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.

Sunday 31 December 2017

Must try harder with the New Year Resolution for 2018

Gosh, the food at this hotel is second to none and so much of it. We leave the table completely stuffed, spend about an hour trying to recover in our room before trying to walk it off by finding yet another real ale bar. The one we found last night was called the Red Herring and one hell of a route march from the hotel but worth every step as the bar staff were friendly and the ale cheap. Again we staggered back to the hotel by 11.30pm and fell into bed. This time it was nearer 4 am when the noise started from revellers and an hour later the road sweepers started. Think we might go back to FS after this break needing a rest.

One would think Great Yarmouth would be a hub of activity, espeicially this time of the festive year. But no....taking these photos it looked more like a ghost town.

The hotel. Our second-floor room is up to the side street on the right.

 No coach excursions to keep us occupied for today (or tomorrow) so a walk along the beach was decided for today. Had to wait for the rain to stop before venturing out and the walk along the shoreline was bracing, to say the least.

The only other living things on the beach (other than us) were these pigeons.

Where is everyone?
 Found this wonderful small cafe on the way back which served the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. So indulgent with lashing of rich cream and marshmallow topping. Forgot that today we also had lunch provided by the hotel for 1pm and came away from that very very bloated. Soooo need to get back on track with the diet when we get home. New Year's resolution.....stop eating!

Tonight the fun starts. Dinner first followed by a singing act, then in the interval a game of Bingo (groan) before the next session of the entertainment. Anyway as 2017 draws to a close Ian and I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year. We raise our glass to 2018 and all it will bring for us and also for you all.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Strange gurglings and early morn revellers.

Oh-err. A new influx of guest have arrived in this hotel and the room above us is now occupied. Not only do we have Elephants parading up and down making one hell of a racket but every time their shower is used, we can hear water gurgling up through our shower plughole!

Anyway back to last night. Dinner was very good with three course provided but only water served at the table. We could have had wine but at £15+ for a bottle of their house wine, we felt we could do without. Instead, we made it to a real ale pub to satisfy our thirst. The beer was £3.20 a pint and a medium glass of red wine was only £3.40. Not bad as usually Ian pays well over £4 for my wine. Didn't feel quite as guilty as I normally do. (Okay okay so I lie!)

Bed beckoned well after 11.30pm and yesterdays fears were realised when we had revellers shouting and laughing and generally having a good time below our window. Really don't mind that as we all like a good time but NOT at 3 in the morning!  Me thinks the wee hours of New Year morning might be very noisy. Hopefully, we will all be very comatose by then!

Same view as last night but in daylight this time.
 Today we went to Norwich. 3 hours to do what we like and honestly thought we could do loads. Not so as an hour was spent in Wetherspoons with the ECP&DA motley mob having coffee and trying to sort out Michaels new camera. Much hilarity when he managed to take floor shots rather than any of us! Having left them all to do their own thing Ian and I headed for Norwich castle. Plenty to see here but more of those themed rooms consisting of wildlife (liked a lot), Vikings and Roman artefacts (very interesting) and Rembrandt's painting gallery ( Not our cup of tea). Needless to say, I didn't really take many photos, just these few. But time defeated us as we realised the Cathedral would have to wait for another visit. Coach arrived by 1.45pm and we would have been all set to leave then but for Ian realising his phone had dropped out of his pocket at the Castle. Never have I seen a man leg it so fast back and never have I seen a man so pleased when he found it handed in at the reception desk! We left by 2 pm!

L to R Dave, Heather, Michael, Ian, Dennis and Margaret hiding behind Carol

Norwich Castle

Toilet talk again??

Cathedral as seen from one of the castle windows

Medieval Wall carvings in the Kings Chapel

And a selfie!

Friday 29 December 2017

Countdown to NYE

What a miserable day to travel to Great Yarmouth. Persistent rain nearly all the way only letting up as we reached the Hotel.  I have yet to get a proper look at the Hotels exterior but the room we were given has actually got a sea view...well we can see the promenade only if you stick your head out of the window, get a crick in the neck as you look to the right and perch the camera on the outside window cill.To our front is a pedestrian street of which we are a tad worried about the noise factor on New Years Eve night.A chip shop is immediately opposite! Mind you we plan to celebrate in typical Jameison style. Get them bevvies down one's throat without a care and suffer the consequences in the morn. (Panadol packed in readiness!).

So unpacking done, quick nip to another hotel pub as it serves real ale and now awaiting dinner for 6.15pm.

Oh and a few more photos of the last day of Merlins move. Back to Bunbury and the first thing we noticed, a sinking boat. Anglo-Welsh had informed the owner who seemed totally unconcerned. Big bill will be waiting for him as it sinks deeper and deeper no doubt!

New cill on the middle gates Bunbury staircase.

Sorry and I know I will upset some people but...I'm still very much against these stupid signs!

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Last day.

That's it, Christmas over for another year and only another 364 days before we do it all again. But what a lovely day yesterday, very relaxing watching TV and then an excursion to The Shroppie Fly for drinks before Christmas dinner with all the trimmings cooked in an oven with only one rack and dodgy oven settings. (Turkey crown cooked quicker than anticipated so had to sit covered with foil on the worktop whilst potatoes, pigs in blankets and stuffing balls took its place) but all came good in the end.

I only sat next to Ian for the photo. Pat wasn't going to eat both dinners!
 So today was our last full day on Merlin. Setting off by 9am after enjoying a full English breakfast, it wasn't long before we reached Hack Green locks. It was cold today and the stretch up to the locks and beyond was long, straight and very open. That wind was bitterly cold and Ian and I took it in turns for a warm inside. Pat did the sensible thing and stayed wrapped up and by the doorway to benefit from the heat leaving the cabin.

Hack Green top lock


Hurleston Junction and Llangollen canal

Passing Barbridge junction we decided to stop past the facilities and by the next bridge. This will leave about a mile to do tomorrow to Bunbury as well as dropping down the staircase locks. Then all that will be left to do is to pack, clean through the boat and await a taxi to take us to Crewe to catch a train back to Hayward. Next adventure will be over New Year when we head off for Great Yarmouth on a coach trip. Hmmm.... seems we are turning out to be quite the travelling pair.

And very lucky once again as not only did I see another Kingfisher but a Sparrow Hawk on the towtath, Kestral and Buzzard.

And also

Dab Chick

Sunday 24 December 2017

Lock obstruction at Audley

Blast....last night I broke the water jug.  Wanting 800ml of hot stock for a risotto I was preparing for dinner and with only a measuring jug of 500ml, I had the bright idea (or stupid as it turned out) to pour the 500ml into the jug and then top up with the remaining 300ml. But what happens when boiling water is poured directly into a glass? Yep, it cracks! So there was I frantically mopping up the hot stock pouring out of the crack, picks up the jug and the bottom falls out! Hey ho, one lesson very quickly learned.

Opening curtains first thing and a red sky greeted me. Hope this doesn't mean bad weather was on the way.

Today we had 16 locks to do, 5 at Adderley and 11 at Audlem. Plan was to stop near the Shroppie Fly so we can have a quiet Christmas day tomorrow without having to move on. The first 5 locks were full, apart from having to top up slightly through leakage, and we sailed down the flight in double quick time. Different matter at Audlem when the top lock had a huge reed mound right across the mouth of the gate. Before setting too to tackle the problem, a small cupboard right next to the lock housed a small fridge and in the fridge???? Icecream in small cartons. Well, chilly day or no, we just had to purchase 3 to go with the Christmas Pud tomorrow and with the cream I bought to go with it..double the indulgence. Yummie.

So to the reed mound. Try as Ian might, removing it from the water was a no go. Trying to open the gate to push it out of the way was also a no go but with swinging the gate backwards and forwards he managed to get the gate open. Trouble then was where it had stopped, directly in Merlins path. Nothing for it but to bring it in with me and hope it didn't stop me from leaving at the bottom.

Left the lock without a problem pushing the reed mound with me ready for the next boat to bring it back up with them when they ascend.

Looking down Audlem flight.
Seemed to bode well when the next 7 locks were all full and congratulated ourselves on a speedy descent but all change when the last 4 locks had to be filled. Another 4 locks were still do do but we stopped on the visitor moorings above the Shroppie Fly. Tried tuning the TV and again no channels found. I wanted TV on Christmas day so after a shop in Audlem for last minute bits, a bag of coal for the stove to keep us warm over night (last night was a tad cold to say the least) we pulled pins, descended 3 of the 4 locks and moored by open space and brilliant views. Keeping fingers crossed I tuned the TV while Ian held Merlin on the centre rope. Success at last when 86 channels appeared on the screen.

This will do nicely now until Boxing day.

Oh, and I must say a proper hello to the chap with the gorgeous English Bull terrier puppy. We had met before but it was only when Ian reminded me that the penny clicked. He reads my blog and we last met at Fazeley Junction. So hello and a very Merry Christmas to you and your adorable puppy.

And on route these Goosanders

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