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.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

The high price of a car repair.

From Willington we headed for Shobnall. Ian had arranged for the garage by Burton on Trent station to do the repairs. We locked through at Dallow  only to find a drunkard  trying to work the lock for a can of larger. He is loud and very abusive if he doesn't get his own way so beware if you travel the T and M at Shobnall. The field was very empty after the hustle and bustle of the IWA festival and hardly a boat in sight. We carried on to Branston and then after getting a phone call to say the car was ready to be collected, Ian walked back to Burton, fetched the car and left it at Branston water park.  He then showed me the bill. What a shock. Over £270!!!!! The fuel injector was £76 and all the rest was labour. I think its high time we got rid of our car and relied on public transport. We still have 2 years to wait until our bus pass. I never thought I would say it but roll on 60! Now all we have to do is take the car back to Sandiacre and leave it in our garage ready for collecting again when we go to Milton Keynes, ( we have been summoned by No 1 son to attend our Grandson Oscar's 3rd birthday in October ). There seems to be no getting away from one's kids!! ( or grandkids ). Ian wants to stay here for a few days. He wants to make a frame for our solar panel and as the aluminium arrived at Christine's, there is no excuse for him not to start on it. I expect alot of swearing and cussing as he tries to figure out how he will do it, so watch this space.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

On the move again

But not far!!!! All of 1/4 mile. From Mercia to Willington took less then 10 minutes. Unfortunately our car is playing up and although Ian wanted to return it to our garage in Sandiacre, he thinks one of the fuel injectors have gone. Coming back from Eastbourne the car started misfiring badly and we had to have it towed home. Now all Ian has to do is either fix it himself or let a garage do it. Both will mean spending out loads of money but the first option means we will spend less. So he's off to Burton to have a garage look at it and do some sort of diagnostic on the engine before making up his mind. Looks like we will moored here for a few more days.
Jade is coping remarkably well. I'm not sure if she has realised that Judy, her mum, is no longer with us. She is certainly enjoying the fact that her walks are longer and she is now having to keep up with me rather then waiting for Judy to catch us up. We still miss Judy terribly but every day we can start to think of the good times rather then the bad.
Before we left Mercia we had a spectacular sunset. What is it they say "Red sky at night" and all that. So why did it rain yesterday morning? Not that I'm complaining, mind. As we will eventually be heading down the Grand Union towards Stoke Bruerne in September, we want as much water in 'that 'canal as soon as possible!!!

Sunday 28 August 2011

Farewell Judy

Our good and faithful friend has gone to dogie heaven. I cant tell you how much she is missed. Yesterday was one of the hardest days when we had to make the decision to have her put down. We arrived back from Eastbourne on Friday and went straight to Christine's to pick her up. Both dogs greeted us excitedly even though we hadn't seen them for 3 weeks. Judy was noticeably thinner and she appeared to have many lumps and bumps all over her skin. Christine told us that her eating had gone down hill and for a Labrador not to eat tells it all.  Getting her back and onto the boat was a nightmare. She refused to walk across the pontoon and after Ian carried her down to her bed all she did was to collapse and look miserable. Next morning we tried to get her off for her tiddles and this time it was even worse. So the decision was made to take her to the local vet and let him make up our mind although we were pretty sure she wouldn't be coming back. The vet agreed that her quality of life was non existent. He found a heart murmur which may have caused the sudden collapses and confirmed what we already knew, that her back legs had no feeling in them. Ian held her until she closed her eyes for the last time. Her suffering is now over and although we wanted to keep her as long as possible she is at peace at last.Goodbye our wonderful courages friend. You will aways be in our hearts.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Identity parade completed.

So its done!!! No more wondering how we would get to do the identity parade. We left at 10 am from Mercia Marina and the journey,which was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours to Kidderminster, took us nearly 2. The traffic seemed very heavy for a Saturday, but there again, it is the summer holidays and the majority of motorways are busy this time of year. We arrived at the Police station dead on 12 noon and a Wyn Rogers was waiting for us when we arrived. He took us to a waiting room and explained what would happen. Then he dropped the bombshell. It would only be me identifying Jason and not Ian as well!! Apparently because he approached me first, I was to become the witness if it went to court. Oh help!!!! Now I was worried. Could I remember what he looked like? Anyway eventually I went into the interview room. There was a video camera recording the proceedings and a computer which I had to sit in front, So no real men then!!! Thankfully it was all pictures and 9 men were shown to me all with a number in the left hand corner. All I had to do is say the number which corresponded with the chap that had conned us. Not easy!!! All 9 men had similar hair styles and facial features. The one thing I could have defiantly identified him was removed. His earring!! Three of the nine all looked similar and I asked to see them at least another 4 times. Eventually I choose number 5. He looked like the Jason I remembered, scruffy looking and quite round in the face, but I must admit, in the 6 weeks that has passed the memory starts to fade a little. I have no idea if I choose the correct man. Wyn Rogers said he wasn't allowed to say because it might compromised the case. He did say that PC Kate Medlam would be in touch later so maybe I'll get to know then.

Tomorrow Christine comes to collect the Woofits. We are off again to Eastbourne to look after my Dad while Norma, my stepmum, is in hospital We have no idea how long we'll be staying there, but I'm packing enough for Ian and me for at least 2 weeks I'm very worried about Judy though. Shes gone off her food again and the back legs keep going in all directions except forward.. Christine, as a Veterinary Nurse, will know if the time has come for her to go to doggie Heaven and I know she will think long and hard before making that decision. Hopefully we will still have her around when we eventually get back to the boat.

Just a couple of pictures to finish. You might have to look closely at these first two pictures to see whats in them.

Can you tell what it is yet???

Sunset and reflections.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Our last BBQ with the BIFs, and yes we did leave Burton.

Another hot and sticky night last night so I was up by 6 am trying to cool off. The first boat went through quite early this morning and I assumed many more would follow, all leaving the site, but it was not to be. I don't think the wrgies will leave until Friday as there is still bits to do dismantling the site. There was boat movement but in steady dribs and drabs. Ian set of for Lidl  to get our last minute shopping while I attempted to wash the side of the boat. The steel was that hot that the water evaporated faster then  I could leather it off so I gave up as a bad job. It will have to wait for a cooler day. As soon as Ian returned we set off for Willington to water up and empty loo with the knowledge that the other two BIFs would catch us up later.

BIFs stand for Bracken,Icing & Free Spirit. We travelled together in 2008 when we went to Lancaster. Dave & Heather ( Nb Bracken ) and Dennis & Margaret ( Nb Icing ) are leaving to explore the Soar whereas we are taking our boat in Mercia Marina for a couple of weeks. We are again heading off to Eastbourne to look after my Dad. So tonight is our last BBQ with our cruising pals  for a while.

Heather by the BBQ, Dennis on 'Icing' and Ian on the back of our boat with Jade. Judy is in the foreground.

From L to R:- Dennis, Dave, Ian and on 'Icing', Margaret and Heather.
 While I was preparing our salads I kept hearing this constant cheep cheep sound. It wasn't something I was familiar with, so armed with camera I headed into the bushes to find out what it was.

I'm pretty sure its a |Bull Finch. No doubt someone will tell me if I'm wrong.

Another update with our friendly con man. As we will have our car this weekend we have finally arranged for the identity parade this Saturday at 12pm at Kidderminster. So now all we have to do is try and remember what he looked like!!!!!! It has been over 5 weeks since the incident after all!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Our final day here. Unless the police say otherwise!!!!!!

Another very warm day today so I decided to do the washing. I'm hoping we can fill with water tomorrow at Willington. Last fill was over a week ago at Alrewas so I allowed myself one load in the machine. Then I got a phone call from PC Kate Medlam. " It is imperative that we get together so that we can get you to identify Jason, our con man. Is there any way we can meet up soon and get this done ?." I told her that we were still at Burton and that tomorrow would be the only day convenient for us to get to the Police station. The update is, that Jay is still denying the charge made against him. He is also refusing to give a sample of his hand writing so that they can compare that with his name and phone number written down by him on a scrap of paper . Next step now is for PC Medlam to contact the Crown Prosecutor and discuss whether the phone number Jay gave us, as well as the note, will be sufficient so that we don't have to identify him. I now await another phone call to see if we can move on tomorrow or have to stay in Burton another day.

So the wrgie's,s are still working hard in clearing the site. Not much left to see on the field now except lots of empty marquees. Another couple of days and you wouldn't know anyone had been there!

There is to be no IWA festival next year. Its all to do with the Olympics, so next date will be 2013 and possibly on the Kennet and Avon.

Fun and Games at the winding hole

A very lazy day today, or so I thought. Ian had the usual hospital appointment in Nottingham and left to catch the Burton train by 12 pm. Loads of boats on the move so fishing was out of the question what with the constant flow of water. Then later that afternoon four boats approached us, It was Dennis and Margaret on Nb Icing with Mike and Carole Golds boat Electra breasted up to them. Both Carole and Mick had to leave the boat and return home so it was arranged that Dennis would move their boat.  Behind them was Dave Carnell on Nb Scrimmager and Ernie Boddy on Nb Florie also breasted up. I will try to describe the scene, Icing with Electra was heading for Shobnall winding hole, and Scrimmager and Florie was tied to them but stern to stern In other words facing the wrong way.

Dave releasing his ropes from Icing.

Dave and Ernie, with both boats still tied together, were trying to clear the main channel because of other boats coming toward them. As you can see it didn't quite work out!! Icing and Electra, now free,was making steady progress toward the winding hole.

All four boats were heading for moorings nearer the site and Dave and Ernie decided that it would be easier if Dennis pulled them back to the winding hole. I got involved when I spied a boat coming in the opposite direction and they asked me to race toward them and ask them to wait in the winding hole at Shobnall until the boats had sorted themselves out.
The Green boat had tucked himself in nicely when another boat arrived through the bridge hole. 
Because it was impossible for Icing and Electra to go through the bridge together she had to be let loose so Icing could take her stern rope and tie the two bow to stern. It took a lot of maneuvering before this was finally accomplished and in the meantime more boats were arriving and chaos rained for several minutes. It all came good in the end though and Electra was pulled into the side awaiting the tow from Icing.

Getting ready to go through the bridge.
 After all this excitement I came back to our boat to await Ian's return. Not long after I got a phone call from Margaret saying that if we wanted a mooring by the site to come as soon as possible because spaces were available and there was no saying if any would be left later. Ian still hadn't returned so I decided to take our aerial down and dismantle the planks ( which, by the way, Ian had screwed together with some wood so they wouldn't move) By the time I had finished all this Ian turned up and so with a quick phone call to Margaret to make sure there were still spaces, we pulled pins and headed for the site. The WRGIE's boats were still moored on the offside as well as boats moored towpath side so I finally got to see how the hirers had to negotiate through the single boat width channel.  Not easy for an experienced boater so I can now imagine how terrified the novice boater would be.
Slotted in nicely between Nb Nell and Dave and Heather on Nb Bracken
Last night we had a towpath game of Mexican train. Its similar to domino's but in my opinion lots more fun. If ever you see it on sale I would recommend buying it. With a group of up to 8 players it can give hours of fun and hilarity. We abandoned the game when we could no longer see the spots on the domino's!

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