Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Archive for May 17th, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 10

Posted by indigodream on 17 May, 2014

Please support us - even a tiny donation can put a smile on a retired greyhound's face..

Please support us – even a tiny donation can put a smile on a retired greyhound’s face..

Friday 2nd May

nb Mary Beth - THE 4-greyhound boat :-)

nb Mary Beth – THE 4-greyhound boat πŸ™‚

I’ve had a very strange week – when I got home from the boat last Sunday my ears felt stuffed, like they do when I’ve been on an aeroplane – but the top of the Buckby flight isn’t that high! By Monday I was in bed with vertigo, tinnitus and feeling really peculiar. When it persisted into Tuesday I thought a trip to the GP might be in order – the more reassuring diagnosis was “a viral infection of the inner ear” which I hope will pass quickly. The alternative diagnosis “it’s just one of those things” was less reassuring :-p

So, I’ve been off work and in bed for most of the week – driving was out of the question, so Richard had to transport us up to the boat. The M25 was horrible at 7pm so we waited until it had cleared and eventually had a good drive, though I felt so ill on the trip that I almost asked Richard to turn back several times. We arrived at Buckby top around 11.30pm but the car park was full so we had to settle for a lay-by on the brutally fast A5.

Mooring a little way down from the road seemed like a good idea last week, but walking down the towpath in the pitch dark while being tied in knots by greyhounds and making sure that they didn’t accidentally wander off the path straight into the canal was a bit of a trial. I could have cried with relief when we got to the boat and I could get back to bed again.

Saturday 3rd May

Buckby Flight (Bridge 12) to Long Itchington

Uh, Archie, Henry - do you want to come back to your boat now?

Uh, Archie, Henry – do you want to come back to your boat now?

Although last night was a sore trail, I’ve very glad that we made it up to the boat. I had a treat on Saturday morning – Richard got up early and cycled down the flight to meet Roger and Margaret with greyhound crew Bass and Shari to help nb Mary Beth back up the flight. In the meantime, I had a lovely lie-in with the hounds – Archie and Ollie are very good for beddy cuddles (although they do take up a large bit of bed); but today I was joined by Herbie Beanz, who seems to have learnt his beddy cuddle technique from a different sort of geezer, starting by enthusiastically and noisily licking his private parts before offering me a sloppy houndie kiss – ah, no thanks Herbs.

I was settled in for a nice all-morning snooze when I got a text from Richard – they were flying up the flight! I got dressed hastily and Richard came to pick Archie and Henry up for some adventures. The two enjoyed a run down to the lock below then cadged a lift back up the flight with nb Mary Beth. Roger looked so proud as he passed Indigo Dream and said “we’re the four greyhound boat now” – needless to say the hounds looked totally smug about it all!

I quickly got Indigo Dream into gear and joined nb Mary Beth for the trip up the top lock. It didn’t take long, but we had time to exchange fond farewells and reclaim Sarah’s hounds. They moved onto their mooring, just a short way up the Leicester Arm, while we stopped at the water point to top up our tank. The hounds enjoyed an extended session of reverse gongoozling i.e. sitting on a boat and watching the world go by on the towpath πŸ™‚

With a long lock-free pound in front of us, we decided to do an early car shuffle. I felt much better this morning, so I took the car, along with Henry and Archie, along to Braunston. Herbie and Ollie had to stay on board – the walk at the other end would be too far for Ollie; Herbie, disturbingly, was very lame after having his corns pared on Thursday – this was a BIG worry. In the meantime, Richard finished watering up and took the boat off through the tunnel.

Green and black - tunnels of trees and stone...

Green and black – tunnels of trees and stone…

I parked by the marina and walked up the towpath towards Braunston top, having had some really helpful advice from Ben from CRT. The hounds enjoyed the walk immensely and got a lot of fuss and attention – Archie was in his element!

I did have some drama when the hound refused to walk over the stepped footbridge over one of the marina entrances. At first, they both refused to go over; then Archie decided that he could, but Henry wouldn’t, so now I was standing at the bottom of the bridge having my arm pulled out of its socket by Archie trying to reach the top of the bridge; meanwhile my other arm was also in danger of detachment as Henry shied away from the steps. How do I get into these daft situations???? Eventually, I had to drag Henry onto the steps and then drag them both down the other side. Greyhounds and stairs – it’s a long story – I’ll get one of the hounds to tell you about it one day! A little further one had to have a conversation with Henry, who told me that he loved chicken……….as we walked past a canalside pen full of the feathery fowl……..hmm, yes, there’s a difference between loving chicken and loving chickens Henry Beanz πŸ™‚

After these delays, I was afraid that we’d literally “miss the boat” but we got to Braunston top just a few minutes after Indigo Dream had arrived there – perfect timing!

Braunston had just the right amount of traffic, there were boats coming up at most of the locks so they were open and set our way. We shared locks with a competent single-hander in nb Kingfisher. I was very proud of the greyhounds – nb Kingfisher had an exceptionally yappy little dog on the back deck who almost turned herself inside-out with excitement at every lock. Herbie ran up on deck to check whether the high-pitched noise was from a squeaky toy that he could eviscerate – when he realised it was a dog he just looked at it with total disdain and went back to his sofa. Henry and Archie also seemed to feel that the noisy little thing was beneath their contempt and were soon sleeping off their busy morning.

Braunston was it’s usual busy self below the bottom lock – we’d thought of mooring up to visit Tradline for some new ropes, but the visitor moorings were jam-packed. Luckily we’re not desperate, but it would be nice to have a couple of spares. We did have a sneaky stop on a vacant residential mooring a little further along, where we tortured passersby with the delectable smell of bacon sandwiches! We weren’t there for long – it was time for the next car shuffle. This time Richard cycled back for the car with the aim of heading for Bridge 107 and I headed off along the long lock-free pound between Braunston and Calcutt Top Lock.

It was a lovely afternoon – warm and sunny. It was hardly surprising, then, that the canal was busy with boaters making the best of the day – both hirers and privateers coming out to play, presumably from Napton and Wigram’s Turn. The towpath was well occupied with boats and their attendant crew loafing on deckchairs on the towpath – it was a golden afternoon. I can hardly blame people for mooring here – at one point I turned the engine off and there was complete silence. Not that it lasted, the constant passing of gruffing diesel boat engines soon disturbed the peace.

Indigo Dream - fast approaching her 8th birthday and looking mighty fine :-)

Indigo Dream – fast approaching her 8th birthday and looking mighty fine πŸ™‚

It was slow going past the moored boats, so for a while I kept pace with two walkers on the towpath – we got chatting – they had a fascination for boats but hadn’t been boating, so I offered them a lift. They were enchanted by the boat and by the hounds. They didn’t stay for long, but they said it had made their day – happy to oblige πŸ™‚

I cruised on, indulging in a little flight of fancy as the green abundance of the luxuriant south-facing hedgerows turned to the sun like glamour models to the camera’s flash, while the squat and shady north-facing shrubs looked on with hunger and envy.

There are some prodigious bends along this stretch and a few substantial shoals – difficult terrain for hirers, especially those with 70′ boats that don’t bend in the middle! Indigo Dream was untroubled, but we did have a few delays while waiting for longer boats to sort themselves out on the bends.

My trip took a long time, so it was just as well that Richard parked the car by Bridge 104, shortening his cycle ride back by a substantial amount! I picked him up just past Bridge 101 and we travelled together to the Calcutt Locks. It was much quieter past the turn – Archie enjoyed a run at the locks and played nicely with a young staffie who was well up for a game!

It was a slow and almost lonely trip to Stockton Top – I hadn’t remembered there being so many moored boats along this stretch. Nonetheless, we arrived with plenty of daylight left and joined nb Mistletoe who had kindly waited for us at the second lock for the trip down the flight. nb Mistletoe was mummy and daddy’s boat, being taken down to Long Itchington for the weekend by daughter and a crew of friends. They were very competent locking partners – especially the helmswoman, who took to my suggestion of tandem manoeuvres with aplomb – this considerably speeded our passage down the main flight. We did have on slight dog-induced delay – Archie was transfixed by the sight of a baby rabbit on the offside at one of the locks – he stared at it for ages then suddenly he was off! Over the deck door, onto the lockside and racing towards the woods – except he hadn’t realised that there was a redundant lock chamber full of water between him and the bunny! We yelled, and, because he has good recall and good reflexes he skidded to a halt just before nose-diving into the water – phew! Now we know Archie can swimΒ  (look to the paragraphs by the photo of Sarah driving the boat) but we were very pleased that he managed to avoid a dunking!

The smell of chips from the pub was intoxicating - they could usefully set up a cruise by service - I order a take-away portion of chips at the top and collect them at the bottom :-)

The smell of chips from the pub was intoxicating – they could usefully set up a cruise by service – I order a take-away portion of chips at the top and collect them at the bottom πŸ™‚

Our target for the day was Long Itchington – pub central! We’d finally managed to time our visit with their infamous beer festival – we’ve passed by on many occasions but never at quite the right time. We were concerned that we wouldn’t get a mooring, but to our astonishment there was a prime space at the bottom of the Cuttle pub garden. We moved in, looking round for the catch, but there wasn’t one! Richard was concerned that it would be too noisy – there was very loud music coming across from the Two Boats pub opposite, but I decided that this was a prime mooring, and that complaining about loud music when we’d intentionally come to the village for a beer festival seemed hopelessly middle-aged, so we stayed put! This proved to be a wise decision – as we found out the following morning, there wasn’t another mooring for about a mile down the towpath. By 11pm, the music had long since stopped, the pubs had closed and the pub garden had become too chilly for most revellers so we actually had a remarkably peaceful night!

I wasn’t sure what to expect of a beer festival – a little one local to us consisted of a village hall full of miscellaneous barrels haunted by bearded real-ale enthusiasts quietly going from vertical to horizontal – there was no facility for taking beer away so that you could get horizontal in your own home!

However, Long Itchington is a festival with a difference – its motto is:

  • One Village
  • Six Pubs
  • Four days

The entire village was one giant pub crawl – mainly filled with young people and hardly a beard or a real ale in sight!

Ollie, Henry and Archie - this is THE photo of the day :-D

Ollie, Henry and Archie – this is THE photo of the day πŸ˜€

We started at the Cuttle, well, it seemed polite as we were mooring there. The hounds were an instant hit and we were soon surrounded by children who were fascinated by their sheer size and beauty. The dogs were very good indeed, especially when we had to shoo the kids away from the dogs’ dinners! The whole crew shared a few burgers, the only food available at the pub. It wasn’t very satisfying, so we decided to go off in search of more food. But first we had to take Herbie back to the boat – he was in great distress with his foot – the paring of his corns seemed to have left him very sore and he was quite literally hopping on 3 legs. Putting a soft boot on to protect his foot produced distress beyond all measure – he seemed convinced that I’d chopped his leg off – oh dear! He just wasn’t up for walking so we put him back on the boat with some super-painkillers and a pile of chewsticks – he seemed very happy πŸ™‚

We took Ollie, Archie and Henry off on a pub crawl – we popped across to the Two Boats, where, once again, the hounds were a big hit! But there was no food that Richard fancied (pies only) so we moved on. I was a bit reluctant – the other pubs were quite a walk away in the main village, and the medicine I was taking for my vertigo meant that I couldn’t drink, so the festival was a bit wasted on me. Nonetheless, we joined the great exodus into the village, around half a mile away, to visit the Duck on the Pond. This pub had a very good soloist and a superior food tent, which, after a while, rustled us up a couple of decent kebabs.

We had three pubs left to explore in the village, but by now I’d reached the end of my “can’t drink in a beer festival” tether and persuaded everyone to come back to the boat. The hounds didn’t mind, they’d had a busy day, and despite their fluffy coats and sheepskin beds, they were getting a bit chilly.

When we got back, we found a contented Herbie who didn’t want to move from his sofa – the others soon settled into their beds. Richard was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow; I stayed awake a bit longer to monitor the noise levels – there was low-level chatter from the pub garden but that faded and disappeared by 10.45pm – wonderful πŸ™‚

Photoblog:

nb Mary Beth's new artwork - a birthday present for Roger - looks lovely :-)

nb Mary Beth’s new artwork – a birthday present for Roger – looks lovely πŸ™‚

Bye bye Bess and Shari - hope we see you again soon :-)

Bye bye Bess and Shari – hope we see you again soon πŸ™‚

I like this front door - wonder if we could get one too?

I like this front door – wonder if we could get one too?

nb Kingfisher - the canine crewmember was happy to have the skipper back on board..

nb Kingfisher – the canine crewmember was happy to have the skipper back on board..

So Greygal, are you going to rename Rosie or do you need to get Archie a new cruising companion called Meg??

So Greygal, are you going to rename Rosie or do you need to get Archie a new cruising companion called Meg??

Companionable cruising with nb Mistletoe :-)

Companionable cruising with nb Mistletoe πŸ™‚

The hounds taking the beer festival in their stride - and you can see what a great mooring we've got :-)

The hounds taking the beer festival in their stride – and you can see what a great mooring we’ve got πŸ™‚

The end of the pub crawl - time to go home I think boys :-)

The end of the pub crawl – time to go home I think boys πŸ™‚

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »