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.

Monday 30 September 2013

The fickle Jameisons strikes again!

 We had planned for a day cruise down the river today but looking out of the bedroom window early this morning and seeing a red sky, as well as listening to the Countryfile weatherman last night forecasting rain for this afternoon, we decided to tackle the 17 locks and go back to Blisworth instead.

Beginnings of a red sky in the morning. Possible Shepard's warning?
So after a last minute early shop at Morrisons I returned to the boat just in time to see another boat leaving before us. Drat, drat and double drat! Late last night a boat arrived from the Northampton Arm and moored up behind us. We knew that all the locks would be in our favour if we left early enough but it seems we weren't the only ones with the same idea. Oh well there was no need to rush then! 10 minutes later we untied Free Spirit and fully expected the first boat to be long gone. It wasn't!! It was still in the first lock and had only just started opening the top gate. More groans from us but we followed them up slowly and at the third lock we spied a pile of logs hidden in the hedge. So leaving them to slowly ascend we stopped to gather as much as we could. This took at least 30 minutes and we now were pretty convinced they would be long gone. At the start of the Rothersthorp flight I was dismayed at seeing that the boat had only just entered the second lock. Good grieve how slow can they go!!! As we caught them up they suddenly decided to get a move on. Soon he was closing top gates after exiting and she started setting the next lock. Result! Then they started lifting paddles for us which was much appreciated as it saved me racing up to set the next lock and racing all the way down again. Then another boat turned up so it was only fair that I lift a paddle for them. From thinking it was going to take forever to ascend the flight, it actually only took a little over 4 hours and we even had low pounds to contend with. A fast improvement from when we came down a couple of days ago. Then it took over 5 hours. Now moored up roughly where we stopped a few days ago and very peeved that the BBC got it wrong again! The rain never materialised!!!!

Into the reeds to allow another boat to come past

It looks wide enough for two but the sides are very shallow.

Loads of loose reeds which kept clogging up our prop!

Would have trouble passing in this channel!

Doing a bit of work for a change!

Very low pounds

And having to run water down.

 And finally:- High wire Black headed gull.

And a buzzard being mobbed by grows.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Still on the Nene.

In spite of our worries no one knocked on our door asking to see an EA licence and a very quiet night was enjoyed by us both in spite of being in Northampton . No one bothered us and with the nearest pub quite a distance away we didn't even have to put up with the usual Saturday night revelers. So with the family arriving later today it was a mad half hour trying to clean the dog hair from floor and off the furnishings. I'm sure the older Jade gets the more hair she sheds! Anyway Colin, Iwona and Grandchildren, Oscar and Oliver, all arrived after 11am. In Colin's youth he loved to fish. In fact it was all due to him that got me into fishing in the first place. I took him when he was about 8 and after getting very bored just sitting watching him, asked if I could have a go. 'Not till you can put a maggot on a hook' he said. So being very girlie and with a lot of squealing I managed to do it and after catching my first fish, a huge Tench, I was hooked. ( excuse the pun )  Even before I had made them all a drink Colin had picked up my rod and with Oscar looking on started fishing.

Showing Oscar how to bait up. Iwona and Oliver enjoying the sun.

First fish caught. A small perch.

Having fished for about an hour, even Oscar getting in on the act and catching a perch, we headed toward the town center to find an eatery. On the whole length of the Northampton Arm not one pub could be found and that was one of the reasons for stopping in Northampton. We had a good 10 minute walk to find somewhere suitable and eventually found a pub called The Bank which served good pub grub. Having wined and dined the whole family and going halves on the bill, Colin and Iwona decided that they should return to Milton Keynes. This meant I could get my rod back and continue fishing. Although I did catch one small roach the majority of fish caught was Perch. A chap from the flats above us shouted down and said he constantly watches men pulling fish out of the river and placing them in a carrier bag to take home.  I did catch this good Perch which pleased me no end.

Having had a comment from Adam (Briar Rose) who told us we could purchase a licence from the new Marina a short distance from here, we may pay the £8 for a days cruise on the Nene tomorrow. We need to purchase an EA key to operate the locks and at £10 it's worth getting. One day we hope to do the whole river as far as the Wash! Mind you a lot depends on the what the weather is going to throw at us. Rain and windy conditions have been forecast so we may just do the 17 locks back up to Gayton.

And finally:-

Saturday 28 September 2013

Another first for us

First last nights sunset. Stunning!

This morning, as I was washing up the breakfast pots, I happened to look out of the galley window and saw a familiar boat sailing past. It was Jandai. Many of you will remember reading about Dai's death and Janice's heartache at selling Jandai. We spoke to the new owners and they told us they are thrilled with the boat. So Janice, if you are reading this, Jandai still looks wonderful and the new owners said they will lovingly look after her as you and Dai did.

Having left Blisworth shotly after 9am, the first port of call was Gayton services. I dont remember the water tap filling the tank as slow as it did but maybe, having installed a new tap, the water pressure had dropped.

One of the new taps with new BW lock

Finally, after 45minutes, we were ready to tackle the Rothersthorp flight. Every lock was against us and it took an age to get down the flight. Didnt help that one has to walk round every lock to close both bottom gates. There being no way of jumping across and saving the legs! Roughly 5 hours and 15 minutes later, 6 mile and 17 single locks, we arrived in Northampton. What we hadn't realised was that we had to descend onto the river Nene to moor up. No where along the Northampton arm was suitable to stop, folaige being the main problem. So without an environment agency valid licence for the Nene we are now holding our breath that they don't come a knocking at our door!

Looking down the flight.

Wire figures at lock 10. Similar to those at Stoke Bruerne.

No end of floating reeds along the last stretch

Very rural and extremely narrow in places. Not enough boats to keep the channel clear.

Last lock before entering the river.

Morrison moorings on the left through the bridge arch.

And finally:-

Friday 27 September 2013

It's that dreaded tunnel again!

Blisworth tunnel!!!! This is the one tunnel that I dread going through. Those that have read this blog will remember my unease at traveling through this tunnel on my own. (see post) so I was not looking forward to the experience even though I knew Ian would be with me this time. Leaving our moorings rather rapidly this morning so we could share the last two locks with a Avelchurch hire boat, at the top lock they waved us out first. One thing most noticeable with the Stoke Bruerne moorings were the lack of boats! Usually trying to moor on this section is nie on impossible so, even though I moaned about C&RT making the long pound 48 hour ( which I still think is crazy), I can see that the new signs seem to be doing their job very well where it was needed most.

Empty moorings.
Although I had some trepidation of entering the tunnel one thing I was eager to find out was if the opening I had seen in the side of the wall was actually there. So with Ian at the helm and me at the front with camera, in we went. This time though I had no sign of anything untoward, no uneasy feelings or hairs standing up at the back of my head and started looking for the side opening that I was convinced would be there. Going toward Blisworth it would have been on the right hand side and not far from where the new brickwork started. Ian went fairly slowly and as we got nearer to the center I could hear water cascading from the side. Sure enough, and where I was convinced the hole was, an opening appeared roughly 4ft up from the water line and about 4ft in diameter. Water poured into the canal from this opening but try as I might I could see no light at the end. So I am still baffled as to what I saw when I was on my own. One of my comments on that post talked of a ghost that appears every now and then. Was this what I saw?? On the way back next week I'm going to try and stop by the opening and shine a torch in. Maybe then I will be able to put my fears to bed but this is still one tunnel I will never again do on my own again!

Once out of the tunnel we started to look for a mooring. We thought we would tackle the 17 locks on the Northampton arm tomorrow and now I'm back into fishing again I rather fancied making a day of it. I can reveal that I only managed to catch 6 fish. I bream, 2 roach and 3 perch. Most disappointing! Still......... Strictly Come Dancing starts tonight and am very excited about that!

Dog lookout perhaps.
Anf finally:-

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