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 30 September 2017

Faith has been restored.

Well, I'm flabbergasted, I would never have believed it and what were the chances of that??? But we have a result. Ian received an email from Ian Lane West Midland manager today. First Ian's email,

Today (27/09/2017) at approximately 12.10 while travelling southward from Fradley Junction towards Fazeley, between bridges 87 & 86 adjacent to the A38, I had to stop my boat in the offside vegetation to allow northbound vessels to pass. (they had clear passage forward where mine was obstructed).  This action was necessitated by the fact that the offside vegetation at this point is so excessive that it impedes normal navigation of the water. Ie 2 boats cannot pass unhindered.  During this pause in my journey, my double skin stainless steel chimney, lying flat on the roof, was swept off into the water by the overhanging branches.  The following is a photograph of the section of water concerned which shows how intrusive the offside growth is and how little room there is for a boat to pass on the towpath side.  This photo was taken once all 7 oncoming boats had struggled to pass us.

And this is the reply,

Dear Mr Jameison, Thank you for the below email and please accept my apologies for the issue you have faced. I am aware that the trees in this stretch do require action and the proposed plan to manage them has already been brought forward to be undertaken prior to this year dredging project on the Coventry canal.

Unfortunately, as you are no doubt aware, tree management is something we try hard to manage but as you can appreciate it is a costly and never ending project. Whilst we aspire to keep on top of it, it’s not always possible and this is an unfortunate result. Therefore as a gesture of good will I will ask Yvonne to issue cheque in full and final settlement of your claim.

Given the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve this service and in many areas we are already seeing the vegetation/tree works undertaken by  volunteers to supplement the work our contractors has shown great success and is something we wish to grow. This is just a start but it is an issue we take seriously and want to address.

I trust this is acceptable and I hope you will be able to better enjoy the Coventry post winter after the tree works have been completed.

Kind regards  

Ian Lane
Waterway Manager
West Midlands Waterway

I am mightily impressed with the speed of their reply and the action taken. It proves that us boaters can get things moving after all if only we were to complain more.  Thank you C&RT.

So for the rest of today Friday 29th September,

Brilliant timing it was by us pushing across to the lock landing at 7am. It was the traffic noise that woke us early, wind in the wrong direction, so no point in staying in bed. With 5 more locks to do in the Atherstone flight thought we may as well get going. And no sooner had we entered the first lock when another boat appeared. Bet he wondered where we had come from!

Slight red tint to the sky as we set off

Into the first lock

Final lock on the flight
Reached the top of the flight at 7.50 am (not bad going, roughly 10 minutes a lock) and then the drizzle started. Wasnt long before it got heavier and saw no point in both staying outside so Ian took the first shift. 10 minutes later he looked as if he had gone through a waterfall, drenched he was. I got kitted up with waterproofs and took over. For 11 miles the rain was relentless and not a single boat was seen travelling toward us. Even at the dreaded Boot Wharf and Starline boatyard where we always meet boats and have trouble getting past those moored either side, today we had no problem at all.

 Reached Hawkesbury Junction and a sharp left-hander onto the Oxford canal. Just the one lock to do, shallow with a rise of about 6 inches. The rain had stopped which brought all the fair weather boaters out.

Saw this sign not far from bridge 4  and thought yea...right.. but wow..prooved me wrong when I saw not one but three voles.

Had a chap get really shirty with us. Two boats approaching a bridge 'ole, both with obscured vision and then both him and us into reverse.

He beckons us through so on we went. Got up to him and said thank you as one does and his reply was I would have stopped sooner if you had sounded your horn! What? How often does a boater sound the horn at a bridge other than when it is at a very sharp bend. Are we the only ones that don't do it? We always slow right down just in case but he insisted that we should have given him a warning because he had given us two blasts to say he was coming through. We told him we hadn't heard the balsts and maybe he should get a bigger horn!

Caught up with a boat at Stretton and if we had thought to have got away with it at Boots Wharf, well at Stretton it was a nightmare. Realised that we chose the wrong day to get to Stretton as all the hire boats were in and being shifted around. And what with oncoming boats as well.....

Ahother bridge hole meeting.
By 2 pm we decided to call it a day. Picked up an end mooring after bridge 34 and thought I would go for an explore. Not 50 yds from FS was bushes full of Sloes. Took Ian with the boat hook bringing the branches to my level and 30 minutes of picking to fill my mixing bowl. Finally, I can start the Sloe gin, which should be ready for Christmas.

 And wildlife from yesterday (too wet today)

Surprised to see the dragonflies still out and about.

Friday 29 September 2017

Atherstone flight...for the 4th time in a 6 weeks

 Thursday 28th Sept

So yesterday late afternoon, before mooring up, a gentleman appeared from within a moored boat, Nb Quinquireme. Turns out this gentleman has actually read my blog and thinks highly of my photos. Big thank you to him for appreciating my pics although what he thinks of my musings wasn't mentioned! Hopefully all good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Rained heavily on and off during the night. Glad about that because it washed the roof of all that glutinous mud where the pole had lain.  We hadn't bothered to clean it after the attempt of trying to find the chimney so you can imagine the state of the roof. Anyway, last night Ian emailed C&RT about how disgusted and disgruntled we were.  Sent one to Richard Parry and another to West Midland manager Ian Lane.  Now we await a reply!

Bit late in leaving and so the boat moored in front beat us to it. Turns out he was a single hander who we eventually met up with at the bottom of Glascote locks. I suppose he did what most lone boaters would do if he hadn't seen a boat behind and that would be to leave the boat in the lock and walk up to set the next one. He wasn't expecting another boat to turn up that early in the morning. Never mind Ian gave him a hand to which he was most grateful for.

Bottom of Glascote lock

Chap having left the boat and setting the next one.

At Atherstone bottom, we thought we would see him again but a Stone hire boat left a mooring just before we arrived below the lock so got in between him and us. They were Belgium enjoying their first holiday afloat and for three weeks as well. They had the offer of the third week for free so of course, they said yes to that. This flight of locks has now been cruised 4 times within 6 weeks! And if we cant return to the Erewash canal via the River Soar because of stoppages in Leicester, another one will be added on our return from Leighton Buzzard!

We left them continuing their journey while we stopped on the Kings Head moorings between lock 7 and 6. Decided on a meal there tonight. Do hope the curry is on the menu. They do a very good chicken curry!

And on route,

Looking back from Glascote lock

And wildlife,

Yes that's an acorn he is trying to swallow

Thursday 28 September 2017

Bl**dy annoyed. No... more like seething!!!!

Tuesday pm

Fabulous mooring for the night...or so we thought. BBQ at the ready, wine nicely chilled and just settling down to enjoy the peace and quiet when...

This arrived opposite and stayed spraying for a good hour. Hardly any wind so no nasty chemical smell or taste. And not just that but.....

this appeared hovering right by the mooring and checking the power lines! Then, what with the railway just over the mound ( not aware of it until after we had moored) and what with the evening commute starting (train after train).... and the acorns bouncing of FS's roof because we happen to have moored by an Oak tree (couldn't move because we were stuck)....well....it was anything but peaceful!

Wednesday 27th

In spite of feeling bleary-eyed the day started so well, we managed to push FS out of the mud (although getting the mooring pin out was a different matter) and the run to Fradley was very pleasant indeed.  A boat at the top of Shadehouse lock was ready to descend but with a volunteer lock keeper on duty he had us all down in no time.

 Turned right at the junction onto the Coventry canal, stopping for water and using the facilities before heading off toward Fazeley.

Turned right at the junction
 Along the Coventry canal and you eventually get to Huddlesford. It was here that a boat rally had been held over the last weekend. We knew about the rally but also thought it would be all over by the Monday. Suddenly we started meeting oncoming boats, a few to start with but soon it was a constant stream. Every blooming bridge 'ole we got caught and the one time we didn't want to meet another boat was on a long narrow section between bridges 87 and 86. Here the offside vegetation beggars belief. And here I finally lost it and said to Ian that boating was no longer the joy it once was!!!! Why is it that C&RT expect us to take the boat through trees, hedges and briar's just because they can't be arsed (excuse the language) to maintain the width of the canals! This stretch had room for one boat and only the half of another. It stood to reason that the boat on the offside would have nowhere to go other than the overhanging foliage. And it was here that 7....yes 7 boats came toward us. FS was by now stationary and tucked over as far as possible. Of course the inevitable happens as a boat comes past. FS moved forward and then sucked out towards the passing boat. The branches on the overhang grabbed hold of our chimney flinging it to one side and right into the water. Then the next boat comes along and FS is swept along and out again and the branches do their best to do the same to the planters! Meanwhile, Ian is trying desperately to control the movement while I at the same time charges down FS's length for my fishing net to try and retrieve the chimney! Finally, having fought branches, twigs, briar's as well as stopping FS, the last boat comes past and disappears. Now the fun started as we try in vain to find the chimney. Ian tried with the magnet although with it being stainless steel he didn't hold out much hope. Thought he might feel it with magnet hitting steel. And no....we didn't find it and now we have to fork out for a new chimney. I've a good mind to send the bill to C&RT with a very, very nasty letter about their dereliction of care. Surely the license fee the boaters pay every year is not just for all of us to cruise the canals, and in return, we should also expect C&RT to maintain the canals to a "navigable" waterway.  But this doesn't appear to be happening or is it they just don't care!

This taken after the 7th boat had gone past

Trying in vain and yet another boat heading towards us.
 This was not the end of the tale as on the approach to Fazeley Ian spied a moored boat. None other than The Little Chimney boat selling stainless steel, double skinned 12" chimneys. We had expected to fork out nearly £90 for something similar from Midland Chandlers but the one Ian did purchase and, in Ian's opinion, much better put together with a heaver steel was only £65. Still annoyed though about what happened and a copy of the receipt will be sent to C&RT requesting reimbursement. We don't expect to get anything!

Moorings found just before the rain started!
And wildlife,

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