About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday, 20 January 2017

More snow...what a surprise.

It rained! All night!! That drumming noise on the campervan roof kept us awake most of the night. A very soggy start to the day especially with the dash to the loo. Raincoats had to be found before the dash was attempted! We then made a unanimous decision to head off and have breakfast on Mount Ruapehu so we were heading for the summit before 7 am. Imagine our surprise at the sight that greeted us

Snowballs had to be made and thrown, well we are missing out in the UK!

And Ian is still in only shorts and T-Shirt!!!!!! He's not even wearing socks!!!!!!

And the road to the ski resort was closed!

 After breakfast, another decision was made. Let's go on the 90-minute walk to Waitonga Falls. So this time the waterproofs went on but it wasn't so much the rain that got into everything but the fine drizzle in the low cloud. We should have guessed that this would obscure our vision of the falls but we sort of hoped that the cloud would lift and give us a spectacular view of the falls.

Ian wanted to see Mount Doom. Real name, of course, is Mount Ngauruhoe but it played some part in the Lord of the Rings. We drove to a place called Whakapapa, Chateau Tongariro. Wow...on this side of the mountain the sun shone, the air was crystal clear and the view amazing.

Chateau Tongariro at the base of Mount  Ruapehu

Mount Ngauruhoeor or Mount Doom to Hobbit fans.
The drive to Whanganui was interesting. Sections of the road had been washed away, not sure if it was by heavy rain or river levels. Only one lane open in many places and the traffic was controlled by lights. Should have got a photo but failed miserably! More intent on hanging on for dear life along the narrow track! Although we would only have dropped a short distance had we veered away from the road it was still disconcerting, to say the least. We also stopped to have a look at Tawhai and Raukawa Falls

Finally on the last leg of our journey on the North Island. We make for Waikanae tomorrow and meet up with Marilyn and David. Waka Huia. Roger and Pat The Cat's Whiskers are also back in Wellington so we may get to see them as well.

And only this bird joined us for breakfast,

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Brrrrr, almost like being back in the UK

We had wind!!! No not that sort of wind...the blowing a hooley type of wind. Parked right on the foreshore in Napier and we certainly new about it. Van was being buffeted from all sides, so it seemed. Got away early then, to look around Napier, the Art Deco capital. Here is an exert from newzealand.com

New buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. Local architect Louis Hay, an admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright, had his chance to shine. Maori motifs were employed to give the city a unique New Zealand character - for example, the ASB bank on the corner of Hastings and Emerson Streets features Maori koru and zigzags. Napier's city centre has the feeling of a time capsule - the seamless line of 1930s architecture is quite extraordinary.

What a super place to walk around and admire. We drove around the suburbs to find even more stunning art deco houses and the highlight was the Tobacco warehouse by the port.

On the road and so glad we weren't towing a caravan because Ian struggled to keep the van going straight. How those high-sided lorries coped with those gusts was beyond me. We chose to travel to a place called Ohakune. A drive across the Ruahine Range with stunning scenery.

Bridge spanning the Rangitikei river

And we got stopped by a train at Tangiwai first time that has happened to us either here or in Oz. At Okahune we found an information centre and first thing was to enquire about camping. Now we had no idea that this was also a winter playground for skiers. Should have guessed as the temperature had dropped drastically and I had to resort to wearing a jumper. A drive up the mountain road was suggested, to see waterfalls and find a free campsite. So up we drove to reach the ski resort of Mount Ruapehu. Shame the cloud covered the top and we didn't quite get to where the snow was. Boy was it cold standing that high up. Almost made me homesick for that lovely freezing UK weather....or then again maybe not!

Mangawhero Falls and as you can see Ian is made of sterner stuff. No jumper!!!

View down the valley.
 And that free campsite, very empty as you can see!

And wildlife

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The moari rock carvings.

At 4 am they started! Not the twittering of dainty little birds but by the 5 Peacocks scattered around the campers and campervans. So now awake I got up and headed for the loo. There were two Peahens roosting in the tree by the toilet block and all around the Peacocks vying for their attention. In fact, the displays put on by these males were fabulous. They were still displaying when Ian and I went for a thermal valley walk at 8 am.

Took a good 60 minutes to walk around the Wairakei thermal valley. Some pretty neat fumaroles as well as the outstanding landscape.

Ian taking the ground temperature. Reads 75 deg

Back to the van,  it was a stop at Taupo and a boat trip to see the rock carvings. Bit choppy on the lake and as we stupidly decided to sit right at the bow, got rather wet for our troubles.

Ngatoroirangi rock carvings. 

By 2 pm it was off to Napier. 135km drive straight through the heart of the country. The views toward Napier was breathtaking. No chance to stop and admire so all these were taken through the van window.

Found another free camping site right on Napier beach. Has loos and a dump point but no showers. The railway is on the opposite side so what with the traffic and trains we may well have a disturbed night. But it's free so can't complain and right on the beach too, can't get much closer than that.

And wildlife,

In the ladies loo!

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