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.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Last day of the festival

We got together last night with the Sleaford canal trust . They invited us for a BBQ which we willingly excepted. With 5 BBQ's on the go, all the meat was cooked in record time and the merriment carried on well into the night.

There was lots of smoke which unfortunately revealed a wasps nest. Luckily no one was stung!!!
Judy had a funny turn this morning. She managed to get out of her basket and then collapsed with both back legs rigid and stretched either side of her head. Ian tried in vain to lift her and unfortunately she messed while this was going on and it took the combined effort of Ian and me to get her standing and out of the boat. Its not a very nice thought but maybe the time has come to send her to sleep. I wont allow her to suffer needlessly.
We made sure we were on site for the awards by 11am. We had entered our boat for most enterprising journey but as usual someone always does that little bit more then you. So nothing for us then, but Bruce and Shelia from Nb Sanity Again took the prize for Best Galley fit out and Jim and Annie on Nb Elizabeth took longest journey from January 1st ( 750miles and 500+ locks).

Bruce and Shelia with the award. Apologies for the picture. I was in the wrong place for the photo

A prize of a BBQ. No excuse for not doing the cooking Bruce!!!

Jim receiving the silver plate for the longest journey since January 1st.
 Again we spent more money today. This time on a new solar panel. We have 2 panel's laying flat on our roof, at the moment, but they don't give us enough power to run the fridge so hopefully with another one that we can angle to the sun, it will do the trick. All Ian has to do now is build a bracket to mount it on.
As we still hadn't seen all there was to see on the site ( even after 2 days) we walked toward the show boats and came across the Viking Encampment. Very authentic and everyone involved played their part well. Even the children were wonderfully behaved.

A snooze before the battle.

Very well behaved children. If both our grandson's had been there they would have scarpered by now!
 Then we had the battle in the main arena.

Preparing for battle.

The  fighting commenced.

The victor
  All in all this has been an excellent, well run festival. The weather has been perfect. Changing the dates seemed to work and not a drop of rain fell in all of the three days. Loads of boats have been leaving throughout the day with more booked out for tomorrow. We are hoping to move onto a piled mooring  when a space becomes available nearer to the site. Apart from the noise from the lorry's on this mooring, it wasn't to bad, but because we couldn't get anywhere near the bank, and poor Judy having to walk the plank which  made life difficult for her,  a proper bank side mooring will help her no end.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

IWA Festival Saturday

There we both were, sitting watching a question of Sport last night when we became aware of a boat mooring along side us. We stuck our heads out of the cratch and Ian offered to help with ropes etc. I looked on bemused because instead of being stern to stern, he moored bow to stern. As it was only a short distance from Shobnall winding hole I suggested  winding round so we would both be facing the same direction. The lady on the boat had had enough and didn't want this to happen.As their mooring was on S44  they had to reverse over 24 boat lengths just to reach this mooring. She then told us that the ground on their moorings was so soft and spongy that every time a boat went passed the pins pulled out and they were cast adrift. The Harbour Master suggested he came along side us. So after a lot of maneuvering he finally tied his ropes to his pins on the bank. That's when it struck us. Our length is 57ft and he was 62ft. Something didn't compute. In the end he had to tie the stern ropes to the boat in front of us and then back to his pins and do the same to his bow ropes to the one behind. Now what I'm wondering is ,when we move of this mooring and if he is still here ,how will he fit his 62ft boat into a 57ft gap??? Interesting question don't you think.
So back to the festival.
Last night we had the illuminated boat parade. Ian and I set of with the woofits around 9.30pm. Bad bad move!! We made it to the pedestrian bridge at the site when Ian noticed that \judy was not a happy bunny. In fact she really didn't want to walk any further, so I suggested to Ian that I would take both dogs back to the boat. Now normally we can go from our boat to the site in about 10-15 minutes. With Judy dragging her heels it took me over an hour to get her back to the boat. At one point I even picked her up but she's to heavy for me to carry very far. Of course when I left the boat again to get back to the site the parade had already started. I did manage to get some pictures and I must say that the  a lot of effort had gone into dressing the boats. Well done to all those that entered.

Today was gloriously hot and sunny. How very unusual for an IWA Festival!!! We again spent loads of money. Completely changed all our interior boat lights for LED's from a company called Bedazzled. Show price was offering 20% discount so instead of £160 we paid £130. Ian bought some more miracle brasso and after testing some of their miracle canvas cleaner, we purchased that to. There was nothing in the arena that I wanted to watch today, Yesterdays terriers didn't race again, much to my disappointment,  so I have put on a few pictures that I did manage to take.

The lovely fireman were also present. They were doing an epic challange. To climb Everest on the Festival site in 6 hours. They built a scaffold tower of 6 metres and a number of fireman took it in turns to climb up the ladder and slide down the pole onto a padded mat below, for at least 1474 times to reach Everests height. This was all done to raise money for the local, as well as their own, charities. I hope they make their target of £2000.

And finally. A  picture of the historic boats moored toward Dallows lock.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Working boat this small? Must have shrunk in the wash!!!

This authentic 'chug chug' of a working boat reached our ears and it was only because Ian was washing up and looking out of the galley window that he saw this!!!!

IWA Festival Friday

It wasn't as noisy last night, but maybe that's because we closed all the windows and Ian shoved his T shirt up into the mushroom vent. Unfortunately all it did was make us very hot so tonight the question is.. "Noise or comfort!!!" Anyway to get back to the festival.  Last night a film the 'Bargee' was being screened. It starred Ronnie Barker, Harry H Corbet and Eric Sykes. Many more famous faces showed up in the film and I must say I found it hilarious. They knew how to make comedies in the early days. After the film everyone on our table partook of the boaters quiz. Needless to say we didn't win!!! Not even close. Not last though ,which was a bonus. We finally got back to the boat by 11.45 pm. The woofits were ever so glad to see us. Jade shot of the boat and immediately squatted. Judy took her time as normal before eventually doing the 'bizz'. I was ever so thankful not to have returned to any mess.
  This morning we decided not to go to early to the festival and so we didn't set off until 11 am. On the way we met loads boaters, that at one time or another, we had passed the time of day with and consequently it took us a lot longer then we thought to get onto the site. I took another photo from the bridge which  showed just how many more boats had arrived. All the moorings were now full and any hirer encountering this lot must wonder how on earth they would get through.

 We did finally make it to the festival entrance, showed our nice yellow arm bands to the security guard at the gate, and started on our proposed plan of only going to the stands we wanted to see. Nothing works out just how it should and we ended up looking at stands we wouldn't even have glanced at. It meant us spending more money then anticipated and this is only day 1!!! The entertainment in the arena was very well put together. All I got on the camera though was the dray horses. I missed the working terriers and the cycle stunts so that will have to be tomorrows project.
 One of the competitions this year is best dressed boat. The theme is beer and flowers and it always amazes me how clever and innovative some of the ideas are. Here are some of the boats that have started the ball rolling.

Someone had fun making this plane.

Tonight is the illuminated boat parade. As it doesn't start to get dark until 10 pm I can see another late night coming on. Previous festival dates used to be in late August and of course it got dark a lot earlier then. Now, I wonder if the lorrys are working tonight?????

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Lavender boat arrives.

What a noisy night. I shouldn't really complain seeing as it was our decision to move the boat, but as our new mooring is directly opposite the brewery, the lorry's in the yard kept up a constant' toing and froing' all night long. I do hope they stop work at the weekend. If the don't I feel we are in for several sleepless nights.Every now and then the waft of fermenting hops fills the air which isn't to unpleasant untill you start to feel light headed with the fumes.

 Just before lunch we were made aware of the ringing of bells and  cries of " Bring out your dead". The lavender boat was on its way. For anyone who doesn't attend these events you wont know what I'm talking about. Every day throughout the festival a boat arrives collecting boaters rubbish and emptying the cassette loos. Lavender depicts sweet smelling but I can assure you its far from that. Someone had a good sense of humour when they named it.

Getting ready to empty the cassette

The chap in red at the back is ringing the bell and alerting everyone to "bring out your dead"!.
 Then later this afternoon the steam boat President arrived towing Kildare. I don't envy him negotiating the single channel when he gets nearer to the site. Mind you, I'm pretty sure most boats will get out of his way! especially when he lets rip with that famous whistle of his!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Finally we've arrived!

Yep we're finally here. Our plan was to leave midday but after washing the boat and with no other boat even appearing to move, we decided we would get underway and start the mad exodus. So tiller on we set off by 8.45am. Sure enough first one boat pulled out then another and before we knew it we had us a convoy. With us being first we sailed through the Branston lock and started to look for S31A which was our allocated mooring. We found it just after the A38 bridge (Br No 33b), pulled in and luckily managed to get right into the bank. So we put pins in and then went off to see how far we would have to walk to the site. On the way we met Tim our Harbour Master. After introducing ourselves he then informed us that the mooring S20A was free and would we like to move there. So we pulled pins and headed off for the mooring. What we hadn't realised when we got therewas that the bottom was to near the top and we hadn't a hope in hell of getting into the side. Eventually after a lot of maneuvering we managed to get within 4 ft.

Jade testing the boards. Then Judy tried and promptly fell off!!! The boards were to slippery for her and she couldn't get a grip.

So... we added as many mats as we could, all tied with bunjee's. That worked a treat.
  We still had no idea how far the field was but at least we could see Shobnall Marina. We were pretty certain that the distance wouldn't be to far and after a 10 minute walk arrived on site. To see how the boats had been packed in was quite a sight, and this was still only Wednesday. There would be many more arriving today as well as tomorrow and although the Festival starts Friday afternoon I expect even more boats will arrive then,.
There doesn't appear to be a channel. I can assure you there is one but its a very tight fit. No wonder the hirer's find it difficult to maneuver.

All the moorings on the towpath side will be filled by the disabled boaters. The first boat seen in this picture is Sanity Again owned by Bruce and Shelia. Bruce has been keeping us informed on Shobnall Field Forever  since 16th July about what was happening around the site. 
Once we got our boaters pack we decided to have a walk to Dallow Lock and see what was happening below the lock. We never got there because we spied a unique boat, the only one of its kind for now.
The owner of the boat said we could have a sneak preview before the opening on Friday. Basically his boat is a conventional hull but added to the front is an extension, which can be used for anything you like. The extension can be removed to allow easier passage through the smaller but wide locked waterways, ie:- Leeds and Liverpool. I'm not going to say much about it for now as the boat will appear in Waterways World and a full write up will be better then anything I can say. What both Ian and I do know is that it is a brilliant idea and would save the cost and upheaval of having a boat stretched. If ordered this year the cost of the hull would set you back about £10,000 and if painted in your boat colours would probably add another £3000 on top of that. Of course a full fit out would be considerably more.

If you would like more information phone Pete Walpole 07889 914926 or e-mail p.walpole@yahoo.com

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