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 31 December 2015

Lets hope this is the best ever for everyone.


Happy New Year glitter 

Wishing you all a wonderful 2016

Monday 28 December 2015

our two boats

We bought Merlin 62ft in 2004 as a sponsor boat to go into the hire fleet of Anglo Welsh waterways holidays. The boat was designed to our spec with only a few criteria from Anglo Welsh because it was going to be in the hire fleet for at least 5 years. After this time we could take her back or leave her in the fleet. We find she is very useful for letting our family take her out and giving them a cheap holiday. When Christine and Kev decided to take her out we arranged to meet them on Free Spirit and join them on their holiday.
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Sunday 27 December 2015

Gremlins in a photo???? and final day of Merlin move.

Well, well, well, who would have thought today would turn out decent for a change. Its been a week of high winds, torrential rain and fighting to keep Merlin going in a straight line without crabbing. To have one day of calm conditions even though it's our final day, was a pleasure. The wind finally blew itself out late last night and apart from some rain around 3am it has been dry all day.

Setting off a little later then usual, I insisted that I did some of the locks today. Ian was somewhat hurting after all those locks yesterday so it was the drugs for me and amazed what a couple of decent pain killers will achieve. I even plucked up the courage to jump across the bottom gates. Always did that when I was more able bodied but recently I lost my nerve somewhat. Anyway I did the last 4 at Audlem and Ian insisted he did the final 2 at Hack Green.

About to leave Audlem

Ian at the helm for a change

Now which way do I wind it??? Been a while you see>

Dont ask!!!!

This picture had us baffled. Can you see why???

Hack Green locks
More boat movement today now that Christmas is over and it was lovely to pass the time of day with other boaters. One we unfortunately didn't get to say hello to was Tom and Jan Waiouru  Moored by the Old Barbridge Inn there didnt appear to be anyone on board. Gone to the pub maybe???

We really enjoyed this, our last day of the Merlin move and all there was left to do after mooring up for the night was the big clean up and to pack our belongings. Moored just past Calverley ready to sail into Anglo Welsh yard first thing tomorrow. No more boat moves on the cards right now unless, that is, we get a call from Carl sometime in the New Year. Trouble is many of the stoppages don't come off until March so we wait and see. 

12 miles and 6 locks

Photos taken on the journey,

Nantwich Aqueduct

And one of the wooden sculptors along the embankment

Hurleston locks on the Llangollen

Barbridge Junction

Wildlife on route,

Saturday 26 December 2015

Oh dear seems the three prediction came true.

Now what was I saying about things happening in threes??? Christmas Eve night and Ian's laptop gives up the ghost. Got the startup screen up but that was it. He tried everything he could think of to get it going again, pressing the keys,  numerous restarts and almost resorting to shaking the thing but to no avail. It was dead, deceased, was no more!!! Hmmmm...Looks like I'm going to have to allow him to share mine.  This could lead to fisticuffs!!!

Christmas day, what a truly enjoyable  day. Got up late, cooked a full English Breakfast (photo shown on yesterdays post). Then once the pub opened we joined the masses to enjoy a drink or two. Then back to the boat to cook Christmas dinner, no turkey but chicken breasts with all the trimmings. Lovely!!!!

Off to the pub. He is happy honest.

The Christmas mooring at Coldstone.

Almost the same photo as the breakfast one but this time Christmas dinner.

So today, having had another disturbed night with Merlin bouncing against the side, we set off around 8.30ish. Another windy day which made the locks challenging. Every lock on the Tyrley Flight, Adderley flight and Audlem flight had to be filled and Ian must have walked miles by going backward and forward setting them ahead for me. Even so I rattled quite a few going in. Glad I was descending though because the amount of water flowing down them by-washes was something else! By the time we reached lock 11 I could see how exhausted Ian was. I do so wish I was fit enough to help with them and take some of the pressure off Ian. Roll on end of January when I see the consultant about my hip again. Anyway, we found suitable mooring between lock 11 and 12 and secured Merlin. Only trouble, that wind again. It is blowing side on to Merlin and although Ian has tried to rig a fender from the rope, the bank is so uneven it's not doing much good. Lets hope the met office predicted drop in wind happens earlier then later tonight!

Some photos of the journey,

It;s a selfie

Tyrley flight

Them by-washes, ferocious

Fencing all in place ready for the stoppage starting on the 4th Jan

And these locks certainly need some TLC

Another vicious by-wash on the Audlem flight

By lock 7 Audlem flight.

9 miles and 21 locks

Thursday 24 December 2015

Oh cripes...is that water coming in the boat???

Well yesterday evening was certainly an experience and not one to be repeated!!! It all started while Ian was having his shower. I had settled down to watch TV when I heard water running from behind the cupboard where the TV was. Strange, thought I, but having moored opposite other boats assumed it was coming from them. But it didn't seem to stop. Went outside and the sound vanished and I even looked over the side to see if there was any water movement. Nop so where was it coming from???. Then I decided to stick my head inside the cupboard. Oh my God!!! Now it really could be heard. Shouting for Ian who had just come out of the shower, he hot footed it to see what all the fuss was about. At first nothing could be seen but then, a sudden thought saw him high tailing it back to the stern, lifting the small inspection hatch and discovering to his horror water nearly overflowing onto the carpet. Now we both swung into action. Ian realised the water hose from the water tank had either split of come off and on the wrong side of the cut off tap so it continually ran water into the bilge. Taps were opened, anything that could hold water was filled, even the bath although emptied several times to stop it overflowing and Ian started the long tedious job of bailing out the bilge with a 2 pint measuring jug into a bucket. After 90 minutes.....yes 90 MINUTES.... the water tank was empty!!! Ian was exhausted and had no idea how many buckets of water he had thrown over the side but it was above 40. Bilge still had water lying in it and will need to be pumped out in the near future but thank goodness we had successfully stopped the whole floor becoming a paddling pool

Filled every container so we could at least have water

Inspection hatch. Water nearly to the top

As there was no point in phoning Anglo Welsh at that time of night we left it to this morning. Steve was at Bunbury but, with no other staff to hand, couldn't attend and suggested we contact Great Hayward. They too had limited staff, what with it being nearly Christmas and they fully expected that getting to the tank to repair the pipe would be a major job. It was suggested we make for Norbury and they would bring a couple of water containers to see us through for the next few days.So we moored by the pub to await Marks arrival. Sure enough within an hour he was with us armed with the two containers. He also brought his tool box in the hope that something could be done. His idea of removing the panel under the front steps to get to the tank worked and before we knew it he had all but disappeared into the cavern. He eventually emerged with the end of the pipe clutched in his hand. The two pieces was reconnected making only a temporary fix,  it really needed a knew connector, but it should see as back to Bunbury. So having refilled the water tank at Norbury facilities we continued to Goldstone and moored by the pub. Here we will stay until Boxing day and just going to enjoy a day of festive cheer, well a few hours in the pub before a Christmas dinner of chicken and all the trimmings. Lets hope my usual prediction of things happening in threes doesn't materialise. Two has been quite enough thank you.

Coming into Norbury and we stopped by the pub

Mark showing the pipe without it's fixing.

I'm going in!!!!
.Some photos from the journey today.

Sunshine and showers today


The full moon this evening

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Forget the Pheasant shoot...It's the Goose shoot instead.

Good grief at one point last night we thought the boat was taking off. According to the midland met office we had gusts of nearly 40mph and boy did we know it. We couldn't have chosen a worse mooring. Nop,  not because of trees as there were none so no fear of branches falling on Merlin and we even had rings to tie to so this should have been a bonus.What we hadn't realised was a concrete ledge under the water that ran along the short length of mooring and all we could hear from around 2am as soon as that wind picked up was the scrapping and banging as Merlin kept crashing against the ledge. I don't believe any fenders would have helped us here, although on FS we have large balloon fenders which no doubt would have done the job nicely. Then having managed to get some shut eye, right outside Merlin in the field opposite just as it was getting first light, a shoot! Not Pheasants....no, but Canada Geese!!!! Is that allowed???? Would they make a tasty xmas dinner???? One even fell across the canal near to Merlin and the dogs were sent after it, one was actually thrown in by the handler when it hesitated!!!. I was shocked by it all as was a dog walker on the towpath. It was really to dark to get a good photos but I was determined to try. These are the result.

Trying to get the dogs to go after the Goose

Spaniel failed

Then the Labrador was thrown in.

In the end it was the Spaniel that found it

But it was the Lab that retrieved it.

This shows the mooring of last night. It also shows the start of the winter moorings (by the sign). Why do C&RT put winter moorings in such a ridiculous place. No facilities anywhere nearby and a decent walk to the nearest bridge!!! Iced in and snowed in comes to mind!!!!
 Being now fully awake, we got ready to leave. So two very bleary eyed people emerged to cast off around 8.30ish.

The day was glorious, a far cry from yesterday. Sun shown and with only a slight breeze it was a joy to be cruising. No dramas at all today not even any branches lying in our path. Surprising really after that wind of last night. We stopped briefly at Brewood for supplies and then at Wheaton Aston to water up. No sign of Vic and Sue moored on their winter mooring, shame 'cause we would love to have wished them a Happy Christmas. The destination for today was Norbury. We got as far a Gnosall before the rain came in and we decided to stop. It was here that we made a discovery. Not one we would have wanted considering Christmas was so near. We had run out of gas!!! Both large cylinders were empty with only two small cylinders left. We think that one of the cylinders hadn't been turned off properly when first replaced and the cylinder we were using only had a couple of days worth of gas left. With the heating running all day and night this wouldn't have lasted long. So I'm afraid we had to call out Steve from Bunbury to come and replace the cylinders. Within the hour he was with us and replaced both gas bottles. Well done Steve for such a prompt call out. So very glad the gas ran out now and not on Christmas day

11.75 miles 1 tunnel 1 lock

A couple of photos of the journey

Stretton Aqueduct over the A5

Approaching Wheaton Aston lock
Wildlife on route,

A Buzzard sits in a field (photo taken as the sun rose)

And then lands on a post

Strange pairing

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