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, 21 June 2018

We move camp.

Just had the one full day at the first site so today we moved 2 miles to Hollands Wood, a lovely wooded site with pockets of sunny areas enough to keep the solar panels topped up. Nearer to Brockenhurst, and after setting camp, we set off on a gentle mile walk to find a pub for lunch.
We chose the Forester, a quaint place serving huge jacket spuds filled with whatever we wanted and when suitably full, walked the short length of the 'high street', purchasing strawberries, cream and meringues to make an Eaton Mess for dessert. (my turn to cook dinner so I served up a risotto) before ambling back.

Didn't do much more other than try out our bikes ready for a trip to Lyndhurst tomorrow. Now that should be interesting! Apart from a short bike ride wobbling along the filled in Derby Canal I haven't ridden a bike in years! I may well be walking bowlegged tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Ireland here we come (Via the New Forest)

Yeah....we are on our way!!! The saga of the wheel has been resolved. Not by any garage because trying to get anyone from Peugeot dealers to look at the hub was like swimming through a bowl of treacle. Impossible. "Oh yes," said the mechanic, "we can look at it but first we need to do a diagnostic and that could be done on Thursday. Then we could book the van in for July sometime." Anyway Ian took matters into his own hands, got Norman to run him down to the storage yard to collect the car, drove to Mansfield where he had managed to source new wheel nuts, cleaned all the threads on the hub and found to his delight not one of the bolt holes had ovalled, replaced every nut, torqued them to 110lb (recommended settings for that make of motorhome) and took it for a 10 mile test drive with fingers crossed. And result. He came back, tried to tighten the nuts again and found they were still at 110lb. So it was a mad scramble to refill the beasts (motorhome) fridge with the removed food, tidy FS and do the necessary jobs like switch off gas, electrics, fridge etc and make the 4-hour drive down to Brockenhurst in the New Forest to meet the more mature of the Jameison and Warren families. By 9.00pm we had found the site but trying to find Alan and Chris and their motorhomes on a site so huge was nie on an impossibility. We must have gone round for 30  minutes trying to find them. To make matters worse both our phones had no signal. In the end, we went back to Brockenhurst where we finally got a signal and managed to phone Alan. So we are now nestled between trees with the vans in a circle (shades of wagon train came to mind) and a fabulous week ahead with the family to look forward to.

L to R Brother -in-law Chris, Ians brother Alan, guest Nigel and Ian

And the ladies, L to R me, sister-in-law Angela, Ian;s sister Sheila and guest Deidre.

Amazing what can be put together at short notice. Cupboards raided and a fab lunch for our quests.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Oh no....not again

Hark back to Australia and the day the wheel parted company with the caravan, well it nearly...but not quite...happened to the motorhome!

Having decided we wouldn't do work party Friday for ECP&DA (well apart from my usual loo cleaning duty of which I did in record time) we headed off in the car to collect the motorhome from the storage yard. A considerable time was then spent on trying to figure out how to put our two bikes on the bike rack. A moveable arm which attached the second bike to the main frame just wouldn't reach but finally, after having taken the bikes off three times and moving the bikes positions every time, we got it to fit. So a good 90 minutes later we left the site for Langley Mill. Now this is where the problems started

About 2 miles from the storage yard a squeak developed. Seemed to be coming from the nearside back wheel. Every time Ian braked it disappeared so the assumption was the brakes were binding and it would eventually sort itself out. But when a rumbling also sounded at the same time as the squeak, the worries set in. Flat tyre maybe??? Ian pulled in at the weighbridge, got the van weighed (3.5 ton and our limit is 3.7 ton) and had a good look around all four wheels. No flat tyres so off we went again. The rumbling got louder but when the van started vibrating real concern set in. This time though, we had just entered the A610 from the slip road (dual carriageway) with very few places to stop. Lucky for us a right turn toward the sewage works came into sight so we made an abrupt stop beyond the junction. A loud expletive came from Ian when he looked at the nearside back wheel. Not only had we lost one of the five bolts holding the wheel onto the hub, but the four remaining was within a few miles (estimated) of also departing company with the wheel. Another assumption, had the garage servicing the motorhome failed to tighten the bolts sufficiently? Cant be proved of course but strange that this only happened after the brakes had been checked. Anyway, we limped back to Langley Mill after Ian tightened the remaining 4 bolts. The plan was to still head off to the New Forest but via a tyre and servicing garage to have the wheel checked and to see if another bolt could be found. What we were told was not what we wanted to hear. Firstly no bolt could be found to fit the alloy wheels, secondly, the damage done by the loosening bolts was extensive, so much so that the hub was damaged beyond repair and thirdly, only a Peugeot dealer could do the job. Back we drove to the Mill, very slowly and carefully I might add, tried numerous Peugeot dealers all of which were closed and wouldn't open until Monday. So now we have had to postpone the holiday and have moved back on board FS, which was now in the basin wedged between two other boats. It's a good job we have the means to run the electric on the motorhome otherwise I would have had to empty the fridge.  Monday we hope to find a dealer to replace the hub (which no doubt will cost big bucks) and to resume our plans even though they will be cut short. No pictures unfortunately as for once I left my camera behind in FS but look at the Oz post and you will see what we nearly went through.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Just chilling

Much has happened since the rally ended, namely going off to Crete with the family for 8 days. A good place just to chill and relax. Well not axactly chill as Crete is the one place that is far from chilly. In fact, it was blooming hot!! Like 30 deg + hot. 8 days of blue skies, swimming, waterslides and as much alcholic drink one could take in a 24 hour period. Waking 'hung-over' was the norm most mornings so the two excursions (fishing and snorkeling on the first one and then caves, monestry, windmills and Knossos on the second excurion) with a 8.15am start to get to the coach was slightly unpleasent. But oh we had an amazing 8 days and Gouves holiday water park a great holiday destination for families.

Upper L, Family at Gatwick Airport. Top R,bottom L & R, enjoying the wterslides at Gouve Hotel, Gouve

The drinks kept coming. Red wine is obviously mine!

Fishing trip. Ian 1...me nill!!!

Climb to the cave. Donkeys offered for those that couldnt make the climb.

Diktaion Andron Cave (Lasithi)

Top L,R,and bottom R, Windmills at Lassithi Plateau and bottom L Views of the hair raising roads that had to be negotiated by the coach!  Bo
Kera Monastory

Knossos, Heraklion

Having arrived back yesterday, managed to get 3 loads of washing done and dried and we are now almost ready for the next trip away. Saturday we head off in the motorhome for the New Forest for a week with Ian's brother Alan, sister-in-law Angela and sister Sheila and brother-in-law Chris. Thats not the end of our travels though, as we then drive to Fishgaurd to catch the ferry to Rosslare for a 6 week tour around Irelands coasts.

A few of Cretes wildlife. First two critters were in the bedroom.

At Knossos

One very hot sparrow

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Last day, another flypast and a couple of mishaps.

Wow, we have been so lucky especially as the BBC news showed the devastation the thunderstorms caused to Birmingham and the surrounding area. Missed us completely and so lucky to have 25 deg + temperatures.

Monday 28th
Usually, on the last day, the numbers of attendees are smaller but not today! Hordes came in through the gates and it was another hot and hectic day. The Hurricane flypast came at approx 2.50pm and once again brought the place to a standstill. This was also the only day we had to make an announcement for St Johns first aiders. A lady slipped by the lock badly twisting her ankle. The ambulance had to be called and we heard later that she may have sustained a hairline fracture. Then almost two hours later a lady who moored at the Langley Mill boatyard was crossing the lock, slipped and fell in. Thankfully no ambulance was needed this time but the first aiders monitored her vital signs for quite some time before giving the all clear.

I managed a few hours away from the Tombola stall so walked the length of the towpath below the lock. Found Dawn Rose the Cuckoo boat with it's sail up. Caused me no end of concern as their anchorage was just mooring spikes hammered into the ground. I had visions of a gust of wind filling the sail and the boat heading off into the distance!

Back above lock and found Dan from the boatyard displaying some engines. No doubt you knowledgeable folk would know exactly what make they are. To me, they are just engines!!

Paul King was the official photographer for the ECP&DA and these next lot are all his taken over the three days.

Trade Boats and stalls. Top L personalised printing and ground Coffee. Bottom R more of the ground coffee and Toy stall

Top L Home made ciders and Lollipop boat.   Bottom L Bonzi and dog food stall

Top L me on the Tombola and LDK. Bottom L James and Debbie Pen Makers boat.

Top and Bottom L day entertainment. Top R Parrot entertainment! and Bottom R Cake boaters bake-off. Mine was the banana loaf with cream cheese icing. I didn't win!!!!
 The site was officially closed by 5 pm and we all breathed a sigh of relief that the three days had gone so well. The feedback from the public, trade boaters and trade stalls holders were glowing and all asked if we could do it all again next year. The answer to that from all of the rally committee was a resounding NO. As much as we enjoyed the whole three days the months of work involved in bringing everything together was enormous. I think 5 years to the next one will be just about right.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

It was the Hurricane today as show stealer.

Crikey I'm that behind with the blog, it's all the partying we do every night I haven't had a chance to put fingers to keyboard. So here goes catch-up....

Sunday 27th

Started slow as people came in dribs and drabs. As usual, I was manning the tombola stall whilst Ian was again out along the towpath sorting out problems in his Harbour Master roll. The sun shone and the day warmed nicely and the public started to arrive in droves. All the traders appeared to be busy and once the beer tent opened, it was a mad exodus to the marquee to quench thirsts. Barlows did another sterling job feeding the hungry thousands and by the time the Hurricane was due everyone was wilting in the heat. But that didn't stop the anticipation of the flypast and again we were not disappointed.

Today was also the day for the fun dog show. I expected utter chaos but all the dogs behaved impeccably and one of our very own bloggers Debbie with Dudley taking second for the best pedigree dog.

Debbie and Dudley

Judge Cheryl from the white house.

Annie McDonald with Tilly Pin (white) took 1st in waggiest tail

So here is another batch of photos of another tiring but productive day of the second day of the rally.

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