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 18 March 2018

Wasn't me that went a swimming.

Initial turnout for the Pie and Pea was better than anticipated considering how much snow had fallen. But we had a couple of turnarounders (is that a word?) that came from quite a way away, encountered some atrocious road conditions and decided to turn back and go home. It wasn't worth risking getting stuck especially as the temperature had dropped to minus 2. But after the Pies and mushy peas had all been dished out and devoured, only 12 pies were left which obviously meant the majority had made it to the 'do' after all. The snow started to come down heavier mid-evening, so some also decided to call it a night and get home before the road became impassable. But those remaining pies were quickly snapped up when the cry of 'seconds anyone' was heard. The music was brilliant and performed by different bands, and even with the worsening weather most stayed until the end.

It did get busier

But not me as time was getting on and I was also worried about returning to FS having to walk across that bank side boats icy deck. Ian wanted to stay a bit longer and ever the gentleman he escorted me back to FS  So glad for a steady hand as my fears were realised when my foot skidded and I nearly ended up doing the splits. That deck....It was like a skating rink!! I must say I was massively relieved when the back cabin door was opened and I could step inside. Goodness knows what time Ian came back to FS as I was well into the land of nod and only vaguely aware of the bed springs creaking when he swung himself into the bed.

This by about 10 pm

So this morning we woke to several centimetres of snow. Before setting foot outside Ian went out with the broom to clear the snow from the back decks. I watched Dave doing the same thing on his historic boat. Maybe an hour later and while Ian and I were in the cottage doing the grand clean-up, Dave walks in and to tell us that he had had a slight mishap. Well, we were all ears. Apparently having finished removing the snow, he went to step off the gunwale and back onto the stern deck where he tripped ending up fully submerged in the freezing water. Thankfully he was heard but before they could help, managed to pull himself out. None the worse for wear other than bruised pride and soggy clothes, it was a rapid change into dry before coming to the cottage to help with the cleanup and impart the tale. And here was me thinking I would be the one to do a nose dive. Just goes to show accidents happen when you least expect it.

A good accumulation methinks.
Snowy conditions

Very icy this morning and the wind had blown most of the snow into the lock.
 And Swans in the bywash.

The plan is to stay for several days doing jobs around the Bungalow for the tenants and for me to paint the poles, top boxes and planks. That is if the temperature ever rises to above freezing!

Saturday 17 March 2018

Blooming 'eck...

..not again. A definite deja vu moment when the snow arrived by mid-morning and it being the Pie and Pea weekend again. Would you believe that the same event back in 2013, snow also fell and only one week differed from that year to this years gathering. Unfortunately that time we were well down on attendees so the thought of this year being the same was depressing. Snow has been falling on and off all day, settling in places, but the heavy showers are intermittent so here's hoping no huge accumulations will build up and people will still manage to come to the 'do' by car.

The number of boats making it to Sandiacre was also down. Normally between 20 and 30 boats turn up but this time only 6 boats arrived from Langley Mill (including us) and only 4 boats came up from Sheet Stores in Long Eaton. With the River Trent in flood, it was also a non-starter for anyone travelling along the Soar or T&M hoping to come up the Erewash. With ice also forecasted for tonight and with me not being the steadiest person on my feet these days, sod's law will say it will be me and only me who ends up on my derriere!

Boaters from Sheet stores all moored below lock

And above lock

The blue boat next to the towpath and the other two in the foreground are moored in the Derby Arm permanently and are not part of the festivities tonight. We have to cross the blue boats rear deck which is slippery when wet and lethal with ice on it.
Whatever the outcome no doubt I will be taking photos and enjoying the St Patricks Day twiddly-dee music, whether we have a full house or not.

To prove Spring is almost upon us this Robin was bringing in nesting material to a Yuggsa

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Its the time of year again....

.......when the mad exodus from the Great Northern Basin usually occurs. The Sandiacre Pie and Pea weekend marks the start of the boaters leaving for their summer cruise. But this year it's slightly different as the Golden Anniversary of the formation of ECP&DA and 45th Anniversary of the opening of the Great Northern Basin are both being celebrated during May bank holiday. As most of the basin moorers have booked in for this momentous rally, making the  8 miles, 11 lock journey there and then back again seemed a bit pointless so only a meagre 5 boats are going to be travelling down the Erewash to Sandiacre.

Of course, we are one of those 5 as our plan was to head off to Birmingham next week for the BCN Spring Cruise. Unfortunately, hospital appointments have scuppered that little jaunt but having sat at Langley for 5 months, we decided a change of view would be most welcome.

Pairing up with us were Carole and Mick on Electra.  Ian had cycled back from Sandiacre on my bike yesterday after taking our car to the Bungalow and noticed every lock would be with us. (Yes I am the proud owner of a bike bought on eBay a week ago. Not having ridden a bike for 30 years or more Ian decided I was a liability to myself and other towpath users if I tried to do the distance. He had visions of me wobbling all over the place and even falling in! Anyway, he made the journey without mishap, ringing his bell and stopping when he met dogs and walkers, something that all cyclist should do!  (we hate those speeding cyclist who have no regard for anyone other than themselves!) His only complaint on arrival back to FS was a sore bottom, due in part to a very uncomfortable saddle.

Electra reversing out of the Basin

Swing Bridge can be a right pig at times and needs a lot of effort to get it moving!

Anchor Bridge one of the lowest on the Erewash

The journey took under 4 1/2 hours, a record for us, although we would have done it sooner if I hadnt got FS well and truly stuck after dropping Ian off before a lock. We had to borrow a pole from Electra so he could push me off as stupidly our roof furniture had been left at Sandiacre for painting when we first came back in October last year.

I know...I know...what a stupid place to try and get Ian off! Serves me right by getting stuck!

Looking forward to the weekend now and no doubt more photos will be posted by 'moi' after the event.

Moored at Sandiacre
 And a surprise sighting today of a Red Kite. Had no idea they were this far north.

Plenty of Buzzards though.

During the snows, a Dunnock came to visit.

Friday 2 March 2018

Meadow Pipit on ice

Even though it was another night of minus temperatures, the electric heater in the facility block did the job. There had been a worry about the frozen pipes bursting as the block warmed up but pleased to report that didn't happen. So for anyone venturing up the Erewash to Langley Mill, water and loo emptying can now happen
With a lull in the snowfall, I went off walking again. Two thermal vests, T-shirt, jumper, thermal leggings, jeans, hat, scarf, coat, gloves and wellies and I was all set. The fact I could hardly move didn't seem to matter, at least I was warm. And I certainly needed all that gear as the wind chill and strong wind blizzard conditions were no fun. But it was beautiful out on the walk and finding icicles hanging on the lock walls had to be seen. So plenty of wintery photos for you to look at.

Langley road bridge

Eastwood lock


ice stuck on the reeds

Tufted ducks

Meadow Pipit


Thursday 1 March 2018

Toilet talk

So, this 'Beast from the East' well until last night here at Langley Mill the lying snow had been almost non-existent. A slight covering only but we did have considerable low temperatures dropping at 18.49 to -7.

Earlier in the afternoon, Ian walked over to empty the loo. Not 10 minutes earlier a visiting boater had also emptied his cassette. On Ian's return, I was told the facilities were officially out of action! Having gone to the elsan and noticed the contents of the visiting boaters loo still in the waste basin, instead of flushing he poured our loo contents in as well and then went to flush. Oh dear, no water! In fact, the cistern was frozen solid, the reason dawned why that boater hadn't flushed. Ian should really have checked before he emptied our loo but hey ho, what was done was done. Now in the toilet side was a small heater but this obviously wasn't man enough for the job. All was not lost though as Ian walking to the ECP&DA cottage, took possession of a large electric heater and installed it in the toilet block instead.

So this morning Ian went back to see if the heater had done its job. It had to a degree. The loo side had running water but still nothing on the elsan side. You may think this would be the case as no form of heating was in that side but between the two blocks, the wall doesn't reach the ceiling leaving a space of about a foot. Hoping the rising heat would also find its way into the elsan side, he was dismayed to find it hadn't. So a few trips between blocks with numerous buckets of water managed to swill the contents away and down the waste pipe.

This morning.

Ian doing his bit.

I expect many of the facility blocks up and down the system will suffer the same fate. It's only because we belong to the canal society and have access to the cottage that Ian was able to rectify the problem. I hope all of you on the canals have full water tanks and a large shovel for emergency use. No, not to dig yourselves out of the snow but (if needs must) to dig a hole in the hedge bottom so you can empty your loo!

On the feeder

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