Indigo Dreaming

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – day 45

Posted by indigodream on 21 April, 2015

Rewind to Saturday 11th October

Middlewich t0 Anderton (Uplands Marina)

Indigo Dream looking a bit out of sorts - the end-of-garden mooring has now been dredged but it wasn't for us....

Indigo Dream looking a bit out of sorts – the end-of-garden mooring has now been dredged but it wasn’t for us….

We spent the week musing on winter moorings and were intending to spend this weekend investigating our options. Our plan was to start at Uplands Marina, if we didn’t fancy that we’d go to Venetian Marina (by car initially!) and so on until we had Indigo Dream safely tucked up for the winter. We had sort of decided that the end-of-garden moorings where we’d left Indigo Dream for the week would not be suitable for the longer term.

But I’m ahead of myself, we had an early start on Saturday morning so that we could investigate our first option, Uplands Marina, before they shut at noon. We had a good drive, but we were shocked at how the traffic on the M25 had already started to build up – it’s getting to the stage when the only time you can actually move on that motorway is between midnight and 5am!

We got to Uplands at 11.40am and met the proprietors Sharon and Bill. They gave us, including the hounds, such a warm welcome we were instantly drawn to the place.  It’s not as grand as some marinas we’ve visited, but it’s in a good location and is cheap. We were sold – especially when we were told that a couple of other greyhound boats had moved in there recently! Uplands Marina will therefore be Indigo Dream’s new home until April 2015.

The Trent & Mersey has wonderful contrasts - stunning rural scenery.....

The Trent & Mersey has wonderful contrasts – stunning rural scenery…..

So, here was the last day of the odyssey, defined as Indigo Dream coming home for the winter, all be it to a new home. It’s been a pretty slow odyssey by our standards (not including the 24 hours of the BCN Challenge!) but we’ve covered a fair few miles since we left Limehouse in April.

Having made this big decision, we drove back to Middlewich. Firstly we dropped into Kings’s Lock Chandlers to ask them for quotes for some more maintenance work. If all goes well, we can pop up and move Indigo Dream to King’s Lock when they’re ready or us.

As we drove into the  King’s Lock Chandler’s car park, we got a great view of Indigo Dream on her moorings. We were gobsmacked – not only was she some feet out from the edge of the mooring, she was also listing at an alarming angle. We knew then that we’d made the right decision to go for the marina.

..and living industry at Northwich - the salt industry is ancient hereabouts...

..and living industry at Northwich – the salt industry is ancient hereabouts…

In all fairness, I’ve had a call from the end-of-garden owners since, saying that they have been manually dredging the mooring and have removed a large quantity of stones and rubble. They now say that the mooring is deep enough, but we won’t got back there – we’d also been concerned about being clattered by the random manoeuvres of boats at the junction. They had suggested that a boat moored there before had successfully used tyres as fenders, but overall it’s probably better to be in a mooring where they’re not needed!

Once we’d sorted our maintenance wish list with Kings Lock, we moved over to the boat. Today we were cruising with Ollie, Herbie and Ty – we figured that Ty could manage a short weekend on the boat, though he wasn’t happy about it! Ollie, whose muscles are not the strongest, was particularly unimpressed by the floor’s strange angle at the mooring, as he said “I’m a greyhound not a mountain goat!”.

It was a beautiful day for cruising - in mid-October!

It was a beautiful day for cruising – in mid-October!

When we got on board, Indigo Dream was well aground, but fortunately a few boats moved through King’s Lock just when we needed then and obligingly topped up the low pound. It took less pushing than I expected to set us free. I winded at the junction and headed north. We had a bit of a wait at the first lock – there was a hire boat in front of us, then we had a wait as another boat came up. There’s a very sharp turn between the middle and lower lock. I waited in the pound while the boat below came up. I was torn between doing the proper thing i.e. pass on the right hand side and doing the right thing i.e. pass on the left which would give us both a better angle for getting into our respective locks. In the end, the bywash decided it! While I was hovering, the wash pushed me to the left and we were able to pass each other smoothly – right OR proper – hmmm, there’s a choice!

We shared Big Lock with the hire boat, who’d kindly waited for us. I was quite glad that there weren’t any other locks though – the helmsman had snapped the wooden tiller extension (caught it on a lock edge) and we helped out with some wood glue. They faffed around with that for a while, giving the helmsman plenty of time to tell me how brilliant he was at boat manoeuvring (though the broken tiller suggested otherwise!). It kept him happy so I just gritted my teeth and they were courteous enough to let us go out first.

Beautiful end to the day....

Beautiful end to the day….

We’d left the car at Middlewich, but with a long lock-free pound ahead, it was easy for me to get a cab back from Northwich and drive up to meet Richard at the marina. In fact, I arrived at the perfect time – he picked me up from the Anderton service point so that I was on board to help with the mooring.

We were soon settled in at the end of a linear pontoon. It was at this point that we discovered the downside of our cheap and cheerful mooring, the pontoon had old and unevenly spaced timbers with an archaic anti-slip mechanism – a narrow strip of chicken wire nailed to the centre of the boards! I had some misgivings – the whole gap and chickenwire arrangement were a hazard for hounds, especially Ollie, who’s not so steady on his feet. I did, briefly, consider driving home, it would have just about been early enough; but we decided to stay the night on board and travel back fresh in the morning.

The hounds enjoying dinner at the Three Greyhounds - Ty was pleased that we found him a safe corner; Herbie was pleased that he could lie in the way of passing fuss :-)

The hounds enjoying dinner at the Three Greyhounds – Ty was pleased that we found him a safe corner; Herbie was pleased that he could lie in the way of passing fuss 🙂

We had the car, so we drove to our new favourite pub – the Three Greyhounds, where we found a snug corner with the hounds and had a very good meal indeed. I’ve recently been impressed by Richard’s nephew, who is remarkably tolerant of some older people – he feels they’ve earned the right to be loud and tactless! I wish he’d been with us when the group of older people next to us started talking about the greyhounds in loud stage whispers – as if we were deaf! We did have a chat with them and corrected a few misconceptions – in the meantime, the greyhounds accepted their admiration with great aplomb, together with the magnificent sausages that the chef consented to cook for them 😉

By the time we got back to the boat I was very tired indeed and very glad that we hadn’t attempted the drive home – far better to enjoy our new favourite pub and have a good night’s sleep on our favourite boat 🙂

 

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