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.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Last day.

I do wish I had a retentive memory. New camera with basic book and limited instructions meant a manual was needed from the web. Downloaded 345 pages all very confusing and here am I thinking I know all about cameras! Out I go with it and everything read is forgotten in an instant! Aghhh, this is going to take some time and effort!

To get back to today, we did set off for Teddington this morning. Lovely and sunny and only 2 miles to do.

Leaving Kingston

The camera has a glitter mode!

 Another narrowboat was moored as we arrived and seeing the lock keeper he confirmed that we are to have a cruising buddy tomorrow. Very happy about that as I always think there is safety in numbers. We then had to hand over the overnight mooring fee. I thought the Lockie was having a joke when he said it was £ 9.50. But no he was deadly serious! Wish now we had stayed where we were and paid the £8.

Barge Lock
Launch lock
FS is the 5th boat and the one locking down is the sixth boat along.

Teddington Weir

The tide is out

That's us then ready to depart for Brentford on the 7.30am tide tomorrow and from the Launch lock as work has not started yet. We should get to Brentford for about 9.am. Sad that the month has gone by especially as we love this river. Still, there is always next year.

And some wildlife photos captured on the Lumix.

This diving Grebe on a burst setting.

Macro setting

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Have I made a wrong decision?

The dilemma of what to do about today's moorings was resolved when Ian took out his trusty binoculars and looked across the river to the opposite bank. Lots of signs along the wall to view and. sure enough, free 24-hour council moorings were available and a handy space further along the bank for FS to fit into.

FS nestled between the two white cruisers on last nights mooring. We moved across to a gap near to those last boats on the left.
Before we moved a trip to Aldi was needed to stock up supplies. It turned out to be a very expensive trip because I happened to spy a Jessop and popped in for a look. Oh dear, I have only gone and purchased a Panasonic FZ2000 which hopefully will replace the Canon. An impressive zoom of 24mm to 400mm means I can take a wide angle as well as telephoto. Just hope I won't live to regret the decision because I part exchanged my Canon to get it. Photos tomorrow will be the test 'cos the battery needs to be charged first.

Took about 5 minutes to wind and move across the river. One downside to this mooring, the concrete edge overhangs the piling so a very quick dash down below to grab the fenders and hang from the handrail before our cabin side was damaged.

Tomorrow we do a couple of miles to Teddington. We know we have to pay to stay overnight but that's preferable to getting up at a silly o'clock on Thursday to get to the lock for 7am. We should be onto the tidal bit by 7.15am.Ah, I have just seen the weather forecast for Thursday and it's rain all day. Looks like wet weather gear will be a must then.

Monday 29 October 2018

All became clear.

Remember that boat on Molesey lock landing that I moaned about in last nights post? Today there was another one on the landing. It was the same boat I had seen yesterday as I waited for Ian to get the lock ready before descending. It was having ropes attached and a small work boat at the bow. Then the penny dropped. Both those boats had been removed because EA needed the moorings and the landing stage above lock for their workboats. I wonder what will happen to those boats once the stoppage has finished?

Both boats now below Molesey lock
 Sunrise this morning with the mist rising from the river.

 It was surprising how busy Hampton Court was even though the school half term had finished (well it has down South anyway. Midlands and North its only just started.) We went early enough not to get caught up in the crowds although by late morning trying to get a cup of coffee at the cafe with the queue stretching out of the door was enough to make the decision to walk away. Toward the end of the visit we went looking for the maze through the gardens and found yet another cafe. This time no queue so it was straight in for veg soup and bread followed by coffee. Most satisfying.

Got ridiculously lost in the maze. Not huge by any means but most disorientating with the twists and turns and those awful dead ends. 40 minutes it took us to get to the centre and then back out again.

Made it to the centre but now to find our way out!
 Back to FS and still the only boat on the moorings. We couldn't stay though, as these were free moorings for 24 hours only and the vessel has to be registered on arrival. After that, a fee of £8 a day would be payable to Historic Palaces run by the District Enforcement agency. Do they come round to check? It's not worth the risk of finding out as a fine of £100 would be issued for not registering.

So mid-afternoon we headed off toward Kingston. Found a spot near to Horsefair bridge which we thought were EA free moorings. Turns out the same rules apply here as does at Hampton Court. Hmmm, what to do tomorrow then. Not leaving Teddington to do the tidal bit of the Thames to Brentford until Thursday am. Do we pay the £8 for another night or do we pull pins to look for another mooring?  Decisions, decisions!

What is it about boats cutting across FS's bow?

Horsefair bridge and the moorings on the left.
And seen today,

Sunday 28 October 2018

Dodgems with canoeists and dinghies

I suppose it was to be expected, Saturday night in Stains and the revellers came out to play. By 1.30am it all went quiet, at last now for some shuteye. 3 am and more laughing and shouting outside FS. Agh...pillow over head and still the noise was heard. Eventually, all was still and thank goodness for the clocks going back. The clock showed 9am when we awoke.  Oh cripes...how late? but we had forgotten to turn the hands back an hour. So we were not as late getting underway as we thought.

A welcome sight greeted us not long after leaving Shepperton lock. There was Chris with diesel boat Merchant moored on the bank. Prices on the Thames are not cheap and even Chris was charging 99p litre. But we needed diesel and put 50 quids worth in. That will do until we get further up the GU.

It was sunshine and showers today, more showers than sunshine really and very, very cold. That wind chill.....cut right through you. Soon forgot about it though, when I almost ran into a coxless four as they overtook and then cut right in front of FS's bow. Worse was to come because they stopped!!!!  FS was bearing down on them,  I'm now in reverse but as you know, narrowboats are notoriously bad at stopping instantaneously and I shout a warning. In fact, the warning was more of a long string of loud expletives. Blooming 'eck... they were looking straight at me so why they didn't try to get out of the way I will never know.  I missed, more by luck than judgement and with them also suddenly realising they were about to be sliced in two, with a dip of the blades in the water moved to the side.

A moment after this photo the boat on the left turned across the bow and stopped. The boat on the right also stopped in front of FS but a least we were far enough apart as shown in the next photo

 Thinking this was as bad as it gets on the Thames another heart-stopping moment as we meet sailing dinghies. The first lot (white sails) were very aware of us and kept well away. The second lot though (blue sails) in race mode and would not let anything come between them and the winning post. The photos tell the tale.

Turned right in front of us.

Then backtracks to our stern.

More dinghies cutting in front

Never was a person so glad to reach Sunbury lock and away from those boats. The last lock Molesey and that's us finished for the day. This is the lock due to close tomorrow and it does appear obvious as to why these gates are to be replaced. Have yet to see any sign of EA crane or work boats so will the lock shut tomorrow? Hmmm. Anyway, it doesn't matter to us now as we are on the right side of the stoppage.

Molesey lock leaking top gates

Trying to get off the lock landing Ian had to shove the bow out. That moored boat on the landing caused no end of problems.

Why doesn't EA do something about this?
 The moorings at Hampton Court was devoid of any boats, never seen that before. With the first 24 hours free, tomorrow we will go for a visit.

 On the journey,

Love it or hate it. I'm undecided.
And seen on route,

A tufted duck

Egyptian Goose

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