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.

Monday 24 December 2018


 At this wonderful time of year, Ian and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

Saturday 15 December 2018

Homeward bound

Friday 14th

New Year's Eve was a bit of a letdown. First a Devon cream tea was looked forward to but, as was the norm in this hotel, a tiny scone with a small dollop of cream with a coffee to follow was the only offering. Don't get me wrong it was delicious and I suppose with dinner at 6 pm a bigger portion would have been pure gluttony. Then the festive quiz started with 20 questions and boy did we do abysmally! 3 questions unanswered and 12 wrong it was no surprise that we came an embarrassingly last!

Dinner finished by 8pm and the waitress mentioned the New Year Eve party would start at 10pm. Had we misheard when arriving in the dining room at the allotted time because a glass of Prosecco was thrust into our hand and Old Lang Syne sang. What????!!!! It's only 10pm! Where was the midnight toast and what about the music and dancing? Apparently, this had started soon after dinner had finished and, with us in the room, we hadn't realised the festivities had begun. But never one to let this get us down we joined the rest of our party and made our own entertainment by being very rude and silly (some photos I just can't show!)and we did toast the New Year in at Midnight!

Good on you Carol

From L to R:- Kath, Hilda, Ernie, Ian, Heather, Michael and Carol.

There were a lot of rude photos after this one. You get the picture??

Friday morning, bleary-eyed and a little worse for wear we were down for breakfast by 7.45am. A 9.20am departure time had been given and we still had to finish packing and settle the bar bill. At £34 Ian was pleasantly surprised at the total and on the coach, checking the receipt, realised all of Thursday nights dinner drinks hadn't been included. Oops, too late to rectify this so two smug people congratulated themselves on saving about fifteen quid.

The journey home with the typical Friday hold-ups and loads of traffic didn't really delay the journey. But waiting for a taxi did. The taxi had been ordered by KM Travel to take us back to the Great Northern but we found that no taxis would be available for at least 30 minutes. I felt for those waiting on the coach who was to continue the journey to Chesterfield as they had another 90-minute journey to contend with. The coach driver refused to leave us stranded and waited until the taxi arrived. Well done KM travel because, after the farce of the tickets and timings on leaving last Monday, they have redeemed themselves by this one action. Finally, we made it back to FS, the diesel heating fired up, the gas and water pump switched on and within 30 minutes we had unpacked and settled back to life in our floating home.

Countdown to Christmas has begun and for once both of us are really looking forward to it.
All the family together and I get to cook dinner at our son's house with his big kitchen and modern appliances. Far cry from putting a casserole on the stove and having to cope with a small cooker! Just hope I can work them all! Then the board games come out, first with the grandchildren and then the traditional game of Poker. Oh and of course plenty of the falling down liquid to keep us all happy.πŸŽ„πŸŽ…πŸ·πŸΊ

Friday 14 December 2018

I think these fisherman were just a bit P'd off!

Thursday 13thDecember (New Year's Eve)  

The weather looked favourable today so our plans to travel to Brixham went ahead. The number 12 bus was the one to catch but there was a slight snag to getting to the stop. Oh, we knew where it ought to be but hadn't planned on that road to be closed. It was the weather once again that put a fly in the ointment. You will see why in these photos!

Funnily enough, we had wondered if the wind was at gale force when switching on the TV this morning the 'no service and check your aerial' message came up. Sure enough, the hotel had a problem with its aerials but having reported this to the main reception, within 10 minutes the TV was up and running. Someone must have had access to the roof! Anyway, we walked along the front to where the road was still open until we found a bus stop, hailed the 12 as it came around the roundabout and blow me down if it didn't go past the hotel and stop not 50 yds from the front porch. Would have saved us a 20-minute walk along the prom!

Took roughly 45 minutes to arrive at Brixham and would have been a great place to visit if the attractions had been open! Even the famous replica of the Golden Hind was closed to the public!

As it was we walked to where the fishing fleet was moored and noticed banners across one of the fishing boats showing how disgruntled the fishermen were with Theresa May and the Brexit deal.

An hour was spent looking at the shops, having coffee and buying DVD's from charity shops before catching the 13.30 bus back to the hotel. A few more hours to kill until the quiz and cream tea at 4pm followed by the New Year Eve festivities. No doubt it will be a very late night!

Thursday 13 December 2018

A Boxing day treat.

Wednesday 12th December (Boxing Day)

First the photos of the 6 course Christmas dinner (although I forgot to take a photo of the tiny mackerel fillet for starters and the Strawberry coulis).

A tiny cup of Pea soup was the first of the 6 courses. The pepper MIll shows the size.

Christmas dinner was sufficient and delicious. (but no sprouts or Yorkshire Pud)!

Set custard with chocolate ice cream and jelly (Cubes) for dessert. Yes, that is a teaspoon.

Tiny Mince Pie with coffee.

The waiter decided to get in on the photo (on the tray was the Pea soup)

Had to get Ian's jumper in the photo. It reads- Stuff the Turkey I'm off to the pub!
Today's excursion was to Plymouth and most upset with the BBC weather as the overcast day forecasted, turned out to be wet and cold. A short break of about 40 minutes whilst at Plymouth Hoe with the hint of blue skies had us hoping the day would buck up but t'was not to be. I think Ian regretted not taking his coat, a thick cardi was his outer attire which, being made of wool, held the water instead of repelling it.  Anyway, the Eddystone Smeaton Lighthouse was open and a charge of £3.50 for concessions which we felt was most reasonable. Even had a guide thrown in, very informative, and all in all, a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes.

Smeaton Lighthouse

Two beds for the lightkeepers. They must have been tiny people!

Views from the top. Check out the bad weather coming in.

Plymouth Hoe with Drakes statue and the war memorial.
 Another surprise awaited us. Leaving Plymouth the coach driver took us to Buckfast Abbey. What a magnificent building and one we would like to explore further. A trip in the motorhome next year should see us back for a second visit.
Buckfast Abbey

By the time we left to get back to the hotel, it was dark and quite late so changing for dinner wasn't an option as tonight another excursion had been planned. A trip to Babbacombe Theatre to see a variety show called Christmas Cracker. Instead of a 6pm meal the earlier time of 5.45pm was necessary as the coach would be ready and waiting for 7.30pm. We managed five of the six courses but the coffee and petit fore had to be abandoned as time was marching on.

The show was a resounding success, I can't remember the last time I have laughed so much.Singers, dancers, magicians and comedians made the whole experience memorable and we have been assured that next years T&T at Thursford, Norfolk will also have a show during the 4 days. Needless to say we have booked for the trip already!

It's a free day tomorrow so we may well take the bus to Brixham. To be decided after the weather forecast has been listened to in the morning.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

It's the T & T ChristmasI

Tuesday 11th (Christmas day in the T&T calendar)

Merry Christmas everyone. Seems a strange thing to say but Turkey and Tinsel is all about the festivities over 4 days. So today is Christmas day and a visit from Santa was forthcoming after breakfast this morning.

I must have been a good girl. Santa gave me a gift!

And Ians been very very good tooπŸ˜‰

I should mention the bathtime tales and you will be pleased to here (or maybe slightly disappointed) that I didn't get stuck as I managed to heave myself out (after getting into positions I never knew I could, sideways on, bottom on the side and slither toward the top, I was that determined you see) and didn't need the help from 'My Man that Can' 😌  That hot soak was heaven and from now on until we leave on Friday, this will be my morning ritual and you never know I might even have perfected the art of getting out. πŸ˜‚

I must just mention the meals. 6 courses, which one would think a bloated feeling would be the norm after all that food. Not so as this is an A-La-Carte menu with big plates and small portions. Fine dining at its best. The usual starters, main meal and dessert with two appetisers in between (a tiny cup of soup and a raspberry coulis to cleanse the pallet) followed by coffee and a macaron. With Christmas dinner tonight I'm wondering just how big a portion of Turkey and trimmings we will get. A photo will appear in tomorrows post.

Today we went to Exeter. A Christmas market was on, great if you are into that sort of thing (which were not) so instead, we walked to the Exeter Canal the earliest working ship canal to be built and oldest canal in the UK.

Having spent a good two hours at the canal we had another hour to fill before the coach came to the arranged meeting place, so a walk back to the Cathedral to where the market was for a quick look around the stalls and managed to persuade Ian to part with a fiver to purchase a pair of Seahorse Earrings before making our way back to the coach.

This Swan was being a right nuisance. Did not want anyone near to the stall giving a hefty peck to all and sundry!

And seen at the canal,

Tuesday 11 December 2018

T & T a shaky start.

Monday 10th December. (In the T&T calendar it is Christmas Eve)

Well, what a fiasco the start of this Turkey and Tinsel trip turned out to be. First, the luggage labels went to someone else and it was only because the person in question came to a work party at Langley Mill last Friday that we received them at all. No itinerary was forthcoming so we had no idea what time the taxi would pick us up to meet the coach at Eastwood. A phone call to KM Travel on Saturday and a time of 9.15am to 9.45am was mentioned. Monday morning and after a leisurely breakfast we walked to The Great Northern Pub in readiness for the taxi, t'was a tad after 9am. No sooner had we opened one of the two gates that needed unlocking to get to the back of the Great Northern when we spied the taxi taking off along the road. Blooming 'eck it had arrived early! A good job for us that he turned left from the pub and had to spin around to come back because in doing so I managed to attract his attention. What became of the 9.15/9.45am pickup? Anyway, we arrived at the coach only to be told they had been waiting for nearly 30 minutes and still had another 10 people to pick up in Ilkeston. Oh dear, we were not in their good books. But I blame the lady at KM Travel giving us the wrong time so in a way, I feel we should be exonerated.

After roughly 5 hours we arrived at Torquay. The hotel Belgrave Sands is by far the best we have ever stayed in. The room was big, on the ground floor (a first for us) and best of all a huge bathroom with an extremely large shower for Ian and a bath for me. Since moving onto the boat 12 years ago I haven't had a good soak in a bath so this is going to be pure luxury. The test tomorrow will be if I can get out of it though. Not as agile as I once was, I have visions of me being stuck and Ian having to try and lift me out. Hope this doesn't come to fruition as I don't want to give him a hernia! All will be revealed tomorrow.

Sunday 9 December 2018


It was dark, Ian was preparing the evening meal (he always cooks a chilli on Saturday night), strange noises heard above the sound of the TV, both of us assumed that it must be blowing a holey outside as it sounded like water lapping against the hull but it didn't let up. Was something trapped between the bank and the boat, maybe a duck or swan flapping its wings making that sound? I go to investigate and then...OMG....water was disappearing fast!! FS had dropped by nearly 2ft. I yell at Ian, he comes rushing out, grabs the torch and windlass and high tails it to the lock. Already there were half the moorers from the Langley Mill moorings whos boats were now at an alarming angle. Two paddles were raised on the bottom gates and with the top gates wide open (blown open by the wind) all the water was draining away. Quick as a flash, the paddles were dropped and the gates closed. A discussion as to what had happened revealed that not 30 minutes earlier 3 lads were seen trying to lift the paddles with their bare hands!! Assuming this to be a futile effort nothing was done but those lads did manage to do the deed causing a massive surge of water to leave this basin. We were lucky being moored in the original stop lock as this was much deeper and devoid of silt so all we did was too gentle sink lower and lower. Thankfully Ian knows his way around the pump house and got the back pump working to start the slow refilling of the basin. Took 5 hours of continues running to refloat those boats and by 11pm the pump was finally switched off.

Water disappearing fast.

That small building in the distance is the pump house.

Having to step down instead of stepping up as FS sinks lower.

Back pumping
 After a conversation with the owners of the boatyard, it was agreed to speak to C&RT and try to get antivandal keys fitted to the bottom gates. In the meantime, the lock will be left empty so those toerags, even if they raise a paddle again, won't cause any more mayhem.

And we are finally getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating the tree.

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