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.

Friday 27 April 2018

The Engine goes back in.

It's Friday and its raining, persistent and prolonged. Friday is also the work party day and of all days not a single task could be done indoors. On the agenda today was to continue with preparations of the rally site and also to get the Lister engine back in Pentland. It's a good job I decided to get the red oxide on the cabin sides yesterday instead of today. Got two coats on as well!

Engine hole ready for the engine (photo taken yesterday)
 So some of the work party headed for the field armed with shovels, wheelbarrows etc while the remainder made for the compound and to Pentland. JB drove up on the small fork lift with the engine dangling from a chain and with utmost precision, Dave and Ian guided the Lister into the engine hole, dropping it down with only a bit of manoeuvring needed to get it lined up. 

Still a lot of work to do but at least Pentland is almost watertight (prop to go in over the next few days) and then, hopefully, she can be craned back into the canal in the not too distant future.

And I think this blackbird must have some very hungry chicks.

Monday 23 April 2018

So what does everyone think of this?

 New logo for C&RT.  Words doesent express what I think of this. Very disappointed is the politest I can manage.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Update on clearing the reeds

Ah, finally some news, we have a result...of sorts. C&RT are going to use their workboat Bollin, armed with volunteers, to clear a section of the reed from the 60ft winding hole near Langley Bridge lock to the 70ft winding hole near to Anchor Bridge. And just as we were all about to celebrate a 'BUT' was thrown into the mix. Initially, the offside vegetation was going to be hacked back, a job that had been started by C&RT but not fully completed and the bit that had been done was a far cry from what we deemed as 'cutting right back to bankside'. This meant that no longer would C&RT do the offside veg, concentrating on clearing the reeds instead. So yet another headache for Ian to sort out. With his plans to have boats moored three abreast, there will now not be enough of the channel width left for a single boat to travel through.The one hope is that Pentland (ECP&DA work boat) will be ready to be craned back into the water before the rally and, at the rate at which work has progressed, there is now a good chance of this being achieved. The engine is to be put back on Friday and with all the blacking finished, she will be completely watertight leaving any outstanding work to be done when she is back in the water. So we keep fingers crossed that a crane can be organised for early in May.


Julia in the front lockers

    This seen almost next to FS and a first for me. 

From the gentle side of the swans nature to aggression towards the ducklings

Sunday 8 April 2018

Doing a spot of dredging

Anchor bridge to Langley Bridge lock is roughly half a mile. With 80 plus boats booked in for the rally (9 trades boats, 19 historics and the rest private) Ian and I decided to check the depth of the moorings along the length. And we were in for a bit of a shock. Most of the length was either silted or had reeds growing in the margins. Ian as harbourmaster has to allocate suitable moorings for the trade boats, they need to get right into the side so today we decided to take FS for a little jaunt down the canal. With me hugging the bank and with lots of forward and reverse, and while Ian started on some of the reeds, we managed to make a bit of headway enough so far to get at least 5 boats into the side. The task at hand is enormous, much too big for just the two of us to cope with so at the next rally meeting we are hoping to get some help. As for asking C&RT, they have already told us they won't be able to bring a dredger up. So go it along we must as it has to be right for May. We know that some historics and private boats will have to use boarding planks but if we can get to a foot of the side for them then success will have been achieved. I think we may well be very busy in the next month.

Friday 6 April 2018

Hmmm...self explanatory

Some people just chose to ignore signs

Busy busy day with it being work party Friday. All hands on deck to try and get ECP&DA's acquired ex C&RT workboat Pentland ready to go back in the water. The engine came out ages ago to be refurbished and with it almost ready to go back in, priority was to get the blacking done and engine bay painted.  Cabin sides and the roof was full of rust so before that could be painted, needed a good grinding. I was roped in to do the blacking and Ian disappeared into the depths of the engine bay to red oxide before the engine was returned. The plan, hopefully, is to get it finished in time for the rally in May so fingers and toes all crossed that this happens.

And a few before and after photos.

Last Tuesdays work party

Ian and Mac

And today's work party

Mac and Roland


Ian with Chairman Norman

Thursday 5 April 2018

A glorious day for a cruise

And very glad we chose today to travel up to Langley Mill.

 and as we left, well.....would you look at the temperature.

 It was hotter outside the boat than in!!! All due to the sun beating down on the sensor. Will we ever see those sort of figures here in the UK?

We did the journey in about 5 hours, not bad considering all but three locks were against and had to be emptied. Met Jim and Jen on Nb Dire Straits on their way down to Trent lock so by rights all the locks should have been in our favour. Leakage through the top gates was the problem but we did speculate as to whether another boat was in front of us. 

We also had a very interesting conversation with a chap from C&RT. He was at Hallam Fields lock with a generator and angle grinder on the lock side. Apparently, a spike ratchet pall was missing and a new one needed to be attached, apparently to stop fingers getting trapped if dropped.  Ian asked when the job was supposed to have been done and they told him an order had been placed several years ago and it was only now that he had been told to do the job. Bad that, having to wait so long for a repair. More information was also forthcoming from him as he mentioned about the rebranding of C&RT logo. He was very baffled as to why all that money was being spent on changing the design especially as all the cars, vans, signage and C&RT clothing would have to be changed to the new logo costing millions. I must say I'm inclined to agree with him.

Saw quite a bit of flooding on the fields and I did feel for these poor chickens having to cope with water in their enclosure.

Saw this painted on a wall, made me chuckle.

 Once back at Langley it didn't take long to connect to shore line and replenish the bird feeders. During the two weeks away the Daffodils have come into their own on our mooring and the display is wonderful. Lovely to look out of the side hatch and admire the spectacle.

 And seen on route,

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