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, 27 July 2017

Farewell to friends old and new.

If I hadn't had to go to the back cabin to lock the door last night, I would have missed this.






The plan was to stay at Beale Park today. The meadows and woods (thank you, Sue, for pointing me in that direction) needed exploring and the bugs had to be photographed. Ian wanted to get our tax returns out of the way and he is best left alone for this as a distraction from me and a wrong figure could go into a wrong column. We don't want to pay Inland Revenue above what is owed now do we!  I was ready to set off for my walk when Sue and Vic cruised past. Another brief chat with them, this time about the merits of a steering wheel versus a tiller.  Sue admitted that she did keep turning the steering wheel on No Problem XL in the wrong direction at first. All those years of pushing a tiller in the opposite direction may have had something to do with it.



Sue at the wheel with Vic keeping an eye on things. Oh and that looks like Meg on side lookout duties.

Sue and Penny (who is now on a lookout).

I knew I would eventually get that photo of Vic.

Farewell No Problem XL
 About 10 minutes later it was the turn of Carol and George to come past.



Till we meet again and thanks again for the tea and biscuits and showing us around your fabulous boat.

Farewell Still Rocking.


Settled down to do some fishing after lunch. For a good hour it was cast after cast, fish after fish. Then suddenly nothing. Alongside the boat came this black shape. What on earth???? Blooming Comorent popped up right by my swim. Oh well, there goes my fishing for today!

And on my bug hunt,















On the back of a nettle leaf

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rescue mission

No point in rushing this morning. Forgot several things on my shopping list yesterday, think the brain has gone on strike! Thought we would have another BBQ tonight as last nights chops and lamb burgers were delicious so had to get more salad stuff. No sooner had I stepped off FS's front deck when the rain started. A quick dash back inside for brolly and I was good to go.

The trains were a bit noisy last night and Ian got woken by men at work on the railway shouting orders to each other at  1am!
But that rain never let up. At one point a fine drizzle was all we got so thinking the weather was on the turn we did no more than set off. First things first though, call into Better Boating for diesel. At 84p litre that wasn't bad but adding on the duty made it more expensive than we would have liked. To add fuel to fire, going past Caversham Boat services we noticed the diesel was also 84p litre but the duty was only £1. 15 not the £1. 34 paid at Better Boating.






Destination today was Beale Park, roughly 4 hours cruise away. Apart from a brief dry spell the brolly was up most of the time.

Only two manned locks and one self service to do today. It was at the self service (Whitchurch) that we met Sancerre, a wide beam hire boat. They were just going into the lock but as far as they were concerned, we wouldn't fit so gave us the crossed hand signal. Apparently Ian thought we would have got in but it was fortuitous in away that we stayed behind. I noticed a young lady with a Greyhound X getting off that boat. Sancerre then left the lock leaving her behind and it wasn't long before she discovered there was no way to get to the town because the bridge across the weir had a gate padlocked at the end and the lock keepers house had 'Private no entry' written on the wall. Now panic set in. She had no idea how she was going to join her friends. Along comes us to the rescue. Ian suggested we take her and the dog to where Sancerre was moored. A very grateful and relived lady got onto FS and we set off to find the boat. Not to far ahead as it turns out. They had moored by The Swan pub at the end of the weir. There we found the rest of her friends already seated at a table with their drinks. I'm wondering how long it would have been before they noticed one of the crew members plus dog had gone missing?




After leaving the girls we went in search of No Problem and Still Rocking. A brief conversation by a chap on a cruiser said they had seen them moored at the park. Apparently he reads their blogs and because of our chance comment asking if spaces were available at Beale Park, that this came up.

This boat was just leaving a mooring so we did no more then take it's place. As you can see the weather was still miserable.



No sign of Sue and Vic or Carol and George. As soon as the weather improved we went in search and finally came across them further along the moorings.

Sue greeted us like long lost friends, (The girls, Meg and Penny, seemed pleased too) Isn't it great  about our way of life? We all seem to know each other although most probably have never met, just one big happy blogging family. George and Carol gave us equally as lovely a greeting, inviting us on board 'Still Rocking', a very impressive widebeam and I can see the attraction of all that space. Of course toilets came into the conversation....don't they always amongst us boaters? Anyway tea and biscuits were forthcoming and Vic came in to join us a bit later. Couldn't believe how quick the time went, conversation never stopped but we know it could be months or even years before we see each other again so get as much said as possible. Lovely to meet you all and what a shame we are all going different ways. Until our paths cross again we will keep track with the blogs and hope you all have wonderful summer.

Carol and George at the back

And with Sue. Vic had left to feed the girls. Will have to get him in a photo next time.


And wildlife today shows the brutality of Swans.

The attacker was a lone swan with cygnets. Unusual not to have a pair but this unlucky swan must have strayed into it's territory.



Even the cygnets were having a go.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

And yet another crew member trying it on!

The chap, (farmer/bailiff/mooring officer call him what you will) arrived to collect his money ....very late yesterday evening so no free night then. Never mind, it's lovely to moor on this meadow so don't begrudge paying the £7 for the privilege.

Had a fabulous sunset and the Egyptian geese came to roost (do they roost?) right by FS's bow.





This morning the first lock was Hambledon. Another side fill but his time the lock keeper was ever so gentle in bringing us up.





Here we gained another freeloader in the form of a duck. Having disliked the force of water coming in she took off to land on FS's roof!







Going through Henley no boats to interfere with our cruise other than two men in a rowing boat each playing tennis!



 But on the approach to Sonning lock, it was a game of dodgems with all and sundry.





Trying to find a mooring at Tesco in Reading was impossible. We still gave it a go though as you never know someone may have moved! In the end, we winded and moored on a stretch just before the K&A canal. A tad difficult as only the bow made contact with the shore. FS's arse-end sticks out by at least 4 foot!



Tesco moorings
 Walked to Tesco from our mooring, not too far really but with a full trolly as well as a backpack, heavy going on the way back.

One other bit of good news. Anglo Welsh at Haywood (Carl who we know very well as our other boat Merlin is in the fleet) has managed to source a head casket set with bolts and mountings at trade price. Still, nearly £200 but cheaper than we can get anywhere else...and boy did we try to find cheaper! So now when we pass their yard at Eynsham it will be ready and waiting for us, as well as the bill!

And seen on route,

Henley

Oh to be rich!




And wildlife,



Rubbish photo but fish looked to bif for it to swallow.


I was wrong.







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