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, 31 May 2011

Ian to the rescue.

   Not long after the ducks vacated the nest the swans returned. We then noticed that one of the signets didn't seem able to swim properly. One of its legs was facing backwards and when it tried to climb on the nest, it just fell onto its back. The poor thing only just managed to right itself but in doing so got wedged between a couple of branches. When the family swam off the signet was desperate to join them and Ian being a real softy that he is, came to the rescue with the boat hook pushing the branch to one side and thus allowing the signet to get free. While this was going on one of the swans, I think it was the cob, rushed back to defend its youngster. Good job the pole was in between Ian and its baby because Ian could have been severely injured.  The family swam off but we are all a bit concerned as to what will happen to the signet. 

Duck squatters

We have a lovely view of these swans and their signets on their nest. What made us laugh was as soon as the swans swam off a family of ducks decided it would be a great place to squat!   

Monday, 30 May 2011

Where's the Damson gone?

So, we're back at Sandiacre again. Only a bit of drizzle on the way but by 5pm the sun came out and by the time we moored up it was really warm. We had met up with Dennis and Margaret on 'Icing' at Sawley and after a very good Sunday lunch at the Plank and Leggit made our way back to our mooring. It is their Golden Wedding anniversary on Saturday and the 'do' is being held at Sandiacre Lock cottage. The first thing they did on arrival was to go and unlock the cottage. As they approached the gate they suddenly realised that something was not quite right. Where was the Damson tree that had stood just outside the gate for well over 20 years? All that could be seen was a split trunk and the hint of branches on the other side.  Having gained access through the gate their path was blocked by the a mass of branches and leaves. There was only one thing for it so armed with a bow saw and secateurs, the four of us set to cutting branches and moving them to the hedge bottom where we hope to get the brazier out tomorrow and burn the lot. No longer will we be able to pick the Damsons for wine and jam making. A sad end to a small but noble tree. We found out later by the neighbours that a mini tornado had struck the area last Monday so the mystery was solved.
Is this a Damson in distress?

No its a Damson in da yard!!!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Another one of those ahhhh moments

I'm NOT getting my feet wet again mum!!
Another epic journey. Derwant Mouth Lock to Sawley. Must be all of a mile!!! Initially our plan was to stay at Derwant for the night and then head to Sawley this morning. A couple of things made us change our minds. 1st the smell. The only space available was right outside the sewage works. When we arrived that wasn't a problem but the wind must have changed direction because the pong got really bad. Shutting all the windows didn't help so I was very glad when our 2nd option showed itself. Our daughter phoned to say that she and Kev were at a loose end so could they come to visit. No problem there except the walk from Shardlow to us would have been to much for our grandson Josh. Decision made. We would meet them at Sawley. So off we set. Got to Sawley and as we went through the flood lock realisation dawned that the only available mooring left was half on and half off the lock landing. We had no choice but to reverse back to it but in doing so ended up broadside across the canal due to the wind. Eventually, with Ian doing his long jump impersonation off the bow and then threading the rope through a mooring ring so I could drive the boat forward ,we finally managed to get into the side. I hate breaking the rules but I assumed that as the flood lock was permanently open, no one would need to use the landing. Anyway family arrived and a nice visit was had by all and even Josh didn't wreak havoc through the boat so no clearing up to do after they had left. Goodoh! We're off to Sandiacre again this afternoon because Ian has another hospital appointment on Tuesday and we have a golden wedding anniversary to go to at the lock cottage on Saturday. So yet another long journey of 5 miles!!
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Friday, 27 May 2011

Hit again!!!!!!!!!

I just don't believe it! What is wrong with our boat????? There we were moored yesterday near Mercia Marina, Ian playing with his computer and me fiddling with the telly, when suddenly Ian gave an anguished cry. I looked up just in time to see a Canal Time boat heading straight for us!! It hit us head on with such a wallop that everything not fastened down rattled alarmingly. We lept from our seats and straight outside to find a single young lady at the tiller with no other crew member in sight. She kept apologising and then promptly hit the opposite bank. Well as much as we wanted to rant and rave at her it was obvious she hadn't a clue as to how to steer it. So after telling her which way to point the tiller she slowly went on her way. I wonder what sort of trail of destruction she will leave in her wake? Hopefully we will be well past Sawley when she returns to base. So now that we have been hit a number of times Ian said he is going to paint a bullseye on the part of the boat that hasn't been freshly painted then they can aim for that! It seems every time Ian paints a part of the boat he is doomed to have it ruined.  

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Another doggie rescue

Yesterday we managed to travel about 4 miles. That's quite a lot for us if we don't need to be anywhere. But we DO keep moving and don't overstay our mooring!!! Anyway I left Ian steering at the back while I hung washing out on the foredeck. I was lucky that my camera was near because I heard a shout and then much hilarity as this dog was unceremoniously dragged from the canal. Apparently he lent out just a bit to far and what he thought was firm ground happened to be lots of foliage. The dog then panicked and the owner got nearly as wet as the dog retrieving it. For lunch we stopped at Shobnall field Where the IWA  festival will be held in July. We found to our cost that this was a bad move. Bearing in mind that on Tuesday Ian had painted the gunwale, a day boat not long exiting the lock, lost control and crashed hard into us!!! I wont tell you what Ian said needless to say it is unprintable!!! It seems that every time we stop at Shobnell something bad happens. ( see Demise of a duckling) Click here. I wonder what will happen at the festival!!
 We stopped opposite Mercia Marina last night. Ian needs a few bits from Midland Chandlers and as more windy and wet weather is forecast for today we have decided to stay put.
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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tit in a hole

Today we left Branston with some difficulty as the wind was holding us well and truly on the side. Eventually with Ian reversing and me with the pole pushing away from the bank at the front we got underway. Our plan was to wind round as soon as we could but the first convenient place was above Barton Turns lock at the Marina. For once the wind aided us in our maneuver and we made it back to the lock before anyone had time to turn it around. Ian wanted to paint the gunwale and we had noticed a good mooring by Branston lock, By 11.30am we were again moored, and after making sure the TV worked okay, out came the sanding sheets, paint and brushes. Probably not the best day to paint because the wind hadn't eased at all, but with even stronger winds tomorrow and for the rest of the week, Ian decided to go for it. A lot of cussing came from him as bits of grass and flying insects stuck to the paint but once started he had to finish. While he was busy I got my rod out again and as I sat fishing noticed the tree opposite seemed to have lot of chirping noise coming from it. Suddenly a blue tit appeared and entered a small hole in the tree.  I like a bit of a challenge so I decided to see if I could get a picture of the blue tit coming out. As you can see I did manage it eventually but it came out a bit blurry. I'm quite glad that the camera is digital as I would have used a lot of film getting the shot.
Here I am....

I also noticed something on this mooring that didn't quite seem right. I wonder if you can spot it?


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Not another Pike!!!!!

The one fish I really don't want to catch and now Ive caught another. This time considerable bigger then the excuse of one I caught a few weeks back See Post . Those of you that fish will realise just how lucky I was to land it when I tell you I was on 2lb main line with 1lb hook length and two maggots on a size 20 hook. The wind was blowing a gale and our mooring spot is just before the entrance to the park. Just behind us the canal narrows considerable because two huge bushes are overhanging the water. So now that you get the picture you will realise that as the elastic stretched  alarmingly and I fought to get in whatever had taken my bait, I suddenly became aware of two boats approaching but from opposite directions. "Oh help" I thought. How on earth was I going to land this before both boats arrived at the narrowest part of the canal. Then the fish surfaced and I saw it was the dreaded pike!! All I could think of was grabbing my landing net as quickly as possible and then bullying him towards it. Thankfully I managed to net him and pull my pole away from the coming boats just in time. I haven't a clue as to what would have happened if I failed in my task. Probably lost not only the pike but pole as well! Anyway I then had to unhook it. Not an easy task when they have teeth!!!! Thankfully I didn't have to try as the pike had managed to get rid of it himself. So, after breathing a sigh of relieve, I got Ian to take a picture just to prove that this was not a fisherman's tale!!!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Branston Goslings

The moorings on at the water park was, as I suspected, empty. We arrived about 11ish and first things first took the Woofits for a swim in the lake. On arrival back at the boat we noticed in the distance a great number of Canada geese. Then suddenly this lot appeared. I tried to count them, which as you know is almost impossible, and estimated about 40-45 goslings swimming with four of the adult geese.  

"You leave my baby's alone"
These three adults are in defence mode. Heads down driving the other geese away

Apparently the goslings all get mixed up, some older then others, and it seems only of a few of the adult geese end up looking after them all. How wonderful to have permanent babysitters!!! 

Gosling creche

These two were considerably younger then the rest and the parents stayed with them at all times. No doubt they  will end up in the bunch when they get older.
By 3 pm all the moorings were taken. A few late arrivals had to moor up well away from the pub and on the part of the towpath untouched by the contractors mowers and strimmers. This made interesting viewing as they attempted to leap the high foliage, rope in hand, just so they could tie up!

Friday, 20 May 2011

The sad demise of a duckling

As our loo cassette was nearly full and the water tanks needed topping up, we decided to leave Swarkstone and head for Willington. On the way there a huge crane appeared on the skyline. As we got nearer it became obvious that it was something to do with network rail. The crane itself happened to be parked right next to the Indian restaurant by bridge 21. It didn't delay our journey so apart from creeping slowly past we made Willington in good time.

 After emptying the loo and watering up we decided to do a Morrison shop at Bridge 33b. This meant we would have to go through Dallow Lock, the first single lock on the T & M going north. Ian opened the bottom gate and before I had a chance to enter a mum and her 8 ducklings got there first. So I slowly crept forward until I was just in the lock, enough for Ian to close the gate. The duck family swam to the top gates and Ian only cracked open one paddle just enough to let the water in very slowly. When we were nearly up the mother duck decided to fly onto the side leaving the ducklings desperately trying to reach her. Then the worse possible thing happened. As the water levelled out the top gate swung open just a tiny bit but it was enough for one of the ducklings to attempt to exit. Then the gate swung back and before Ian could react,and stop the gate from banging shut, the duckling was well and truly crushed. I was absolutely gutted. After everything we had done to try to keep all the family alive, for that to happen made me feel bad. After opening the gate the remainder ducklings swam out and mum joined them. She didn't appear to realise that one of her brood was missing and swam off completely unconcerned. We also went on our way but I hope I don't have to ever go through that again.

Before the horrible event.
 We are now moored below Branston Lock. We wanted to get to the water park for the weekend but as the time was 4.30pm and Branston Water Park is a very popular mooring for hire boats, I didn't think we would find a space. We'll leave a bit later tomorrow with the hope that most of the boats will have left the mooring.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Swarkstone Ducklings

As I cruise the canals I often see ducklings, sometimes in huge numbers, but do we ever know if any of them survive? Well to all fellow bloggers that have been to Swarkstone recently and have oohed and ahh'd over the resident family rest assured that there are 13 very lively youngsters with mum coming up to the boats and begging for bread. She has done very well in keeping all these alive. Maybe the pike have all disappeared from this section of canal.

The mooring here is ideal for a spot of painting. Judy's doggie board was looking very tatty and as we haven't had to use it for a while, Ian thought it would be a good idea to repaint it. I left him to it and decided to do a spot of fishing. I was just getting ready to throw a line out when I was attacked by this swan. It didn't take me long to get some bread and lure him away from the boat The last thing I want is a swan with a hook attached to it!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Its the Vikings!!!!

Left Sawley this morning in the dry. By the time we got through the flood lock onto the river we were wet through. Was rain forecast? A Canal time hire boat was just in front of us and you could clearly tell they hadn't a clue how to handle it. They had been taken to the flood lock by the instructor and then left to there own devices. As they were going at a snails pace they beckoned for us to pass and as we got level we told them if they stuck with us we would help them through there first lock. Ian had to explain to the lady the ins and out of lifting paddles and filling locks. When it was time to drop the paddles she just stood there not having a clue as how to do it. Ian to the rescue again. Goodness knows how they will cope with the next lock as we left them to it and moored at the visitor mooring in Shadlow. 

Late this afternoon I suddenly realised that a flotilla of small boats were making there way erratically towards us. As they got nearer it became clear that they had all been at a pub somewhere because the majority were drunk, weaving and crashing into most of the moored boats. I had to grab the camera and as they went passed I was told by the two men in the lead boat that several of the men in the dinghies had fallen in and had to be fished out. I'm just sorry that I didn't pursue them to the The New Inn because a lot of hilarity came from the pub. I rushed out to see what they were laughing at only to see that two of the men had fallen in again. Unfortunately I had left the camera on the boat so couldn't record the event.   
The only two sober one's amongst the lot.

I'm surprised these three didn't fall in!

To the rescue

This guy was the one who fell in at the pub.

Apparently all the others had made it safely to the pub and these two had to be towed back.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

On our way again

We left the family on Friday evening. Jolly good job to as Oliver kept Colin and Iwona up most of the night. This morning we said our farewells to the boaters that had followed our dilemma for the last two weeks, and battled the wind up river to Sawley. Ian walked back to get the car and a quick run to Tesco saw us doing our last major shop for a week or two. He is now on his way back to Sandiacre to garage the car. Its only a short bus ride back here but a bit of a walk from where he is dropped off. I keep telling him exercise is good for you!

While stowing away our groceries I happened to glance out of the window and spied this dinghy with wheels. I haven't a clue as to what it is called but I watched with camera in hand at the launch. ( Did I hope it would capsize?) Off course not!!!!! The occupants were hanging on for dear life, as I would have been. It looked very unsteady and the funniest thing about it was the engine wouldnt start so they were left bobbing about for what seemed like an age. Not one of all the onlookers offered any help and I could almost see the look of dispair on his face. After a lot of cord pulling the outboard motor finally sprung into life and they were finally on there way.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Our long awaited Grandson

Oliver Jameison finally put in an appearance yesterday at 7.30pm. From the time Iwona went into labour until she gave birth took just 1 hour 25 minutes!!! Now that's quick!! Oliver weighed 8lb 8oz. Both parents and son doing well!Posted by Picasa

Monday, 9 May 2011

False alarm and stormy skies

Dark skies, spectacular thunderstorm and rainbows made our afternoon a bit more interesting.
This morning our phone rang at 8.45. Great excitement, finally our grandson was on its way. Or so I thought. It was our son Colin letting us know that Iwona will be seeing the doctor at 9.30am with the possibility of being induced.  Okay that was good. He told us to expect a phone call sometime that morning and for us then to make our way to Milton Keynes. Our grandson Oscar had been dropped of at Nursery and didn't need to be picked up until 3.30pm, so there was no great rush to get to their house. So we gathered all our bags together again, left them on the bed, phoned BW to let them know we should be able to leave by the weekend and switched off the gas.  Ian then went to empty the loo only to discover the elsan completely blocked and filled to the brim with unmentionables. Quick phone call to BW to report the situation and then a rushed drive with the loo to Sawley to empty it there. I raced through the boat with brush and duster ( I do like to come back to a clean and tidy boat ) and then we both sat waiting for the call. Eventually the phone rang just before 10.30am . I answered and almost shouted at him to say we were on our way. There was a very long pause. "Hello hello" I said thinking I had been cut off. Then the words I didn't want to hear. "Mum,"" Iwona is not going to be induced today and we've been sent home with instructions not to return until labour is underway" I couldn't believe it. All that preparation for nothing. So here we are again still twiddling our thumbs and wondering if the baby will ever put in an appearance.. .

There is a plus side to our prolonged stay. This afternoon who should walk by with the two whippets Jim and Jess? Terry Darlington. His boat Phylis May II is moored on the visitor mooring below Trent Lock We had a lovely long chat and I discovered that his third book Narrow dog to Wigan Pier http://www.narrowdog.com/new_book.htm will be published next year.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Why are we waiting!!!!!!!!

When oh when will our grandson arrive? Every night we repack the dogs bags, (dishes, tablets, Metacam collar and leads etc)  There is already enough food for a week for them stored in the car. Then we put both computers in another bag complete with power leads and dongle. These then all go to the back of the boat with our rucksack full of clothes. Both phones go on the shelf by the bed so there wont be any excuse of us not hearing one or the other when the call comes and then we wait. Morning comes and the first thing I think of is still no news. Come on Iwona. Try hot curries, Long walks, cleaning windows ( this worked for me) anything just to get things going!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Eectricity Helicopter (Thats the name on it's side)

Another fabulous day. Light winds and wall to wall sunshine and yes, we are still waiting for the call to look after our grandson Oscar when Iwona has to go into hospital for our next grandson. While we are sitting here Ian has removed one of our solar panels which he found to his horror not to be working. Unfortunately after a phone call to the manufacturer they confirmed that it couldn't be repaired. This leaves us with one panel which is pretty useless as it wont charge our 24v battery bank. So Ian is now looking on ebay to see if he can get a replacement.
I was soaking up the sun after lunch  when we heard the sound of a helicopter. It appeared  over the golf course and we thought it was a search and rescue chopper but it came nearer and nearer hovering over the power lines. That's when we realised it was taking photos of the electric cables and luckily because it remained static for a few minutes, I had time to grab the camera and get these pictures.   
 Today BW put in an appearance. We have been on this 48 hour mooring since we came off the dock on Friday. As we are not one to overstay our mooring I was very concerned that we may be made to move on. With our car here in the car park ready for the 'dash' to our sons, I wondered where we could go and still have the car near to hand. But BW were very understanding and said that as we had told them of the situation we were okay to stay as long as neccesary. Worry over. So the wait continues!!!Posted by Picasa

Monday, 2 May 2011

Update on Judy

What a wonderful drug Metacam is. Wish we could use it on us!!! The Metacam has now been in her system for 2 weeks. Day by day we have noticed small improvements and today for the first time in ages, she actually galloped! I took her to a spot on the river which was easily accessible for her and not only did she enjoy her swim but she played with a stick. I cant remember the last time she did that. Here are a few pictures of a rejuvenated Judy.

 Look. No doggy board. Marvelous.

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