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, 18 October 2017

Wetter inside than out

Missed out again on a locking buddy. Not quite ready to go this morning when an Alvechurch hire boat came past. Oh well, only another couple of locks to turn round again.

A joy to behold these lovely autumnal colours.


Only one boat moored on the visitor moorings and that was around the bend, unheard of for Stoke Bruerne.
That drizzle was relentless and Ian complained bitterly about not being able to see. Does anyone make windscreen wipers for glasses? And another question, would the tunnel be any drier?

Entering the South Portal
  Not a chance especially from around the chimney air vents. Ian drove through and at some speed dodging the cascading water. We were lucky this time as not another boat entered from the North portal.

Pouring in

Chimney air vent
 I stayed below most of the time with the excuse that the ironing needed doing. Whats that I hear you say? Ironing???? Unheard of...well it is for me anyway. It's not something I usually do as I rely solely on the clothes being squashed flat as they are squeezed into the small wardrobe, but one blouse and one shirt came out of the washing machine very creased. So the iron was needed and finding it took some doing. It's a wonder no spiders had made their home in it after I found it buried deep from within the cupboard under the sink! By the time I had finished, as well as the washing up, changing bed linen and remaking the bed, we were at the Northern end.

North Portal
 Only went as far as Nether Heyford. All our extremities were extremely chilled by this time, and having made a stop for diesel (69p litre) at Tarry, (bridge 32 supplies) of which another 67 litres put in to fill the tank, we said enough was enough.

After a warming bowl of homemade butternut squash soup, Ian was ready to get the chainsaw out. Then the fire was lit and now enjoying the luxury of a cosy and warm boat.


And this made me smile,


Makes a good lookout.
And wildlife 

Red-legged Partridge.




Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Blooming gates...stay shut!

A Beautiful day greeted us this morning, far cry from yesterday.



A treat this morning for breakfast sausage, bacon and eggs. All slimming world so no guilt trip for me. By 9 we set off for the lock and with no one waiting to descend, stopped in the lock to get rid of the bird poo dripping down from the window and making a lovely trail over the cabin side. Them pigeons have a lot to answer for!

Before arriving at Stoke Bruerne bottom lock we spied a recently felled tree. Took some getting into the side but managed to bring the bow in enough for Ian to find some decent lengths to put on FS's roof.


I thought the water levels were low on the stretch from Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne and this prooved the case as the pump was running bringing water from the river Tove. Only ever seen this running twice.


Filled with water below the first of Stoke Bruerne lock flight and thought we would be in luck having a locking buddy. But not to be as they hastily pulled in their hose, threw the ropes back on board and set off. Not even any communication asking if we were ascending as well. Oh well looks like we will have to go it alone.

Because of them leaving so rapidly every lock had to be turned around. I was on lock duties and certainly got my steps in today. Blooming top gates kept opening after FS had left the lock. By the time I walked to the next lock, looked back, there they were, wide open again. "For goodness sake leave them" said Ian. But that's not in my nature so back I went. Twice this happened and after 5 locks I was pooped so decided to call it a day.

This one is for tomorrow.
Through Blisworth tunnel tomorrow...my least favourite. Oh goody!!!

And the wildlife,








Monday, 16 October 2017

What a weird red day

Weird, in fact, a bit surreal really. Has anyone else felt it today? That peculiar sky, a red sun and oppressive feeling? Reminded me somewhat of when we watched the eclipse, you know that bit just before it goes all dark and everything went quiet. Not quite the same as that wind had picked up and the birds were still twittering but still very eerie. Apparently, it is all to do with Ophelia pulling up Saharan dust into the atmosphere.


We left Newlands by 9.30 am and unbeknown to us moored around the bend was John and Martina  Nb Burnt Oak  As we drew level I spied john in the Well deck and had a very brief word. Seems we missed them yesterday when the came and knocked on FS. We were out with the family at Willen lake (photos later). Hopefully, they will make it to our rally next year.

Reaching the Iron Trunk Aqueduct and with the wind even more blustery I really wanted to moor up. But this was Cosgrove and an almost impossible task to find a space free. As we reached the other side, wow a result...a space and not under a tree either. This will do splendidly and I get to go walkabout down on the River Great Ouse.



Even space behind for another boat.Check out that reddish tint in the photo. All to do with Ophelia.
 And on the walk,



Horse tunnel



And one of the nine disused locks to lower and raise the canal over the river. Not a great success as more water was lost in the process but an aqueduct was always intended to replace the locks. 



Iron Trunk


Managed to find some more boaters gold. Ian chopped it into decent lengths once we got moored at  Cosgrove.




And that Milton Keynes canal cleanup? Well it managed to get as far as Cosgrove and by the amount on the two pans a succesful haul.



I should mention yesterday and the visit from daughter Christine and family.

Just had lunch (mushroom omelette) and the family turned up. Talk about a surprise. Okay, we knew they were coming but thought it to be late afternoon. Origonal text message was  'we won't be arriving until after lunch'. So we had lunch and then they arrived saying they were ready to go for lunch at Willen lake well, that was the surprise. In the end, Kevin and Josh got hold of my rod to do a bit of pike fishing so lunch for them was put on hold, but we did give Thomas a sandwich to tide him over.


Set off for the lake around 3ish and of course Josh and Thomas wanted playtime so food was put on the back burner for another hour.


Getting food at the Lakeside took forever! Okay, it was Sunday, the weather was glorious and lots of people milling about enjoying the warm sunshine. We got a table very quickly and Ian and Kevin went to order food and drinks. The queue for the bar stretched to the door and with only two people serving, this is why it took forever. Then the wait for the meals, by now the grandchildren were getting fed up. Thankfully Christine had a few toys with her so that kept them occupied. And then there was the loos. Disgusting! Short-staffed or not there is no excuse not to check and keep them clean. Wet floors, loo paper everywhere and dirty toilet seats, not a sign of a good establishment!

Walked back to FS nearly at dusk and Thomas got such a fright when he looked up and saw this.


Back at FS they decided not to stop. It is a school day on Monday after all and a two hour drive awaited them. So a fond farewell and probably wont see them until November some time.


And wildlife,

sniffing an orange peel perhaps?




This peculiar bug arrived on Ian's jumper after fetching those branches. Any ideas?





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