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 30 April 2011

'The' wedding day

Okay so I,m sad! I just love royal weddings. All that pomp and ceremony. Anyway we eventually got off the dock by 10am and the first thing I made Ian do was to put the aerial up! Out came the bunting and I bullied Ian into putting that up too. Then I settled down with a cup of tea and stayed on my chair until the wedding was over. Ian cleaned the boat roof while it was going on. Hes not one for all that soppy stuff.  I'm quite glad really because it meant I didn't have to do it!! I loved Kate's dress but her sister Pippa's dress was amazing. Oh to have a figure as gorgeous as that. Ian happened to come in when the bridesmaid appeared and watching Pippa was the only bit he was interested in. I wonder why? So... its all over now. Bunting is down. ( couldn't stand the noise with it blowing in the wind ) and now we sit and wait for the call to Milton Keynes to our son and daughter-in-law to say our third grandson is on its way. Due date is May 5th. Also our anniversary so its one date I wont forget!Posted by Picasa

Thursday 28 April 2011

Finished boat.

Three coats of bitumen,  two coats of gloss on gunwales and counter, the diamond decorations on the front of the boat repainted, meant the boat was ready to be re floated in record time. Today we titivated and completed small things like revarnishing the cratch and painting the boat poles just to give me something to do. The fenders are now on and all we need to do tomorrow is tidy the dock area. Im hoping the lads John and Mike will get us off early so I can watch " The Wedding" There has been no TV  for the time we have been in the dock so I have havent seen anything of the run up to the event. Somehow I dont think they will be here much before 9 am and by the time they do get us refloated the procedings will be well underway.


Monday 25 April 2011

Bent Shaft!

Shaft shaped like a banana

By putting a straight piece of wood next to it, you can just make out the gap that shouldn't be there!!

 Kev arrived mid morning complete with his oxyacetylene torch. After a bit of effort both Ian and Kev managed to release the tiller from the rudder shaft. What he found was pretty well what he expected. The shaft had been bent out of shape presumably by Ian clouting the concrete shelf at Sandiacre when reversing into our mooring. With the help of a big sledge hammer and the heating of the shaft by Kev, they managed to straighten it enough so the rudder could be moved from side to side.

Misty morn. rubbish & body bags????

6.30am. I hate getting up so early but the dogs needed walking and sometimes it pays of. The mist was rising on the river and everywhere looked peaceful. Then I spied the rubbish littering the grass. I suspect foxes to be the culprit although there may be a few lazy individuals who couldn't be bothered to walk to another rubbish bin. I then became aware of something that looked like a body bag lying on the ground.

On closer inspection There appeared to be two people sleeping rough covered only in a very thin sheet. They must have been really cold last night as the temperature dropped to around 6 degrees. I wondered if the opening of the new pub 'The Trent Lock' previously know as 'The Navigation' could have had something to do with it. Inebriated springs to mind.

A lovely tranquil scene.

Before pictures

'Icing' was finished and re floated on Saturday morning. This meant that we could get our final two boats on earlier then expected. With the power washing done by 1pm the hard task of scrapping and sanding down the hull could start. Once completed Heather and myself started on the blacking and by 7 pm both boats had one coat already rollered on. My biggest concern was the state of our skeg. Unfortunately there was nothing caught around the prop to stop the tiller from moving to the right and on closer inspection found it to be the shaft that had bent. Ian has asked our Kev to bring his gas welding gear to see if they can do something themselves instead of paying someone else to do it. By 7pm

Saturday 23 April 2011

The B. I. F's first BBQ

The B. I. F's are back together again. Those of you that have followed my blog will remember 2 years ago when we made it up the Ribble link to Lancaster. B. I. F's stand for 'Bracken', Dave and Heather, 'Icing', Dennis and Margaret and of course us on 'Free Spirit'. For all of us to dry dock together seemed logical and our cheapest option. We have full use of the facilities for one week and our cost per boat is £130.33. We decided to put 'Icing' on first and considering we didn't get them into the dock until midday yesterday, their boat is as good as finished today  . Dave power washed it, Dennis and Ian prepped it and us 'girls' had the first coat of blacking on by 6.30 that evening. Today we started at 9.30 am and with five of us at it finished the blacking in just over an hour. Dennis and Dave then painted the gunwales while Ian tried to detach our back boiler from our fire. We unfortunately  poked a hole in it with the poker when we were riddling the ash!!! Needless to say it is still in the stove. No amount of pulling and hitting with a hammer would shift it. Ian thinks he may have to take the stove out to remove it. Anyway, tomorrow we are hoping to get 'Icing' off and 'Bracken and 'Free Spirit' on. 


                            I should mention that the lads who own Kingfisher Dock http://www.kingfishernarrowboats.co.uk/dry-dock-services.html are absolutely brilliant. Nothing is to much trouble and they do there utmost to make sure we have everything we need.                                                        
After a productive day we all decided on a BBQ. The day had been very hot and we looked forward to sitting down with our beef burgers and sausages and of course plenty of the amber liquid. Would you believe it. No sooner had we sat down to eat when the lightening and thunder started. Both dogs were quivering wrecks again and we just about made it back to the boats clutching our plates full of food when the rain and hail started. It didn't really matter to us because we can make merry anywhere and in any situation but it would have been nice to see the evening out sitting outside. 
Once the rain had stopped I took our hyperventilating dogs for a walk outside. They started to calm down and when I turned to head back to the boat I saw an amazing sight. The sun was almost blood red. By the time I had returned with my camera the clouds were just starting to obscure the sun. If one didn't know better one could say it looked like a UFO.

Thursday 21 April 2011


Its the sort of day today that started very foggy and then turned gloriously hot and sunny. Ian prepared the gunwale's ready for painting and I was in my normal spot on the front of the boat fishing. I happened to look between the boat and the bank and there basking in the sun was a newt. This is the first newt I have seen in the canal. We have loads in our pond in the garden at Sandiacre but I would have thought the fish would have eaten any that strayed in the canal. I believe its a common newt and not one of the endangered crested type. I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will let me know. The new British waterway wildlife survey has started www.waterscape.com/wildlifesurvey   and it asks to put down what is living in and around the waterways of the UK. I took part last year and was kept up to date with their findings. This will now  be my first entry. 

Wednesday 20 April 2011

BW removal of a "dosser" boat!

Waiting here at Trent Lock until the Dry Dock is ready to take us, we saw a sight I didn't think we would ever see. BW arrived as well as a Community Police officer and told us that a derelict boat had been seen about 1/4 mile from the lock. It had been reported to the police as the person on board was causing a disturbance and so they were on there way to see if they could do something about it. We saw the boat in question  when we went to wind round yesterday. It had a big notice on the window saying "Broken down.Sorry for the inconvenience" As normal no licence was displayed and what appeared to be a very drunken fellow, swaying and talking loudly, occuping the boat. He and the boat made a good pair, both being as shabby as the other. It was about 15 minutes later when we saw the boat being dragged by BW towards us. As there were a number boats moored along the section just before the lock, one of the BW guys had to climb over every boat pulling the boat past each one. Eventually they arrived at the lock and we were told that they would fetch their tug and take it upstream on the river to impound it at Sawley. Wrong. They locked down with it and moored it on the river just below the lock. Now the question I ask myself is how long will it stay there for and what will happen to the bloke on the boat if they do impound it?                          

After the boat had disappeared down onto the river, yet another BW bloke appeared. This time pulling a rowing boat. Ian went along to help and found out that it also belonged to the "dosser " boat. Getting it past the moored boats was going to be difficult and the boat was to heavy to lift out of the water. So Ian produced some wood to make a paddle and the BW guy got in and paddled it to the lock. This to me was the funniest sight I had seen in ages. As the oar was made from any old piece of wood, he couldn't seem to make it go in the direction he wanted ending up heading straight for one of the house boats moored opposite. 


Monday 18 April 2011

On our way again

Ian arrived back at the Marina at 5.30pm. He should have been here hours ago but security at the airport, missing his train and then the bus meant we left later then planned. My stay here has been very pleasant and the added bonus was having a curry every night. ( Ian cant stand them so when he's away I have my curry fix.) We made it to Stenson and I was very surprised that we managed to get a mooring, Ian treated me to a meal at the Bubble and it certainly lived up to its reputation of huge portions. Next day we arrived at Sawley and met up with our old cruising partners Dennis and Margaret on their boat " Icing ". We have arranged to dry dock the boat at Kingfishers by Trent Lock over the Easter holiday and as well as Icing and our boat, Dave and Heather on Bracken will also be joining us. In the meantime we will wait by the dock until we can get on next Friday. 

I couldn't resist in taking this photo  This is Jade hogging all the bed. Judy had to make do with curling up by the fire. I'm sure the dogs have a better time of it then us and so I want to come back as a pampered pouch in my next life. I have started Judy on the Metacam and after two days have already seen some improvement. Long may it continue.

This Lapwing put in an appearance early this morning. The focus isn't right. Couldn't keep the camera still for long enough. I blame it on the eyes not working properly and the excess of wine the night before, but you can still just see what it is.


Thursday 14 April 2011

New boat arrives in the Marina

One will see all sorts when biding ones time. After two days of scrubbing ( no rude remarks please!!!) the inside of the boat was as clean as I could get it. Amazing what a few months of soot from the fire will bring. You should of seen the muck that came from the ceiling. Anyway I decided I needed a well earned break and sat outside for a while watching the world go by. In the distance I spied a huge crane. I was convinced that a boat was arriving by lorry to be craned in at the marina. I was not wrong. I grabbed my camera and waited for the lift to begin. Took ages for them to get going and then when they did it was over in a few seconds. (Again no rude comments!! Unless its from the lady's!)

Chain bird feeder?

At the Marina, in a few places, are small Islands kept dog free and ideal for the nesting birds. On one of them is this unique chain man to which has been added two bird feeders. If there is nowhere else to hang them it might as well be on this.
 In the background are the Classic Shakespeare hire fleet. As our boat is moored directly opposite them I have watched them coming and going with some amusement. One thing I have noticed is that the staff moving the boats seem to have little or no respect to us berth holders. Its either dead slow or flat out with nothing in between. I just wonder if when the hirer's come to take them out, they are told to slow down passed moored boats. I think not!!!!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Still waiting for grandson No. 3

1st Grandson Oscar

I was due to leave for Milton Keynes around midday. Iwona my daughter in law was expected at the hospital that afternoon to have another scan. The baby was lying in a breach position and the consultant decided that he would try turning him the right way. The risk, though, was that the baby would become distressed and then an emergency Cesarean would be performed. So I was going down to look after my 2 year old grandson Oscar Unfortunately my journey was slightly delayed. Earlier that day I decided to purchase my fishing licence online. So I went to a Google search engine and put in fishing licence renewal. I was taken to a very convincing site which asked me to choose whether I wanted a Coarse or Game fishing licence. I clicked on the relevant button and then I was asked to fill in my bank card details, address and email. This I did and followed the instructions to continue to checkout. When I clicked the button it thanked me for my payment of £41 and the licence would be sent to my address later. Oh..... Now I was worried. Why might you ask? Well I was pretty certain that the cost was considerably lower. I phoned the environment agency and asked if the licence had gone up.They confirmed what I suspected that the cost was £27. So not only had they taken more then they should but I had given all my details to a web site that may not even exist. In panic I phoned my bank to ask them to stop the payment. "Oh no, cant do that" they said. The bank confirmed it hadn't gone from my account but was awaiting clearance. Well this is typical bank procedure Surely if its not gone from my account why cant they stop it? Anyway I have cancelled my card and now have to wait for them to send me a new one. I have know idea if I'm going to get my licence but I'm pretty sure Ive lost the money from my bank. At least by cancelling my card they can't get  their hands on  any more!!! With all the phoning to the bank and waiting "because my call is important to them" and I'm No. 7 in the queue, I didn't leave until 12 30pm. My daughter in law was expecting me before 3. 30 and I still had to drive to Swadlincote to drop the dogs off to Christine. Thank goodness the traffic was light. Good news though. The baby has turned all by itself so no intervention was necessary and so our wait for the third Grandson continues.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Mercia Marina

Fair bit of wind blew yesterday so reversing into our allocated mooring at Mercia was a little difficult to say the least. Of course we were being watched by all and sundry enjoying the tea rooms at the marina but Ian, with a lot of forward and aft, managed the manoeuvre successfully. The cost for our week here is just over £51 which I didn't think was to bad. Electric hook up is of course charged extra and we purchased a card for £5. Somehow I don't think we will use it all. We've already been here 24hours and have only used 60p. As I'm of to Milton Keynes tomorrow and only the fridge will be on, the next person to use this mooring will have a pleasant surprise.

We have had one problem since being here. Judy is again being awkward about getting of the boat. This time the pontoon is freaking her out. The boards have gaps in them ( well most pontoons have ) and Judy is very unhappy about stepping on them. It took both of us to coax her onto it. It could be her eyesight or the feel of the spaces between her toes. We will never know but finally we managed to walk her to the grassed area a few yards away. Shes not to bad now and of that I'm very glad  because Ian has left for Sweden leaving me to cope on my own.

Early morning overlooking the Marina. The mist was rising and not a sole soul?????? ( which spelling is correct???) about. 

Saturday 9 April 2011

Oh the shame of it.

Message from Kev. "If you want to see a proper Pike take a look at this."  There's not a lot I can say really.  I feel very deflated now. Makes the one I caught a bit pathetic. You never know though, Ive been told that there are some decent Pike in Mercia Marina so Kev, you'd better watch out!.

Friday 8 April 2011

My first Pike!!

Okay so its only tiny but as Ive never caught one before I felt immensely proud of myself. It was swimming along the surface so I grabbed my pole and dangled a maggot in front of his nose. It couldn't fail to miss seeing it and the pike lunged forward and grabbed the maggot. With a quick flick of the pole the fish was hooked good and proper.
Today has been glorious. Got a touch of sunburn so had to cover up as the picture shows. Boy was I hot!! As I couldn't find my linen long sleeved shirt I had to make do with my fleece.
 The journey today has been very difficult. Something has happened to our skeg. Right turns are fine but to try and move the tiller to go left is almost impossible. Ian went down the weed hatch again to see if he had missed something when he cleared the prop the other day. Nothing was found. He can only surmise that when he reversed to go into our mooring at Sandiacre he hit something solid under the water and that may have bent the steel. Thank goodness we are dry docking her over Easter and then we will see exactly what we've done.
Heading into Mercia Marina tomorrow so no more battling with the tiller for a week.

Thursday 7 April 2011

leaving Sandiacre

Finally our day of departure. Seems like we've been moored here for ever. We still had to wait until BW knocked of at 4pm because the crane boat was across the lock gates.  Some of the coping stones had been put in place and as the pointing was so near to the waters edge we only opened one paddle in case the sudden rush of water washed all the cement away. ( BW would have loved that!!!!!)  Hopefully it will be all finished when we next get back in a couple of weeks.  

Hybrids or true breed? That is the question!!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Cement Lorry arrives

  Quite interesting day today. BW arrived as usual, fetched the crane boat from the opposite bank and then proceeded to lay  long sections of pipe toward the lock landing, A cement lorry turned up and discharged its contents through the pipe down to the cap between the bank and the cladding. Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that the water would have been pumped out first before  the cement went in but that wasn't the case. I think its something to do with water displacement and solid matter but its just a bit to technical for me. Anyway the whole procedure took all morning and most of the afternoon with a total of 4 cement lorries having turned up. Tomorrow the coping stone arrives to finish it all off, but I will be interested later to see how many    " foot prints" will be in the cement. ( See post:- local youths at it again )

To Eastbourne ( by car! )

Ian Norma Dad & me
So...... Wednesday 6th, and here we are still at Sandiacre. We had a trip to Eastbourne during our stay,  to see my Dad and step mum. The weather was good and being a Sunday had very little traffic to contend with. There was the usual M1 road works stretching for mile upon mile and the same applied to the M25 ( anti clock wise ) but we got there in the end. Took just under 4 hours. We stayed until Monday and then headed of to Milton Keynes to visit the family. The journey back took considerable longer!!!!!! Ian decided to fork left off of the A27 and then realised his mistake. Unfortunately there was no slip road to take us back onto the duel carriageway so we ended up heading for Brighton. That was a nightmare!! We had no map with us so all we could do was to keep going and hope for a signpost to take us back to the A27. Brighton was at a standstill ( or so it seemed ). Eventually after crawling at 1 mph for nearly an hour we found a sign for the M23/M25. At last we were on the right road. After 5 hours we finally arrived at our sons, and after a quick cup of tea set of back to Sandiacre. It had been a long day and I was ever so pleased to sit down with a nice glass of red wine!
Tuesday was the usual round of Doctors, blood tests and vets. Judy has been put on Metacam which I can start to give her in 10 days time. The other drugs have got to leave her system before she can go on it so I'm hoping that this drug will do the trick and she will act like a puppy again. Watch this space!!!
So today was just finishing jobs around our bungalow. Ian has painted the soffit boards and I have done a bit of gardening. Tomorrow we leave for Mercia Marina. Ian is of to Sweden for a week with his old firm and I'm on standby because no. 3 grandson is due any day and I will have to look after Oscar while Colin and Iwona are in hospital. Mad dash to Milton Keynes again!!! We thought it would be easier all round if we were in a marina and plugged into their electrics. If the "mad dash" is delayed then I'm going to blitz the boat and have a good spring clean.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Local youths at it again

Maybe I should think back to my early days and what I got up to but I don't think our generation was as destructive as this generation. BW left their crane boat tied to the opposite bank which is great because the youths cant get to it but to leave ""Defra rash" surrounding the site was asking for trouble. Two of the society members found most of it thrown into the canal so out came the boat hooks to recover it . Not a lot more can be done except leave it on the side. To remove it could cause problems especially if someone falls in, and after all it is put up for a reason but I expect the majority of it will be back in the canal tomorrow just in time for the first boats leaving to have it wrapped round their prop!

Pie & Pea Gathering

One of the reasons for returning to Sandiacre was to partake of the Pie & Pea weekend. The ECP&DA hold this event every year at the start of the cruising season. Not many boats make it up the Erewash so to have 20 plus boats arrive and take over the basin is a sight to see. Last night was games and chat night and this evening a guest band will entertain us until we break for our Pie's and mushy pea's and then our own society band will see the evening through with Folk music.  By Sunday all but our boat will be gone and peace will once again return to the basin.

One of the smaller boats to make it to Sandiacre!!!

Friday 1 April 2011

Back at Sandiacre

 As we headed up the Erewash Canal, my mind wandered back to winter and 8 weeks of solid ice. Hopefully nothing would stop us getting back to our moorings this time. Well I was wrong! On leaving Dockholme Lock we realised that the pound was very low. Then some chap on his bicycle informed us that a crane barge was working below the next lock. Because of the water situation I decided to stop on the lock landing and send Ian on to discover what the problem was. 10 mins later Ian phoned to say they were repairing the landing at Sandiacre lock. Well we have lived in our bungalow by the lock for nigh on 7 years and as long as we can remember the coping stones have been submerged only to appear when the pound was low. So now finally the landing is being piled and then back filled with cement. BW told Ian that I should bring the boat up and they would move the barge. Fine! I slowly made my way to the lock and yes they moved the barge out of my way, but the space they left me was extremely tight and not only that I had to squeeze past an overgrown tree. MY PAINTWORK!!!!!!!!!! I was not amused!
We picked this lot up just reversing into our mooring! No wonder Ian had problems controlling the boat.

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