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.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Toilet tales

I have put this lovely Kingfisher on this post just to distract you from the unsavoury part of this tale. After we had turned the boat and moored up near the facilities (the winding hole was a good 500 yds away from Napton bottom lock)Posted by PicasaIan went to fetch the loo. I was still on the bank waiting with the dogs and the rubbish when he appeared carrying the loo but looking a bit flustered. "We have a problem," he said. Apparently, as he pulled the loo out of the holder, quite a lot of unmentionable liquid came out with it, covering the corridor floor and filling the empty space in the cassette container. Never have I been so thankful of having a partly mended broken arm!! No way could I have got down on my hands and knees to mop it up, so with peg on the nose and plenty of disinfectant, Ian set to and cleaned it up. The seal had most definitely given up the ghost. Thankfully, we have spares!!! By the way, this kingfisher was photographed by me on the Shropshire union a couple of years ago.

Lonely little pony

On the way to Napton this pony stood forlornly on the towpath. How did he get there and where is his owner? A lady was walking her dog toward the pony and I enquired if she knew to whom it belonged. Unfortunately she was also off a boat further round but she did say that a splash was heard from the other bank late last night and could only assume it had fallen in and somehow managed to get himself out towpath side. Not a lot we could do so we continued on our way.

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Oh dear

And then.................. we came across this sheep. No movement was detected and both of us assumed it was dead. But a couple of hours later on our return journey there was no hide nor hair of him. So the question is:- did the farmer come and pull out a carcass or was the sheep so exhausted that he remained motionless for a while before eventually managing to pull himself out?? We will never know.Posted by Picasa

Stretch those wings.

As we travelled round a sharp left hand bend this signet appeared on the bank. Luckily my camera was to hand and I captured him stretching his wings.
We left our misty moorings around 8.30 am and made our way back toward Napton bottom lock and the facilities. Our aim is to wind round, moor up and empty our nearly full loo!! ( Put it this way we wouldn't get another night out of it.) We had wondered if there was a problem with the seal as a peculiar and unpleasent smell hit us every time we went in the bathroom. Ian to inspect after it is emptied!!!! After all he wouldn't want to do it when it was full!!
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Out of the mist

6.45 am. I love these mornings. This must be a sign that Autumn is on its way.
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Monday 30 August 2010

What a sunset!

Bank Holiday Monday. With any luck the canals will be quieter now that the kids are due back to school soon. Ian has painted the gunwales today. He should have done them yesterday but we had a torrential downpour at about 1 pm and then a gale blew for the rest of the afternoon so he abandoned any idea completely. We will have to move soon as our loo is filling rather rapidly, I blame it on Ian's beer drinking. No it cant possibly be all the tea I drink!!!!The services are at Napton so as we are facing that way we will wind round and then use the facilities. As the moorings are just perfect for painting Ian is planning to do the other side as well.Posted by Picasa
Still not sure if we are going to head for Warwick. As we need to be back at Milton Keynes again middle of September, we may take a slow meander south down the Grand Union.

Friday 27 August 2010

Idyllic mooring

We got to Braunston within 2 hours and after using the facilities and visiting Midland Chandlers, we had a quick discussion and decided to head back along the Oxford toward Napton again. The moorings along this stretch appeared to be excellent for doing a spot of painting along the gunwales. This was a lovely spot and hopefully we will see Dennis and Margaret when they pass us on there way back to Langley Mill.
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As we headed of towards Braunston we came across this sorry sight. The boat on the inside looked to be a wooden hull working butty. The outside boat covered in "Defra rash" I assume was the motor tied to it!
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Farewell "Icing"

We have finally said farewell to our cruising partners. Margaret and Gillian were the only two to wave us off. Gillian and Pauls son Alan arrived to swap holidays and Alan took Dennis and Paul back to Thrupp to collect their car. .Posted by Picasa


They are so cheeky. Pinched my sandwich. Mind you I shouldn't have held it over the boat.Posted by Picasa


We were nearly at the bottom of Napton and the drizzle and rain never let up all day. This picture shows what a miserable day this was. Dennis and Margaret had already arrived at bridge 111 by the Bridge Inn pub so we were very pleased that there was still room for us to moor up when we arrived. As it was Paul and Gillian last night with us all ( Paul has to work on Saturday ) we went and had a meal. Very nice it was to. This is also our last day traveling with Dennis and Margaret as they are continuing up the Oxford canal and we are going toward Warwick on the Grand Union.Posted by Picasa

Broken paddle mechanism

We had already gone down several locks on the Napton flight when BW appeared. The paddle mechanism had disintegrated on the left of the bottom gate. BW worked us through making Ian redundant.Posted by Picasa

Trains and boats

All I needed now was a plane and the picture would have been complete.Posted by Picasa

New pilings

How lovely to see new pilings going in. Long may it continue.
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Tuesday 24 August 2010

Kangaroo & Australia

Two working boats approached Banbury lock. The motor " Kangaroo" came down first and then as we were going up I noticed "Kangaroo" backing up into the mouth of the lock. He was waiting for " Australia" the butty so the towing line could be reattached. They were on there way to Oxford to pick up a load. ( Not sure what of though ).
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Banbury lock. We eventually found a place by a skateboard park. The last mooring to be had!!! The town center was only a short walk away so I spent a pleasant few hours wandering round. ( Ian reluctantly had to tag along with me in case I did something daft like fall over again! ) As the weather is set to be wet again tomorrow we may stay for the 48 hours allowed on this mooring.

Waiting for the lock.
Looking toward the town center.Posted by PicasaJust round the corner was another lift bridge. Turning toward it was no mean feat especially as the wind was gusting to 40 - 50 mph.

Monday 23 August 2010

Dark Skys

The sky looked ominous. Thankfully Dennis decided to moor up quickly. Its lucky we did because just as we got inside there was a flash of lightening and a clap of thunder that made the dogs quiver and shake like the wimps they are. As the time was now 2.30pm we decided to stay put and make for Banbury tomorrow.
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"Icing" enters Somerton lock

This was the last lock of the day. We had planned to get to Banbury but as you can see in the next few pictures we thought we might leave it until tomorrow.

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Somerton deep lock

At 12ft, this is the deepest narrow lock on the Oxford canal. Ian struggled to close the gate but managed in the end. The view from the top was pretty impressive.
Its a long way down!!!Posted by Picasa

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