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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.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Stand by your ropes folks, The beasts are coming!

Gosh it was blustery last night with FS rocking around like a good 'un. Fishing was out of the question 'cause we just happened to be moored along the sweep of a large bend. The gust that came round the corner.......well it was proper waves that lapped on the hull! Float kept bobbing up and down but wasn't because I had a fish on! Gave up in the end as a bad job, theres always another day.

Leaving this morning the conditions didn't seem to bad. Yes the wind it did blow but not so much seeming to be calmer then last night. Little did we know that worse was to come. As the day progress the wind got stronger! Getting onto the lock landings became a real challenge especially as all but one lock (Buscat) was self service. Trying to land Ian and tie up was difficult enough but when we saw the lock with us and gates open at Rushey lock we thanked our lucky stars and sailed straight in.... but then Ian had to get off! A clamber onto the cabin top followed by a leap of faith was the only way.

 Radcot lock was also in our favour and we had all but arrived at the landing when we suddenly the gates started moving.Two lads in trainers and shorts who I thought were joggers, closing them! It became a matter of sounding horn and frantically waving arms as the wind took me towards the lock wall. Turned out they were canoeist and said they hadn't consciously registered that we were there.  Still they did the lock for us and for that we were grateful.

The two standing with life jackets on where NOT lock keeper but EA inspectors!
Finally we reached St Johns lock. The lock landing was before the bridge with the facilities and lock beyond.As per normal we stopped on the landing before the bridge. Got FS secured and Ian went off to find the lock keeper. Well he tried to anyway. Went from one end to the other, came back baffled saying he couldn't find how to get off the staging.  How bizarre! A sign stated landing for lock operation only but how does one get to the lock??? All we could do was untie, go through the bridge and stop on the facility bollards. If another boat had been moored there not sure what we would have done. Anyway another self service for Ian to do before entering the final bit of the upper Thames.

Landing stage with no exit. Note the briars ready to make a grab for ones legs!

And looking back through the bridge 'ole
The meadows at Lechlade were by no means full. The Heifers and Bullocks all seen lying down in the distance and, knowing of their reputation of devouring anything loose on ones boats as well as damaging paintwork and shredding ropes, we went for a mooring by the bridge. First we winded. Even with the wind blowing a hooley, that in itself wasn't to bad. It was whilst trying to get bankside that the problems arose. As soon as we got within reach the wind blew us out again. We must have tried three or four times before Ian said lets wind again and come at it from a different angle. Our vain attempts had been noted by boaters on Nb Antedote who came rushing over to give us a hand. All I can say is thank you to them for catching our ropes and pulling us in. Without them who knows were we might be now!

Now what was I saying about them beasts being at the far side of the meadow? Next few photos says it all!

Ian changing ropes. Don't want them beasties eating the good rope.

Now awaiting a visit from the farmer. Mooring fee of £4 is mentioned in our Thames guide but I might just ask him who I send the bill to if his beasts damage the boat!! I expect an answer of 'You dont have to moor here so clear off'!. Hmmmm.......... maybe I wont bother.

And on route.

Another Kite.

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