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.

Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Year Greetings

First let me wish everyone a

2013 has been a mixed year for us.  We lost a very dear friend Keith and a fellow boater and blogger Dai (Jandai) both in their 60's. That was a really bad start to the year but since then it has been on the way up.. Ian went into remission in June which enabled us to go cruising and what a fabulous summer we had. In October we were informed by our daughter Christine that we are to be Grandparents again in May 2014, so it seems exciting times are ahead. We hope all our readers out there in blogger land and beyond that 2014 will be a good, prosperous and happy year for you all.

Today we left Sandiacre to travel the 3 miles and 3 locks down to where the New Year Eve Party is to be held. We had a reserved mooring right outside our friends house so all we need to do in the wee hours of the morning is stagger a few yards back to the boat. Just hope we don't do what another friend and fellow boater did last year in the self same place where we are moored, missed his footing in the dark as he went to step on the back deck and fell into the cut! His wife was with him and thankfully managed to pull him out but it certainly gave him one hell of a shock. So me thinks a torch will be handy to have tonight! I've made 2 plates of food in readiness for the party, the glad rags are about to go on and wine chilled in the fridge. Both Ian and I will raise a glass to you all. Have a good 'un (-:

Stern of our boat is slightly under the road bridge. I don't expect much road traffic tonight though!

Monday 30 December 2013

My new toy

Well I'm very glad we left for Sandiacre yesterday 'cause throughout the night, and well into the morning, we were buffeted by rain and strong winds! Mooring in the open as we are here in Sandiacre made us realise just how sheltered The Great Northern Basin is. Our sleep was constantly interrupted by the hull banging and scraping along the stonework. We wished we had our large balloon fenders to hang from the side but the pair were still in the garage and neither of us fancied venturing out to go get them! I did have to brave the winds early this morning to let Woofit out and go fetch some milk and bread which, in our haste at leaving Langley, I forgot to get. I was desperate for the rain to stop as on Sunday I was the successful bidder on ebay for a nearly new Canon 600d DSLR with 18-135mm  lens and image stabaliser. It came complete with all accessories, ie leads, battery's and chargers, manual, 16 GB memory card, camera bag etc and added bonus it was in Leicester and could be collected that very day. So no postage to pay and the little petrol we used saved us a further £20.  I cant wait to get off the auto setting . On the journey down yesterday every photo taken ( apart from the And finally) was with my new toy and today will be a day of playing with it and finding my way around the menus.

Later in the morning I heard paddle gear being worked at Sandiacre lock. And here was me saying yesterday that no boat was likely to come up the Erewash from the river! Turns out I was right after all as it was Barry Argent with historic boat Perch coming to wind. His mooring is on the offside between Sandiacre lock and Dockholm lock so it mattered not if the river was on red boards. After an almost perfect turn in the arm, and in spite of the wind making life extremely difficult, he then picked up a long length of rope and plastic round his prop which promptly stalled his engine! Ian went out to help as he could see Barry was struggling with trying to control the boat in the wind and remove the debris from the prop. Within 15 minutes the offending articles were removed and he was on his way again back to his mooring.

 We also had a visit from C&RT.  They must come regularily to clear out the by wash judging by the swans so completely at ease by his presence.

Took this photo with my new camera. Tried it on shutter priority but cant seem to get the settings right yet.

This one turned out a bit better.

.And finally:-

Sunday 29 December 2013

Decision made

 Should we, shouldn't we, that was our dilemma. A few weeks ago we had an invite to a New Years Eve party. The party was to be held near Trent Lock at a friends house. For a while Ian and I have deliberated  whether to take the boat down the 13 locks, stay until New Years day and then do the 13 locks all the way back. Seemed like a lot of hard work for one night of fun but the thought of going cruising again, even for a couple of days, was to strong to ignore. So with decision made, and today being a good day to travel as no wind or rain had been forecasted, we disconnected electrics, filled with water, emptied the loo and just after 10am this morning set off on the 12 mile trek. With the sun being so low in the sky, we had to contend with a blinding glare bouncing off the water and solar panels for most of the journey. It was also very cold! There was me wearing my winter thermal coat, scarf round my neck, gloves, wooly hat and perched on top of the wooly hat was my wide brimmed sunhat!  A pair of polarised sunglasses completed the picture. Goodness knows what the gongoozlers thought of me! And then in the other extreme there was Ian without gloves, no hat, no scarf and just a quilted jacket to keep him warm. It never ceases to amaze me how he never seems to feel the cold!

On the approached to Greens lock we suddenly struck ice.  It was still only a thin layer but the noise as we went through was terrific.

  We also had a load of weed floating in the mouth of Shipley lock which had to be removed before I could enter. It was the only lock to have weed as a problem so maybe C&RT had been doing a bit of work round the site.  I certainly didn't fancy all that lot round the prop!

We did have our moments though, as I managed to get stuck on the mud after Stenson lock. I had forgotten that Barkers Lock was litrally a stones throw away and I  pulled into the side for Ian to come on board. He then informed me he would walk but by that time it was to late. The bow had bedded itself into the mud and no amount of reversing could get me out. Ian came to the rescue by pushing the boat pole against the hull and heaving with all his might. Finally with a bit of reverse she came free. Then we were hailed by a walker to say a tree was down almost across the width of the canal. Thankfully we had enough room to squeeze past but I had to knock the boat out of gear to drift over a submerged branch.

Still both of us enjoyed the trip and after nearly 5 hours arrived at Sandiacre. We couldn't get our usual mooring in the arm so have tied up to the last bollard on the lock landing. The chances of another boat coming up the lock is doubtful as the river is once again on red boards.

Festive rider at Sandiacre lock

And finally:-

Saturday 28 December 2013

Thursday 26 December 2013

A time to remember

Well I must say yesterday was as good a Christmas as we had hoped for. Pat and her family made us so welcome, the dinner was delicious and my cake went down a treat. Although the day was full of laughter and fun it was also touched with sadness by the absence of Pats husband Keith. our best friend, who died in May this year. Christmas is always a difficult time of year without loved ones but having the support of family and friends is always a real blessing. Yes there were tears but for the most part we talked about the times gone past and the love and friendship we all had for each other. Our holidays and get togethers was joyous and boy did we have a load of those.  Keith will never be forgotten and his life will be celebrated on every opportunity. He will always be in our hearts.

Me then Pete with his fiance Ella (Pats youngest son) Alan (Pats eldest) and Pat sitting on Ians knee.
Keith on his 60th surprise birthday party

And with his mum Floss

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Trials of cake baking

 Talk about a manic day today! Ive been attempting to make a chocolate gateua to take to Pats for our Christmas desert tomorrow. Its part of my contribution for the Christmas dinner at her house. I stupidly left it a bit late to get a proper Christmas pudding with Asda and lidl both having sold out.  I then had to phone Pat and break the bad news. After a long silence she broke into peels of laughter and thanked Asda and Lidl for selling out. Turns out that all her family detest Christmas Pud and Ian is the only one who would have eaten it. So with me stupidly saying I would make a desert instead of buying one, out came the cook book to find something suitable. Now I have never made a gateau before but the recipe looked simple. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix using a hand mixer. I think I went a bit mad with the mixer settings though, putting it on the highest speed instead of the slowest. Before I knew it the mix was everywhere, up the walls, all over the work service, over me and even Jade got some of it. Not that she minded of course! Having cleared up the mess and with enough left to continue with the cake, I eventually got it into the oven and 35 minutes later produced  what I thought was a reasonably passable cake. After making a chocolate ganache, filled the cake with the mix, added dark berries and finished off the top with the rest of the chocolate and  fresh raspberries.

So now we are all set for tomorrow. I have been reliably informed by Pat that all the preparation for dinner is done so as soon as we arrive the festivities can begin. Bring it on cause we're so looking forward to it. Merry Christmas everyone. Hope your day will be as good as ours and filled with festive cheer.

And a winery And finally:-

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