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Archive for May 1st, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 5

Posted by indigodream on 1 May, 2014

Saturday 26th April

Hunton Bridge to Berkhamstead

This is the old papermill site at Nash Mills - I wasn't expecting to see that pile of rubble, I though the development would be finished by now...

This is the old papermill site at Nash Mills – I wasn’t expecting to see that pile of rubble, I though the development would be finished by now…

A few weeks ago, Greygal challenged me to work out how many greyhounds had now become Indigo Dreamers. I set to working it out and an astounding 33 greyhounds and 12 “honorary greyhounds” have cruised with us since she was launched in 2006.Β  Of course, 17 of those greyhounds belong(ed) to me and Sarah, but that’s still a lot of guest hounds…:-)

This morning I woke up early, mainly prompted by a general greyhound commotion – Ty and Ollie are not early risers but the Beanz clan are a lot more lively, though we’ll see how long that lasts as the odyssey progresses. I’ve now taken to sleeping in pyjamas that look vaguely like clothes, so I was able to don a pair of trainers and take the five hounds out for a walk – my idea was to have a short bimble for essentials then get back to bed. But Ollie had different ideas! Regular readers will know that Ollie is 99% reliable off lead, but every now and then he decides he wants to go somewhere (Plan O, as Greygal calls it).

This morning Ollie headed determinedly up the towpath towards North Grove Lock. Ollie’s old, so I could easily catch him, but not when towing Ty, Henry, Archie and Henry along on their leads. They needed time to sniff, and wee, and poo, and to tie my knees together with their leads with an intricate weave that maypole dance choreographers would weep to achieve! I wasn’t too worried, there’s nowhere along that stretch where Ollie could come to harm, but we did end up walking over a mile further than I’d intended. Ollie had planned the trip out, but he was distinctly unimpressed at having to walk back – it was all too much for him and he hardly left his bed for the rest of the day!

I had planned to go back to back to bed, but by the time I got back to the boat I was thoroughly awake, so we had a rare early start!

Sharing locks with the delightful nb Blackbird...

Sharing locks with the delightful nb Blackbird…

At first, we had the locks to ourselves, and had a lovely time; Henry and Archie (muzzled) got to run along the towpath behind Richard’s bike – this was a great adventure!

We were in for a treat at Apsley. We’ve been keeping in touch with boating friends via Twitter and Facebook, so we knew that Carrie of nb Blackbird was in Apsley; she was planning to move north with Simon (crew and soul mate) – exciting news! We joined them above Apsely Lock and cruised with them to Berkhamstead – from the minute they joined us, the day became magic encased in a jewel – they’re fantastic locking companions and simply the loveliest people. But there was more to come….

At Fisheries Lock, we rang old friends Margaret and Roger, slaves to greyhounds Bess and Shari – they walked down from Berkhamstead and joined us just above Winkwell Swingbridge. So, now we were sharing the day with four wonderful canal people AND we had seven black greyhounds on board – priceless.

I can’t describe how special an afternoon it was, bathed in sunshine and friendship. The hounds drew a lot of attention, as always, and no-one could guess how many we had on board until they popped up on deck! Simon has written a lovely blog post about the day here…

Black dogs playing twister on the back deck...

Black dogs playing twister on the back deck…

Ty learnt some unwelcome new tricks today – he was a mega-miserable jellyboy, panting and dribbling the whole time he was on board. He’s very scared of the engine and normally stays indoors when the engine’s running. But today he decided that the odd bit of clanging/banging in the locks was more scary than the engine so he started running up on deck. This is not a good thing, a panicky, unpredictable Ty on deck while I’m trying to manage the boat in the lock is stressful. Even more so when he learnt a new trick, that the dog-proof deck doors are no barrier when they’re at a level with the top of a lock wall. He hopped off unexpectedly! Luckily he jumped off onto the offside of a lock which had no exits to the road/towpath and ran straight to Richard (he hadn’t meant to – he was just in a panic) so Ty was soon caught. Uh oh, these two simple new behaviours would need hugely increased levels of vigilance from us in order to keep Ty safe 😦

In the meantime, Richard walked Ty, and the Beanz’s to the next lock, about a mile away, in the hope that wearing Ty out with exercise and some time off the boat would calm him down. Ollie stayed on board, his muscles aren’t up for that long a walk, well, not another one!

We had planned to go a little further than Berkhamstead today, but Margaret and Roger invited us to aΒ  houndie house party at theirs – we couldn’t refuse! So we moored up early near Bridge 143 – Ty went off with Bess and Shari and had the rest of the afternoon at their house – he enjoyed it immensely! In the meantime, Simon and Carrie had moved a little further along to find a mooring a little nearer to the Rising Sun pub.

I had planned a car shuffle, but when I went to wash my hands the questions of “do we need to fill the water tank” was answered by the cough and splutter of an empty tap – oh! We needed to fill up urgently….

Happy days :-)

Happy days πŸ™‚

We moved the boat up to the handy waterpoint by the unnamed footbridge (between Bridge 143 and Rising Sun Lock) – it’s subtly located by the filling station on the left and gives excellent access to the garage shop! I stayed on board and fed the hounds while the tank was filling, took them for a little bimble, and topped up the boat’s sugar supplies. With all the basic chores done, I left Richard to finish the water and walked up to the train station. It’s just a 15 minute train journey from Berkhamstead to Watford and a very brief cab ride to where the car was parked in Croxley – very efficient. I was soon back in Berkhamstead, found a handy parking space right by the Rising Sun pub and joined Richard, Carrie, Simon and the hounds for a pre-dinner drinkie. Five black greyhounds sprawled on their sheepskins outside the pub drew a LOT of attention and they behaved immaculately, even when they were being mobbed by two tiny retriever puppies at the next table. One woman commented on how soft their sheepskins looked, she said her bum was numb from sitting on the pub’s metal garden chair. The hounds looked at her in astonishment, did she think they were going to share their sheepies – think again lady!

At 7pm we moved on to the last adventure of the day – dinner with Roger and Margaret – they’d kindly invited the hounds too, so all seven had a magnificent run around their garden before stretching out all over the lounge floor. Everyone looked to very happy – especially Ty, who’d had an afternoon in a house – his favourite! We had the loveliest evening talking boating and greyhounds. The hounds had loads of fuss – Margaret and Roger looked as if being surrounded by six slumbering hounds had made their dreams come true. They were even enchanted by Henry’s drinking from the milk jug then the dregs from Margaret’s coffee cup – he’s so embarrassing (but he really likes tea/coffee!).

We had to drag the hounds back to the boat. Ty and Herbie had found comfortable spots and Ollie was fast asleep – only Henry and Archie showed the slightest interest in coming with us. We did think about leaving Ty there, but it seemed like a bit of an imposition (though they’d have gladly taken him in!). In fact, all the slumbering hounds were invited to stay, but we didn’t think we’d get them back again πŸ™‚

We got back to the boat at 10pm-ish – we were all contentedly exhausted – what a wonderful day it was πŸ™‚


North Grove Lock looking a bit moth-eaten - uh. big moth..

North Grove Lock looking a bit moth-eaten – uh. big moth..

I wonder whether Ollie would prefer to be an only hound?? :-)

I wonder whether Ollie would prefer to be an only hound?? πŸ™‚

Six happy hounds on deck - sorry, that's just not enough...

Six happy hounds on deck – sorry, that’s just not enough…

Seven - that's more like it - an there's always room for more :-)

Seven – that’s more like it – an there’s always room for more πŸ™‚

I love this portrait :-)

I love this portrait πŸ™‚

This is the waterpoint - cunningly disguised as a filling station...

This is the waterpoint – cunningly disguised as a filling station…



Have you had a good day Bess? :-)

Have you had a good day Bess? πŸ™‚

Oh Beanz, you've got no manners! Archie and Henry helping themselves to tea and milk - sigh!

Oh Beanz, you’ve got no manners! Archie and Henry helping themselves to tea and milk – sigh!




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