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.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Jade & Simba. A doggie theme.

 As today was such an awful day and nothing could be done outside on the boat or at the bungalow, we decided to make our way to Wigston to visit our very good friends Pat and Keith. Simba came to join their family after the previous owners could no longer have her. I got the phone call in 2003 asking that, as the breeder, could Simba be returned to me. Although I was very reluctant to have yet another Labrador joining Judy and Jade, I agreed. Pat and Keith came to my rescue. As they had lost there lovely old Labrador Libby months previously, Simba came at the right time to help them over their lose.

Looking at this picture you wouldn't believe that they are sisters

Simba & Jade
Jade was one of Judy's first litter born August 2000, whereas Simba was born 2 years later in February 2002. Both Judy and her mate Bracken were black Labradors and you would naturally assume all the pups to be black. Well, Judy's mum was a yellow Lab  who in turn was mated with a black Lab hence the mixed colours in the litters. Are you confused yet??? because I as sure am and I'm writing this!!! Anyway I was very surprised when Judy had 7 black puppies and one yellow in the first litter and 5 black and 4 yellow in the second litter.

1st Litter at 4 weeks

5 of the 1st litter pups all came back for a visit..
2nd litter

I stayed in touch with all the new owners while I had the boarding kennels, looking after most of Judy's pup's when the owners went away, It was a sad day when I sold the kennels in 2004 knowing that I probably wouldn't see them any more.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Day

The only present opened on Christmas morning was by.................Jade!!!

Lasted about 5 seconds flat!!
Once Jade had devoured her stocking, it was on with the glad rags ( Jade included ) and off to Christine's to help with the Christmas dinner.

Sorry Jade!! Us owners do do these stupid things!!
 Having 8 adults and 3 children to cater for was quite an experience for Christine. Just seating them all round the table was a feat in itself. She managed beautifully and the dinner was a huge success. It all became very loud later on once the presents were opened and the kids running riot throughout the house. Thankfully its but once a year and never have I been more grateful that Ian and I live on a boat. We get out of all that mayhem every year!!! Once the kids were safely tucked up in bed us adults played the evening out with a great game called Uno. Highly recommended for hours of fun. Finally got back to the boat about 11.30pm after thoroughly enjoying the day.
Josh with one of his many presents

Grandad said he was opening the present for Josh. Me thinks he's just a big kid at heart.

Christmas Sunset taken from Christine's & Kev's back garden

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Yea. It's Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all. Hope your day is full of alcoholic cheer 'Hic Hic'.

Friday, 23 December 2011


Christmas is a time of 'Goodwill' to all men. Unfortunately I felt anything but goodwill last night. Feeling very low after the news of Norma, Ian and I decided to have an early night. Just after 9 pm a car turned up and parked opposite us by the facilities. At first we thought a bit of hanky panky was going on and thought good luck to them. Then around 2 am I was woken by what sounded like a large fan cutting in and out. I looked over to the facilities and noticed the car had gone. Baffled as to what the noise could be I went back to bed in the hope of getting some more sleep. After another 15 minutes I could stand no more and got up to investigate. There was the self same car but now parked just before the pub. His engine was running and the cooling fan kept cutting in and out. The unspoken law for us boaters is no running of engines between 8 pm and 8 am but I wonder what the law is about car engines. In the end I gave up on sleep and sat fuming about the inconsiderate nature of some people.

4 am ( Took Jade out early to take this photo. She was not happy being dragged from her bed.)

Still there 6 am ( I have lightened the photo )
 Then....................... 8 am he steps out of his car, locks it and walks of toward the River. Maybe he's going to 'do himself in' so to speak. No that was not on his mind. What was is in the next photo.
Peeing up the wall!!!!! Disgusting!!!!!!!!

This is the man. I'm going to shame him by showing this picture!!!!!!
 If he returns tonight a phone call to the local Police will be in order!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Sad News

Norma, my stepmum, died peacefully this afternoon. All she has wanted ever since Dad died is to join him. Thankfully my sister Susannah was with her right up to the end and she told me that her passing was very quick. I am so glad that Ian and I saw her a week ago and we were able to tell her how much we loved her .R I P Norma. You were a fantastic stepmum and you will be missed by all the family.

Norma and Dad

Monday, 19 December 2011

Sloe Gin

Every year come end of September beginning of October, I go our collecting Sloes for the gin. Most years I always manage at least 8 - 9 bottles. They make excellent Christmas presents and it keeps us well oiled in the year ahead. This year has been a bit of a non starter as most of the time we've been away and I haven't really put my mind to it. Ian made the effort to pick some, though, and I have managed to produce three bottles.

Last years label.
It is very easy to make so here is the way I make it.
  1. Buy cheap Gin.
  2. Pick loads of large sloes. When they come off the stalk easily they are ripe.
  3. Wash and prick sloes with a fork several times.
  4. Add 1 - 2 oz sugar ( depending on how sweet you like it ) directly into an empty Gin bottle.
  5. Add the pricked sloes so its about 1/4 full.
  6. Pour the gin into the bottle and mix well.
  7. Keep turning and mixing the contents every day.
  8. Using any filter ( a coffee filter works well ) rack into clean bottles during December.
  9. Try to leave a year before drinking but if you cant, enjoy!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Caudal epidural injection

For many years I have suffered from sever pins and needles down my left leg especially with standing. Its not painful but the discomfort is extreme. As my condition has slowly become worse this last year I finally decided to do something about it. I am so glad I did. My consultant told me I wasn't unique and that a course of injections would sort my problem out. First he sent me for an MRI which confirmed his diagnosis of narrowing of the tubes carrying the nerves to my leg. His words were " Our bodies are not very good in reducing swelling after an injury unless it has a little help" The help he referred to was steroids injected into my lower spine just above the coccis. Yesterday I had my first one. I was a little worried as you can imagine but the procedure took less then a minute and on the pain scale of 1 - 10 it was about a 3. I had to stay in the day centre for another 2 hours just to make sure nothing nasty was about to happen like my leg going to jelly or my bladder and bowels doing strange things ( Not sure what strange things they were on about but as nothing happened I didn't worry about it.) Ian came and fetched me from Derby hospital with strict instructions that I wasn't allowed to do anything other then rest. ( This I was going to make the most of. ) I cant say that I didn't have a few funny episodes. First one came in the form of hundreds of insects running up and down the muscles in my leg. A very weird sensation. Then my left foot started to throb and I experienced quite a nasty bout of pins and needles down the lower part of my leg. Thankfully none of this lasted more then 30 minutes and after that I have felt 100% better and this after only the first injection!! If anyone reading this has similar symptoms I recommend going to see the Doctor about referring you to a spinal consultant. I can truly say that I cant wait for the 28th when I go for the second injection because as far as I'm concerned I am well on the way to being cured!!!

Christmas has finally made it to our boat in the way of a small but perfectly formed Christmas tree. This year Ian has decided to become a bit more festive.  2 Santa's are already stuck in the windows and tomorrow the  external fairy lights will illuminate the outside of the boat. Hopefully the punters frequenting the Steamboat opposite will be suitably impressed!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Early warning sunrise

This was yesterdays sunrise. You could say 'the calm before the storm'. Last night was very lively with the boat being buffeted by the winds and rain. The Trent is up again but not yet in the red so boats are still managing to do the sharp turn into the Erewash without to much difficulty. Those that sail past do so at a good pace not only being pushed by the wind but also by the fast flowing currant. Put it this way, I don't think I fancy venturing out at the moment. Ian's sister Shelia and brother in law Chris have come up to see us. As they have travelled up from Burnham on Crouch in their camper van, the dog doesn't have to be ousted from her sleeping quarters to put the camp beds up. I've sent them all off with Ian to get our diesel in a can from the boat yard at Kegworth. Last time his prices was 85p Ltr so I'm hoping they haven't gone up by to much. Christine is also coming to see us this afternoon. Last time we saw her young Josh was the grumpiest little boy imaginable so I'm hoping he will be in a better frame of mind today. Only time will tell!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Turkey and Tinsel

Firstly I must just clarify that the picture I thought I had put on of Norma on my last post, was actually my Dad!!! Somehow I selected the wrong photo and didn't check to see if it was correct.

Now to the Turkey and Tinsel trip.

The journey down to Eastbourne was pretty straight forward. The Hotel appeared very pleasant and surprise, surprise we managed to get a room with a view. On all the other trips we have been on somehow we always got the room that overlooked the rubbish bins, car park or building yard.

Thursday's very dismal day.

One of the friendly neighbours on our balcony
 After unpacking we went off to see what the pubs were like in the area and just a few yards down the road was a pub selling real ale for £2 a pint. That's us sorted for the next few nights!! Dinner was served at 6.30pm. It all looked lovely on the menu but when we were served the food it was a disaster!!! Cold hard potatoes, carrots and sweetcorn for veg and steak and kidney pie for the meat dish. Breakfast was no better. A full English breakfast had been laid on but every thing was luke warm. Even the toast was only browned on one side. As the days went on the meals got worse. On the 'So Called Christmas Day' we had the Turkey warmed up in gravy, carrots and soggy sprouts and roast potatoes that had been left in the oven far to long. I could go on and on but needless to say we have never stayed in a Hotel that has served up such appalling food!!

Christmas Dinner. We made the best of a what was a poor meal.

To continue with our stay:- Tuesday was a 'do our own thing' day Ian and I went of to my step mums flat to sort a few more things out and to get it ready for selling. Then off to town for a bit of retail therapy. Wednesday all of our party went of to the South Downs while Ian and I went back to Sunrise nursing home to visit Norma on her birthday. We didn't have a brilliant visit as her condition has deteriorated a bit and all she wanted to do was sleep. We did manage to keep her awake when her birthday cake arrived and all the staff came to her room to sing Happy Birthday. We left her late afternoon and caught the bus back to our Hotel where we had to endure another diabolical meal. Thursday was the mystery trip. The weather was awful which was such a shame as we ended up in Rye. What a lovely little village. There was plenty of cobbled side alleys taking us to some excellent antique shops.

A Guillotine lock
 We only had a couple of hours here as the majority vote on the coach was to return to the hotel so that they could prepare for the fancy dress that evening. Now that really was well worth waiting for. The theme was the letter'S' I leave you with some of the great costumes that was on show. Oh and by the way, Ian won the prize for best costume.

Me as Santa's Scrubber

Ian as A Sooty Sweep

In the centre- Dennis as Jimmy Saville, then going round the table from the left is Heather as another Scrubber, Dave as a scarecrow, Mike as a Sixties sex symbol, Ian as the sweep, Margaret as another Scrubber, Sid as Sherlock Holmes, Joyce as a Squaw and May as a Silver screen Goddess.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Arthur and Hazel as Mr and Mrs Santa. Me ,Margaret and Heather as the Scrubbers

Sherlock, Scarecrow and Silver Screen Goddess

Sixties Sex symbol and Sweep

Ian with his champagne prize.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Busman's Holiday!!

Back to Eastbourne again tomorrow, but this time with the Erewash canal society. Of all the places to hold the Turkey and Tinsel 'do', it had to be Eastbourne. One of the coach trips for this coming Wednesday is 'A scenic tour over the South  Down's'. As it is also my Step mums birthday that day (she has actually made her 85th year ) Ian and I will forgo the pleasure of the Downs trip and go and celebrate it at the Sunrise Nursing Home with Norma  instead.

Norma at 83

  To be fair, this Turkey and Tinsel trip was arranged way back in March and we were not to know of the awful year that lay before us. Anyway a Fancy dress has also been organised for the Thursday evening. We had to think of a costume with the letter 'S' Ian decided on a Sweep ( chimney, that is, not Sweep the other half of Sooty) and I'm going as Santa's little scrubber. I'll leave you to make up your own minds about that costume!!!! We will be back on Friday and hopefully I'll have a few pictures to show of the trip next weekend.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Pictures of the Weed Scooper

Arriving at our bungalow today to await the tanker that would empty the Septic Tank ( very pongnifourous and nearly full to overflowing ) I heard the unmistakable sound of the weed scooper machine. Thankfully, today, I had my camera with me so I rushed round to the lock to capture these pics.

Dumping the stuff at the bottom of a canal side garden!!!!
 On his tea break I went over to have a natter with him and to ask what he thought of the Azolla weed clean up. First thing he said was " the bucket is a complete waste of time"! Apparently the first bucket on the machine, only had bars across. It was no use nor ornament to anyone. Okay for collecting the usual bottles, cones, shopping trolly's and rubbish in general ( okay then, maybe not shopping trolleys ) but absolutely not the right thing to use when scooping the weed. This bucket is the second attempt and although he said it was better, he confirmed what I said in my last post about leaving almost as much behind as scooping it up. I asked him how he disposed of the stuff only to be told that he had to dump it on the offside at any convenient point whether it be at the bottom of someones garden or any clear piece of bank.  Then he informed me that it was combustible!!! Yep, like any rotting compost it would eventually heat up and maybe even catch light. I can see some very irate home owner having a right go at BW. After all I'm sure I wouldn't want it dumped at the edge of my garden!

Our mooring here at Kingfisher Dry Dock is very secure. Moored just in front of us is Chris and Jan on there working boats. One is called Hereford but there doesn't appear to be a name on the other one. Jan does sign writing and watching her doing her art work is amazing. Chris sells coal, very handy for us for when we run out. Mick and John on the dock have allowed us to plug into their electrics, payment to be worked out, and water is to hand when we need to fill our tank. Opposite is the Facility block so emptying our loo cassette couldn't be easier. All in all a very pleasant mooring and one to remember in future if the lads dont need it themselves.

Kingfisher dock behind us.

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