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Archive for October, 2013

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (14)

Posted by indigodream on 16 October, 2013

Rewind to Sunday 25th August

Runnymeade to Teddington

A proper boat for "duck touring"...

A proper boat for “duck touring”…

We had a late start this morning after a disturbed night’s sleep. Although the dog inΒ  the house nearby was mercifully silent overnight, Archie did launch a stealth attack and got up on the bed without our noticing. At one point I woke up feeling uncomfortable – my feet were burning up – mainly because Archie was lying on them πŸ™‚

We set out at at 11am – we weren’t worried – we just needed a gentle bimble down to Teddington, where we’d spend the night before going down the tideway in the early morning on Monday. As we’d spend two nights on the Runnymeade moorings, we offered to pay the lock-keeper at Bell Weir – he kindly let us off as we hadn’t been at the mooring when he walked up to collect the fees the night before.

We were so relaxed we actually stopped for lunch at one of our new favourite moorings round the back of Desborough Island. The moorings were full – even along the stretch where it says “no moorings”. We popped into the only gap available – joining the other miscreants on the “no mooring” stretch. Two pompous teenagers on the towpath told us we’dΒ  get into big trouble for mooring where it said “no mooring” – I scowled at them and said “I’ve broken worse rules than this…”, contriving to sound utterly wicked – they scarpered πŸ™‚

A cold, wet morning turned into a gloriously sunny afternoon – Richard took the dogs for a rummage while I cooked lunch, but they didn’t go very far – the hounds were almost catatonic after yesterday’s adventures! Poor Bertie was very stiff and sore today, though I had put him on a course of houndie anti-inflammatories – he was wearing some protective booties (which, from experience, are an essential part of the boat’s first aid kit) so he just went off the boat for the essentials then went back to his bed to recuperate.

The weir at dusk - the high tide changed the landscape so dramatically :-)

The weir at dusk – the high tide changed the landscape so dramatically πŸ™‚

The river became increasingly busy as we cruised downstream, peaking at Sunbury lock, which was jam-packed with very random little hire boats. The lock-keeper at Sunbury did the most amazing bit of sardine packing – large trip boat “The Georgian” went in first, then a narrowboat pulled alongside, then a whole fleet of little hire boats and bigger cruisers lined the lock either side. We didn’t think we’d get in, but the lockie called us forward and wedged us in the middle – the rather tough filling in a sandwich of soft white boats! Some of the cruisers weren’t too impressed at being squashed in with a narrowboat, but the locking soon took on a party air as crews exchanged banter.

The lock-keeper did us a huge favour – because of the way he’d packed us in, we became the third boat out of the lock – this allowed us to head downstream apace and avoid getting tangled with the little hire boats!

We moored at Teddington in the early evening and we were soon joined by Sarah and Andy – they’d had a fab weekend in Liverpool and would be joining us for the trip down the tideway in the morning. The moorings were as sociable as ever as caught up with a few narrowboating friends who were also waiting for the tide. The high spring tide peaked just before 6pm and we suddenly experienced the silence of the weir as the tidewater overtopped the weir and flooded upstream – amazing! The lock-keepers just opened the lock and boats were able to pass straight onto the tideway – what a great experience that must be.

We had another lovely evening in Teddington – for simplicity’s sake we ate at the nearest pub – theΒ  mega-popular Anglers – just across the river. The garden was full of screaming children, but we found the calm oasis of the child-free area and had a good meal. We fessed up to Bertie’s adventure and Sarah was supremely magnanimous in forgiving us, though Archie is grounded forever as being the main perpetrator!

We were soon back at the boat and in our beds – we were worn out and had good night’s sleep – maybe because the weir was so quiet – until low tide at midnight!

Photoblog:

The demolition of the old bridge in Walton is proceeding apace...

The demolition of the old bridge in Walton is proceeding apace…

Sardines!

Sardines!

Another "duck" tour....

Another “duck” tour….

The high high tide made for some great sights - this canoe is on the downstream side of the weir!

The high high tide made for some great sights – this canoe is on the downstream side of the weir!

Dusk at Teddington - I always think it's the best time of day to be on the water...

Dusk at Teddington – I always think it’s the best time of day to be on the water…

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Dog Blog: Archie Beanz Secret Dossiers…

Posted by indigodream on 11 October, 2013

The name’s Beanz, Archie Beanz, superhound, looking out so you don’t have to…

Secret Dossier #6 – Surveillance Techniques

Covert surveillance is all very well, but sometimes you just need to be seen - an elevated position is ideal...

Covert surveillance is all very well, but sometimes you just need to be seen – an elevated position is ideal…

The classic "Titanic" surveillance position - looks good on a fast boat...

The classic “Titanic” surveillance position – looks good on a fast boat…

Let's try it - hmmm - this doesn't really work on a slow boat....

Let’s try it – hmmm – this doesn’t really work on a slow boat….

Uh, can you not make this boat go faster???

Uh, can you make this boat go faster???

Hmm, that looks like a better surveillance boat - Step-mummy Sue, they're not using that boat, go and get it for me....

Hmm, that looks like a better surveillance boat – Step-mummy Sue, they’re not using that boat, go and get it for me….

So what use is a slow boat? Aha, covert surveillance....

So what use is a slow boat? Aha, covert surveillance….

I work so hard to keep you safe....

I work so hard to keep you safe….

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Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (13)

Posted by indigodream on 10 October, 2013

Rewind to Saturday 24th August

Runnymeade to Windsor and back

The famous David - it's nice when celebrities can relax with their friends :-)

The famous David – it’s nice when celebrities can relax with their friends πŸ™‚

I don’t know where to start – we had such a horrible morning that I still get flashbacks, though, because this is a blog and not a thriller, I will issue a spoiler and say that no hounds were injured in the making of this drama…..

Today we were expecting a group of hound and human friends – Becky and David (who have been before – David is a very famous greyhound author!). Next came Kelly and Debbie with their hound Jack (who has a huge following on Facebook!) and Nicky, hu-mum to greyhound Ellabella.Β  Sadly, Ella hound couldn’t come today, so Nicky bought her niece Ella instead!

We were having an ordinary morning when disaster struck – I was on board with the hounds; Richard was pottering on the towpath when Archie hound suddenly saw a passing husky-type dog and went ballistic. Archie vaulted over the deck door, pursued blindly by Herbie and Bertie. Archie was beside himself with the husky but fortunately no harm was done on either side (though the husky would have been totally justified in ripping Archie’s ear off!). Richard and I yelled at the hounds and got Archie and Herbie back on board, but Bertie, who wasn’t the least bit interested in the husky, got thoroughly spooked and ran off down the towpath. Richard set off in hot pursuit; I secured the rest of the hounds indoors and also went off in pursuit.

That started a desperate chase, which must have lasted an hour, and involved Bertie running a circuit of around 4 miles – at least two of which were along the busy A30 which runs adjacent to the river. I have never been so desperate – I was sure that he would be killed, but by some miracle, and the kindness of the good people of Runnymeade, we got Bertie off the road and back to the towpath. But I’m ahead of myself – the drivers generally slowed down for Bertie, one gave Richard a lift along the road so that he could catch up with Bertie, some drivers that I talked to pulled in gently in front of Bertie to steer him off the road onto the path that led to the river. Another followed down the path to block off his retreat, yet another corralled him at the park. I got onto the back deck and opened the deck doors – to my immense relief, Bertie jumped back on board and went straight inside.

What a trooper! Ella was a natural on the helm and didn't seem to mind the rain..

What a trooper! Ella was a natural on the helm and didn’t seem to mind the rain..

I cannot thank the drivers of Runnymeade enough – not only did they NOT run Bertie down, they actively saved his life…

Bertie spend the next hour or more panting in a little den at the front of the boat – it took two bath towels to mop up the slobber. Having got him back, I was then afraid that he was injured or would burst his heart. But an inspection, when he’d calmed down, showed that he didn’t have any bruises or symptoms that he might have been winged by a car. His front pads were torn and, we found out later, his muscles were very sore indeed, but given the seriousness of his adventure, he was really unhurt!

In the meantime, Becky had her own dramas – her car had broken down the night before on her way to stay with Jack’s hu-mum’s – luckily close enough for them to rescue David while she waited for the breakdown van. Overnight, some n’er-do-well tried to steal her broken down car from outside of the repair place, breaking her lock and damaging the door. Becky was also worried about David – he’s an old boy and hasn’t been very well recently – he was unnaturally quiet on the boat (last time he came he was the life and soul of the party).

So it was quite a tense group that set out from Runnymeade, not helped by the weather – it started raining shortly after we left, got steadily worse as the day wore on but typically stopped after we’d moored up and said “goodbye” to our guests. We cruised up to Windsor – we girls (and hounds) mainly stayed indoors chatting about hounds; Richard did the manly thing, donned his waterproofs and steered the boat. I can’t remember how old Ella is, but she was a real trooper – Richard taught her how to helm and she stayed out in the rain for a large part of the afternoon – she loved it! The rest of us just poked our noses out when there was rope-work to be done at the locks.

Four black hounds - unimpressed by the rain - That's Jack in the galley - he was every excited to be allowed so close to the food!

Four black hounds – unimpressed by the rain – That’s Jack in the galley – he was every excited to be allowed so close to the food!

We stopped for lunch in Windsor and had intended to have a bimble around with the hounds and take some photos of David meeting the queen. But it was too wet for bimbling, and for photographs. We thought that the queen might make an effort to come down to the boat (being as we had the famous David on board) but she never turned up!

We turned back downstream – I was a bit disappointed, it had been a short and emotional trip – I’d so hoped that we would have a long and joyful cruise; though our polite guests said they’d enjoyed themselves regardless! We did find out that Jack greyhound lives in East London, within easy cruising distance of Limehouse, so we hope that he’ll come again. Needless to say, the hounds were the stars of the show – we thought that Henry, Archie and Bertie were going to be stolen away at the end of the day; no-one ever wants Ollie – mainly because he just says “talk to the paw, I’ve got my mum” and absolutely refuses to tart like the others (though Bertie obviously got the sympathy vote today).

We said “goodbye” to our guests around 5pm – just as the rain stopped. We gave one microsecond’s consideration to moving a bit further downstream but we decided to stay put – keeping a close eye on all hounds – we certainly didn’t want any more adventures. Ha ha! We were about to settle down for the evening when I spotted fresh blood on the sofa – quite a bit of it! A quick inspection showed that Henry had ripped his dew claw – sigh! But this is a typical greyhound injury and one which we were well-equipped to deal with, though neither of us had the stomach to pull off the crooked nail. However I could bathe it and put a dressing over it to stop it from catching on anything.

We gave up and went to bed – it seemed like the safest option πŸ™‚

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Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (12)

Posted by indigodream on 9 October, 2013

Rewind to Friday 23rd August

Cookham to Runnymeade

View towards Cliveden - one of my favourite stretches of river...

View towards Cliveden – one of my favourite stretches of river…

We weren’t in such a rush to leave this morning as we only needed to get as far as Runnymeade. So there was time for the extended pack had a mini-adventure and for the three crews to congregate on the towpath again for morning coffees and yet more chat. We could have stayed there all day – our departure made all the harder by the fact that we might not see these crews for another year or more (especially nb Matilda Rose, who are heading for France next year!).

In the end, Graham had to get assertive and motivate all three boat crews (not just us) to get moving – town moorings are at a premium and if they didn’t leave soon they risked not getting a place in Marlow. We moved off at 10.30am and headed downstream – we filled with water at Cookham Lock and got a pumpout at Boveney Lock. There was a bit of a queue at Bray but we used the time profitably to feed the hounds on the towpath. It’s much easier to feed the extended pack on land – especially as Sarah’s hounds need to wee immediately after eating!

I have NO notes from the day apart from “the new crew were very subdued” and that the weather was “hot and heavy”!

We had planned to take the boat down to Staines for shopping then turn back upstream to Runnymeade. But as we passed the Rynnymeade moorings, we notice that there were only a few spaces left – we couldn’t risk losing them so we moored up and I got a cab to/from Sainsbury’s in Staines to top up with food for the guests that we were expecting tomorrow.

Although the moorings in Staines are usually quiet, we were disturbed by the distressed barking of a dog overnigh, it went on and on…..it was too much. I got up at 4am and went to find this poor dog. After some searching (in pyjamas, of course!), I found that the distressed dog was a puppy that had been left outside all night. It had a bed on a porch, but it was cool night and raining – I wouldn’t have left my hounds outside! The owners of the house either weren’t there or didn’t mind that their dog was barking incessantly through the night – Bah!Β  And even more Bah! that there was nothing I could do for the poor puppy….

Photoblog:

Big development going up on the Eton side of Windsor - must look at our photos - I'm sure we won't recognise the bank view when this is done...

Big development going up on the Eton side of Windsor – must look at our old photos – I’m sure we won’t recognise the bank view when this is done…

Ah, now it looks like a bank holiday weekend...

Ah, now it looks like a bank holiday weekend…

Not that's what I call a barbecue - this new-build house has a summerhouse that could swallow our whole house with room to spare!

Now that’s what I call a barbecue – this new-build house has a summerhouse that could swallow our whole house with room to spare!

Imagine a mooring with a hoist strong enough for a narrowboat - that would be fun!

Imagine a mooring with a hoist strong enough for a narrowboat – that would be fun!

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Dog Blog: Archie Beanz Secret Dossiers…

Posted by indigodream on 8 October, 2013

The name’s Beanz, Archie Beanz, here to keep the nation safe from terrorists – like ducks…..

Secret Dossier # 5 – recognising the enemy…

"They look well dodgy Archie" "Sigh...no, Step-mummy Suem they're good guys in disguise - it is  a good disguise though...."

“They look well dodgy Archie”
“Sigh…no, Step-mummy Sue they’re good guys in disguise – it is a good disguise though….”

Sigh – you civilians are SO naive – you’re surrounded by dodgy characters but you just don’t know how to spot them – just as well you’ve got a super special agent to keep you safe. I’m misunderstood and unappreciated, but that’s the price you pay in this job – sigh…..

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“ARCHIE BEANZ YOU ARE A DISGRACE!”

“Hmmm, what’s that Step-mummy Sue?”

Bertie "the muscle" - named muscle always lives to be in the next episode....

Bertie “the muscle” – named muscle always lives to be in the next episode….

“YOU WENT FOR AN INNOCENT HUSKY TYPE; YOU JUMPED OFF THE BOAT; YOU LED HERBIE HOUND ASTRAY AND YOU ALMOST GOT BERTIE KILLED”

“I know, all in the call of duty”

“DUTY…..DUTY…??”

“Oh yes, Step-mummy Sue, Husky types are all terrorists”

“WHAT??”

“Oh yes, you can tell because they walk with their tails up and their bottoms on show”

“But what about all the labradors we’re passed?”

“They were true blue Brits”

“and all the yappy sausage dogs that you’ve totally ignored?”

“Purleese – they’re just a sideshow….”

“So what you’re telling me is that you only bark and go ballistic if they’re known terrorists”

“Or suspected, of course, no use waiting until you’ve got evidence, who know what they’d get up to. But don’t worry Step-mummy Sue, there’s no need to feel guilty, there’s no expecting you to recognise terrorists, you haven’t had the training…”

“GUILTY? GUILTY? YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE FEELING GUILTY – YOU GOT BERTIE INTO TROUBLE, HE RAN MILES ALONG THE A30, HE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED”

“Turn the volume down, Step-Mummy Sue, after all, Bertie’s not even a OO, he’s just the muscle…”

“JUST THE….WAAAAAAH”

“And anyway, he wasn’t killed, he came back and he was just fine, so he’s not the, you know, expendable muscle, he’s like the named comedy muscle, like, uh, ‘jaws’ in those human movies based on my life….”

The name's Beanz, Archie Beanz, you can't afford to lose sleep over every little thing when you're a special agent....

The name’s Beanz, Archie Beanz, you can’t afford to lose sleep over every little thing when you’re a special agent….

“You are hopeless Archie – I’m not talking to you any more…”

“Excellent, I need some peace and quiet, now rub my tummy….”

“No”

“Go on, rub my tummy..”

“You know you want to….”

“No”

“Go on, rub my tummy…”

“Oh Archie, you are incorrigible…”

Sigh – I’m so misunderstood and unappreciated…..

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Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (11)

Posted by indigodream on 2 October, 2013

Rewind to Thursday 22nd August

Goring to Cookham

Hordes going to the Reading Festival - it was like this for miles!

Hordes going to the Reading Festival – it was like this for miles!

There was apocalyptic rainfall overnight, which made me a bit concerned about the river level. A short narrowboat has brested up to us last night and had moored with their centre rope slung across our roof to the bank. If the river came up, their rope would push us down. I needn’t have worried – the river effortlessly absorbed the rainfall, though I did check the ropes in the middle of the night just in case!

We had to be up early today as Sarah needed and Andy needed to get away to Liverpool. Sarah’s birthday dawned rain-washed but fair – the hounds woke up first – Sarah and I had a pyjama walk along the towpath. Given my experience with Ollie in Staines, we decided to wear soft day clothes as pyjamas so we only looked modestly eccentric, though some would say that just the fact of walking 5 greyhounds makes us eccentric regardless πŸ™‚

Sarah and Andy set off around 9am, while I went up to the vets to sort out the dispensing error. I was deeply unimpressed by the receptionist, who accused the vet of putting on the wrong strength on the label (which she hadn’t) rather than admitting she had put the wrong strength of tablets in the bottle! They didn’t have the strength I needed, so we plumped for double the quantity of the lower strength that they had in stock; then she and the nurse couldn’t work out how to label them. In the end, I explained to them that I was a pharmacist and that if they gave me enough of the tablets them I was very happy with how to administer them. I was cross – mistakes happen, that’s ok, but in this case, things were put right in a pretty ham-fisted way! Would I use the vet at Goring again? Yes – the vets are great, but I’ll be checking any medication before I leave the surgery!

This is the woman who was swimming the length of the Thames for charity - the board was very visible and protected her from passing traffic. Sadly I can'd find her charity - a google search is overwhelmed by David Walliams stories :-(

This is the woman who was swimming the length of the Thames for charity – the board was very visible and protected her from passing traffic. Sadly I can’d find her charity – a google search is overwhelmed by David Walliams stories 😦

The vet debacle made our start a bit later than planned, but still substantially earlier than on any other day of the holiday so we couldn’t complain!

We now had to race down to Reading, where we were due to pick up Cyril and Kate for another mini-cruise. As we approached Reading, we were amazed to see thousands of young people lining the towpath. We’d completely forgotten that the Reading Festival was happening at the weekend, and we had no idea that so many people attended! Many looked weary with the long walk and queued for the entrepreneurial, impromptu, and possibly illegal, ferry service set up by youth with small boats! Many were carrying camping gear – others had resorted to the strategy of carrying nothing, wearing wellies and very little else – I had a wry thought that they’d undoubtedly find a place to sleep πŸ˜€

We picked Kate and Cyril up above Caversham Lock and set off downriver – they’d insisted on providing lunch (yum!) so we stopped above Sonning Lock so that we could do justice to the fine food they’d brought.

We had an exceptionally convivial trip down to Henley, where we dropped them off with minutes to spare for their bus home. We’ve really enjoyed cruising with them and hope that we can offer them another cruise sometime.

We noted in passing that there were warning signs at the locks – the prime moorings at Beale Park were apparently besieged by wasps’ nests. We’d spoken to a boater yesterday that had been assailed by the pests – unsurprisingly, hammering a mooring pin into a wasps nest really winds them up!

Once we’d dropped Kate and Cyril off, we had the big rush to get to Cookham for our next social engagement – an evening with the crews of nb Matilda Rose and nb No Problem – click on their links for some fab photos!

It was a bit of a dash, but we got there just before dark – nb Matilda Rose and nb No Problem had found a prime mooring spot and they shuffled out so that we could get in towpath side (to offload the greyhounds). We got the dogs introduced – our five greyhounds, Ollie, Henry, Archie, Herbie and Bertie; Matilda Rose’s tibetan terriers Baxter and Muttley, No Problem’s collies Meg and Penny and their guest labradors, Buddy and Tilley – so that’s a combined pack of 11 dogs! The hounds got on famously and we’d soon colonised the towpath with deckchairs, dog beds, drinks and another chinese takeaway for the Indigo Dreamers. Graham got his banjolele out and showed us how much he’d learnt – pretty amazing for someone self-taught. We had a slight drama later on – nb No Problem’s Penny pup went missing! We called and called, but there was no sign of her – as a last resort we checked the boats and there she was – locked into Indigo Dream with the greyhounds – she must have sneaked in! That’s a testament to how relaxed the dogs were together πŸ™‚

It was a wonderful evening and I was sad when it came to an end – but it had been a long day and I couldn’t have stayed awake a moment longer…

Photoblog:

No that's a sight you don't often see - this cabin was being loaded onto the barge - who knows why??

No that’s a sight you don’t often see – this cabin was being loaded onto the barge – who knows why??

And this is where they seem to have ended up...

And this is where they seem to have ended up…

To support these bridge works near to Whitchurch lock presumably...

To support these bridge works near to Whitchurch lock presumably…

Impromptu concert to entertain the queues at Reading..

Impromptu concert to entertain the queues at Reading..

Equally impromptu water taxi!

Equally impromptu water taxi!

This newly landscaped garden had the excrutiatingly polite notice "sorry, no mooring please" - surely no need to apologise - it's your garden!

This newly landscaped garden had the excruciatingly polite notice “sorry, no mooring please” – surely no need to apologise – it’s your garden!

This made me laugh - that's just the size of stick that our first rescue dog, Honey, would have gone for! The hounds don't DO sticks!

This made me laugh – that’s just the size of stick that our first rescue dog, Honey, would have gone for! The greyhounds don’t DO sticks!

Someone's got a sense of humour :-D

Someone’s got a sense of humour πŸ˜€

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Dog Blog: Archie Beanz Secret Dossiers…

Posted by indigodream on 1 October, 2013

The name’s Beanz, Archie Beanz – Agent 008 and licensed to thrill – oh yes, ladies of the river, I’m coming your way…

Secret Dossier #4 – keeping in shape

Now, it may seem to you that my suave, sleek good looks come naturally – of course, I am gifted in that department, but a little maintenance doesn’t do any harm – you can see my full workout routine here

Maybe I should do a workout video – just need a laydee to star with me – what do you reckon Sally??

Working out with my personal trainer - free water swimming is so trendy these days...

Working out with my personal trainer – free water swimming is so trendy these days…

Of course, I am an accomplished swimmer...

Of course, I am an accomplished swimmer…

A good shake is part of the cool down and stretch routine - very important - that's cooling down the human standing next to you of course...

A good shake is part of the cool down and stretch routine – very important – that’s cooling down the human standing next to you of course…

M seems to think that we lack motivation - she insists that we have a coach to gee us up - oh allright then...

M seems to think that we lack motivation – she insists that we have a coach to gee us up – oh allright then…

A bit of competition between the 00s is a healthy thing wouldn't you say - as long as Henry has-Beanz doesn't beat me of course..

A bit of competition between the 00s is a healthy thing wouldn’t you say – as long as Henry has-Beanz doesn’t beat me of course..

Me personal trainer believes that good rub-down keeps the muscles warm and limber....

Me personal trainer believes that good rub-down keeps the muscles warm and limber….

And after a good rub-down, it's time to go back to the spa boat - my massuese is waiting..

And after a good workout it’s time to go back to the spa boat – my massuese is waiting..

Rest is such an important part of any fitness regime don't you think?

Rest is such an important part of any fitness regime don’t you think?

Proper nutrition is also vital - though there was some dispute as to the ownership of that mini-flake - Step-mummy Sue seemed to think it was HERS- mwahahahah...

Henry Beanz likes to use dietary supplements as part of his keep-fit routine. There was some dispute as to the ownership of that Cadburys flake – Step-mummy Sue seemed to think it was HERS – mwahahahaha…

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