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.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Change of plans.

 What a great day we both had yesterday. Our son Colin took us by car to visit with daughter Christine, Son in Law Kev and Grandsons Josh and Thomas. And for the first time we were allowed to hug the family. It's been a long time in coming but oh so welcome. The weather was perfect for a BBQ and the booze flowed freely with several bottles of ale (probably about 6 for Ian) as well as one and a half bottles of wine consumed by me, larger for Kev and pink Gin for Christine. Only our son had forgo the alcohol as he was driving. Anyway it was gone midnight before we returned to FS and of course we forgot the torch. And before anyone mentions the phone torch, well Ian couldn't find out where it was on his new phone so it was a dark walk back to the boat!

Had a lie in then this morning so no early start through Blisworth tunnel. Consequently, it was inevitable that boats would be travelling through. As we approached the tunnel mouth, a Wyvern hire boat was about to leave the mooring and head in but on seeing us asked if we would go first. They were most apprehensive and welcomed us as lead boat. 




First of two boats met



First stop was at the facilities at Gayton. Gosh, it was busy but we luckily beat another boat to the water point by turning at the junction first. Two other boats also wanted the facilities including a wide beam so any later arriving and it could have been a long wait. 40 minutes later we left and with no plan as yet because of the Buckby flight being out of action, we decided to stop by bridge 43A. The railway can be seen and trains heard but with it being a Sunday, the trains are few and far between.

 We have discussed whether the Thames is the right place for us at the moment. So many things have gone awry heading to the river that we are reluctant to continue with the route. Instead, we have planned to head back to the Ashby and this time go to the very end. We also fancy doing the Caldon canal 'cos last year a land slip stopped us from doing the whole length,  we may as well try again this year. But of course nothing is set in stone and could all change again!

And wildlife today




Friday, 7 August 2020

Never seen this before.

 Well I tried! Gave some consideration to the photo problem in the new blogger layout and thought that if I went to my Themes, customise and width I may be able to centralise the photos. It worked to a degree as the photos in the new layout looked better but it completely changed the look of the old blogger way. So do I keep to this new customisation or revert to the old. I suppose as I have to use the new blogger template I may as well stick with that.

Up to make tea early this morning and noticed mist coming in through the side hatch.(We were melting last night and the doors had been left open to try and cool us down) A misty scene greeted me as I looked out.


We moved today, up two locks to moor in readiness for setting off through Blisworth tunnel on Sunday Only 48 hours mooring is permitted along this stretch, so we have to be gone by then. I rather fancy getting through the tunnel early before the rush starts!

 Went for my usual walk and came across a sight I have never witnessed before. Every thing I have read about swans said they eat grass and aquatic vegetation which include mollusc, small fish and frogs. So when this Swan was seen eating a huge fish I was flummoxed!




Wire art along the woodland walk

Southern portal of Blisworth from a different angle.
 

Its sooo hot! 32 degrees inside FS and that's with all the windows and doors open and curtains drawn to stop the sun from streaming in. I wanted to fish again but no way could I sit in the well deck or even outside. No shade at all on this mooring and although we could have moved further along to be under the trees, it would have meant (a) no TV and (b) no sun on the solar panels to keep the batteries charged. Looks like I should stop moaning and put up with it!

And this seen by the lock before ascending.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

More delays!

 Groan....this from C&RT re Buckby today

After de-watering the lock and completing the fish rescue, we unfortunately discovered further maintenance issues, which require our attention. 

These works include repairs to both wooden cills, which are loose and there is also a hole in the lock gate which requires further maintenance work. 

Due to the location of the required works, we cannot get our crane boat close enough to assist and therefore a lot of the work is being done manually by our maintenance team on site.  This consequently means that these works will take slightly longer then we originally planned.

However, we are working hard to complete this job as soon as possible and aim to be finished by Monday afternoon.

So many hire boats came past yesterday heading either for Napton or Braunston.  Could be an interesting conversation with the hire companies waiting for the returning boats. And what of those due to hire next week? Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

Went blackberry picking to make a crumble, this morning, Ian came with me to do the least favourite job essential to boating, empty the loo. C&RT volunteers were down by lock 19 watching over a 'Lets Fish' for beginners. Two lone boaters were descending the flight but there happened to be a problem of too much water between the pounds. Apparently the lock gate refused to open, water levels just wouldn't equalise even with paddles up. Ian was on his way back, saw the problem and lent his strength to that of the volunteers to get the gate to move.




Looks like we will be staying even longer now. Trouble is Ian is running out of things to do on FS. As for me well walks and fishing and I'm happy as Larry.

Now for a question. Blogger has made changes and I have resisted using the new layout but yesterday when I opened the blog, there it was. I'm having great difficulty in keeping my photos uniform on the post as every time I add a caption, the photo goes off-centre. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can rectify this?  You will see what I mean with these photos.

Bream

Oh, and that Swan family. Miscounted the other day, there are actually 9 Cygnets one of which became a right pain while I was fishing!




Making a grab for the net!




And the float

And today's wildlife is a fishy theme












Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Slow boats and hirers galore.

Another notification came through from C&RT yesterday with an update on the Buckby lock situation.

The Engineers have examined the cill this morning and assessed what repairs are needed.
We are moving our boats in place today, then the pumps and equipment needed for this job, will be delivered on Tuesday.
There will be a fish rescue, which will take most of the day on Wednesday and then we will begin our repair works on Thursday morning.
We aim to complete the required maintenance work by the end of the day on Friday, but we will update our website as soon as we know more.

Maybe the situation isn't as dire as I first thought, here's hoping it will all be fixed by the weekend.

This paddleboarder came past the moorings at Cosgrove. A new way of 'walkies'



Having forgotten to buy milk when we last shopped, Ian legged it to the park store at Cosgrove caravan park. Thinking he could pay by card, to his dismay there was a £2 minimum payment on a card transaction. Made for an expensive 2 pints!  But all was not lost as he found a £20 note in his pocket and made the payment with that. It had gone 9.30 am then before we got underway and a good 3-hour journey ahead of us to where we wanted to stop at Stoke Bruerne.

Not long after leaving Cosgrove, we came to that shallow bit which is a right pain. No way could I do more than tickover as FS would start to pull a wash. Deeper drafted than most leisure boats we struggle if the bottom is too near to the top and the displacement of water as we travel means more is sucked away from the edge. When it comes back it comes back with a vengeance. In the next couple of photos, I had already knocked FS back to tickover as soon as I noticed but that wash continued for quite some time, much to the disapproval of this Heron and ducks.


Surfing ducklings.
 Not sure if this boat had a problem. I could see it was secured but it was way out from the bank. Stuck in the mud? I'm assuming he used the canoe to tie the ropes to the trees.



The bridge before Kingfisher marina we caught up with a boat. Now we slow right down passing boats, we knock the revs back to 800rpm (roughly 2mph according to Ian's speed checker) but this one was only just moving. Reverse was used more than once 'cos I didn't fancy hitting him up the arse. He then noticed I was behind and tried to wave me past. Not something I was comfortable with when passing moored boats but with him almost coming to a stop there was nothing for it but to comply. Just got the nose in front and he puts the power on! I then find FS is listing as she scrapes the barnacles off her bottom by sliding along the mud. In the end, I had to ask him to stop so I could get FS of the mud and get past.

Me starting to pass


Never did see him again, stopped before the locks no doubt.

Bottom lock of Stoke Bruerne flight and two boats were exiting. Both were hired boats and from then until we got to the long pound between lock 16 and 15 every lock had hirers descending.



In fact, at lock 18 it was easier to get the Wyvern boat to come alongside FS in the lock before I pulled out. He was right across the pound, struggling to get it to go where he wanted and yes I too remember the struggles I had when I first hired a boat so knew he was probably panicking as I used to do.

Wyvern boat in the blue livery and a Grand Union Weedon hire boat on the landing.


Found a decent mooring near to the entrance to the meadow. Here we will stay until the rush has died down in getting through Buckby Flight when it reopens. I know what I'll be doing during the next few days, fishing and walking.



8 Cygnets. Thats impressive.

The meadows


Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar

Wasp nest in the making perhaps as the wasps were bringing mud out of the hole.






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