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.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Right of Way?

This always makes me smile when I see this. So who has right of way? I suppose boats going North regardless of who reaches the bridge first!!!

Fireman at Swarkstone Lock

 The journey to Sawley was pretty uneventful. Took me a while to get used to double locks again. Makes you realise just how easy single lock gates are. Luckily we met another boat called There's no place like Gnome ( had gnomes painted over the whole boat as well as gnomes on the roof )and it made working the locks much easier. The fire engine arrived while we were in the lock. I expect they're going to practice filling and then emptying their water tanks.

Misty Morn at Stenson

Ian took me out last night for a meal . After the small meal from the night before the servings at the Bubble were huge. I was very surprised that we had the moorings over night all to ourselves. When we turned up there were wall to wall "Canaltime" boats and luckily one moved of just as we got there. Then they all disappeared. Was it something we said? Maybe it was the smoke billowing from our chimney that put them off. (We had loaded it with wood thinking they might like the smell) This morning you couldn't see your hand in front of your face but to me there's something mystical about shapes emerging from the mist.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

My birthday cake

On route to Stenson Ian decided to nip to Morrison's at bridge 33 and leave me to Skype my twin brother in Australia. After all it is his birthday as well and while I was chatting Ian came back and presented me with this raspberry doughnut with one of those blasted everlasting candle in the center. I havent quite figured yet how to blow it out!!

Cats & Daffs

Shobnall Fields full of Daffodils. Someone spent ages planting all the bulbs. They completly surround the playing fields.

If the cats are on the boat, what is this one doing off it?

The family visit

Really cold yesterday so we had to leave the fire lit to keep the boat warm. I expect most Grandparents are the same when the stove is hot, worry worry worry in case Josh went any where near it. He's like a mini tornado rushing from one end of the boat to the other leaving destruction in its place. I wouldn't have him any other way. Bless. An added bonus was the Candy boat shop moored next to us. Josh had a great time deciding what sweeties to buy. If he had his own way he would have had the lot! Christine and Kev took us out for a meal last night to the Waterfront at Barton Turns. Lovely pub and the food was excellent apart from the new modern so called "Michelin" status where portions are tiny and prices exorbitant. Glad we wernt paying!!!!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Strange plants

I haven't a clue. I have only seen them in a few spots on the T & M and I have no idea what they are. Any idea's?Posted by Picasa

Tattenhall Lock

I forget how many times we have been through this lock. It's only just occurred to me today what a pretty picture it makes. We left Common Lock this morning fairly early because we wanted to make Branston water park before all the moorings were taken up. It's a very popular mooring and as we had arranged to meet Christine, kev and our lovely grandson Josh on Saturday, I thought the best idea was to get here as early as possible. We did have a stop at Alrewas to visit the butcher, a must for all meat lovers, and even had time to top up our water tank. We still managed to get to Branston by midday even though all the locks were against us and we had " Canaltime" on a go slow ( Is that possible????).Its a sure sign we are getting near to their base at Sawley. Saturday looks to be a cloudier and cooler day which is a pity because Josh is at that " I want to touch everything" stage. If we can play with him outside I wont be so worried about my breakables!
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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Trying to moor at Great Hayward yesterday morning was a bit of a nightmare. I had run out of fresh veggies so a trip to the shops was in order. Nothing available on the visitor moorings above the lock so we locked down and managed to slot the boat by two working boats Monarch and Grimsby. They were owned by a lovely couple Vivian and Simon. and we got chatting about Reckless ( The Boat that Guy Built. ) they were shocked at the state of the boat. They remembered it in prestige condition and couldn't understand why it looked as bad as it did. Like me, they were a bit disappointed the program didn't actually show them building a boat but nevertheless the idea of the series is quite amusing. While we were having this discussion I suddenly became aware of two ducks creating merry hell. Looking to see what all the fuss was about, a large black mink appeared swimming along the opposite bank. Typical!! No camera to record the event.!!!!
Another glorious day. Ian's threatened to put on his shorts. Thank goodness the temperature is set to go down. I don't think the world is ready yet for his lily white legs!!
Swansong passed us while we were moored. We gave each other a friendly wave but I have yet to meet them.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Our duck family & mystery solved of Anglo Welsh boat on the facilities.

We have finally put our ducks back on the omni directional aerial. Hopefully this time they will stay put. Ian has Super glued them in place so if anyone wants them they will have to take the aerial  too!!
I have found out why Anglo Welsh at Great Haywood has one of their boats on part of the facilities. I know it has been a bone of contention to quite a few boaters, with queues forming to water up. Well several weeks ago a lone boater on the visitor mooring suffered a stroke. Anglo Welsh stepped in and became the good Samaritan helping him with his everyday living needs as the local social services were not up to the task. They would have put his boat in the basin but because of the way the fleet are moored he wouldn't have been able to get himself onto the bank. So now you might ask, why an Anglo Welsh boat . Well, his boat has had to go into dry dock for  work to be done on it so again Anglo Welsh stepped in and " lent " him one of their boats while the work was carried out. Now that's what I call doing a good deed. So the morale to this tale is that I suppose we should'nt really judge until we know all the facts.   Posted by Picasa

Monday, 21 March 2011

Waterfall at Rodbaston Lock!!!!!

A very noisy evening yesterday. We had settled down to watch Eggheads when I suddenly became aware of a generator. As we couldn't see another boat Ian assumed it was from the farm. Now if you're like me once a noise gets inside your head that's all you can hear. After about 20 minutes I decided to have a walk to see if I could locate the sound. Well would you believe it . Round the first bend was a moored boat with his generator perched on his roof. The sound was horrendous so as soon as I got back to the boat I informed Ian that we were moving! He looked at me gone out but even he had got fed up with the noise. We only had to move a few hundred yards for peace to descend once again.
Next morning after we had used the facilities at Gailey another boater informed us that the lock by the M6 motorway had a slight problem with leakage from the top gate. Slight problem!!! What an understatement!!! In fact BW were already there and having seen us coming filled the lock ready for our use. He then informed Ian to lift the bottom paddle very slowly and for me to bring the boat as far forward as possible. It wasn't long before I realised why. Being down so far in the lock with all that water cascading at the back of me was frightening to say the least. I had visions of the gate giving way and me being deluged in a mountain of water. As I'm still here to tell the tale it of course didn't happen but I feel sorry for all those other boaters who wont have BW there to help them. Me thinks a stoppage will be on the cards in the near future.
Excitement over we continued our journey towards Great Haywood. Then who should we meet but Bruce and Shelia on Sanity Again. They were moored by Deptmore Lock enjoying the  lovely Spring sunshine. After exchanging pleasantries they helped us lock down with the promise of seeing each other again at the IWA festival in Burton.
We have moored above Tixall Lock and will continue to Hayward tomorrow where a visit to the farm shop is in order to stock up with veggys.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Our peasant neighbours

Or should I say Pheasant neighbours! Good job the dogs weren't out as this one walked right past the galley window In Judy's heyday no game bird was safe. I don't think this one would have had a problem escaping now. Posted by Picasa

Narrows on the Staffs & Worcester

Posted by PicasaTalk about a tight squeeze! As we came under bridge 67 heading away from Wolverhampton we suddenly realised another two boats were heading in our direction. Luckily there was a "lay by" just past the bridge ole and with a nifty bit of reverse mooring, managed to tuck myself away so both boats could pass.
Nice to see the dredger even though no one was working on it. It is Sunday after all but there are signs that work has been done judging the amount of "spoil" on the opposite banks. 

Tree Creeper

Posted by PicasaI was so lucky to get this shot. We were only a stones throw away from Gaily Marina and I had just started fishing when this tree creeper put in an appearence. Then..........
Along came a buzzard and swooped down in the field opposite. Its slightly out of focus but it was quite a distance from me..

Friday, 18 March 2011

A very wet Judy

The Shroppie is a lovely canal but it can get a bit monotonous. Its so straight and quite rural. and the occasional wooded cutting and embankment does help to keep the interest, so......when Judy fell in trying to jump of the boat, it gave us a sudden rude awakening. We had just stopped for the night at the A5 aqueduct and was attempting to tie up when Judy decided she just had to get off. Her front legs reached the bank but the back legs didn't. Luckily Ian rushed over and plucked her from the water just as she was about to go under. Thankfully she appeared okay but as the evening progressed, we noticed that her walk became very stiff. So yet another painkiller tablet and more to worry about!!  
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Whats wrong with these pictures?

As we headed toward this goose I said to Ian that it looked weird. It wasn't until we had cruised passed that I realised it only had one leg!!Posted by Picasa

Oh to be small

Now, how can I get those nuts?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Rock fall at Woodseaves Cutting

 Wow.What a landslide As we approached on tick over it became clear just how bad it had been and this after BW had cleared most of the debris away. The cutting itself looks very unstable with small mud slides in several places along the mile stretch. How long before more of the bank comes down and will it mean the end of this section of the Shroppie? Will we only be able to go so far in both directions before having to wind round??I do hope not!  

Looking up.

Layers of clay. Makes you think of slate.

Looking back

On the approach

misty morn

Crows and loads of them. The noise last thing at night and first thing in the morning was deafening. So much for our quiet moorings! The bonus, though, was no other boat came and moored near us. Maybe they knew about the crows.
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Shroppie Fly & Audlem Locks

 After cleaning the cratch cover, which incidentally didn't come up to bad, and Ian touching up the paintwork again!!!! (all because of my mishaps with the locks on Heartbreak hill) we left the next day at some unearthly hour of the morning, 7 am to be precise, and made Audlem flight just after 8 am. After stopping at the Shroppie Fly to water up we found to our surprise that all 15 locks were in our favour and. including our facilities break. got to the top by about 11 am. We pushed on and did the 5 locks in the Adderly flight ( which again were set in our favour ) and then decided we had cruised enough, after all it was lunch time, and moored by what we thought was a quiet mooring.
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Audlem Locks

Another bridge photo

I really must stop taking pictures of bridges!
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Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Help! This winter has played havoc with our cratch cover. The problem is not enough ventilation and we are trying very hard to find some sort of solution. What I wondered from all you fellow bloggers out there is have you any ideas of how to get rid of it? I have tried Milton and someone suggested vinegar but none of these have worked. Today I am going to scrub the whole cover with a carpet cleaner and then dilute some Dettol and rub that in but if anyone has any better ideas please please let me know.
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Monday, 14 March 2011

Work Party

Doing the lock for us
Laying the new towpath
What a great job the Shropshire Union Canal Society  do. Both Ian and I have always said that this canal always looks good. Towpaths in good repair, hedges cut, good visitor moorings ( some with picnic and BBQ facilities) and hardly any rubbish lying about. As we approached Hack Green lock we were greeted by a work party painting bollards, installing new visitor mooring posts and generally tidying the lock surrounds. Some were laying a new towpath while others were setting and helping us through the locks. All were very friendly and a nicest bunch of people that you could hope to meet.l Well done to all. 
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