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, 1 April 2021

April 1st and new life starts.

Gosh, I was that surprised to see this brood opposite FS, didn't even know a duck had been in the area and what a time for the eggs to hatch now that the weather is set to turn much colder and possible snow for Easter Monday too! The swans have also finally started sitting. 8 eggs laid, one more than last year and fingers cross we won't have the dramas to contend with this time, although the duck was well and truly seen off with her 11 ducklings 'cos she chose the wrong place to sit and cover her brood, right by the swans nest!

She saw this drake off pretty sharpish when he came a pestering!

 So freedom at last! Well, within limits of course but really looking forward to a change of scene. Hoping to set off in the Beast sometime in April. Down to Poole first 'cos we have bought another motorhome. Much smaller by about a meter, no overhang from the back wheels so should be much easier to handle on those narrow winding roads down South and up North. First we need to agree to the swap. With lockdown, we have only seen the motorhome by video so of course it needs to be inspected in minute detail. Then if it is all good and the dealer likes our Beast we will do the swap. Anyway something to look forward to now and no doubt everyone else will be feeling the same euphoria. Can't wait ๐Ÿ˜€

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Census update

 Yea it worked, census all done and dusted. Many, many thanks go to Pip, Mick Nb Oleanna and Barbara for their help and advice. A last phone call yesterday and we struck lucky as the lady who took the call had already dealt with the same problem with other boaters. So we finally got FS registered to premises with postcode and an access code was sent by email to Ian this morning. The form has now been completed and sent. With any luck the next census in 10 years time won't be as stressful.

A few days of good weather got Ian out doing more of the touch up on FS's paintwork. With us being in the swing bridge mooring it was so easy to push across and do the offside. He really wanted to slap some bitumen on the bow so my idea of pushing the bow towards the near side whilst leaving the stern tied on the offside worked a treat.

Job done

 Oh and the swans are at it again. Their mating has once again born fruit. Last year's nest was once again picked, although this wasn't their first choice. They originally started building right by the electric box but no way would we allow that as Ian would have been attacked every time he went to feed the meter! So the first egg has been laid. We now wait and see how many more will join it.

And our Cob lawn mower keeping the bank by FS nicely mown.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Interested on how other boaters got on.

 The census...required by law for everyone to do. So what do you do if you can not get an access code to fill the form in online?  Well we have tried phoning the census.org helpline and failed to get any sort of answer from any of those sitting by a phone to answer queries, and we have phoned every day for nearly a week. All the operators bar one said without an address there was nothing they can do, although the one did say agents were being sent out to boaters and homeless people giving out forms. And then blow me down she suddenly said " Oh sorry, that isn't happening due to the Covid restrictions"!!! Talk about banging ones head against a brick wall! Our problem is no permanent address. All our mail goes to our daughters but of course we were told no second form can be sent to her not even as a c/o so once again we were stumped. At the last census we had the same problems but in the end were told to say we were visiting our daughter on the day. But this time of course, that is not an option because of the lockdown rules. If anyone has any idea of how we can get the form, baring in mind we have only two days to go, we would be eternally grateful as the fine of a thousand pounds for not sending in the form doesn't bare thinking about! Thanks.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Whats been happening? Well not a lot!

 It's been a while since I've touched base with the blogging fraternity but not a lot has gone on around these parts. Weathers been awful so we have not partaken of  many walks. It was either too cold, too wet, too windy or if I'm totally honest, been too lazy! Not much to do, and at times, couldn't even be bothered to place my head outside the back door unless shopping was a necessity or my birdies stared longingly at the feeder's cos they needed refilling. Ian has tried to find things to do but there is only so many times one can check the engine, search for objects to repair and complete jigsaws. He did however, manage to get outside on the odd day when the weather turned dry to slap on some bitumen to parts of the hull which had been scraped by me (I was told it had to be my fault) when entering locks or trying to moor. As for me, another painting by numbers has kept me occupied, more challenging than my Labrador painting because of the very small areas to fill in. Still it has kept  me sane for the time being.

 Today we had a bit more excitement. A breasted pair of unpowered boats appeared by our bow. Of course, we had to find out what was going on so Ian poked his head outside the cratch cover and was told by Vikki (owner of Langley Mill Boatyard) that this was the day the houseboat was going into the dock to be blacked.  Wow, for as long as we have moored here never has that houseboat moved off its mooring and, I might add, we've been at the Mill for over ten years! So it was a 'grab the camera quick as you like to record this momentous event.

And an unusual visitor to the bird feeder. Apologise for the poor quality, took it through the cling film double glazing we placed over the window beginning of winter. 

Black Cap


Friday, 12 February 2021

Who would have believed....

Last week then. when the saga of the sore throat continued well into a fourth day, and when a Facebook message popped up asking for everyone from the Heanor area, including Langley Mill, to go and get a test, the decision was made to go and get it over and done with. I must say no waiting was involved, hardly anyone there, but I found it all very unpleasant and not something I would want to repeat regularly. Ian though, made of sterner stuff, wasn't fazed by it at all. Anyway after 30 minutes both our phones pinged with a message to say our tests had showed a negative result, so it appears my sore throat was just another winter bug going around after all.

That same day a call came through from Norman (chairman) asking if Ian was available to meet him near to Gallows Inn to help retrieve a motorbike from the canal. Derbyshire Police had been informed that a bike had been seen sticking out of the water and asked if any of the ECP&DA bods could help to fish it out. Armed with grappling hooks, life jackets and hi viz vests, he met with Norman and Roland to do the job. Also, at the scene was the owner of the bike! The little darlings had been up to their tricks deciding to go joyriding with his and his wife's pride and joy. Unfortunately the wife's motorbike was never found even though a good few chucks of the grappling hooks at various points of the canal were tried but yielded no result. 

As per every day, not a lot else has happened other than a message from Adam (Briar Rose) to say the article on sponsorship boats (which we had given some information on) was in this month's Canal Boat Magazine. We have a problem though, where to buy it? No one around here sells the magazine, so it looks like we will have to forgo reading the article unless we can find someone who takes the subscribtion and allows us to read the piece.   

'Elf and safety has reared its ugly head here at 't Mill. A CRT guy spent three days installing a handrail on the offside steps leading down from the lock. Sometimes I wonder how in 50 years no accident had been recorded yet these days we are all thought of being too namby-pamby to walk down steps by ourselves without some sort of aid! 


Yesterday we had a massive surprise. Little did we know when we got up what the day would hold.

So breakfast over and Ian checks his phone messages. "You'll never believe it" said he. We have only gone and got an invite from NHS to attend a centre near us for the first Covid Vaccine. Well you could have knocked us down with a feather as only yesterday, when Ian attended the doctor surgery about his continuing aching shoulder, he was told that we would have to wait for a letter which could be weeks away. Anyway computor fired up and straight onto the website. Fully expecting to have to wait a week or more to book the appointment, imagine our surprise when two appointments were still available at Mansfield for 3 and 3.10 pm. Booked those appointments pretty quick I can tell you. So first vaccine all done and dusted. It took a total of 30 minutes from arrival to when we both left and so very impressed to how efficient and quick we were dealt with.

Oh, and guess what. Our letters arrived inviting us for the jab at our convenience this morning. Blimey...NHS are certainly on the ball with the next stage.  65 to 70-year-olds now.


A few more wildlife photos

Seems like this Goosander female is very at home on the Erewash Canal

Bottoms up

Not often a Bull finch comes to visit.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Up date and a tad too much water.

 Drastic action had to be taken yesterday. Suddenly the water levels in the basin started rising and rather to quickly for our liking. Vikki from the boatyard was seen rushing to the lock and whipping up the bottom paddles as well as cracking open a paddle at the top. Normally the feeder paddle is dropped in this situation but so much water was flowing from the brook that in this instance doing that may well have flooded the field and dockyard area. Raising it at least a quarter turn was necessary to stop that from happening by diverting some of the flow to the basin. Levels evened out and finally the bottom gate paddle was dropped, bottom gates left open and top paddle closed. It worked, but a close eye was kept in case the levels rose again

Moorgreen reservoir built in 1794 to supply water for the Nottingham Canal, feeds the Erewash Canal from this feeder..

Feeder. No arch visible

Coping stones underwater, as was our step.


As for me...well, throat is still sore but swallowing is okay, voice is going (much to Ian's delight) and still no other symptoms, so I'm not worrying too much at the moment. And then Ian informs me he had a sore throat for two days last week. Why didn't he mention it? He said he never gave it a thought. I'm  convinced he did it out of concern. Anyway I think I may leave the Covid test for the time being. Self-isolating until the throat is 100% better is the way to go.

I did the Big Garden Bird count today so today's wildlife is on the feeder.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Gate replacement and a health worry.

 Oh dear, today I woke with a sore throat. How worried should I be? Temperature okay. no cough, no loss of taste or smell, no aching limbs in fact apart from the throat I feel fine. I'm not going to rush of and have a Covid test, well not today anyway. Maybe tomorrow if the throat is no better. What I can't understand is that we hardly go out. Apart from shopping where masks are worn and hand sanitisers are used almost by the minute, I don't understand where I have picked up this bug. Anyway, best not to dwell on it for now.

It was Ian then that headed back to Stanton by himself and what a result. He wouldn't take my camera wanting to use his phone instead, but the long awaited photos were finally had. Bottom gate was being lifted off as he arrived, and he stayed to see one of the new gates being manoeuvred into place. So quite a few photos to show.

Old bottom Gate removal (thank you, Ian)

New Gate lifted and placed

And a female Goosander with the male


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