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, 24 November 2019

Lock wheeling

Boredom.... into the third week of being back and having nothing to do was starting to do my head in. But yesterday that all changed when we became lock wheelers for Dennis and Margaret (nb Icing) They had managed to get off the river before the floods and was moored at the start of the Erewash. This canal is 11.5 miles from start to end and has 14 broad locks. Two boats travelling together would have made life so much easier but their locking buddies (Carole and Mick) were still stuck on the River Trent. So we offered our services and yesterday we were both up early, had a quick breakfast, donned the wet weather gear (yes it was raining...again) and set off to reach the first of the locks by 8.30am.

Long Eaton was full with both top gate paddles raised. Hmm, was this what we would find on every lock? And there was still plenty of water about judging by how much of the playing fields were submerged.

T'was not long before Icing appeared in the distance and almost to the exact time of 8.30am.

Using the car to get from one lock to another very nearly went without issue. Hadn't planned on the hold up due to roadworks in Long Eaton though and trying to take a short cut only got us bogged down even more because of cars waiting to join the main road. The parked cars either side didn't help as the only way to progress was when the lights changed and a sensible person held back to allow us through.  Made it to Dolkholm lock just as they came into view so a quick raising of paddles got the lock empty in no time.

The rest of the day went without hitch. Lunch was supplied by Margaret, hot cornish pasties, chocolate biscuits and tea, yummy! We eventually arrived at Langley a tad after 2pm, not bad going considering we had that 30 minute stop for lunch. So a few more photos to show and these were taken with my new Olympus waterproof camera. Small but perfectly formed for underwater filming and in wet conditions. (Ready for when we go snorkelling in NZ and Oz.)

Ian on lookout

Icing approaching Shipley lock

And seen on route

Swans in Sandiacre lock
And I was mightly impressed with the close-up setting on the Olympus camera of water droplets.

Friday, 22 November 2019

A visit from Paul, Waterways Routes

I know it has been a while since I put fingers to keyboard but to those that did read my last post will remember the incident of the submerged phone. Three days that phone was buried in rice but did that tip from Jenny work? Well, I'm pleased to say.....it did!!!!! The only damage (if you can call it that) was the battery life had shortened considerably.

Several things have happened since our return. Having taken the travel pack and alternator to Cox's it was over 5 days before we got it back and two weeks later it still awaits Ian's fair hand to install.  It really is the case of out of sight, out of mind! (and being hooked up to electric didn't help) but it will get done...eventually. There was also the saga of the new Snipe 3 satellite which was returned to Germany because it had packed up after three months. All nicely boxed and in its original packaging it had one extra item not intended for return! Our TV remote control!!!!! Ian emailed the company as soon as the mistake was noticed and a week later it was returned, much to my relief and Ian's sanity. And then there was the Beasts carpet saga. We wanted to replace the missing piece in the middle and by the seating. Since purchase, a rug was the only floor covering so we found an almost identical colour match to the fitted piece in the kitchen area at a carpet shop in Ilkeston. Back to the Beast and a templet made out of stiff cardboard complete with drawings of where the press studs went. The word TOP was marked very plainly so there would be no excuse for cutting it wrong. Hmm, we hadn't planned on idiots who couldn't read! The piece was returned from the manufacturers cut and finished the wrong way round! They could do no more but accept responsibility and replace free of charge.

Having had those few headaches it was lovely then to receive an email from Paul, Waterway Routes, saying he would be walking part of the Erewash to update his maps this coming Friday. (today) So before he set off from Langley Mill he stopped by for a cup of coffee and a natter. Now, back in the year dot we happened across Waterway routes at the Crick show but didn't go ahead with the purchase of the maps as we had recently newly acquired all 7 of the Nicholson books so it was the one topic both Ian and I wanted a conversation on. And wow, we were so very impressed with the amount of detail and the ease at which to navigate the maps, needless to say, having the maps to download on our tablets and phone should make life easier. The Nicholson books can then be removed to the drawer under the bed. I have put a link on my sidebar to where you can find out all about these very detailed and informative maps of the waterways.

Had an excursion to Chelmer and Blackwater navigation earlier this week. We may have had loads of rain here in the Midlands but very little has fallen South in Essex and because of the clear skies at night, gosh it was cold. Ice had formed on the water for the first I have seen this year.

Oh and Bonfire night, Great fun with Dan and Vickki's at Langley Mill boatyard.

 We are getting ever nearer to our trip the NZ and Oz. Everything has been planned to a T so roll on December 26th. Yep, Boxing day is the day of travel. We do have a couple of things to look forward to first. Looking after our grandsons for 5 days while Colin and Iwona jet off to Las Vegas and the usual T & T trip in December to Cromer. Oh, and of course Christmas at our daughter's new house with the rest of the family.

And wildlife

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Cor..look at.their big uns! And it pays to let go of the rope.

Wednesday 30th October

Sleep....over rated if you ask me! Didn't get much last night even though I had consumed nearly a bottle of the red stuff. We had gone out for a meal at the Bridge Inn with Carol and Alan (previous owners of Nb Marmaduke) great company as always and fab food to make the evening complete. But before we left I was still uneasy about leaving the boat after the little darlings had thrown those stones so we left a light on just so it would look like someone was on board. The trouble with that was the lack of battery power now that we had unplugged from the mains. Our travel pack and alternator were still at Cox's. Good job we have LED's. Anyway, a combination of worry, the noise from Toten yard (trains) and the cars on the A52 (don't people have beds to go to?) made for a disturbed night.

This morning at first light we were both up. We felt most uncomfortable staying on the lock landing overnight and both of us were eager to see if any damage had been done by those stones. Gosh, we got off lightly considering. No damage to the solar panels and only two small gouges on the cabin top.

By the time breakfast was done and dusted it was nearly 8 am. We then decided that I would do the journey up to the Mill on FS while Ian drove the car to each lock getting it ready for my arrival.

What a lovely day to do the final cruise of this year, hardly a breath of wind as I set off.

The first lock, Pasture lock, and Ian was already there waiting.

Have I mentioned the low bridges on the approach to some of the locks on the Erewash? Due to the contour of the bridge, only one side can be accessed safely. This means two boats can not go in side by side and one would have to push across once in the lock allowing the other boat to enter. Not a problem for us as a single boat going up but oh, I forgot to remove the chimney and only by going in at an angle did I manage to keep the chimney in one piece.

Wow, remember the post of our going through a jungle when we left? Well looks like the emails sent to C&RT had done the trick.

This back in early September

And this today taken at almost the same place.

And here was the means of the reed removal.

Back at Langley and what was most noticeable was the diesel spillage lying on the water surface in Langley Bridge Lock. No sign of it above the lock in the basin so had something been poured in by hooligans? We also noticed two boats moored by the swing bridge. Now, one we knew about because we have done a mooring swap with them. Jim and Jen on Dire Straits will take our mooring when we head off to New Zealand and Australia for 4 months at the back end of December (We take theirs in the basin) but we hadn't realised that Ernie had also brought his boat out of the basin and was now blocking the passage through. All we could do was to moor by the facilities and because we are ECP&DA members, plug into the pump house electrics so at least we could have power. I went to wind in readiness for when we do go into the basin and Ernie came out to give a hand. Ian was also at the winding point and a good job too considering what happened next. Being on the stern, in control of FS and unable to see what was happening, I had no idea that Ernie had grabbed the bow rope to aid my turn. I started the reverse and next thing I know Ian was madly signalling to me that there was a 'man overboard'! Oh no...apparently the rope had snagged and with my reversing and him not letting go of the rope, in he went! Luckily Ian was around to fish him out but wallet and phone, although not lost, was now soaking wet. We all laughed it off but the guilt I felt was awful, so much so that we offered to try a drying method mentioned by Jenny of Dire Straits. Place phone in a shallow dish, cover with rice and leave for a couple of days. I just hope it works!

Diesel on the water

 Seen on route,

Now that is what I call Pumpkins! Happen to see the owner who said he had put two seeds in well-manured soil and left them to get on with it. This was the result.

And these more like the size of pumpkins we see today.

There is only a ditch separating the railway from the towpath.

And wildlife

I looked at these two photos and thought a caption might be appropriate but couldn't think of one. Any ideas?

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