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.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Stop press....narrowboat attacked by giant dragonfly!

Had the fright of my life this morning. There I was enjoying a well earned cup of tea,( having walked three miles into town and back in this heat with a back pack full of shopping) when through the open side hatch I spies this thing flying around and emitting a very loud buzzing sound.

Now, I hear you say, it's only a dragonfly but have you ever had one flying erratically through the boat crashing into windows, furniture and more frightening aiming for ones head! In between trying to duck out of it's way I managed to get a several photos. Thinking of sending one of them to the Friends of President only I cant find anywhere to send the photo. Anyone have any ideas? Anyway taking life in ones hand (metaphorically speaking) I managed to get to the front of FS, open the doors, unzip the cratch cover and with it whizzing past my head, away it flew.

And seen out of the side hatch

Friday, 19 August 2016

So who would come off worse.

A little after 8am and FS was finally afloat. There didnt seem to be any change in water levels when we first got up but C&RT must have run more water down early. Crested Lark was still at an angle but after 30 minutes she started floating as well. With more water under our hull we pulled FS forward to lie alongside. The idea of stern first was abandoned as getting off Crested Larks bow was easy and it was the lesser of two evils.

It's been a day of sorting out clothes to take to the charity shops (most of mine all to big for me now, yippee) taking roof furniture off FS and generally tidying up round the bungalow. We have given ourselves till the later part of next week before travelling up to our mooring at Langley Mill so no more posts for a while. Just some of my wildlife photos today and all seen the from the back deck.

And now for my title. This German Shepherd was asking for trouble.

The dog got a vicious peck on it's muzzle. Didn't stop him from trying again but from a distance.

Brown Hawker

Well well well.. so these pond skaters need to come out of water to do the deed.
Emerging Damselfly (I think)

Thursday, 18 August 2016

When a biker injures another biker.

What a beautiful evening. That sun beat down on us making us hotter and hotter. Never has jumping in the river seemed so appealing but walking to meet Carol and Alan, didn't think they would appreciate two dripping people for table companions! So it was a relief to get into the pub and find a cool spot.

The meals were excellent and worth every penny. Ian had a £10 meal voucher given to him by our daughter for fathers day. Yes I know it was back in June but only now has he been able to use it. I could kick myself that I didn't take any photos of the evening. I even had my camera with me but with the conversation and laughter non stop I forgot to take any. The only one I did take was from the bridge showing where FS was moored. Anyway it was a brilliant evening, it always is with that pair.

T'was a lazy start this morning. No rush as our destination was Sandiacre only a few miles and 5 locks away, . In a couple of hours  it would be a reverse into the Derby Arm and put feet up.....well that's what we expected to do anyway!

Sawley Lock taking us onto the river Trent

Trent Lock taking us off it.
All was going swimmingly. Although the locks had to be turned round we still seemed to make good time. Then I had just come up Dolkholme lock when this female cyclist came through the cycle gate cursing and swearing. She threw down her bike and you could immediately see she was in some pain. Clutching her hand blood was dripping onto the ground. "Whatever has happened" I asked. That F-ing bloke on his bike tried to get through the gate as I was approaching and hit my hand with his brake lever. Not an apology or even stopping to see if she was alright, no he just rode raced off without a backward glance.  Ian said he would look after her bike and belongings while I took her inside FS to clean the wound and try to stem the bleeding. A very nasty gash right between her index finger which to me looked as if it needed stitching. She obviously didn't want to make a fuss and asked for a plaster which would do until she got home. Not a lot else I could do so plaster on the wound and with thanks ringing in my ears, she got back on her bike and rode off.
The lady thanking Ian for looking after her gear.

This wasn't the end to our troubles. Arriving below Sandiacre lock a small boat was moored on the lock landing. One of the bottom gates wide open but no sign of this chap going in. We pulled in behind and found out the long top pound (about a mile long) was at least a couple of feet down. C&RT had been informed but we were to wait for water to be run down. This chap had already been there for several hours so I walked up to get the lay of the land. We needed to get into the Derby arm but didn't seem any chance of that.

Crested Lark with quite a list.

Not often we can see the bottom!

Very dry by-wash

Moored below Sandiacre lock
Dave (C&RT ex lock keeper for Sawley) arrived to assess the situation. Water had been let down but because the length of the pound could take all night to rectify. He suggested we both come up, for the little boat to make it's way to Padmore moorings in Sandiacre town centre and for us to go bow first rather then stern first into the arm as far as we could get.

Quite bizarrely as we were nearly up on that lock another boat turned up. By keeping to the middle he had managed to reach Sandiacre. With him on the landing there was no way I could swing FS into the arm so I suggested he come in next to me before I exited the lock. Had to do a few reverses to get the swing into the arm because of the lack of water and trying to get next fully next to Crested Lark was impossible. We managed half way along the boat length before coming to a stop. So here we stay until the water levels return to normal. There's quite a significant pong outside, like rotting vegetation plus that evil smell of stirred up silt where I reversed. To hot to close windows so will just have to put up with it. 

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 And the by-wash below the lock seemed an ideal place for the ducks youngsters to have a nap.

And the Swan with her 8 cygnets (only 5 in the photo) enjoying the last of the sun above the lock.

This Dragonfly flitting above the rising water lilies.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

More surprise meetings.

Seems those on Icing were up well before those on Saphire and us on FS but we all came together for a towpath natter around 9ish. Icing was the first boat away when another boater heading in their direction came past. At least now they had a locking partner for the last of the two broad locks.

We were next away jumping at the chance of a locking buddy as Nb Jay came past but Paul, not quite ready to leave with Saphire, missed out because next boat going in his direction was a wide beam!

Yesterday Margaret told us of all sorts of problems they had had after leaving Shardlow. One was a tree down by bridge 7. Queues formed and no end to the delays in sight but, after several hours of wondering if it would ever be cleared, a branch was removed allowing the boaters to continue. It was as we got to the fallen tree that we saw just how little had been removed. In fact not sure if this is more of a hazard now with just a window to cruise through.. Cant see ahead for oncoming boats.

Nb Jay nearly through

Got chatting to our locking companions John and Yvonne, (as one does at locks) and John told me he reads my blog. John knew all about our Jade having passed away and having two Labs themselves, a chocolate and black made me miss our Woofits even more.. Yvonne happened to mention that the chocolate Lab got itself hit by a car a few weeks ago and luckily got away with only an injured paw. "Just let her off the lead, a sudden change in direction toward the duel carriageway, 'after some bread',  (typical Labrador thinks with it's stomach) and the deed was done."

At Aston lock an ascending boat seemed to take forever to come up. It was once in the lock next to  Jay that I noticed both ground paddles taped up. Hmmm.. not the best paddles to be out of action. It only takes a novice to lift the gate paddles to quickly and all sorts of problems could arise.

Western lock
 Once the bottom gates opened we were greeted by a widebeam on the lock landing. Behind him another narrow boat and coming along to join them, yet another. . Very glad we were descending as yet more boats arrived as we exited to join that queue.

We shared Shardlow lock and fully expected to do Derwent Mouth lock with them as well but as we came under the bridge in Shardlow we spied another boater we knew well. Norman (ECP&DA Chairmen) and his good lady Shirley on Nb Amelia Alan. Mentioning to Norman that John and Yvonne was heading up the Erewash he grabbed a leaflet from his boat (which showed moorings, pubs, shops etc) and raced back to John  to hand it to him. 

Norman in his boiler suit on his way back. We hope to see John and Yvonne at Sandiacre when they return from Langley Mill.
Finally arrived at Sawley and moored by 1.30ish right behind John and Yvonne. It was a lunch stop for them and they left to head up the Erewash but for us we are staying to meet up with friends Alan and Carol for a meal at the Plank and Leggit tonight.

And the wildlife seen today,

One very sleepy duck. This mid yawn!

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