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.

Monday, 25 May 2020

The sad end to three of the cygnets.

Those swans, having watched them mate last year, then lay seven eggs in April, witnessed the new life emerge, rescued one of the cygnets wedged in the coping stones, we now had to watch as three of the cygnets met their demise.

It all started a few days ago when two boats came up from below lock. Because of lack of moorings, the shorter boat went on the lock landing and the longer of the two went next to Jim and Jen by the swing bridge. This effectively cut off the swans passage to the nest as no room was to be had between the two boats. The youngsters were still too young to be able to climb up the steep sides of the coping stones so instead, they stayed on the point by the fingerpost. So we wondered if this was the reason why they headed for the lock, although this could also be the natural progression of swans to extend their range. Yesterday then, I had a frantic text from Jen saying the swans had gone below the lock. This was disastrous as another pair with cygnets, older than ours, had made the stretch between Langley Mill and Eastwood their home territory and the inevitable happened. A massive fight between the two cobs, three of the cygnets were drowned and the other four disappeared. Our swan pair made their escape heading back above lock leaving the remaining cygnets behind. I ran back for my fishing net and on my return found that two of the cygnets were seen hiding in shrubs on the opposite bank and one had already been rescued by Jen.  Then a bit of luck involved as two lads came by in a small dinghy. Armed with my net they managed to scoop up the pair from the opposite bank and Ian then legged it back up the lock armed with the cygnets to return them to their parents. Of the forth, there wasn't a sign! Eventually, we gave up thinking the worst must have happened when suddenly a yell from the lock to say one had been seen trying to get out. Ian went to the rescue with the net and the forth successfully returned to the parents. All in all, it had been a very upsetting few hours and I hope and pray the adults will now stay above the lock. Oh, and Jim and Jen moved the boat forward into the winding hole today so the swans can once again return to the nest.




On a lighter note, we have new life in the basin. The blue tits have almost finished raising the chicks, two days ago the moorhen appeared with 4 babies, a duck appeared this morning with nine tiny ducklings and the pied wagtail was busy feeding the fledgelings.



 









 






Wednesday, 13 May 2020

And then there were seven

Never have I been so glad to be wrong. "Oh, ye of little faith," thought I as I counted a seventh small bundle of grey amongst the others. That egg was viable after all and it just goes to show how wonderful mother nature is.






With the easing of some of the restrictions on travel, today we fetched our car from Sandiacre. Big decision to make first, do we travel by bus or do we walk? Neither of us wanted to be crowded on a bus even though we had the face mask and gloves so we opted to walk. After all, it was only 8 miles and on the flat, easy or what? Hmmm....5weeks of inactivity with only a short walk every day made us realise just how unfit we both were. We managed to walk to Gallows Inn non-stop, about 4.5 miles, that was our first goal for a well-earned rest. Bad move stopping though.  Sitting on the lock beam enjoying a drink of orange we then attempted to get up. From a jaunty step when we left Langley we suddenly became decrepit old people struggling to place one foot in front of another. For the next 3.5 miles, it was tough going. Not just the feet feeling as if they were on fire but my knees and Ian's hips all made the continuing walk agony. To reach Sandiacre was euphoric, stopping only briefly to see the fire damage to Springfield Mill and then to finally sit in the car was a relief beyond measure!  The car started first time, much to both our delights because the thought of having to walk back if we couldn't get it going did not bear thinking about!




So now we can go to Shipley Park, still in our local area but too far to walk to.  So looking forward to walking different paths but maybe leave it a day or two? Recovery of feet and joints are very much needed at the moment.

I have to put a PS on this post because not 30 minutes ago a dramatic rescue of one of the Cygnets was carried out by Ian, Jenn and myself. Checking up on the family I happened to spy a small head poking out of a wedge in the coping. Struggling like mad it had got itself well and truly stuck. So armed with a broom and while Ian and Jenn from Dire Straits kept the Cob occupied I managed to coax the Pen and babies from the nest. Lots of hissing and flapping of wings but she eventually was persuaded to leave. Then a quick lunge toward the edge and I gently managed to extract the youngster from its prison. Placed it back on the nest and left swiftly. Mum and babies returned thank goodness as I was worried that she might abandon it. So all is well that ends well and tomorrow Ian will make a ramp to make it easier for the family to climb out.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Somehow that egg went back.

Great excitement this morning when Swan Sylvia (the name given by Jenn on Dire Straits) stood up to reveal 6 Cygnets. What confused us all was that somehow that lone egg outside the nest had mysteriously gone back in! Had the swan managed to do the deed? I cant see it being a member of the public 'cos they would have had one very aggressive cob to contend with!
So will we have seven Cygnets after all? That egg was outside in the cold for the best part of the day so I very much doubt if there is a live baby in there. We shall see.




That egg can just be seen.

Monday, 11 May 2020

The wait is over! Three down...three to go!

Shame about that egg. We think it was dislodged.







Friday, 8 May 2020

Flouting the rules!

So it seems that sticking to the rules by 'Staying at home' and 'Only essential travel allowed' does NOT apply to everybody! It really pee'd us both off to see three boats leaving their moorings (one yesterday and two today) because they were fed up with staying here at Langley Mill. What is it about these morons that think the rules do not apply to them! We came across two of the boats at Eastwood lock, they had just exited and were on their way before I could say something that I may have regretted later! Not that it would have made any difference because if C&RT can turn a blind eye, what hope do we have in trying to make them change their minds. We happened to meet a C&RT guy and the first thing I asked, did he say anything to those boaters. His reply was I don't get paid enough to be confrontational!!! Really???? If that's the attitude of authority then maybe we should all flout the rules!

 
VE day today and we are going to have our own celebration with Jim and Jenn from Dire Straits. Seems that celebrations can happen so long as the social distancing is observed so each of us is bringing our chairs, tables, wine and nibbles and Karen from the bungalow has kindly offered her garden for us to sit in. Could be a drunken afternoon!


Quite bizarre really that here we are celebrating the WW2 anniversary of VE Day and a WW1 number 34 MK 3 hand grenade was brought up from the depths of the Erewash near to Gallows Inn by a chap magnet fishing. To read all about it see this report from Derbyshire Live Turned out to be a live grenade and had to be detonated by the bomb squad.

We have cygnets! Unfortunately not from our swan but from the pair below Langley Bridge lock. 6 tiny and adorable babies.






Wednesday, 6 May 2020

A week best forgotten.

Thank goodness this week has gone, it's definitely not one I would want to repeat!

It all started not long after the East Midlands crew had left last Wednesday and I began to feel unwell with severe stomach cramps. The loo became my second home and the thought of food was enough to make the abdomen go into spasms.  By 8 pm felt so ill that I decided to take myself off to bed. Ian decided to sleep on the sofa bed, a wise move because if I managed 3 hours sleep I was doing well. And for almost 3 days my only excursions from the bed was to the loo! Very relieved then, when the pains started to ease and I started to feel normal again.  Ian had almost convinced himself that I had the dreaded Covid and so many times his finger hovered over the phone to dial 111 but I was insistent that all I had was a touch of jippy tum!

Ian managed to paint the back cabin doors as well as the side hatch doors during my indisposition. He tried to kill me off big time though when he filled part of the wood surround of the side door with fibreglass! God the smell and taste left me gasping for breath and had me diving for an open window!


  Anyway once I had got my appetite back and felt I could stand without feeling light-headed, I took on the task to varnish the small coffee table in the lounge as well as rub down and revarnish the porthole surrounds.



 It was during this time Ian decided to fill the water tank. Now the hose has to reach the front of FS and the one in the basin is long enough to reach the furthest of boats. Trying to take it across the cabin top I heard a loud expletive. Turns out he had somehow dislodged my peg bag hanging from the stern and the basket ended up face down in the canal. Luckily the wooden pegs had stopped most of the pegs from disappearing beneath the waves but those plastic ones sank without trace. But he was determined to find those lost. Out came the sea magnet and for a good 15 minutes tried to find as many as he could. 17 in all was brought up from the depths, a good haul in his opinion. Not sure I agreed as, from a full basket, only half the amount was left.



 Yesterday was our 47th wedding anniversary. A treat of a fry up for breakfast and we had looked forward to champagne and then a Nepalese takeaway from the Royal Gurkha for the evening meal. Imagine the disappointment when after a phone call to the restaurant they said they were not doing food that night! Nothing for it but get a pizza and garlic bread from Lidl, cook some chips and crack open a bottle of red. The champers will wait until tonight when we try again with the Royal Gurkha.



The swan must be close to having the cygnets. On my calculation, she started sitting after laying the seventh egg on the 4th of April so the cygnets should hatch around the 16th May. We do though, have babies here in the basin. Great Tits has made their nest in ECP&DA's Case (a type of forklift) right inside one of the arms. And in the arm on the other side bees have been seen going in and out. Good job there are no Friday work parties until the foreseeable future 'cos the Case is always in constant use!







This Kestral flew over the basin this morning.

 

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

A visit by the Beeb!


Well, well, well, who'd a thought that we would be on telly! It all started with a phone call to Norman, (ECP&DA Chairman) from Phill Mulligan, (C&RT area manager) who had been approached by BBC East Midlands Today asking if he had any liveaboards in the area, mainly to find out how boaters had been coping with isolation and loneliness during the lockdown these past 5 weeks. Norman didn't hesitate and gave ours and Jim and Jenns (Dire Straits) phone numbers to the producer as good candidates to be interviewed. So on Monday, we had the call to ask if we were prepared to be on interviewed on Wednesday (today).

10 am and the crew turned up. Only the two, the cameraman Neil Evans and interviewer Quentin Raynor. We were immediately put at ease (I had worried a tad about what we would be asked) and filming commenced, first with the interview and then with shots inside FS. (knew I should have tidied!) Action shots were also required so a walk along the outside of the basin and then me wiping down the back cabin hatch slide whilst Ian sorted out ropes in the top box, with all being met with a thumbs up. A good hour later and they said they had enough footage so next stop for them was to make their way to see Jim and Jenn.




Hopefully, it will be put out on air tonight at 6.30pm and also on catch-up on iPlayer for 24 hours. What parts will be shown, that is the question?

We also had the first BBQ of the season. Last Sunday evening and just about got everything cooked before the rain came.





With face coverings in the news recently (do we or don't we have to wear them) I decided to make my own. Ians old boxer shorts came in very useful! I did wash them first though!




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