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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.

Friday, 15 December 2017

And the journey endeth

Beep beep beep.... what on earth????. T'was only 6.45am but search as we may, could we find where it was coming from? Ian deduced it was a low gas warning sound but closer inspection of the gas heater proved him wrong. So where was it coming from? Eventually, Ian decided it was coming from me! What??? Not exactly from me but from under my bed. Turns out it was the inverter which we had forgotten to switch off last night and the beeping was the low battery warning. Decided we may as well get up and view our surroundings.






Even though we were right next to the road very little in the way of traffic came past. A quick walk through Weston woods this morning, (very invigorating) before we even had any breakfast and then a decision to head for Weston-Super-Mare and PC World.

Two things were needed from this store. A 16 Gb micro sd card and a card reader for my computer.
The micro sd card was for updating the sat nav. When this Garmin tried to direct us down a single lane farm road because she (yes we have a temperamental female) thinks our place name is wrong and she knows best and then  thinks we are driving across a field because she doesn't recognise that a new road has been built over 2 years ago and why is it she sometimes recognises a roundabout and some are invisible. That's when it was time to update the maps and the only way to do this was onto a micro sd card.

And I had to have a card reader because the computers sd slot was Kaput and I couldn't download my photos other than with a lead. For some reason, all my Raw files were ignored. As you lot well know. Me and my camera and I'm a happy bunny. Not being able to download the photos and I'm like a bear with a sore head! Anyway, both articles were purchased and while I went walkabout at Slimbridge (yes that was where we ended up today) Ian updated the Sat Nav.

The site we found was right by the Gloucester and Sharpness canal. In fact, we could hear the boat generators that's how close we were. Played havoc with the TV signal! Anyway, this was to be our last night out in the 'Beast'. Unfortunately, Ian did a stupid thing by bending over to tie his shoelace and couldn't straighten up afterwards!  Reckoned he pulled a muscle in his back. Plenty of painkillers and anti-inflammatories taken and by this morning he was sort of mobile again.  We decided not to do any more travelling but head back to FS.





The boat was freezing and my Chillie plant had withered and died through the cold. Heating went straight on (diesel and also the stove lit) so now as warm as toast. Next outing will be on Merlin when we fetch her from Great Hayward and take her back to Bunbury for Anglo Welsh. Looking forward to having Christmas afloat with a good friend of ours Pat. It's been several years since her husband died and she only now feels able to join us as previous trips had always included Keith. Should be fun.

Some photos of Slimbridge.






Water Rail, apparently not a common visitor at Slimbridge








Manderin ducks



Never seen a Trumpet Swan before. This male lost its mate through Bronchitis and now awaits a new female












Thursday, 14 December 2017

Day 3 and wild cmping

Wednesday 13th

A Cockerel greeting the dawn, something to be expected in the country but after a very restless night of heavy rain, what with the melting ice slipping periodically from the roof making us jump every time it landed, we could have wished that bird further! Very bleary eyed we made ready to leave the site disconnecting the electrics and then placing waste tank hose into our container. A sudden loud expletive .. bu**er or was it 'Opps it just came away in my hand....honest Gov', and I discovered the blasted hose had split. Emptying the internal tank was going to be difficult but he managed to get what was left of the waste pipe into the container so the tank could be emptied. Finally on our way it was head off to do Jacobs ladder. But once again we were scuppered by the weather. This time fog was the problem. No chance of seeing the views from the top then! Deciding to give it a miss we headed off toward Brean and the fort instead.



Managed to pick up a new hose at a caravan and camping outlet on route toward Brean. Torrential rain nearly all the way apart from a very brief glimmer of the sun creating a vibrant rainbow. 
  


 A narrow lane took us toward Brean Down and we had a problem of a parked lorry. Enough room for cars but not for this Beast (In has named her at last) so all we could do was wait. Turns out a bungalow had part of it's roof blown away during the nights high winds and scaffolding was being installed by those in the lorry. Anyway we only had about 40 minutes to wait before they eventually moved off.
So after parking in the NT car park we climbed the steps and walked the mile to the Fort.
Brean Down's fort was built to defend the country against a possible Napoleonic invasion but the earliest signs of life on Brean Down date back to 10,000 BC. Evidence of extinct creatures such as mammoths and woolly rhinos had been uncovered here.



Lots of steps

The Beast parked by those Chalets


Not stone hugging but saving his woolly hat from being blown off.






Wild camping for the first time that night. Found a convenient layby on the coast road but because we arrived after dark, couldn't t put the van on the levelling blocks. Meant we were listing to one side, so much so that Ian spent most of the night stopping himself from falling from the bed! Another problem was no internet and no phone signal. But we did have telly so that was alright then. Pretty wild night with the wind rocking the Beast, torrential rain had water dripping from the trees. The sea was so close that we could hear a constant roar as the waves crashed onto the rocks. But would we have changed location? Not a chance  as you will see on the next post.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Note to oneself.....

....do research before venturing on a journey! So, as you may gather, things didn't quite turn out the way we wanted.  Wookey Hole was one of the main reasons for heading toward Cheddar, as was a train trip on the West Somerset Railway. Wookey Hole was closed only opening on weekends and then from the 22nd December until January!!! West Somerset railway was only open on certain dates and.....yep you've guessed it....closed until the weekend! No good for us then!!! But...not all was lost as Cheddar Gorge 'Gough's cavern' and 'Cox's cavern' were open.

So after the owner of this site scattered salt and grit on the 'Hill', and after dodging the ice falling from the branches of trees lining the route to the facilities (-6 and it was ice, not snow which was the problem here) we left site to travel the 5 miles to the gorge dodging the Soay sheep and Primitive Feral goats on route.






T'was good for us though, that more attractions were available including Jacobs ladder and the 3-mile cliff top walk. Ran out of time to do that so this is planned for tomorrow. We did see the Dream Hunters at Cox's cave (bit of a disappointment) and the Museum of Prehistory.

Coughs cavern was a balmy 11 deg with extremely high humidity. So much so that the camera all but gave up the ghost. Had to resort to tucking it under my jumper for protection. Lots of photos taken..or so I thought. Most came out as a dark blob on the screen. Thank goodness for digital! Still, I did get some, so for your delight..(or not), these were taken before all went very dark.



This is Cheddar Man  found in Gough's cave and has been dated to the Mesolithic period.

Those coins in the crack were cemented in during the Victorian period. A great way of showing if the walls move. Coins on the floor? Run like mad!!!!


Cheddar man and how he may have looked.

Cox's Cavern had this light show with a story of prehistoric man generated on the walls. All very well but the beauty of the cavern was lost in our opinion.


 Same photo, one with the lights and one taken with a flash. I know which one I prefer.


And this a close up of the back of the cavern.



And Cheddar being the home of Cheddar Cheese, the trip wouldn't be complete without seeing mature cheeses being rubbed to remove growth from the linen covers. For a whole year, they are left in the cavern before heading for the shops. Needless to say, we also headed for the shop to purchase three different flavours, Old cave aged mature, Cheddar with Port and extra, extra mature. Get the crackers Gromit!!! Yummie.


Cheddar Sword in the Millstream




Feral Goats

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