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 January 2012

Finally we are on the move again. After 64 days of just looking at Trent lock facility block, we will now enjoy a different outlook again. Before we left we said our goodbyes to Chris and Jan Deuchar and then paid John and Mick what we owed in electricity. They worked it out to be about £21 at the cost price of 19p a unit. Considering we have sat on their dock using their electric for the best part of two months, I think it was very reasonable. To be fair the first 3 weeks we weren't on a meter and so we gave them an extra tenner to cover their costs  It did help that we switched off lights when not in use and didn't keep phones or computers plugged in all the time on charge. Then we pushed across to the facility block so Ian could empty both loos and I could at last wash the other side of the boat. While we were there one of BW's guys turned up. Good opportunity for us to mention the washing out of the sewage pipe at the drinking water tap. See Post  Apparently they are now using a different waste disposal company coming all the way from Leeds. Mr BW did no more then phone head office and report it, but as he quite rightly pointed out,  if anything is done about it it will be a miracle! We finally exited Trent lock and headed south on to the river Soar by 11.45am. The snow flurry's had started and the wind chill was quite a shock to the system but by taking it in turns to steer the boat while the other went inside for a warm, we made it to Zouch by 2.30pm. Jade has had a run in the fields and I think even she enjoys the change in scenery.
Both photos show Kegworth Deep Lock

Moored at Zouch.
 Tomorrow we meet Paul Harris at Mount Sorrell who will supply us with 10 bags of mixed oval's smokeless coal at £ 8.75 for a 25k bag. I'm also hoping that the met office have got it wrong  and the big freeze wont arrive just yet.  I would hate to get iced in now that we are on the move again!!!

Monday, 30 January 2012

First the good news, the bad, then the very bad.

The good news is the water heater arrived at Christine's about 11 am. The bad news is that one of the fixing tubes was missing and, even with the delivery man and Ian checking the van, it was not to be found. The hope is that it will turn up in the depot and returned to Christine's on Tuesday. No use to us when we want to get going tomorrow!! Ian decided that somewhere amongst all his bric a brac in the garage he might have something that would 'do'. We made it back to Sandiacre by 11.45 giving Ian at least one and a half hours to install it. Unfortunately he failed. After finding a tube the right size in diameter it turned out to be to short. He needed to purchase another one and if the missing piece turns up tomorrow then that will have to become part of his 'bric a brac' for future needs. By 1pm Ian had gone as far as he could with it and then, with a quick phone call to our tenant with the promise of returning later that afternoon, we set off for the hospital.
Now this is where the very bad news comes in. The consultant told Ian that the MRI showed that the tumour had started growing again. Dam!!!! Three options were now open to us. First is to just have radiotherapy, second is to remove the tumour ( again!!) and then have radiotherapy, and third is to have the chemo ( again!!! ). None of these were what we wanted to hear!!! The consultant wants to discuss all three options with both the surgeon and plastic surgeon first, and then let us know, what in their opinion, is the best way forward. Another appointment was made for Ian at the end of this month so they can let us know their decision then. As we are already committed to help Colin on his extension in Milton Keynes we are still ( hopefully) leaving tomorrow and then we can decide what to do from there. Whatever happens we can say goodbye to any amount of cruising this year. All we need to think about is where around this area can we moor the boat long term. When Ian was on his year long ( weekly ) chemo in 2009  we stayed up at Langley Mill courtesy of the ECP&DA. There is also Mercia Marina if they can fit us in, and. we could be cheeky and moor back at our bungalow. I'm not sure how our tenant would react especially as we would want to plug into the electrics and be right on his doorstep. Anyway, we don't need to make that decision now. We will wait until after Ian's next appointment and then decide.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

We possibly have had a narrow escape.

We very nearly had another setback today.  Ian decided that. as the engine hadn't been started for over 2 months, he would give it a go.  Its a bl....dy good job he did.!! He turned the key half way to heat the coil, So far so good but as soon as he turned the key to start the engine nothing happened!! Ian  naturally  assumed  the starter battery must be dead. After all, we have never changed it since we bought the boat back in 2006. He then decided to investigate further and found a fault that could have caused us a real problem later on. It wasn't the battery as first suspected but the engine electrical harness connecting plug. (that's quite a mouthful! ) Anyway, one of the connections had burnt out completely.  Apparently this could have caused a fire at any time so I'm very glad he found out about it now. He deduced it must have been like this for a while because we've had a problem with trying to turn the engine off. Every time we pressed the off button it took ages for the engine to stop. So... To fix it he removed the cables and connected them outside the block. Not ideal but it will have to do until he can purchase another plug at a later date.
 We had another visit, today, from Christine, Kev and Josh. They brought along Jades sister, Echo, and so we decided to take a walk along the river. Both dogs went swimming which they thoroughly enjoyed. Then suddenly out of the blue came this sporty looking cruiser going at such a rate that the wave it created very nearly swamped  Echo. She only just made it out in time. I'm sure he was going faster then the allowed 6 mph.
Going much to fast!!

Just got out in time.
 Josh had his grumpy face on as we walked home. He'd enjoyed seeing the swans and the boats on the river but then it all got a bit too much and he decided he wanted his mummy to carry him. When Christine said no he then kept asking where Nanny's boat was and when would we get there. We'd only walked about 1/4 mile so he really shouldn't have been too tired. I suppose as a two year old every thing was just too much of an effort.

Once back at the boat the first thing to do was dry the dogs. Both dogs were soaked from their swim so they both had a good towelling and then as Echo had no basket, they both curled up together in Jades bed.

Jade is on the left.
We are off to Christine's early tomorrow in the hope that the water heater arrives in the morning. If it does then Ian might still be able to fit it before he has to go to Nottingham City hospital at 2pm. Here's keeping all our fingers crossed.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A new toy to play with!

What a difference a day makes. Sunny but cold and perfect for polishing the boat. Two years ago Ian bought a battery operated buffer to create a better shine after applying the polish. He stored it in the engine compartment near to the exhaust. We thought no more about it until Ian decided to try it out about a month later. When he removed it from storage he was horrified to see that part of the polystyrene had melted with the heat from the exhaust. Since then he has been looking for the same type of polystyrene to replace it and then....  there, in the lads skip, was just what he had been looking for. So now we have a great new toy that takes the hard work from polishing the cabin sides. We also bought a product called Miracle Wax polish from the IWA festival back in July. I must say it works a treat. Apparently it is specially formulated for the marine and caravan industry.

 We had always used car polish ( Mer ) in the past but I was never really happy with the finish. I'm very happy with this product. So we just have the other side to do now. That will have to wait until we are on the move again and until we find a suitable mooring.

Cosmo 12 V rechargeable buffer

Nice and shinny. Even the cars are reflected in it!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Best laid plans..........

Yesterday our tenant informed us that the water heater in the bathroom wasn't working. Ian high tailed it back to our bungalow this morning in the hope that he could get it repaired. Well he couldn't!!! The thermostat had given out and when he phoned the supplier he was told that this particular make was no longer available and there were no spare parts to be had. So now what!!! Ian frantically phoned round various companies to see if there was a suitable replacement and he struck it lucky with one supplier when they said they had one very similar and could get it delivered by Monday. We have a bit of a dilemma now. The heater will be delivered to Christine. Ian sees the consultant Monday at 2pm  and we were going to drop the car back to our garage in readiness for the off on Tuesday. We may have to delay leaving Tuesday morning until Ian can fit the heater. He can then garage the car and catch a bus back to Trent lock and if we are lucky could still be on our way by Tuesday afternoon. We will wait and see!!

While Ian was off to Sandiacre I washed the boat in readiness for a good polish tomorrow. Then it rained or rather it hailed. I should have realised we were in for a soaking because the sky turned very black.

We need this rain to fill up the reservoir that feeds the Leicester section. Only downside is if the river rises then it wont matter what we do on Tuesday as we will be stuck here until the river falls! Ian gave BW a ring today to see if there are still restrictions between Kings Lock and Kilby. Unfortunately there is. They are only allowing boats through between 10am and 2pm. If we are delayed we will have to change our plans again. We don't want to be stuck in Leicester!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Countdown has started

For the last two months we have attended  Hospital appointments, scans and Mri's and now Ian has just one more Consultant to see on Monday and then we are free to leave our moorings at Kingfishers dry dock. I cant wait to get going again. Today we went back to our bungalow to collect the rest of the wood that Ian logged after the Damson tree came down last May. So once again the roof is covered in coal bags full of chopped wood. We still need to buy 3 bags of coal from Jan and Chris on nb Jackal so goodness knows where we are going to store that. As the weather is set to get colder again no doubt some of the wood will be burnt during our last few days here freeing up some more roof space.
 Today I also collected a passport renewal form from the Post office. My passport doesn't run out until October but as we are off to Poland for number 3 Grandson ,Oliver's , Christening in May, and because I have read stories of people being told they cant fly as their passport has less then 6 months left on it, I decided I wouldn't fall into the category and get the thing sent of ASAP. The lady at the Post Office told me that she could do a 'Check and Send' if I returned the form to her. It would then be processed within 2 weeks. Sounded great but there was a catch. Normal price for a renewal is £77.50 With the Check and Send the amount goes up to £85.67.  I have sent it normal price!!!! and it will take a week longer!

Join the RSPB bird count today

The RSPB click on link are asking the public to send in details of birds they may have seen over the weekend of 28th & 29th January. I think its very important that we don't lose our native birds.Sparrows in particular are in decline as well as the Kingfishers. If we all do the survey it will give them a better insight into the plight of our lovely birds. So come on everybody. Lets do our bit!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

and the tankers arrive!!

8.15am..........  I was sitting in bed enjoying my cup of tea and trying to do a Code Word  
when the peace and quite was shattered by banging and clattering from across the facility block. I sidled out of bed ( I'm on the gunwale side so I have to do my caterpillar impression to get to the bottom of the bed. ) and opened the curtains to have a good look. All I could see was pipes coming from a gap in the repaired fence...Hmmm, Is the septic tank to be emptied?
 It sure was. I  had wondered how they were going to get the pipework in through the fence to empty the tank. ( see post )  Now I knew. I couldn't see the tanker anywhere until I poked my head out of the front cratch and saw not one, but two tankers parked in the car park by the empty offices. The septic tank must be huge to warrant sending two liquid waste disposal trucks.

I watched as the men attached the pipes, stretching it along the towpath to the pub and over the lock gates. Good job no boats wanted to use the lock.

Carrying the pipe sections across the lock.

By now it was about 9.30am. We could hear the pump start in the tanker but nothing appeared to be happening. They stood about for a while then out came a big hammer. This was used to bang all the fittings on the joints presumably to make sure they were tight. Ian reckons the pipe was air locked with air leaking in through the fittings and that's why it didn't suck all  that lovely smelly sewage up through the pipe.

Checking the fittings.
Marvellous what you can do with a big hammer!!!!
 It wasn't long after that, that the pong started. Thankfully the wind was blowing slightly away from us but even so the air was ripe. I really should have waited until they had finished to take Jade for her walk, but Jade kept harassing me trying to let me know that it was way past her 'walkies' time, so with scarf wrapped round my mouth and nose,we set off past the tanker and pipes.

Jade inspecting the pipe points. Rather her nose then mine!!!
 I must have been gone a good 45 minutes but they were still there when I got back. Finally about 11.15 am they finished and started to bring the pipe back toward the tankers. One thing I did notice and thought very wrong was the washing out of the end pipe This had plainly come from being in the septic tank and they were rinsing it from the boaters water tap!! I didn't quite catch it on camera but if I had been nearer to that bloke I would have said something. You can clearly see that the tap is in view and part of the pipe is wet. To think we have filled our water tanks up from the same tap in the past and would have been completely unaware that sewage may have been present on the fittings!
 So finally at 12 00pm they left the site and peace was restored at last.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The miracle of Wonder Foam

I'm actually quite ashamed of showing these pictures. Its true what people say, you never see whats under your nose. Well yesterday Ian had a bit of a mishap. He had just poured himself a glass of white wine and placed it on our table beside our chairs. On the back of his chair was one of those lumberjack type shirts and as he swung the chair to get up and get his dinner, the sleeves of the shirt caught his glass and showered the table, chairs and the rug with wine. The glass shattered leaving loads of tiny pieces all over the floor. Big panic to clear up the shrouds of glass before the dog walked on them so the cleaning up of wine was left until we had made absolutely sure that no glass was left. This meant that the rug was last to be wiped and although we couldn't see the wine stains on it I thought that giving the rug a good wash in the morning was probably a good idea. So here are the pictures that had made me cringe:-

I hadn't realised the rug was as dirty as this!!

 Many years ago I had seen on TV a product called No Wet Wonder Foam. ( Can be bought from Amazon or ebay considerably cheaper then the advert! ) Thankfully I had some on the boat so I decided to give it a go. 'Wow' was all I could say. It is the most amazing carpet cleaner I think I have ever seen. There is no need to wet the carpet or rug just pour in a capful to 16 fl oz water and agitate till it produces a foam and that's all there is to it.
I just used the foam on a sponge and rubbed that over the rug.

Almost like new!
 After leaving it for an hour, I vacuumed the rug and then it was back on the floor as good as new.
Marvellous. I can now hold my head up high again.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Spray, Spiders and alarm testing.

What a relief. I'm no longer a penguin!!! I can actually walk okay again although taking Jade out this morning was a feat in itself. I seemed to take one step forward and two steps back! The wind blowing across the river was horrendous. It was enough to take ones breath away. One boat did make it onto the Erewash this morning but I don't suppose it had an easy time. The river is up again so trying to cut across the fast flow, as well as battling with the wind so they could make the sharp left turn into the lock approach, would have been a bit hairy.

Choppy waters!!
  Its relatively sheltered here by the dock although we still get buffeted every now and then.Our biggest problem is the fumes from our chimney. The wind seems to swirl around us forcing the smoke back down the flue so every time we open the fire door to put on more wood or coal it comes right back at us. We tested our Carbon Monoxide alarm yesterday because you never know what might happen during the night. Thankfully its working well so no fear of us dying in our sleep!!! Its probably a good time for all boaters to give their alarms a quick test as most of us have coal or wood fires. You read of some awful stories about family's dying needlessly. A quick press of the button is all that is needed.

Ian has finished putting the eyelets into the fabric of our top box. He decided to utilise one of the docks work benches as a table to bang the eyelets in. So he took my fishing stool from my locker to  give him a comfy chair to sit on while doing it. As he opened the stool there right in the middle was the biggest spider I have seen for a long time. Thank goodness it wasn't me taking the chair out. I'm a real wuss when it comes to spiders. It all stems back to when I was about 8 and admiring  a huge spider on the hall ceiling. The spider then went and dropped right on top of me. I ended up having hysterics and since then that is my biggest phobia.
Anyway I digress. I wish now I had bought more material to do the back box as I think this fabric looks better then the old stuff. Hopefully the stall holder at Long Eaton market will still be trading next Saturday so I can purchase another couple of mtrs. All I need to do then is to strip the bed, get Ian to lift the mattress out of the way, move the bed base to one side  and then get to where I have stored  my sewing machine and cottons. Simples!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Trip to the Lake District

We had a great journey up to Cumbria without any sort of drama  No hold ups , no burst tyres and no engine faults and the journey from Trent Lock to Keswick took us just over 3 hours. Weather was a bit iffy in places with spray being the main problem but once we got to Thirlwell viaduct the sun came out, mist lifted and we were greeted by some of the most spectacular views to be seen from the M6.

Scales Farm Guest House.
Ian's brother, Alan and sister-in law Angela, owns a guest house that is situated just off the A66 between Keswick and Threkald. There were no guest so, as no rooms had been let for that week we were able to have room 3 on the ground floor ( they have 6 in total ) which is ideal for owners with dogs as well as great for the disabled, as the front door leads straight to the outside car park. Very handy for taking Jade for her walk first thing. After getting settled in, out came my banana cake which went down very well with a cup of tea and then after a bit of a natter we all decided to take the dogs  Josh, Alan's Flat coat, and Jade for a walk. As the guest house has easy access to the fells, we all set off for what I thought would be a nice amble across the valley. Now unless you are one of those hardy people that walk for miles up and down dale you will realise that us boaters do most of their walking on the level.  We started off on the straight but soon the ground steeped sharply downward and then upward, and then downward again and then upward ( you get the picture )and by now my calf muscles were crying out for mercy. After several miles I was never more thankful to see Scales Farm come back into sight. Then Alan told us that 'tomorrow would be a good day to walk round Buttermere Lake'. Groan!!!! Maybe the weather would turn bad, I thought, and we wouldn't be able to go walking after all. Sightseeing by car would be good. Ian told me not to be such a wimp and the exercise is just what the Doctor ordered.  Its okay for him to say that. He hasn't had my leg problems to contend with!!!!
View from the back of the guest house. The Llamas belong to their neighbour and are useful in keeping the grass short.
So next morning dawned bright and sunny ( dam!! ) and there was absolutely no excuse not to do the walk around the lake. Alan assured me that it was very easy going and it was only 4.5 miles round the perimeter. Eek!!!

Buttermere Lake

Jade and Josh

 Well I needn't have worried after all. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk  It wasn't all on the flat. There were loads of stone obstacles and tree roots to manoeuvre round but my muscles seemed to behave themselves with only the occasional twinge to remind me of my over exertion the day before. Jade loved it. Thought she was in dogie heaven and having Alan's dog Josh to play with made her happier then we have seen since Judy died.
Angela, Alan and Ian

One of the many trees that came down in the December storms

The two brothers striding out.

View from Honiton Pass.
It took us about 2 hours to complete the circuit and, as there was a lovely cafe by the car park, we all felt we deserved to have a sit down and a welcoming serving of hot Leek and Potato soup with a roll, It was only when I went to get up that I suddenly realised my legs wouldn't work properly. In fact if you can imagine a penguin's waddle that was all I could do. Both calves had cramped up and I had to be helped back into the car. How embarrassing!!! That night we went out for a meal at the WHITE HORSE PUB. The added bonus was that it is right next door to the guest house so no driving involved. Thankfully it wasn't far to walk so my aching muscles only had to support me for a short while. The meal was excellent and very good value for money.  Yesterday morning we awoke to find that snow had fallen on top of the far hills. Thankfully it was only raining by us even though we appeared to be on the same level as the snow line. So our journey home was a very wet and dismal affair. No views to admire this time as all the hills and mountains were shrouded in mist. It took us a lot longer to return to the boat but thankfully it was only due to heavy rain and spray and not to any major holdups. The boat was freezing but what with the diesel heater and the log fire we soon had a pleasant glow about us.
 As I'm writing this back at the boat I can still only waddle about. I really need to do more exercise and am seriously considering using our internal steps and doing as many ' step ups' as possible!!!!
I have posted more  pictures on my other blog. Jameison Afloat2

View from our bedroom window Friday morning. Stunning!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Banana Cake

I said yesterday that I was at a loss as to what to do today. As we are heading up to the Lake District tomorrow to see Ian's brother I decided that I would bake a cake to take up with me. Ian was a bit miffed that I wasn't going to make one for us, so to keep him happy I made a double batch. This is a very yummy cake and a must if you have any bananas that have 'gone soft' so here is my receipt:-

  1.  2 large or 3 small bananas
  2. 8oz Self Raising Flour ( Plain will do but add 3 tsp of Baking Pdr to the flour )
  3. 6oz sugar ( I use granulated )
  4. 4oz soft marg or butter
  5. 2 med to large eggs
  6. a good handful of mixed fruit
  7. 2Lb loaf tin greased and lined
Light oven gas 4
Mash Bananas until it resembles a yellow mush
Cream marg and sugar
Add eggs a small amount at a time. I add a tablespoon of the flour each time to stop mix from curdling.
Add the mashed bananas and mixed fruit.
Fold in the flour
Pour into the greased and lined 2Lb loaf tin
Place in oven for about 20 mins then turn down gas to mark 2 for a further 30 - 40 mins. Pierce cake with a skewer at the end of the cooking time. When it comes out clean its done. As the oven temperature can vary  from boat to boat, keep checking until cake is cooked.
While the cakes were cooking I took Jade out for her walk. We headed off to Sawley and found a load of BW's Pans tied up ready, no doubt, to be utilised where needed. Not a sign of any boat movement even though the ice was very thin above the lock. It's just to cold to travel.

On our way back a buzzard landed on the post nearby. Just as I took the photo, by sheer fluke, a gull put in an appearance so I got a 2- 4- 1 picture. Bonus!!

A small teaser. Can you see what's in the picture?
I arrived back at the boat just in time to remove the cakes from the oven. Good job too as I'm sure giving burnt offerings to Alan and Angela would not have gone down well! The rest of the afternoon I cleaned and packed for our 3 day visit away. Took Jade out again just after 4.15pm and luckily my camera was in my pocket because I don't think I have ever seen the sun as red as this.
So no more blogging for a few days. I hope to have some good photos to show when we return on Saturday.

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