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Archive for May 21st, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 12

Posted by indigodream on 21 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..

 

Saturday 17th May

The main Hatton flight - great view :-)

The main Hatton flight – great view πŸ™‚

This weekend we had a few birthdays to celebrate – mine and Al (nb Derwent 6) today and, of course, Indigo Dream was launched 8 years ago on the 16th May – happy birthday Indigo Dream πŸ™‚

We got the day off to a non-flying start with a long lie-in and a relaxed morning at home. There was no rush – we’d decided not to cruise on Saturday – mainly because of some typically complicated dog-swap arrangements. Now, are you paying attention? Sarah aka Greygal had generously offered to drive Archie and Henry down to us so we’d have three-quarters of the canine Challenge crew here i.e Herbie, Henry and Archie; she’d also be collecting Ty and Ollie who would be staying at her house during the BCN Challenge. She was coming at lunchtime and I would drive up to the boat once we had the hounds sorted.

While I was enjoying a leisurely lunch with Sarah, Richard was driving up to the boat by himself to start on our pre-Challenge to-do list. He didn’t leave until 11am so there was a whisker of a disconnect between the length of the list and the time available, but isn’t there always?!

Once the dog swap was sorted, I had an exceptionally good drive up to Saltisford with the hounds and arrived by 5.15pm. As we walked towards the boat we met another boater who was delighted to see the greyhounds – they had two diminutive Italian Greyhounds and were eager to bring them out to meet our pack. The hounds were very good together – the Italian Greyhounds (Lexus and Harley) were playful and excited, pawing at their elephantine cousins’ faces and dispensing Iggy kisses – the greyhounds endured it with great dignity!

Anyone for a walk? No? Well, it is a bit hot...

Anyone for a walk? No? Well, it is a bit hot…

Richard had made good progress on the to-do list, though he had one job left to do before we could find some dinner – pressure-washing the waxy white exudate that the overhanging trees had liberally deposited on the boat – it was tough stuff to remove and by the following morning the trees had dumped some more! But that job was soon done and, as birthday girl, dinner was my choice πŸ™‚ I really fancied a Pizza Hut takeaway – prompted in part by the fact that Richard had given me the DVDs of Series 3 of “A game of thrones” – we needed a night in!

On the way to get our pizza we dropped in to say hello to Jo and Keith on nb Hadar – we left the greyhounds on board – I’m sure an encounter with Marmite the cat would put an end to a beautiful friendship! We had a delightful hour with them – so nice to meet at last and even nicer to see Keith looking so well after his recent illness. We could have chatted all evening, but our tummies were rumbling, so we had to move on πŸ™‚

The first episode of the Game of Thrones (series 3) was as gripping as ever – I’ve read some of the books before, but reached the extent of my foreknowledge at the end of Series 2 – it’s all new territory now πŸ™‚

Sunday 18th May

Saltisford Arm to Knowle Top Lock

View down the Knowle flight - it's beautiful...

View down the Knowle flight – it’s beautiful…

We had a relaxed start to the day, successfully ignoring Archie’s pleas for beddy cuddles at 6.30am! I couldn’t ignore the three-hound commotion at 8.30am and took them out for a pyjama walk to do the essentials. Richard and I were mooching around, thinking we had plenty of time to get to Catherine de Barnes. It was only when we were working out parking for the day’s car shuffles that we realised – IT WAS 39 LOCK MILES! Better get moving!

We started with the first car shuffle of the day – we bundled the hounds into the cars and both drove up to Rowington. We left one in the pub car park, with the firm intention of stopping there for lunch (there were many walkers parking there for the canal) then we took one car (and the hounds!) back to the boat. But there was no rushing our departure from Saltisford- we’d already paid for our mooring (Β£5 a night after the first free night – what a bargain!) and we’d paid for a pump-out, so we got that done on the way out.

We eventually got to the bottom of the Hatton flight at 11.50am – oops!

It was an absolutely stunning day, so I’d expected the Hatton flight to be busy, but there was only us going up and we met one boat coming down! This made it hard work for Richard; for some reason, all but one of the locks was set against us. On the other hand, being a single boat meant I could practice one gate lock entries at some speed – essential training for the BCN Challenge! There were plenty of walkers along the flight and the greyhounds got a lot of attention as always. Sadly, we were almost at the top of the flight before it occurred to us to start handing out our fundraising cards – d’oh!

Richard's bike after the long fall into the side-pound - oops!

Richard’s bike after the long fall into the side-pound – oops!

The hounds had the odd bimble – even Herbie could be off-lead on the lock islands, but they weren’t really interested – it was too hot, and their boat beds really are very comfortable! Instead of racing for the horizon, Herbie used his freedom to jump straight back on board!

By our standards, we’d had a slow passage up the locks; it got even slower at the penultimate lock – while Richard was setting the last lock I heard a horrible knocking noise from the propeller. When he investigated, Richard found a well-tangled fishing net round the prop with pole attached. He managed to get the net off but the pole floated off somewhere – hope it doesn’t find someone else’s prop. While Richard was clearing the prop, I took the hounds for a bimble and offered to work the last lock. This did not work out quite as I planned! As well as steering three curious and uncoordinated greyhounds past the ice-cream laden gongoozlers at the cafe, I also had to wheel Richard’s bike up to the lock – I hadn’t really thought it through! By the time I got to the lock, the lady of a boat waiting to come down had closed the gate behind Richard and her husband had worked the top paddles – oh dear! They seemed very genial about it – they’d been a bit mystified as to why the previous lock had taken us so much time – we were able to show the tangle of fishing net as evidence!

We got to the top at around 2.30pm – time for lunch! I cooked while Richard took the helm – it was nice to have a break. I made a desultory start on the chores I’d promised myself to do while Richard was steering us along the lock-free pound but I couldn’t be bothered – it was just too nice an afternoon to be indoors. Mind you, I went indoors quickly enough when we went through the Shrewley Tunnel – I don’t remember it being so wet in the past!

Archie supervising our locking at Knowle

Archie supervising our locking at Knowle

We passed by the lovely high embankment moorings beyond the tunnel – I’ve always meant to stop there – the “offside” meadow moorings look perfect for hounds. Sadly there’s not a pub within easy reach, but I can usually find a meal in our on-board cupboards.

All too soon we arrived at Rowington – I’d been in a state of mild melancholy as I have vivid memories of mooring here with Blue and Lou – on Blue’s May birthday – how we miss them, though realistically,Β  if they were still alive they’d be quite ancient now and probably too frail for boating :-p

I dropped Richard off at the bridge – he’d take my car back to Tiller Cycles. This time it was my 20 year old bike that was in for a service – Sarah has offered to lockwheel on the challenge so we’d better have the equipment! He’d then drive up to the top of the Knowle flight and cycle back to meet me at the bottom.

I had a fine lock-free pound ahead of me – the stretch to Kingswood Junction was familiar ground. When I got the junction I realised that we had always turned left here – it was refreshing to go straight ahead for a change!

Now, we have cruised down from Knowle once before, but I had forgotten just how lovely this stretch is – it’s a display of English hedgerows at their best. On the warmest day of the year so far, it was as if nature had rushed to get the laundry done and get her washing on the line – the crisp billowing sheets of white hawthorn blossom, the filigreed smalls of cow parsley and the dainty blue handkerchief haze of forget-me-nots. On either side there were rich meadows – some manicured by centuries of stock and scythe; others left to wildflowers and glowing with the wholesome gold of buttercups.

A last view down the Knowle flight - I hope all these photos have persuaded you to give them a visit :-)

A last view down the Knowle flight – I hope all these photos have persuaded you to give them a visit πŸ™‚

Having been so quiet all day, I was surprised to find myself in an unintended convoy of three – a boat in front then a boat behind, though I didn’t meet anyone coming the other way until, predictably, I got to a bridge hole!

I soon reached the Black Buoy Cruising Club – they seem to have extensive moorings and the two pubs nearby had also drawn a fair share of boaters – it was quite shocking after the pastoral peace of the previous few miles.

By the time I got to Knowle bottom the boat in front had long since moored up and the boat behind had vanished.

I got to the bottom lock before Richard – I did think about being a complete girlie and just waiting for him, but I decided to have a go at single-handing Indigo Dream instead. I got the hounds off and tied them to a convenient post at the bottom of the lock (access to the lockside was awkward) on the basis that if it all went wrong then the boat would sink but that’s all! I single-handed in the slowest, most-cautious way imaginable – I bow-hauled Indigo Dream into the lock, tied her on the centre rope, closed the gate (checked on the hounds – they were relaxing in the long grass) then just lifted the ground paddle a crack. making sure that I was working the same side as the boat so that the flow would pin her in place. It was slow but smooth – I did keep an eye on the boat, and the hounds, as she rose s-l-o-w-l-y, but I had a bit of a distraction in the form of the chap who lived at the lock cottage who came over for a very pleasant chat.

Indigo Dream was about halfway up when Richard arrived. It was then that I realised that Archie “Houdini” Beanz had a magic talent – as Richard arrived, there was Archie grinning over the edge of the steep wall at the bottom of the lock – he shouldn’t have been able to reach it on lead. I thought he must have chewed through his lead or managed to get the catch open but no, lead, catch and post were intact – uncanny! With Richard to help at the lock, I retrieved the hounds – they behaved as if they’d been abandoned FOREVER. Because access to the lock is awkward up the steep steps, they raced around the side-pound to tell Richard about how cruel I’d been in his absence, They got a lot of sympathy. However, when he tried to cajole Archie and Henry into running between the locks with him (on the isolated offside), they declined and hopped back on the boat!

We worked our way up the locks – my spirit of independence led to my closing the gates behind the boat while Richard set the next lock. Sadly, this meant that the bow sometimes drifted off line in the strange currents and odd gusts of wind around the flight.

The lock before last was particularly memorable – there was a man lockside practising his yoga – you’d think that he would have cast an aura of tranquillity and goodwill over the lock – pah!

I managed to get myself so off-line on the approach that I couldn’t recover and did the worst lock-entry of my entire boating life; in the meantime, one of the top gates had moved when Richard opened the bottom paddles and flicked his bike off the lock edge onto the redundant side pound – a drop of around 7 feet! Luckily he was able to loop a rope round the handlebars and lift his bike up and it was remarkably undamaged. THEN, as we got to the top, we persuaded Archie to have a last run up to the top lock; then Henry showed an interest so we let him run after Archie. The next second he did a huge Greyhound Scream of Death (GSOD) and was hobbling. The paw police moved in and as I inspected his leg I came up with a handful of blood – oh dear! Henry had managed to rip one of his dew claws -ouch! Luckily I have a full hound first-aid kit on board so I was able to bathe and dress the wound and it did stop bleeding eventually!

All in all, I think that our karmic whotsit was telling us that we’d done enough for the day so we decided to moor up just beyond the bridge by the Stephen Goldborough yard rather than pressing the last 3 miles to Catherine de Barnes. As it was, it took us 45 minutes to leave the boat – there’s always so much to do, including making use of the rubbish point at the top of the Knowle flight. We also spent some time chatting to passersby, who were entranced by the hounds – needless to say, Henry got a lot of sympathy for his bandage πŸ™‚

I drove Richard back to Saltisford, where he picked his car up and we set off down the M40 – I thought we had a pretty good trip and were home by around 10.30pm.

So, next Friday we will do the last push up the Grand Union to our Challenge starting point – it’s so exciting πŸ˜€

Photoblog:

Italian Greyhounds are diminutive - about half the size of a whippet - their full-sized cousins were a bit bemused - maybe they thought the Iggy's were just puppies :-)

Italian Greyhounds are diminutive – about half the size of a whippet – their full-sized cousins were a bit bemused – maybe they thought the Iggy’s were just puppies πŸ™‚

Tarty Archie in action :-)

Tarty Archie in action πŸ™‚

Restoration project??

Restoration project??

Gonoozlers talking to me and talking to the greyhounds - the Beanz' love the attention!

Gonoozlers talking to me and talking to the greyhounds – the Beanz’ love the attention!

 

 

 

 

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