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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.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Did they think we were volunteers?

Last nights meal at the Shroppie Fly was pretty good. The menu wasn't extensive but what was offered was delicious, and cost around £10 each. Steaks were a little expensive at £14 plus and the desserts were a pound dearer than those we had at the Boat (£5.50 instead of £4.50) but very yummy nevertheless. Forgot to take the camera, shame really as the bar was in the shape of a working boat bow. Next time I must remember!

Cold and drizzly this morning when we set off. Only had 4 locks of the Audlem flight to do and whilst Ian walked on to set the next lock, Dennis and Margaret saw me through the first.

 At the bottom lock we happened to meet another boat and from then on FS and Icing were separated. A single hander who took his time on that last lock leaving Dennis and Margaret to fall way behind. As we passed the Overwater Marina we could see boats getting ready to leave. No sign still of Icing even though we dawdled so when I did finally see a boat way in the distance behind us, it wasn't long before I realised it wasn't Icing. In fact, by the time we reached Hack Green locks three boats had come through the bridge 'ole before Icing turned up. From being behind FS somehow all those boats had got in between. We dropped down, secured FS just off the lock landing and walked back to help. Ian stayed at the bottom lock while I walked up to the top. Margaret was already helping to get boats through and apart from one couple, the rest stayed with their boats letting us do the work. I'm sure they thought we were volunteers! Anyway, from the time we switched off the engine on FS to the time we restarted (30 minutes later) we had locked 4 boats down. Goes to show if people are willing to come up to the lock to help, things get done twice as fast.

Icing bringing up the rear.
 Getting through Nantwich...another challenge! We were told there was some sort of food fest going on and I must say hardly a space left along the embankment. A hire boat was winding as Dennis came through the bridge 'ole and then after the aqueduct the boat missed the sharp left hander and had to reverse, causing Dennis and us to put the anchors on rather rapidly.

All stop.

 Glad to get past the facilities as boats were trying to leave the water point whilst a boat was coming through the bridge.That narrow that I did accidentally touch the bow of a moored boat. I was all ready to apologise if someone had appeared shouting abuse.

Hurleston Junction the start of the Llangollen was as busy as ever. No volunteer Lockie on duty so we were pretty much left to our own devices. A butty had been bow hauled up the flight to drop coal at the top and then bow hauled back down. Because of the nature of the first lock with the sides slightly less wide than a conventional lock meant that boats slightly too wide or travelling with fenders down were liable to get stuck and the buttys motor was a tad too wide to fit.

The pound between the second and third lock was ridiculously low. So much so that the ascending boat in front got stuck on the cill and water had to be let down to free him. I feared for FS and Icing but luckily they got through...just.

At the top, we stopped for water. No chance of doing the loo as the facilities were out of order. Here a hire boat was waiting for an engineer. Turns out the hire boat was one of the 'new look' Anglo Welsh boats, blue instead of green. They were a tad disappointed that they had no internet and the fact that the TV didn't work. All the TV needed to be was a retune and the internet switch turned on so in comes Ian who shows them how. Common sense was all that was needed really. But they were also worried about how long it was taking the engineer to arrive. Asking what the problem was turned out they had caught the rudder on the cill and knocked the tiller out of the cup!

Top of Hurleston flight.
 Got moored by bridge 3. So very rural and quiet and a shame the weather was so dismal as it would have been an ideal place for a BBQ. Never mind we are onto Icing tonight for a game of Mexican Train. Should be good fun.

And on route,

Fabulous wooden horse.

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