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.

Friday 30 December 2011

Jade & Simba. A doggie theme.

 As today was such an awful day and nothing could be done outside on the boat or at the bungalow, we decided to make our way to Wigston to visit our very good friends Pat and Keith. Simba came to join their family after the previous owners could no longer have her. I got the phone call in 2003 asking that, as the breeder, could Simba be returned to me. Although I was very reluctant to have yet another Labrador joining Judy and Jade, I agreed. Pat and Keith came to my rescue. As they had lost there lovely old Labrador Libby months previously, Simba came at the right time to help them over their lose.

Looking at this picture you wouldn't believe that they are sisters

Simba & Jade
Jade was one of Judy's first litter born August 2000, whereas Simba was born 2 years later in February 2002. Both Judy and her mate Bracken were black Labradors and you would naturally assume all the pups to be black. Well, Judy's mum was a yellow Lab  who in turn was mated with a black Lab hence the mixed colours in the litters. Are you confused yet??? because I as sure am and I'm writing this!!! Anyway I was very surprised when Judy had 7 black puppies and one yellow in the first litter and 5 black and 4 yellow in the second litter.

1st Litter at 4 weeks

5 of the 1st litter pups all came back for a visit..
2nd litter

I stayed in touch with all the new owners while I had the boarding kennels, looking after most of Judy's pup's when the owners went away, It was a sad day when I sold the kennels in 2004 knowing that I probably wouldn't see them any more.

Monday 26 December 2011

Christmas Day

The only present opened on Christmas morning was by.................Jade!!!

Lasted about 5 seconds flat!!
Once Jade had devoured her stocking, it was on with the glad rags ( Jade included ) and off to Christine's to help with the Christmas dinner.

Sorry Jade!! Us owners do do these stupid things!!
 Having 8 adults and 3 children to cater for was quite an experience for Christine. Just seating them all round the table was a feat in itself. She managed beautifully and the dinner was a huge success. It all became very loud later on once the presents were opened and the kids running riot throughout the house. Thankfully its but once a year and never have I been more grateful that Ian and I live on a boat. We get out of all that mayhem every year!!! Once the kids were safely tucked up in bed us adults played the evening out with a great game called Uno. Highly recommended for hours of fun. Finally got back to the boat about 11.30pm after thoroughly enjoying the day.
Josh with one of his many presents

Grandad said he was opening the present for Josh. Me thinks he's just a big kid at heart.

Christmas Sunset taken from Christine's & Kev's back garden

Sunday 25 December 2011

Yea. It's Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all. Hope your day is full of alcoholic cheer 'Hic Hic'.

Friday 23 December 2011


Christmas is a time of 'Goodwill' to all men. Unfortunately I felt anything but goodwill last night. Feeling very low after the news of Norma, Ian and I decided to have an early night. Just after 9 pm a car turned up and parked opposite us by the facilities. At first we thought a bit of hanky panky was going on and thought good luck to them. Then around 2 am I was woken by what sounded like a large fan cutting in and out. I looked over to the facilities and noticed the car had gone. Baffled as to what the noise could be I went back to bed in the hope of getting some more sleep. After another 15 minutes I could stand no more and got up to investigate. There was the self same car but now parked just before the pub. His engine was running and the cooling fan kept cutting in and out. The unspoken law for us boaters is no running of engines between 8 pm and 8 am but I wonder what the law is about car engines. In the end I gave up on sleep and sat fuming about the inconsiderate nature of some people.

4 am ( Took Jade out early to take this photo. She was not happy being dragged from her bed.)

Still there 6 am ( I have lightened the photo )
 Then....................... 8 am he steps out of his car, locks it and walks of toward the River. Maybe he's going to 'do himself in' so to speak. No that was not on his mind. What was is in the next photo.
Peeing up the wall!!!!! Disgusting!!!!!!!!

This is the man. I'm going to shame him by showing this picture!!!!!!
 If he returns tonight a phone call to the local Police will be in order!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Sad News

Norma, my stepmum, died peacefully this afternoon. All she has wanted ever since Dad died is to join him. Thankfully my sister Susannah was with her right up to the end and she told me that her passing was very quick. I am so glad that Ian and I saw her a week ago and we were able to tell her how much we loved her .R I P Norma. You were a fantastic stepmum and you will be missed by all the family.

Norma and Dad

Monday 19 December 2011

Sloe Gin

Every year come end of September beginning of October, I go our collecting Sloes for the gin. Most years I always manage at least 8 - 9 bottles. They make excellent Christmas presents and it keeps us well oiled in the year ahead. This year has been a bit of a non starter as most of the time we've been away and I haven't really put my mind to it. Ian made the effort to pick some, though, and I have managed to produce three bottles.

Last years label.
It is very easy to make so here is the way I make it.
  1. Buy cheap Gin.
  2. Pick loads of large sloes. When they come off the stalk easily they are ripe.
  3. Wash and prick sloes with a fork several times.
  4. Add 1 - 2 oz sugar ( depending on how sweet you like it ) directly into an empty Gin bottle.
  5. Add the pricked sloes so its about 1/4 full.
  6. Pour the gin into the bottle and mix well.
  7. Keep turning and mixing the contents every day.
  8. Using any filter ( a coffee filter works well ) rack into clean bottles during December.
  9. Try to leave a year before drinking but if you cant, enjoy!

Thursday 15 December 2011

Caudal epidural injection

For many years I have suffered from sever pins and needles down my left leg especially with standing. Its not painful but the discomfort is extreme. As my condition has slowly become worse this last year I finally decided to do something about it. I am so glad I did. My consultant told me I wasn't unique and that a course of injections would sort my problem out. First he sent me for an MRI which confirmed his diagnosis of narrowing of the tubes carrying the nerves to my leg. His words were " Our bodies are not very good in reducing swelling after an injury unless it has a little help" The help he referred to was steroids injected into my lower spine just above the coccis. Yesterday I had my first one. I was a little worried as you can imagine but the procedure took less then a minute and on the pain scale of 1 - 10 it was about a 3. I had to stay in the day centre for another 2 hours just to make sure nothing nasty was about to happen like my leg going to jelly or my bladder and bowels doing strange things ( Not sure what strange things they were on about but as nothing happened I didn't worry about it.) Ian came and fetched me from Derby hospital with strict instructions that I wasn't allowed to do anything other then rest. ( This I was going to make the most of. ) I cant say that I didn't have a few funny episodes. First one came in the form of hundreds of insects running up and down the muscles in my leg. A very weird sensation. Then my left foot started to throb and I experienced quite a nasty bout of pins and needles down the lower part of my leg. Thankfully none of this lasted more then 30 minutes and after that I have felt 100% better and this after only the first injection!! If anyone reading this has similar symptoms I recommend going to see the Doctor about referring you to a spinal consultant. I can truly say that I cant wait for the 28th when I go for the second injection because as far as I'm concerned I am well on the way to being cured!!!

Christmas has finally made it to our boat in the way of a small but perfectly formed Christmas tree. This year Ian has decided to become a bit more festive.  2 Santa's are already stuck in the windows and tomorrow the  external fairy lights will illuminate the outside of the boat. Hopefully the punters frequenting the Steamboat opposite will be suitably impressed!

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Early warning sunrise

This was yesterdays sunrise. You could say 'the calm before the storm'. Last night was very lively with the boat being buffeted by the winds and rain. The Trent is up again but not yet in the red so boats are still managing to do the sharp turn into the Erewash without to much difficulty. Those that sail past do so at a good pace not only being pushed by the wind but also by the fast flowing currant. Put it this way, I don't think I fancy venturing out at the moment. Ian's sister Shelia and brother in law Chris have come up to see us. As they have travelled up from Burnham on Crouch in their camper van, the dog doesn't have to be ousted from her sleeping quarters to put the camp beds up. I've sent them all off with Ian to get our diesel in a can from the boat yard at Kegworth. Last time his prices was 85p Ltr so I'm hoping they haven't gone up by to much. Christine is also coming to see us this afternoon. Last time we saw her young Josh was the grumpiest little boy imaginable so I'm hoping he will be in a better frame of mind today. Only time will tell!

Saturday 10 December 2011

Turkey and Tinsel

Firstly I must just clarify that the picture I thought I had put on of Norma on my last post, was actually my Dad!!! Somehow I selected the wrong photo and didn't check to see if it was correct.

Now to the Turkey and Tinsel trip.

The journey down to Eastbourne was pretty straight forward. The Hotel appeared very pleasant and surprise, surprise we managed to get a room with a view. On all the other trips we have been on somehow we always got the room that overlooked the rubbish bins, car park or building yard.

Thursday's very dismal day.

One of the friendly neighbours on our balcony
 After unpacking we went off to see what the pubs were like in the area and just a few yards down the road was a pub selling real ale for £2 a pint. That's us sorted for the next few nights!! Dinner was served at 6.30pm. It all looked lovely on the menu but when we were served the food it was a disaster!!! Cold hard potatoes, carrots and sweetcorn for veg and steak and kidney pie for the meat dish. Breakfast was no better. A full English breakfast had been laid on but every thing was luke warm. Even the toast was only browned on one side. As the days went on the meals got worse. On the 'So Called Christmas Day' we had the Turkey warmed up in gravy, carrots and soggy sprouts and roast potatoes that had been left in the oven far to long. I could go on and on but needless to say we have never stayed in a Hotel that has served up such appalling food!!

Christmas Dinner. We made the best of a what was a poor meal.

To continue with our stay:- Tuesday was a 'do our own thing' day Ian and I went of to my step mums flat to sort a few more things out and to get it ready for selling. Then off to town for a bit of retail therapy. Wednesday all of our party went of to the South Downs while Ian and I went back to Sunrise nursing home to visit Norma on her birthday. We didn't have a brilliant visit as her condition has deteriorated a bit and all she wanted to do was sleep. We did manage to keep her awake when her birthday cake arrived and all the staff came to her room to sing Happy Birthday. We left her late afternoon and caught the bus back to our Hotel where we had to endure another diabolical meal. Thursday was the mystery trip. The weather was awful which was such a shame as we ended up in Rye. What a lovely little village. There was plenty of cobbled side alleys taking us to some excellent antique shops.

A Guillotine lock
 We only had a couple of hours here as the majority vote on the coach was to return to the hotel so that they could prepare for the fancy dress that evening. Now that really was well worth waiting for. The theme was the letter'S' I leave you with some of the great costumes that was on show. Oh and by the way, Ian won the prize for best costume.

Me as Santa's Scrubber

Ian as A Sooty Sweep

In the centre- Dennis as Jimmy Saville, then going round the table from the left is Heather as another Scrubber, Dave as a scarecrow, Mike as a Sixties sex symbol, Ian as the sweep, Margaret as another Scrubber, Sid as Sherlock Holmes, Joyce as a Squaw and May as a Silver screen Goddess.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Arthur and Hazel as Mr and Mrs Santa. Me ,Margaret and Heather as the Scrubbers

Sherlock, Scarecrow and Silver Screen Goddess

Sixties Sex symbol and Sweep

Ian with his champagne prize.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Busman's Holiday!!

Back to Eastbourne again tomorrow, but this time with the Erewash canal society. Of all the places to hold the Turkey and Tinsel 'do', it had to be Eastbourne. One of the coach trips for this coming Wednesday is 'A scenic tour over the South  Down's'. As it is also my Step mums birthday that day (she has actually made her 85th year ) Ian and I will forgo the pleasure of the Downs trip and go and celebrate it at the Sunrise Nursing Home with Norma  instead.

Norma at 83

  To be fair, this Turkey and Tinsel trip was arranged way back in March and we were not to know of the awful year that lay before us. Anyway a Fancy dress has also been organised for the Thursday evening. We had to think of a costume with the letter 'S' Ian decided on a Sweep ( chimney, that is, not Sweep the other half of Sooty) and I'm going as Santa's little scrubber. I'll leave you to make up your own minds about that costume!!!! We will be back on Friday and hopefully I'll have a few pictures to show of the trip next weekend.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Pictures of the Weed Scooper

Arriving at our bungalow today to await the tanker that would empty the Septic Tank ( very pongnifourous and nearly full to overflowing ) I heard the unmistakable sound of the weed scooper machine. Thankfully, today, I had my camera with me so I rushed round to the lock to capture these pics.

Dumping the stuff at the bottom of a canal side garden!!!!
 On his tea break I went over to have a natter with him and to ask what he thought of the Azolla weed clean up. First thing he said was " the bucket is a complete waste of time"! Apparently the first bucket on the machine, only had bars across. It was no use nor ornament to anyone. Okay for collecting the usual bottles, cones, shopping trolly's and rubbish in general ( okay then, maybe not shopping trolleys ) but absolutely not the right thing to use when scooping the weed. This bucket is the second attempt and although he said it was better, he confirmed what I said in my last post about leaving almost as much behind as scooping it up. I asked him how he disposed of the stuff only to be told that he had to dump it on the offside at any convenient point whether it be at the bottom of someones garden or any clear piece of bank.  Then he informed me that it was combustible!!! Yep, like any rotting compost it would eventually heat up and maybe even catch light. I can see some very irate home owner having a right go at BW. After all I'm sure I wouldn't want it dumped at the edge of my garden!

Our mooring here at Kingfisher Dry Dock is very secure. Moored just in front of us is Chris and Jan on there working boats. One is called Hereford but there doesn't appear to be a name on the other one. Jan does sign writing and watching her doing her art work is amazing. Chris sells coal, very handy for us for when we run out. Mick and John on the dock have allowed us to plug into their electrics, payment to be worked out, and water is to hand when we need to fill our tank. Opposite is the Facility block so emptying our loo cassette couldn't be easier. All in all a very pleasant mooring and one to remember in future if the lads dont need it themselves.

Kingfisher dock behind us.

Monday 28 November 2011

Weed scooper

After three weeks of hard slog, we finally left Sandiacre and made our way to our winter mooring. Ian decided to bring the car with us so he wheel locked while I steered the boat. I should have insisted that we did it the other way round because it was blooming freezing. I encountered a unlicensed boat making its way toward me. Well I should say erratically making itself toward me because at one point I had no idea which side of the canal I would pass him!! You know when you meet someone at a door and you do a bit of a dance until one finally gives way, well that was us!! And he was unlicensed to boot. Now why did that surprise me!!! Anyway I powered through the Azolla weed and just as I entered the long straight toward Trent Lock, I met BW on their weed scooper. I didn't have my camera with me so unfortunately no pictures, but imagine a pedalo with mesh on the front and an engine at the back, well that was what it looked like. The thing that struck me with the mesh on the front was the holes appeared bigger then the weed. More seemed to be left behind then captured, but I suppose they were making the effort. As far as I'm aware they will be permanently situated on the Erewash, endlessly going up and down scooping the weed and leaving more in their wake. Oh well, as they say, such is life

Sunday 27 November 2011

Garden work completed.

What a couple of weeks we've had! Our bungalow needed a lot of TLC especially in the garden. Our lovely tenant Alister has left us to become famous by writing a play for ITV. I'm just sorry I didn't get an autograph from him before he left.
After the '40's'do we set to and completely gutted the garden. Alister ( bless him ) didn't know a weed from a plant and consequently left the garden to become a wilderness. I wish I had taken photos of the 'before and after' but after a fortnight of weeding, pruning, hedging, grass cutting, tree lopping, laying slabs, power washing, painting fencing and pergola and finally replacing the borders edging., we have about finished.

The 'Lock Cottage' in the background. Handy for the 'Do's'  that is held on the premises twice a year.

Oh and by the way, as we have no tenant on the cards at present, if you know anyone who would like to buy our bungalow, please let us know.

Tomorrow we set of for Trent Lock. We have a winter mooring by Kingfisher's for a month or two, where we will bide our time awaiting a phone call from our son. He is expecting his Dad ( who he now calls The Doracle because of his vast knowledge and wisdom of all things to do with mechanics, plumbing, electrics, floor laying etc) to come and finish the inside of his extension. If you want to read about the trials and tribulations ( all very amusing ) of an extension build, go to Jimsons Eastwing.

We still have the dreaded Azolla Weed. I'll leave you with a picture of ducks trying desperately to eat the stuff.

Monday 14 November 2011

Lucky windfall

The 40's 'do' at the Lock Cottage was a great success. 15 boats turned up ( slightly less then we normally get )  but  the attendance by our boating fraternity was up. Over 50 packed themselves into the upper rooms of the cottage and we were all entertained by several musical bands. It's a shame that more people didn't dress up in the 40's gear. Both Ian and I made the effort. I went as the housewife of the 40's decade, cross over apron and headscarf. Ian went as an old time boater wearing corduroy trousers, collarless shirt,  neckerchief and waistcoat. We all got very merry and staggered back to the boats at some silly time in the morning. It was on the Sunday  morning that our 'windfall'  showed itself. I went to fold his trousers up to put them away for next year. In his pocket was his wallet so I removed that, as well as what I thought was a receipt. I left it on the bedside cabinet and promptly forgot about them. Next thing I knew  Ian was asking me who had given me £100. Well I had no idea what he was talking about. There he was holding 5 £20 notes. We assumed that when he had purchased the trousers from a charity shop a year ago the money was already in the pocket, or possibly Ian had forgotten that he had put the £100 in his pocket on the last 40's 'do' not long after he had purchased the cords. As we wanted to buy a power washer to clean around our bungalow, we thought we would use that money instead of our own. That's when the problem arose. Having gone to Argos and ordered the item, the cashier took one look at the £20 notes and said " They've not been legal tender since June last year." Oh heck!! So we weren't that well off after all, or so I thought,. On the off chance we called in at a bank just to see if they would change them for us. Surprise, surprise, they did. Now that's what I call luck!! Not only that but our daughter phoned to tell us we had won £50 on our Premium Bond. I'm beginning to wonder if I should start doing the Lottery!!

Withdrawn in June 2010

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

I bet your wondering what on earth the heading is all about. Those that read my blog a while ago will remember my trip to A& E and the comment about having a camera put where 'the sun don't shine'! Today was the day when the procedure took place. I had nothing really to worry about. The enema was pretty unpleasant and being told not to rush to the loo for at least 3 minutes was very worrying. Once this was over the actually insertion of the flexible tube and the pumping of the air into my bowel went without a hitch. The worse bit was after. All that air had to come out. Talk about embarrassing!! Still as Ian put it, with my knickers as a sail and me adding thrust at the stern, we should fair fly along!!!! Anyway I got the result almost immediately and it was just as they  thought, Diverticulitis. Nothing sinister, thank goodness, and this is a condition that can be easily managed on a diet of plenty of fibre.( Fruit Veg, Nuts, Brown bread etc. As I didn't feel to bad when I arrived back at the boat, the decision was made to leave Trent Lock and make our way to Sandiacre. The Azolla weed covered virtually the whole length of our journey. There were pockets of clearish water but still the weed was present. It was particularly bad above Dock Holme Lock.

Above Dockholme Lock

Mounds of the stuff.

Back at our mooring in Sandiacre.
 Getting into our mooring was almost like going through ice again. Every time I tried to reverse it straight back, the weed acted like a barrier and took me the wrong way. Like everything though, with a lot of patience and determination and lots of help ( or should I say hindrance ) from Ian I eventually pulled alongside the other boat.
We will be here, now, for several weeks. Our bungalow hedges need cutting and the garden badly needs weeding. The 40's 'do' at the Lock cottage is taking place on Saturday and tomorrow we take another run down to Eastbourne to see my Step Mum. So all in all we have a hectic time ahead.

Monday 7 November 2011

The dreaded Azolla Weed

Arriving at Trent Lock today I couldn't believe my eyes. A thick covering of what I first thought was Duck Weed. As it happened BW was sorting out the rubbish bins at the facilities so our first question was " Is this how it is all the way to Sandiacre?" Their reply? Quite probably! Then they told us that there was not a sign of the weed on Friday but when they arrived Saturday Morning there it was. They started harping on about how it took just one idiot to empty there fish pond in the canal with only the tiniest bit of the plant in, for all this to appear. Really!!! Did this happen in three days? Apparently not. This weed ( which by the way is not Duck Weed but Azolla Weed) has been on this canal for some time. The fast growth of the weed means it spreads rapidly, cutting off light for the aquatic plants and starving the water of Oxygen. Bad news for the fish. It is apparently an Aussie export so again we are invaded by foreign species. So what will be done about it? At the moment NOTHING!!!!! It needs another foreign species to get rid of it. The Weevil A box of the beetles can be purchased for about £350 but not knowing how many are in a box, BW doesn't want to spend the money. This weed will not go away. It will only get worse. Unless something is done then the Erewash canal is doomed. Another thing, Every time a lock full empties into the Trent it carries millions of the plant with it. So what do YOU think will happen next? I'll leave you to ponder over it.

The Azolla Weed

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