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.

Thursday 30 October 2014

The final journey

A grand day to leave Sandiacre for our final cruise to Langley. Bit grey and overcast but no wind and warm enough for a jumper rather then a coat.

We left around 8ish having arranged to meet Dave and Heather (nb Vixen) and Carole and Mick (nb Electra) at Padmore moorings. With us making the third boat it stood to reason that we would be on our own at all the locks. No chance of finding a forth boat, mores the pity, and having decided that Vixen and Electra should go ahead, it actually benefited us as Dave lifted a paddle at every lock in readiness for our arrival.  After 5 hours we made it to Langley and instead of going into the basin decided to stay on the visitor moorings overnight. FS needs a good wash and sprucing up (removal of all the leaves on the roof) and such is the nature of the mooring in the basin that washing her will be out of the question. Even my windows may stay dirty until we start our cruising season again next year.

Blogging may be put on hold now unless anything of interest crops up. Will still keep up with the wildlife photos as I aim to go walking most days even though I no longer have Jade. It's to easy to stay in a comfy chair and not bother but with an ever expanding waistline I really have to make the effort.

Some photos of the journey as well as wildlife seen on route.

Sad sight to see this narrowboat on it's way to a watery end.


Lovely autumnal colours.

Caught up with Vixen and Electra at Shipley lock

Glad we decided to take the chimney off. Water levels today were much higher then normal.

Electra and Vixen heading for the basin

FS waiting for her turn.
 Lovely to see the Kingfisher is still fishing the upper stretches of the Erewash. Means this part of the canal must be full of fish.

A Robin keeps guard
 Slightly more unusual wildlife. Water snails clinging to the lock wall


Wednesday 29 October 2014

Close encounters with a cyclist.

Talk about a narrow escape! I cant believe how close I came to being knocked down this morning. Coming back to FS from my shopping expedition to Lidl, walking down the towpath fully loaded with shopping bags, I was minding my own business when this female cyclist appeared going like the clappers. Now I didn't see her coming because of the slight bend by the bridge so she certainly wouldn't have seen me. Then to top it all she was looking toward the far bank and not where she was going! My shout of 'watch where your going' and a quick side step into the bushes was the only thing that stopped me from being hit head on. She then panicked, wobbled and nearly fell into the canal. Without a word of sorry or are you alright, she peddled off without a backward glance leaving me very shook up I can tell you! How this situation of speeding cyclist will be addressed is beyond me. All good intentions of C&RT wanting to make cyclist aware and possible introducing speed restrictions are not going to work. What we need is to bring back a license for the cyclist to use the towpath and leave the towpath in it's natural state rather then resurfacing and stop making it easier for them to treat it like a highway!

I walked back with my camera to show where the incident happened.
 Earlier this morning we woke to a listing boat.A submerged ledge runs along this mooring and when water levels drop we tend to become stuck on it. So first thing to do was try and push FS off. Took quite a bit of effort but managed it in the end and now the boat is well away from the side. I have to be brave to get back on board as the gap is at least 3ft (didn't bother with the plank) and with the levels dropping even more we are now sat on the silt. Ian inspected the lock in case a paddle had been left up. All seemed okay and both gates were shut. We heard on the news yesterday that a mini earthquake had occurred in the Nottingham area with the epicenter being in Hucknall. Hope this hasn't caused any structural damage to the canal bed causing the water levels to drop. Makes one wonder doesn't it?

One very big step across.

A dry by-wash
 Had another bit of excitement this afternoon when we had Police cars racing along the roads by the housing estate, sirens blaring, and a helicopter hovering overhead by the lock and over our bungalow. They were there for ages but eventually the helicopter left, hopefully with their man (or women) in custody.

Seems the Derby Arm rats are still very much in evidence. They have been running along the same route opposite this mooring for as long as we have been at the bungalow, at least 8 years.  I remember fishing the point where the Derby meets the Erewash and watching them scurrying along the stonework. This one is not as big as Ratty the one that took up residence in our bow locker in the winter of 2010 so maybe it's a juvenile. Picture quality is terrible so apologies for my poor photography.

Plan for tomorrow is make our way up the Erewash and to our mooring in Langley Mill. Good plan methinks if only the water levels return to normal and we can get off the mud!

Took these photos in the bungalow garden yesterday. With it being so warm we were inundated by bees, bugs and flies.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Lucky us. Seems we returned at the right time.

Had another disturbed night, not because of any noise outside rather the opposite. I couldn't stop coughing no matter what I did. How I didn't wake Ian was a miracle. Must be the earplugs he uses every night 'cause he say's I snore!!!. In the end I got up at what I thought was 7am only to discover the clocks had gone back and it was still only 6am! By now Ian was also awake so kettle on, green tea for Ian and a good dose of Beechams flu remedy for me.

With no need to hurry it was gone 9.30am before setting off. Only three locks and 4 mile to do before reaching Sandiacre. The wind had picked up and twice I struggled to get FS off the side and into the lock. Didn't help matters that I felt ill and really couldn't be bothered. At Long Eaton Lock I was kept entertained by an aggressive swan defending his patch, and then past the next bridge I thought we were being invaded by Indians. Quite what a teepee was doing on the towpath would be anyone's guess. Have put more photos of the swans on my wildlife blog.

Glad to see the youngster got away

Family waddling up the towpath .

Once in Sandiacre lock we offloaded all the wood on our roof and moved it to the wood store in the bungalow garden. This time next year it should all be nicely dried out and ready for use by the winter of 2015. As I brought FS out of the lock and reversed into the Derby Arm, one of our neighbours was having his cherry tree removed. Apparently it had some sort of disease and with it overhanging the canal, may have been a danger of toppling on visiting boats. Never one to miss an opportunity I asked what was happening with the wood. The majority had already gone but we were told we could take what was left. With this tree now already devoid of the branches all that is left is the trunk. Judging by the width this will keep us going for some time to come. Now all we have to do is wait until its completely down and then cart it all round to the wood store.

Bits and bobs need doing around the place for the tenants so we expect to stay here for a few days and travel to the Mill possibly by mid week.  I doubt there will be much to report until we leave so no posts for a few days. I may continue with the wildlife blog so if you fancy a peep click on the link on my side bar.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Back on home territory

Who'd thought after the torrential rain of yesterday afternoon, skies could look so spectacular a couple of hours later.

With not a drop falling after this sunset we were sure that getting away in the morning would go ahead and sure enough, Ian walked to the lock at 9am and the river levels were still well into the green. We were joined in Zouch lock by two juvenile swans but both got out before I entered with FS. Hate when we have to contend with ducks and swans in locks as both of us had a distressing experience with a duck and her ducklings three years ago. You can read my post here.

 Ian did most of the steering again today as I'm still not feeling 100%. This virus has developed into a full blown cold. It's been years since I have suffered with one, even the grandkids never passed on their germs to me so I reckon it must be a pretty virulent strain. Sincerely hope Ian doesn't catch it as I have loads of jobs on the cards for him to do once back at our mooring in Langley, one being the removal of our bath (stupid idea to put a bath in a narrow boat) and replace with a shower.

The river was full of canoeist and we very nearly had a collishon with a pair. They came at such a rate from the main river stream just as we exited Zouch lock that only Ians quick thinking, by turning the boat towards the bank, saved the situation. Trouble with these canoeist they don't look to see whats coming and think they have the river to themselves. Don't they realise the damage we could do to them if we ever collided?

Think side mirrors fitted to the canoe might come in useful.
 We soon came into view of Radcliffe cooling towers dominating the horizon and this was also where we had to contend with some low flying planes heading for East Midlands airport.

Came to Kegworth Deep lock and as FS descended I kept a very wary eye on staying forward of the cill. It was here beginning of the month that Empress, a Wyvern hire boat, came to grief when not keeping an eye on the boat. Apparently the chap got off the boat to view the old lock and the boat drifted backwards onto the cill.

See why the boat was nearly sunk. Luckily Empress only had water in the foredeck and the hirers were able to continue with their holiday.

The old lock to the side.

Radcliffe stop lock
 We shared the last lock on the river Soar with another boat and as they continued up the Trent towards Sawley, we did the right turn onto the Erewash. Instead of continuing to Sandiacre today we decided to stay at Trent Lock. I wanted to do the last bit of fishing and also to see if fish stocks had recovered after the awful pollution of 2012. I'm pleased to report loads of Rudd were present but hardly any Roach and I never saw hide nor hair of a Perch or Bream. So I don't think stocks are back to normal after all.

The Soar joins the Trent at this point.

To the right by the building is the River Trent and Nottingham The entrance to the Erewash is at the bridge and left is toward Sawley and the T&M

Heading toward the Erewash entrance.
Wildlife sightings today,

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