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 November 2011

Weed scooper

After three weeks of hard slog, we finally left Sandiacre and made our way to our winter mooring. Ian decided to bring the car with us so he wheel locked while I steered the boat. I should have insisted that we did it the other way round because it was blooming freezing. I encountered a unlicensed boat making its way toward me. Well I should say erratically making itself toward me because at one point I had no idea which side of the canal I would pass him!! You know when you meet someone at a door and you do a bit of a dance until one finally gives way, well that was us!! And he was unlicensed to boot. Now why did that surprise me!!! Anyway I powered through the Azolla weed and just as I entered the long straight toward Trent Lock, I met BW on their weed scooper. I didn't have my camera with me so unfortunately no pictures, but imagine a pedalo with mesh on the front and an engine at the back, well that was what it looked like. The thing that struck me with the mesh on the front was the holes appeared bigger then the weed. More seemed to be left behind then captured, but I suppose they were making the effort. As far as I'm aware they will be permanently situated on the Erewash, endlessly going up and down scooping the weed and leaving more in their wake. Oh well, as they say, such is life

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Garden work completed.

What a couple of weeks we've had! Our bungalow needed a lot of TLC especially in the garden. Our lovely tenant Alister has left us to become famous by writing a play for ITV. I'm just sorry I didn't get an autograph from him before he left.
After the '40's'do we set to and completely gutted the garden. Alister ( bless him ) didn't know a weed from a plant and consequently left the garden to become a wilderness. I wish I had taken photos of the 'before and after' but after a fortnight of weeding, pruning, hedging, grass cutting, tree lopping, laying slabs, power washing, painting fencing and pergola and finally replacing the borders edging., we have about finished.

The 'Lock Cottage' in the background. Handy for the 'Do's'  that is held on the premises twice a year.

Oh and by the way, as we have no tenant on the cards at present, if you know anyone who would like to buy our bungalow, please let us know.

Tomorrow we set of for Trent Lock. We have a winter mooring by Kingfisher's for a month or two, where we will bide our time awaiting a phone call from our son. He is expecting his Dad ( who he now calls The Doracle because of his vast knowledge and wisdom of all things to do with mechanics, plumbing, electrics, floor laying etc) to come and finish the inside of his extension. If you want to read about the trials and tribulations ( all very amusing ) of an extension build, go to Jimsons Eastwing.

We still have the dreaded Azolla Weed. I'll leave you with a picture of ducks trying desperately to eat the stuff.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lucky windfall

The 40's 'do' at the Lock Cottage was a great success. 15 boats turned up ( slightly less then we normally get )  but  the attendance by our boating fraternity was up. Over 50 packed themselves into the upper rooms of the cottage and we were all entertained by several musical bands. It's a shame that more people didn't dress up in the 40's gear. Both Ian and I made the effort. I went as the housewife of the 40's decade, cross over apron and headscarf. Ian went as an old time boater wearing corduroy trousers, collarless shirt,  neckerchief and waistcoat. We all got very merry and staggered back to the boats at some silly time in the morning. It was on the Sunday  morning that our 'windfall'  showed itself. I went to fold his trousers up to put them away for next year. In his pocket was his wallet so I removed that, as well as what I thought was a receipt. I left it on the bedside cabinet and promptly forgot about them. Next thing I knew  Ian was asking me who had given me £100. Well I had no idea what he was talking about. There he was holding 5 £20 notes. We assumed that when he had purchased the trousers from a charity shop a year ago the money was already in the pocket, or possibly Ian had forgotten that he had put the £100 in his pocket on the last 40's 'do' not long after he had purchased the cords. As we wanted to buy a power washer to clean around our bungalow, we thought we would use that money instead of our own. That's when the problem arose. Having gone to Argos and ordered the item, the cashier took one look at the £20 notes and said " They've not been legal tender since June last year." Oh heck!! So we weren't that well off after all, or so I thought,. On the off chance we called in at a bank just to see if they would change them for us. Surprise, surprise, they did. Now that's what I call luck!! Not only that but our daughter phoned to tell us we had won £50 on our Premium Bond. I'm beginning to wonder if I should start doing the Lottery!!

Withdrawn in June 2010

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

I bet your wondering what on earth the heading is all about. Those that read my blog a while ago will remember my trip to A& E and the comment about having a camera put where 'the sun don't shine'! Today was the day when the procedure took place. I had nothing really to worry about. The enema was pretty unpleasant and being told not to rush to the loo for at least 3 minutes was very worrying. Once this was over the actually insertion of the flexible tube and the pumping of the air into my bowel went without a hitch. The worse bit was after. All that air had to come out. Talk about embarrassing!! Still as Ian put it, with my knickers as a sail and me adding thrust at the stern, we should fair fly along!!!! Anyway I got the result almost immediately and it was just as they  thought, Diverticulitis. Nothing sinister, thank goodness, and this is a condition that can be easily managed on a diet of plenty of fibre.( Fruit Veg, Nuts, Brown bread etc. As I didn't feel to bad when I arrived back at the boat, the decision was made to leave Trent Lock and make our way to Sandiacre. The Azolla weed covered virtually the whole length of our journey. There were pockets of clearish water but still the weed was present. It was particularly bad above Dock Holme Lock.

Above Dockholme Lock

Mounds of the stuff.

Back at our mooring in Sandiacre.
 Getting into our mooring was almost like going through ice again. Every time I tried to reverse it straight back, the weed acted like a barrier and took me the wrong way. Like everything though, with a lot of patience and determination and lots of help ( or should I say hindrance ) from Ian I eventually pulled alongside the other boat.
We will be here, now, for several weeks. Our bungalow hedges need cutting and the garden badly needs weeding. The 40's 'do' at the Lock cottage is taking place on Saturday and tomorrow we take another run down to Eastbourne to see my Step Mum. So all in all we have a hectic time ahead.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The dreaded Azolla Weed

Arriving at Trent Lock today I couldn't believe my eyes. A thick covering of what I first thought was Duck Weed. As it happened BW was sorting out the rubbish bins at the facilities so our first question was " Is this how it is all the way to Sandiacre?" Their reply? Quite probably! Then they told us that there was not a sign of the weed on Friday but when they arrived Saturday Morning there it was. They started harping on about how it took just one idiot to empty there fish pond in the canal with only the tiniest bit of the plant in, for all this to appear. Really!!! Did this happen in three days? Apparently not. This weed ( which by the way is not Duck Weed but Azolla Weed) has been on this canal for some time. The fast growth of the weed means it spreads rapidly, cutting off light for the aquatic plants and starving the water of Oxygen. Bad news for the fish. It is apparently an Aussie export so again we are invaded by foreign species. So what will be done about it? At the moment NOTHING!!!!! It needs another foreign species to get rid of it. The Weevil A box of the beetles can be purchased for about £350 but not knowing how many are in a box, BW doesn't want to spend the money. This weed will not go away. It will only get worse. Unless something is done then the Erewash canal is doomed. Another thing, Every time a lock full empties into the Trent it carries millions of the plant with it. So what do YOU think will happen next? I'll leave you to ponder over it.

The Azolla Weed

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Playing chicken with the sailing boats

Last night was horrendous. Not for us but for Jade. The fireworks started at 6 pm and continued almost continually until 11 pm. Jade was beside herself and we tried everything to calm her down. I even resorted to bribery with offering chewys that are normally forbidden at night. "Oh yes thanks mum, I'll have all of that but I'll eat them while still shaking and panicking over those nasty bangs"!!! Nothing puts her off her food. It was only when the bangs finally stopped that we let her out for the final 'tiddles' of the night.

Today the family turned up. Colin, Iwona, Oscar and baby Oliver arrived earlier then expected and because the day was really calm and sunny, we decided to take them down the Trent to Redhill Lock on the River Soar. Now I don't know how many of you boaters reading this have ever been on the Trent at a weekend. Leaving Sawley lock is fine but then suddenly as you round the corner there in front of you tacking from side to side are loads of sailing boats So now, lets remember what the rule of the water is. Power give's way to sail. That's fine until you are confronted with loads of boats careering toward you. Also, We are steel! They are fibreglass! We cant stop or even turn suddenly. They can. So who made up that stupid rule anyway!!!!!! See Navigational Rules


Heading straight for us.
 I should say that these pictures were taken on the way back to Sawley. As I was cuddling my grandson Oliver on the way to Redhill when the majority of boats were out, I unfortunately didn't have my camera at hand to capture it all.
I think he misjudged the tack!
 After breathing a sigh of relieve as we passed the final dinghy, what should come charging down river toward us.....

Two idiots racing each other.
It was quite an interesting day, all in all. The family really enjoyed the trip, especially young Oscar as you can see in these pictures.

Oscar and Colin

 Oscar with Grandad Ian pushing the button to open the gates at Sawley lock


Iwona and Oscar
 And finally. We all went of to the Plank and Leggett for Sunday lunch. At two meals for £10 I felt the food was excellent value for the money.

Colin and Oliver

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Yet another leaking lock

Last nights mooring above Aston Lock wasn't to bad. No real problem with noisy fireworks, thank goodness. Maybe it was the heavy rain that had something to do with it. Unfortunately we couldn't stay there and sit it out for the main firework event this evening. Our son and family will be returning our car to us tomorrow and we have arranged to meet them at Sawley. As we dropped down Aston Lock, I was shocked at the amount of leakage pouring out from the sluice. Ian checked that the paddle gear was down, which it was, so I wonder what has caused this .

Aston Lock
We dropped through Shardlow Lock and as Ian wanted to do an oil change, we moored near to Millers at Shardlow. At Midland Chandlery he was quoted over £22 for the oil. He refused to pay that price and he was glad he did as it was only £19 from Millers. ( still more then he wanted to pay but then he is a bit of a skinflint ).We were not quite ready to leave our mooring when a Canal time came past so I fuIly expected the lock at Derwant Mouth to be against us. Imagine my surprise to find they had done the right thing and waited for another boat to turn up. Good on them for trying to conserve our water supplies. The river Trent was still very low, even after all the rain we've had and as we crossed over the River Derwant I had the first real view of the new Long Horse bridge. Although it now appears finished it still not open to the public. I'm hopeful that this will be rectified in the very near future..

The  Long awaited Long Horse Bridge.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Back on the T & M

 I don't think I have ever seen Alrewas so deserted!!! Arriving at 9 30am mooring was no problem and so our trip to the award winning butchers to stock up with Shugburough sausages, decent pork chops, bacon, liver and chicken took next to no time.
After stashing our goodies in the freezer we made our way to the river section. The gauge showed the river to be very low even though we had a night of squally showers. Once off the river came the part of the T & M I hate. The noise of the A38 as well as the lorries on the opposite side going to the weigh bridge is enough to want you to get away from there as soon as possible. At Tattenhall lock the pile of stones from the damaged bridge still lay  untouched with the usual 'Defra Rash' cordoning off the bit where the car went through .Its been like that for well over a year! One day it will be fixed!!

Going past Horninglow Basin I notice that Granny Buttons owned by Andrew Denny was back on its mooring. That's another blogger I have yet to meet.
We decided to stop at Stenson for the night. Ian said he would take me out for a meal in the Bubble Inn to save me cooking. More like it would save him having to do the washing up. Our rule is, The one that cooks doesn't wash up! Anyway I had a curry which was delicious. Ian ordered the chicken Enchiladas. Disaster!! The onions were burnt and the rest of it was tasteless. He complained to the chef who swore blind that all his meals were up to scratch. When Ian went to pay the bill he did notice that they hadn't charged him for his pint. So to me thats as good as admitting the chef got it wrong!

Next morning we washed and polished the side of the boat. BW suddenly appeared at the lock gates and started fishing around with their long handled keb.

Pulling out large sheets of plastic.
  As we were about to leave Ian wondered over to see if we could get through. On his return he told me that, as the stoppage was starting on the 8th, they had to make sure the grooves for their stop planks were free of rubbish. Ian also found out that on all the stoppages no lock gates were going to be replaced. All they would do is to re line them. Apparently nothing major will now be undertaken until the new Canal and River Trust charity takes over. Now I'm wondering exactly what they will do to the problem of leakage on Stenson's Locks. As you can see in these pictures not only have we got a waterfall from the top gates but the bottom right hand gate hasn't opened properly for as long as I can remember!!!

This is as far as this gate will open.
 The rain started again early afternoon so we decided to stop just past the 'Keep Right' signs on a ringed mooring by Bridge 11 near Cliff Wood. For the first time in ages I went fishing and caught well over 40 fish. This is definatly one to mark in the Nicholson guide!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Good deed for the day

So here I am, still  meeting more bloggers. This time it was More 2 Life moored at Sutton Bridge on the Coventry.  In all the years I have blogged I can truly say this is the first time I have met so many bloggers all in one area. Greetings to you all!!! I'm just sorry that I haven't been able to stop and have a good natter. As we approached Balls Bridge an awful pong permeated through the air. We came across a pig farm which must have housed hundreds of piglets at various stages in their development. I was extremely impressed by how they were looked after. Plenty of decent bedding and the piglets all appeared to be running around and playing.

One of many pens.
 Not long after I came across this Guy ready to be burnt on November 5th. I do so hate fireworks night!! Usually we moor somewhere way out from civilisation so that the poor dog can get some peace but this time it looks as if we will be back at Sandiacre on the Erewash, right in the heart of all those whizzes and bangs!!

 So now to my good deed. As we arrived in Hopwas we came across a boat, NB Wilderness, that, to put it plainly, was going at a snails pace. In fact we had to keep putting our boat in neutral as we kept catching it up. We passed another boat that was just mooring and they told us that they had to resort to blowing their horn to make the lady at the helm aware that they wanted to pass. Anyway she looked behind and saw that we were right behind her and, give her her due, she moved over to let us pass. That's when the trouble started. As we crept passed we noticed that she was listing alarmingly. Now the water levels are very low at the moment and sure enough she got herself stuck fast. So as the good Samaritans that we are we pulled over to offer our assistance. It turned out that not only was she a lone boater but this was her first brand new boat built to her specifications and today was the first time she had taken it out. She was on her way to her moorings at Tewksbury Marina on the River Avon!!!!! She admitted to having taken a boat handling course a few days ago, but was still very unsure of how she was going to moor the boat up tonight. After Ian had managed to get her off the mud, I offered to come on board and be with her when she arrived at Whittington and help her moor up for the night. I found out her name was Fiona and that she was 70!!!! What on earth was she thinking of boating for the first time at her age. All I can say is 'Good on you girl!!  She seemed relieved and ever so grateful that I offered to help her. Her boat handling wasn't to bad but mooring was a real worry for her. Once we arrived I showed her how to get into a mooring and also how to secure the boat. Makes me wonder if she took in all that the instructor had told her on her course.

I'm standing on the gunwale of NB Wilderness. Fiona is at the helm.

Finally moored at Whittington.
   I really hope that one day our path will cross again. She is an inspiration to me and I hope that when I'm her age I will also be as fit and able minded as she is.

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