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 30 November 2018

Back t' Mill

It's been a blooming awful week, one not to be repeated and I'm not just talking about the weather (although it didn't 'alf blow a hooley on Wednesday and Thursday). No, I'm talking about what I went through since starting the Macrobid (Nitrofurantoin) antibiotics last Saturday. Didn't feel great after taking the first one as within an hour developed a cough and wheeze but convinced myself it was a necessary evil. Took the second tablet at 9pm, went to bed by 10 and within 30 minutes, OMG I felt like death warmed up!  Extreme chills with uncontrollable shaking throughout the night and then the sickness started! At about 3am Ian fired up the diesel heater, good job no one was on board any of the other boats as it can be a tad noisy. Reading the leaflet that came with the antibiotics it seems I had experienced some of the side effects of this particular drug. Anyway, there was no way I was going to take any more tablets and on Sunday I slowly started to recover and, although the breathlessness and cough continued, at least the fever and sickness had stopped. First thing Monday it was straight on the phone to the Doctors. Another appointment made and a new prescription of different antibiotics issued. Thankfully no adverse side effects from these and by Tuesday I was feeling more like my old self. It did mean that we delayed our trip back to Langley and because of the bad weather Wednesday and Thursday I'm glad we did.

So today we said farewell to Sandiacre and set off for the Mill. No sooner had we pulled away from the mooring and a sudden thought. Where was the second set of boat keys? "In the boat, I think," said Ian so back to the mooring we go and Ian goes and fetch them. Back he came empty-handed. Oh 'eck, where were they. Well, we searched high and low, pulled out drawers, searched coat pockets, looked under chairs but to no avail. Then a sudden thought. Did I take them when I went shopping a few days ago? A rummage through the cupboard grabbed the bag and...result...there they were. So our hope for the early start was delayed by a further 20 minutes.

Because every lock had to be turned around we did the journey in about 5 hours, an uneventful journey apart being joined by a Swan family at Barker's lock. It was almost as if they had been waiting for a boat to appear because, as Ian opened the paddle to empty the chamber, they all came rushing over. As soon as the gate opened in they swam thankfully well in front of FS. I kept FS back and hard onto the lock side. The last thing I wanted was a squished Swan!

Waiting at the gate

This took them by surprise when Ian opened the gate paddle and all the water rushed in.

Nearly there

It's going to be a long few months without cruising but we do hope to get away with the Beast sometime in the New Year. A lot depends on how 'stir crazy' both of us gets. We do have a few trips to go on one being a Turkey and Tinsel coach trip to Torquay in about 10 days. No doubt I will have something to write about on that holiday.

Now for some excellent news. Ian has at long last been signed off from the hospital. Gosh, what a stressful journey we have been on, In 2006 a tumour was found. Radiotherapy, tablets, two operations and two years of weekly chemo took us up to 2013. For five years now the 6 monthly checkups have seen no further growth so today Ian was given a two-year open appointment. In other words, he will be very unlucky for the cancer to return. Shame we have no champagne but we saved a decent Red just for this occasion.

And seen on route


Saturday 24 November 2018

Oh dear...This will upset some residence!

Amazed that I could actually see a doctor this morning. The receptionist asked, "Is it an emergency?"  Hmmm, Now what constitutes an emergency I wonder? Am I having a heart attack? NO! Am I bleeding to death? NO! Is CPR being administered?? NO! NO! so I ask myself, what is the reasoning behind asking that question. All they really need to ask is if it is urgent and could it wait until the next day. Anyway, after relating my symptoms she said I could be seen at Long Eaton Health Center for 11 am this morning, quite a result in my book and so we pulled off from the moorings by a shade after 9 am. On route, this dodgy looking craft was being pulled along by a chap in a powered dinghy. Turned out to be Neil, a friend of ECP&DA who was doing a good deed by towing the broken down boat to the boatyard. 

Dreadful photo. Operator error as I had the settings all wrong. ThatsNeil in the rowing boat

We needed to be above Long Eaton lock by the road bridge. After trying several times to get FS to the bank we eventually found a spot, still not ideal but near enough so I could get on and off.

Long Eaton Lock in the distance. Taking this phot looking back as we had already moored by the road bridge.
 A 10-minute walk from the bridge and I was at the Health Center. 15 minutes later and clutching a small box containing enough antibiotics for three days I'm on my way back to FS. Turns out I have a urine infection!

Pulled pins after lunch and headed off to Sandiacre. Up Dolkholm lock and then to the final lock today. The bridge by Sandiacre lock can be a bit of a B and can catch boaters unaware. It's the shape, you see, not a lovely uniformed curve but one side slightly offset. This means that two boats could not go in breasted without hitting the brickwork. The first boat in would have to push across to allow the second boat to join them. But as it was only FS entering this was not a problem.

Sandiacre lock with the offset shaped bridge

This may show it clearer. Note the repaired brickwork on the left.
Into the Derby arm and was greeted by Mike who looks after this bit of the canal for Tony Adcock. Tony purchased this short section when the rest of the Derby and Sandiacre canal was filled in. (Erewash canal leads into it) It was here we moored FS when we purchased her in 2006. Now as part of the ECP&DA society we are allowed to stay for short periods of time.

Then Mike handed us a leaflet. Ah ha.... what was I saying yesterday about the Derby & Sandiacre Canal not starting the restoration? Looks like its all going ahead sooner rather than later. I'm blooming glad it won't be us being inconvenienced though. I do feel for our tenants and the occupiers of Beech House and the barns as they will be the ones with severely restricted access. Quite how they will get on during the excavations is anyone's guess.

 We won't be moving from here for several days. Work needs to be done around the bungalow and Ian has to replace the roof from the woodshed. It took off in the gales earlier this year! I can't see us leaving for Langley Mill much before mid-week. Depends how quick the work can be done.

On the journey,

This is unusual๐Ÿ˜ƒ I wonder where this was pinched from?

Long Eaton Lock

That blooming Willow still hasn't been cut back!

And seen on route,

A Top Knot duck!

Friday 23 November 2018

What...Reversing onto a river!!!!

Plans had changed and we are no longer going to stop at Sawley. Feeling most unwell all I wanted to do was get back to Sandiacre to see the doctor. I know I have some sort of infection, my temperature had gone sky high, I'm running to the loo every 5 minutes and I couldn't get warm. So we left by about 9ish and dropped down Stenson lock with the help from a volunteer, Bob. Many of you will know of him as he has been helping boaters on this lock for years. Most welcome considering how I felt because he told Ian to get back on FS where he took the helm and Bob did the the rest.

At Swarkestone the disused Derby & Sandiacre Canal meets the T&M. We moved to our bungalow in Sandiacre in 2003 and was told by Paul Birtles a member of the Derby and Sandiacre canal society that canal would be completed in 5 years. I think that date was too optimistic as funding and finding volunteers is a never-ending task. I just hope it will be completed in our cruising lifetime.

Derby & Sandiacre to the left.
 At Shardlow, we locked down to the River Trent and onwards to Sawley.


Flood lock at Sawley
Sawley lock
No lock keeper manning this lock now. Too late in the year so Ian got to push the buttons again. But all was not well as a blooming great widebeam was on the only spot where I could get Ian back on board. Then it moved off, all would be well after all but no, talk about messing around. The bow rope was still attached to the bollard and knotted so badly that undoing would take an age. Nothing for it but Ian to climb down the ladder and for me to hover midstream until they sorted themselves out. Turns out this was a brand new boat and a 'new to boating' couple. They told us they were still finding their feet and was scared they may damage the boat. Hmmm, I don't think that will be long judging by their handling skills.

Turned left off the River Trent onto the Erewash canal and in front was Trent lock with an open bottom gate. I cruised in forgetting to stop at the landing to allow Ian to get off so another ladder to be negotiated. Up we go and onto the facilities. Both cassettes needed emptying and then the worst news! Elsan was out of action and the Metro Rod Drain Care and Repair van was on site. C&RT was also about and came to break the bad news to us. With no immediate fix to the drains there was nothing for it but to reverse back into the lock, descend, and then reverse out of the junction onto the river. By now the time was well after three. By the time we made it back to Sawley, tied to the pontoon below the lock, empty both cassettes and then get back to the Erewash again, ascend the lock and get moored it was nie on dark. Not feeling great this was a big blow as all I wanted was to sit down in front of the fire and wally in self pity! And for C&RT not to put it on their advisory list (and it's still not on even though the C&RT chap said he would phone it through to the office) is yet another bad mark against them.

Erewash canal

C&RT breaking the news.

Descending backwards to the river

Out of the lock towards the river

Out onto the river

Pontoon by Sawley with the facilities above

Back to the lock

We did leave this gate open when we left for Sawley. The chances of another boat coming along at this late hour was very slim and we felt it would be quicker for us on our return..

Last photo before we moored.
And I did take a few wildlife photos in between staying below in the warm,

Thursday 22 November 2018

Chilly ain't it

Now, what can I say about today, not a lot really as not a lot has happened. Last night though it was bl**dy cold and even an extra blanket on the bed didnt warm me or the feet so I welcomed the hot water bottle in the name of Ian! Not a happy chappie having to sleep with an iceberg. ๐Ÿ˜  It was no surprise, therefore, to see a hard frost outside this morning and the temperature at -3.

 It was still a chilly -2 when we set off, me huddled on the stern and steering FS, freezing my socks off while Ian was warming himself by striding off to set the first lock of the day. In fact, only one more to do after this lock in the 8 miles of cruising we did today. We stopped for an hour at Burton for a shop at Morrisons and by the time we made it back to FS, the frost was gone and the temperature had started to rise. Dallow lane lock was the last of the single locks we would do this year. From now on, and right up to Langley Mill, it's all doubles.

Branston lock

Dallow Lane lock
 Debated whether to stop at Willington. We used the facilities but for a further 30 minutes of travel, we could be at Stenson and ready to lock down Stenson Lock first thing in the morning. And it means I get an extra 20 minutes in bed which at this time of year is very welcome. Quite surprised to see nearly all the moorings full though. Willington was almost empty so we assumed Stenson moorings would be too. Luckily we managed to stop just before the lock as the thought of locking down when all I wanted was to go below and get warm would not have been welcome.

 We are hoping to reach Sawley tomorrow as we rather fancy stopping at Dave's micro pub by Sawley lock on Saturday. Hopefully, we will also meet up with Roger and Pat NB The Cat's Whiskers who are at present in Mercia Marina.

And seen on route,


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