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 June 2012

Onwards to Tardebigge.

The decision was made yesterday to leave Brum and head for Worcester. We hadn't heard anything to say whether Tardebigge flight was open or still shut, but decided to go towards Worcester anyway. Leaving Brum yesterday afternoon, we made it as far as Norton Junction. By now it had gone 5pm when we eventually stopped and the moorings seemed very pleasant until Ian took Jade for a walk along the towpath and discovered a council estate and huge park. Both of us wondered, 'should we stay or should we go'?, especially as we were the only boat around. In the end we went. No point going to bed that night worrying if something was going to happen. So pulled pins and headed off to Wast Hill tunnel.

The beauty of traveling later in the day is that we were pretty sure no other boats would be coming through in the opposite direction. Within 40 minutes we had found a great rural mooring and managed to tie up before the heavens opened again. After the rain came the sun and a lovely evening it turned out to be.

After a very peaceful and trouble free night we again pulled pins late morning and headed for Tardebigge

Our mooring last night just before Hopwood

The Worcester and Birmingham canal had a lovely rural feel, so much so that the towpath disappeared completely and was replaced by the trees and undergrowth. Good job we didn't meet another boat because no doubt our paintwork would have had some impressive scratches along it.

Another tunnel came into view, this time Shortwood tunnel. The rain had again made an appearance and as we were just before the entrance,  Ian opened up the throttle a bit so he could get inside where it was dry. Unfortunately like most tunnels, it had some formidable waterfalls so while I stayed nice and dry Ian got soaked!

Shortwood Tunnel and the distance Ian had to dash to.the entrance.
Thankfully the sun was shining when we came out the other end, and still no boat came towards us. In fact only 3 boats passed us all day! Maybe the stoppage had put them off from traveling. Talking of which, this morning Ian had a quick look at his emails and sure enough one was there from Waterscape to say water levels had returned to normal and the locks were open again. Good O. Only one more tunnel to go before our destination. Tardebigge Tunnel. The walls are unlike any tunnel I have been through before. Starts off with brick but soon turns to rock giving the walls a primitive appearance. How difficult it must have been for those of long ago to chisel out this tunnel!!

Tardebigge Tunnel

We moored up at Tardibigge Top lock but  having to hammer in pins in soft earth right by the lock was a bit worrying so I walked down past the first lock to find a great mooring with rings after bridge 56. So pulled pins again, came down the lock which, incidentally,  is extremely deep and moored in another lovely quite spot.. Got the rod out but with no live bait, fished on bread instead.  This gave me an impressive bag of bream so might use it more often. While siting quietly fishing, along came two adult swallows collecting insects for their young. I managed to get some great photos.

I also heard a rustling in the undergrowth opposite. Can you guess what it is?

 A couple of signs seen on route that might make you sit up and say WHAT!!!!!

Most pedestrians would find it difficult to walk at  5 mph! I'm sure children couldn't walk at that speed.

Not sure I have ever seen power lines inside a bridge ole.

The railway bridge with the sign.

And finally our overnight mooring today.


Friday 29 June 2012

A bloggers gathering.

Well!  Who would have believed it. Not only did we meet up with Jan and Dai on Nb Jandai a couple of days ago, but who should turn up yesterday?  Roger and Pat on Nb The Cats Whiskers. Its uncanny that the two boats fitted out by Kingfishers, should meet in Birmingham. Even more uncanny was the fact we were here as well. Off course this meant we all just had to visit The Malt House to partake of the food and the amber liquid and regale each other with boaty tales. Thanks guys for a fantastic evening. Lets do it again sometime.

From left to right.  Ian, Dai, Roger at the back, Jan, Pat and of course me.

Yesterday I told of my concern over Ian's arrival back to Birmingham airport. Well my concerns were well founded as, when he eventually arrived back to the boat, he told me tales of  violent turbulence due to the thunderstorms, with the plane ducking and diving as if on a  roller coaster. Quite a few passengers were having to grab their sick bags and Ian said the smell coming from the back of the plane was pretty bad.. The stewardesses were rushed of their feet trying to sort it all out. He was very glad when they eventually touched down and was able to vacate the now putrid smelling plane! Still he's back now, and in one piece, and came armed with jars of dutch mayonnaise. Not quite sure what I would have done to him if he had forgotten the said items!! Probably not spoken to him for a few days. Ian said that would have been a blessing although I'm sure I don't know what he means :) 

Delicious Mayo. Wonderful on chips!
We had hoped to head towards Worcester but looking on Waterscape web site found this email,

Tardebigge Lock 58  -  Diglis Basin

Thursday 28 June 2012 until further notice
Due to the high water levels the Canal is now closed. British waterways  apologies for any inconveience this may cause.

and to think a month ago we were all on water restrictions and hosepipe bans!!!!

Thursday 28 June 2012

Thunderstorms hit Birmingham!

Today Ian arrives back. Hopefully by mid afternoon so I thought I had better do a bit of a tidying around the boat just so he wouldn't think I had done nothing for the past 5 days! The kitchen bin was full, so armed with a carrier bag filled to the top with rubbish, Jade and camera, set of for the rubbish point at the top of Farmers bridge. Yesterday I happened to walk past a boat I recognised. It was Nb Jandai   fitted out at Kingfishers at Trent Lock. We met when we were in dry dock. Cant remember if it was this year or last but we got chatting about the lads, Mick and John, from the boat yard and spent a pleasant half hour talking about this and that. So this morning when Jan and Dai were again sitting on the back of their boat, I stopped for another natter. Thats when I found out they blogged. Great news for me as now I can follow yet another blog.

Dai,  Jan and Foxy
.I eventually made it to the rubbish point just in time to see the storm clouds gathering. High tailed it back to the boat but not before stopping for yet another chat  with Jan and Dai. The thunder rumbled in the distance and a few spots of rain made its appearance. Thats when I decided to make a quick exit, and just in time too as the heavens opened, lightening flashed, thunder roared and Jade ended up a quivering wreck in the bathroom desperately trying to find some sort of hiding place.Now, I know that all anyone wants to do is cuddle their dog in these situations and try and reassure them, but it really is in their best interest if you can leave them be and for them to find their own safe haven. Jade knew I was around so could have come to me any time she wanted. I would have let her lie by my side without a touch or glance in her direction. She needs to realise that if her owner is not upset by all the noise, she needn't be either.

Felt so sorry for the person on the back of an Anglo Welsh hire boat.  I hope he found somewhere to stop as most of the moorings here were already taken

It got so dark that the bridge lights were fooled into thinking it was night.
The storm raged on and off for another hour or so but leaving Jade alone seemed to do the trick. Although she still shook, the frantic panting had all but stopped. Now all I have to worry about is Ian. His plane is due to land at Birmingham around 1ish so he may well be experiencing quite a bit of turbulence while  flying through these storms. I'll update tomorrow.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Should there be speed camera's on the canal?

I feel as if I have done nothing but moan these last few days. Could be because I'm still not 100% even though I'm on antibiotics, and could be that Ian has been away in Sweden since Sunday and wont return until tomorrow. Only having to watch TV and walk the dog on the same stretch of towpath, is getting to be very boring. I cant even be bothered to fish!!! Thank God Ian returns tomorrow afternoon. Hope he brings me my Dutch Mayonnaise when he changes planes at  Schiphol Airport. My Dad came from Amsterdam and now that he is deceased,  I have no one to bring me back the goodies that I was brought up on and love so much! Anyway back to my moan for today.
 Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't 4mph all we are allowed on the canals?  This boater came through the bridge at Sherbourne Wharf, passed another boat approaching the bridge at speed, and then put the revs on. Within seconds he was pushing a huge wave in front and a bigger wave at the back. No way was this 4mph!! I know this stretch of the BCN is long and mostly straight but that's no excuse to what damage he could be doing to the towpath and canal bed? I'm very glad I took the camera with me this morning so I could show you what I meant.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Graffiti madness on the railways.

 As I took this picture I wondered how any parent would feel if they heard the awful news that one of their own had been hit and killed by a train. The graffiti on the wall in the front of the photo is literally 1 foot from the rails.  When I was growing up in the outskirts of London, the tube train ran right at the back of our garden. Only our fence separated us from the track. My brother and I was told in no uncertain terms never to attempt to go over the fence or onto the railway unless it had controlled barriers and was safe to do so. When our children were growing up we also made it very clear to them what would happen if they ventured onto the rail tracks. All I can say is these kids have no regard for their life. They obviously don't care about what it would do to their family if they ever had to endure the trauma of knowing their child was dead.

Monday 25 June 2012

I couldnt beleive how difficult it was to see a doctor!

Woke up today decidedly under the weather. So as most places have a walk in center I searched on Google to find one here in Birmingham. The nearest to show up was in Winston Green, halfway along the Soho Loop. A bit to far for me to walk in the state I was in so next search was for Doctors Surgeries. Plenty to choose from but the nearest to our position was Ladywood Surgery about 5 minutes walk for me. Perfect! Dialed the number and got through straight away. Explained the position that I lived on a boat and could a doctor see me today. and that's when it started to go horribly wrong. First thing I would need to do was register. "Okay" says I, "I will do it when I come for my appointment". "Oh no" says she. "It doesn't work like that You need to register first then we will give you an appointment". "Okay" says I "I'll come now". So off I trots to the surgery, gets the paperwork filled in, showed my driving licence as i.d and gets an appointment for 4.30pm. Now you would think that would be the end of it but oh no! I gets a phone call not long after returning to the boat. "We need a temporary address for you in Birmingham as the computer wont let you on the system" says she.. My reply "I live on a boat so have no address". "Sorry" says she "but the computer wont except you without a post code". How the hell am I going to get a post code? So I say "okay I will walk to the nearest pub and use that". "No" she says "that wont do as we need to know where your boat is parked"." Moored dear" says I "not parked"!!! Anyway eventually I told her the name of our boat, MOORED at Sherbourne Wharf."Will that do" says I. "Sorry" says she "we still need a postcode otherwise we cant see you" .By now I was getting my hair off. I felt like saying "you stupid women a boat moves so can have no postcode". I didnt though because I needed this appointment. "Look|"| says I  "What if I use your postcode for the surgery". Away she went and I could hear her muttering in the distance. Eventually she returned and said the practice manager agreed that it would do. Yipee!!! My appointment stands, thank goodness, now all I need is to return to good health so our travels can continue.

Some photos of last night sunset. 

Saturday 23 June 2012

Travelled all of 8 mtrs. Across the canal.

Normally we have no worries on the 14 day mooring but yesterday, unbeknown to us, some person decided to remove our boat pole and throw it in the hedge. It was only another boater walking his dog who found it sticking out of the foliage and assumed it was ours because it matched our boarding plank. The moorings opposite to us are the most secure moorings around these parts as the security cameras for the underground car park also show the towpath, so as soon as a boat pulled out we pushed across. The only amusing side to this story is who ever nicked the pole also took a carrier bag that we had left on the roof filled with  doggie doos just waiting to be taken to the dog bin. I would have loved to see there face as they opened it! Ian eventually found the bag tucked under a tree near the bridge so it is now safely deposited in its proper place.

Last night Ian went over to Victoria square to watch The Voyage. The pictures are not great but Ian was a quite a way back but he did say it was pretty spectacular.

Building lit up in the setting sunlight

Friday 22 June 2012

Canaltime across the cut.

One of those days when you think nothing will happen and then it usually does. A Canaltime Hire boat had got themselves wedged trying to wind round after coming out of the Oozells Street Loop.

 The lady at the front had jumped off and was trying to pull the boat round, while the chap at the back was reving the boat for all it was worth. After explaining that the boat was not going to make the turn, the lady and I pushed hard on the bow and manged to get it free. Meanwhile a gust of wind suddenly picked up a load of paper that was on the roof and deposited them into the canal. The lady was horrified as these bits of paper was all they had in the way of a map and without them they had no idea how to get back to Sawley on the upper Trent. In the end I told them to turn at Icknield Loop 5 minutes up the canal, come alongside our boat and Ian would show them exactly where they needed to go. So 10 minutes later they turned up. He made an excellent job of coming alongside and while the explanation was going on as to which way he should go, another gust of wind caught the bow and the inevitable happened, he was once again sideways across the canal. Thankfully the boat opposite was unoccupied so with both of them acting as fenders managed to stop the boat scraping to much paintwork from the other boat. We waved them on their way as they made a hasty retreat towards Farmers Bridge.

Later in the day I went to fetch my new reading glasses. Yesterday, on the off chance, I called in at Specsavers to see about an eye test. I was very surprised when they said they could see me then and there. Even more surprised when they told me my glasses would be ready today. So after spending £69 on the frame's  (BOGOF) and having an anti glare coating put on both pairs for another £45 ( advisable if you watch TV and sit looking at a computer screen,) another £114 had came out of our boat fund. At this rate we'll have nothing left!!!

I mentioned about The Voyage, a display of dancing and acrobatics that was suppose to be on last night. Ian was all for going but with the rain bucketing down decided against it. Good job too as we heard on the news today that it had been cancelled due to the bad weather and  health and safety had to take priority. He is going to try tonight but now we have high winds, health and safety may once again rear its ugly head and it it's quite likely that it may be cancelled for a second night in a row.

I will leave you with another photo of the moorings here in Brum. As you can see not another space is to be had. Boats arriving late had no where to go!

The pink boat is the Mailbox. Type of water bus.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Anyone in need of a mangled quilt cover?

The day would have been uneventful had it not been for us going into panic mode when we careered out of control, hitting the bank with some force and rattling all our pots and pans. I suppose I should really start from the beginning. The day was like any other day, me walking the dog to the next bridge and Ian getting us underway. Had to endure a wet few hours with drizzle falling constantly but it wasn't torrential rain which was a bonus. All the lift bridges operated okay, even the key operated bridge only held up one car, this time. instead of numbers a few weeks ago. Then going through the final lift bridge, which is permanently open, I noticed the tiller getting very heavy. We developed a tiller wobble so as usual when we get movement on the tiller we put the boat hard into reverse. Thats when all the problems started. Suddenly I lost drive, completely. I shoved the throttle forward and again nothing happened. Thats when we hit the bank. Thankfully it was towpath side so Ian took a leap of faith as we got near to the side, grabbing the center rope as he did so and with him running down the towpath hanging on for dear life managed eventually to slow the boat enough so I could get off with the stern rope. With both of us pulling hard the boat finally came to a stop. If anyone had been watching they would by now have been laughing their socks off. To see Ian slipping and sliding on the wet ground while frantically trying to stop the boat was like a scene from Laural and Hardy. After Ian got kitted up with rubber gloves and going head first down the weed hatch, he pulled out  what we first thought was a dress until the fabric just kept coming and we suddenly realised it was actually a bed quilt. Once the prop was clear of rubbish, engine was restarted and we again got underway this time with a lovely responsive boat.

Water shrimp or flea? Found on the weed hatch

Made it to Birmingham with no more mishaps and once moored walked into town only to find the square full of TV screens, reporters and a huge stage in the shape of a ship. Its all part of the London 2012 Olympic Festival. The free show starts tonight at 10pm but if the weather forecast is correct it will be a bit of a wash out!! It's on for three nights so maybe tomorrow we will venture out to have a look.

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