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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, 2 April 2012

A very interesting and productive day.

I know we are desperate for rain, and I know its heading our way, but I was ever so glad that it held off while Ian was gathering the wood. There is so much by Bridge 13 that, before we knew it, the wood had been gathered and we were on our way towards Swarkstone lock to wind round. ( A BW notice on the lock makes it very plain there is to be no turning in the basin. Our Nicholson, however, shows it to be a winding hole. No one questioned us but, if they had, I would have argued the point. So I ask myself. Who is right and who is wrong?)

Not much more can go on. Although Ian tried to centralise the logs, the boat felt very unstable. Rocked a lot more then it should!
 As I wasn't much use to Ian, me being the feeble person I am, I took Jade over the bridge and into the Rape fields. The blooms were just coming out, pretty but not nice for all those that suffer with hay fever. The birds were singing, wood peckers pecking and Kestrels hovering. It felt good to be alive even though it was blooming cold!

I know the photo looks fuzzy but you have no idea how long I have been trying to get a hawk of one kind or other to photograph. So far this is my best attempt!

Brassica napus, also known as rapeseed, rape, oilseed rape, rapa, rappi, rapaseed (and in the case of one particular group of cultivars, canola), is a bright yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family).

I think Jade was getting fed up with me stopping to take pictures. You can almost see her saying, " Will you hurry up!!" In the background, hidden by the plants, is our boat.

After we had successfully winded at Swarkstone, we sat in the lock hoping for another boat to come. After 15 minutes we gave up waiting and descended on our own. No boats seemed to be going our way, although there were plenty heading up the T & M. We carried on alone until just past bridge 12 when I happened to notice a young lad carrying his bicycle. He kept moving it from one shoulder to another, obviously to heavy for him. We called to him as we got level and asked what had happened. Turned out his "so called puncture proof tyre" wasn't puncture proof after all. He said he was going to Aston to meet some friends.  Maybe it was a daft thing to do , but we took pity on him and offered him a lift. He was ever so grateful. Had never been on a narrowboat before and for him it was quite a thrill especially when we descended Western Lock. We found out his name was Finn and he was in the 6th form at college. He wants to study Medicine at Bristol University and I really hope he succeeds. He was defiantly one of the nicer of the youths you meet today. I'm glad we gave him a lift because otherwise he would have had to walk carrying his bike for over 2.5 miles!

We dropped Finn off at Cow Pasture Bridge. Br 7

Waving him goodbye, we then carried on to Aston Lock. As a lady was already trying to close the bottom gates, I pulled over to tie up instead of what I normally do, drop Ian off and then sit and wait in the middle of the canal until the lock is ready.. It was a good job I did because the lady couldnt make the gate budge even an inch!. She kept pulling and pulling but nothing happened. Ian arrived to help and she told him she had been trying to close the gate for ages.

Ian helping to keep the boat into the side.

On her boat at the helm was her granddaughter, so she couldn't get off to help either. Would you believe it,  this lady only bought the boat at the end of last year, never having had a boat before, and this was her first time out. Shardlow lock was the first lock she negotiated, (she moored at Shardlow Marina), and she said she had managed that very well, but Aston lock almost made her give up boating before she had even started!. Ian had to help show her the ropes and it wasn't until they finally came out of the lock that I noticed something not quite right. See if you notice it as well.

The rest of our journey was very uneventful. Apart from the odd spot we still haven't had any rain. As time was getting on and I was starting to feel cold we very nearly moored at Sawley. I however wanted to get off the river just in case we do get the heavy rain that was forecast. I know how fast the river can rise. The turn into the Erewash was a bit more rocky then normal owing to the weight of wood on the roof but, here we are again, moored safely at the top of Trent lock by the Steamboat. It can rain all it wants now.

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