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 20 September 2011

Huddelsford to Eastbourne

It is now 6.30 am and I'm back in Eastbourne. I received the call from my sister Susannah on Sunday to say that both my Stepmum and Dad were extremely ill and I should come to visit them sooner rather then later. We had left Huddelsford and the boat Gathering Saturday afternoon and started the mad dash to Milton Keynes. What I hadn't mentioned was that my Sister in Law's mother had passed away earlier in the week and both Angela and Alan asked if we would attend the funeral. They live in Cunbria and the funeral was to be in Carlise.As our car was already at our sons in Milton Keynes we had decided that if we put in some long days, we could be in Stoke Bruerne by Wednesday, drive up to Keswick on Thursday, ready for the funeral on Friday. That all changed when I got the call from Susannah.
So. We had made it as far as Nuneaton on Sunday when I heard the news. As we couldn't take Jade with us to Eastbourne, as luck would have it, Christine and Kev were due at Kev's parents place for a late lunch in......Nuneaton.  So after arranging to meet them at bridge 17 on the Coventry, we passed Jade to them and then headed off to Trinity Marina up the Ashby where we had arranged to leave the boat. From there we got a taxi to Nuneaton Station, caught the 12.05pm train to Milton Keynes, got another taxi to our sons house, had a quick cup of tea and cuddle from our two grandchildren and then drove down to Eastbourne, arriving at Sunnyside nursing home by 4.30pm. After seeing both my Dad and Norma I realised why Susannah had been so worried. Its only a matter of time now and I strongly believe that whichever one goes first the second will follow shortly after. I have no idea when we will return to the boat so until then and when I resume my blog, I'll leave you with some pictures of Huddelsford.

President arrives

An excellent turnout of boats.

A marquee full of parrots. Very colourful and noisy!

Vintage cars

Could be one of the cars trom the TV program Heartbeat.

Canal artist

Thursday 15 September 2011

Fradley Lake

Yesterday morning I left Ian to continue work on the other solar panels and I took Jade for a walk around Fradley Lakes. The amount of times we have travelled through Fradley and have never stayed long enough, other then to use the facilities so I decided this time to explore the area. Wow. It proves you never know what is on your doorstep unless you look. I took all these pictures on my way round the lake.

Jade sitting on this giant Dragonfly

Different type of nest boxes

This is called a dipping pond. Children come with their nets to discover what wildlife is in the lake.

Wooden sculptures.

Entrance to a hide.

Great crested Grebe

and chick.
 When I arrived back Ian was well on his way to completing first of the two panels.

Our coal makes a handy table

One Frame completed.
 Later in the day a boat went passed with baskets of Cooking apples with a sign saying help yourselves. I shouted at the couple and said that I would love some if only they were moored up. So before I knew it they had pulled in at a mooring a few boat lengths from us and I trundled over to get some apples. Imagine my surprise when not only did the couple get off the boat but closly following behind was 4 huge Basset Hounds. Then I noticed the name of the boat. It was called The Basset Hound. They too are making their way to Huddlesford so we look forward to meeting them there. After dinner I took Jade for her evening constitutional. Not far from the bridge I spied some of hurricane Katia's damaging winds. Only a small branch but I had read on Waterscape of a tree down further along the Coventry. Hopefully it will have been removed before we head off to Huddelsford.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Only another 2.5 mile travelled!

We did move today,but not as far as we thought. After Ian polished the brasses, and I washed the roof and side of the boat, we left our moorings and made our way to Fradley. Who should we meet on our way ( walking the two spanials, Jess and Brin) Christine Woodhouse. Chris and Alan both hail from Langley Mill ( the end of navigation on the Erewash canal ) Their boat Nb Megan Mary was moored directly opposite the facility block. Alan was busy tidying the boat after his BSS examination. He was very pleased to inform us that he passed the inspection with flying colours. We decided to moor in front of them and catch up with tales of their escapades during the summer cruising season. After lunch they left us to begin the journey back to their winter moorings. As the wind had picked up again both Ian and myself didn't really fancy going much further, so after emptying the loo, watering up and luckily finding the next lock empty with gates open, we got to the top and made the left hand turn onto the Coventry canal. There was only one  mooring vacant on the 48 hour section and after Ian had paced it out and assured me we could get in, I skilfully( even though I say it myself ) slotted the boat in without nudging either the boat behind or in front.( Give's myself a pat on the back )

The usual mayhem at Fradley

Slotted in nicely. Glad that we wer'nt moored any further along. Didn't fancy the noise of that generator for hours on end!!!
   If the weather is good tomorrow Ian has decided to make a start on the frames of our other two solar panels. We don't really need to be at Huddlesford until Thursday, and as we only have about 4 miles to go, staying put seems like a good idea.

Monday 12 September 2011

Last day at Alrewas??

I'm reluctant to say that this is our last day here at Alrewas because every time we expect to move, something always happens to stop us, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. So........................
finally Ian has taken the car back, not to Sandiacre but to Milton Keynes! It seemed logical to leave the car at Colin's and Iwona's place at Shenley Church End, seeing as they only live 5 miles form the Grand Union near Cosgrove. We are still aiming to be at Stoke Bruerne for the Village at War festival at the beginning of October and that is only if enough rain has fallen to fill up the canal sufficiently to lift the restrictions at the locks! I have also had the date of my hospital appointment. Apparantly, I am to have a camera put up where the sun don't shine!!!! Eeeek! I'm sure you get that picture!, so to have the car nearby will be a bonus. Also, as we will be that bit nearer to Eastbourne, we should be able to get a quick visit to my Dads and Stepmum while we still have the car.

The promised wind has arrived with vengeance. The hirer's that are trying to wind round ( and also some private boat owners )  are having a rough time of it. Once that wind has got you its extremely difficult to maneuver. Those with crew on board can help by using the pole to get the boat round but if your a lone boater......well God help you!!

Winding Hole in Alrewas

Very windy through the bridge 'ole'
 Hopefully the wind will have died down a bit tomorrow because we should be heading off to the boat gathering at Huddelsford on the Coventry canal.  It seems an age since we have moved any great distance and I'm really looking forward to it.

Oh and by the way, If you have a cool £475,000 going you can buy this lovely cottage right by the canal.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Coal Delivery.

A few posts ago, click here for details, I mentioned the' Man with a Can' could deliver diesel to boaters in drums. He also does coal and as we are moored at Alrewas right by the road, we thought it an ideal opportunity for him to bring us 10 25kg bags. He is still selling at summer prices £8.90 a bag for smokeless and low ash The only thing is we have no idea what sort of coal it is because it came in orange bags. I just hope we have done the right thing and it isnt that horrible smelly stuff that some coal gives off.

Ian pointed out that we are the only boat here with coal on board. It might still be early in the season but I'm determined to be warm when the cold spell hits.
  We have battened down the hatches tonight. If the weather forecast is right ( strong winds and rain ) we are in for a wild few days!!

Friday 9 September 2011

A very odoriferous Alrewas.

We were just saying our goodbyes to Paul and Sally this morning, when a tanker arrived bearing the words Liquid Waste Removel. Having been the owners of two previous properties, both with septic tanks, we knew what this meant and I looked at Ian in dismay !!! The lane next to the towpath appeared to be blocked by a dirty great skip and as the tanker was heading for the bowls club,who needed an urgent pump out, there was no way the truck would be able to reach its destination. So it reversed back up the lane, turned round, and reversed all the way back down again.Next thing to be done was to run metres upon metres of pipe along the towpath to connect with the septic tank further down. Our boat happened to be right by the tanker and even stuffing towels up the mushroom vents, closing all windows and  the doors, didn't stop the pong from invading our boat.

The smell was quite pungent and it seemed to hang in the air for a considerable amount of time. On a day when the wind would have been a blessing, there was none!
We had a bit of excitement later when a Canaltime tried to wind round and got it horribly wrong. I cant really gloat as in my early days of boating I did the self same thing. Instead of pointing the nose into the winding hole he tried to go stern first. Unfortunately he misjudged the curve, and with the wind now blowing towards us, managed to wedge the bow up against the bank. It took a lot of effort from the crew on board to get them out of the situation. Luckily no boats came along to hinder there progress and after several attempts managed to turn the boat round.

Thursday 8 September 2011

spiders everywhere.

It must be that time of the year. I have already ejected 4 spiders from under the cratch and had to destroy 2 small spider nests. I hate doing that because spiders are great for getting rid of those pesky insects, but the thought of hundreds of baby spiders invading the boat sends shivers down my spine.  I left this one where it was. Its on the outside so wont be suddenly appearing from behind the TV and frightening the living daylights out of me!
We have now moved from a 48 hour to a 14 day mooring here in Alrewas. Ian caught the bus back to Branston to fetch our car and I decided that some baking was in order. What a disaster!!! My bread went flat and I burnt the rock cakes. Ian, bless him, said that he would eat the cakes anyway, and he was sure the bread would make lovely toast..Just hope I don't end up giving him belly ache!
This afternoon we had a nice surprise. Paul and Sally on Nb Sophie arrived and moored directly in front of us. They are part of the ECP&DA and moor at Langley Mill.  We just had to get the chairs out and crack open a few beers. After all that's what boating is all about, Isn't it?

 While chatting away this pigeon landed on our new solar panel.Not exactly the mascot we would have preferred. Ian's always fancied a meercat. Simples!

Wednesday 7 September 2011

A night in A & E Burton

On my last post I said that come hell or high water, we would leave the moorings at Branston. As it turned out we very nearly didn't. After I experienced sever abdominal pains yesterday afternoon, Ian decided to take me to a NHS Walk In center somewhere in Burton. Well, we soon found out Burton doesn't have a Walk In center so the only alternative was to take me to Burton A and E. Bad move!!!! To cut a long story short, we arrived at 6 pm and after a 3 1/2 hour wait, finally got to see a doctor. He was unsure as to what the pains were so sent me for an xray. By now I was panicking about the dog having been on her own all that time. ( Having lost her mum Judy recently and never been alone before I worried on how she was coping.) Thank goodness Ian still had our car and we didn't have to rely on public transport, so he left me to it and returned to the boat. Its times like these that I'm glad we haven't got rid of it! Anyway the xray didn't show much so the word Diverticular Disease then came to the fore front. The doctor then decided as a precaution he would admit me to the ward and start me on an antibiotic drip. I couldn't believe it. Stay in over night!!!  I had nothing with me.No nightie, toothbrush, and most important,no clean undies!! After a hasty phone call to Ian I told him not to return to the hospital and I would hopefully see him in the morning. Now the NHS is normally wonderful , until that is, they forget to set the drip in motion!  After having dug around to find a good blood supply in my arm and failed twice, they finally  managed to locate a good blood vessel, attached me to the drip but then  forgot to turn it on!!!! What on earth was I doing here then! It wasn't until 5 hours later at 4.30 am that a nurse came along and realised the mistake!! So now I had to have a cannula inserted into another vein and the antibiotics syringed in. Finally at 11.40 am today I was told I could leave the ward, with a letter stating that I was to return in a couple of weeks to have further investigation. I await a date. Ian came to collect me and then after returning to the boat, we made the decision that instead of taking our car back to our garage we would head off for Alrewas, leaving the car at Branston until Ian could take it home. So...... in the end we did move but it was touch and go for a while that we weren't tarred with the same brush as continues moorers!!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Now I know its Autumn

Although on some books Autumn doesn't officially start until Sept 21st,  the birds are already gathering in trees and on telegraph wires. I watched flocks of starlings picking at the elderberries, no doubt in preparation of the migration to come. Even the Canada geese came flying in to land at the water park and here's me thinking they stay in our country all year round. Maybe I'm wrong.

Hundreds of Starlings all in a row.

Canada Geese preparing to land.

Starlings feasting while they can.

Our plans have changed yet again. We are still waiting on a parcel to arrive at Christine's so its yet another day here at the park. I'm a little loath to admit that we have already been on this mooring for over 48 hours, but whether the parcel arrives  tomorrow or not, we are definitely going to move. On a plus side we haven't had to battle the strong winds today. Even my begonias came a cropper when a particularly strong gust blew them over and very nearly tipped them over the side. Thank goodness I shot out when I heard the noise on the roof. They are now located in a more sheltered place.

Monday 5 September 2011

Fun at Tatenhill lock

The wind has picked up causing may ham with boats trying to leave the moorings. I'm ever so glad we are staying put. I watched the country file forecast last night. It seems that some well earned rain is on the way. Not so good is the predication's of high winds. As we are hoping to leave tomorrow ( after Ian has returned our car to the garage ) it might be 'us' that struggle to leave these moorings!
 Taking Jade for her walk this morning I power walked up to Tatenhill Lock.( All in the hope to lose a bit of weight!)  Just before the lock was a driveway. On the driveway was some iron gates. On top of the gates and acting as decorations were these car pistons. What a great idea. Its a whole new meaning to recycling. Now I wonder if I can persuade Ian to cover our roof in used oil filters???? Maybe Not!!!!!!!!
  After taking this photo I was just about to set off back to the boat when I spied a lone boater arriving at the lock landing, He loosely tied his boat from the centre ring to a bollard in the middle of the lock landing, and with the wind pushing his boat away from the side, he then disappeared with windless in hand to set the lock. What he didn't do was to look back because just behind him one boat had already arrived closely followed by another. So there he was taking all the landing, and with his boat now well and truly away from the side,  the following boats could do nothing but try to sit out and do battle with the wind. Next thing a Canaltime arrived. As usual it was going flat out and hadn't taken in the situation that was now taking place in front of him. I had visions of a multi boat pileup but with me waving my hands and shouting as loud as I could, managed to avert disaster when he slammed the boat hard into reverse. I then started walking back to our boat when who should come passed? Nb Bounty owned by Tom Crossley editor of Narrowboatworld I told him of the queue forming by the lock to which he thanked me and slowed down to a sadate pace. So, with all that excitement this morning, I power walked back to the boat and thankfully flopped into my chair to enjoy a nice cup of tea and a well earned rest.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Ian, thats a Job well done!

After 3 days of machining (battery, drill, jigsaw and files,) the design / calculations have proved correct.  Ian has finally finished the frame for our solar panel. What a marvelous job he's done. Not only can the panel be angled to the sun, high for winter and low in the summer, but he has managed to design a turntable of sorts so it can be rotated to get the best of the sunlight.

   His next project is to mount our two original solar panels ( the ones we had stuck on the roof) on top of the top boxes. When this is done we should hopefully get about 8 amps in optimum conditions. Orders can now be taken!!!!!

Saturday 3 September 2011

Epic journey! All of 500 yds!!

Another long day of travelling. Just over a 5 minute run! Must be a first for us. I know we don't travel very far when we do get going, but this is ridiculous! We made the decision to move because we were on a 48 hour mooring and had already been there for 72 hours. Don't get me wrong, we don't normally outstay our welcome but circumstances meant that we will have to stay within this vicinity for a few more days at least. So we made our way to the park entrance and have managed to moor at the very end of the piled moorings.
We met lovely couple Marilyn and Tony yesterday afternoon. They turned up on their boat Brimstone and we did the' meet and greet' thing and had a lovely long natter. Turns out they follow several blogs, one of which was Sue on NB No Problem. In fact it was Sue that got them interested in reading other blogs. They don't blog themselves but I'm sure quite a few fellow blogger's have already met them. Marilyn told me that she is into geocaching. Ive heard of it and it sounds fascinating. Its all about finding objects at a given coordinated place. This could be anywhere in the UK or even abroad.  As long as you have GPS and a computer anyone can join in. I might have to look into that.

Tony and Marilyn's boat.
   We had a really peculiar sky last night. If there are any budding weather forecaster's out there I expect you'll  probably know what it means!

Jade had abit of a fright today. A swan with an injured wing completely blocked the towpath. Jade being the laid back dog she is just wanted to amble past. When the swan attacked her she jumped back and refused to move.  It took a lot of encouragement from me to get her past.

You can do it Jade!

Told you so.
 I'm pretty sure we won't be going anywhere in the next day or two, so the next post will probably be to show off the new frame, for the solar panel, that Ian has spent several days in making.. 

Friday 2 September 2011

Another visit by the family!

Today was one of those days when I woke up with great plans for the day ahead. Now that we only have one woofit I decided to move Jade to the other side of the boat and place our table where Jades bed was. So I removed all Jades bedding, spread it outside and sprayed it with a pet odour eater to sweeten it all up. Then armed with mop and bucket I washed floors and woodwork ready for the move. Well, I shifted the table, moved the stools and placed Jade's bed by Ian's chair. Then I stood back to admire the new layout. What a let down. Somehow it looked all wrong. Ian agreed with me so after a cup of tea to drown my sorrow, I moved it all back again! One good thing came out of it, the boat is now squeaky clean.
Not long after, I got a phone call from Christine. Could she come and visit with Echo, Jades sister, and Josh our 2 year old Grandson. I  groaned to myself as I had visions of my lovely clean boat now being covered in more Labrador hair and lots of sticky fingers marks from Josh!! I must say, though, that although I now had tumble weed of dogs hair again wafting around the lounge, Josh behaved himself wonderfully, a credit to Christine's discipline and upbringing.
Josh wearing Ian's hat! Echo is in the background.

Ian is progressing nicely with the frame for the solar panel and guess what? Still no swearing!!! Tomorrow we move to the moorings outside the water park. As Ian has finished doing all the noisy stuff ie:- drilling and sawing, of which this mooring was perfect, we felt it would be easier for us to leave the car in their car park instead of on the road by bridge 34, and as Ian pointed out we'll be nearer to the ice cream van when it arrives tomorrow!!! We may well stay for the weekend because on Monday we want to purchase 10 bags of coal from a man with a can. He dropped a flyer off to us on Thursday. Unfortunately I have no name or web address for him. He brings diesel delivered to your boat in cans at 85p a ltr. Ian asked about the diesel bug and he assured us that he treats every new delivery  to stop the bug forming. I cant put a link on as I need a URL so instead I will copy what he has on his card. I should also point out that he works from Barton Turns on the T and M.

Delivered direct to your Boat
(20Ltr Drums)

Call: 07970 893245

Also available: Smokeless Coal,
Firelighters, Sticks and Logs.


At the time of writing this his smokeless coal was £8.50 a bag. He assures us that on his next delivery the price will go up so if you are in the vicinity now's the time to buy your fuel.

Thursday 1 September 2011

What happens when moroons travel to fast!

I'm still not 100% convinced that hire company's tell their hirer's to slow down. A Shakespeare boat out of Mercia came passed us moored boats at what seemed like full throttle!! The owners of this narrow boat had only put in pins and then gone off for a pint or two in the pub. Consequently the pins were pulled by the manic speed of the hirer's boat and this one ended up across the cut. It was eventually pulled back in by the chap in the boat behind us and Ian made the boat secure by putting the pins through the cladding and tying the ropes to it.( That will make the owners think on their return!!).

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