About Us

My photo
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 31 March 2012

36 boats and still counting.

Not an inch to spare anywhere. Boats have been squeezed in every conceivable space. If any boat comes up the lock that isn't attached to our lot and want to wind round, they'll have a blue fit!! My old camera is performing okay so I went back out to take some more of the boats arriving yesterday, as well as watching the work party on the lock cottage. On Electra their Canary was enjoying the afternoon sunshine

Mick and Carole's ships parrot canary

ECP&DA work party repairing guttering and window frames on the Lock cottage.

Norman ( mooring officer ) arriving and winding round

Dave cleaning the brasses putting all of us to shame.
We had a great night playing games last night. The committee open the cottage and everyone who arrived on their boat could join in. Most of the time we just got together and socialised but Dominoes and Mexican train proved to be very popular.

This morning more and more boats arrived. Trying to get them moored, as well as some wanting to wind round, was quite a task. So here are today's photo contribution.

Finally got the photo I wanted yesterday.  Look no longer pink

Lining the banks towards the lock

Moored below lock is Nb Perch. For years it sat in two halves on the Erewash canal before being restored by Barry Argent, the son of the old boatman Ike , and joined together at sheetstores workshop last year.
Ike Argent sharing a doughnut with a friend at Middlewich rally in 1992. Photo from Working boats of the UK Waterways/Boat People
Many thanks Andy

The late Ike Argent,(on R.H side of picture) Erewash Canal legend
who was a great help to the ECP&DA

No more room above the lock.

While I was walking to get into a good position to take some of these photos, I notice the Azola weed lurking in the margins. At the moment the canal appears clear of the stuff but not for long if it starts growing again.

The dreaded Azola weed in its Spring colours.

Everyone is gearing up for tonight's fun. The band has arrived and are at this moment setting up, Carole has been and fetched the meat pies, and the 3 huge catering tins of mushy peas have been opened and is ready to be heated up on the cooker. Bring it on!!!

Friday 30 March 2012

A defunct camera

The one day when I want to record the rest of the boats arriving for the 'do' and what happens? My camera packs up!!! I have tried the factory reset, taking the battery out and fiddling with the menu. I have even read the book from cover to cover, all to no avail. All my photos are now a vivid purplepink I still have my old camera, the one where the shutter doesn't close, so I may have to resort to using that until I can purchase a new one. These pictures shows why I can no longer use it.

This shows Ian Margaret and Gillian trying to squeeze Bracken in between Electra and Icing. Poor picture quality was beginning to be evident.

Heather with the mop trying to prise the boats apart. Ian and Gillian look on.

Trees are beginning to take on a pink hue.

This is how all my pictures have turned out.

Thursday 29 March 2012

The mob arrive.

Trust us to be out when they turned up. We would have helped with the boat shuffling, but it was all done and dusted by the time we arrived back from our shopping expedition.

The small boat in the fore ground belongs to the owner of this stretch of water (start of the Derby canal ). Unfortunately none of the boats in front of it, including us, could get alongside owing to the amount of silt . Usually we can pull our boats right back which gives enough room for more boats in front. We will be very restricted with moorings this year.
On the outside is Mick and Carole Gold on Nb Electra, then Dennis and Margaret Cakebread on Nb Icing, then us and on the inside Antony and Richard on Nb Crested duck. Opposite on the towpath is John and Chris Bayliss on Nb Thornbury. More boats are expected tomorrow so its going to be fun trying to get them all moored up.
 Our shopping expedition took us to Miller Marine in Shardlow to get oil and then to Midland Chandlers to get our hull blacking, all in readiness for dry docking over Easter. Miller Marine was far to pricey for the blacking but, for once, Midland Chandlers had a good deal going. Instead of paying £28.99 for the Sealex bitumastic, we paid £50 for two tins, a grand saving of £7.98. I picked up a new freebie magazine while we were there. Its called The Tillergraph. Yes, there are adverts, but there appears to be some good articles in it as well. While looking through I spotted an advert for handmade sofa beds. Now that Judy has gone we feel we would like to reinstate some sort of guest bed and, as our space is limited, we have asked Antony, the manager?, to pop along to see if he can help. The company, CCU, is based in Long Eaton so very handy for us. I know it wont be cheap and Ian said he could make the bed himself, but with his pending operation looming over our heads, I would rather someone else did it for us.
Tonight a Chinese meal is on the cards. Thankfully we don't all have to squeeze into one boat as 10 of us will be sitting down to the takeaway. The lock cottage comes in very handy when it comes to everyone being seated. I'm beginning to fell hungry already! 

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Rugs, Rats and haircuts.

Another lovely day, which helped no end when trying to do the washing. Everything I washed dried within a couple of hours. My sheets especially, although Jades basket did take that bit longer. I washed it in the bath so it had to drip dry when I had finished. I mentioned yesterday about the dogie smell in the boat and how I felt it was the rugs that was holding the smell. Well the rugs dried really nicely today but there is still a lingering smell, so I have decided not to put them back on the boat, but treat myself to some new ones.

These rugs are no longer needed. I could have saved my back by not scrubbing them.

Jades bed.

Jades basket on the other hand has come up smelling sweet but. as summer is approaching. she much prefers to lie on just her vet bed. ( It also gives us more room in the boat.)

 I should mention that Nb GO-FOR-IT came past us yesterday morning. I would have missed them altogether if it hadn't been for Ian telling me that someone was by the lock. I knew they were heading our way by reading their blog and we said a quick hello as they left. ( in fact Colin said jokingly that, as I knew they were coming, I should have set the lock!!) Well I hope he was joking!!!
Today I also booked an appointment for a long awaited haircut. For some reason I decided to put my camera in my handbag as I left for the saloon. Then not far from Sandiacre town centre I noticed something swimming about erratically in the cut. I took this picture but I cant make out if it was a rat. Certainly looked to big to be a water vole. The tail appeared to be bushy for a rat, but there again, we have done so much damage to our environment that we could have produced a new species.

Watching this mammal made me late for my appointment, but Natasha was still on her break so I got away with it. She made a really good job of re styling my hair. The cost for wash cut and blow dry £17.50. Now that's what I call reasonable. Down south I was quoted £25 for a dry trim!!!!

My new look. Even Ian likes it and he is very hard to please when it comes to hairstyles!
 Tomorrow another 4 or 5 boats are joining us ready for the Pie and Pea 'do' at the Lock Cottage on Saturday.This, hopefully, will make for a lot of socialising, especially if the weather holds.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Shoes in a pear, no, pair tree

It's amazing what you see along the towpath. There were even more shoes and boots hanging on other branch's. I would love to know what possessed the youths ( I assume its youths ) to do this.


I have now been told by the Consultant, when I saw him yesterday, that the injections in my spine had partially worked. The problem I am experiencing with the cramps in my feet are all down to posture!!! So his recommendation is physio to correct the way I sit and stand. All very well but standing at the back of the boat for hours on end with back straight, feet to the front, chest out and bottom tucked in, could be very tiring. I'm a bit gutted that I'm still under the hospital. Its true what they say, once you get to a certain age, you never get away from the NHS.

Chocolate cake

Talking about that 'certain age', Christine cooked me a fabulous birthday dinner yesterday, as well as making me a yummy chocolate cake. Officially my birthday is today ( only another year before it's the big six o ) and far from sitting and relaxing,  I have spent most of today scrubbing all the boat mats and runners with carpet cleaner.  The doggy smell was beginning to become extremely over powering and, as our tenant is away at the moment,  I have used the washing line in the back garden to hang them out to dry. I don't think they will be dry enough to put back in the boat tonight so Jade will, no doubt, be sliding about on the wooden floor every time she gets out of her bed. I'm relaxing now with a huge glass of wine and looking forward to the Chilli  Ian is cooking me tonight.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Look a clean and clutter free roof

Clocks went forward last night but we didn't bother to change them until this morning. After all, today is the first day where we can totally relax. No decorating at Colin's and no cruising to do, so we put them forward after breakfast. Jade though it was doggy heaven that her morning biscuits were given an hour earlier and equally pleased tonight when her dinner was also early. I really cant be bothered about changing the time for Jade's meals so 5 pm, regardless whether the clocks go forward or back, is 5 pm.

After the epic removal of the wood from the roof ( its now stored in our wood shed at the bungalow ) the dirt left behind was awful. Ian felt that just water would do the trick but he soon found out that the brush was also needed. It's nice to see our boat looking like a boat again. Unfortunately storing all that wood has caused no end of rust spots to appear and we have decided to repaint the roof sometime this year. Need to find a decent motorway bridge with something strong that we can tie up to. Any idea's?!

I cant believe this is the same boat!
Later in the morning Christine Kevin and Josh arrived. Last weekend, when we were all at Colin's, Kevin offered to drive our car back to their house in Swadlincote. Today he brought the car to us so the least I could do was to offer lunch. Unfortunately he has contracted the deadly coughing and sore throat virus that plagued me for so long at Milton Keynes. Needless to say he declined the offer and is blaming me for the 'man flu' he is suffering now! He still felt well enough to take Josh for a wander round the lock.

Me Ian Josh and Kev.

By Sandiacre lock.

Josh insisted on opening the gate.
  This monster was by the wood shed. Frightened me to death when I went to open the door to show Josh how much wood we had.

Tomorrow is my appointment to see the consultant. After the three injections in my spine late December early January, he wants to see if they have worked.  It has to a degree, but I get very painful cramps in my feet at night and I'm convinced it somehow stems from the injections.  Then it's off to Christine as she is cooking my birthday dinner.

Friday 23 March 2012

A mammoth cruise

It was blooming freezing this morning and we didn't bother about lighting the fire last night, so waking up to a cold boat was far from pleasant!!!  Even Jade's hair was all 'fluffed up' and her ears felt icy, sure sign that she also had felt the cold. As much as I wanted to pull the covers up over my face and go back to sleep, Jade needed walking and the kettle needed to go on! By 7.30am we started the engine and set off. Didn't bother to moor up in Alrewas after all so no sausages tonight then! River section was in green as expected and apart from 1 lock at Branston water park, all locks were with us. Ian noticed a porta pottie floating in the canal and laughingly mentioned that it appeared as if the red light was on. Hope its only full of canal water!!

This has been one of those nondescript days where not a lot has happened. I did see a pair of very amorous pheasants but, as is my lot lately, the focus is again rubbish.

 By 1.30ish we made it to Willington but decided against stopping at the facilities. The loo didn't need emptying and the water tanks still showed 70% on the dial. Went past Mercia Marina and have almost decided that we will take a berth there in April after we have dry docked the boat. Then, on route to Stenson we found that BW, or their contractors, had been very busy cutting down tree's. We might have had a roof full of wood, but as I have said in previous posts, its impossible for us to go past all these lovely thick branches and not get even more. Wouldn't it be lovely if  BW could cut all the trunks into manageable sizes for us 'continues cruisers'. We could pay a bit extra on our licence with a sign on the logs saying "For Live a Boards" only!! Okay, Pigs might fly!!! and  'Dream on'!!!

Unfortunately we couldn't get the boat any nearer. We did try but kept getting grounded.
 After Ian had collected as much wood as the roof could hold we were about to set off when Nb Peony came along. We let him go past and felt it was a bonus to have another boat to lock down with us at Stenson. It turned out not to be such a good move after all. Firstly he was a lone boater and secondly he had only lived on board at a permanent mooring. He admitted he was a novice at boating. We found that out to our cost. After filling Stenson lock, I entered first. Ian then closed the gate my side and waited for the chap to bring his boat in. This he did. Ian then went to the bottom gates to open the paddle assuming that the lone boater would shut the top gate on his side. Wrong. Ian started to lift the paddles and then realised, to his horror, that the water was rushing through the open gate and straight through the bottom gate paddles. Ian shouted to the boater who seemed oblivious to what was going on. I don't think I have ever seen Ian move as fast as he did to close the top gate. The gate banged shut causing a bit of a tidal wave that soaked the gongoozelers watching the proceedings. Isn't that always the way. They are always there when things go wrong.  I decided to let him out first once we had descended, but typically the right hand gate still doesn't open properly.

So I backed up and got soaked by the water coming in from the top gate. Finally, out I came, only to find BW pan and dredger on the lock landing. Where to pick Ian up??? He had to climb over the dredger to get back on our boat.

Then we followed the boater onwards to Swarkstone lock at........... 2mph!!!! At this rate it would take an hour to get there. After 30 minutes he suddenly put on a bit of power and eventually we arrived at the lock. I said to Ian that the first convenient mooring after the lock we would stop. I just couldn't face travelling on to Western lock at that slow pace. So our mooring tonight is at bridge 13. We have travelled 18.5 miles and gone through 10 locks. Not bad going for us who normally only travel a few miles a day!

Thursday 22 March 2012

T'was a longish day

I don't remember this mooring by bridge 55 north of Polegate, being as noisy as this. We have always liked it for its remoteness. Must have been the wind blowing in our direction because the roar from the M42 and the trains every 10 minutes woke me up very early. In a way it was advantages, as I took Jade out very early. The mist rising from the valley, canal and stillness of the water made for some lovely photo's. 

Mist rising from the valley below.
 Before pulling pins and while Ian was storing our aerial away, I gave the side of the boat a quick wash.  Both side have been done for the time being so we just need to get the polish out. That can wait until we are back in Sandiacre. Once on the move we made steady progress. I have noticed a lot more boats moored up which makes for very slow going in places. Lack of water under us was also a problem. Not that there isn't enough in the canal but dredging on the Coventry is badly needed. At Amington this pair of Mandarin ducks looked almost out of place amongst the resident ducks.

Mandarin ducks. Photo is slightly out of focus. Only saw them at the last moment.
 The locks at Glascote were very busy. Unfortunately all the boats were heading our way, and what with several lone boaters, it took quite a while to get through. Then after a mile I picked up something nasty when I cruised under a bridge. The tiller was trying to shake itself loose and to steer was nigh on impossible. First thing we did was pull over, and while I held the rope, Ian took the trusty boat hook and poked and prodded around the prop. Nothing was found so we presumed whatever I had picked up must have floated off when I stopped.

By now time was getting on and making Fradley seemed fairly remote. We followed a boat at a painfully slow speed for mile upon mile and breathed a sigh of relieve when he eventually moored up to let his dog out. Now finally we could get a move on. Moving fast isn't always a good thing. The times I have seen something I wanted to photograph and I've already gone past. Like the Muntjac at Old Oaks Wood. This happened today with my Buzzard and Stoat. I did manage to grab the camera and take a snap but the focus isn't great.



I confess I took this picture from the Internet because my photo was blurred.

See what I mean!!!

We did make it to Fradley and again we followed several boats down the locks. One pulled out by the facilities just as we were coming along. Ian told him he was out of order by pulling out in front of an oncoming boat. His reply. Tough. I was ready to go so why should I wait!! Needless to say Ian 'didn't' help him through the lock! It was later then normal when we finally moored up but we have made it to another of our favoured moorings, below Common Lock. Tomorrow, first thing, we aim to go shopping in Alrewas and  especially the butchers. His sausages are second to none! Me thinks sausage egg and chips will be on the menu for dinner tomorrow night.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Do you think this needs reporting?

You can see the mattress on the fire. The sofa ( looked to be leather type ) was already engulfed in flames
 I took these pictures at number 5 lock on the Atherstone flight. I watched as mattresses, sofa,s and furniture were taken out of the horse box and thrown onto the fire. The pony in front was beside himself, tearing round and round its enclosure obviously frightened to death. Surly burning this type of material is an environment hazard. The fumes given off would no doubt be toxic. Thankfully the wind was blowing the smoke away from the canal but someone somewhere would have had the fumes. So the question is, should I report it or is it to late?

There has been quite a bit to blog about today. Ian went to empty the loo at Hawksbury Junction while I took the boat through the stop lock. He forgot the BW key so I just gave him the engine keys which also had the BW key attached. As I was closing the gate the engine started coughing and spluttering and almost stalled. Black smoke was coming from the exhaust and I was very relieved to see Ian return. He asked me why I hadn't turned the engine off and I said because he had the keys!!! I could have pushed the stop button but that still wouldn't have shut it of completely. He stopped the engine and then turned it on again and off course it worked fine. That's not quite the end of the tale. When we moored up, this evening, at the other side of Polegate Ian was very surprised to see that the batteries hadn't been charging. Makes me wonder if there still is something not quite right!!

Jade then decided she wanted a walk. This picture looks as if we have allowed her to go off on her own. I appreciate that some boaters do do this and many moons ago, in our hiring days, we also used to let the dogs off by themselves but that was before picking up after your dog was so important. I would never do that now and I hope no other boaters would do such a thing these days.

Ian waiting for her to catch up.

Once we reached Nuneaton the rubbish started to appear. Someone has been busy hauling all these bikes out. I wonder if the ' little darlings' will throw them all back in????

Looks as if all the stolen bikes ended up in the cut.

and shopping trolleys.

This was a sad sight to see. We had arrived at Mancetter to an area which I would have assumed to be okay and, on the linear moorings, this boat had its window broken. None of the other boats had been touched and no boards were across any of the windows. I expect this was once a safe area but it doesn't appear to be any more.

The boat looks in a bit of a state but it was still lived in. The chimney had smoke coming from it.
 Then maybe a few yards further, as we came round a bend, in front of us was a spaniel swimming. The owner was totally unconcerned that the dog could have gone under our prop. One day the inevitable might happen but by that time it will be to late.

Dog swimming on the right of the picture.

Add caption
All in all we made excellent progress today. Atherstone flight took us an hour and 45 minutes. I had forgotten just how slow the locks fill!! Our planned mooring tonight would have been below the flight but as it was still early we pushed on to moor the other side of Polegate. One more thing to report. The sunken cruiser by bridge 21on the Coventry, is no longer there. But at bridge 23 a large orange buoy is still floating about and we definitely ran over something. Surly the cruiser hasn't made it all the way from bridge 21 to 23?

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