Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for September, 2013

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (10)

Posted by indigodream on 30 September, 2013

Rewind to Wednesday 21st August

Sandford Lock to Goring

Richard caught up with some essential maintenance, with or maybe in spite of, Archie's help!

Richard caught up with some essential maintenance, with or maybe in spite of, Archie’s help!

Guess why we were heading to Goring today! No, you’ll never guess…

………we had to take Archie Beanz to the vet!

Yesterday, he became more and more lame as the day went on – by the end of the day, he was in a lot of pain. A “paw police” inspection (that’s me!) found that one of his “wrists” was hot and tender, with a little bit of swelling. Luckily the boat is well stocked with houndie painkillers/anti-inflammatories so we didn’t need an emergency vet. But I did think that he would need a proper inspection – we’ve been to the surgery at Goring before – it’s one of the few vets that is actually within easy walking distance from the river (very important with a lame hound!).

We started out at 10am and, for a change, had a clear cruising target of getting to Goring by 5.45pm for Archie’s appointment. It was handy to have a target for the day – Sarah and Andy would be joining us for the evening and they needed to know where we’d be! They would be dropping off some extra greyhounds while they went to Liverpool for a weekend break.

Today we passed old friend Ed and Sue on nb Weyward Lady – I don’t think we’ve ever had such a sociable cruise on the river.

We got to Goring in good time, but mooring was problematic – the lockie’s moorings (fee payable) were empty but had been pre-booked; the towpath moorings below the lock were pretty full. We had some time in hand for Archie’s appointment but we really did need to find a space. We asked a narrowboat (who shall be nameless), whether we could brest up to them and explained our situation regarding the vet. They refused point blank!

They were busy with maintenance on the river today - big bridge works here - though owrryingly it looked as if this chap was actually cutting through the scaffolding pole that was holding his platform...

They were busy with maintenance on the river today – big bridge works here – though worryingly it looked as if this chap was actually cutting through the scaffolding pole that was holding the platform his mate was standing on…

In the end, we asked a cruiser whether they’d mind shuffling up for us – they were really obliging and the owner of the cruiser in front offered to move his boat as well. With minimal shuffling, a gap opened up and we were able to moor. Thank heavens that are still some generous folk around.

We all trooped off to the surgery and the vet confirmed my diagnosis – Archie had sprained his wrist (probably when he was racing around the meadow above Northmoor Lock yesterday morning) – he’d need anti-inflammatories and rest. The vet scared me a bit my mentioning that Archie might have a hairline fracture, but the fact that his wrist was getting better rather than worse suggested a sprain. We got some extra anti-inflammatory tablets to supplement our on-board stock.

As we were walking back to the boat, Sarah, Andy and hounds Herbie and Bertie arrived. Pubs were contemplated and rejected – we settled for a chinese takeaway – there’s a reasonably decent one opposite the vets. It was warm enough for us to eat on deck, with the hounds locked inside so we could eat unmolested! It was while we were relaxing on deck that I noticed that the vet’s receptionists (who act as dispensers) had put the wrong strength of Rimadyl in the pot. Now, dispensing errors are rare but they do happen, I’m a pharmacist, I should know! But nonetheless it was a bit vexatious as it was just another thing we’d have to sort in the morning – c’est la vie!

Note:Β  For anyone who likes to check the medicines that have been dispensed (or if you administer medicines to, say, your dog) then

More maintenance works - this time on a small weir...

More maintenance works – this time on a small weir…

check the “Five Rights”

  • Right Patient (check the name on the label)
  • Right Drug (check that the name on the label matches what’s in the pack)
  • Right Strength (check that the strength on the label matches what’s in the pack)
  • Right Dose (Check the number of tablets and frequency)
  • Right route (sounds daft but every year people try to swallow suppositories – sometimes without removing the wrapper!)

There are versions of this mnemonic which go as far as 8 – 10 “Rights” but I think they’ve lost the plot – the whole point of a mnemonic is that it should be short and easy enough to be remembered πŸ™‚

Photoblog:

I’m so behind with the dog blogs (Archie has been nagging me!) so for hounds fans, here’s an album of pics from the meadow above Godstow Lock – great fun!

https://www.facebook.com/sue.cook.507/media_set?set=a.10202176968252600.1073741839.1440854080&type=3&uploaded=34

Here are the divers at the weir...

Here are the divers at the weir…

There geese were grazing quietly but suddenly the whole flock took off - an amazing sight - this is just a fraction of the birds in the air...

There geese were grazing quietly but suddenly the whole flock took off – an amazing sight – this is just a fraction of the birds in the air…

Might be a useful service...

Might be a useful service…

Dog in the water - that's a long way out - the owner was on the bank throwing  the dog's toy across the water - except that he couldn't see whether there were any boats coming from where he was standing - bit risky really...

Dog in the water – that’s a long way out – the owner was on the bank throwing the dog’s toy across the water – except that he couldn’t see whether there were any boats coming from where he was standing – bit risky really…

Ooh you could fancy a riverside home like that - shame about the Β£2.5 million price tag!

Ooh you could fancy a riverside home like that – shame about the Β£2.5 million price tag!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Dog Blog: Archie Beanz Secret Dossiers

Posted by indigodream on 29 September, 2013

Hello, the name’s Beanz, Archie Beanz, retired athlete, special agent, gigolo and general superhound…….

Like many semi-retired special agents, I’ve decided to share my secret dossiers – top tips for the aspiring hound around town…

Secret Dossier #3 – Gadgets

I’ve spent the summer getting my gadgets updated – along with the rest of the 00s, oh, and Bertie the muscle – everyone knows that you can’t be special agent without the proper gadgets..

Just checking in with HQ - there's so much bureaurocracy - I used to just pop in see Q for my gadgets but now....sigh....

Just checking in with HQ – got my chip updated in passing – all the authorisation for my new gadgets you understand – oh for the days when I used to just pop in see to Q…sigh….

It's vitally important that your equipment fits like a second skin - this my team of retired 00's testing my life-jackets for me - but which colour is me? Who cares, black goes with everything...

My team of retired 00’s testing my life-jackets for me – they have to be flexible in every position you understand – but which colour is me? Huh, who cares, black goes with everything…

YOU think this is a boatyard but it's really our secret gadget-fitters...

YOU think this is a boatyard but it’s really our secret gadget-fitter…

Gadgets are important but a Beanz always has time for the laydeez...

Gadgets are important but a Beanz always has time for the laydeez…

We've always been worried about what goes on the bathroom - so agent 007, Henry, tried out his new camera paws - you wouldn't believe what goes on...what's that step-mummy Sue? Classified??

We’ve always been worried about what goes on the bathroom – so agent 007, Henry, tried out his new camera paws – you wouldn’t believe what goes……what’s that step-mummy Sue? Classified?? Really????

This is my new telescopic neck -now I can see everything, everywhere - oh yes....

This is my new telescopic neck -now I can see everything, everywhere – oh yes….

See that postbox on the bridge - people say it's a mystery but I know it's our secret special agent drop-box....

See that postbox on the bridge – people say it’s a mystery – huh, that’s our secret drop-box – special agents only….

Hmm, bit disappointing - I put in a requisition for an Aston Martin but budget cuts and all that....step-mummy Sue's new car is quite roomy though...

Hmm, bit disappointing – I put in a requisition for an Aston Martin but austerity measure and all that….Step-mummy Sue’s new car is quite roomy though…

Hmmm - that's more my style of transport - dashing, sleek speedy - oh yes. But M insists that the narrowboat is a better disguise - sigh...

Hmmm – that’s more my style of transport – dashing, sleek speedy – oh yes. But M insists that the narrowboat is a better disguise – sigh…

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (9)

Posted by indigodream on 28 September, 2013

Rewind to Tuesday 20th August

Northmoor Lock to Sandford Lock

You'd never guess from this photo that there are around 10 navigable miles left to go :-)

You’d never guess from this photo that there are around 10 navigable miles left to go πŸ™‚

When we set off upstream, we had the modest ambition of getting to Lechlade, completing a full exploration of the river from Gravesend to its navigable source. Alas, we’ve fallen just short – we had turn downstream today in order to get back to Limehouse for the 1st September.

We were a little bit sad not to make our target; on the other hand, we had lots of social gatherings planned on our trip downstream, so we couldn’t stay downbeat for long.

It was another beautiful morning, and after a last run in the adjacent meadow, we and the hounds settled on board and turned downstream. The conditions were quiet, but we were surprised at the flow in the river – we seemed to shoot downstream. In not time at all we were at Northmoor Lock and chatting greyhounds with the regular lockie. He confirmed that resident hound, Handsome Pa, aged 11, had gone. The lockie gave Tarty Archie a big fuss and vowed that he would get another greyhound soon. In the meantime, they have rescued a saluki lurcher who turned up at the lock during the floods – they took him in and called him Flood! What a wonderful story, though apparently Flood is a bit of a handful compared to placid Pa πŸ™‚

We had a lovely day’s cruising today – the lockies at Pinkhill were exceptionally friendly and they gave me a card to deliver to Eynsham lock – this was the start of another great story which I’ll tell shortly….

Leaving our hound-perfect mooring....

Leaving our hound-perfect mooring….

In the meantime we met nb Apple Queen – I really liked that name – apparently it comes from a William Morris poem, and they were on their way to Kelmscott to visit Morris’ home.

The lockie at Pinkhill didn’t tell us what was in the envelope, addressed to “Nick & Sally”, but I was anxious that we didn’t forget to deliver it. When we arrived at Eynsham we asked whether the duty lockie was “Nick” – it wasn’t! It turns out that Nick is the resident lockie and he was getting married today – the card was for the bride and groom, who were getting married in Oxford then coming upstream to Eynsham lock by boat. We eventually passing the happy couple (and they looked ecstatic!) below Kings Lock – they seemed to be running well behind schedule but the two barges full of guests didn’t seem to mind πŸ™‚ In a very silly way, we felt like part of their big day, just by delivering a card πŸ˜€

But back to Eynsham – there are good services here but they’re spread out – the water point is above the lock but the rubbish point and pump-out are below the lock. We filled with water, went through, then got rid of our bin bags – sorted!

We cruised quickly through Oxford, dodging the various rowers on the river and stopped off at “The Green Boat Company” yard for a more boaty chat. Oh my goodness, I was chatting sighthounds with Sam; Richard was talking boats with Jon – it’s a wonder that we’re not still there! We eventually dragged ourselves away at 5.30pm, with a promise that we’ll be back at the end of March for some boat maintenance (river conditions willing).

It was getting so late, we decided to stop at Sandford Lock again – this time we found a mooring meadowside above the lock, after nb Pheonix kindly shuffled up a bollard to make room for us. As well as Russell Newbury engine, nb Phoenix also has a rescue collie, so we chatted about the merits of rescue dogs for ages!

Finally we got over to the pub, where Archie was instantly hijacked by a woman who’d previously owned a lurcher (who’d tragically died of bone cancer, aged 7). Archie was happy to assuage some her grief with his special cuddles. IT was some time before we got to our table and were able to order food!

We now have a simple calculation – whatever we’re doing, we must allow an extra half an hour to allow for greyhound fuss/talk; actually, make that an hour – because the greyhound/lurcher/whippet fraternity can talk hounds for quite some time when we get together πŸ˜€

Photoblog:

Henry and Archie were very confused - this whippet looks just like their pack-make Miffy :-)

Henry and Archie were very confused – this whippet looks just like their pack-make Miffy πŸ™‚

Miffy - see the resemblance!

Miffy – see the resemblance!

Trapping crayfish - he had a lot of traps on the go - wonder if he's got a licence? http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/recreation/fishing/38045.aspx

Trapping crayfish – he had a lot of traps on the go. There are all sorts of rukes about this, you even need a special licence: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/recreation/fishing/38045.aspx

The happy couple!

The happy couple!

And the rest of the wedding party...

And the rest of the wedding party…

Inventive!

Inventive!

We like taking the right hand channel going downstream in Oxford - it's a hidden world :-)

We like taking the right hand channel going downstream in Oxford – it’s a hidden world πŸ™‚

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (8)

Posted by indigodream on 26 September, 2013

Rewind to Monday 19th August

Sandford Lock to Northmoor Lock (just downstream of Newbridge)

Happy me! Having a cuddle with Archie hound and Yorrick the lurcher...

Happy me! Having a cuddle with Archie hound and Yorrick the lurcher…

We had yet another relaxed start but we got away from our mooring at 10.30am, which is practically dawn by recent standards. It was a lovely morning, but autumn reached out for us in the form of a chilly breeze which meant we needed real sweaters rather than the metaphorical ones that cosseted the landscape yesterday πŸ™‚

We cruised on towards Oxford, keeping an eye out for a twitter friend “Workboat Pug” – Pug is based just downstream of Oxford at the Salters boatyard. As we passed, Jon, from Pug, waved us in for a cup of tea. Oh my, what a merry meeting – not only had we the pleasure of meeting Jon in person, but we also met his business partner, Sam, who owns an ancient lurcher, Yorrick.

Yorrick was persuaded to leave his bed to meet the greyhounds – needless to say, they got on famously. There was also another lurcher at the yard called Dizzy, but he didn’t come out to play.

We were given a tour of the yard/shed – it has an interesting story. In the winter it’s the home of the Salter’s trip boat fleet, but the “Green Boat Company”, hire it in the summer when the fleet’s out. The boatshed is enormous and has a ramp and rail arrangement for pulling boats out of the water. While we were wandering around, we suddenly realised that there was a lack of hounds around – Ollie, Henry and Archie had taken off through the boatshed and out to the lawn beyond. Despite having had no fear when finding their way out, all the hounds were then reluctant to walk back past the yard’s activities – typical!

The Green Boat Company - good with boats and they like greyhounds - what's not to like :-D

The Green Boat Company – good with boats and they like greyhounds – what’s not to like πŸ˜€

We had to drag ourselves away – but not before promising to call in on our way back – we were so impressed by Jon, Sam and their facilities, we decided to arrange some late winter maintenance with him, but there just wasn’t time to discuss it today. It had been a thoroughly lovely social call – enhanced by waving at another twitter friend nb Alnwyck and at fellow tideway veterans nb Flora Dora. Yesterday we’d exchanged greeting with fellow jubilee-ers nb Madam and nb Galatea

It’s fair to say that we feel quite at home on the Thames πŸ™‚

We set off through Oxford and contemplated a stop so that Archie hound could visit his hu-mum Sarah’s Alma Mater – but we just couldn’t be naffed to do the walk! I do hate how Oxford has turned its back on the Thames – though above Osney bridge we found a “purple passage” in every sense, as the dull back-lot of the Osney culvert was enlivened by a dense riot of purple wild flowers.

The river improves tremendously as it meanders out of Oxford towards Godstow. We stopped briefly on the meadow above Godstow Lock – the hounds needed a comfort break. The meadow and path around the ruins of Godstow Abbey were deserted – amazing for such a pleasant bank-holiday weekend. Not that we were complaining – it meant that Henry and Archie could have a good run!

We had been looking forward to another greyhound gathering at Northmoor Lock – for several years we’ve met up with the resident greyhound, Handsome Pa, who lives there. Or rather, lived there – the lockie at Pinkhill told us that Handsome Pa had gone over the rainbow bridge earlier this year. We were very sad to hear the news. We weren’t able to pass on our condolences as there was a relief lockie on at Northmoor, but the regular chap (Handsome Pa’s hu-dad) would be on duty when we passed back this way.

We had an ambitious plan of getting to Kelmscott – a village we’d very much enjoyed last year; but we had a backup plan of stopping at any likely pubs in-between, including those at Newbridge. But we didn’t even make it that far – as we cruised along the wilderness between Northmoor and Newbridge, Richard suddenly spotted a brilliant towpath mooringΒ (on the right-hand side looking upstream, about half a mile downstream of Newbridge, marked M on Nicholson’s) . We pulled over quickly – it was perfect – the mooring had a hard edge with not too high a jump for Ollie; the towpath alongside was gated at either end, and the path below the downstream gate opened onto an expanse of water meadow. The path itself was largely deserted – it’s so remote here that we only saw serious hikers and cyclists – it seemed to be too far off track for recreational dog-walkers. The dogs had a ball here – alternatively lolling around on the towpath by the boat or racing around the meadow – idyllic πŸ™‚

Photoblog:

Purple passage - the "neglected" backwaters of Oxford...

Purple passage – the “neglected” backwaters of Oxford…

The river's busy - canoes, kayaks, cruisers, swimmers, dogs, cows, ponies - King'sMeadow has it all :-D

The river’s busy – canoes, kayaks, cruisers, swimmers, dogs, cows, ponies – King’s Meadow has it all πŸ˜€

Frolicking in the wide open spaces at Godstow...

Frolicking in the wide open spaces at Godstow…

Wistful dragon - the lock-keepers really care for their surroundings..

Wistful dragon – the lock-keepers really care for their surroundings..

Sad sight - don't know how they'll get a crane in to right this boat - it's pretty remote....

Sad sight – don’t know how they’ll get a crane in to right this boat – it’s pretty remote….

We spoke to one boater  who said they found the Thames "boring" and couldn't wait to get off onto the Oxford Canal - but just see what they're missing upstream...

We spoke to one boater who said they found the Thames “boring” and couldn’t wait to get off onto the Oxford Canal – but just see what they’re missing upstream…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (7)

Posted by indigodream on 23 September, 2013

Rewind to Sunday 18th August

Cleeve Lock to Sandford Lock

Time for a last rummage...

Time for a last rummage…

We were in no rush to get anywhere today – we’d heard that there was a regatta in Oxford today and that there might be a degree of chaos there. This meant another relaxed start after a round of perfect “zoomies” for the hounds – they really did love this mooring.

We eventually set off at 11.30am onto a quiet river. We were surprised that there was so little traffic – just a few narrowboats – a week before August Bank Holiday! However there were some mad canoeists, intent fishermen and swimmers.

Swimmers have been a worry on this trip – not the ones that splash in the shallows but the ones that take their free water swimming seriously. Some are nearly invisible in the water; the ones that wear swimming caps are much more visible, but only if the cap isn’t the same colour as a supermarket carrier bag!

Nevertheless, we were able to savour the river’s beauty – it’s a familiar waterway for us so we could relax and enjoy the trip rather than be busy with the sightseeing.

Indigo Dream was much admired at the locks today – some loved our artwork; others just admired Archie hound, who was more than happy to pose for his adoring fans πŸ™‚

Big gymkhana in Abingdon - now, do ponies like ice cream? Greyhounds certainly do!

Big gymkhana in Abingdon – now, do ponies like ice cream? Greyhounds certainly do!

There was just one exception – the nameless narrowboat who shared a lock with us at Benson – they seemed rather taciturn. I knew it wasn’t personal, they don’t know us; unless, of course they have read the blog at some time and had decided that being caught in an endless round of greyhound talk was to be avoided at all costs!

I didn’t take many notes – it was that sort of day. We considered mooring at Abingdon – there were several spaces, but there was a gymkhana in full swing in the waterside meadows and I was afraid that Henry and Archie would be thoroughly over-excited! We filled with water above Abingdon lock and moved on – it was a lovely evening for cruising.

Above Abingdon we had the river to ourselves; at one point the river became so narrow it felt as if we’d taken a wrong turn onto one of its tributaries. In the soft gold afternoon, the steep embankments wore their trees like a bobbled green sweater, sequinned with the irridescent flash of kingfishers. The river unzipped the green fabric before us, while the river’s extravagant curves modestly hid the view behind…

It was a magically bucolic stretch – to the point that it was almost a shock to see the relative urbanity of Sandford, with its converted mill and one whole pub!

Archie was very excited to get there – I think he must have recognised it from previous visits. We wanted to moor at Sandford, but which mooring to choose?Β  The lock-keeper was a mine of information – we could have paid for a mooring below the lock (as we’ve done many times before), but we decided to go for the one and only meadowside space above the lock. Alas, but the time we were through the lock, another boat had snuck in to take the mooring. However, there were moorings directly outside the pub – we hadn’t realised they were there (or maybe they were full on previous visits). We reversed into a generous space and had a fine evening – eating in the pub garden with the hounds (though Ollie had go back on board because he was frightened by a wasp).

I had been concerned that the pub garden might be noisy – but it seems to be a “family” venue – by 9pm the pub garden was deserted and the pub itself almost empty. We had a very quiet night on the mooring – especially after the hounds had a final rummage around the water meadows opposite.

Photoblog:

We don't normally cruise with the deck doors open but Archie said he was too tired to do standing up looking today :-D

We don’t normally cruise with the deck doors open but Archie said he was too tired to do standing up looking today πŸ˜€

Balancing baggage,,,,

Balancing baggage,,,, the lady swimmer behind was swimming the whole length of the Thames for charity, did not catch her name or charity 😦

Serious bridge works...

Serious bridge works…

Rowing - but not as we know it....

Rowing – but not as we know it….

Two bed des-res....:-)

Two bed des-res….:-)

Textures....

Textures….

Can't resist another one...

Can’t resist another one…

Spot the kingfisher (1)

Spot the kingfisher (1)

Spot the kingfisher (2)

Spot the kingfisher (2)

Spot the kingfisher (3)

Spot the kingfisher (3)

Spot the kingfisher (4) - oh that one's just too easy :-)

Spot the kingfisher (4) – oh that one’s just too easy πŸ™‚

Now you see it :-)

Now you see it πŸ™‚

Here's one more....

Here’s one more….

Sunset at Sandford...

Sunset at Sandford…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (6)

Posted by indigodream on 22 September, 2013

Rewind to Friday 16th August

Well, we almost made it it to the boat today!

It was Richard’s birthday so we had the most slow start to the day. Not that we minded – it gave me an opportunity to catch up with cousin Denise, who was coming to stay the weekend in the house with her daughter Christina, son Rhodri and Rhodri’s girlfriend Shannon. They were forewarned that we’d be boating, so even the opportunity to spend a few hours with them was great. Denise and I spent the afternoon picking blackberries and setting the world to rights while the kids and the hounds snoozed indoors πŸ™‚

As it happened, we packed the car and the 3 dogs (it was quite full!) and set off – just as got to the junction of the M25, the traffic news reported a massive accident on the motorway which had totally blocked the carriageway at a most inconvenient location. Luckily the traffic report happened at just the point where we could turn back and go home! The hounds were a bit bewildered but seemed contented enough with their brief spin in the car.

This meant that we could spend the evening with Denise – it was so good to catch up with her. We finished the day with a blow-out Chinese takeaway and a resolution to start out early in the morning….

Rewind to Saturday 17th August

Cyril on the helm - I think he really enjoyed the day...

Cyril on the helm – I think he really enjoyed the day…

Reading (Thames & Kennet Marina) to Wallingford then back to Cleeve Lock

Spending time with Denise was a real tonic, and we had another special day ahead.

Now, there’s a story here, are you sitting comfortably?

About a year ago, a man in Australia got in touch via the blog to say that he’d been trying to get in touch with Cyril and Kate. We had no idea who “Cyril and Kate” were, and a search of the blog came up blank. We saved, then ignored, the comment – we didn’t feel we could help. Then a few weeks ago, the Australian man got in touch again, this time with a surname for Kate and Cyril – result! Richard remembered their name from the convoy we did for the Mayor’s River Festival back in 2011 – from nb Tamesis II. We got in touch with them (we had their email from the group communication during the convoy) and gave them the Australian man’s contact details.

Now, it turns out that Kate and Cyril live in Reading, Indigo Dream was in Reading – a cruise was in order! Sadly, Kate and Cyril have had to give up their precious narrowboat on doctor’s order and we had no idea how much our simple invitation meant to them. We picked them up at Caversham lock and cruised them up to Wallingford, where they could get an easy bus home. Oh, they were delightful and exceedingly informative company and we chatted happily all day long. Cyril did his best “Cheshire Cat” impression – he was so happy to be back on the helm of a narrowboat πŸ™‚

Kate's smile says it all....

Kate’s smile says it all….

And the Australian man? He was a colleague who worked with then, briefly but intensely, 50 YEARS ago. I’m not sure what prompted him to get in touch after so many years, but they were all delighted by the renewed contact.

When we got to Wallingford, the visitor moorings were jam-packed so we were a bit naughty and dropped Kate and Cyril off outside the pub (where it says “no mooring” – we didn’t mind breaking the rules to give them an easier walk for the bus. Our quick “drop and go” wasn’t quite as smooth as we anticipated – the pub diners were keen to talk to the greyhounds so it took a while for us to get away!

We headed back downstream with the intention of mooring at the Leatherne Bottle – the very nice looking pub just upstream of Cleeve lock. We noted, in passing, that the Beetle and Wedge mooring was available, but we though we’d head for somewhere new. The mooring at the Leatherne Bottle had been taken since we passed upstream earlier, however we thought we might be able to squeeze in. But just as we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t practical, two anxious waiters came out of the restaurant to confirm that we couldn’t moor there and even if we tied up, they were fully booked and we couldn’t eat there.

By now the weather had turned mean, it was cold and squally, so we headed for the meadow moorings opposite the pub, which proved to be just perfect. We found a spot just deep enough for us to bring the back into the bank, which was at a good height for offloading the hounds. It was very quiet, well-fenced and gated at both ends, with very few walkers – this meant that the hounds could have a good romp around the meadow before we battened down the hatches against the increasingly foul rain.

What a hound-perfect mooring...

What a hound-perfect mooring…

The meadow moorings had a Β£4 mooring fee sign – very reasonable, though we didn’t find a way to pay and no-one came to collect – we’d have been happy to pay, it was a fine place for the hounds πŸ™‚

I had bought Richard the DVD sets of “The Game of Thrones” for his birthday and we settled down to watch the first series. I’d heard it was well-reviewed and I’d read a fair few of the original George R R Martin novels. Wow, it’s a gripping series, allbeit verging on the pornographic in places! It kept us entertained for the rest of the holiday and beyond….

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (5)

Posted by indigodream on 4 September, 2013

Rewind to Saturday 10th August

Sonning (donwstream of the bridge) to Thames and Kennet Marina

Moored at the Thames and Kennet Marina

Moored at the Thames and Kennet Marina

Uri Geller’s meadow moorings were wonderfully quiet and we would have had a peaceful night’s sleep if we hadn’t let bed monster Ollie sleep with us! We felt sorry for him because he seemed out of sorts and would otherwise have spent the night pacing and whining (which keeps me awake) – letting him on the bed meant that we were BOTH kept awake, which seemed much more fair πŸ˜€

Nonetheless, we awoke reasonably refreshed and had an unhurried morning of pottering around the boat and getting ready for our trip home later. We were at the far downstream end of the meadow moorings, so I stayed on board to see the boat through Sonning Lock before walking back for the car.

I was dreading another encounter with the truculent lockie that we had met on Thursday, but I was relieved to see that he wasn’t on duty. This firmed up my resolution to make a complaint about “Mr Nasty”, and went to ask the duty lockie what Mr Nasty’s proper name was. I was astonished and delighted to be told that I wouldn’t be seeing Mr Nasty again – he was gone! The duty lockie was very discreet but it seems that a catalogue of events has led to Mr Nasty’s demise. I was so pleased, a boater shouldn’t dread a lock passage because of an unpleasant lock-keeper.

Cafe culture - Henry and Archie at the boaters cafe in the Thames and Kennet Marina..

Cafe culture – Henry and Archie at the boaters bar in the Thames and Kennet Marina..

Once we’d risen up the lock, Richard took the boat onwards and I walked back to the car in good spirits. I was soon at the Thames and Kennet Marina, where I received the usual warm welcome – this marina is one of our favourites. I paid for 6 nights mooring (bargain), got details of our berth and went down to the service pontoon to await Indigo Dream’s arrival, which I thought was imminent. But there was no sign of the boat, and, with Richard’s phone having died, no way of checking where he was! The next minute I got a text from an unknown number – Richard had picked up a broken-down narrowboat drifting in the middle of the river and was giving her a tow to the King’s Meadow moorings. Serendipitously, the boat wasΒ  called “Calamity Jane”!Β  The boat’s owner had called River Canal Rescue but she was anchored in mid stream so unlikely that RCR would come to him mid-river, mind you that conjourns up visions of a rib with flashing lights leaping over the weirs….Β  Several boats had gone past and not said anything, she was anchored and stable but seemed best to offer them a tow to Tescos. It took a while for Richard to brest up to her right hand side as nutty rowers kept passing on that side !!! Grrhhhh !!! Full marks to Calamity Jane as they had not only successfully deployed their anchor but managed to get it up again before an easy cruise and pole position parking outside Tescos. We wish them luck with the rest of their journey.

Knowing there would be delay, I settled down for a cup of tea – there’s a plain but welcoming “boaters bar” near the marina office with tables/chairs outside and squashy sofas inside.

Eventually, Richard came along with the boat and we got to our berth. Immediately we started chatting to the locals; then we chatted some more as we loaded the car. We were almost away when we bumped into another greyhound, Sooty, who lives in the marina. Sooty’s owners immediately came out of their boat in excitement at seeing the three boys and yet more chatting ensued! The greyhounds got on famously, with Archie, Henry and Ollie vying for Sooty’s affection and for fusses from her owners. Sooty’s hu-dad wants to adopt a big black greyhound to be Sooty’s companion but her hu-mum wasn’t so sure; after meeting the boys they’re both now convinced that they need another hound – result! I took a photo of Sooty which I texted to her owners; I had to get in touch with them later as it turns out that Sooty is our Ty’s half-sister! Just as well we didn’t have Ty with us – he’d have had yet another offer of a new home (he’s a popular hound, despite being a total wuss jellyboy).

Sotty - Ty's half-sister - nothing scaredy or wussy about her though..

Sotty – Ty’s half-sister – nothing scaredy or wussy about her though..

The day was wearing on, so we decided to have a late lunch in the marina “Boaters Bar” – the food was plain pub grub but well done and tasty – the hounds attracted lots of attention and we could have sat there happily all afternoon. The subsequent queues that we encountered on the M25 made me wish that we had stayed – but Surrey and an extensive to-do list beckoned….

We’ll be back on board on the 15th for another week’s bimble before we have a substantial invasion of greyhounds – hurrah!

 

Calamity Jane safely moored

Calamity Jane safely moored

.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat blog: Aimless meanderings (4)

Posted by indigodream on 3 September, 2013

Rewind to Friday 9th August

Reading (King’s Meadow) to Sonning (downstream of the bridge)

The Β£10 goes to charity - ring the number and they advise you to post the money, with a note, into a little flap in the fence nearby....

The Β£10 goes to charity – ring the number and they advise you to post the money, with a note, into a little flap in the fence nearby….

What a night – knowing I had to get up early in the morning guaranteed a poor night’s sleep – Ollie joined in by pacing and whining for most of the night. I gave in at 5am and lifted him onto the bed – he settled instantly!

The reason for my early start was another bit of vexation from last week. I’ve been fortunate enough to be offered a part-time job with the Royal Marsden Hospital’s training team – it’s such an exciting opportunity but I had hoped that the NHS paperwork would be slow and that I wouldn’t be starting until the beginning of September. As it happens, they’re so excited at the prospect of my joining them that they’ve fast-tracked the paperwork and wanted me to start this week! Some negotiation ensued and I’m now due to start after our cruising holidays at the end of August, provided I could attend the standard induction training today. I could hardly refuse but it was a shame to curtail the holiday just as I was starting to feel the benefit…..

So, yet more Indigo Dream logistics – I would get a train into Chelsea, spend the day at the training (all 8 hours of it), get the train back to Teddington, pick my car up and drive back to Sonning so that we’d have easy transport home on Saturday – with me so far?

In the meantime, Richard met an old friend at King’s Meadow – Ed and wife Sue from nb Weyward Lady. Ed had joined us for the IWA campaign cruise a few years ago.Ed proved to be a mine of information, and, on his recommendation, Richard moved the boat back down through Sonning Lock (Mr Nasty was not on duty) and moored up on the meadow moorings just downstream of the Great House pub.

Archie Beanz keeping a lookout below Sonning Bridge...

Archie Beanz keeping a lookout below Sonning Bridge…

Now, these moorings cost Β£10 a night, which is steep for a rough towpath mooring on the Thames (local farmers generally charge Β£6 a night). But according to Ed, there’s a story behind the fees – the moorings downstream of Sonning Bridge were once owned by the pub but were not properly maintained and became colonised by continuous moorers. In an attempt to improve the area, the moorings were bought by Uri Geller, who imposed the fee to disuade long-stayers. This has obviously worked and the moorings are pleasant, if a little basic. However, it’s out of character for Richard to voluntarily pay for moorings, but when I quizzed him, I got the last bit of the story – Uri Geller donates the mooring fees to charity AND he is a greyhound fan, having lost his own beloved hound recently. Hence the moorings appealed on many levels, and it was a lot quieter than King’s Meadow, with fewer mad cyclists and passing dog-walkers. They have a novel way of collecting the fee – there’s a phone number to ring and you get instructed to post your fee, with a note, into a “letterbox” in the wooden fencing that flanks the mooring.

Richard, Ed and the hounds retired to “The Bull” in the centre of Sonning and I met them there in the evening. The Bull is a popular and pleasant Fullers pub and we had a great meal there. They do their own take on a classic dessert – the “Sonning Mess” – meringue, cream, passion fruit and mango – it was magnificent – I’d visit again just for the pudding! I’m pleased to report that Henry and Archie hounds have really got the hang of pub/cafe culture and are quickly lying down on their sheepskins to receive their many admirers.

We left the car in the pub car park overnight and walked back through the village to the moorings. It was a bit of a trek but meant that we were a useful distance from the Great House Hotel/pub and its live music – a light jazz band sadly afflicted with a trumpet that sounded as if it was full of beer; or maybe the trumpeter was full of beer – it was hard to tell πŸ™‚

Photoblog:

We won't be the first or last to photograph this postbox - no-one seems to know why it's there or even who put it there!

We won’t be the first or last to photograph this postbox – no-one seems to know why it’s there or even who put it there!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (3)

Posted by indigodream on 2 September, 2013

Rewind to Thursday 8th August

Marlow (below the lock) to Reading (King’s Meadow)

Looking downstream to our "hole in the hedge mooring" - on the right - see it?

Looking downstream to our “hole in the hedge mooring” – on the right – see it?

Last night’s “desperation mooring” proved to be a very fine spot indeed – there was a little traffic noise from the nearby road bridge, but much quieter than the weir at Teddington! It was otherwise peaceful, though a few inquisitive dogs popped down from the path to check us out; the greyhounds were very tolerant, though the deck doors were firmly shut!Β  The mooring flanked a path which Richard extravagantly reported to be “perfect” for dog-walkingΒ  as it opened out to meadows where the hounds could have a (muzzled) run.

We set off at 10am – the river is exceedingly picturesque and I suddenly felt as if I could breath easier (mentally) for the first time in weeks. It takes a while for holidays to work their magic….

We stopped at the services above Hurley lock and filled up with water. It was a popular spot with boaters, campers and walkers alike – we had to queue! The cruiser queuing in front of us has a very yappy border collie – as I walked past, the lady of the boat said “my dog doesn’t like people” – her tone suggested that she didn’t either! I walked the greyhounds the other way, but they were immaculately behaved. Archie can be a bit dominant at times, but there’s no predicting which dogs he will think needs a bark – the collie was obviously beneath his notice.

The river was reasonably busy – we joined a substantial queue below Hambledon lock and were a little dismayed when the French Brothers trip boat was waved in before us – we thought we’d have to wait. But to our surprise, the trip boat waved us in behind them – we fitted in easily, as did the three assorted boats behind us! The Thames locks are a strange mixture – some are absolutely enormous, others very small – there’s no sense to it!Β We exchanged some banter with the trip boat and its passengers and were almost sorry to lose them in Henley.

This Grebe is a regular at Marlow Lock - it plays in the wash then pops through the open gate paddles to join it's family above the lock - amazing!

This Grebe is a regular at Marlow Lock – it plays in the wash then pops through the open gate paddles to join it’s family above the lock – amazing!

One big job for today was to contact Shoreline (01903 733877) to try and diagnose why our fridge was leaking water in the mornings. I’m a bit of a stickler for the food cold chain so I was worried that the fridge wasn’t running at an optimum temperature. Shoreline were extremely helpful and came up with the following advice:

  • the recent very hot ambient temperature might be affecting the fridge’s efficiency
  • we had turned the dial to max (5) to try to increase the refrigeration – apparently this is the wrong thing to do – it should work at setting 2 – 3 – if it’s not then there’s something wrong!
  • it could be that the controller has failed – they offer a free checking service – but if their other suggestions work then we can leave that until the winter as the check takes a few weeks.

Although the river was busy, there were several mooring spots available in Henley; however we were bound for one of our favourite spots above Marsh Lock. We were disappointed that last year’s prime spot opposite the island was already occupied, but we found a spot further upstream. It’s a section of fenced and gated (but public) towpath where we could let the greyhounds roam free – not that they bothered! We had a civilised lunch and Richard took Henry and Archie for a swimming lesson i.e. he waded into the water carrying a hound then let them go to swim back to shore. Both hounds swim very well! Ollie was spared this indignity – he scooted back to his bed at the first opportunity and we didn’t have the heart to drag him out….

It was far too early for us to moor up, so we left our perfect mooring spot with some regret; even as we pulled the pins, nb Chutney came upriver and waited for us to vacate the spot – it’s a prime location πŸ™‚

Swimming lessons! The hounds think that Richard is quite mad - but at least we know they can swim!

Swimming lessons! The hounds think that Richard is quite mad – but at least we know they can swim!

We had a peaceful and pleasant cruise up – noticing in passing a large cruiser travelling with three dogs on the top deck and a large parrot on the back deck. We’d had a perfectly lovely afternoon until we reached Sonning Lock. There we met a lockie, let’s call him “Mr Nasty”, who, at best, was abrupt and unpleasant; at worst he was rude and unnecessarily aggressive. I was torn between finding out his details so I could make a complaint and making a quick getaway from his rudeness. We chose the quick getaway but I was left with a nagging feeling that I should complain – how can he improve if no-one gives him or his employers any feedback – hmmmmm – but there’s more on that in a few posts’ time…

We headed up for the King’s Meadow (Tesco) moorings in Reading with some trepidation – it was late afternoon and we feared that they might be full. We needn’t have worried – there was plenty of space back on the rough-edged path; later a few spaces opened up on the pontoons, but by then we we’d settled in and couldn’t be bothered to move. There’s a nice park adjacent for the hounds, but the path itself was a treacherous with speeding cyclists.

We did a useful shop at Tesco. Because I didn’t trust the fridge, we’d been eating some very basic meals made from unlikely ingredients from the back of the food cupboard, but now we could buy in a fine meal as well as a few DVDs. We settled down to watch the new version of “Total Recall” – it was a brainless evening’s entertainment but I couldn’t believe the ease with which they’d made a worse film than the original!

We went to bed at a reasonable time – I had an early start on Friday and I’m really out of the habit….

Photoblog:

It looked as if this couple were taking their pet cow for a walk!

It looked as if this couple were taking their pet cow for a walk!

The Thames offers some beautiful views...

The Thames offers some beautiful views…

Remember when chocolates came in boxes with padded silk lids - and this scene...

Remember when chocolates came in boxes with padded silk lids – and this scene…

We love these quiet mooring spots on the right upstream of March Lock - perfect for greyhounds :-)

We love these quiet mooring spots on the right upstream of March Lock – perfect for greyhounds πŸ™‚

Works at Henley - we suspect it was the removal of some temporary structures post-regatta....

Works at Henley – we suspect it was the removal of some temporary structures post-regatta….

Lavish boat house in Henley...

Lavish boat house in Henley…

Big event being prepared (along with temporary pontoons for punt hire) - this was well upstream of Henley - we're not sure what the event was though....

Big event being prepared (along with temporary pontoons for punt hire) – this was well upstream of Henley – we’re not sure what the event was though….

Nice new stretch of bank on the right (looking upstream) below Sonning Bridge - mooring prohibited - which is a shame...

Nice new stretch of bank on the right (looking upstream) below Sonning Bridge – mooring prohibited – which is a shame…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »