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.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

And so to Bidford

Before leaving this lovely peaceful morning at Harvington, I decided to have another 'bug' walk.  I have a pocket nature book on insects and spiders (purchased from Slimbridge) and I can now identify a wide range of beasties. My mission is to find insects and bugs not seen by me before, and this book helps immensely by explaining what their preferred habitat is. It was after 9am when I set out and, to be truthful, didn't find an awful lot around (maybe it was to early for them to be out and about) but I did get one or two new comers to me.

Green Legged Sawfly'Tenthredo mesomelas

Macro image of Sawfly'Tenthredo mesomelas

Rust flies mating (carrot fly)
 By 11am I had returned and after a biscuit and cup of tea to revive me after my epic walk, we were soon underway. Only one lock and 3 miles to do before we reached our destination, Bidford on Avon.

I definitely recommend this mooring. Safe, quiet and full of charm

The weir
Again there was loads of things to look at as we meandered along this river. Up above gliders made graceful circles in the sky joining the buzzards who were also catching the thermals. Yellow flowers adorned the banks to please the eye and all to soon we came upon Marlcliff lock.

Marlcliff lock
And looking back

Bidford church

It was only another few miles to do before we reached Bidford. At first glance we were unsure as to where the moorings were but river safe moorings soon came into view on the parkside (offside) and a short pontoon safe mooring by the Frog Inn. We chose the Frog 'cause a pub lunch and a pint' was in order. The food was excellent with the average pub menu price of £10 per meal. More then we usually pay but this seems the norm for around these parts. With this being an overnight mooring only we thought we may as well stay the night. Feeling very full from the lunch, a lazy afternoon was on the cards and apart from a short walk to the One Stop for provisions, we cracked open another bottle of Pimms and chatted to the pub clientele. We only have a couple more days on this wonderful river before reaching Stratford and the hustle and bustle of the canal system again. Sure will miss the tranquility and beauty of cruising this river.


FS moored with a cruiser at the Frog Inn

Friday, 29 May 2015

Opps I think they were trying to drain the river!

Loved yesterdays mooring. The sun stayed out all afternoon and gave us a fantastic sunset. The wind dropped, fishes rose, teasing me as they surfaced to catch the flies and the bunnies came out to play in the hay of a mown field. Drinking a glass of sherry and soaking up the sun was just magical and very much a 'how lucky are we' moment.

 A far cry from last night, this morning we awoke to rain. Drizzle at first but soon experiencing high winds and hail. We stayed put until the afternoon to let it blow over and set off when the weather improved. Then sods law states that as soon as one sets off the heavens open. That is exactly what happened and we made a dash for Harvington lock. Luckily it blew over fairly quickly so we were able to get into the lock in the dry.

There was a memorial bridge over the lock to Robert Aikman, he battled long and hard to save the inland waterways from those that wanted their demise. Robert and Tom Rolt formed the IWA which still goes on to this day. We have a lot to thank this man for, without him a lot of the canal network would have been gone.

The run in to the lock. Very shallow at the point so keeping left is a must.

With the skies looking ominous once more we decided to stop. With only another eleven miles to do and 4 days in which to do it in, it didnt seem any point in rushing. So we moved all of half a mile, and 1 lock.   

Had almost moored when we were in for another soaking.
 The weir is directly in front of us and every time I look out from the bow, makes me do a double take. So used to see open water in front! When we leave tomorrow we may have to back up a bit first to make the turn. The river levels are still very low, even after all this rain, so shouldn't be too much of a problem.

After an hour of waiting for the rain to stop, it was time for me to go exploring. As I stood up and looked out of the window, I saw two youngsters on the bottom gates. They were busily lifting the paddle without realising the top gates were open!. Ian rushed to the stern and shouting for them to stop. They couldn't have heard because they continued to lift the paddle and then stood around waiting for the lock to empty. It fell on Ian to rush to the lockside and explain the situation. Turns out it was a family on a day boat and with all the lock gates open in their favour until this one, hadn't given closing the top gates a thought! I certainly felt the judder when the gates closed with a bang. FS crashed against the side and I feared for our paintwork. All was well though, as earlier Ian had put the balloon fenders down, thank goodness.

Had a quick nosy round the lock with Ian and found Harvington Mill (derelict ) This watermill building is listed Grade 11 and looks as if it would fall down any minute. It's in terrible condition but parts of the inside look to be in good order especially the gears. After a good look round Ian departed for FS as he didn't fancy going bug hunting with me. I was in my element, macro lens on camera and me peering into the bushes. Good job no one appeared, they would probably think I was mad!

 The bugs seen on my walk today

Common Scorpianflies, Panorpa Communis

Weevil Polydrusus Sericeus

Soldier beetle, Cantharis Pellucida

Mayfly (Burrowing different from Stream Mayflies)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Got told off good and proper!

With Lizzie no longer at the helm (and a grand job she did of steering this boat) it was back to the usual routine of  taking it in turns to steer and make the tea. Before we did set off though, it was a trip to the Workman Garden moorings nearest the bridge to water up and wash the thousands of  tree seed heads off the roof. This time of year the trees are full of sap and cover the roof in a sticky film. What with the pigeons dive bombing us last night and depositing their poo up the sides and over the windows as well, a good hose down was necessary first. So we didn't get to Evesham lock until well after 10am.

Lock landing is on both sides but if you need to pumpout or use the elsan, make sure you take the left pontoon and do that before entering the lock. We got it wrong and was half way up the lock before we realised.  The Avon Trust guy wouldn't allow us across the bridge to empty our cassette.

 It was here that Ian and I had our hands slapped. It was all to do with roping up. Well, one of the Avon trust guys came out and told us we must rope up properly to the bollards on ALL the Avon locks, stern rope and bow rope, and me just holding the center rope would not do. Fair enough a rule is a rule but quite how I would hold the stern and bow ropes together was beyond me. Ian's off doing paddles and lifting them in such a way that the boat was held to the side securely so I assumed that was good enough.  Maybe there is an art to the roping up lark that we haven't mastered yet or maybe we need to get a VERY long rope to stretch from the bow to the stern. I did ask the question but he didn't give a satisfactory answer, just kept stating that this must be done otherwise the trust wouldn't be held responsible if anything went wrong. Ian told him that surely it was up to us to decide but he was having none of it. As FS was almost up we didn't do as we were told. Ian did a sterling job in keeping FS to the side, which should have proved to him that we were far from being novices! I was most relieved when the top gates opened and I could get away from that man. We still use the center rope only.... and yes we know... be it on our head if anything goes wrong!

Looking back toward Evesham lock

Left to Offenham lock

Lighthouse built by Eric Pritchard

Very low river levels at present

Center rope used. No need to worry, Ian was in complete control of the rope......honest!

The moorings tonight. Lovely stretch above Offenham lock

Gorgeous view

WW2 Bunker by the weir

Another first for me. Heard this cuckoo and located the sound. Cant believe how lucky I was.

This cheeky Magpie was by our moorings last night.

I never realised how brightly coloured the tail feathers were.

And at our moorings tonight

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