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.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Day 3. Floor still not finished!.

There never seems enough hours in a day when your trying to get things done. Progress has been made at Colin's, but the floor is still nowhere near finished, even though both Ian and Colin has worked like Trojans. Iwona has continued with the emulsion of walls and ceilings, and I'm still painting the stairs. Most of this morning I was filling in the nail holes on the wooden inserts on the stairs. The builders left all the nails sitting proud and Ian had to use his pin punch to bang them down .Then it all had to be sanded down once the filler had dried, and it wasn't until this afternoon that I finally managed to get the second coat of primer on. Tomorrow I start on the final coat of white Satin and Ian is ever hopeful that the floor will also be finished.



The landing still needs some work

Painting all these spindles took forever. Thankfully I didn't drop any paint over Ian!


Colin laying a tricky bit in the corner.


Looking good.




Iwona still painting walls.


Still a lot more to do, but as you can see, it's time for a tea break!



With the Bi-fold doors open and looking into, what will eventually be, a fabulous garden.!


Colin discussing with the Dennis the exact height of the garden wall


Getting ready to lay the wall foundation's.


First bricks go in.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Day 2. Still laying floors

Another early start. I am so  going to miss my lie In's in the mornings if this keeps up. My task today was to prime the stairs with a water based primer, and then, once dry, rub all the paintwork down again ready for a second coat tomorrow. And it did take me all day. Upstairs was a nightmare. I had to stretch as far as I could go to paint the bannister's above the stairs. and it didn't help when Ian and Colin kept disturbing my efforts. Both Ian and Colin are making slow, but steady progress on laying the floor. Their excuse, to many fiddly bits! I put it down to being too particular and, of course, the many tea breaks that they have to stop for!
With the lads busy with the flooring, Colin's builder has given Colin two labourers to dig out the footings for the garden wall. Great for Ian because it means no digging and no bad back!!! However, he will be needed to lay the decking, and a lot of soil will need shifting to make the levels right. This to be done at a later date.

Now Colin, remember what I told you. Make sure its straight..


Your doing such a good job I'll leave you to it, Son!


Doing the fiddly bit.


The fourth coat of paint going on. Iwona had more paint on her then on the ceiling


The footings dug out ready for the garden wall.


Monday, 27 February 2012

Not the news we wanted to here.

Both of us started the day feeling very positive. You never think the worse might happen but unfortunately for us it did. Ian's appointment at Nottingham City Hospital was for 2.55 pm but when we arrived we were told the wait would be at least another hour. As the only consultant having to deal with all the patients took his time seeing them, the wait got longer and longer. Eventually reinforcements arrived with another Consultant and a Registrar to help out. Not long after we were called in to see Mr Sokal. This consultant and Ian go back a long way. At least 5 years as he dealt with him after the initial operation to remove the lump, as well as the Radiotherapy and then the Chemo in the years to follow. We were then told in the nicest possible way that Ian would have to have further surgery. This will happen sooner rather then later. Mr Sokal estimated this would probably happen within the next six weeks. Our plans for this seasons cruising will now be put on hold so the need to find somewhere for us to moor for a considerable amount of time is now paramount.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

And so the work begins.


The new extension above the garage.
   After the usual cup of tea on arrival, Colin and Ian started on the cutting and measuring of the floorboards. There is all huge Bi-fold doors that run from one side of the room to the other. Looks fantastic but trying to make sure the boards run straight up to the doors without running out, was not as easy at it sounds. Ian must have spent the best part of half a day trying to sort it. He is a perfectionist and this has rubbed off on Colin so they are as bad as each other when it comes to getting things right. After a lot of measuring, calculations and head scratching, the first board was at last put down.


Huge Bi-fold doors. Oscar, our grandson, playing amongst the dust.


First board going down.
 I forgot just how hard it was to rub down paintwork  Colin didn't help matters when he kept telling me it didn't feel smooth enough and needed doing again! Then, to top it all, Ian had to go and mention that the new wooden bannister's had a lot of natural tree knots in them and they would need to be treated with a substance to stop them bleeding into the paintwork. So muggins here had treat the lot. Took me ages and I kept forgetting which ones I had done. Anyway, first day is over and I must say I enjoyed every moment. What I'll think after a fortnight is any ones guess.

Tomorrow is Ian's consultant day. I have no idea of what the outcome will be. All I can do is hope for good news.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Looks like we are staying in Blisworth.

Last night we visited Colin and Iwona. Their extension was almost finished and typically, even though the kids have left the nest, they still demanded our time (and money!!). So Ian raided our garage before we left Sandiacre and filled every conceivable space on the boat with his work bench, power saw, tile cutter,etc. Everything he felt was  needed for laying flooring, fixing skirting's, tiling, painting and then if he had any time left, landscaping and decking  the garden. The dog was delegated to the smallest spot by the table and I could almost hear the sigh of relieve when we moved everything from the boat to the car. She finally had her sleeping area back.

First thing we did this morning was to drive to Stoke Bruerne. I fully expected to see loads of lovely empty moorings with most of the boats having descended the locks. I was to be disappointed once again. Apart from one space, that we had no hope of getting into, not a single boat had moved all the way round to the tunnel. Are they all over stayer's? or are they in the designated winter moorings. I couldn't see any signs up stating that fact but to be fair the signs may have been taken down. Anyway it means that we will stay here a while longer. We have a fortnight before we need to move and then if Colin still wants us to stay longer,  we may head down to Cosgrove.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Will the locks be opened on time?

Ian had another bus ride today to bring the car here to Blisworth. This gave me a good opportunity to give the floors a good wash without him traipsing across the wet floor and leaving footprints. I opened the front doors to aid the drying process and  noticed a boat coming under the bridge from the direction of the tunnel. This got me all excited because I hoped that meant Stoke Bruerne locks were open. Then I noticed behind the boat, two men standing on what  looked like some sort of staging. When it drew level I saw two very large trap doors in the flooring. Could this be some sort of tank?

The structure was being towed by Nb Joli Meander and as it drew level I asked him if he had come up the flight. I was very disappointed when he informed me he had only come from Blisworth boatyard. If the flight isn't open then we may as well stay where we are. Unless of course, when Ian returns from fetching the car, we could drive round to see if any moorings are available. Stoke Bruerne is a lovely place to stay and the two pubs and Restaurant  is an extra bonus.

Update:-

There are no moorings to be had the other side of the tunnel and work was still going on at the bottom of Stoke Bruerne flight. Ian stopped to ask the contractor when he thought the flight would be open but as usual  he was given an evasive answer. "Could be later to day, mate, or could be tomorrow". Oh well. So  be it. We stay where we are then. The moorings here are beginning to fill up with boats expecting the flight to be open. I feel like a Jack in the Box every time a boat comes past, letting them know the state of play.

Further update- 4pm

Its a good job I saved this post as draft because Nb Grace, she arrived earlier and moored in front of us,  has found out by BW that the work has been completed and the locks have now opened. They decided to leave but not before knocking on other boaters doors to see if they wanted to come down the flight with them. All said no they would wait. We also have decided to stay a while longer. It makes sense to let the boat traffic clear and maybe move on Sunday, with the hope of finding a mooring near the pub.

Its now 5pm and Nb Little Miss has just gone past. First boat through heading toward Braunston.

Bathing makes you dazzling white!

Dazzling

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Onwards to Blisworth

Thank goodness we decided to stay put last night and not go through the junction to the moorings above the locks. They had nearly all been taken by  BW's work fleet apart from a section just before the waterpoint. There should have been enough room for three boats, but two private boat owners had moored up without sharing rings.   Need I say more!!!


Between the top lock and the second lock is Tricia's shop selling everything boat and canal related. We had given Tricia another order to paint a larger Buckby can, to match the first, back in October last year. This is the first time we have been back this way since then and even though the shop wasn't officially open, after a quick phone call to say we were on our way, she obligingly opened up for us.




Little & Large
The locks were nearly all with us. Just one had been turned round before we arrived, By the time Ian got to the lock it was almost empty, so no point in having a go at the bloke. Instead, as he turned out to be a lone boater, Ian did the honourable thing and helped him through. Next stop was at bridge 21 to see the Bedazzeled distributor. We spent £120 with them at the IWA festival last July replacing all our lights for LED's and 2 of the bulbs had blown within 2 months of the purchase. A phone call to their agent Richard assured us that the next time we were in this area he would replace both for free. He was true to his word and I now have my reading light in the lounge and the bedroom light working again. After a quick lunch we set off for Blisworth. On the way we spied a boat we recognised from the telly.  The boat that Guy built Nb Reckless. Last we heard it was up for sale and the link shows the pictures as it was advertised.


Moored up at Furnace Wharf.
We stopped at Gayton Junction for water and loo emptying and once on our way again Ian pointed out a boat with dead rabbits tied to the tiller. Ian enjoys rabbit but I hate the smell of it cooking as well as the taste. Unfortunately for him its one meat he has to do without!
Tonight's dinner perhaps?

  We are now moored before bridge 50 on the outskirts of Blisworth.. Today has been more like a spring day with no need for hats or gloves but instead suncream and  t shirts.  Another lovely sunset tonight, and I hope that the promise of this lovely red sky will bring another brilliant day tomorrow.






Wednesday, 22 February 2012

And I thought there would be nothing to blog about!

It was extremely windy this morning but we set off early to try and beat the rain. If possible we wanted to be at Long Buckby by tonight as our long awaited second Buckby can will be ready to collect tomorrow. The going was tough in places because we kept creating a wash and so creeping along at about 2mph was all we could manage. Me thinks some dredging is needed. As we approached bridge 28 there, perched high in a tree, was a man with his chopper ( actually it was a chain saw ) cutting down overhanging branches.



As we continued on, we saw more and more cut branches laying on the towpath. The only problem was trying  to get into the side to collect it. We didnt fancy getting stuck and, as Ian had already cut up and filled another 14 bags with the wood that we had collected earlier, he didn't think it was worth trying to get anymore. But then, right by a convenient piled edge, was a stack of wood already logged into manageable pieces. Well, even Ian couldn't pass that opportunity, so here we are again, roof full of wood ready to be chopped, and the boat listing badly once more.
.

I don't suppose many live aboards could resist this!!!


I don't recommend anyone tying to a tree across the towpath but it was the only way,to stop us blowing across the cut without putting pins in.
 Once all the wood was safely stored on the roof we continued on our journey, and literally, just round the next bend, was Nb Heron collecting wood from another pile left by the tree fellers. After a laugh about great minds etc we left them to it. That's when the rain started. And boy did it rain. We badly need it but it really was very miserable travelling with the wind blowing the rain into one's face.  After feeling more and more like a drowned rat and starting to become a bit despondent, both of us suddenly perked up as we became aware of this pitiful bleating coming from a field as we approached a bridge. Ian suddenly spied a lamb in the water and we realised that it was the Ewe making all that noise. Thankfully the lamb managed to get out but as we drew level to the pair, there, in the water and frantically hanging onto the bank with its front feet, was another lamb. Ian managed to slow the boat down with the aim to grabbing it and giving it back to its mum. It amazes me that, as a new born, they can manage to get themselves out of trouble, and luckily this one also managed to escape the water. With the drama over we left them happily suckling from their mum.

.

The first lamb in the process of having a good shake and Mum completely unconcerned that her second lamb was in difficulties.



Having a reassuring feed.


I wondered if the Ewe at the back really had 4 lambs!! 

We eventually made it to Watford Locks. We saw plenty of contractors about but no sign of the Lock Keeper. So we had no option other then to DIY. We managed to do the flight in 40 minutes, which was pretty good going seeing as Ian had to set all the locks. The rain had, by now, stopped and after another couple of miles we arrived at Norton Junction. We decided to moor before the junction as neither of us fancied going down Long Buckby flight tonight, especialy if all the moorings were full at the top.  I for one was ever so glad to get in the warm and, after a lovely hot shower, I felt almost human again.


I know this work  is necessary, but at the moment stepping off the boat means very muddy boots!


Tarmacing the towpath.


Look no leaks!!! Lovely new gate fitted in 2011. Oh if they could all be like this!
 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thumbs up for 'this' volunteer.

This morning Ian was away to Market Harborough before 8 am. His aim was to find a convenient place to leave the car until Friday. The parking in Foxton village was a bit limited and some of the locals might have objected if we had stayed to long so, as we had left the car at Harborough without any trouble a few years ago, Ian decided it would be a more convenient place to park. He had absolutely no trouble finding a good spot as there appears to be a new car park for boaters and fisherman alike near to the basin. Catching the bus back was easy and the driver dropped Ian by the canal bridge. After leaving our moorings, the next stop was the locks themselves. A boat was already coming down the flight when we arrived and, as luck would have it, we found that today one of the volunteer lock keepers happened to be on duty. A great guy called John. Now, as a women I know that most of us can talk for England. Well today it was the men's turn. I don't think Ian and John stopped talking all the way up the flight. In fact at one point, after I had  sat for ages waiting for them to open the gates,I seriously thought that taking all my clothes off might have been the only way to attract their attention That would not have been a pretty sight but I was beginning to get desperate. They say that women are bad. This pair beats us all!  Eventually we made it to the top and then John told us that he was usually stationed up at the Watford flight, but for two days a week he helps out here at Foxton. Now, if there was a prize for the most helpful, entertaining and genuinely great guy, it would have to be given to John. Keep up the good work but please do occasionally stop talking to see if the gates are ready to be opened!

Nattering!


Still nattering!!!!


John. Wouldn't it be lovely if all volunteer lock keepers were like him!
  I have a question and I hope someone can answer.  What are these two large orange buoys doing in the canal? The pair seem to be attached to something but nothing is apparent. They are at  Bridge 46 on the Grand Union and Husbands Bosworth tunnel can be seen in the distance. Its most intriguing and something I would love to find out.

We have found a great spot to moor just past the Welford Arm. Ian wanted to use the chainsaw again without disturbing anyone and apart from the horses in the bottom field, there isn't a soul about. We've not quite crossed the border into Northampton as the board states. That's for tomorrow.



Monday, 20 February 2012

Body found at Foxton

We had a bit of drama here at Foxton yesterday. Ian and I had just set of to meet our friends Pat and Keith for a meal at the Foxton Lock Inn when suddenly two police cars, sirens at full blast came through the village and over the bridge. Then a helicopter appeared and hovered above the fields not 50yds from us Something big was happening but we had no idea what it was. First thought, as one does, was that they were after someone. I fully expected to see the dog patrol with their sniffer dogs as well! After 15 minutes the helicopter cleared off and all went quiet. We met our friends, had a fabulous meal, and then they drove Ian back to Kilby to fetch the car. When he returned he said that there was a squad car parked and a policeman standing near some farm gates in North Lane. Our moorings were at one end of this lane so if Ian hadn't gone along the lane to turn the car around, he wouldn't have known they were there. Made us wonder if he was guarding the premises. Again we thought nothing of it until we heard on the local news this morning that a body had been found in a field by a person walking their dog. No more information was given out so we don't know if it was foul play or an unfortunate accident. Hopefully we will find out later today. This is the second time a body has been found near to our mooring. See Post. Just one more to go to make it a third!


Our mooring. We seem to be smoking out the villagers!
I have found out a few more details about the body. This from the Leicestershire Constabularly 

Police believe body is that of missing man



Police believe the body of a man that was found in Foxton yesterday afternoon is that of missing man Stuart Taylor.
Officers were called at around 12.20pm on Sunday February 19, by a man who reported seeing what he believed to be the body of a man in a pond.
The body has been recovered from the water and officers have carried out further enquiries in the area.
Stuart Taylor was last seen at around 1.30pm on Tuesday, December 13 in Market Harborough. He was reported missing a short while later.
A file will now be prepared for the coroner, who will also confirm formal identification




Finally all my hospital visits are finished for the time being. Next Monday will be Ian's turn and we are keeping are fingers crossed that Ian wont have to go under the knife again.

I love the moorings here. Not only do we have no light pollution so to see the amount of stars is phenomenal, but the bird song as dawn breaks beats the sound of traffic and trains which we have experienced for the last 2 months. There was another frost this morning and going out early with Jade and camera gave me some lovely photos.




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