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Archive for August 7th, 2013

Odds Blog: Catching up with friends…

Posted by indigodream on 7 August, 2013

Rewind to Saturday 20th July

Amazingly, we spent the weekend OFF the Thames!

David Phillisp the Harbourmaster presenting at the IWA...

David Phillisp the Harbourmaster presenting at the IWA…

But the tideway wasn’t far from our hearts. On Saturday morning, I was privileged to be part of a team of speakers at the IWA National including Andrew Phasey, interpid Commodore of the St Pancras Cruising Club, Jeremy Batch, head lock-keeper at Limehouse and David Phillips, Port of London Authority Harbourmaster – illustrious company indeed! Our brief was to talk about how narrowboaters can have a safe and enjoyable trip along the Thames tideway – a task admirably completed by our top speakers. It was difficult to see what I could add, so I just talked about what I know – my love of the Thames and the very down-to-earth precautions that we take each and every time we cruise it.

I was a bit disappointed that there were so few in the audience – following the “sell-out” at the 2010 IWA, we had a bigger tent and a whole 2 hours this time. I hope that the small audience reflected the generally poor attendance at the show rather than a lack of interest in the topic. I didn’t notice anyone walking out halfway through, so I hope that the presentations hit the spot! What surprised me was the kind support that we got from boating friends who know the tideway well and couldn’t possibly have learnt anything new!

With our work done, Andrew and Frances invited us all back for a lavish lunch on board nb Doris Katia – veteran of many a tideway trip. There seemed to be far more people walking the towpath than there were on the showground. Many passers-by thought that the moored boats were on display and seemed quite disappointed that they weren’t open to the public! On our way to the water, we did bump into Jan and John (Halfie) from Jubilee – it was a great pleasure to chat to them, allbeit fleetingly.

After lunch, we heaved our very full stomachs round the show – we enjoyed it very much, especially as there were a couple of patchwork trouser stalls there so I could top-up my ragged supplies. We saw the old Spitfire doing a great fly-past. We also met several other greyhounds and lurchers, though Ty was scared and Ollie was aloof. Despite his absolute loathing of our boat engine, Ty’ favourite stall was Vetus, where he lay in the corner, well hidden by a display of engines!

Andrew Phasey in action at the IWA...

Andrew Phasey in action at the IWA…

We only stayed for a few hours because we had another waterway meeting planned – we drove up to Marsworth to meet up with the crew of nb Matilda Rose. We had such a merry evening – Daisy the cat was safely seconded in the back cabin; Ty and Ollie made themselves at home on board – to the point that Ollie took over Baxter AND Muttley’s beds and snapped at Muttley for having the temerity to walk past too closely! Daisy cat let her displeasure be known and Jill let her out onto the towpath for a while (dogs safely indoors). With some sort of catch deathwish, Daisy came and peered imperiously through the mesh door to stare at Ty and Ollie – they didn’t respond at all – well, Ollie might have lifted an ear. Oh the shame of it – Henry and Herbie Beanz will be shaking their heads in disbelief!

We went off to the “Angler’s Rest” in Marsworth – we haven’t been there before but found it to be a dog-friendly pub with good pub grub. The landlady gasped when she saw Ty and Ollie come in and choked out the word “cat”. The pub has a resident black cat that was sitting in the bar keeping an eye on the customers. Ty and Ollie were completely oblivious!

We were sad to leave the Matilda Rose’s but we have the bright prospect of a cruise with them in a few weeks’ time – can’t wait!

We were a bit weary now, but we only had a short drive up to the Hotel Mercure near Milton Keynes – one of the few dog-friendly pubs we found in a quick search last week. It was a nice hotel, though slightly marred by a loud wedding party – our room overlooked the main entrance, where the smokers congregated, with much “whooping” until the wee small hours. Not that Ty and Ollie minded – they were absolutely exhausted after an unnaturally busy day….

Sunday 21st July

We really enjoyed our hotel this morning – a complementary Sunday paper, a buffet breakfast with seating outside the main room so that Ty and Ollie could join us and eat sausages (actually, Ollie doesn’t like sausages so he opted for the continental cheeses). We weren’t in a hurry to move on, so we just relaxed in the hotel lounge until checkout time at noon. We then went off in search of a Costa – we found one in the delightful village of Stony Stratford. With Lattes in hand, we had a bimble down to the river Ouse – it is flanked by a wonderful watermeadow/park with benches where we could relax and finally sit down with our diaries and do some cruise planning. Our last convoy would be on the 24th July and our last tideway trip was planned for 3rd August – after that, the  whole canal system would be ours 🙂

Beautiful spot in the parkland adjacent to the river Ouse at Stony Stratford...

Beautiful spot in the parkland adjacent to the river Ouse at Stony Stratford…

Ollie had a little rummage while Ty just worried about stuff; they both dipped their paws into the river, but that’s as close to paddling as these two will ever get!

After that, we drive up to Stoke Bruerne – well-know for being “canal central” but it is also “greyhound central”. We were joining the Greyhound Friends annual garden party. We met up with some previous greyhound friends there and had a nice afternoon of eating cake and getting greyhound cuddles and kisses. Ty was happy hiding under a table; at first, Ollie was beside himself with excitement at seeing so many other greyhounds, but he’s very aware of his dignity and soon settled onto the sheepskin to watch the world go by.

It was coming to late afternoon when we left Stoke Bruerne for the drive home – we got in touch with Sue of nb No Problem to see whether we could fit in just one more merry meeting before going home. Sadly they were out for the evening – but maybe that’s just as well, it had been a busy weekend and we were all fast asleep in our respective beds within minutes of getting back!

At the Greyhound Friends Garden Party - it was lovely to see so many harmonious hounds...

At the Greyhound Friends Garden Party – it was lovely to see so many harmonious hounds…

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