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, 31 December 2020

It's going to be a good one.

 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL


  Farewell 2020. Hello 2021... a year for new beginnings and hope. This year the pandemic will finally be brought under control and what a fabulous acheivement from all those scientists and medical experts across the World who have worked tirelessly during 2020 to find a vaccine to protect us all. Also, a massive thank you to our key workers, who have helped us to keep safe and keep our communities running.

So at the end of this awful year and before we toasted in the new, we had snow...not a lot, just a smattering, and we even had minus temperatures, enough for ice to form on the canal making the swans work hard to try to get across. Wouldn't it be lovely if the new year brought more snow, falling long enough for some magical days of walks, snow ball fights and even the making of a snowman! 

 To each and every one of you have a wonderful New Year and may all your future days be good 'uns'.  








Friday, 25 December 2020

That time of year again


2020, not the best year we have ever had, in fact glad to see the back of it and to think this time last year we were getting ready for the NZ and Aussie trip totally oblivious as to what was to come. Such a relief that a vaccine is now available, and feeling very positive that 2021 will be the year we can all get back to some sort of normality. Keeping everything crossed. 

Christmas will be a quiet affair, Zoom calls only from the kids and gosh, how sad are we that no hugs will be forthcoming from the Grandchildren. But maybe by Easter things will have improved enough to  meet with the family again, lets hope so anyway. So to everyone that has joined our journey 'down under' and here in the UK all that is left to say is:-



Monday, 7 December 2020

Fancy a bit of gossip?

Gosh, it seems an age since pen has hit paper oops... fingers hit keyboard and although not a lot has happened on FS, we have had a fair bit of excitement here at Langley Mill.

First the Great Northern pub. 

Since March the place had been closed and at first the two lads that took over the pub when the previous landlords departed in February, started the refurbishment of the exterior and interior and seemed to be doing a good job to boot. Nice lads we thought at our first meeting on our return from Oz. Then when we got back from our summer cruise in September we found they had vacated the premises.  It didn't take long for our fellow boaters to explain about the numerous break-ins, police involvement and unsavoury dodgy dealings all associated with the pub. To our surprise new owners once again arrived to takeover the pub and on entry discovered all the kitchen equipment had vanished, paintwork left in a terrible state and worse, piles of dog faeces behind the bar and in the public area. To date the new owners have only been seen a couple of times and nothing appears to have been done about the inside other than a good clean. A dead rat has been left to fester by the bins! Will this pub ever open again?  We do hope so because as our local we spent many a happy hour in there. 

There has also been a few problems with 'over stayers' above and below Langley Bridge lock. When the cruising restrictions opened up again in July, a fact imparted to us again on our September return by resident boaters, two boats refused to vacate the mooring. In fact, they stayed outside the facilities for the duration, eventually leaving in October after finally being moved on by C&RT. Illness and doctors appointments were their excuse.  Strange that one of the boaters left every day at 8am and returned at 4pm! Methinks it was work that took him away daily from his boat! To date, another boat on the lock landing below the lock has been there for a month and yes CRT are fully aware, having been after this particular boater for ages and I believe are keeping them well in their sights.

Another bit of excitement in November. Anyone heard of Natasha Raskin Sharp one of the presenter of Antiques Road trip and Bargain Hunt? There she was being filmed for one of those shows and right by Langley Bridge Lock. Of course, I got a great view of the whole proceedings.



Best not drop that!

Late November a massive crash was heard and Jim and Jenn (Dire Straits) moored in the Great Northern Basin had a near perfect view of flashing blue lights and much shouting. Turns out a speeding car had lost control only just missing a volunteer litter picker and crashed into the imitation lock gates at the start of Anchor Lane.  Two men exited the car and legged it toward Asda. To read the article click on this LINK



 Talking of litter picking ECP&DA members Ian (hubby), Roland and Chairman Norman (all socially distanced) headed of on Pentland a few days ago to help The Cromford volunteers to litter pick along parts of the Erewash canal. On their return a good haul had been found including a motor scooter submerged below Anchor bridge. 

 

Police once again became involved, and we are now awaiting a visit with the possibility of  them taking the scooter away for more investigation.



Painting by numbers and cross stitch, two of the things that has kept me occupied during these boring days. Ian of the other hand always find things to do, even on rainy days. We did take an excursion to Clumber Park, a NT place, during a cold and crisp day early November. Made a lovely change from the repetitive walks along the Erewash canal and surrounds.


My sanity therapy. 

This was my first ever attempt at cross stitch. Hmm, a bit wonky but still proud of my attempt.


Another three paint by numbers and a canal cross stitch are waiting for me to start.

This cross stitch is classed as difficult. Oh, dear...have I bitten off more than I can chew?

And finally we thought we should try and get into the Christmas spirit. Tree up, FS decorated and today bubbly was bought for the big day ready to toast the children on a Zoom call after the Queens speech. Yep, Christmas for us will be a very quiet affair. No visits so no risk of getting the dreaded virus. Can't wait for our turn to be vaccinated!




 

And wildlife visitors this last month






.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Unexpected cruise down the Erewash

 So....how wrong were we to think our last voyage on the Erewash Canal for this year had come and gone. No...a phone call came from Norman, ECP&DA chairman, with a proposition for us. "How do you fancy taking Pentland (ECP&DA workboat) down to Long Eaton lock and leaving it with one of the members on their garden moorings"? Gosh just what we needed to ease the boredom, but we did inquire as to why. It was all to do with the continuing problems with the pound being drained between Dolkholme and Long Eaton locks. The finger had been pointed to the 'little darlings' supposedly raising the paddles but it transpired it was actually boaters leaving the bottom gate open and with a faulty ground paddle that refused to close, the pound water just drained away. So C&RT had asked ECP&DA if they would go and see what could be done.

Wednesday then, I took Pentland out from the Great Northern Basin, through the swing bridge and moored her next to FS in readiness for an early start on Thursday. Now here is a bizarre scenario and one maybe could be answered by your good selves.  The back aerial (for the bedroom TV) is raised by a good 4 feet missing any boats moored nearby. So why then when Pentland was brought in next to us, we lost the signal all together? Even Ian, my man that says he knows it all (or he likes to think he does) was completely baffled! Answers on a post card please (or preferably in the comments box). Anyway checks on Pentland were done before the off on Thursday and good job too because the stern gland was completely devoid of grease, nothing to prevent the water coming in, so very relieved Ian picked up on that as I didn't fancy that 'sinking' feeling!

Early to rise then yesterday morning. Ian estimated a good 6-hour journey, especially in these autumnal conditions. Those still cruising the cut at the moment will understand that statement. Leaves...massive amount of them on top of the water but more importantly those hidden beneath the waves attracted to the spinning prop and sticking to it like leeches! You can always tell when the leaf ball is at its worst when the boat gets slower and slower even when the revs remain constant. Knocking out of gear and a quick reverse usually does the trick but short-lived when just as you get a good head of steam, back you go to a snail pace again.

Langley Bridge Lock

See what I mean!

 Had a few dramas as is our wont. Pentland is old...very old...and its gear box is a right pain. Not the ease of movement from idle to tickover and beyond. No more like brute strength on the throttle to get it into forward or reverse. Then the mild panic as you try to knock her into neutral and realised she is still in gear and not going to stop! A frantic jiggle with the stick  throttle and a sigh of relief as she does as she is told. Very nerve racking at first but by the end of the journey both Ian and me had the handle of her!

At Stenson lock one of the top gates wouldn't close. Thankfully we had the right tools for finding out why, a very, very long boat hook. This is what we pulled out.






Joined at Hallam Fields lock by a lone Cygnet and it wanted to get into the lock! Even with Ian trying to shoo it away, it was having none of it so determined it was. Ian got a proper telling off by it as he approached the bottom paddles!


And the reason why it was so resolute? Parents and siblings were below the lock.


 Nearly at the troublesome lock and this seen on one of the canal side houses.

 

Eventually reached the lock in question, top offside paddle all taped up, this was the one to be repaired. Then on the descent immediately the reason for the repair was seen.


Ian's guesstimation was spot on. 6 hours from departing Langley we finally tied Pentland on the garden mooring. Just needed to get ourselves back to Langley and our work was done. This could now be something we are asked to do more often, probably not as far as Long Eaton but any trip away from the winter mooring will be a bonus.

Oh, and now for a head scratching moment. Why is this narrow boat confined to a large garage? You will have to scroll to the end to see why.

 

And wildlife

 





 

The answer? It's a fabulous unique and very clever painting on a property wall.

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