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 March 2016

Black cats not always lucky

There are times when my love of all things four legged can be sorely tried. Today was just that case. I happened to glance out of the window early this morning and commented to Ian that a black cat was off exploring the towpath. Nothing unusual about that as many boaters own cats and let them wander about. This cat seemed intent on jumping on every ones boat though. Then having lost sight of it as it went past FS, I saw it again walking over the footbridge to the other side of the canal. The boat opposite didn't appear to have anyone on board and I watched this black cat jump onto the front, lift it's tail and spray all over inside! Having grabbed the camera I got a shot of it as it was doing the deed. It then jumped off and headed toward the road. Well I was feeling sorry for the person who would come back to the mess and smell when I too suddenly noticed a peculiar smell coming from the back cabin doors. For goodness sake, that blasted cat had christened us as well!!!! And the unmistakable smell of Tom cat urine filled the air. It took several attempts with cleaning fluid, wiping down all the paintwork on the exterior doors as well as the vents inside and out before I finally eradicated it and even now I'm not sure that I cant still detect that odour!

You can see it spraying just below it's raised tail.

So today, with tickets for the Sea Life Aquarium, Christine, Josh and Thomas joined me (Ian decided against going) to spend a couple of hours walking round the place. Photos not brilliant as no flash was allowed, still they are not bad and at least one can tell what they are.

Josh, Thomas and Christine

View from the upper floor at Sea Life

You can see how close to Sea Life we are. Just see the stern of FS on the left.

Coming back to FS for a spot of lunch, we said our farewells to them around 2ish. To think it wont be until August that we will see the family again. No doubt the difference in the Grandsons will be striking.

This photo of the Barclaycard Arena Building showing the copper glistening in the setting sun

And this one of me playing with a colour picker on my Lumix with the rest in black and white

Wednesday 30 March 2016

It must have been a shock to a returning boater.

 Last night, looking at the local news, we did find out where the blaze was situated. For those who don't know it was at Saltley recycling plant nearer to Star City then Birmingham city centre. See a photo click here.  And last night with the smoke now a white colour I took another photo. The sun was setting and the Library was glowing gold in the sun. Wonderful.

This morning, with no sign of any smoke on the horizon, I assumed the fire was out. We decided to move FS as I hadn't read the sign on the post properly and had  actually moored on a 2 day mooring. With us wanting to stay until Friday we moved.... maybe about 50 yds.... to take up a 14 day mooring vacated by a boat earlier. Still, this mooring is much better as we have the sun for at least 6 hours during the day and the solar panels are working nicely.

14 day mooring only one boat length.
 Deed done we headed off to the Bull Ring. There is a lot of regeneration happening around the centre and whereas a couple of years ago we walked through the Paradise centre to Victoria Square, it is now a building site.

I'm not a fan of the new station. The reflections in the silver walls looks peculiar and more like a building site. This is just my opinion as I know many people admire the patterns produced.

Grand Central Station

Reflections looks all wrong in my opinion
 And I'm also not a big fan of the Selfridges building. In fact I must be old fashioned as it's the modern look I'm not keen on, preferring the look of old historical buildings instead.

Eventually we made it to the Bull Ring. Did no more then glance in the windows as the shops all looked a bit to posh and expensive for us and I couldn't find my usual shopping outlet...Charity Shops!!! Anyway, took the compulsory photo of the Bull.

Stopping at Wetherspoons for lunch, we then made our way back to FS by mid afternoon but not before admiring some of the sights on the way.

Sand art of a dog.
 Having moved FS we were now moored directly opposite this boat. I couldn't believe someone would be so nasty as to do this to it. Obviously the fisherman in question must have been well peeved about losing his fishing peg to a boat. Feel very sorry for the owner as I would have been devastated.

Think some of the letters have been painted out for decency.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

C&RT's less agreeable jobs and that was one big blaze in Brum.

Well we didn't 'alf see some sights today not the usual at all but I'll mentioned those later. First back to this morning. We had all of Aston locks to do and amazingly every lock on the Aston flight (all 11) were empty and all Ian had to do was open the bottom gate. Blooming miracle I might add, as this does not happen very often. Was I glad though 'cos the quicker one gets through this flight the better. We had youths shouting and hollering, not at us mind, but all were drinking and we decided it was better to acknowledge them by saying hello then to antagonise.

Bit grotty and plenty of graffiti everywhere

This was one of the nicer bits. A housing complex complete with lock water feature.
Very pleased to reach Aston Junction and do the right towards Farmers Bridge. It was on this flight that we met C&RT. They had the unenviable job of not only clearing up any rubbish, but of looking for sharps (used druggie needles) and having to deal and wash down the vomit by the bridges.

Aston Flight to the left.

Heading toward Farmers Bridge

Met C&RT and thought they were going to help us up the flight. In fact they were doing this.....

Looked like a syringe but actually turned out to be.......

a lighter

But more often then not it was used needles.

Mop and bucket to clean the sick!
After chatting for a while one went ahead and opened some of the bottom gates for us. Yep every lock on the Farmers Bridge flight was also with us (all 13) and as I cant remember the last time we actually came up these locks, (always do it the other way round) I thought I would put a few photos of this unique flight.

Looking back
 And just to prove I do do my fair share,

And finally at the top.
 After doing the loo and rubbish we turned right at Old Turn Junction and moored at Sheepcoats mooring. I went fishing and left Ian to change the slide on the cassette (not the nicest of jobs!) It was as I decided to pack up around 4ish that I noticed the smoke. And boy was it dense. So glad the wind wasn't blowing it toward us but I pity all those in the line of fire, so to speak. We will have to see the news tonight to find out where it's coming from but someone thinks it's the custard factory gone up.

And this amused me. Obviously this pigeon  thinks as they are called pigeon spikes it may as well use them

Monday 28 March 2016

A couple of hazards to contend with.

Had a great evening with Christine, Kev and boys and a really good meal at the Dog and Doublet. After the meal Kev and Josh decided to go fishing and I was most put out that both of them caught bigger fish than me.

Having left after 9pm we soon departed for bed as we fully expected to get away early. Well, we may just as well have stayed up late because storm Katie arrived with a vengeance   carrying on well into the morning  so gone was any idea of leaving by 7am. When we did decide to brave it the rain had stopped and we were almost ready to untie when a boat beat us to it, taking the empty lock which we had planned for ourselves. Hey ho such is life so we had another cup of tea to let him get well ahead.

Between lock 7 and 6 Ian who was walking on, stopped dead. Being a fair way behind I wondered what he was doing until he pointed to one of Katie's casualties. A tree down right across the towpath and almost onto the lock landing. With no way for Ian to get by, I battled with the wind to pick him up and then battled with the wind to drop him off again once beyond the hazard. Didn't help that a boat was moored on the landing almost in the middle either!

Better photo of it looking back. Just missed the landing.

Then by the C&RT yard, one of the work boats had got loose and was blocking the exit from the lock. Ian was all set to grab ropes to secure it when C&RT turned up. Apparently the bollard had pulled away from the bank no doubt due to the wind blowing directly onto the side of the boat, yet another casualty of storm Katie. Having reported the tree blocking the towpath we left them trying to secure the boat with metal stakes. Not sure they will be good enough to do the job.

Having stopped at Minworth to do an Asda shop we pulled pins wanting to get to Salford junction. Here we took the second exit to head for the city.

We wanted to stop at a secure mooring at Cuckoo Wharf and was slightly dismayed to find them now residential. Even the facilities mooring had a residential boat moored on it. Deciding to stop anyway at least to empty the loo, I hailed a chap doing work on his boat and asked about staying the night. With it being Easter Monday and the mooring officer away at the moment, he could see no reason why we shouldn't stay. So here we stay until the morning safe in the knowledge that no one will bother us and with a water tap right by FS.

Cuckoo Wharf
 And a couple of photos to make one cringe

Another trip hazard!

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