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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.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Is that someone crying for help!

6.45 AM Who the hell has started their engine. Unbelievable!!!! The rumbling drumming through FS's hull magnifying the sound. Could only be one of two boats nearby but fully aware that we must all get on during the festival so nothing has been said but if it happens again tomorrow, beware........ The sound finally ceased at 10am!

Ian had already got dressed, couldn't get back to sleep due to the noise so he thought he might as well. I was enjoying my cup of tea in bed when I suddenly became aware of someone shouting help. Was I dreaming??? No there it was again. 'Help I cant get out'! Christ someones fallen in. Ian rushed to the back, hastily flinging on his flip flops. I donned jumper and trousers, (no time for undies) and rushed out as well only to see Ian strolling back from the end of the pontoon without a care in the world. 'False alarm' shouts he, 'its the firemen practicing rescue techniques'. Well it took a while for the adrenalin rushing through me to subside but what a relief. They were very convincing I can tell you.
 Fireman accident

The large marquee as well as several smaller ones have arrived and are being put up. The boaters elsan has appeared very near to this mooring, through the gate and very easy for us to get to. No water to flush the cassette out so a bucket with canal water will have to suffice. Good to see the burger van and the beer has also arrived. 18 different ales to please us boaters although personally I prefer larger. Sacrilege I know!!!

Ian doing his bit

A few more boats have arrived but the site is by no means full. I suppose we still have a day to go before the start. It starts on Saturday not Friday as I assumed.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Wasn't our bones a creaking last night.

Now what was I saying about being lucky to get a pontoon? Humm Maybe not such a good move after all. We happen to be on one of the short pontoons in the basin and consequently the front end of FS sticks out by a mile!! Securing her was a problem and Ian did the best he could last night in the very windy conditions. Sleep was almost impossible as FS swung from side to side and the ropes leading from the center fairlead to the pontoon cleat kept creaking. This morning, feeling very bleary eyed, Ian was determined to do something about it. We now have more ropes attached to FS then any other boat here! So far so good as the creaking and swinging has stopped. Hoping for a better nights sleep tonight.

Early this morning an army of children arrived for a day out in the canoes. We were talking to Annie on the pontoon at the time and had to keep dodging the onslaught of kids. Must have been about a hundred or more all shouting, laughing in anticipation of a grand day.

The first wave arrives. All the blue and yellow canoes were filled with the children. Another 8 canoes appeared 30 minutes later.

Had a look round Vines Park to see if anything was going on. A new finger post had been erected and very nice it was too. No sign of marquees or activity but we were told of a meeting at 13:00 to get volenteers. Ian attended and apart from a brief return to tell me he was being driven to Brum to help load the marquee in a van, I have not seen him since! Hope he's back in time for dinner!!!

FS is nestled in the middle.
Forgot to include these photo's when we were moored in Stourport.

The seagull did not want the Heron around


Ian has returned (just) dinner in the dog (or would have been if we still had one) 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

We pulled and pushed but not a hope.

Sunset on the river last night.
 Talk about a rude awakening this morning! Phone rings at 6.45am. Ian jumps out of bed to answer and turns out to be I T Distrubutors letting us know they would be with us by 7.15am.  Never have we dressed so quick and put the bed away. Even the tea had to wait!! Sure enough almost on the dot the van arrives and 4 parcels are unloaded.

Just the drawer pack left to fetch

Then came the assembly

Made to measure. Perfect.

Slight modification needed so it will fit under the gunwale. Bit to be shaved off the top of the frame

All done and now fits nicely under the gunwale giving plenty of room for the table.

Thankfully being near to the facilities we could get rid of the packaging. Shame no recycling bins around so it all went in general waste. By 9ish we were on our way. With low river levels but fast flow, we motored toward the first manned lock in record time. Here we were joined by newly weds Geoff and Caroline (only got married last year.) on Nb Boomerang. They were to stay with us all the way to Droitwich making life much easier doing the Barge Canal locks.

Approaching Lincomb lock

First manned lock, Lincomb. Green light so good to proceed.

Towards Holt lock

Turning into the start of the Barge Canal

By lock 2 a new traffic light was operational warning of the river levels. It was here that a length of decent moorings have also been made available. Good idea as no other moorings are to be had along the Barge Canal and at least it's somewhere to stop and wait for the river levels to drop.

Lock 2 with the traffic light

Seems like horses are allowed on the towpath on this canal.
 At lock 5 we encountared a problem. The bottom gates wouldn't close no matter how much Geoff and Ian pulled and pushed the gate. They even started to fill the lock to see if the gate would close by itself. Not a hope, so abandoning that idea the boat pole came out. I first tried to shift what ever it was but all I could feel was concrete. Then Caroline had a go, another blank. Ian then jumped on board and he had a go. Still no joy. By now we had been in the lock for over 30 minutes. Not really wanting to sit there all day, the idea of calling C&RT didn't really appeal to any of us so once more the top paddles were raised to see what would happen. Well we did start to rise although very slowly and the fear of emptying the pound above was ever in our minds. The amount of water bubbling up from under the gate was staggering and we were just about to drop the paddles when whatever was under the gate shot out and the gate crashed shut. We never did find out what it was but what a relief to get going again.

Gates not closed

Bubbling up from under the bottom gate

The run to the basin was extremely pleasant. I sat enjoying the sunshine in the front, leaving Ian to steer. Got a bit concerned when FS's bow headed for the bank rather then the bridge 'ole. Lack of concentration was the cause as well as not turning the tiller enough. Sorry Ian but the L plates are going on again!!

Your going the wrong way!!!!!

Last bridge before Droitwich Basin

The pontoon moorings are to the left of the concrete bollard.
 We were very lucky to get a pontoon mooring. Only one left and that was by the gate. Wind was a bit of a B though especially as we reversed in. Thankfully Colin and Annie were on hand to grab ropes and help us in. Festival starts on Friday we think, so bunting will be put up then.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A river question.

Is nothing reliable these days? In my book, arrangements made should be arrangements kept. Not by the haulage company I T Distributors though! They should have delivered the sofa bed today as  planned. Having made arrangements to over stay a 24 hour mooring (thank you C&RT) to take delivery of the sofa, it now turns out that the paperwork for dispatching the sofa hadn't been completed in time. For goodness sake, they had collected the sofa from Sit and Sleep last Friday and taken it to the depot in Birmingham the very same day. Didnt like to push C&RT to allow us to stay any longer on the 24 hour mooring so we moved to the pontoon on the river by The Angel Pub. Assurances have been made by Darren at I T Distributions that it will be the first delivery of the day tomorrow. We will wait and see!

Nice bit of Topiary by the pub

The river pontoon.
So now for the title of my post. If you know Stourport then you will know there are two sets of staircase locks to descend to the river and a very awkward turn between the two. What I want to know is........ what is the etiquette on leaving the river to come up these locks. Who basically has right of way.

I had already started to descend the first lock of the staircase in the upper basin. As I entered the second lock I noticed a lady with windlass standing by the top lock of the river staircase locks. I had also clocked that the top lock of this staircase was full. She was fully aware that I was starting to descend. She then walked down to the river, must have had a word with the helmsman and was told  to proceed and empty the lock. In between these two staircase locks is a pound and with no way of having a straight run at the next lock, a very difficult maneuver had to be carried out. Its a bit of a dog leg so no way of getting into the lock without either nudging the lock entrance and swinging the back end round or doing a lot of toing and froing. I now had to get out of my lock and allow this boat to bypass me. Reversing into a basin through a small gap was the only answer. With the breeze just enough to make this difficult, I somehow managed to get out of his way and allow him into the lock. So who was in the right and who was in the wrong. Should they be allowed to ascend first because they were coming off the river (not in flood conditions I might add) or should they have waited on the river pontoon while I descended the staircase locks?

I'm having to reverse back to allow him into the lock

I walked back to take these photos to show you what I meant. This would have been from the other boats perspective.  Notice the angle of the hire boat as he managed to get into the lock.

And from where I was. I had already descended.

The river staircase. She could have had no doubt that I was in the other lock.
Tried a spot of river fishing for the first time. I have a new ledger rod and couldn't wait to try it out. Sat for two hours and not a bite to be had.  It was either the fact that I'm a bit of a novice to this sort of fishing or maybe the fish weren't around. All I know is I came away very despondent and hoping for better luck once in Droitwich.

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