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, 17 November 2018

So now I know!

This is crazy!!! How can I have Hayfever in Autumn??? All the signs are there, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and generally feeling yuk. Is there pollen about at this time of year? Is this why I have vertigo, feeling drunk but without the pleasure of drinking alcohol? Questions, questions and now I have found the answer why.

It's to do with a rare pollen caused by Ragweed. Not normally a problem in the UK it is rife in the US with their mild Autumns. Because the UK has experienced such unseasonal and warm Autumn this year it looks like Hey fever sufferers (and I'm one of them) will be susceptible more and more often as our climate changes. To see what is said on the web CLICK HERE

Piriton to the rescue as well as Optrex for itchy eyes and the improvement was almost instant. So I'm able to function again and today I did most of the steering whilst Ian went to sort out the TV connections and cabling which had been changed around in the cupboard. (more of that later) 

Leaving Old Oaks Wood I was forever going into reverse trying to clear the leaves accumulating around the prop. This time of year it's a right B and that no mistake!

And then a little further on I spy something moving on the towpath,

 It wasn't long before I had to call Ian back from working in the cupboard as we had arrived at the Rose hire boats in Stretton. Across the canal was a small swingbridge, in use most of the time because the hire boats were one side and their offices were the other. In the distance another boat approaching and it was a question of 'breathing in' for the two boats to pass. I'm ashamed to say I did nudge one of the moored boats on the offside so my apologies to the boat owner if you are reading this.

And now to last night and the TV....a weird moment occurred whilst watching Strictly it takes Two, a cup of coffee was requested so Ian went to the cooker to light the gas with the built-in ignitor and as soon as the thing sparked the picture disappeared. No amount of re-tuning, switching the TV on and off or playing with the aerial connections in the cupboard would get it to go. Nothing for it but Ian had to go outside in the dark, shine the torch onto the connections, test the cable with his cable tester to see if power was still going through and then remake the connection from the outside aerial to the socket. After 35 minutes of fiddling the TV sprang into life again. Quite bizarre really and why that ignitor spark would cause the TV to go off is still a mystery but one no doubt Ian will get to the bottom of eventually.

Only one lock to do, Sutton Stop at Hawkesbury Junction, and that has a drop of about a foot The right-hand turn was done in one go (give that girl a pat on the back) and a further 3.5 miles cruised before stopping just beyond Marston Junction.

To the Coventry canal through the arch

Marston Junction and the Ashby canal
Lovely rural mooring

On the journey,

This seen by the M6. I know I have put this on my blog and had a comment back about it before but cant remember what sort of plane this is

This large buoy has been in this cutting for years. Wouldnt cutting those tree trunks off be a better option?
And seen on route,

Red Wing

Pretty convinced this is a male Sparrow Hawk. About the size of a Kestral, I know the females are a lot bigger.

Friday, 16 November 2018

No need to raise a paddle at this lock

Not too good today, woke up with my head spinning and balance completely gone. My vertigo has raised it's ugly head usually associated with an ear infection so it looks like I've picked up a bug of sorts.  Anyway, its a good excuse for making Ian do the housework today.

Leaving Braunston on a dank and dismal morning

Braunston Turn
I did make it on deck and even took over the helm when the locks needed doing. My mind set was to focus forward, don't look down or to the side and hope I don't topple in. The Hillmorton locks has 3 pairs on the flight and today we had them to ourselves. Another low pound in between lock 3&4 and 1&2 but apart from the moored boats at an angle, didnt stop our progress. A couple walking their dog said it was due to something caught under the lock gate. C&rt had been informed... over three weeks ago and still nothing done. Anyway, as soon as the top gate was closed and before a paddle had been raised, FS was already down by a couple of feet! Seems the bottom gate is leaking as well. No wonder the pound was low.

Top lock 6 & 7 (Thankyou Alf for putting me right.)

Middlwe pair 4 & 5

Low pound

Bottom locks 2 &3

Already going down!
You can see how much FS has already dropped

Leakage through the top gate
  Rugby and we stopped for a shop. I managed with Ian's help to get to Tesco and even put away the groceries although opening the fridge to put away the perishables got me spinning again. We only wanted to get to Old Oaks Wood but the last couple of miles took it out of me and Ian made me sit indoors while he helmed. Did manage to take a photo of Newbold Tunnel, now completely devoid of coloured lights.  T'was very pretty when we first went through in 2012.  This image was taken from the web and accredited to Roger Kidd

Ignore the fact my name is on the right hand side. it's Roger Kidds

My photo
Only one photo on our journey and no wildlife.

New bridge being built at Hillmorton and advance notice of delays below.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Ever the optimist.

 Nether Heyford to the bottom of Braunston flight? "Surely not Ian!" "Don't forget the nights draw in earlier" said I. "And we have 11 miles, one tunnel, the seven locks at Buckby and six at Braunston all to do" I reminded him. His reply? "Fair wind blowing and all locks with us... easily done."

On our way before 9am, but again not in the equation was the amount of moored boats we had to pass. By 11am we had reached bottom lock of the Buckby flight. The lock was empty so this was looking favourable but then a slight delay when a chap walking back to his boat asked us to wait.  So I enter the one gate that was open with the plan of moving across to get in behind the closed gate. Saves walking round to open both gates you see. Suddenly FS made a break for the far wall, not what I had planned at all. A deluge of water came pouring over the top gate taking control of the boat and I was powerless to stop FS from hitting the wall hard. Some noises from below....was that my crockery being broken?

The cause was the next lock above being emptied with two boats descending. A quick look below and no harm done. Eventually the single hander joins us, gates are closed, paddles lifted and up we go. Waiting on the lock landing was one of the boats. The second had tied to the bollards by the next lock leaving a gap where he could have pulled forward to. I was first out and realised that the next lock had been filled and was now being emptied with yet another boat descending. Now I had nowhere to go. That lone boater behind, and I'm unable to pull in because of that stupid person tied to the bollards by the second lock. Why he didn't move forward to be with the first boat I will never know. Now we have a situation. another boat exiting the lock and me in the way. I'm afraid I had words with that stupid idiot stopping me from pulling over. "Oh yes I see what you mean," said he. "I'm not helping matters am I"?." No, your blooming not" I shouted. He did pull forward and I managed to pull over enough for the other boat to get past.

That's him on the lock landing and that's.....

the other boat coming out of the lock with me in the way.
 With the single hander helping, we sailed up the flight and the only lock that had to be emptied was the top lock. He moored at the junction leaving us to turn left towards Braunston Tunnel.

Norton junction with the GU Leicester line to the right and GU mainline left.

A new length of piling just beyond the junction.
 Braunston tunnel and another that I dislike. 'It has character' so I have been told many times but if character means negotiating all the bendy bits it leaves a lot to be desired! Times we have met oncoming boats through this tunnel and always on those 'bendy bits'! Lucky today though as we had the tunnel all to ourselves.

This shows the tunnels 'character'!!!
We may have been lucky with Buckby flight but not so Braunston. They all needed topping up due to leakage so took longer than Ian had anticipated.  Even so with the six locks done we were still moored by a little after three, so Ian's plan on reaching Braunston before dark paid off after all.

Braunston top lock. We now start our descent.

Busy Braunston

On the journey,

Diesel on the water for at least a mile. No idea where it had come from.

One way of raising the Ariel.

Now that's more like it! Vegetation cut back, lovely.

Ah, it was short lived! Back to overgrowth after bridge 19

And seen on route,

Doing the splits????


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