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 30 September 2014

Not all plain sailing to the Isle of Man

A Yesterday we traveled to Swad, Derbyshire to drop Jade at boot camp (daughters) before heading to Sandiacre and The Best Western hotel. Our hopes for a meal in their restaurant was dashed when we found it to be closed due to a "incident" involving the Police, No idea what and the staff weren't forthcoming with any information. Good job we still had the car so a short drive to the Bridge Inn and a £10 for two meal deal went down well.

So next morning, after a cooked breakfast in the  restaurant (now reopened), we waited for the coach to pick us up. Collection time was 8.50am but at 8.30am we had a call to say the coach had a puncture and was in the process of changing the tyre. Finally by 9.30am the coach arrived and all 18 of our ECP&DA Gadabout party were bundled in ASAP and we were on our way. The ferry from Heysham was a 2pm sailing and with another 4 people to pick up from Stoke, the driver, Brett, was beginning to wonder if we would make it. Thankfully the traffic flowed, all the other 4 Gadabouts safely ensconced on board and terminal made by 12.45pm. We expected the rest to be plain sailing but we are talking about the Jameison curse now, because before we could board the ferry security pulled the coach over and had a thorough search around and under the chassis. What they expected to find was a mystery, after all I cant see why any illegals would want to go to the Isle on Man. Nothing was found but suddenly some of the passenger names were called out. Bags were off loaded and searched. After a good 30 minutes and literally minutes before the ferry was due to sail we were given the all clear and away we went. Then the next problem arose. Coach couldn't get over the ramp without seriously damaging it's under carriage. So another delay while more ramps were brought in and finally we were on board. No sooner had we got off the coach then the ramps lifted and engines roared into life.  Leaving the gloriously sunny and warm shores of the Uk the weather slowly deteriorated until 90 minutes later the wind picked up and the rain lashed down. Ferry rocked and rolled a bit in force 4 winds but not enough to cause anybody any real distress. After another 90 minutes the port appeared out of the mist but, such was the weather, that to go out and take photos was impossible. Anyway we all bundled back on board the coach and within 10 minutes we were dropped at the Hotel in Douglas. Our room isn't brilliant in fact I should say it's dismal. Still it's only a place to rest ones head so we will have to put up with the kitchen extracter fans humming away and sending cooking smells around our room as well as all the rubbish piled up below the bedrom window. Where is the sea views when you want one????

Leaving Heysham in glorious conditions

Me taking a picture of him taking a photo of me etc etc....
Passing Blackpool
The ECP&DA Gadabouts.
A very dismal and drizzly look to the Tower of Refuge on the approach to the port.
Boarding the coach on the ferry.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Three in one go!

Just a quick post 'cause we are off on our Hols tomorrow. Now you would think that every day is a holiday for us, and so it is but you know what they say about variety and the spice of life! Anyway the Isle of Man beckons and the one place we have hankered to go to for some time. When Shelia from the ECP&DA (Sheila's Gadabout Tours) asked if we would like to go we jumped at the chance. So making ready to pull pins this morning I was hailed by a passing boat asking if I was the Free Spirit that blogged. Turns out the gentleman reads my ramblings on a daily basis. I looked up the boat name  Nb Tacet  and I believe the boat used to belong to Ian and Karen, fellow bloggers. If I read correct, Tacet is now owned by Clinton and Sharon so hi to you both and you are welcome on board any time for a cup of Rosy Lee (tea) or a Calvin Klein (wine).

Making our way to Gifford Park we passed the Lionhearts Cruising Club. An AWCC site that welcomes visiting boats.  Having watered up and emptied the loo, we made our way to the winding hole to wind. It was here that we met up with Jill on Nb Windrifter. Not having seen them for two years we had quite a bit of catching up to do. Then with a boat approaching from our stern, I pulled over to let them to pass. Well you could have knocked me down with a feather because who should it be but Adam and Adrian on Nb Briar Rose. A very brief chat followed and would you credit it, no camera! So no piccies to show but I loved the shiny bodywork oh and the boys didn't look to bad either.

So now safely moored and all ready for the off. Packing done, FS cleaned top to toe, de-stressed Jade, (she went into panting mode) with tit bits 'cause she knows something strange was about to happen and we are now relaxing with a glass of wine with the knowledge that FS will be well looked after for the next week. Next post hopefully will be from the Isle of Man.

On route,

Friday 26 September 2014

Big and blue behind the trees

As much as we love the mooring at Newlands, if we can get to moor on the park side that's where we would head for every time. It's only a 48 hours mooring but with us leaving for Linford on Sunday, it was to good an opportunity to miss.  It was on my walk this morning that I clocked that the whole stretch was devoid of boats. So making haste back to FS we quickly took down the aerial and lowered the solar panels and traveled the short distance to moor right at the beginning of the residential mooring. Fishing here brilliant and Jade loves the fact she has a wide expanse of green to gallop on. Some reason, and could be because we have upped her pain killing tablets, she is acting all puppish again.

Not long after our arrival another 2 boats turned up with a third and final boat later this afternoon. It was while dinner was being prepared late afternoon that Ian suddenly noticed something peeking out behind the trees. There, rising up in front of us, was a hot air balloon.Caused quite a stir I can tell you with people coming out of the woodwork in all directions to have a look. One couple told us this was a regular occurrence especially at weekends. It's a first for us here though. I had hoped to see it rising above the trees but the wind took it in the opposite direction and we soon lost sight of it. Still it was a good talking point and a good way to meet everyone from the other boats. Soon dinner was forgotten as we chatted away so it's good job that chicken and mushroom Carbonara was on the menu and is a quick and easy meal to cook  'cause I want to be settled with a glass of wine by 9pm ready for the start of Strictly.

Flames from 'the burn'
On the lake this morning a Dabchick turned up to take the fish. Then the Heron arrived and finally the Cormorant! Wont be many fish left at this rate.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Hunter and the Gatherer

We have hunted, believe me, for fallen branches or, as Sue from No Problem would say, boaters gold. Not having traveled much lately, just a few miles there, a few miles back, the task to find any wood was almost non existent. So with the nights now drawing in, and with a decidedly chilly feel to the evenings, Ian drove the 60 miles back to Nottingham. Stacked in our garage was last years find, when the tree gang cleared a tree from a factory site in Birmingham. It's been drying quite nicely and is now well seasoned and ready for our use. Our car being only small, only 6 bags were crammed into the boot but its enough to get the fire going if needed and make us and Jade feel cosy and warm.

While Ian was away I went hunting for Sloes. There is a lack of bushes around this area and trying to gather any Sloes took some doing. I eventually found two bushes with a few fruits on the lower branches, the majority being to high up. Picking as much of the Sloes that I could, I brought home the goodies only to discover I only had enough for one bottle of Gin instead of the two I had hoped to start. So it will be another hunting and gathering trip tomorrow but much further afield this time. Hoping to find some laden bushes, 'cause not only have we decided to do Sloe Gin, but with two bottles of unopened Vodka sitting in the cupboard, and has done for years, we are going to try Sloe Vodka as well. Anyone have a recipe we could try?

Wildlife seen while out hunting.

Hidden by the Blackberries this elusive little Wren.

Where's the gun when you need it.

Definitely needed a gun!!!! My most hated bird the Cormorant. Looks like a periscope in the winding hole!

Glad to see the back of it!

Monday 22 September 2014

Back to the Park

Doesn't happen very often, a big family get together and this weekend was one to remember. .  Saturday's prelude to the party was spent playing UNO with the grandchildren and then Poker in the evening. Christine and Iwona pretty well stayed sober even though the wine flowed freely as well as the Jack Daniels and coke. By 4am only Kevin, Colin and myself were left playing, Ian having departed to his bed an hour earlier, so we decided it was time to call it a night and stagger to bed.

This photo was taken in 2011 but it's the JD that I wanted to show. Every year it gets refilled and this year was no exception. Half of this was drunk by Colin, Ian and Kev on Saturday night!!!!!
 After just 5 hours sleep, all of us apart from Chrissy, who hadn't touched a drop, was still under the influence. So dealing with the exuberance of the children with all the screaming and jumping around was hard. Thank goodness for Christine who fed and watered them as well as kept them amused until we all came too. With the family party that afternoon I want to thank our son who obligingly let us use his house for the gathering as well as putting on a spectacular spread of Polish meats, ribs, chicken, burgers and sausage and all BBQ'd to perfection. Our niece Lizzie having arrived in the UK from Australia and with new boyfriend Richard, also managed to attend. All in all Colin and Iwona catered for and managed to seat all 17 of us. My one regret of the day was I hardly took any photos and I didn't even take one of Lizzie and Richard. So this is all I have to show of the day.

Lizzie is in the last photo in brown.

So today we pulled pins, winded, watered up at the slowest tap on the system (unless you know different) and headed back to Campbell Park. Before we left I had walked through the bridge 'ole (where the stinky body had been) and noticed a long line of boats now moored. I also happened to clock that most of them had come from Newlands, our preferred mooring spot. An hour later we left  what we now call The Trickle Tap and hoped that with those continues moorers having moved to Pear Tree we would now be able to find a spot for us. Approaching and then passing under bridge 84 we noticed huge cracks in the front facing brick work and more worryingly a huge hole under the bridge arch. I know that bridge 82 is on the 'to do' list this year because of the huge crack along its length so  maybe this bridge should be included as well.

Looks to have been patched before

When we rounded the last bend before Newlands there it was. One lovely space by the winding hole. We secured FS and then walked the 2 mile back to Pear Tree to fetch the car. On our return the boat behind had left ( was it something we said??) but I dont suppose it will be empty for long. We will be staying for another week before leaving for Linford

Still eating Grab Apples

Thursday 18 September 2014

Very smelly body in a bag

First apologies if you are eating your dinner. Maybe leave reading this till later! Anyway....Yep I found one! The smell alerted it to me first. It was not a smell one ever forgets if you have ever had to deal with dead bodies and with me being a veterinary nurse back in the late 60's early 70's it is the one stench that immediately takes me back to those post mortem days! Anyway I happened to walk through bridge 88 and noticed all the boats had gone. 5 had been moored along that stretch yesterday. One boat was still present but had pulled back a considerable way.

Boats filled the bankside from the boat to the bridge

Where the black bin liner holding the body was placed.
I then noticed a black bin liner with what appeared to be an animal outline. By now the stink was unbearable so that explained why all the boats had gone. Unsure as to why someone would have left it on the towpath, I thought maybe it could have been a boater having lost there beloved pet and then couldn't be bothered to dispose of it properly. Digging a hole would have been better then leaving it on the side. I mean why else would it be put on the towpath near the hedge and bagged to boot! On getting back to FS I went on line to find the number of the environment agency for this area. Reporting my find the person on the other end of the phone said this must be classed as an emergency and when the person dealing with animal road kills arrived he would phone me for further details.   An hour later I gets the phone call. After directing him to the spot he was left to carry the bag back to his van. I dont envy him in an enclosed space with that pong. Hope he keeps all the windows open 'cause even double bagging wouldn't get rid of the stench. Now I don't know if this was reported to the police but a couple of hours later 2 Police women turn up. This could be totally unrelated to the event, and they didn't come to the boat to see me, but it did make me wonder as no sign of any Police had been seen since we arrived.

As far as I was concerned that was the end of it but taking Jade out at 5pm I got chatting to the lady on the boat behind us. Apparently this black bag had been lying there for over a week and two days ago the smell started.  She also assumed it was a dead animal but never gave it a thought about reporting it. Even she had no idea who had placed it there. So the mystery remains.

I had to show you these next few photos as this was not only highly amusing to watch, but also one of those cringe moments with all those gongoozlers watching your every move. I did feel so sorry for her and to top it all her little dog was determined not to stay on the boat even though she kept running after it, picking it up and putting it back on board.!

Reversed into the small rowing boat

And ended up tied together. The public thought it all very amusing.

She kept putting the dog back on board

But he had a different idea.

And the view of the Pear Tree pub at night.

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