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.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Well, well, well!

We have just been handed the Towpath Talk by Paul and Christine Nb Patience and there, on page 92, was an article  written by Helen Gazeley about useful boaters blog links. Not only are we mentioned but so is Heth on Takey Tezey, Yvonne nb Fizzical Attraction, Sue nb Indigo Dream, Kathrine nb Leo No2, Mike nb Rose of Arden and Tom on nb Waiouru. Wow......... our name in print. I wonder if we will be mobbed by the masses?????
Today's photo:-
Meet Robbie the cantankerous Robin

Friday 28 December 2012

A truly European Christmas

Arrived back at the boat last night after a very memorable Christmas. Our daughter in law Iwona's parents were over from Poland and gave us there version of a Polish Christmas.  Christmas eve is the traditional time for presents and Christmas dinner in their country so after Vwacha ( Iwona's mum ) had slaved most of the day in the kitchen, we eventually sat down to  beetroot soup and pirogi ( meat pasta) for starters, followed by fish ( should be carp but had fried cod instead ) with pickled cabbage, mushrooms, gherkins and a mountain of boiled spuds. Then for desert, a pie consisting of layers of pastry filled with cherries and custard then baked in the oven. Delicious. The grandkids opened a few presents that night but the majority was saved for Christmas day when Santa was due to call. After the grandkids had gone to bed Kevin ( Christine's partner ) got out the talc and cardboard feet and made Santa's footprints leading from the garden door to the tree with all the presents underneath, then to a table consisting of a sausage roll ( no mince pies! ),  glass of milk and a carrot for Rudolph, and finally out through the conservatory door. I think us adults enjoyed this part of Christmas most as there was much hilarity when giving out instructions of where and how the footprints should be placed.

 To make sure we were all up before the kids, we set the alarm for some silly o clock and crept downstairs ready with the camera to capture Oscar and Josh's faces when they saw the footprints and all the presents under the tree.

It was a great success especially when they saw the footprints, and soon paper and cardboard was flying in all directions revealing loads of toys.

Utter devastation and mayhem but so enjoyable.
We couldnt leave the dogs out so they also got a gift from Santa,

Christmas pudding tennis ball for Jade

and for Echo, a turkey squeaky toy.
 Then it was our turn to do the traditional Christmas meal and judging by the empty plates of Iwona's mum and dad, they enjoyed it to!. All in all we had a fabulous time with our family but as much as we enjoy Christmas I'm glad its only once a year.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Saturday 22 December 2012

Wall flowers by Frankton staircase locks.

Unfortunately due to an excessive amount of spam comments, I have had to enable the comment moderation and word verification. I still love to read your comments and hope this doesn't cause to much of a problem......... and now for today's picture.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Into the Christmas spirit

Well, it is that time of year and I know by reading other blogs that we are a bit late in decorating the boat. I'm amazed that Ian remembered where the tinsel, tree and lights were hidden. I don't know if we are the only ones, but we have that many nooks and crannies around the boat which has been utilized for things only needed occasionally. Like our huge poppy we purchased to put on the front button of the boat on Remembrance Sunday. We hunted high and low but could we find it? It eventually turned up a month after the event when Ian removed our front step to get something from the top of our water tank. Why on earth had we put it there???? Anyway I digress. So now our few decorations are up, tree all nicely lit up with fairy lights and small wooden baubles ( bought from the Christmas shop in Letchlade ) and the twinkly lights flashing away merrily on our roof.

Before the tinsel

And after. Bit pathetic really!

Just a few twinkly lights. Bit pathetic but effective when it gets dark
Tomorrow I start with my daily picture posting again, that is unless something really exciting happens like Father Christmas arriving early because, like us oldies, he's forgotten what day it is!!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

On our way back and an update on Ian

First the update. The very good news is the consultant finally rang Ian with the result of the MRI scan and confirmed that the tumour had shrunk and the mixture of chemo drugs seem to be working.  Monday afternoon Ian went for his last chemo of this year, told the nurse that he wouldn't be back until the 7th January, to which she asked him exactly which hospital was going to flush his pic line through! Turns out the longest the line could be left without flushing it with saline, would be 10 days. Now why hadn't the consultant told us this when he gave us 2 weeks off! It has turned out that it was a good job we were unable to leave by boat after all! So now Ian has to go back to the hospital on the 22nd and then again on the 28th. Seems he is not free of the NHS after all. 

It was horrible having to wind this morning, and head back to Langley Mill. On the plus side though what a wonderful day for cruising. No wind and just a few wispy clouds covering the sun every now and then. Ian set off in the car and by the time I had reached the first lock of the day, he was just opening the gate. It's a real bonus when every lock had been made ready and, although we were the only boat to go down the Erewash, Ian still had to turn round 8 of the locks. At Potters lock we met a community support team painting the lock gates, which made it a little difficult for Ian to work me through. He had to be very careful that his shirt wasn't covered in black and white hammerite!

I was also very lucky to catch a glimpse of Kingfisher. He was perched above Stanton lock, ( you may have read my post of the fire and consequent pollution from Stanton lock to Trent Lock) so fish stocks must be good above. There are still no fish below but C&RT have confirmed that restocking will start shortly.

Approaching Stanton Lock

Not a brilliant photo but trying to steer the boat and use the camera without crashing into the bank is nigh on impossible.

Even after having to turn the 8 locks, we made good time reaching Langley, doing the journey in a little over 4 1/2 hours. It almost seems as if we haven't been away and the first thing I did was to get out my bird feeder. The fat balls I hung on the hedge were all but finished so even if we hadn't  wanted to come back,  at least the birds will welcome us.

A few photos from the journey

What a fabulous nesting box. Someone's got a good imagination.

I spied something hiding behind the tree.

Jade watching the world go by

Stenson lock

Monday 17 December 2012

All hope gone.

I don't even think I really need to write anything. These pictures tell it all.
Steps covered again

Thought I would show you where the November flood water had risen to
I kind off guessed as much when I met 4 C&RT blokes unloading scaffolding from their van. I was intrigued as to what they were doing and being cheeky I asked the question. Apparently new fishing platforms were to be built below Dolkholme lock for the fishing club. Seems like C&RT do a lot more then we think they do! Anyway, I asked one of them if they had been down to Trent Lock this morning. After explaining our situation, he did no more then get on the phone to Dave, lock keeper at Sawley, to get the low down on the state of the river. Unfortunately he confirmed what I feared, that only the red showed on the gauge and, even though the river had dropped slightly, more rain was heading to our area tonight and the Trent was liable to rise again. So it looks like we will be making tracks back to Langley tomorrow. Still, one must look on the bright side. We have had a change of scene for a few days and more importantly, our starter battery completely gave up the ghost this morning and with a spare battery ready at hand in our garage, it meant we spared ourselves the possibility of being stranded without power on our way to Milton Keynes. Every cloud, as one might say.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Sunday. Family get together

Gosh it was icy this morning. As we are breasted up with an ex Alvechurch hire boat, to get to the bank we have to step across his stern deck ( cruiser type ). We soon found out it was devoid of any anti grip cos Jade's feet went in all directions except forward and nearly ended head first between the two boats! God it was lethal. Still we got ourselves and both dogs off the boat without any further mishap and armed with Echo's luggage ie basket, lead, collar, tablets etc, drove back to Swadlincote to drop Echo back at Christine and Kev's. Then we took ourselves to the Copt Oak in Leicestershire  for a family meal with my half sister Susannah, brother in law Andy and nieces Melissa and Lucy.

Susannah, Andy, Lucy, Mellisa and Ian

I had to get in the picture too!
 Leaving the pub Ian and I thought we would take a detour to Sawley and have a look at the flood lock. Those fishermen yesterday were not wrong. The flood gates are closed and the river is only just below the lock gate. I think we have resigned ourselves to heading back to Langley but you never know the gods might shine favourably on us and bring the river levels down.

Saturday 15 December 2012

On our way

Oh joy of joys. No ice to be seen anywhere in the basin. So decision made, we were going! After a nice cup of tea and a slice of toast, Ian set to by taking the aerial down, replacing our center rope, disconnecting the electric cable from the meter and replacing our tall chimney with our short one. I started to take down my bird feeders ( I had peanuts, fat balls and seed dispensers ) and became aware that I was being closely watched by 'Robbie' the Robin. Comes to something when you start naming birds but he jealously guards the fat balls from any other Robin or Bluetit that comes anywhere near them. I started to feel a bit guilty about taking the food away, so, as I had a few spare fat balls, I hung them in the hedge to tide the birds over until our return in January. By 9 am we were ready for the off. Ian turned the ignition key, waited for the coils to heat up, turned it again and...........nothing. Just the sound of a 'click click' every time he tried. We couldn't believe it. After waiting in the hope that  the weather would improve, were we then to be foiled by a dead starter battery? Thankfully Ian had a set of jump leads on board and after a bit of ferreting about came up with the goods. After removing everything from his 'man' cupboard ( you wouldn't believe the stuff he carries ) he unearthed the batteries and with all our fingers crossed, turned the key once again. The engine roared into life with clouds of white smoke filling the basin but at least she started and we could finally get underway.
With Ian driving the car and lock wheeling, I had a really great uneventful journey to Sandiacre. The only fly in the ointment was when I met .a couple of fishermen who cheerfully asked where I was heading for. " Milton Keynes" says I. To which one of the replied, "Not a hope me duck as the river Trent is well up!" ' Hey ho' thought I 'here we go again'. Still, as we wouldn't be leaving until Tuesday, the river may already be on the way down. A drive down to Trent Lock on Monday will show us if we have once again been scuppered by the weather..

Ian walking between Eastwood & Shipley ;lock before going back to get the car

Jade (L) & Echo watching as Ian crosses the gate. It is nice to have two dogs again.

Friday 14 December 2012

Thaw has started

Canal is thawing nicely and maybe just maybe we will be able to set off tomorrow. The rain and wind had well and truly arrived by mid morning which is an other factor in our favour. With a small amount of open water appearing the wind is pushing the waves over the frozen bits making it thaw even quicker.

Today Jades sister Echo arrived for a few days stay. Its Kev's work Christmas party on Saturday and Christine asked if we could look after Echo while they are away for the weekend.  As Jade is still having problems when we leave her for any length of time ( we think she still misses her mum Judy ) and she gets anxious, starts to shake and dribble for no reason, ( that we can see anyway ) it will be good to have another dog around to, hopefully, stop her worrying.

Dogs have swapped beds so Echo is on the left and Jade is on Echo's bed on the right.
It's still raining ( 9 pm ) but the wind has dropped and the temperature gauge no reads 7.2. Although earlier in the evening we could still see the ice, I have a very good feeling about tomorrow.

Just splashing around

Thursday 13 December 2012

Will we? Wont we?

So here is the situation. On Saturday we hope to travel to our bungalow at Sandiacre and put back on board all the stuff we removed whilst non cruising:- spare rope, plank, pole, cruising chimney, omni aerial, etc, etc in readiness for our departure to Milton Keynes next Tuesday. Several things are scuppering our chances at the moment. First is the ice. Up to yesterday we were surrounded by just a thin layer of ice but last night the temperature dropped to -9.2. Consequently when Ian got up to take Jade for her early walk this morning, the horrible ominous sound of cracking ice greeted us. Now, I know the weather forecast is for warmer times ahead starting with Friday ( torrential rain and gale force winds and + 10 deg temperatures ) but I just cant imagine the canal free of ice by Saturday. So one may say 'why not go on the Sunday'. Unfortunately no can do because we have family commitments which can't be reallocated. The only day left before we call the whole cruise off, is the Monday morning before Ian's chemo session mid afternoon. It would mean leaving at first light with Ian driving the car and lock wheeling, while I took the boat. If all the locks were with us, we could be at Sandiacre for around 1ish. I would then load up the boat, do the last bit of shopping while Ian went off on his own to the hospital. We still have another worry in the equation . If the torrential rains do arrive on Friday, then what will the river Trent be like on Tuesday? With the land saturated from the last floods it wont take much for the red boards to show! All in all it's not looking good at the moment, and as my written title shows, will we get away or wont we?

Ice at least 1/2" thick this morning.
I thought I would post a few photos of the disused Nottingham canal. Its strange to think that we are actually moored on the only navigable bit of it.  The basin through the lift bridge being the terminus. Then once off the Erewash and up through  Langley Bridge lock, the Cromford canal starts but within a 1/4 mile ends at Langley Mill boat co  moorings and dock. The Cromford has already been restored in a few places and there is work afoot to continue on from Langley.


Ongoing restoration by the Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association on the Cromford
Disused Nottingham Canal

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