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, 28 September 2010

Monday 27th Broken cars and body at Cosgrove

The day started like any other day, only difference was we were due to travel to Eastbourne to see my dad. Our car had been left on our son Colin's driveway for several months but she started okay so we brought her down to Cosgrove to where our boat was moored. We left at 9.15am and after checking tyre pressures and filling up with petrol at the local garage, set of on our 3 hour journey. Then an hour into the journey all went very wrong. Ian suddenly felt a shuddering from the tyres. He pulled over onto the hard shoulder of the M1 and as he stopped clouds of smoke came pouring out from the front wheels. So big dilemma. Do we proceed slowly along the hard shoulder to Junction 9 where we could safely get away from the speeding cars, or do we stay put and risk getting run into? We decided on the former and with smoke billowing in all directions made it off the motorway and into a farmers track. Okay. Phone the green flag to come out to us. No problem.Said he would be with us at 11.30am. As we had driven forward onto the track we decided that it would be easier for the repairs to happen if the front wheels were toward the road. The brakes had cooled down by now so Ian did a three point turn and positioned the car so it faced the road. Anyway sure enough the nice man from the Green Flag arrived when he said he would and after a quick look at the front wheels came to the conclusion that the brakes were binding and not much could be done at the side of the road. So he said he could tow us to Hemel Hempsted and take us to Quick Fit where they could do a brake check. We agreed. Then as he walked round the car he suddenly said " Did you know the rear tyre was going flat?" We couldn't believe it. On turning the vehicle round we had punctured the tyre with a large screw. It was still embedded in the wheel! Good job we were going to Quick Fit! On arrival they said they would fix the puncture there and then but couldn't do the brake check until 2.30pm. The town center was only half a mile away so we left them to it and went for a look round Hemel. We duly arrived back at the allotted time only to be told our brake caliper had cracked and that was the reason for our troubles. Ian being Ian and knowing quite a lot about cars told him in no uncertain terms that he was talking rubbish and that they were not going to force us into paying some exorbitant price for no reason at all. He told them to put the wheels back on the car and he would drive it back home and sort it out there. Okay. Now for the scary bit. As Ian drove the car from the forecourt he suddenly said that the brakes didn't feel right. I got out of the car to be met by some sort of fluid pouring from beneath the car. Brake fluid!!!!! So straight back to the garage and back onto the ramp. We both jumped to conclusion that the mechanic had done something wrong, but when Ian inspected it with him, found the brake pipe had corroded where the clip held it to the car. This could have gone at any time. Someone was looking out for us because if we had to have braked suddenly while travelling at speed along the motorway we just wouldn't have stopped and our number would have been up!!! Well we had no option but to let them fix the pipe. Only trouble was it was a Chrysler part and they didn't have it. As luck would have it next door was a Chrysler dealer, so with no brakes other then the hand break, Ian drove it next door. Guess what. They didn't have the part either so we had to leave the car in Hemel Hempsted and take the train back to Milton Keynes. A quick phone call to Colin and an assurance that he would collect us from the station. Now you would think that as our day had been so bad nothing more could happen. Wrong. When Colin pulled into Gosgrove carpark we found it to be full of Police cars. Wondering if a boat had been broken into I went up to one of the policeman and asked that question. He didn't say much just said there had been "an incident". We started to walk toward our boat when he stopped us and asked where we were going. We told him our boat was moored just below the lock and that as we lived on board we were going home. He stopped us again and told us we could not return to the boat until the "incident" had been dealt with. It all fell into place then. I asked him if it was a body in the canal and he confirmed my suspicion. So all we could do was to go to the pub and wait for the all clear from the coppers. Everyone was talking about what had happened. From what I can gather,it was a man who had been missing off his boat since Friday. He moored about half a mile from Cosgrove Lock. I don't suppose we will ever no what really happened to him but on the Monday morning a boat exiting the lock suddenly stalled and no amount of turning the engine would get it going. Then the lady at the tiller realised that something was round the prop and to her horror found it to be the body. How she must have felt is beyond me. It is something I have always dreaded happening and so far thankfully it never has. The body had been in the canal for a length of time and was pretty mangled so no wonder the policeman wouldn't let us back to our boat. I really feel for his family. Just goes to show that you can never be to careful when boating. We were eventually allowed back to the boat at 8.30pm where we reflected on a pretty dismal day all round. Our trip to Eastbourne had to be cancelled and we have no idea when our car will be ready to collect.

mechanical man

As we are at a loose end now and because getting to Hemel Hempsted is not easy from Gosgrove, we decided to move the boat back to Fenny Stratford where we can catch a train to Bletchley and then another to Hemel. We had a phone call to say the mechanics are still trying to locate a break pipe and the cost will be £185. Ouch!! So here we are at Fenny just biding our time until we can collect our car.

Posted by PicasaOn our way to Fenny this metal man had been cleverly placed in a tree. Good way of getting rid of unwanted spare parts.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Family visit

On Sunday Colin, Iwona and are beautiful grandson Oscar arrived to take a trip with us from Fenny to Gifford Park. After swapping cars we set off about 11 am. Oscar is in the terrible two stage but he was a dream to have on board. It was only on the last 15 mins of our journey that he got a bit troublesome but it is only to be expected after being confined to a boat.Posted by Picasa

Heron interloper

At Fenny Stratford the only 14 day mooring available was opposite Mick and Carole Gold on their boat Electra. This heron made itself comfortable whilst waiting for his breakfast to arrive.
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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Defra rash

Not sure what is going on here. The black plastic went from one side to the other. As we passed over it we hit something. Ian thought it was submerged brickwork.Posted by Picasa

Strange duck

This pretty duck swam past with an ordinary drake in tow. Had they paired? or was she trying to get away from him! If anyone knows what sort of duck this is please could you tell me. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The walking wounded

Well, first Judy has to wear Ian's T shirt because the lump on her chest had started to weep, and then Jade cut her pad when playing ball. Luckily I had bandages in the doggy first aid box so Jade suffered the indignaty of being plastered. We are still at Grove Lock and while Ian got the chainsaw out and cut the logs into managable sizes I washed all the dogs bedding including baskets in the bath. As you can see the dogs have had to resort to sleeping on their vet beds. We will wind round tomorrow and head back toFenny Stratford where we will stay for a few days and Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Grove Lock nr Leighton Buzzard

What a day! High winds and driving rain. Started to get worried when branches dropped on top of us.We even hooked a fisherman! I should say he hooked us. Left his ledger rod out and as we came passed, picked up the line and caught it on our bow. We had to reverse quite away before the line came free. He had a droll sense of humour when he said it was the biggest thing he had ever caught.
We did some scavanging on the way and found 3 decent branches left to rot in the hedges. We loaded them onto our boat ready to be chopped up and logged for our fire. Wont be long before we need it lit. We had had enough when we arrived at Grove lock and moored just in time before the heavens opened again.
Posted by PicasaIronic isn't it. 6.30pm and the sun comes out and gives us a brilliant sunset.


I have been trying for ages to get a heron in flight and finally I managed it.
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Monday, 13 September 2010

Pump part purchased

Managed to find a Chandlers at Willowbridge. The price wasn't to bad at £17 including washers etc so all Ian has to do is fix it and then he can finally have his shower. We found a nice mooring not far from the boat yard and just got nicely tied when Ian decided to move on because the bloke opposite was using an angle grinder on his boat and the last thing Ian wanted was metal filings all over our paintwork We only had to move just round the corner and actually the mooring here is even nicer. The weather has turned nasty again. Lots of wind and rain. Glad to be inside the boat, but what about my fishing!
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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Not another loose boat!!!!!

We stayed at Stoke Bruern for a couple of days. Ian gave the gunwale another coat of paint and then re varnished the windows in the lounge. I fished. We left on Saturday 11th, stopped at Wolverton to stock up with supplies at Tesco and then found a tackle shop so I could buy more bait. We moved onwards and decided that, as we needed a good place to stop so I could get my telly, Gifford Park was as good as any. We had just moored up when I noticed the boat in front drifting out. Ian again came to the rescue expecting his pin to be pulled out, but no, the owner of the boat had tied his rope to his windless and shoved that between the cladding. No wonder it had come adrift. As the weather was good Ian decided to take all the bedroom window surrounds out and re varnish them. I fished.
That evening I had a shower. All was well. Then I washed our nets in the bath. All was not well!! As I pumped the water from the bath a horrible noise started to come from the pump and the water refused to flow away. Ian to the rescue again and after taking the pump apart discovered all the teeth had broken from the impeller. Somehow a small stone had made its way through the pump shattering all the blades. ( Must be when we washed the dogs feet!!) So no spares on the boat. Nearest Chandlers was a day away and one very dirty Ian because he couldn't have his shower. So glad I had already had mine. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Tunnel enterance

I know I have taken numerous pictures of Blisworth Tunnel but I wanted to experiment with my camera when we got inside. Luckily quite a few of the pictures came out.
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Inside Blisworth Tunnel

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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Boat Adrift

This was the third boat adrift today. A St Johns wide beam boat had passed us a while back. In fact Ian mentioned that it was going a little fast. We had to hang back to let it pass some moored boats and as we got level with them, Ian notice that his front pin had been pulled. We passed with no mishap and a couple walking their dog managed to bring it back to the side. So we were not at all surprised to spy this boat across the cut. Not just this one but a small cruiser also drifting about without his mooring pins. Ian did the gentlemanly thing and went to sort it out. A lady from another boat came to help him and eventually the boat was secured and we went on our way.

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Navigational hazard

After the boat came the tree branch. This didn't actually impede our progress and as we passed the said branch we noticed it to be full of sloes. Me thinks it is time for stocking up with the gin.

Misty Nether Heywood

Posted by PicasaThe weather forecast looked bad again so after leaving we decided to make for Nether Heyford and sit it out. As we came in to moor a chap told us there were better moorings further round and it was nearer to the shop. Shop? What shop! All the times we have been passed through and haven't known that we could stock up with provisions. So armed with rucksack we made our way to the village. Guess what was also in the village? A tackle shop at the local fisheries ponds. I argued with myself. Should I get some bait? Would my wrist be able to cope with pulling in big fish? Off course it would!!!! So straight back to the boat for my bait box and a pint of maggots later started fishing for the "Big Uns " again. Needless to say I only caught tiddlers but the wrist held up and my quest for the big allusive perch has started.
The rain did come in as predicted but not as bad as made out. This picture was taken this morning before we set off for Stoke Breurne.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Towpath grazier

One could be quite unnerved if you met this while walking the towpath. This bullock had also swum across. How he got out was beyond me.
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Flood at Hillmorton

Before we arrived at the bottom lock, a boater travelling in the opposite directions told us we would need our wellies because the towpath was awash. When we arrived a BW chap had just turned up and was trying to sort out the problem. He assumed that a boater had left a paddle open and the amount of water coming down from the second lock had drenched the surrounding lock and towpath. He was not best pleased as it had washed a lot of the granite stone from the path and down a culvert.
Posted by Picasa I can almost here his thoughts. He was not a happy chappie.


I think these are American Long Horn cattle. Wouldn't want to walk through this field!!!!
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Raised boat

We stopped at Hillmorton back in June. While we were boat sitting for Dennis and Margaret I spied this chap next to this boat. He was frantically trying to dry everything out by hanging bedding and soft furnishings over the hedge. I stopped to have a chat and he told me the boat had been sunk during the cold spell in January, February time. It had only just been raised and he hoped to salvage as much as he could. His last words to me was that a friend was coming to try and start the engine and tow it somewhere to be re fitted. So imagine my surprise when the boat was still there, and BW had put there dreaded AWARE notices up.Posted by Picasa

Damaged bridge

I wonder what boat hit this bridge? and did the boat come away unscathed? We noticed the damage when we came through in May - June time. Putting big red buoy's out seems to be all that has happened since then.
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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

yet another stuck boat

We hadn't planned on stopping by the Bridge Inn again but on the way to Napton we spied a sign saying Tuesday Steak Night, Rump or Sirloin for £7.99 Posted by PicasaThis was too good a opportunity to miss so we managed to find a mooring just as another boat pulled away. Ian looked at the bank and said it would be suitable for painting the gunwales on that side so we decided to stay for the 48 hours permitted. The winding hole was only a little way up from us and I spent a happy few hours watching boats attempting to wind round. This Alvchurch boat tried winding the wrong way ie reversing into it rather then putting his bow in first. The consequences was that he got well and truly stuck on the mud. Luckily another boat appeared from the bridge and after attaching a line, pulled them out.
Our table was booked for 7 pm and we ordered our two rump steaks. Mine came and was perfectly cooked but Ian's was more well done then he liked. He reluctantly sent it back and they were ever so good as to cook him a perfect steak within 5 minutes. Even though we had this slight problem I would still recommend this pub.

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