Relax, Lesley hasn’t gone far but she’s deputed the writing of this blog post to me, Greygal. A former full-time blogger, I now do occasional guest spots on friends’ blogs, usually in the aftermath of one of my vigilante boating sessions. For those of you who don’t know about VB-ing, it’s basically inviting yourself at very short notice – or even with no notice at all, so they can’t escape – onto your friends’ boats. Sometimes this is for cruising, sometimes just for kicking back on the towpath, but always it involves taking outrageous advantage of good people’s hospitality and having a jolly good time. And people do tend to fall victim to it on a rather regular basis...and telling me where they are on their blogs is so thoughtful!
So picture the scene, NY Yarwood, in company with NB Maltilda Rose AND a rather fab Brucie bonus of NB No Problem hanging out at Little Thetford on the Ouse. I had given them a heads-up in the week that being so close to home, they were in my VB gunsights – can’t say fairer than that, two days to come up with an excuse! But there was Lesley, with Floyd and Fletcher, waiting for us right on cue on Saturday morning. On this occasion we were upping the VB stakes a bit as we’d brought along Herbie and Eddie for some dog socialization – the chance to meet the Tibetan Terriers, Baxter and Mutley, and Meg and puppy Penny, was too good to pass up. Precautionary muzzles were in place, of course, but as it turned out, they weren’t needed – well, not for the dog rumble as they all got along famously from the off. Much like the humans really, as it was great to at last have a chance to chat properly to Sue and Vic, and to catch up with old chums Lesley and Joe and Graham and Jill.
Now there are some golden rules for making VB-ing work. Being a willing crew member; being able to eat your own weight in Danish pastries; not breaking your friend’s boat; not blocking the loo. Oh, and not letting your dogs eat the lunch that was due to be prepared for you. You see, while my back was turned, and while Lesley was inviting my husband to inspect her bed (Stop it! It’s a boatman’s cabin bed, he hasn’t seen one before, okay?), while this was going on, Herbie and Eddie were left in the saloon, unmuzzled. They didn’t stay in the saloon, because they thought the galley looked more interesting, and the two Tesco Finest pizzas on the worktop more interesting still. As my good pal Sue off Indigo Dream said when told about the episode – ‘Leaving those two unattended near food? Are you mad?’. Not mad, just distracted, because the boatman’s cabin is rather splendid. Anyway, the first we knew of this tragedy was when Lesley stuck her head out of the side hatch and said ‘The dogs have had our lunch’. Why I was the only one of the assembled throng who knew instantly that she wasn’t joking, I don’t know…actually I do. This was Herbie and Eddie…two of my four greyhound magicians who can make food disappear just like that. Thank heaven I hadn’t brought Archie and Henry along too, as they would probably have got into the fridge and emptied that for good measure.
Now what I love about my boaty friends is that adversity never fazes them. So what if the dogs have scoffed the pizza, let’s have a barbie instead. And in less than an hour, a resplendent feast was assembled and Andy and I – who had done nothing except cause lunch number one to be lost – were treated to burgers, sausages, chicken, gammon, salad and two puds! Seriously, such warm and generous hospitality, it was fab (Note to self: I wonder if Dominos do towpath deliveries?). It was truly one of those serendipitous sessions, not really going how we’d planned, but turning out better than we could have hoped. The dogs – my two on leads with strict instructions to keep their long snouts out of other people’s burger buns – continued to get on without a murmur, and the humans just gabbled on until we, very sadly, had to tear ourselves a way at teatime. Cue sighs of relief at the prospect of supper being safe at least.
But with VB-ing, it’s like Arnie says – ‘We’ll be back’. Probably in a few weeks when the guys get to Cambridge – that’s even closer to home and we have another couple of dogs that like pizza.