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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.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

The move back to our mooring.

Cold??? And here was I thinking we were arriving back in the UK to similar conditions as the Aussie Autumn. How wrong can one be? Yesterday we had snow. The day before I was that cold I made Ian light the fire. Seems like we are in for a few more cold days according to the met office.

One of the things that we needed to do when we arrived back on board FS was to purchase a  coupling to replace the old worn one. As mentioned in last years post, the drive plate and coupling were on the way out. We replaced the drive plate before we left but the price quoted last year at over £400 for the coupling seemed very steep so we decided to wait. While in Hong Kong Ian had an email from Midland Chandlers say Freaky Friday was coming up. So he did no more than to check up on this year's price and to his delight found it was considerably cheaper than last year. What with the discount of freaky Friday, he only paid a little over £300. On our return, we took a detour to Mercia Marina and the very next day Ian (with a little help from me) realigned the engine and replaced the old coupling. We had everything crossed as we fired up the engine and bingo, no more knocking or grating sounds just the sweet sound of an engine working well.

 So we made the move from the Great Northern Basin to our moorings at the swing bridge. Getting out was fun. Two boats moored opposite, and hemmed in by boats either side, we had no room to swing the boat. Times like these one wishes for a bendy boat! Anyway, after a phone call to the mooring officer Norman (who also happens to be the chairman of ECP&DA) the two breasted boats on our starboard side was pulled out of the way giving me just enough room to sidle out without hitting Electra opposite. My biggest worry was hitting the windows with the bow button.

Thankfully all went well and I never even nudged the boat. My only problem was on the reverse to the swing bridge. Forgetting the tyre attached to the rear button as an extra fender was still there, it had slipped down over the rudder and stopped me from swinging the tiller.  Drifting gently to the side Ian was able to pull it off without much difficulty.

Once back at the mooring we set about washing the roof and polishing both sides. Took two days as 6 months of dust and dirt from the car traffic on road above the basin had stained the roof badly and green algae had formed on the gunnels. Still, FS now looks clean and shiny and all ready for her outing to Sandiacre. That won't be for a few more weeks as we have plenty of family and friends visits still to do.

Amazed at how clear the canal is at the moment. Went for a walk several days ago and even managed to get a photo of a Perch. Saw the first ducklings which I expect was a late brood. No doubt many of you have already seen them in early Spring.

We really must remove that tyre!

Saturday 15 April 2017

Holiday log part 2

In memory of Keith, b February 1952 d May 2013 aged 61.

Friday 14 April 2017

A witty poem about hire boat Fife holiday log

A mountain of post was waiting for us at our daughter's house. After 6 months it was to be expected and most was unwanted junk mail but nestled in amongst the junk was a small magazine. Christine had found this magazine in her loft and I was both surprised and delighted when I saw what it was. Many, many years ago we went on a boat holiday hiring from Black Prince Narrow Boats. Our best friends Pat and Keith joined us for the two week holiday in 1997. During our trip, Keith (the poet amongst us) and with a bit of help from us all, kept a daily and amusing log. Today in memory of Keith who sadly died of a brain tumour in May 2013, I have decided to share it. Two weeks worth is a lot to publish in one go so I will do the second part in tomorrow's post.

 In memory of Keith, b February 1952 d May 2013 aged 61

Monday 10 April 2017

Last day in Hong Kong and now back in good old blighty.

As we thought, that last day in Hong Kong seemed to go on forever. The humidity shot up again and at 26 degrees it was most uncomfortable. We visited a cemetery in the morning. Some would call that morbid but I find them peaceful and relaxing and this one held a fascination as it contained79 scattered Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 62 from the Second World War. We happened to see the gravestones when we took the tour bus on our way to the Happy Valley racecourse so of course, I had to find out a bit about it. So this became the first visit of the day.

As we had arranged a late checkout our bags were left in the room and the plan was to return by 1pm, shower, get changed into travelling clothes and then go find the space museum. All went to plan until we arrived at the space museum. Finding that renovation work was going on inside, the only thing available to see was a film at the theatre. In 3D this would have been amazing but all narrative was in Mandarin and the first English viewing wasn't until 6.45pm that evening. No good to us as we had to make our way to the airport. So instead we had another route march to go find the science museum and after 2km found the place. Quite enjoyed looking around as the information boards were in English as well as Mandarin. The place was set out more for the children and, of course, with it being a Saturday absolutely packed.

A Star Wars theme
 After a couple of hours, the decision to go collect our luggage at the hotel and make our way to the airport where we could cool down away from the humidity was a good one. On the walk back we spied this church looking a bit like something from Disney World and right next to it, a dog latrine!

Took roughly an hour from the hotel to the airport by bus and getting checked in was a doddle. Ian had already done this online so after getting rid of the bags at the drop-off point, went straight through security and found a comfy seat where we could wait the 7 hours before the flight.

The plane left on time, just after midnight, but the first part of the flight was awful. So much turbulence that the steward and stewardesses were told to get back to their seats and buckle up. When the emergency exit lights started flashing I thought the end had come!! Thankfully after 30 minutes of being buffeted in all directions, the flight levelled out and all became calm. So glad I haven't got to take any more flights in the foreseeable future, my feet can stay firmly rooted to the ground.

So now we are back on home soil. Our son Colin and Grandson Oscar met us at the airport, a very early start for them as they had to leave Milton Keynes at 4.30am and then had a long wait for us to eventually come through immigration. Still, the reunion was wonderful. So many hugs from Oscar that I think he was pleased to see us. Our other grandson Oliver had to stay at home. Only last week he fell off his bike and broke his collarbone but he also got massive but gentle hugs when we arrived back at the house.

Took the national express back on Monday morning and after 3 hours we finally set foot on board FS. All seemed okay inside and out (no condensation present, mould or musty smells) and the solar panels had kept our batteries topped up nicely. After plugging into the electrics the water tank was filled, then emptied to flush out any impurities and refilled again. The central heating went on and the bed was remade. A quick shop at Asda for 'essentials' before finally relaxing and enjoying the fact we were back on our floating home. We wont be setting off now until sometime in May. To many family and friends to catch up with and to bore by showing thousands of photos!

And at the cemetery,

A huge bug on it's back at he cemetery

And having righted itself.

Sunday 9 April 2017

Excellent value for this train service.

It didn't rain today but it might just as well have because the humidity rose to 91%.  We both felt very moist for most of the day or, as the saying goes, Ian perspired but l glowed!  We went to the Wetland centre north of Kowloon. Took three changes of train to get there with an exorbitant fare of $93. Sounds a huge amount until you break it down to English pounds. Then £9.30 for both of us doesn't seem half as bad. In fact, the third train was the circular light railway with a total cost of 40p!

Everywhere is so clean.

Light railway.
The 61-hectare grounds of the park has, not just lakes and rivers, but a mangrove swamp complete with crabs and mudskippers. A boardwalk allows you to get close and personal and we spent ages watching the antics of them all. There is also a very large glass enclosed enclosure complete with an Aligator. So much to see we were amazed to have spent 5 hours wandering the grounds.

Wetland Park

Possible large wasps?

I think this is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth

Chinese Pond Heron

Nest building fish.

The final day tomorrow. We leave for home on the early hours of Sunday morning. Hotel check-out  is 2 pm. Our luggage can be left with the hotel giving us freedom to go and do the final bit of sightseeing. Then at 8 pm we have to be ready for the bus to take us to the airport. It's going to be a long long day and an even longer 13-hour flight. Can't wait to get back to the UK and see the children and grandkids. 6 months is a long time to be away from the family and both of us, although loved our adventures in Australia and New Zealand, are ready to slow down again.


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