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 31 July 2010

|Back to the hospital

Good news. The xray showed no movement on the bone so a full cast was put on and I have to report to the hospital again in another week. Luckily I can go to Oxford for this so we can be on our way again.

Monday 26 July 2010

Back toward Shepparton lock

As I have the appointment at the fracture clinic, Ian had a look at the map and decided it would be easier for us to head back the way we came because the hospital was nearer to Chertsey then Penton Hook. We left on Monday and entered "the dreaded lock" again. The same lock keeper was on and as soon as he saw me he said" Now I'm afraid." I assured him I would be on my best behavior and as we were locking down, holding the rope was no problem. Took us about an hour to get back and after mooring went for a walk to see if we could find a bus that would take us to St Peters hospital. We struck lucky as the bus stop was almost opposite the entrance to our mooring. The bus runs every hour and would get us to the hospital with 5 minutes to spare. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Judy and Jade enjoying the river



Jade after her swim.
Last night was awful. I don't know if it was a combination of the gas and air, morphine or shock but I couldn't stop being sick. Went to bed and tried to sleep it off. Unfortunately the pain got the better of me and Ian had to keep me supplied with pain killers. Did eventually sleep and felt so much better this morning.
By the way, Happy Birthday Christine.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Start of a bad day!

As you can see I am in plaster. The day didn't start of well. In fact I had had a bad night because of an insect bite on my foot that wouldn't stop itching. I got up at 6am having giving up any idea of more sleep. After taking the dogs out I stripped the roof of all furniture ( planks poles etc) and washed down the roof as well as the cabin sides. By now Ian had got up and to get out of my way because of my bad mood, took the dogs for another walk .
 Eventually we set of by 9.30am and after doing two locks, arrived at Penton Hook lock. There must have been at least 5 large cruisers and one other narrow boat waiting to go in so we felt we had no chance in joining them. We were wrong. The lock keeper beckoned FS and Icing to join the another narrowboat.  The lock filled and soon the top gates opened. All the cruisers went out,  the narrowboat on the far side next, followed by Dennis on 'Icing' and as I stepped backward off our boat to hold the rope, I tripped over the bollard and fell heavily bringing my right arm down onto the bollard. As soon as I saw my wrist I knew it was broken. If you can imagine a swans neck that was what my wrist looked like. I was mortified as I knew our cruising was over for a while. The lock keeper was brilliant. He phoned for an ambulance and stayed with me till it arrived. In the meantime Ian who had rushed to my side, left the boat in the lock. This meant we were holding up the lock operation, so he jumped back onto FS and took it out to a mooring just beyond the lock landing. By the time he got back to me and had given our boat keys to Dennis and Margaret to let the dogs out, the ambulance had arrived. The paramedics were brilliant but the equipment in the ambulance left a lot to be desired. First they couldn't take my blood pressure because the cuff was leaking and then they found out the vacuum splint had gone missing and they had to radio for another ambulance to drop them one off. Eventually we arrived at the hospital. After being xrayed I was told the wrist was broken (I could have told them that!) and the consultant would have to pull my hand and arm to realign the bones. Oh no! I watch too many hospital programs so I knew what was coming next. First the local anaesthetic went into the wrist, then the mask appeared with gas and air which I gratefully breathed in as they manipulated the bones back in place.  Was there any pain?  I was in a surreal place and to high to really care!! The plaster went on next and finally another xray confirmed that the bones were back in place. Thank goodness the ordeal was over and we could go back to the boat. I now have an appointment to go back to the fracture clinic in a week and will probably be in plaster until September.

Icing and Free spirit moored by the dreaded lock.

Chertsey Lock

There are no end of magnificent house boats. Money appears to be no object.

Chertsey lock

Friday 23 July 2010

Another strange duck

Is there anyone who can identify these ducks? I am assuming this is mum with chick.

And this could be dad.

The chick. It was just starting to get its adult feathers and looked very bedraggled.

Mosely lock

Our second manned lock (Teddington being the first). When we entered one of the rules is to rope front and back and then switch the engine of. All was going so well until I had to try and throw the rope over a bollard. I tried several times and missed each bollard. I was getting a bit flustered by now and Ian was getting a bit irate because I hadn't secured the boat. In the end the lock keeper come over shaking his head and asked how far we were going. When I replied that we were going as far as we could he shook his head and said I had better get practicing on my rope skills as there were an awful lot of manned locks to negotiate.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Moorings at Limehouse

Here you can see the height of the bank. That was the problem I had of getting two Labradors of the boat.

Doggie harness

The trip to London a week or so ago took us to Limehouse. On seeing the height of the bank I knew I would have problems in getting the dogs off, so on a "lazy "day I got out my sewing machine,some canvas fabric left over from our cratch cover and set to designing a harness for the dogs. My first attempt was disastrous as the poor dog ,when lifted, slipped right through. Jade was not amused!!
After a lot of trial and error I came up with my prototype which worked exceedingly well. This is Judy being manhandled of the bank and back onto the boat.

Mill Pond

Colin turned up at 7.30 on Monday night to make up our crew to tackle the tides. After cooking a chilli (requested by him) and several beers later, he started to feel unwell. After trying to walk the bloated feeling in his stomach of, he gave up as a bad job and decided to go to bed instead. We went as well but just outside our window were several youths talking, laughing and occasional shouting bad enough to keep us awake. Enough was enough by 12.30am. After all we had set our alarm for 5 am because we were due to enter the lock at 6am and was desperately in need of our sleep. Ian poked his head out of the hatch and asked them very politely to "clear off"! To our surprise they did. So finally we could go to sleep. Wrong again. Colin decided at that time to relieve himself of my chilli and beer and was violently sick over the side of the bow. He felt soooo much better after that and we all eventually settled down again. It felt like 5 minutes later that we were again woken up but this time it was by Jade's tail bashing the radiator. It was 4.30am and we decided to give up any more idea of sleep. So it was on with the dogs harnesses, lift them up onto the roof again and finally onto the bank so I could take them for their walk. As it was so early I hoped that they would perform. No such luck. Judy did all she needed to do but Jade decided it wasn't time yet and refused to go. So it was back to the boat but this time we didn't lift them back on the boat because I didn't really want to go through the effort of putting them back on only to take Jade of again. After another 15 minutes I tried Jade again in the park and finally she went. So back on the boat they went and just in time because the lock keeper filled the lock and got us in in double quick time.
The picture was taken in between park visits for the dogs and as the title says, a mill pond.

Leaving Limehouse basin

Waiting for the lock at Limehouse. View is from the river looking toward the basin.

Icing is first in. Then us and nestled in the middle is a narrowboat named Black Pearl. ( pirates of the Caribbean fan?) The lock held the three boats side by side easily and for good measure a small cruiser came in behind.

Limehouse to Teddington

Tower Bridge. The first bridge we came to. I couldn't believe how lucky we were. As you can tell from the picture hardly a ripple on the surface. I just kept my fingers crossed that the big passenger clippers wouldn't catch us up. They are exceptionally fast and although they don't appear to have much of a wash they can push you sideways onto a bridge support in a blink of an eye.

Houses of Parliament and of coarse Big Ben.

Dennis on Icing going through one of the many bridges we went under. Unfortunately I didn't make a note of the names but one bridge is much like another.

Watch out clipper behind!!!!

Ian suddenly realised that one of the high speed clippers was coming up fast behind us. Thank goodness they had passengers to pick up. Although they came very close they never actually overtook us.

London eye. Still to early in the morning to be working.

On the upper part of the Thames

Colin still wasn't feeling very well but he took the tiller for a while. He still blames his stomach ache on my chilli!

After being so apprehensive I actually took the tiller but not until we had passed the dangers of the clipper wash. We still had some large boats passing us and at one point the stern came right out of the water and the wave came over the back deck and ended up washing my feet for me.

Teddington Lock

When I phoned the lock keeper at Teddington to let him know we had left Limehouse he said " See you at 9.30 then" and you know what he was spot on!!!

Waiting on the pontoon for the lock keeper to empty the lock.

Kingston upon Thames

Our first mooring after arriving at Teddington Lock. 24 hours free then £5 a night after that. Still think its criminal after spending all that money for our Thames license! Still Kingston is a fabulous for shopping place. We found Lidl's that had an offer for bottles of real ale, so Dennis and Ian went and fetched their trolleys and bought out nearly all they had. ( Not quite but certainly seemed like it.) We decided to pay for a second night because the next port of call is Hampton Court and we were advised to leave about 9ish in the morning to hopefully find somewhere to stop.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Pumpout on the Regents canal

Dennis and Margaret needed to get diesel and also wanted a pump out. On the way met the diesel boat. They had already sorted out another boat with diesel and Dennis pulled alongside waiting his turn. Once the other boat had paid his money he just pushed away which left the diesel boat and Dennis just sitting in the middle of the canal. With hose connected to both boats what should come round the corner but a trip boat going back to Little Venice. With a lot of fancy handling the diesel boat managed to make a small space so the trip boat could pass. As Dennis was pumping out at the time the passengers got more then they bargained for. What a pong.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Christine and Joshua

Christine arrived early on Saturday 17th with the dogs. Judy didn't seem at all bothered about being back but Jade made a be line for the boat, leaped on, and if she could talk would have said " I'm home". Joshua was into everything. A boat is no place for a lively 1 year old. Everything is at the wrong height and Christine was for ever trying to stop him from playing with the poker. grabbing hold of our books and generally saying "NO" to all he touched. I'm still cleaning mucky fingerprints from the furnishings!! I cant complain though because he always seems such a happy little boy, and to top it all he took a few steps on his own and him not even a year old. Clever boy.

Friday 16 July 2010

Back from Antwerp

What a fabulous visit. We met out coach at Dover and then boarded the ferry with all the Erewash crowd. Shelia, our party organiser, got us through customs in record time and even managed to persuade the officials to let the coach on before most of the other vehicles because we needed to be near a lift for several of our "less mobile" travellers . After a perfect crossing we docked at Calais and headed for Antwerp. All went well until we arrived only to find most of the roads shut because of the Tall Ships. We got well and truly lost. Luckily Shelia found a very nice Police man who directed us to the hotel. After unpacking we made our way to the harbour to view the Ships. Here is one of the Tall ships as it made for the harbour. I have started another Blog to show pictures of our travels away from the boat. Go to http://nbfreespirit2.blogspot.com/ and click on jameison afloat2 if you would like to see them. More photos of the ships, Brugge and London on that blog.

River lock in Antwerp

Huge lock in Antwerp! When all the boats entered there were 3 like this one in the picture and another 5 smaller boats behind. As the road travels over the lock gates they devised a unique system of making sure the traffic flowed at all times. The entrance of the lock gates lifted to allow the boats in and the traffic was diverted to the exit gates. Then when the boats needed to leave the lock the road pulled back and the traffic was again diverted to the gate at the entrance.

Pulling back the road.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Antwerp here we come

Its now Saturday 11th. Just waiting for Christine to come and collect the dogs. All packed and ready to go to Antwerp tomorrow. Catching the 07: 45 am bus from Paddington and that should get us to Victoria bus station for about 9 am. Then coach to Dover where we will meet up with Sheilas gadabouts on their coach for midday.

Famous Faces

Opposite to where we are moored is a restaurant over looking the water. On the 8th a very noisy party was going on and looking to see what it was all about, saw to my surprise John Sargent having conversation with Nick Leslau who was one of the secret millionaires on BBC2 ( Nick appeared on the BBC program High Street Dreams on Friday). We recognised quite a few faces but couldn't for the life of us put a name to them. The next day Tim, the mooring officer, came over and on mentioning about the famous faces at the restaurant told us that it was on a boat moored still in Little Venice that Richard Branson had his recording studio and that Tubular Bells ( Mike Oldfield) was the first recording ever made on that boat. Apparently on the walls of the bathroom is the signatures of many of the artist and one of the conditions of sale was that the walls were never to be altered in any way.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Tower Bridge

I cant believe that in another 11 days we will be travelling under this bridge on our way to Teddington. We will be pushed along by the incoming tide and should easily make 6 knots. The predicted time it should take is about 3 and a half hours.


Just two of the craft we may meet when we go out on the river. The police launch sped past us and the spray he threw out was amazing. I just hope we don't meet him when we are on our boats because we would be soaked to the skin.

The trip boats go a lot slower but create more wash. I think we will be in for a lot of rocking and rolling.

Trip to HMS Belfast

Kate Winslet eat your heart out!!!

This is what I call fenders!!!!

Tuesday 6 July 2010


We had planned to leave our boats in a marina along the Paddington branch of the Grand Union. Our aim was to go out of Brentford onto the tidal Thames and up to Teddington. While we were at Little Venice we took a trip to Limehouse to see what it was like. our information from BW had told us that all boats over 45ft in length needed a VHF radio to leave from here. We met the lock keeper who informed us that we could go out of Limehouse after all so long as at least one boat had a radio. That changed our plans and we booked our passage to go out on 20th July on the 6am tide.

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