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.

Friday, 18 August 2017

It was nearly headfirst by both of us!

The Ashby is a lovely canal from end to end, almost all of it is rural with plenty of moorings available. But, and this is a big but, the upper part from Stoke Golding to Market Bosworth is in desperate need of dredging. With oncoming boats sucking the water from under FS's hull, we were constantly on the P and woe betide getting to near to the bank, either side. This problem is made worse by boats creating a wash by not throttling back and eroding the banks. Mud washes into the canal silting the edges and of course, by that time, dredging would be needed. As C&RT hasn't the funds to do this consequently this canal may become unnavigable in the future.

The poles were once in the field. Look at all that erosion
 But worst was to come when reaching bridge 41, having already put the bow into the bridge 'ole, a boat appeared to our left. To avoid hitting each other he reversed and we pulled over to the right as soon as we were through the bridge. He then came past us disappearing through the bridge hole and then.... yikes.... behind him another boat. Ian had to coax FS's bow ever nearer to the offside bank to avoid being pulled out by the first boat and waited for the second boat to come through.

That when our problems began. Stuck fast and even reverse couldn't get us out. Trusty poles came to hand front and rear. Ah, another problem. So much silt that there was nothing to push against. I managed to find a thick stem of a branch which had anchored itself to the cladding and pushed with all my might. The inevitable VERY nearly happened! End of pole slipped from the trunk and I only just saved myself from going headfirst into the water. Unbeknown to me Ian had the same problem at the stern also nearly ending up in the canal. Gosh, imagine that. Both of us up to our necks in mud! Now that would have been interesting, trying to get out. Our only saviour would have been the safety ladder tied onto the stern chair supports. So very glad it didn't come to that!

Anyway somehow we got FS unstuck and having managed to reverse enough so Ian could get the pole against the cladding, he swung the stern toward the bridge hole and reversed FS back through.

Nop...Can't reach the bank

See that small branch? Well....

Even though the cladding looks to be right next to FS stern, it was a more than a pole length away.

Finally managed to reverse enough for Ian to reach the cladding

Underway again and not 100yds further along, C&RT bods removing vegetation along the towpath. Cyclists and walkers complaining about obstructions perhaps? Wish they would do the offside for us boaters too. We did happen to mention a possible navigational hazard. On the offside, this small tree only being supported by the larger one on the towpath side. With the high winds predicted I expect that to come down in the near future.

At Market Bosworth, a new Marina has been built. Looks okay and one to mark down if we need to leave FS at any time. It was just a field the last time we came through this way.

Made it to Shackerstone but not before the dark skies carrying the rain overtook us. Never mind it was only 5 minutes later that we had found a spot and got moored. Luckily not on a 48-hour mooring so the plan now is to stay for a few days.

The Shackertone canal festival is due here at the end of August.You won't then be able to get a mooring for love nor money!
 We also spied a fellow blogger. Phillip and Jackie on nb Achernar, and wow the boat looks good, I was impressed by the photos of her when she was first done but she looks even better close up. A fabulous paint job and might ask Phillip later who the boat painter was... for future reference of course.

Walked up to the Battlefield line in Shackerstone for tomorrows timetable. Opens at 10.30am with the first steam train to leave at 11.15am. Hopefully, the weather will hold as we also fancy a walk to the Bosworth battlefield.

Seen on route,

Great way to earn a penny or two.
 Wildlife today,

Gold Crest

And Gold Crest fledgeling


Wonderful Sunflowers

Shame the flower heads were facing the wrong way.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Nuneaton second language

Didn't it rain overnight, washed the dust off the roof so that was one job ticked off our list. Polish the starboard side was another and this we did before the BBQ last night. Lovely beads of water all over the polished cabin side this morning. Proves we did a good job.

The grass cutters were out in force again even though the ground was saturated. I suppose they have to do this job whatever the weather. Not happy about the strimmer being used while boats are going past. Stones can still be picked up and become missiles peppering the cabin sides!

Bridge inspection being done but we had to laugh at the 'men at work' sign.

Laughingly asked the workman if they were Welsh. "No," says he giving us a wink "Didn't you know it's Nuneaton second language"!

Back at Starline boat yard and again we had problems getting through. Seems every time we get to this point Sods Law takes over sending oncoming boats our way!

Back at Marston Junction and two boats appearing from the Ashby.  Sods Law strikes again

Very pleasant cruise to bridge 22 where we stopped. Port cabin side in the shade so out came the polishing cloths. 30 minutes later and two very smug and self-righteous people patted each other on the back. Time for the beer and wine me thinks.

Lovely shine.

Cloths all washed ready for next time.
 And seen on route,

You do see some strange things on boats!

Crow mobbed Buzzard....Buzzard turned on crow!

I'm almost certain this is a Sparrow Hawk

A bit blurred but thought it easier for identification just in case I'm wrong.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How many spanners to tighten one nut?

It was almost a reversal of yesterdays cruise...well not quite as we never made it back onto the Ashby but the plan was to wind after descending lock 6 at the entrance of Baddesley basin, head back up the flight and stop on a very rural mooring seen on the way down the Coventry by bridge 34. Only had the 6 locks to do but my goodness it took forever! 1h 45m to be precise even though we had help from those lovely volunteer lockies. It was the sheer number of boats on the flight that took the time. 

Leaving Baddesley moorings to descend lock 6
Baddesley Basin. Upset a fisherman here when I winded. Disturbing his swim he packed up and left. Oops!

Sorry Mr Fisherman.

A well-earned break.
Nearly at the top and one of the volunteers arrived with a handful of spanners. "What are you doing with those" asked Ian. His reply? "A nut and bolt need tightening and I have no idea which spanner to use so grabbed them all!"

 Does anyone know of a chap named Gary? A regular on this flight having walked up and down the locks for years. He has learning difficulties but is never short of a friendly word of advice and a helping hand. I remembered him 4 years ago helping us then and it is so nice to see the volunteers giving encouragement.

That's Gary in the striped T shirt.
Had another BBQ this evening, big fan of BBQ's as Ian does the cooking. The only downside (and even though I prepared the salad and saute the mushrooms), I have to wash up!

And seen on route,

A long length of new piling after bridge 40.

This Moorhen chick didn't want to leave the nest.

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