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 September 2012

Thrush & Jade's return

Jade has come home, yeahhh.  I drove to Christine's this morning and had a fabulous greeting from Jade. Only mans best friend will give that sort of unconditional love, even though she had been hurting and away from home for days. By rights Jade should have been really peeved and sulky with me, instead she was just ecstatic about coming home.The steps were a triumph, and I'm sure if she could have thanked us, a big lick and thank you woof would have come our way. She is now curled up in front of the fire, has both eyes wide open, hoping, no doubt, that her dinner will be forthcoming shortly.

Saturday 29 September 2012

New steps for Jade

Yesterday I mentioned about making several ramps for Jade so she could get off the boat, well after a bit of a rethink Ian decided it would be almost impossible to make the ramps without considerable injury to ourselves. Jade would be fine but I'm pretty sure we would be forever banging our heads on the way in and out. So after a quick phone call to the vets to see if she would be able to walk up and down a 5" step instead of jumping, the vet agreed that, so long as we made her go up slowly and kept her on a lead, no harm would come to her back. Within 1 hour Ian had measured, cut, glued and finished 3 box steps and after placing them in position at the back of the boat, confirmed that they would do the job nicely. Now all we need is for me to fetch Jade back from Christines and for her to try it out. 

It's amazing what one does for our pets!!
I also mentioned yesterday about the appalling smell of rotting fish by Sandiacre lock. Well this morning Ian contacted the environment agency to see if anything was going to be done about it. A very nice lady at the end of the phone said she would send someone post haste to assess the situation. She even gave us an incident number just in case we needed to contact her again. Next week sees us back at Sandiacre to do a bit of work round the bungalow so I do hope the fish will be gone and the air smelling sweet and clean.

One very fat pigeon perched on the toll house chimney waiting for me to put out some bread

Friday 28 September 2012

Further news of the Erewash pollution & a poorly Jade

Jade, our woofit, has gone and done her back in! She woke on Wednesday in great pain and trying to get her on and off the boat was a nightmare. Shades of what our old Judy went through came to mind and so as soon as we could, we took her for  a trip to our nearest vets in Eastwood. She confirmed that all her pain came from her lower back and was pretty convinced she had prolapsed part of her disc. Then she mentioned xrays, MRI etc but first wanted to try her on strong pain killers and complete rest for two weeks. In other words no jumping on or off the boat!!!. How on earth was we going to achieve that!!! Thankfully our daughter Christine stepped in and said she could stay with her until Ian could make some ramps for Jade to use. So now I come to my post heading. On our way back to our garage in Sandiacre to get the wood needed to make the ramp, we noticed clouds of smoke again billowing across the M1 at Stanton. The fire at the recycling plant had once again reignited and the fireman were back to square one. This time though they were able to divert the water run off from their hoses to a culvert leading to the sewage plant. Good job too as yesterday the Erewash was declared open.  There had been a advisory on waterscape about a clean up operation between Pasture and Sandiacre lock, which I assumed to be the environment  pulling out all the dead fish. On arriving at our bungalow the first thing to greet us was the smell. Hundreds of rotting fish lay along side the moored boats on the Derby arm. The environment agency obviously hadn't been to this part of the canal to clean it up. Both Ian and me were so glad we could leave the area instead of living back at our bungalow. I feel very sorry for our tenants. I just hope the environment agency eventually get round to doing a proper job because the smell will only get 10 times worse.

Sunset at Langley Mill

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Quick update on Ian & my Ladybird pic

Thankfully Ian's blood count has returned to normal, so yesterday, after a long 4 hour wait at the hospital, he was able to have his treatment.  I'm convinced they had forgotten him because we were the only two people left in the waiting room. By now it was about 6.30pm and in desperation Ian wandered up the corridor to see what was happening. He saw loads of empty chairs in the treatment rooms and when suddenly a nurse noticed him by the door, she said ' Are you still waiting?' 

Monday 24 September 2012

Sunday 23 September 2012

More news on the Erewash pollution.

We have heard today that Stanton recycling fire is out. Maybe now the canal can start to recover. We made another trip to Sandiacre yesterday and my worse fears were realised. All those poor fish struggling to survive as posted in my last post, are all dead. I still feel they could have been saved if the environment agency had done what they are supposed to do and save the environment. The pumping of the peroxide continues but I fear its much to late. I had heard, though, from listening to the local TV, that fish stunners were to be brought in to save the fish below Dolkholme and Long Eaton lock. Whether this has been done I don't know. I just hope, for the fish sake, it has.

Large carp below Sandiacre lock. Proof that the pollution has already moved toward Dolkholme lock.

All these small fish could have been saved. What a horrible way to die.

Dark brown polluted water heading toward Dolkholme lock

I'm not sure why the chain has been removed from the lock gate. Now there is nothing stopping boat movement.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Friday 21 September 2012

The pollution of the Erewash after Stanton recycling fire

Before I show you my pictures you should click  on Stanton Fire at a recycling plant   

This is the report from the BBC as told several days ago. The fire is still raging and the pollution in the Erewash seems to be getting worse. These photos were taken at Sandiacre Lock yesterday afternoon. They are shocking but what is even worse was that the environment agency bods wouldn't do anything about the fish that were dying. I asked if they would phone the angling club who fish this water to see if they could save them. His reply........... the fish are too small for them to bother about. So all of them will eventually have a horrible suffocating death!! The environment bods tried to oxygenate the water by mixing hydrogen  peroxide with the canal water, which increases the oxygen levels but they themselves admitted that as soon as they stop pumping, the oxygen levels will dramatically decrease. So......... Who is to blame. The fireman did what they had to do by dousing the fire with many gallons  of water, but why was there no boom stretched across the canal? The polluted water was being channelled into the natural water course which eventually seeped into the Erewash. The fire at the recycling center is still burning, and more water is being pumped onto it and, unless we have a substantial rainfall, will no doubt continue to burn for many more days to come. Two boats arriving at Langley, came up and through the polluted water at Stanton before the environment agency arrived and closed the canal. They said that the foam was as high as their gunwale when filling the lock. One boat is a hire boat which was due back at Napton by next Wednesday. They have no chance of leaving until after the weekend and that is only if the pollution can be contained. They are also Australians who need to catch a plane back to Aussie by next weekend. They are beginning to panic and I don't blame them!!! They stand no chance of getting back to their base.
 So I will leave you with these photos and show you how tragically this pollution has destroyed this part of the canal and it's environment.

Sandiacre Lock

The smell from this foam is awful

Trying to oxygenate the water. The blue drums contain the hydrogen peroxide.

To the left and 'up the Derby arm' hundreds of fish were trapped

Some of the pollution already present below Sandiacre lock

Hundreds of small fish were trapped along the dead end of the Derby canal

You can see how they were gasping for air.

Just some of the dead fish trapped by the boats moored at Sandiacre

This one had been pulled out and dumped on the side

Dead fish in the bywash

Towpath closure at Stanton

Thursday 20 September 2012

What a complete waste of time!!

 With  Ian having such a low blood count and his ALT liver function test higher then normal, the Consultant told us to make sure we requested an appointment with him instead of his registrar. This we dutifully did and after a 15 minute wait was shown into a room. There a nurse came to see him, took his weight and asked the usual questions on how did he feel. Then she dropped the bombshell.  Our Consultant was away at another hospital in a meeting. We looked at each other in disbelieve. The registrar was the one going to see us instead. As my heading states, what a complete waste of time. He couldn't answer any of our questions, didn't even seem to know about the blood and liver test results. In fact Ian had to tell the registrar what was going on!!! In the end Ian was examined to see if his liver was enlarged, which it wasn't, and the registrar said he was fairly convinced that the abnormal reading was due to the chemo drugs he was on. As to what we are to do about continuing the treatment he couldn't tell us and assured Ian that our consultant would phone him tomorrow to discuss it with him. So we again wait and see!! I expect to post yet another update very soon.

Thankyou to everyone that has left a comment on my last post. Both of us are overwhelmed by all of your kind thoughts and well wishes. Thankyou again.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

3rd Update on Ian

Things have gone downhill since my last update. Last Monday evening Ian had a call from oncology to say his blood count was too low for the chemo to go ahead. Another test was arranged for Tuesday morning and after a long drive into Nottingham ( it was rush hour and took twice as long as normal )  Ian had the test and told to go home and wait for the result. Luckily overnight the blood count had recovered enough for us to make the journey back to Nottingham later that afternoon and the chemo to be given.

This Monday Ian again went for his blood test. You wouldn't believe it but his count was low again!! Yesterday he set off early for a re test. This time though, things were not good. His blood count only marginally improved and more worryingly he failed a liver function test. The consultant phoned at lunchtime and told Ian that chemo was a 'no go' for this week but he still had to attend the oncology department to have his pic line flushed. What I worry about is that for two weeks on the trot Ian has had problems with the his ability to fight infection. We are due to see the Consultant on Thursday and hopefully he will give us some sort of alternative regime. I'll let you know what is decided.

This steamboat  was making its way toward Trent lock. Ian and I happened to visit our bungalow when it came out of Sandiacre lock. Then later in the day another appeared at Langley Mill. Just like buses, you dont see one for ages and then two come at once ( or nearly!)

Brasses must take some cleaning!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Friday 14 September 2012

Thursday 13 September 2012

Wednesday 12 September 2012


Episyrphus balteatus on the flower and Scaeva pyrastri in flight

Monday 10 September 2012

Coachline tape succesfully removed,and a very red faced moment!.

 It has taken us 2 days to remove the tape from the cabin sides. On Saturday the weather was set fair and hot and so after taking a trip across to the waterpoint, all of 10mtr, and then reversing back to the offside of our mooring, Ian armed himself with a freezer scrapper and my hairdryer and started to try and get the tape off. Well after an hour of getting nowhere fast and more swearing then I have heard from Ian in a long time, a car pulled up alongside and in it was Graham from Nb Best'o'mates. They had arrived on the 25th August to leave the boat at  Langley Mill moorings for a few weeks. Graham was on his way back to the boat to fetch some blue loo.
Graham on the tiller with Jennifer talking to Howard, ECP&DA chairman
  He took one look at Ian's pathetic attempt and said we needed a hot air gun. This is the one thing Ian ruled out as he was afraid our paintwork would blister, but Graham assure us this wouldn't happen. So we borrowed a hot air gun from the canal society, set it to its lowest setting, and very gingerly and with a lot of trepidation aimed it at the tape. Guess what. It worked. With a bit of teasing the tape peeled off but in a few places it stubbornly kept breaking. Ian again used my freezer scrapper as well as aiming the hot air at the tape, but as the scrapper was plastic only succeeded in melting it!!! The only other tool Ian had at his disposal was a small metal scrapper, so with me pointing the hot air gun at the tape and Ian scrapping and pulling, we managed to get the tape off. Some adhesive was still been left behind and trying most of the tips given to us in my update post comments, we found that Tetrosyl paint thinners which softened the glue and then white spirit to clean it off, seemed to work the best.

Strange how the paint under the tape was blue!

Using the hot air gun and my plastic scrapper.

As you can see, some adhesive was left behind. The back panel with our sign writing on had already been cleaned. Quite a difference!!

Now I come to our cringe moment. I'll set the picture. Its the weekend and Langley Mill is very popular with visitors especially when the weather is good.  We have just finished removing the tape from the first side. Next job was to push the boat the 7ft to the other side. So I push the bow and step back. Ian pushes the stern and also steps back. Then realisation hit us, neither of us had a rope!! Thats when it went horribly wrong. With everyone watching the boat comes to a gentle halt right in the middle of both banks. There it was 3 1/2 ft from both sides and refusing to move. Now what do we do. Laughter and smirks from those around us didn't help a bit. Our pole was on the boat, there was no one else around with a pole so all we could do was wait and hope the boat floated back to us. Then Ian had a brain wave. He lay on the ground and with me holding onto his feet,  he stretched as far as he could. I had visions of him going head first into the canal. It was bad enough being snickered at from those around us but think of the hilarity if Ian had gone in!!!After several attempts, edging ever nearer to getting a ducking, Ian managed to grab a fender and pull the boat into the side. Cheering and clapping ensued making us even more red faced. Moral to this tale. Don't let go of the ropes!!

Before the tape was removed
Note the distance between the two banks and then visualise the boat smack bang in the middle!!!

 and after.

Thursday 6 September 2012

2nd Update on Ian

Ian has now had 3 sessions of chemo. So far he seems to be coping very well. Heartburn, and not sleeping very well after the Tuesday treatments, seems to be the norm at the moment but by Thursday he is raring to go and I find it difficult to keep him from rushing around trying to help at the work parties and go visiting family. I am constantly reminding him that his immune system is compromised but he just tells me to 'stop nagging women'. I'm really very relieved that he is so well. Long may it continue.

We are finding the days going by quickly as both of us are glued to the TV watching the paralympics. We have every admiration for how these athletes have coped with their disabilities. Just goes to show there is always someone worse off then yourself. Quite what we are going to do next week when the games have finished, is anyone's guess! Ian has big plans for trying to remove the coach line tape that was stuck on the cabin side instead of it being painted. We have been told to allow the cabin side to get as hot as possible in the sun and then try to peel it off.  So far, all thats happened, is a lot of sticky glue left in its place. If anyone has any idea's on how to remove the glue we would love to hear from you.

Tonight we had the pleasure of a giant ladybird flying over Langley Mill. It was accompiaed by two powered para gliders.

Seems that this was the highlight of the week!!!
I love reading your blogs and September was always a month we loved to cruise. The kids were back at school and not so many boats about, but this year I will have to be with you all in spirit as a virtual cruiser and enjoy all your exploits.

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