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.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Any containers would do.

Wednesday 29th

Didn't move at all today. Stayed snug and warm inside FS listening to the rain beating down on the boat which sounded worse because of the constant drips from the overhanging trees. The problem we had with water getting into the well deck seems to have got worse.  No we haven't sprung a leak, it's  coming through the press stud fixings on the tie backs on the vinyl cratch cover. It's been letting water in for a while and I suggested some sort of silicone paste smeared over the fixings but Ian's not sure. He is thinking of removing the studs and then adding the silicone over the holes before reinstating them. Maybe something to think about when we get back to Langley Mill. In the meantime the containers placed strategically will have to do.

This amount of water from this morning..
Bought another load of bedding plants yesterday, from Glendale nursery Mahood right by Ring- o- Bells bridge 38. Trying to find a garden centre when you live aboard can be difficult so to find this one was a bonus. My blue Violas have all but finished and was getting rather leggy and rather fancied the small begonias 'Devils delight' to replace them. Purchasing a large bag of multipurpose compost as well as the plants, they allowed us to take the whole lot back to the boat in one of their trolleys.

Think tomorrow may be a better day so the 23 locks of the Wigan flight will be tackled. Going to start early and try to do the whole lot before the schoolkids come out at 3pm.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Is this really all from boaters?

Tuesday 28th

Why on earth did we need to get up early. The sun was streaming through the curtains, it was 6am so why get up and leave now? Yesterdays weather forecast that's why, but the forecasters usually get it  wrong, don't they?  We were not prepared to find out 'cos torrential downpours with thunder in the mix was on the cards for after lunch. So we crept past those still sleeping on their boats, pulled onto the facilities, connected the hose and started filling with water all before we had our first cup of tea.

Lovely morning so surely no rain today!
Then it was empty loo and dispose of rubbish. The door to the bins storage was locked and needed a BW key, once unlocked we couldn't believe the sight that greeted us. Back on the 4th of June    contractors for C&RT were busy getting rid of the rubbish piled high from inside and today the rubbish was very nearly but not quite as bad. Is this all from boaters? Some strange items disposed of it it was. Cant quite make my mind up!

We managed to have breakfast whilst filling and once the tanks were full, set off for Crooke.

The morning became overcast but no rain fell, so reaching the two old Appley Locks (Deep Lock replaced them) we went for a walk. Trekked through high grass, nettles, briar and Japanese Knot Weed and felt at times that we needed a machete in some parts to hack our way through, but we managed and took these photos.

Just some of what we went through

Appley bottom lock

Top gates of the bottom lock

More trekking to lock 2

Appley top lock

FS almost hidden
Would have loved to stay over night. Such a secure and peaceful mooring (apart from the occasional train) Instead we set of for Deep lock. This lock took forever to fill especially as only the offside ground paddle worked. Then it was onto our last lock for today, Dean Lock. Here too was a disused lock alongside (no name) so was Dean lock built to replace it? And if so why? Any ideas? 
Not sure why this wasn't used any more. Seemed okay other then a bit neglected. Dean lock to the upper right
Boy were we lucky. Having had a few spots of rain travelling the last mile to Crooke, going alongside Ambush for Derek to fill our diesel tank with 106 ltr (now 66p ltr) and then also purchasing a 13kg color gas cylinder for £26 we pulled back to the pub moorings. A clap of thunder and then the rain....well it was like a waterfall! All afternoon it fell, so very glad not to be on any rivers.

Emerging from a hole in a barn this morning,  Sparrow fledgling?

Song Thrush

White throat

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Who needs a gym to have a good work out.

Monday 27th

Somehow I wish Ian hadn't mentioned it! He does a boat log every day and for some reason decided to see how many locks and bridges there were to swing or raise on the Leeds and Liverpool and total the amount of those bridges before arriving back at Langley Mill in August. 76 in all with 58 just to Leeds. What with another 97 locks to do before arriving at Clarence dock, looks like our fitness regime has just got even more strenuous.

Today we did 7 of those swing bridges, four with Nb East Wind.  At bridge 20, Coxhead swing bridge, there was an issue with it's computer which made operating the lights and barriers a problem. Fully expecting a delay we were surprised when one of the contractors asked us just to wait for 5 minutes while he sorted out another little problem. No idea what he did but the lights flashed, barriers closed and bridge opened. Should be up and running again by today (so we were told)

Coxhead swing bridge.

East Winds left us at Ship Inn, Haskayne so the rest of the bridges were down to us alone. Got to Burscough late afternoon and stopped before the bridge and facilities. Have decided to get away early tomorrow as heavy rain is forecast from midday and we need Diesel and Gas from Derek on  Ambush the diesel boat. Derek is at Crooke at the moment but due to leave for his rounds by the weekend.  Not sure what his prices are now 'cos he mentioned a rise in the price and that was before Brexit!

Not a lot seen today. Just this Buzzard.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Left the chaos behind

It was manic this morning here at Litherland, boats arriving from both directions all wanting to use the facilities or stay to shop. Not an inch of space was to be had so breasting up was the only option. First to arrive were those boats coming away from Liverpool. They managed to get water. Then those wanting to go into Liverpool turned up. Chaos ensued and to free up one space we left before 10,30am having rushed to Tesco for last minute supplies. Our slot through the swing bridge at Netherton wasn't until 1pm but felt it better to depart and at least make one space available.

Leaving a very full Litherland.

A 90 minute wait at Netherton swing bridge before C&RT turned up to stop the traffic and 35 minutes later we arrived at Hancocks swing bridge for the final manned passage through. 

Netherton swing bridge

Hancocks Swing bridge

Don't you just love making the traffic wait.
Then the rain started. Had hoped to be moored up before it arrived but knowing of decent moorings by Holmes Swing bridge 10 we kept going. Stopped just after the bridge near to Melling another rural spot but a tad noisy because the wind was blowing in our direction from the motorway. Having got bait at Litherland and managing to stay dry under the cratch cover, I tried fishing again for the first time in nearly two weeks. No Eels caught, just a small roach. The rain once more turned heavy so I gave up as a bad job and watched TV instead.

And seen during my fishing attempt,

Reed Warbler

And bug hunting at Netherton bridge while waiting for C&RT.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Another attempt, this time successful.

Saturday 25th

Another pack lunch made, cameras packed and waterproofs stuffed in the rucksack. 53 bus arrived and with it being Saturday, no issues as to what time to get on. Got of at the correct stop and back onto Crosby beach. No need really to take the waterproofs as the sun shone all day but that wind chill...we put them back on pretty sharpish! Finding a sheltered spot in one of the dunes we enjoyed a bit of respite.

We stayed best part of the day. The figures stretched along the beach for roughly 3 kilometres and we walked all of that and more.

No.... Ian is NOT looking at Iron Mans appendage! He is trying to read the number of the Iron man  on it's wrist. In fact we found number 100. (100 men planted) That's it bottom right. But number one was too far into the water to reach.
  Finding a cafe was, therefore, a welcomed sight and we treated ourselves to coffee and cheese burger. But we were not alone! At least 50 or more Starlings vied for the best position in front of us in case a tasty morsel came their way.

 They were being fed by a couple on the next table  and the birds were that tame, they took the offered chips without fear.

  I decided to see if they were brave enough to come to my hand so held a piece of the bun between my fingers. Ian had my camera and took these shots.

 The tide was by now coming in so we sat and watched as the Iron men slowly disappeared beneath the waves. With an hour to go before high tide and the building clouds looking very much like depositing a load of water on us, we caught the bus back to FS. One of the C&RT guys were pumping out a wide beam when we arrived so thought we would let him know we would be leaving tomorrow. Arranging the 1pm slot to go through the swing bridges, this will give us enough time for a last minute shop and service stop. (water and loo). Not sure of our stopping place but somewhere rural would be nice.

And seen on our walk,

Plenty of these stranded jellyfish lying about

Meadow Pipit amongst the dunes

Only the Oyster Catcher around today.

And these prickly plants amongst the flowers.

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