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 31 May 2014

And yet another visit by the Police!

Seems we cant get away from the local constabulary. Back in the beginning of April I took several photos on youths riding a red motor scooter along the towpath. These photos were sent to Derby Police and an acknowledgment sent back via email the next day. Then we promptly forgot about it. About a month ago Ian had a phone call from PC Willison asking if we could give a statement. No problem says he, they could meet us at Burton. Now this was where the problem arose! The area was out of there jurisdiction!  PC Willison then wanted to know when we would be back in Derbyshire and was a bit put out when Ian mentioned the end of this year. And that was where it was left. So imagine our surprise when another phone call today arrived from Derby Police asking once again if we could get back to Derby to give the statement. They were desperate to charge the youth and because he was categorically denying that he had anything to do with the crime,(even though there was photographic evidence)  I was needed  to verify that the photos I took was indeed my photos. Now as much as we wanted to help the Police there was no way we would turn the boat round and head back. Apparently there were only days left for this crime to be put before the court. If not the youth would get off scot free and they were loath to allow that. After explaining again that we would not turn round the PC then said she would try to come to us at Branston only if the appropriate Police Officer here in Burton gave permission. So an hour after the call she duly arrives. Took statements from both of us, I confirmed that the photos were mine and signed on the bottom line. She asked if I would go to court if required but I declined. She did think that our statements and signature would probably do the trick and therefore I wouldn't be needed. After 30 minutes she was gone and hopefully that will be the end of that!

Now as I mentioned yesterday we did go to see Christine, Kev and baby and our son Colin arrived in time to devour a delicious spaghetti Bolognese cooked by his sister. Baby was still asleep when he arrived but once awake he had the cuddle that he had so looked forward to.

It was a lovely final evening with them all and we will so miss not seeing how baby changes week by week but Christine has said she may come and find us at some point next month.  Both of us are really look forward to that.

I wanted to include these photos taken this morning. None of them have been cropped and this rabbit was completely unfazed by people walking up to it, only hopping away at the last minute.

Friday 30 May 2014

Why do boaters no longer slow down?

Now you know me..... I'm not one to rant or rave (is that coughing I hear (-: ) but do you think boaters are going faster past moored boats then usual? Apart from the odd few that do know what 2 mile an hour is, the majority only throttle back as they draw level with the boat giving no chance of the boat slowing down, and then pile on the revs as soon as they think they are past. Classic example was when we were at Shobnall fields. A private boat owner kept knocking the revs back to pass one boat, full power for only one boat length, back with the revs passing a second boat, got to us and put full power on again.  If Ian hadn't put a spring on we would have tipped! I remember when boating used to be fun. A gentle meander along tranquil waterways with everyone observing the speed limit.. Now it's more like the M25 where everyone seems to be in a hurry. Having arrived back at Branston we had an incident where we were trying to moor, a boat sped past and about dragged me into the moored boat in front. It took the combined effort of Ian and me pulling as hard as we could to bring FS to a stop. A bit of common sense wouldn't go amiss. After all I'm sure they wouldn't like it if it was done to them!

So now that we have safely moored by the park entrance we are off to Christine's to see baby. This will probably be the last time I see him for a while as tomorrow Ian returns the car to Sandiacre. Then Sunday we are off (very slowly) to Stafford Boat club.

Margaret and Ian putting the world to rights

Dennis bringing in Icing at Branston Lock

Thursday 29 May 2014

Canada Geese......Love em or hate em!

And again we have changed our plans. We were all for going back to Branston today, and fully prepared to do just that, but we found out, after a phone call to Christine to see how her first night home had been with little 'un, that Colin ( Christine's big bruv) was coming on Friday after work to see his new nephew. As we haven't seen our son since dry docking at Easter, it seemed like a good opportunity to postpone today's visit and go tomorrow instead. So we are now moored on, what we call, the Morrison moorings near the Bass pipe bridge and road bridge 33e. Not only is this a good place to stop for Morrisons, but PC World happens to be right next door. Ian was after purchasing a new hard drive because he very nearly lost everything he had placed on the old one,  photos included, and that would have been disastrous! Somehow he found a program on the PC to restore lost data so not all was beyond hope but he was not prepared to risk another failure, hence the new hard drive.

Nice red one

Very slimline and compact compared to the original.
 On our return we found that Dennis and Margaret, Nb Icing, had found us ( there's no hiding from the determined) and tied up in front of the C&RT work buttie. 

On the towpath standing guard over their chicks were the Canada Geese. Now personally I'm not a big fan of them. They are noisy, eat the crops from the farmers fields, congregate in fast numbers and worse of all mess all over the towpath. We complain of doggie do's but to me this is 10 times worse. It gets walked over the decks and into the boat without realising, ropes are dragged through it and takes ages to clean off of everything. Yes they chicks are cute and I've taken loads of photos of them but I do sometimes  wish they would clear off back to Canada!

Goose poo just right for us to tread in.
These last few photos were taken before we left Shobnall Fields. It made me laugh seeing the duck and swan eyeing each other up! The duck because of the duckling and the Swan because of the cygnets.


Wednesday 28 May 2014

One mystery solved and thumbs up for Google earth.

Well one of the mysteries anyway. Thanks go to Caroline who left me a link on my comments page yesterday. For one, the tree is a Lime and not a Sycamore and the growth on the leaves
are made by a tiny mite. I had hoped to show one of my photos of it but even my macro lens cant pick it out. So this photo has been taken from the web.

Today we had planned to leave Shobnall fields and travel back to Branston. Not a good day for travel as the overnight rain was still very much with us. Before we left I took Jade for a walk round the park. At the top end a footbridge spans the A38 and I happened to notice a sign pointing over the bridge with the word hospital written on it. So over I goes and sure enough in the distance is what I think to be Queens Hospital. I hastily return to FS, trying unsuccesfully to hurry Jade along who was in sniffing mode, and first thing I do is Google Earth our position. Well what do you know. The hospital is within 3/4 of a mile from this mooring. So instead of leaving today we have stayed put and later in the afternoon walked to visit our new Grandson. Took 15 minutes and saved £3.00 in car parking fees. Wish we had known about it earlier. Much easier then driving to it and actually takes less time.

Having left Christine, Kev, Josh, Nanny Burchnall (Kev's mum) and baby (still no name) we had literally got 5 minutes into our walk home when Kev phones. Christine and baby are being discharged and can go home tonight. Baby has had his last antibiotic, all the teats are clear and he is no longer a concern to the pediatrician. What fantastic news and one that we have all been waiting for. Tomorrow we travel to Branston, pick up the car and go straight round to welcome baby to his new home.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

A couple of mysteries to wonder at.

Good grief, this morning I wondered if I was on the wrong canal and it was the BCN we were on and not the T&M! Why may you ask. Well at a silly time of 4am and not even light yet, a boat who had moored in front of us set off. You would think that leaving so early you would make the effort of being quiet. Not him though, the engine was revving and the speed as he drew level was enough to stretch the ropes causing us to bang into the side. Now Ian always puts a spring on and even that didn't stop us moving. With the BCN 24 hour challenge having just taken place I truly thought I was somewhere in amongst the challengers! (not that they travel fast past moored boats, mind. No it was the traveling throughout the night that was in my mind)

We still have no definite news as to when Christine and baby can be released from hospital. Baby seems very well but until the antibiotics have done their work he must stay in. Christine is hoping that tomorrow will be that day as the course finishes in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. As we are now facing the wrong way we decided on an other jaunt to Horniglow facility block, top up with water and empty both cassettes, wind and head back to the park. Not the best of days to travel with a fine drizzle soaking everything but the thought of queuing at the locks again made us set off early, don our wellie boots and waterproofs and head off for Branston lock. Even at 8.30am we got beaten into second place when Nb Mayfly passed us as we were about to set off. Still, in a way that worked in our favour because, on our approach to Dallow Lock, the lady from Mayfly raised a paddle for us. Such a nice thing to do and much appreciated. We nearly always try to do the same if we have a boat following (that is only if we have them in sight).

Nb Mayfly in the distance.
At this lock a large plastic black bag was placed against the ground paddle. Couldn't be sure who would have left this but if it was a boater why not take it to Willington or Barton Turns to dispose of! Then later our friends Carol and Mick on Electra came past. He told us of no end of rubbish floating in the canal including a loo and cassettes. He thought maybe a boat had sunk and the debris had come from that. He kept an eye out just in case but nothing was to be seen.  It's all very mysterious.

At Horniglow we pulled onto the services and had not long tied up when another boat appeared wanting water. Seems this is a popular watering stop. Last time we had a Canaltime waiting for the services. Anyway we only needed to top up the tank and once the loos had been emptied, within 10 minutes we were on our way. With the rain now coming down heavier we stopped at Shobnall Fields instead of returning to Branston Water Park. This is one mooring we have never stopped at. Ian's always a bit wary of mooring on a park but I cant see us being bothered by anyone in this awful weather.

When Mick and Carol came past earlier they also told us our friends Dennis and Margaret, Nb Icing, had left Shardlow this afternoon and should be with us late tomorrow or Thursday. Looking forward to that as we will then travel together to the boat gathering at Stafford boat club to celebrate their 50th year.

Shobnall Field ( we were there first honest)

These next few pictures baffled me. I have never seen these growths on a leaf before. The tree looks to be a sycamore and a healthy looking specimen at that. Another mystery that would be nice if it could be solved.

A very sorry looking Goose at Dallow lock.

Monday 26 May 2014

Hmmm.... What to do with the stern rope.

It's been one of those days where not much has gone on. We saw a mad exodus of all the moored boats this morning leaving us very much on our own. No nasty mishaps with the rope today but I have had a few comments, not just on the blog, but from Facebook as well giving some sound advice on how to store our stern rope. Ian has installed another tiller pin on the tiller specifically to hold our rope. He did this for me when I jumped off the stern with rope in hand but not attached to boat! The boat drifted away from me and it was only by Ian stretching and grabbing the center rope that stopped the boat from making a break for it. So having it curled up on the pin works for us. So the loads of advice I have had about leaving it on the roof probably should be tried but... What if I had to jump off  in an emergency and found I had no time to first attach the rope it to the dolly.  Would I have time to even think about it? After all how many times has the wind taken the stern away from the bank when you least expect it. With no rope attached I doubt I would be quick enough to loop it round the dolly first. So as to yesterdays incident it was just a stupid mishap. Neither of us saw the rope hanging in the water and I'm still unsure as to how it got detached from the pin. For me personally we will continue to rap it round the second tiller pin but from now on check it is well secured.

The tiller pin to hold the rope

Sunday 25 May 2014

Rescued by Ashtree boat club.

Before I tell the tale I must first say we have had to change our plans. We had a phone call from Kev this morning to say that mum and baby wont be coming home for at least 5 days. Seems baby has some sort of infection and is now on antibiotics. I do feel for Christine because she was desperate to get baby home but hospital is the right place for him to be at the moment. This means we will delay our departure until both are safely home. In view of this we decided water was on top of our priority list as both of us were starting to smell a bit ripe. The dog almost had to resort to drinking canal water, we were getting so low. And as for clean boating clothes we ran out a day or two ago. We would have looked a bit strange wandering about in our Sunday best. We made the big mistake of waiting for the rain to stop first before setting off. Seems everyone else had the same idea because by the time we were ready to go 4 boats had already passed us! The inevitable lock queues held us up, first at Tatenhill Lock with the four boats were still waiting to ascend. Turns out a day boat had got himself stuck on the far side and everyone had to wait until he had sorted himself out. Then again at Barton Lock. Instead of going through the lock, winding, and then watering up we thought we would water up first. A steady stream of boats kept coming so we still ended up queuing once we had finished.

Tatenhill Lock and still they come.

At Barton Turns Marina I gave the helm over to Ian. No way was I going to wind the boat as this is where I got myself wedged a couple of weeks ago and was not keen on a repeat performance.  Of course Ian showed me exactly how it was done by doing it perfectly as you can see.

So now for my tale. We once more had to queue at all the locks on the way back and I had a horrible feeling all the moorings at Branston would be gone. Coming round the bend my fears proved correct as all we could see was wall to wall boats.. As we pulled level with the park entrance a boater asked if we were looking for a mooring as they were about to leave. I had the helm and slung the boat into reverse. Ian was standing on the gunwale and it's a bl**dy good job he wasn't right next to me because suddenly the tiller flew to the right with such a force that Ian would most definatly have been thrown over the side. Then the engine stalled!! At first we were unsure what had happened until someone shouted our rope was hanging in the water. Then it hit us. The rope was round the prop. Somehow we were heading forward instead of reverse and with no means of propelsion was powerless to do anything. Thats when those in the moored boats came running out. Turns out they were from Ashtree boat club on their Spring Bank holiday jaunt. Not only did they manage to grab the front rope which I had abysmally tried to throw at them and had all knotted, but they stopped us from colliding with other moored boats and pulled us into a vacant mooring. There they helped to secure the boat and even hung onto it while Ian tried to find a spare rope sort out the stern end. Then it was a question of how do we get the rope off of the prop.

Rope disappearing into the depths
 There was nothing for it but roll up the sleeves, get head and arm as far down as possible and see what could be done. When Ian popped his head up and said it was wedged solid, I had visions of being towed to the nearest dry dock to take the boat out of water. Ian never gives up though, and with a momentous effort and lots of cussing, managed to bring the rope back up. Now it's a question of  hoping that no damage has been done. That we will only find out when we get going again!

All the boats from Ashtree boat club.

Saturday 24 May 2014

It's a boy!

Phone call came last night at about 9pm to say this was definitely it. No second dress rehearsal but finally the real thing. Ian broke all speed limits to get to Swadlincote and this time their car was running and Christine was waiting by the front door. We waved them off and settled down for the wait. And that wasn't long, just over 3 hours.  The call came from Kev at 12.20am to say mother and baby doing well. He was born at 11.30pm and weighed a very respectable 8lb.15oz. Once Kev returned home at 3am, we left him to catch up on some well earned sleep and drove back on empty roads to FS arriving back around 4ish. Then straight to bed for a few hours eventually waking at 9am with Jade desperate to go out.

Visiting was not until 3pm today and we couldn't wait to met the new addition to the family. I make no apologies for showing loads of photo's. After all he is the most beautiful baby in the world.

Friday 23 May 2014

Ha....that will stop those nosey parkers.

Okay, so now Christine is officially 10 days late. Still no phone call from Christine so the wait continues.  On her last scan, the baby was estimated to be over 8lb. That was 3 weeks ago! I dread to think what the weight will be now. No wonder she feels like an elephant.

A while ago I mentioned that we had been asked to take over as editors of the ECP&DA Outlook magazine. Well Ian has finally finished putting all the articals together and now all that was needed was a trip back to Langley Mill to hand over the disc to the printers. While we were there we nipped into B&Q for a long trough for my plants. What we came out with was blinds for the kitchen! Having made my net curtains yesterday, I sort of persuaded Ian that a venetian blind in the kitchen would be better then the roller blind we have now. Bless him, he gave into my pestering and resigned himself to yet more work that wasn't on his 'to do' list! On our return to FS out came the drill and within 40 minutes the new blind was up.

Made to measure. We couldn't fit the blind inside the window frame because of the hopper window but I don't think this looks to bad.

Even in the open position you cant see in.

And my girlie nets. Ian gave in to these as well! What a gentleman (-:
I did a spot of fishing later this afternoon but all the fish have disappeared. Not a bite or nibble to be had. When the rain started I thought I would call it a day. So I'm afraid I reverted to watching afternoon TV, not a good sign. Hurry up Grandchild of mine. Cant wait to meet you.

Thursday 22 May 2014

The best possible news

No not about Christine. Think we will still be here this time next year 'cause this baby just doesn't want to be born! No the news is about Ian. When the consultant walked into the room with a big grin on his face and said he loves it when he can tell folk good news, I knew we were on the home straight. The MRI scan showed no change in the size of the tumour running along the side of the spine and even a slight shrinkage on the visible one on his lower back. This means we are now free to go and enjoy our summer and not worry until his next MRI scan in November. So this is a very short post because we are off to have a celebration drink at the pub. (Only one mind as the phone may ring at any time summoning us to Swadlincote.)

No sunset tonight. More like storm clouds on the horizon. Probably a good idea to take the brolly!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

C&RT said yes

It threw it down last night and just after I had watered the plants! Water seeped through the stitching in the cratch cover soaking everything in my tackle box. Happened to look out of the window as these geese came past completely unfazed. I had hoped for thunderstorm as the sky went really dark but no such luck (I do love a good storm!) 

After another night of  disappointment yet again, (no phone call) Ian was up very early, like 6.30am, and took Jade for her first walk. He came rushing back calling for the camera. Two Canada Geese with 22....yes 22 goslings came gliding past. I don't believe these are all her brood as I have heard of gosling creches and I do think the second gosling from the front is larger then the rest.

After breakfast Ian continued with the top box. To make the new lid fit he had to make the box smaller. Not a problem for him as out came the jigsaw which did the job beautifully. Quite where he keeps all his tools is beyond me. All I know is every space toward the back of the boat is utilized. No wonder we draw 2' 4"instead of 2'. Ian also phoned C&RT today to ask for an extension on the 14 day mooring. No problem at all so long as it's not for a month. Apparently the boat moored behind us (arriving 4 days ago) are also waiting for their daughter to give birth but instead of leaving after the birth, they want to stay for a month so have paid C&RT for a short term mooring.

Must get the measurements correct!

Jade waiting for me for a change! The blue boat is on a 48 hour mooring and paid C&RT for the month

Taking out all the screws.
We did get a phone call from Christine but only to remind us of Josh's sports day starting at 1.30pm. No sign of baby coming yet though.
Ian completed the box just before midday and after a spot of lunch arrived at Josh's school in time for the first race. Josh only had two races, relay and hoop relay.

His team (the green team) came first overall so well done Josh.

Took these photos only 10 minutes ago (9pm) Seems the creche has grown even more.

And tonight's sunset.

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