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.

Friday 31 July 2015

In search of the Pinkhill Owl

Last night the peace was shattered by hollering and laughter. I happened to be fishing and did a double take when this naked body appeared from behind a bush. Then came another, both enjoying an evening dip. I  didn't get to see if they were wearing anything below the waist but judging by the screams as they plunged into the river, I reckon they may have worried about their assets!!!!

Had a walk round the ruins (Godston Nunnery) but not much to see as, according to the lock keeper, the university students did a dig and uncovered some interesting bits and bobs. Instead of allowing the public to admire what had been uncovered, they filled in the dig and just left it go wild. Still I came across some bugs and tried out the new camera with macro lens and got some decent photos and also discovered a unique feature not shown on the old Panasonic.  On expressive mode I can select a colour which will stand out while all around is in black and white.

In normal mode

And expressive.

Having left Kings lock and just before we got to Eynsham lock a movement caught my eye. What I first thought was a crow having a drink, turned out to be a mink making use of an old swans nest.

Had another bogger encounter at Eynsham lock. We had stopped to empty the loo and noticed several boats descending. With the lock gates opening out came the Mary H. I have followed Linda's blog for quite a while so knew they were heading in our direction and was pleasantly surprised that the meeting was at the lock and not, as is the norm, passing each other with only a quick chance of a hello. In fact we did actually cause a bit of mayhem as not only did Mary H need a pumpout, but the other 2 exiting boats as well. We had sat virtually in the middle of the landing after using the elsan and although Mary H got past us okay, the other two had no where to land. It was the lock keeper who sorted us all out by almost sternly telling us to shift! Anyway once in the lock Linda came for a chat. Lovely to meet another of the family of bloggers and seems there are more on the Thames then we first realised. Who will we meet next???

Pinkhill lock must be the prettiest lock we have been through so far. The gardens are full of flowers. Several years ago nearly all the lockside gardens were equally as nice as they all competed for the title of best kept lock. Such a shame it's no longer the case. This one would win hands down. 

Pinkhill lock

We didn't travel much further stopping on a lovely stretch of meadow. In fact the same spot that Sue (No Problem) moored at when we passed by nearly a month ago. Then Sue had blogged about the owl that flew regularly over the meadow, even in daylight. Its one of my wish list to see a wild owl, only ever having seen them in captivity. I'm keeping everything crossed as I have already heard it calling late this afternoon. Just hope the BBQ tonight doesn't deter it from flying over!! We may stay another day as a walk round the reservoir is beckoning to us. Such a lovely peaceful place this. I do love the upper Thames!

And on route,

Next two photos seen at the ruins and with the new camera

Thursday 30 July 2015

The Jameisons curse is at it again

All about me as Ian seems to have a charmed life. The dreaded 'Things happen in 3's' reared it's ugly head once more. First it was the screen on my laptop then, apart from not being able to select a P on the Eee netbook, the netbook battery also gave up the ghost and plugging into the mains didn't help either. Then worse of all my Panasonic Lumix FZ48 just stopped working!!!! Now this camera is my workhorse, it takes all the photos of our travels as well as all the bug and insect macro photography.  I was utterly gutted when I tried to take a photo of a lovely moth that had entered the cabin Monday night and all the controls wouldn't work. I went to bed that night in a right mood. Didn't get any better the next morning after Ian had a look at it and said it was beyond repair! It also happened to be the very day that a hire car had been booked to take me to Nottingham Queens Medical Center for my steroid injection into my hip. After a very quick search on the net, Ian found a new Panasonic Lumix FZ72 (later model with 60x zoom and the ability to take RAW files) at Currys/PCworld in Nottingham. 2 available so we put one on reserve. It was on the journey to the hospital that a phone call from Currys informed us that the only two cameras in store were demonstration units.With no other means of buying a camera other then that day, we agreed to the purchase. Had to have the Lumix because of the macro lens. It had to fit the new camera as another macro lens on another make would have cost the earth. In the photos below you can see the similarity but some of the settings and functions are different so am still trying to come to grips with it.

FZ72 (taken in JPEG on the Canon)
This taken with RAW on the FZ72. Not sure I like the picture effect. Seems a bit purple.

As for my hospital procedure. I was sat in a dressing gown for well over 2 hours. Eventually gets called into the theater where a local anesthetic was administered followed by the steroid injection. It took all of 2 minutes and I was back at cubicles. So far no improvement. In fact the pins and needles I experience seems to be getting worse! Maybe I'm expecting miracles where there are none but with another appointment not for 3 months, I'm beginning to wish I had the money to go private!!!

Today we left Abingdon but first we wanted diesel. Reading would have been the best place to get diesel at 80p Ltr but with 70% in the tank we didn't bother to stop and top up. Wish we had done though because at Abingdon Bridge Marina it was £1.25 Ltr with a 60/40 split! And look at the cost of water!!!! Ripoff comes to mind. Glad we don't have to pump out as well!!!

Anyway we couldn't understand why no one had turned up at 9am. The web site clearly states open from 9. By 9.30 someone finally arrived. It was a new recruit of 3 days who had no idea how to turn the pump on! So we waited for his boss to arrive at 10am and waited and waited. By 10.30 still no sign and the new recruit said we would have to move soon as the Salter Steamer would be arriving to pick up passengers. We almost gave up when finally the boss arrives. And his excuse for being late??? He had to wait 20 minutes for a bacon sandwich to be prepared and wasn't about to miss his lunch pack!!! I ask you........is that anyway to run a business???? Luckily we got dieseled up (only put 50 Ltrs in) and away before the steamer arrived.

 Salter Steamer leaving Abingdon lock on it's way to Bridge Marina services

Abingdon lock

This wasnt the last time we saw the Salters boat. He followed us into Sandford lock. Amazing how those big B's fit especially with two narrow boats and a large cruiser.

Sandford lock

 Then at Oxford the usual chaos with the passenger boats. The steamer had already discharged one lot of passengers and was picking up another for the return journey. Thankfully once we got to Osney bridge ( 7' 6") we left the large cruisers behind and us narrowboats had the upper Thames to ourselves.

punting in Oxford

Found a nice mooring by Godstow Priory. Bit of road noise from the A34 by pass but acceptable none the less. Oh and a lot of noise from the sheep as they crossed Godstow Bridge!

And these photos taken with the Lumix FZ2

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Just a quickie

I'm back.......up and running again. Love it when a plan comes together. New screen was ordered through ebay with a delivery option of collecting from an Argos of our choice. Had the email arrive this morning to say it was ready for collection at Abingdon. So we left the mooring of 4 days and hoped that Abingdon wouldnt be wall to wall boats. Luckily a space was vacated by a large cruiser as we arrived so although the banks are a bit high, it did us very nicely.

Mooring fees were not collected and school closed for summer so couldn't even walk and pay there. We would have gladly paid for this cause.

I mentioned the wasps nest. Well not only did we have one at the bow but the stern as well.

Tree cutting along the river.

Ian replacing my screen.

Not sure if it's a water vole or rat.

Loads has happened since my last blog but cant tell about it now as we are off to Wetherspoon's. That will be for tomorrows blog.

Sunday 26 July 2015

On the rise one minute, down the next.....now stuck!

(29th and my laptop is now up and running. Will keep this post for posterity but have replaced the P's.)

Blast. Got my Eee pc netbook working but now have lost the ability to select a

So sorry about that and will replace the letter as soon as I have my PC back. Instead will hyphenate the missing letter. (Isn't spell checker a wonderful thing!)

Having had the river levels rise by about 7cms, getting into the side here at Glifton Hampden wasn't too bad yesterday, even though the stern stuck out by a mile. We had pulled forward but a wasps nest  somewhat decided against us staying at that location. Moving back by 5 ft meant the bottom was nearer to the top but, as we were floating then, that wasn't an issue. Overnight the levels dropped! Getting up this morning and doing the drunken walk as we listed towards Starboard, Ian hastily got dressed and tried in vain to push us off. Then he noticed another boater further along trying to do the self same thing. The guy from Nb Rufford also had the same list. So Ian went to help him and in return he came to help us. After considerable effort from both men, as well as friendly advice by a gongoozler, both boats were refloated. To stop us from drifting back and getting stuck again, the mud weight has been lowered. Rain has once again set in, said to continue all day, so we expect the levels to rise again. Rope adjustment will be needed, no doubt, but the priority is to keep floating.

Getting Nb Rufford floating

Can see the bottom now.

Well have you tried getting in the water......Hmmm such advice not needed!

 Have decided to go for Sunday lunch at the Barley Mow. Seems a reasonable menu and the bonus for Ian as a CAMRA member, 10% off each -int.

This seen last night, death wish comes to mind.

And seen early evening.

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