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.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

A Boxing day treat.

Wednesday 12th December (Boxing Day)

First the photos of the 6 course Christmas dinner (although I forgot to take a photo of the tiny mackerel fillet for starters and the Strawberry coulis).

A tiny cup of Pea soup was the first of the 6 courses. The pepper MIll shows the size.

Christmas dinner was sufficient and delicious. (but no sprouts or Yorkshire Pud)!

Set custard with chocolate ice cream and jelly (Cubes) for dessert. Yes, that is a teaspoon.

Tiny Mince Pie with coffee.

The waiter decided to get in on the photo (on the tray was the Pea soup)

Had to get Ian's jumper in the photo. It reads- Stuff the Turkey I'm off to the pub!
Today's excursion was to Plymouth and most upset with the BBC weather as the overcast day forecasted, turned out to be wet and cold. A short break of about 40 minutes whilst at Plymouth Hoe with the hint of blue skies had us hoping the day would buck up but t'was not to be. I think Ian regretted not taking his coat, a thick cardi was his outer attire which, being made of wool, held the water instead of repelling it.  Anyway, the Eddystone Smeaton Lighthouse was open and a charge of £3.50 for concessions which we felt was most reasonable. Even had a guide thrown in, very informative, and all in all, a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes.

Smeaton Lighthouse


Two beds for the lightkeepers. They must have been tiny people!

Views from the top. Check out the bad weather coming in.




Plymouth Hoe with Drakes statue and the war memorial.
 Another surprise awaited us. Leaving Plymouth the coach driver took us to Buckfast Abbey. What a magnificent building and one we would like to explore further. A trip in the motorhome next year should see us back for a second visit.
Buckfast Abbey


By the time we left to get back to the hotel, it was dark and quite late so changing for dinner wasn't an option as tonight another excursion had been planned. A trip to Babbacombe Theatre to see a variety show called Christmas Cracker. Instead of a 6pm meal the earlier time of 5.45pm was necessary as the coach would be ready and waiting for 7.30pm. We managed five of the six courses but the coffee and petit fore had to be abandoned as time was marching on.

The show was a resounding success, I can't remember the last time I have laughed so much.Singers, dancers, magicians and comedians made the whole experience memorable and we have been assured that next years T&T at Thursford, Norfolk will also have a show during the 4 days. Needless to say we have booked for the trip already!

It's a free day tomorrow so we may well take the bus to Brixham. To be decided after the weather forecast has been listened to in the morning.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

It's the T & T ChristmasI

Tuesday 11th (Christmas day in the T&T calendar)

Merry Christmas everyone. Seems a strange thing to say but Turkey and Tinsel is all about the festivities over 4 days. So today is Christmas day and a visit from Santa was forthcoming after breakfast this morning.


I must have been a good girl. Santa gave me a gift!

And Ians been very very good too๐Ÿ˜‰

I should mention the bathtime tales and you will be pleased to here (or maybe slightly disappointed) that I didn't get stuck as I managed to heave myself out (after getting into positions I never knew I could, sideways on, bottom on the side and slither toward the top, I was that determined you see) and didn't need the help from 'My Man that Can' ๐Ÿ˜Œ  That hot soak was heaven and from now on until we leave on Friday, this will be my morning ritual and you never know I might even have perfected the art of getting out. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I must just mention the meals. 6 courses, which one would think a bloated feeling would be the norm after all that food. Not so as this is an A-La-Carte menu with big plates and small portions. Fine dining at its best. The usual starters, main meal and dessert with two appetisers in between (a tiny cup of soup and a raspberry coulis to cleanse the pallet) followed by coffee and a macaron. With Christmas dinner tonight I'm wondering just how big a portion of Turkey and trimmings we will get. A photo will appear in tomorrows post.

Today we went to Exeter. A Christmas market was on, great if you are into that sort of thing (which were not) so instead, we walked to the Exeter Canal the earliest working ship canal to be built and oldest canal in the UK.



Having spent a good two hours at the canal we had another hour to fill before the coach came to the arranged meeting place, so a walk back to the Cathedral to where the market was for a quick look around the stalls and managed to persuade Ian to part with a fiver to purchase a pair of Seahorse Earrings before making our way back to the coach.








This Swan was being a right nuisance. Did not want anyone near to the stall giving a hefty peck to all and sundry!

And seen at the canal,





Tuesday, 11 December 2018

T & T a shaky start.

Monday 10th December. (In the T&T calendar it is Christmas Eve)

Well, what a fiasco the start of this Turkey and Tinsel trip turned out to be. First, the luggage labels went to someone else and it was only because the person in question came to a work party at Langley Mill last Friday that we received them at all. No itinerary was forthcoming so we had no idea what time the taxi would pick us up to meet the coach at Eastwood. A phone call to KM Travel on Saturday and a time of 9.15am to 9.45am was mentioned. Monday morning and after a leisurely breakfast we walked to The Great Northern Pub in readiness for the taxi, t'was a tad after 9am. No sooner had we opened one of the two gates that needed unlocking to get to the back of the Great Northern when we spied the taxi taking off along the road. Blooming 'eck it had arrived early! A good job for us that he turned left from the pub and had to spin around to come back because in doing so I managed to attract his attention. What became of the 9.15/9.45am pickup? Anyway, we arrived at the coach only to be told they had been waiting for nearly 30 minutes and still had another 10 people to pick up in Ilkeston. Oh dear, we were not in their good books. But I blame the lady at KM Travel giving us the wrong time so in a way, I feel we should be exonerated.

After roughly 5 hours we arrived at Torquay. The hotel Belgrave Sands is by far the best we have ever stayed in. The room was big, on the ground floor (a first for us) and best of all a huge bathroom with an extremely large shower for Ian and a bath for me. Since moving onto the boat 12 years ago I haven't had a good soak in a bath so this is going to be pure luxury. The test tomorrow will be if I can get out of it though. Not as agile as I once was, I have visions of me being stuck and Ian having to try and lift me out. Hope this doesn't come to fruition as I don't want to give him a hernia! All will be revealed tomorrow.





Sunday, 9 December 2018

Toerags!!!

It was dark, Ian was preparing the evening meal (he always cooks a chilli on Saturday night), strange noises heard above the sound of the TV, both of us assumed that it must be blowing a holey outside as it sounded like water lapping against the hull but it didn't let up. Was something trapped between the bank and the boat, maybe a duck or swan flapping its wings making that sound? I go to investigate and then...OMG....water was disappearing fast!! FS had dropped by nearly 2ft. I yell at Ian, he comes rushing out, grabs the torch and windlass and high tails it to the lock. Already there were half the moorers from the Langley Mill moorings whos boats were now at an alarming angle. Two paddles were raised on the bottom gates and with the top gates wide open (blown open by the wind) all the water was draining away. Quick as a flash, the paddles were dropped and the gates closed. A discussion as to what had happened revealed that not 30 minutes earlier 3 lads were seen trying to lift the paddles with their bare hands!! Assuming this to be a futile effort nothing was done but those lads did manage to do the deed causing a massive surge of water to leave this basin. We were lucky being moored in the original stop lock as this was much deeper and devoid of silt so all we did was too gentle sink lower and lower. Thankfully Ian knows his way around the pump house and got the back pump working to start the slow refilling of the basin. Took 5 hours of continues running to refloat those boats and by 11pm the pump was finally switched off.

Water disappearing fast.

That small building in the distance is the pump house.

Having to step down instead of stepping up as FS sinks lower.

Back pumping
 After a conversation with the owners of the boatyard, it was agreed to speak to C&RT and try to get antivandal keys fitted to the bottom gates. In the meantime, the lock will be left empty so those toerags, even if they raise a paddle again, won't cause any more mayhem.

And we are finally getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating the tree.




Friday, 30 November 2018

Back t' Mill

It's been a blooming awful week, one not to be repeated and I'm not just talking about the weather (although it didn't 'alf blow a hooley on Wednesday and Thursday). No, I'm talking about what I went through since starting the Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) antibiotics last Saturday. Didn't feel great after taking the first one as within an hour developed a cough and wheeze but convinced myself it was a necessary evil. Took the second tablet at 9pm, went to bed by 10 and within 30 minutes, OMG I felt like death warmed up!  Extreme chills with uncontrollable shaking throughout the night and then the sickness started! At about 3am Ian fired up the diesel heater, good job no one was on board any of the other boats as it can be a tad noisy. Reading the leaflet that came with the antibiotics it seems I had experienced some of the side effects of this particular drug. Anyway, there was no way I was going to take any more tablets and on Sunday I slowly started to recover and, although the breathlessness and cough continued, at least the fever and sickness had stopped. First thing Monday it was straight on the phone to the Doctors. Another appointment made and a new prescription of different antibiotics issued. Thankfully no adverse side effects from these and by Tuesday I was feeling more like my old self. It did mean that we delayed our trip back to Langley and because of the bad weather Wednesday and Thursday I'm glad we did.


So today we said farewell to Sandiacre and set off for the Mill. No sooner had we pulled away from the mooring and a sudden thought. Where was the second set of boat keys? "In the garage, I think," said Ian so back to the mooring we go and Ian goes and fetch them. Back he came empty-handed. Oh 'eck, where were they. Well, we searched high and low, pulled out drawers, searched coat pockets, looked under chairs but to no avail. Then a sudden thought. Did I take them when I went shopping a few days ago? A rummage through the cupboard grabbed the bag and...result...there they were. So our hope for the early start was delayed by a further 20 minutes.

Because every lock had to be turned around we did the journey in about 5 hours, an uneventful journey apart being joined by a Swan family at Barker's lock. It was almost as if they had been waiting for a boat to appear because, as Ian opened the paddle to empty the chamber, they all came rushing over. As soon as the gate opened in they swam thankfully well in front of FS. I kept FS back and hard onto the lock side. The last thing I wanted was a squished Swan!

Waiting at the gate


This took them by surprise when Ian opened the gate paddle and all the water rushed in.

Nearly there


It's going to be a long few months without cruising but we do hope to get away with the Beast sometime in the New Year. A lot depends on how 'stir crazy' both of us gets. We do have a few trips to go on one being a Turkey and Tinsel coach trip to Torquay in about 10 days. No doubt I will have something to write about on that holiday.

Now for some excellent news. Ian has at long last been signed off from the hospital. Gosh, what a stressful journey we have been on, In 2006 a tumour was found. Radiotherapy, tablets, two operations and two years of weekly chemo took us up to 2013. For five years now the 6 monthly checkups have seen no further growth so today Ian was given a two-year open appointment. In other words, he will be very unlucky for the cancer to return. Shame we have no champagne but we saved a decent Red just for this occasion.

And seen on route



.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Oh dear...This will upset some residence!

Amazed that I could actually see a doctor this morning. The receptionist asked, "Is it an emergency?"  Hmmm, Now what constitutes an emergency I wonder? Am I having a heart attack? NO! Am I bleeding to death? NO! Is CPR being administered?? NO! NO! so I ask myself, what is the reasoning behind asking that question. All they really need to ask is if it is urgent and could it wait until the next day. Anyway, after relating my symptoms she said I could be seen at Long Eaton Health Center for 11 am this morning, quite a result in my book and so we pulled off from the moorings by a shade after 9 am. On route, this dodgy looking craft was being pulled along by a chap in a powered dinghy. Turned out to be Neil, a friend of ECP&DA who was doing a good deed by towing the broken down boat to the boatyard. 

Dreadful photo. Operator error as I had the settings all wrong. ThatsNeil in the rowing boat


We needed to be above Long Eaton lock by the road bridge. After trying several times to get FS to the bank we eventually found a spot, still not ideal but near enough so I could get on and off.

Long Eaton Lock in the distance. Taking this phot looking back as we had already moored by the road bridge.
 A 10-minute walk from the bridge and I was at the Health Center. 15 minutes later and clutching a small box containing enough antibiotics for three days I'm on my way back to FS. Turns out I have a urine infection!

Pulled pins after lunch and headed off to Sandiacre. Up Dolkholm lock and then to the final lock today. The bridge by Sandiacre lock can be a bit of a B and can catch boaters unaware. It's the shape, you see, not a lovely uniformed curve but one side slightly offset. This means that two boats could not go in breasted without hitting the brickwork. The first boat in would have to push across to allow the second boat to join them. But as it was only FS entering this was not a problem.


Sandiacre lock with the offset shaped bridge

This may show it clearer. Note the repaired brickwork on the left.
Into the Derby arm and was greeted by Mike who looks after this bit of the canal for Tony Adcock. Tony purchased this short section when the rest of the Derby and Sandiacre canal was filled in. (Erewash canal leads into it) It was here we moored FS when we purchased her in 2006. Now as part of the ECP&DA society we are allowed to stay for short periods of time.



Then Mike handed us a leaflet. Ah ha.... what was I saying yesterday about the Derby & Sandiacre Canal not starting the restoration? Looks like its all going ahead sooner rather than later. I'm blooming glad it won't be us being inconvenienced though. I do feel for our tenants and the occupiers of Beech House and the barns as they will be the ones with severely restricted access. Quite how they will get on during the excavations is anyone's guess.


 We won't be moving from here for several days. Work needs to be done around the bungalow and Ian has to replace the roof from the woodshed. It took off in the gales earlier this year! I can't see us leaving for Langley Mill much before mid-week. Depends how quick the work can be done.

On the journey,

This is unusual๐Ÿ˜ƒ I wonder where this was pinched from?

Long Eaton Lock

That blooming Willow still hasn't been cut back!




And seen on route,

A Top Knot duck!


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