Indigo Dream so that Jill could gain more confidence on the helm; but the helmsman’s course, and yesterday’s cruise, had made her so confident that she decided to helm her own boat instead. This was tremendous news!

We locked out of Limehouse at 8.45am and headed upriver, taking the centre arch at Tower Bridge, of course! The wind was quite blustery but the river was in good condition and we had a pleasant passage. Sarah took the helm through the Pool of London – she says its the first time that we’ve let her do it! I hadn’t realised, though we do tend to take the helm ourselves there because it can be a challenging stretch of water. Thereafter, we took turns, enjoying the sights of London and the joyful faces of Matilda Rose’s crew behind us. Once again, Jill has blogged their experience here and here and here ๐Ÿ™‚

We arrived at Teddington at lunchtime and moored up on the lock moorings to do some plotting – oh and have lunch! Being the first day of our cruising week, we were well-stocked so I fed the crews (human and canine). We had a merry time, with everyone full of cheer after a great (and safe) passage up the tideway.

Three way race - place your bets ladies and gentlemen!

Three way race – place your bets ladies and gentlemen!

We had planned to take Indigo Dream back down the tideway on Sunday and head off up the Grand Union with the grand plan of completing the Thames ring. But that would mean a pressured cruise with long days and tight deadlines – normally what the Indigodreamers thrive on. But we’re bone weary (long story) so we decided on the easy option – a bobble along the Thames – easily our favourite waterway and, after a dry summer, the most pleasant of waterways for a relaxing holiday.

In the short term, though, we had a car shuffle to complete. Richard gave Sue a lift back to nb No Problem up in Denham, while Sarah and I took the train/tube/DLR back to Limehouse for our cars. Despite setting out from slightly different starting points, and although I got well confused on the way back (navigation will never be my greatest skill), Sarah and I arrived back in Teddington at the same moment! We rejoined the boat and we headed off to Kingston, where the plan was to brest up to nb Matilda Rose and leave the crew to party while Richard and I went off to a wedding do (another long story). Although we have the greatest respect for the bride and groom, it was difficult to leave the party that was just getting underway on Indigo Dream’s back deck!

We got back before 10pm and were too tired to join the deck party which was still going on – the crew was drinking to relieve the stress of Bertie hound having escaped earlier! With a great lack of tact, we made the beds up and the deck party broke up, which was a shame!

Photoblog:

I’m desperate to catch up on the blog posts – so somewhat in haste here are the majority of photos on a Facebook album….

The Tower of London - we never notice it normally  - too busy looking at Tower Bridge and dodging the traffic to-ing and fro-ing from Tower pier :-)

The Tower of London – we never notice it normally – too busy looking at Tower Bridge and dodging the traffic to-ing and fro-ing from Tower pier
๐Ÿ™‚

No matter how many times we do it, this is always a thrill

No matter how many times we do it, this is always a thrill

RNLI on a call, it is surprising how little wash they create at speed

RNLI on a call, it is surprising how little wash they create at speed

Emma Jane looking good

Emma Jane looking good

Now I've never noticed this pub before - nestled under Cannon Street Railway Bridge - I wonder what it's like - the website fails to mention that it's under a railway bridge! http://banker-london.co.uk/

Now I’ve never noticed this pub before – nestled under Cannon Street Railway Bridge – I wonder what it’s like – the website fails to mention that it’s under a railway bridge! http://banker-london.co.uk/

I just like the moody feel of this photo - the glowering skies and shimmering water - magic!

I just like the moody feel of this photo – the glowering skies and shimmering water – magic!

Leaving the city behind..

Leaving the city behind..

Central London off the deck of your own boat is so nice!

Central London off the deck of your own boat is so nice!

First trip up and looking very settled on the tideway!

First trip up and looking very settled on the tideway!

Moody skies but what a great view

Moody skies but what a great view

Interesting new structure...

Interesting new structure being built on the old Power Station Jetty

I reckon Graham must have been pushing the revs a bit here!

I reckon Graham must have been pushing the revs a bit here!

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Dog Blog: Ty’s Doings..

Posted by indigodream on 16 August, 2013

Deer me Pals

Mummy Sue sez I complainz too much wen Iz havin’ adventchewers; but wen Iz home I’z too borin’ to blog – huh!

Here is sum piccies so’z you can see that there is lotz of hadvendchewers in me howse – fere’s no need to go anywere…

Fis is me rollin' in the grass at home - iz a risky fing and qwite havenchewerus for me...

Fis is me rollin’ in the grass at home – iz a risky fing coz who nos wot is hidin’ย  – fis is a qwite havenchewerus for me…

An fis is how I likes me bed - it tooked me ages to sort out..

An fis is how I likes me bed – it tooked me ages to sort out..

An wen Iz dun all the hard werk, my beds stil wozn't rite so I hads to snooze on the floor, and Iz got a bandij on me foot  - wot a drama...

An wen Iz dun all the hard werk, my beds stil wozn’t rite so I hads to snooze on the floor, and Iz got a bandij on me foot – wot a drama…

Fis is me half-sister, Sooty, wot lifs on a boat! Poor Sooty! "Mummy Sue, can Sooty cumes to lif wif me?" "Ah, no Ty but Sooty's mum would like you to live with them" "Onna boat? MUMMY SUE..." "Don't worry Ty, you're our houndie and we'll never let you go; but you could visit Sooty.." "Onna boat? MUMMY SUE..."

Fis is me half-sister, Sooty, wot lifs on a boat! Poor Sooty!
“Mummy Sue, can Sooty cumes to lif wif me?”
“Ah, no Ty but Sooty’s mum would like you to live with them”
“Onna boat? MUMMY SUE…”
“Don’t worry Ty, you’re our houndie and we’ll never let you go; but you could visit Sooty..”
“Onna boat? MUMMY SUE…”

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Boat Blog: Tideway Escort (1)

Posted by indigodream on 15 August, 2013

Thursday 1st August

Richard came up to the boat this evening – this would give him a flying start on his pre-tideway tasks on Friday morning. Of course, he would also meet up with the crew of nb Matilda Rose and brief them on the beer choices available at “The Grapes”! I stayed at home with the hounds – Ty’s foot is not healing at all well – he’s back in bandages and needed a vet appointment on Thursday evening; this would be quite enough stress for him without spending the night on the boat as well…

Friday 2nd August

Limehouse to Margaret Ness and back

Priceless...

Priceless…

Jill of nb Matilda Rose has blogged about it here; and Sue of nb No problem has blogged the trip here – do read their accounts as they really convey the joy of a tideway convoy!

Richard had a good morning – he and Graham pottered up to New Era for fuel (88p/l no questions asked) – it’s a while since we really filled the tank and it was a relief to get it done. He also got the engine checks done.

In the meantime, I took delivery of a weekend’s food from Tesco, packed the hounds and set off for Limehouse. Unfortunately I didn’t get there until lunchtime, having had a few vexatious phone calls in the morning which meant that our planned week on board would be interrupted – bah! Being early on a weekday, I parked in Horseferry Road – they have a useful phone parking system there and it’s usually possible to renew by phone – more on that later…

We took the dogs along to see the crew of Matilda Rose and found ourselves a table outside the Cruising Association for the obligatory tideway briefing. We’re in the habit of doing this even when we’re not travelling with SPCC. In the spirit of “full disclosure” we did tell the crews about last week’s collision, but luckily it didn’t put them off!

Note: Richard has prepared a generic cruising plan, which we’ll now complete every time we cruise. Here’s a link to a copyย ID_passage_plan_2ndAug2013 (and we’ll add it to the Thames Cruising website).

We were honoured to welcome Sue of nb No Problem on board – it was a great opportunity to spend some time together in person, though I feel as if I’ve known her for years through her blog (and a merry evening out a couple of years ago).

We set out just before 4pm and, as we entered the tideway, I got an automated text to say that my car parking was about to expire. I rang to renew it and found that I couldn’t! Luckily, although the automated system didn’t allow me to renew the parking, it did allow Richard to “park” the car as new. I was relieved – turning the boat back wasn’t an option and I didn’t fancy the swim back just to move my car!

As always, we enjoyed the trip. But what really made this cruise was Jill, Graham and Sue’s delight – Jill was a bit apprehensive at first but very soon she was whooping with joy (we had 2-way radios). It was also great to see Jill at the helm of Matilda Rose – her confidence has increased exponentially since she complete her Helmsman’s Certificate course a few weeks ago.

It was a magical evening and we got back in time to colonise an outside table at the Cruising Association where we were joined for supper by our Saturday crew – Sarah, Andy and hounds Archie, Henry and Bertie. We had supper at the Cruising Association – the food is good, though the service is a little slow because they seem chronically understaffed, but the ladies there do work very hard. It was a merry evening but as soon as I’d eaten I wandered back to bed – we had an early-ish start on Saturday and with 5 hounds on board I wasn’t expecting an uninterrupted night’s sleep!

Photoblog:

Here’s the full set on Facebook….

Hang on tight Jill, they're abut to open the lock gates...

Hang on tight Jill, they’re about to open the lock gates…

Graham showing an admirable degree of concentration...

Graham showing an admirable degree of concentration…

Skillful landing - we though it was an air ambulance but the logo was "Homeserve" - so was it their CEO arriving for a visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2ta6SS8ltQ

Skillful landing – we though it was an air ambulance but the logo was “Homeserve” – so was it their CEO arriving for a visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2ta6SS8ltQ

Passing through the Thames Barrier with our illustrious guest, Sue of nb No Problem...

Passing through the Thames Barrier with our illustrious guest, Sue of nb No Problem…

The light was so beautiful...

The light was so beautiful…

Glad you came out? You bet! nb Matilda Rose at the Barking Creek flood barrier...

Glad you came out? You bet! nb Matilda Rose at the Barking Creek flood barrier…

Rainbow over Limehouse - always a good omen :-)

Rainbow over Limehouse – always a good omen ๐Ÿ™‚

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Boat Blog: Yet another epic adventure (part 2)

Posted by indigodream on 13 August, 2013

Wednesday 24th July

Richmond flooded by the tide - I wonder how often it happens..

Richmond flooded by the tide – I wonder how often it happens..

When the tide turned, we set off downstream with nb Doris Katia in the lead and nb Ketura behind. We were not in an “official” convoy, but it was convivial to cruise together -we were booked into the same locking at Limehouse so there was little point in rushing ahead.

It was a spring tide – over 7 metres – the paths and pavements were well-flooded in Richmond. But despite the height of the tide, it seemed to drain away alarmingly quickly – the tidal marker ball at Chelsea Harbour was still halfway ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a lovely cruise downstream – the river is lovely in the late afternoon. It was overwhelmingly hot as we started out, but the heat and the light softened as the evening wore on. Richard and I now have a routine that we take turns on the helm, swapping at the bottom of every page of our tideway guide. This means that the helm never gets too tired and can maintain concentration. We’re so used to the views that the “off” crew got on with chores inside!

The river wasn’t too busy, but there was the usual lumpiness in the water as we came past Westminster. The slight swell wasn’t excessive and we weren’t troubled by it; but the light was perfect for taking photographs of each other’s boats getting the fenders washed ๐Ÿ™‚

So it was that we were looking behind us and taking photographs of nb Ketura when a City Cruiser emerged very close to her stern; I though it was going to be a near miss (which would have been alarming enough) but then there was a horrible crunch as the trip boat hit Ketura’s stern. nb Ketura broke free, she was obviously damaged but afloat – the crew put out a clear and calm mayday that she had lost propulsion together with steering and she was recovered quickly – the crew were understandably shaken but otherwise unhurt. The response to the mayday was truly amazing – in the time that we took to turn back to her (we were the nearest boat), a tug and a clipper had turned up and soon had her under tow. We did not check our watches but it could not have been more than 3 minutes before the RNLI, the Police and the PLA were on the scene. And yes it is true if you get offered a rope by a commercial vessel it will be bigger then your T-stud though fortunately for Christine it had a handy tiny little loop at the end just right for a narrowboat.ย  nb Doris Katia had also turned back to help, but as soon as we were assured that nb Ketura was in safe hands, it was better for us to get out of the way and proceed down to Limehouse, liaising with the Limehouse lockies who kindly agreed to stay on duty and wait for nb Ketura to come in. Nb Ketura was safely towed into Limehouse half an hour later – much to the relief of everyone involved.

You have to be careful where you park!

You have to be careful where you park!

I can’t go into any more detail and I won’t publish any photos because we don’t want to prejudice the ongoing investigation.

I was more upset than scared by the event, but by the time we’d moored up I was beyond of exhausted – after all, we’d been on the water for around 14 hours! I drove Ty and Ollie home; Richard stayed on for a therapeutic drink with the crews of nb Ketura and nb Doris Katia, and with other narrowboating friends who had congregated at the Cruising Association.

It was a freak accident,ย  so so unusual to have that happen on a waterway used by professionals. We WILL be cruising the tideway again – by my reckoning, the river will be much safer after a collision as everyone will be super-vigilant, including us!

Photoblog:

But it takes more than a bit of water to separate a hot englishman from an ice-cream!

But it takes more than a bit of water to separate a hot englishman from an ice-cream!

Such a beautiful evening - that's the entrance to Thame sLock, Brentford on the left - watch out for the "silver" sculpture..

Such a beautiful evening – that’s the entrance to Thames Lock, Brentford on the left – watch out for the “silver” sculpture..

That's the distinctive sculpture at Bentford - the lock cut is just upstream of the sculpture..

That’s the distinctive sculpture at Bentford – the lock cut is just upstream of the sculpture..

Couper Collection - "artwork and installations by London artist Max Couper made onboard a fleet of historic Thames barges" - fascinating http://www.coupercollection.org.uk/index.html

Couper Collection – “artwork and installations by London artist Max Couper made onboard a fleet of historic Thames barges” – fascinating http://www.coupercollection.org.uk/index.html

Wonderful views...

Wonderful views…

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Boat Blog: Yet another epic adventure (part 1)

Posted by indigodream on 9 August, 2013

Wednesday 24th July

Here we go again! Are we bored yet - NEVER!

Here we go again! Are we bored yet – NEVER!

We came up for the usual St Pancras Cruising Club briefing on Tuesday evening – Richard represented Indigo Dream so that I could drive up a bit later with Ty and Ollie. Unusually for Indigo Dream, we didn’t have any guests on board – with our busy weekend away and over 1.000 photos to sort out I was woefully behind with the blog and hadn’t put out an invitation! Never mind, it would make a nice change to cruise as a couple ๐Ÿ™‚

This time, St Pancras Cruising Club were welcoming the Cotswold Canal Cruising Club for an escorted convoy downstream to Margaret Ness then up with the tide to Teddington. There were 9 visiting boats, and we were one of three escort boats along with nb Doris Katia and nb Ketura – all proudly flying our Jubilee Pageant flags.

As always, we had a convivial evening at the Cruising Association, getting to know the two boats that we’d be shepherding, as well as a third that would join us at Limehouse for the trip upstream. I hope that we were able to reassure the worried and give confidence to those that had cruised the tideway before. We also had a good gossip with some local residents – all in all, a good night.

We locked out at around 7.30am – we needed to be prompt as we were leaving on the ebbing tide – we swung left down the tideway and we were away. The river was millpond calm – even around the Isle of Dogs, and the ship buoys on Greenwich Reach weren’t as devilishly attractive as usual. It was a lovely morning and cooler than recent trips.

We seemed to get to Margaret Ness in no time at all and turned to stem the tide – a new experience for me as Richard has always done this trip with other crews. The break there is nice – time for coffee, breakfast and watching the world go by – the ebbing tide was gentle so it wasn’t a great effort to hover and enjoy the morning. When Andrew judged that the tide had turned, we set off upstream for Teddington.

Ship Polla Rose on the move - we saw her moored up last week..

Ship Polla Rose on the move – we saw her moored up last week..

We picked up nb Autumn Years as we passed Limehouse. Now we were 12 boats in convoy with us in our usual position as “tail-end charlie”. The Pool of London was relatively quiet, with few big boats on the move; the water was as calm as it gets in this busy stretch with the currents swirling around the bridge piers.

We did have a near miss when enormous restaurant boat Harmony left her wharf quite abruptly into a small gap in the convoy ahead of us then loitered in front of a bridge arch before finally deciding to go through. Her intentions weren’t clear so I could see why the boats (around 6 ahead of us in the convoy) were hesitant; but then one of the narrowboats decided to go for it just as Harmony moved forward. The narrowboat was aiming for the narrow gap between Harmony and bridge abutment! Our hearts were in our mouths but both got through – maybe the gap just looked small from where we were hovering but I think we’d have waited for Harmony to get out of the way!

The rest of the trip went smoothly, but very very slowly…..

We waved goodbye to two of the convoy members at Brentford then pressed on toward Teddington. We were surprised to be overtaken by some unfamiliar narrowboats that had emerged from Brentford to make the transit to Teddington – none of the crews were wearing lifejackets – a lot of boats simply don’t take this stretch of tideway seriously ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We’d heard on the VHF that Richmond Lock was out of action, so we’d have to wait for the half-tide barrier to be opened – this delayed us by a good 30 minutes; the convoy had looped around downstream and turned back up behind us to stem the tide. When the half-tide barrier opened, we waited while they convoy passed us and reformed in front of us – d’oh, big mistake, that delayed us by another 30 minutes. We proceeded at a crawl upriver – we couldn’t understand why were were moving so slowly until we rounded a bend and realised that the tail end of the convoy had been separated from the rest of the convoy by a hire boat. By now, the dogs had been on board for around 8 hours, it was too much, we explained our haste to the convoy members and did some overtaking – the river is wide and deep – especially with the Spring Tide filling the river to the brim and then some…

We got to Teddington and took up a mooring on the pontoon below the lock. Along with nb Doris Katia and nb Ketura, we’d be making the transit back to Limehouse when the tide turned. We offloaded the hounds for a welcome walk – the pontoon is a useless mesh affair (though not toothed metal as at some other Thames locks) so Richard had to carry the hounds to shore. We bimbled around and I kept the dogs on shore until the very last minute – they’d been on board for 9 hours by the time we got to Teddington so they needed the break. We could have done with a longer break ourselves – we’d expected to arrive at Teddington with two or more hours to spare before the tide turned, but we only had around 40 minutes.

We waved goodbye to our guests from the Cotswold Canal Cruising Club – we think they enjoyed their convoy, though one boat said they’d been swamped by the bow wave from a passing gravel barge down at the barrier – nothing that wouldn’t dry out, but it did give the bow crew a fright. We were very surprised – we hadn’t noticed any wash! But then again, every narrowboat swims differently. We do discourage our crews from sitting at the bow; if they do, then we warn them to hang on, keep the front doors shut and expect the odd shower!

I was relaxing on Teddington lock island with the hounds when Richard came to fetch me – it was time to go back – I’ll tell that story in the next post….

Photoblog:

As always, I’ve put the bulk of the photos on Facebook….

We've never noticed this spiral staircase in the piers supporting the cable care before - that would be quite a climb!

We’ve never noticed this spiral staircase in the piers supporting the cable care before – that would be quite a climb!

Shimmer on the water...

Shimmer on the water…

I'm fascinate by the sugar boats and refinery - like, does the raw sugar dissolve away if they unload while it's raining???

I’m fascinate by the sugar boats and refinery – like, does the raw sugar dissolve away if they unload while it’s raining???

The VHF came into its own here - we were in touch with Woolwich Ferry "Ernest Bevin" - told us he'd wait until we were past then move over behind us - good communication can make such a difference..

The VHF came into its own here – we were in touch with Woolwich Ferry “Ernest Bevin” – told us he’d wait until we were past then move over behind us – good communication can make such a difference..

There's the Woolwich tango going on safely behind us - these giant ferries do not create any wash - interesting...

There’s the Woolwich tango going on safely behind us – these giant ferries do not create any wash – interesting…

I wonder what these structures are? Some looked firmly planted in the silt but they're tethered as if they float..

I wonder what these structures are? Some looked firmly planted in the silt but they’re tethered as if they float..

Does anyone live in that cave? It's got good access!

Does anyone live in that cave? It’s got good access, shame about the rising damp though ๐Ÿ™‚

What is this yellow cage for? There were two - high, dry and empty at low tide..

What is this yellow cage for? There were two – high, dry and empty at low tide..

S/he's late! Shame - that looks like an interesting date...:-)

S/he’s late! Shame – that looks like an interesting date…:-)

I wonder how long I'd have to live on board before I became really confident that they were going to re-float at high tide??

I wonder how long I’d have to live on board before I became really confident that they were going to re-float at high tide??

Now this rather lovely barge is an office - wouldn't mind working there :-)

Now this rather lovely barge is an office – wouldn’t mind working there ๐Ÿ™‚

Naarrowboats provide an ideal pied a terre for commuting seagulls :-)

Naarrowboats provide an ideal pied a terre for commuting seagulls ๐Ÿ™‚

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Boat Blog: CRT taking to the waters…

Posted by indigodream on 8 August, 2013

Rewind to Monday 22nd July

The East London Ring

Learning the locks....

Learning the locks….

Some months ago, a suggestion went around that non-boating CRT employees could spend time cruising with boaters to get a feel for the waterways which they administer. It’s been some time in the planning, but tonight we were able to welcome Sarwar, Joe andย Siรขn on board for an evening cruise around the East London Ring. It was Siรขn’s first day – what a great induction!

When planning this trip, we had made a resolution to give the CRT people a pleasant cruise and NOT spend the evening haranguing them. We reckoned that they’re bright people and could assess the state of the waterways for themselves; there are plenty of aspiring waterways politicians pushing their views and although we DO have strong views we did not want to make that the focus of the evening. We had to play it a little by ear, many CRT employees are exceedingly experienced boaters so would be insulting to try and teach them, but more then anything we wanted them to experience a little boating, show them why we liked boating and show how fantastic the canal system is for a boater.

We set off around the ring, with conditions gradually getting more pleasant as the day’s heat abated. When I’d arrived at the boat earlier, one internal thermometer (which had been in the sun) was reading 50 degrees C and the brisk wind crossing Limehouse lock was hot, like a sirocco from the Sahara. Sadly they didn’t get the full Indigo Dream experience – we left Ty and Ollie at home – it was just too hot for hounds….

Our guests hadn’t expected such a hands-on cruising experience – they all donned life-jackets and during the course of the evening got to experience lock working, up and down, and each one had a go at the helm. Onceย Siรขn had done a lock entry, the menfolk just had to have a go too! They did very well, though we were kind and opened both lock gates for them. For once, the fates smiled on us – I did the first single-gate lock entry of the evening without touching the sides – our guests were gratifyingly impressed! They were even more impressed when Richard reversed neatly back into our berth at the end of the day without a hitch – of course, he usually does, but sometimes the wind can just catch the boat….not tonight!

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening – it’s been a while since I’ve done the East London ring and it was nice to spend some time on a canal! Our guests were utterly charming and really seemed to appreciate the experience.

CRT now have an open invitation to cruise on Indigo Dream – I hope that others will come and experience the waterways from a boater’s perspective….

Everyone gets to try the helm on Indigo Dream - this was Sian's first day - what a great induction :-)

Everyone gets to try the helm on Indigo Dream – this was Siรขn’s first day – what a great induction ๐Ÿ™‚

Saluting the first guest lock entry - the men just had to have go after that :-)

Saluting the first guest lock entry – the men just had to have go after that ๐Ÿ™‚

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