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, 30 April 2012

I was wrong, there is no hope for us. Or even our son

I was rudely woken this morning by Ian banging doors and calling Jade for her first walk. What on earth was the matter with him? He's normally really quiet first thing in the morning. All became clear when I looked to see what the time was. The clock showed 8.30am  I looked out the window and noticed the sun was shinning. What a lovely change not to hear rain beating down on the roof, but hang on, why did it appear so low in the sky at 8.30 am?  I'll tell you why, because it was only 5.45 am! Our bedroom clock was still ticking away but on a go slow. Me thinks its time to replace the battery.. Unbeknown to me, Ian had also put the toast on and made a cup of tea thinking it was so late. He was even about to start the engine to charge the battery, seeing as how we would be out all day. Thank goodness he looked at the clock in the engine room because I don't think our neighbours would have been very happy with us running the engine at that time of the morning.! After calling Ian a complete idiot, I didn't feel it was worth trying to go back to sleep so got up instead. There was a symphony of bird song ( is that the right word?) calling to me to venture out with the camera. Jade didn't mind going out again but the only picture worth taking throughout the walk was of our lovely moorings.

After my breakfast (at the correct hour) we departed for Bletchely. Ian wanted a new pair of shoes ready for the Christening in Poland next week, and I desperately needed new slippers, mine having fallen to bits. Then it was off to Colin's to start work. A slight problem arose when we got there. Although we had his front door key, he forgot to leave the garage key and all Ians tools happened to be in the garage. A quick phone call to Colin confirmed that the only other person to have a spare key was his builder and he had cleared off on holiday for a week! We did no more then turn round and come back to the boat. No point staying there twiddlng our thumbs. Instead Ian kept himself busy doing bits and bobs round the boat, cleanng brasses, sweepng the chimney, printng  birthday cards etc, while I got to know the couple, Jill and Keith on Nb Windrifter. Tomorrow we try again but it does appear the the Jameison madness has already spread to our son!!

Just one other thing to mention. The tame mouse running around from boat to boat, is known as Norman!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Jameison normality at last.

Okay, so for two days a storm has been raging. Rain has caused mini floods, the wind took leaves from branches and trees have come down, but was I bothered? No! because yesterday and today we have been moored up cosy and warm, safe in the knowledge that the 'Jameison madness'  of' 'must travel at all cost' had gone. (well for the time being anyway).

One of the many flooded parts around the park

We did move today, though, because our time was up on the park moorings so we have literally moved a couple hundred yards to the towpath side on the 14 day mooring. A lovely couple Paul and Lorna on Nb Kestrel came out to greet us followed by their Jack Russel and a mouse.What!!!! A mouse????? Yep it lives in the vicinity and has been a regular visitor to the boat in the hope of getting some tit bits. It would be great if I could get a picture of it. Apparently Buster the Jack Russel only goes after bigger fry, you know, rats, rabbits, cats etc. so the mouse is quite safe. Wonder what Jade will think if she sees it? Also residing in the area is a Jay. Got a couple of pictures which is not the best, but I may get another opportunity at a later stage.

Colin had suggested we met up at lunchtime today for a meal at the Toby Inn at Shenley Church End. Iwona, with our grand kids Oscar and Oliver, had left for Poland in the 'wee hours' of this morning ( brave girl to travel on her own on a plane with two children under the age of 4) so I offered to cook dinner, but whether he remembered his mums home cooking was not the best, he decided it was safer to eat out!! I took this photo on a self timer after the meal and having set it on 10 seconds, only just made it to the seat on time. I might look drunk but I can assure you I wasn't!

Left Colin to his own devices later this afternoon and as I spied a strange yellow thing in the sky, I took Jade for a walk, or rather took myself for a walk! I ambled on quite oblivious to the fact that Jade had decided to walk no more! It was to near her dinner time and all she wanted was to go back to the boat and get fed. You'll see what I mean in the next picture,

A close up.
 I gave up trying to get her to come to me so, against my better judgement, I let her have her own way.
So tomorrow we are off to No#1 son again but this time to start on a long list of jobs he has left both of us to do.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Jade! Jade! can you come out to play?

A very wet Campbell Park

What a fabulous place to moor for a few days.Shame it's so wet but that doesn't distract from the beauty of the place. It's 48 hour stay on the park side but 14 day on the towpath side. The walks around here are brilliant. The one down side! No dogie do bins! I did manage to find one after walking around for a bit, but that was in a camping and caravan site and not out on the public footpaths. Still its no hardship to bag it all up and leave on the roof of the boat until such time as we find a bin. I can forgive this place anything its so lovely.

Not sure what this is suppose to portray!

Last night we had a visit by one of our boating neighbours. The fact that it was 10.30pm made both of us wonder if we were going to be visited by another con man. It turned out that the guy in the very small cruiser wanted his phone charged as he had no power on his boat, He even offered us food to help him out of which we declined saying we had no problem charging the phone so long as he could leave it with us over night.. This morning he appeared when Ian stuck his head out from under the cratch cover and gave Ian a box of Asda tea bags for his trouble. The guys been drifting ,as he calls it, for 10 months starting out in Oxford and going where the wind takes him.  He's one of those guys that looks unkempt and one usually would avoid but chatting to him we found him to be a very interesting and intelligent person. Why he ended up 'down and out' is his own business but he appeared to be very happy with his lot, and with a lovely GSD cross collie for a companion, he says he wants for nothing, other then a bit of power now and then.

Ian has departed  to collect the car. Our son Colin turned up early to give him a lift back. It saves Ian all that hassle of finding a bus to Milton Keynes centre, then the coach to Nottingham and from there another bus to Sandiacre. It usually takes 4 or 5 hours just to get to the car and then with another hour and half back he could be gone most of the day. Once he's back we can shop and stop of at Colin's to see the grandchildren and also to see if anymore work has been done round the house. I rather think not, and that now that 'Dad' is back no doubt Ian will get roped into doing the work instead.

Friday, 27 April 2012

President arrives at Stoke Bruerne flight

Another day of setting off in the rain. It was before 9am so quite late for us to get going. There was a notice on the balance beam at the top of Stoke Bruerne lock when we arrived,  stating that the locks would open at 10 am, but no chain was around the gates, and as we hadn't had any notification that the locks were closed, we went down the first two. Then as we approached the third lock, two boats were already on the landing. Both had tied to a bollard but there didn't appear as if anyone was doing anything. That's when we saw the chain round the gate!!! It baffled me as to why the chain wasn't put round the top set. Something to do with a 'long pound' and boaters having to be allowed to leave if moored there. Anyway the time was about 9.40am and along came a volunteer lockie. 'Great', we thought, he was about to open up. Apparently not. He said it was more then his job's worth to usurp BW's authority even though the chain was held together with a combination lock and he knew the combination. So we waited and nattered to the other boaters and finally the BW man himself arrived to unlock and let the first two boats through. Suddenly we heard the unmistakable sound of a whistle which could only have come from the steam boat President.  Both President and butty Kildare had been moored at the top lock, having arrived about half an hour after we had moored on the 48 hour mooring at Stoke Bruerne. As a single boat with no other boat in sight, we gestured to them to go through first . As luck would have it no sooner had we told them to go in, a canaltime came round the corner. Oh well, at least we wouldn't have to wait the expected half hour for another boat to arrive. Then another volunteer lock keeper turned up, a lady, and told us a couple of boats had entered the bottom lock so could we wait until they were up. No problem really but it did mean a fairly long wait. So we removed our waterproofs and boots and settled down to a cup of tea, then suddenly back came the young lady and said we could proceed with filling the lock and to go down the flight as planned, as the boats in question seemed to take an age entering and filling the locks and she felt it unfair to make us wait. Back on with the boots and waterproofs, which is not easy when they were already wet, and after the canaltime crew filled the lock we were again on our way. We met the pair at the second to last lock at the bottom of the flight. One of the pair just happened to be the boat from the IWA festival that had designed a 'push along' butty instead of towing it.

Ian at the top of the flight having just gone past President & Kildare

Canaltime arrival meant we could pair up without waiting

Using the pole to keep Kildare from hitting the cill.

Lady volunteer.

Ian with the canaltime

This boat nb 'Alice' & 'Alice Too', was the boat at the IWA festival showing how the butty is joined at the front. See Post
 We followed President in the torrential rain and thunder storm to Cosgrove. He obviously doesn't hang around as this next picture shows.

Had his pins pulled by President as it went past. If it wasn't for the fact that the rain was coming down hard we would have stopped to sort it out. Seeing as there was a moored boat right by it we thought we would let him 'sort it out' instead. When Ian reached Thrupp another boat was being retreived. Another one that had lost his pins to President!
 Just before Cosgrove I spied another stuffed creature stuck to the cratch board. I definitely think I might start the society for prevention of cruelty to stuffed animals!!!

The rain was relentless today. Only stopped for brief periods and luckily one of those periods was at Cosgrove lock. Both of us have been equally soaked to the skin and, as we approached Gifford Park facilities, we almost made the decision to stay and find a mooring. I walked past the bridge to see if anything was available. Plenty of spaces but I soon found out why. The towpath was covered in dog shit. I'm not going to mince my words because it was disgraceful. Someone had been along and sprayed the shitty piles with yellow paint. Obviously didn't deter the dog owner because more shit had appeared next to the yellow mounds. We moved hurriedly along, still with the rain beating down, to Cambell Park. There was a mooring free on the park which is an absolute delight for Jade. Now we are dry, the fires lit, we are warm and well fed and loving the sound oif the rain on the boat roof.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Buckby Flight to Stoke Bruerne

Lovely lazy start this morning. The locks didn't open until 10am so after consuming a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, we made our way toward the lock and onto the water point. This caused a bit of a ruckus by some of the boats already moored. I'm sure they thought we were going to creep in to steel their place. After explaining what we were up to it, was all sweetness and light and very helpful in getting us moored up. Once watered, we waited our turn and  paired up with an Alevchurch boat. The whole flight was against us even though we knew boats were making there way up. It was the first pair down that had all the luck. The weather was kind during our descent but clouds gathered in the distance making us aware of things to come. Finally left the bottom lock some 2 hours later.

Stormy skies ahead

I laughed when I saw this boat coming out of the bottom lock. Looked as if it had been in for a shampoo.

Foam already starting show.
On route to Gayton when I warned Ian what was to come!

I had to smile at what this boat was using as fenders. Surly there is a society for cruelty to teddy bears?

At bridge 38 BW was replacing the edging of the towpath with wooden piling and back filling with sandbags. I 'm presuming the wooden post will be knocked down level with the towpath.

We reached Blisworth after only getting wet a few times. The clouds seemed to be all around  threatening us with torrential downpours but the gods were looking on us with favour because most of it past by. Well, that was until just before the tunnel entrance. Then it came down in buckets. Ever so glad to get inside in the dry. That was until the waterfalls coming from the roof vents sent  both of us briefly ducking for cover.  I didn't see my ghost although I sat up front with the camera just in case. I did take some photos though just in case I captured some strange beings.

Hammering it down!

Old part

and new section.
 As we have stopped in Stoke Bruerne Ian going to treat me to a meal tonight in the Navigation. We have all day now to decide part part of Milton Keynes to moor, Cambell Park seems to be most likely place.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Jameison Madness. ( sorry kids it may be hereditary! )

Well I thought yesterdays madness was bad enough having got under way by 6.30 am.  Today's madness? Starting out in the stormiest conditions we have had for a long time. The wind howled and the rain beat down on our roof but we still decided to set off!!  I choose to take the tiller first and the plan was to swap over once up and through Hillmorton. With the wind and rain blowing hard toward me, the rain actually stung my face and It hurt like billy oh! There must have been hail  mixed in with it. I decided to go all girlie and grabbed  the umbrella. Ian reckons I am a complete wimp but he wasn't out there to experience the conditions. You wait until its his turn. Then he'll know!!!! This brolly is one of those super doper Jobie's that allows the wind to blow through. and stop the brolly from blowing inside out. Wrong!!! At Hillmorton locks the gusts were so strong that not only did it go inside out but I physically couldn't do anything about it other then hang on to it for dear life. Thankfully I was in the lock otherwise the boat would have ended up on the opposite side of the pound! A great photo moment lost because Ian was laughing so much and also having to hang onto his own hat for all it was worth as well! That did it for us. Both of us said that 'enough was enough' and, as luck would have it, we managed to squeeze into a space not far from Hillmorton top lock. The wind helped us in, mind you. Nice sideways manoeuvre directly into the space. Almost like having bow thrusters forward and aft. If the rain stops later we may carry on towards Braunston but just at the moment I'm feeling cosy and warm and don't really want to get going again. We will see.

Togged up like the Michelin man  and with the girlie brolly.

First lock at Hillmorton

A very bedraggled Ian

When did this occur? I'm sure it wasn't like this when we came through beginning of the year!

Guess what! We are on the move again. Not long after writing the first part of this post, the rain stopped and Ian donned waterproofs and got us going again! How long before we stop again all depends if the rain returns. I did notice a load of wood shavings and trees with their branches cut down past the 14 day moorings. Seems to be no end of tree cutting going on at the moment. Could it be BW honouring their veg pledge ?

I stayed nice and warm in the boat only putting my head out occasionally to see if Ian was all right. The rain had returned with avengeance and I asked him if he would like the brolly. All I got was a scowl and I think out of sheer cussedness he wouldn't have taken it. I did offer to swap with him and take the helm but he insisted he was fine, so I just let him get on with it! I did supply him with coffees and warm soup. I think he was ever so grateful to see the Braunston church spire in the distance and as we were well inside the lock closure time we decided to go up the flight today.

Who says we haven't enough water. Judging by the amount pouring over the bottom gate I would say we wont have to worry about low pounds on the way up.

No room for us on the landing so had to nestle up to the hire boats instead.
  A Kate hire boat saw us coming and waited on the landing for us to arrive. Very nice people who had never taken a boat before. They had plenty of crew so while Ian went ahead to set locks, (they were all against us) the others stayed behind to lock us through. By now the rain had eased and we even had a glimpse of blue sky as we reached the tunnel entrance. Only met one boat in the tunnel and that happened to be an Anglo Welsh hire boat. We did bump but as it was right by the 'bendy bits' it was inevitable that this would occur. Once through the blue sky had disappeared and the rain started again. We were advice by a couple walking toward us that there was no moorings to be had by the locks so we have moored up just before the junction ready for the off when the locks open at 10 am.

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