Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

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The Odyssey 2019: Day 3

Posted by alexgreyauthor on 10 July, 2019

Smeeton Road Bridge (Br. 72) to Castle Gardens, Leicester

Sunday, 26th May

Setting off from Saddington – I really liked this mooring.

The moorings at Bridge 72 were wonderfully quiet and we had a good night’s sleep. There is always something special about waking up on board and hearing no external noise apart from birdsong and the wind in the trees. Ah yes, the wind, it proved to be a pain in the proverbial all day and on Monday too!

I don’t recall what time we set out, but it was quite early by our standards – we had managed to find an engineer who could replace the fanbelt and do a few other bits of engine maintenance after the Bank Holiday, but we needed to get to Loughborough, which was easy for him to access.

It’s quite a few lock miles, so we needed to shift, our target for the day being Leicester.

Most of the journey from Saddington passed through beautiful and tranquil contryside, but we were soon in the suburbs. Actually, as suburbs go, they’re quite pleasant, right up until you get to St Mary’s Mill lock, which is particularly dingy.

Saffy had a splendid day – she has done less boating than Alex so she still gets very excited by everything. The canal is very rural, but every passing dog, canalside garden and settlement now knows Saffy’s name as she let them all know, loudly, that she was in the neighbourhood! By the end of the day she was exhausted – more experienced boating hounds know to pace themselves, but newbies wear themselves out by overdoing it in the first 2 days ๐Ÿ™‚

The wind was a B*&&%^ nuisance all day, making some lock landings a bit tricky, especially above the last lock by Leicester City Football Ground, where the wind and weir combined to give the boat quite a shove in the wrong direction. Luckily we were ready for it, with Richard helping to secure the front rope so that I could bring the boat in and secure the after rope as well.

It really is a lovely waterway…

As it happens, we arrived in Leicester in good time and took the last mooring on the Castle Gardens pontoon. We haven’t moored there before, but it has the reputation of being the most secure mooring in Leicester – we were quite surprised to get a space. It was lovely to have the park right there for the greyhounds. We’d just moored up and were planning our next move when a very friendly boater moored on the steps of the Straight Mile opposite came across to warn us that we would be able to get out of the gardens between 8pm and 8am – he’d moved his boat across because he needed to get to the station early the following morning.

We were a bit perturbed by this news, but then we spotted a CRT notice that boaters could come and go via one of the park’s pedestrian gate which is locked with a CRT padlock (operated by a BW key). I was about to go off and do the car shuffle, which meant that I’d be back after lockdown when we just thought to check whether the padlock worked – it did not – eeek! If I’d gone, I would have been locked out, though in that scenario at least Richard would have been on the boat with the hounds. If we’d both gone out for dinner, the hounds would have been locked inside with us outside and I would have been frantic! We did report it to CRT only to get the reply, some days later, that the padlock regularly breaks, but no-one seems particularly interested in keeping it fixed – meh!

Though Pochin’s Bridge has seen better days…

We ate on board rather than risking being locked out of the gardens. It was very tranquil having the park to ourselves once it was locked, though I didn’t dare let the greyhounds off lead – although the gate and fences are secure from humans, a greyhound might have been able to squeeze through the gap between the main gates and the posts, and Saffy is something of an explorer (Alex runs back to the boat, which is his mobile “safe place”).

Being locked into the park was not a big deal as we had plenty of food and drink on board, but it did make me feel a bit discontented as it cut down our options for car shuffles and exploring the city. I did not sleep well – there was a lot of noise from passing revelers in the wee small hours of the morning and I worried about the boat moored opposite on the Mile Straight. I lost count of how many times their shouts woke me up – each time I looked out of the side-hatch to check whether the boat was unmolested. Of course it was absolutely fine, the Mile Straight is acknowledged as a safe mooring, though I was happy to be on the secure moorings.

Secure mooring pontoon at Castle Gardens – handy refuse and recycling bins too.


We have some friends and family who like nothing better than the sight of a vintage tractor – if they’d been on board they’d have moored up opposite and stared at this all day long!

Bit of overflow, though the river sections were well in the green when we passed through…


Big skies – a harbinger of things to come on the flatlands of Lincolnshire.

I think this is a nesting box for owls.

Saffy crossing a lock gate – not something we encourage, because greyhounds are so clumsy when they’re not sprinting!

There is something special about the light coming into late afternoon.

Alex wondering what this bit of art outside Leicester might be ๐Ÿ™‚

Bit grim here…

Iconic view on the way in to Leicester.

There are some interesting bridges in Leicester.

Alex, just because!





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The Odyssey 2019: Day 2

Posted by alexgreyauthor on 9 July, 2019

Yelvertoft Bridge 20 to Bridge 72 Smeeton Road Bridge (Saddington)

25th May 2019

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Odyssey 2019: Day 1

Posted by indigodream on 30 May, 2019

Heyford Fields Marina to Yelvertoft Bridge 20
24th May 2019

Today was the first day of our 2019 odyssey, about time we did some boating!

Reversing out of the marina

Today was a day that I got to boat by myself!!! We have a tough target to start with – get to Boston before the 15th June. How is that tough, it is only a trip of 175 miles, 2ยผ furlongs and 81 locks? But of course there is the small matter of needing to work full time, a wedding to attend next weekend and then a worry that there could be delays in going over the Leicester summit due to some boat show. I could have a day off on Friday giving me the opportunity to get a head start, though sadly Sue had to work.

I had come up the night before, slipping into the marina a minute before the gates were due to be locked; rather good timing as my gate keys were on the boat so that Graham and Jill could use them. That’s Graham and Jill, ex. of nb Matilda Rose, crewo of Tjalk Francoise, who had borrowed ID for a few weeks while Graham convalesced from a knee operation. The boat was in great order, with no sign that it had been populated by a CAT.

dodgy fuse

The following morning I had a series of chores, most important of which was to work out why the bilge pump did not work. No loose wires, fuse looked intact, what could be wrong? Chasing round with a multimeter I found that the so called intact fuse had actually oxidised ends and was not allowing any electrons to pass. I could have cleaned it with sand paper but seemed better to raid the bank balance and pay 25p for a new shiny fuse.

The trip to Buckby was wonderful, proper stress busting, forget all your cares and enjoy boating. As I approached Buckby a boat with a CREW pulled out behind me, my luck could be in. Turned out to be a hire boat from Braunston manned by a very pleasant crew and steered by a CRT Employee who does not do much work-related boating but steered really well. His crew were hard working and kept saying that they would do all the work so that I could stay on the boat; but for the first few locks I got into a nice rhythm, go in first, hop off with a centre rope etc whilst they drove in behind me. At the third lock we caught up with a boat which had been part of a pair but was now going up single. Never worked out what happened to the other boat, were they abducted by aliens, was that shallow bit them? Anyway they looked short of crew so I said to my great locking companions “you go on, you will go mad following if, I, as a single hander team up with a slow boat short on crew”. So the next bit of Buckby I did by myself, it was great, I just enjoyed it, this was a great day to go boating.

Leaving my locking companions at the top of Buckby,

Two locks down from the top I saw people waving at me, it was my previous locking companions who had stopped for “lunch”. I said I would go and set the next lock and they said they would join me. In the end I locked them through that lock, they locked me through the top lock, then sadly they turned left towards Braunston and I went on by myself to Watford. Sue has often mused what makes a good locking companion, not sure, but they were great.

Now that was strange, there had been horror stories of queues at Watford because of the Crick Boat Show, so imagine my surprise at turning up to find no queue, yes, zero boats in front of me and 2 volunteer lockies who basically made me feel very awkward, even embarrassed, as they did all the work and locked me up really quickly.

Bottom of Watford

Crick was jammed with boats, brested up boats for miles in fact. It was great to see and chat to familiar faces, e.g. Adrian from nb Briar Rose and the famous Halfie. Ah but that last bit was painful, Jan was cooking, it smelt wonderful and Halfie was offering BEER. However I could not brest up to them as it was still possible that Sue would be coming up that evening with the dogs and, to be honest, I was hitting the wall, really flagging, which seemed wrong – after all I had had a GREAT day. I tried mooring up after the next bridge (think nice food smells and BEER) but after spending an absolute age going aground, get stuck etc I gave up and continued to Yelvertoft. I saw bollards and a free space, wonderful? Alas no it was a water point. Finally found a mooring, moored up neatly and went inside for a wee and at that point I discovered why I was hitting the wall, I was dehydrated. Cure is easy, drink copious volumes of ale so that started the search for copious ale. Pub, nope, the pub was too far away for me to walk. Boat stocks: Jill and Graham had been great boat sitters and faithfully obeyed Sue’s command to drink the boat alcohol before it went out of date. – tough but someone had to do it. A comprehensive search found cans of fruity cider and two bottles of Corona. Dehydration averted, just!




Stress busting on the GU

Vaguely disturbing?


Love Staircase gates


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BCN Marathon Challenge 2018

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

Plenty of daylight left as we search for the elusive answer to the treasure hunt clue between Catshill and Longwood junctions ๐Ÿ™‚

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BCN Challenge 2018: 4.05pm

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

We picked up a length of this carpet in the prop last year, but it wasnโ€™t quite enough for the hallway so we came back for the rest this year :-p

We can recommend coasting through Wyrley Grove Bridge in neutral!

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BCN Challenge 2018: 3.16pm

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

The scenic view of Pelsall Junction from the Cannock Extension….

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BCN Challenge 2018 3.03pm

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

The luscious Curley Wurley (Wyrley & Essington) and the sun is shining -โ€œ canโ€™t ask for more ๐Ÿ™‚

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BCN Challenge 11.55am

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

Indigo Dream popping up to Birchills Junction while I attend to some housekeeping at Walsall top…

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BCN Challenge 11.25am

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

First locks of the day up From Walsall….

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BCN Challenge 9am

Posted by indigodream on 26 May, 2018

Onto the Walsall Canal and Archie Beanz is mightily vigilant for the answer to the first treasure hunt clue!

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