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.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Merlin move day 4 and yet another blogger met.

For once it was the owls that got us up. In the tree directly opposite a pair hooting to each other for all their worth. So another early start in fact earlier then yesterday, we were away a tad after 7am.

A hint of red with sunrise

Today we made for Penkridge. The leaf situation had improved considerably and we only had a few occasions to clear the prop. With the sun causing the temperature to rise the cruise turned out to be very pleasant indeed. You would never think it was 31st October, Halloween, and tomorrow the start of November.

So without much to blog about this is more of a photo blog, although not long after mooring in Penkridge a familiar boat came past. It was Maffi and Molly on Milly M. I rushed out to say hello and I'm sure Maffi wondered who this women was. After all without me being on FS not many people would take a second glance at a strange women on a hire boat! Ian helped Maffi up Filance lock and we stood and had a bit of a catch-up. Having waved goodbye, within 30 minutes a knock on the boat and Maffi and Molly were stood outside. So kettle on, my dog fix with Molly and putting the worlds to right as only Maffi can.

Stretton Aqueduct

Approaching Autherley junction and Napton hire boats

Stop lock at the junction

Turned L towards Great Hayward

On the Staff & Worc and into the narrows

Hatherton branch

Tricky job to get to the lock with all the hire boats in

Pheasant shoot by Rodbaston lock

Maffi with Molly making sure the wall's not hit!

18 miles and 7 locks

And wildlife on route,

Friday 30 October 2015

Merlin move day 3 and another blogger meeting.

Another wet and windy start to the day, rain woke us before it was light so no point in lying in bed, might as well have breakfast and go. It was a cruising day, no locks unless we made it to Wheaton Aston and decide to ascend Wehaton Aston lock. Had a good 17 miles to do to get there but with the leaves and moored boats slowing us down, didn't really expect to arrive.

A wet start from the mooring at the top of Tyrley lock

Lots of leaves to go through.
Woodseaves cutting, with us forever reversing to clear leaves, slowed us right down but those wonderful high bridges gave us something to wonder at. The most photographed bridge is bridge 39, High Bridge, along the Grub Street Cutting complete with a masonry strut carrying a short telegraph pole, built across the arch.

High Bridge

Reaching Norbury brought back memories of Merlins launch. It was in 2004 that she was craned in at the wharf.

Merlin being craned in at Norbury
After going into the paint dock she came out a lovely red, Anglo Welsh colours at that time. I must say we still prefer her in that livery, thought she was one glassy boat but then we would seeing as she was all ours and the first boat we had ever owned!

Merlin's interior

And this is Norbury today,

Not a bad price for diesel but Wheaton Aston is better. 54.9 per ltr

We stopped before Wheaton Aston and the first thing to try was the TV. Ian was desperate to watch the Rugby tonight and after holding the center rope while Ian tuned the TV, he came back looking all glum to say there was no signal! So we moved another mile to Wheaton Aston (yep we made it after all) and stopped to try once again. Still no signal, decision made to keep going and up Wheaton Aston lock. As Ian started the walk to the lock he took one look at a moored boat and did a double take. It was No Problem with Sue and Vic on board. What a lovely surprise and Sue walked with Ian to help me up the lock. Then Sue came on board to have a look round Merlin but the visit was somewhat curtailed when Sue noticed a lady standing by Merlin with Windlass in hand. So it was another slow exit from the lock, forward, reverse, forward, reverse, those blasted leaves around the prop again, before we finally made it out and said our farewells to Sue.

We didnt get very far when Ian said 'Lets try the TV again'. Through the bridge and the winter moorings showed itself. A long stretch devoid of boats. Can not understand C&RT putting winter moorings so far from any facilities. And not only that but right by the start was an irrigation pump and bl**dy noisy it was too! Who in there right mind would want to moor with that going on all day long?? So Sue...you did the right thing in moving to below lock for your moorings. Hope C&RT will see sense and allow you to stay. We will stay just the one night 'cause Ian finally got his TV signal. He can watch his Rugby in peace as I depart to the bedroom with a good book!

And on route today,


Thursday 29 October 2015

Merlin move day 2, a challenging day.

Last nights hint of a red sky. Wasn't Shepherds delight at all!!!!

What a start to the day..... a day where we would normally batten down the hatches and stay tucked up nice and warm but we couldn't afford such luxury so wet weather gear on and away by 8am. 

Ummm... just a tad blustery!

Although I think some of the locks on the Shroppie are amongst the most picturesque, those bywashes don't 'alf push you off course. On the Audlem flight below lock 12 it's vicious as is the bywash at Tyrley bottom. I tried ploughing my way through but only succeeded in hitting the lock walls big time. Glad it was only Ian watching and no, I didn't break any crockery!

It's been a very slow day. The leaves have played havoc with our prop and reverse was engaged almost as much as forward.  Worse was to come at the locks. Audlem, Adderley and Tyrley all tried to jeopardize our progress by being full of twigs and leaves and grabbed hold of Merlin refusing to let her go. So coming out of the locks was a challenge especially when boaters coming down had to wait for me to try and get out. I had to keep reversing to get rid of the mound that had accumulated round the prop. Bet they though blooming hirers!! Don't know what they are doing!!! By the time we had done all 25, (15 at Audlem, 5 at Adderly and 5 at Tyrley we were ready to call it quits. We had already been on the go for nearly 7.5 hours so stopped and watered up at the top of Tyrley flight (slowest tap in the world!!!!) and had to moor on the lock landing and half way across the lock entrance seeing as how our hose wouldn't reach. Thankfully no one turned up.

Had a nice surprise at the bottom of Adderley flight. See that blue boat moored....

Well turns out it was none other then James and Debbie on Lois Jane. Knocked on their boat and fully expected them not to recognise us without FS but no they greeted us like long lost friends. We had to decline their offer of coffee as time was of the essence and in a way I'm glad we did keep going what with those blasted leaves an all! Still managed a decent chat about this and that and knowing they will be going to the Christmas market in Birmingham early December, may well try to see them there.

Traveled 10.5 mile and did 25 locks.

Some of my photos taken on route.

Start of Audlem flight

Coming up to the Shroppie Fly

Looking up the flight and.....

Looking back

Tyrley flight beautiful but full of leaves.

someones got a sense of humour

Large flat fungi


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