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 31 March 2019

Single lock, wrong signage.

Okay...so I forgot...Couldn't believe Ian was up and dressed at 6.45am. I'm chuntering away to myself calling him all the names under the sun for waking me up so early, (especially as I had one or two or maybe 3?? large glasses of the red wine last night when the family was over) and then only to be reminded by him that the clocks had gone forward at 2am! No lie in for me then even if it is Mothering Sunday!
First, we had to wind FS and the place to do so was at Braunston Marina. Then it was a very quick loo emptying jobbie at the facilities before sailing past the moorings at the pub and branching right at Braunston Junction to head for Hillmorton, a good 5-mile cruise away.

Continued right onto the North Oxford toward Hillmorton

 In all that 5 miles only two boats came past and that was as we left Braunston. Would the locks be in our favour? Hillmorton has three paired locks in the flight and it would be great if one was empty and the other full. In this state ascending boats and descending boats would not have to be held up and the question was, would we be so lucky? As we got nearer to the locks we noticed the work had already started on the new housing estate. All that wonderful open countrysides soon to be gone as more and more of the land is turned into a concrete jungle. To see what the development will be click HERE

And the diggers waiting to devour the land!
Top lock came in sight and blast, it wasn't with us. In fact, everyone had to be turned. I did notice this sign on the lock beam though. Now, what is it with C&RT not bothering to put the right information on certain locks. Right signage for double locks but singles???? I'd like to see two boats side by side in these locks!

Both locks empty mores the pity.

As was the middle and last pair.
Glad we travelled on a weekend because we may well have been held up a Clifton. A new access bridge has been built to accommodate all that new housing and signs are present warning of possible delays.

We had hoped to reach Old Oaks Wood but because stopping at Tesco added another 45 minutes to our timings, when a space was seen just before Newbold Tunnel it was a unanimous decision to stop. After all, we had been on the go for 6 hours, a long day for us!

And seen on route just after the Barby straight

Barby straight

And the wildlife,

 I'm almost convinced this was the mother and ducklings seen yesterday although now there are only 9 instead of the 12 yesterday. Three of the ducklings are the same light brown colour. Took this photo about a mile from Braunston.

This was yesterdays.
 There's something endearing about newborn lambs.

Enjoying a stick

Saturday 30 March 2019

Not in front of the kids....PLEASE!

Gosh, we were lucky late afternoon yesterday. That small boat moored by the pub pulled pins and went. He passed us as we were walking back from emptying the loo at the facilities. Well, you have never seen two people kick up so much dust as we high tailed it back to FS. Even the shopping trolley holding the cassette was sent skewing from side to side in our haste.  Back cabin door hurriedly opened, tiller on, cassette deposited unceremoniously on the bedroom floor, ropes untied and bow given a massive heave to swing toward the pub. We were determined to claim THAT space!


Early this morning.
 Nearly lunch time and a huge commotion heard behind the boat. I had to go and have a nose and there they were, the first brood seen this year. The commotion was because a Drake was determined to have his wicked way. At this time of year hormones run riot and even with the duck trying to get away he was not going to give up.   

Soon be time for Christine and Kev to arrive so it's all hands on deck sprucing the place up. I wonder if Kev will bring his fishing gear. Rather fancy dangling a maggot today. Would be the first time for months for me. Now where did I put that fishing licence?

Friday 29 March 2019

Busy busy Braunston

Lazy start for us 'cos with only 7.6 miles and three locks to do, we didn't want to arrive too early in Braunston. We aimed for midday and as it turned out our timings were perfect.

Sun was well up when we left but dead ahead causing that glare to be a nusience. Jessie hat and sunglasses needed to help me see but photos turned out abysmally.

 As we approached Ventnor Marina a boat appeared to shoot out from the entrance. At first, we couldn't make out which way it was going although we hoped it would turn left toward the Calcutt Locks. It did so how good was that and now we had someone to share the three locks with

Took this looking into Calcutt Marina below the locks. I happened to spy a Grebe but was not quick enough to zoom in.

My turn for the locks again.

 Napton Junction ahead and a left turn towards Braunston.

No more locks for now just a 5 mile run to Braunston. It was as we were nearing our destination, and as FS passed a moored boat, a lady popped out of the cratch cover and told us there were plenty of moorings in Braunston. For a moment I was bewildered. How did she know we were looking for moorings? Ah of course...my blog yesterday. It was that parting sentence of mine about finding a space that did it and because she had read the blog, knew all about what we wanted. Lovely to meet you and to say hello by the way, and its a shame I didn't have the presence of mind to ask your name or that of the boat but thank you for the information. You were spot on.

A right turn at the junction and Ian became the 'lookout' for a mooring. T'was'nt necessary though because a long length opposite the Boathouse came into view. Nothing on the pub side, unfortunately, our preferred mooring site, but the bridge across the canal would be only a short walk from the pub so nothing too taxing for the family when they arrive tomorrow. 

One more bridge before Braunston Junction

 Now bearing in mind we arrived by 12.15pm to a near empty towpath, by 2pm either side of us was nearly full. I did make a mental note of the way some boats had moored. By not sharing rings small gaps are left and, in my opinion, this is bad practice 'cos it means other boaters struggle to find somewhere to moor. By 4pm I'm sure over 30 boats had come past. Some obviously looking for moorings. Easy to spot when a crew member stands on the front with the bow rope in hand.

We now await the arrival of the family tomorrow. A table has been booked at the Boathouse, advisable for a weekend. Forgot to look at the menu...oh well never mind, it's not us that is paying for the meals this time๐Ÿ˜Š 

When we arrived

By 2 pm. Note all those boats not sharing rings.

Pub moorings with a gap for a small boat.

 And wildlife today

Those high rise swans still around

A very poor photo but was amazed to see this Curlew flying past.

Seems the Peacock Butterfly has emerged

Reed Bunting

Thursday 28 March 2019

Wrong boat Woofit!

We must say a big thank you to Alan Baker for reminding us about the stoppage on the Leicester section of the GU. Did we forget? Well yes we did but our excuse was that the original plan to continue South on the GU wouldn't have caused this to be an issue. Anyway, new plans quickly arranged and now we go via Oxford Canal, Coventry and onto the T&M.

 Christine (daughter) and Kev (son-in-law) phoned asking where we would be this weekend. Hmm, could it be because of Mothers Day? A hastily look on canal planner and Braunston was mentioned. Very aware that moorings are always at a premium at Braunston we decided to push on today so we could arrive Friday midday with the hopes that boats would have left to continue their journey and that it would be still to early for other boaters to arrive.

With 20 of those double locks to do again we left by 8.30am and it didn't bode well when the first of those locks had to be emptied first. Was there a boat in front of us? Turns out there was but luckily for us they were not the quickest at doing the locks. We caught them up Welsh Lane Lock and a good job too as their windlass had been left lying on the lock beam at Woods lock. We were able to pass it back to them and be greeted with much gratitude and relief. Having Lock buddies we reached Bascot locks only to find yet another boat going up in front. Blimey, it's getting a tad congested on the waterways now that a bit of sunshine has brought them all out๐Ÿ˜‰ We did meet a boat coming down from the staircase locks, yippee a lock with us at last.

 A Woofit joined us on FS's stern. Quite a surprise as Whippet the Whippet (yes they did really call their Whippet, Whippet!!!) had been left on the wrong side of the lock and the only way back to its owner was across our deck.  Oh, but how it made me realise how much I missed having a four-legged companion getting under our feet. I think it may be time to reconsider having a dog.  

That's our locking buddies behind us. They pulled in to that gap leaving us to carry on.
 Our buddies left us before Itchington bottom lock so on our own again. But then....on reaching Stockton locks there in the second lock we spied that other boat. The lady was just closing the bottom lock gate after hubby had entered so I tried to attract their attention by screeching shouting at the top of my voice and all the while gesturing with the windlass that we were wanting to join them. Sure enough, they got the message, opened one of the bottom gates and waited for us to arrive. Then having met yet another boat coming down we knew every lock was now empty and ready for us.  Good helmspeople that we were (okay so sometimes I do nudge lock walls, gates, towpath edging etc), we were able to go into each lock side by side thereby cutting the locking time considerably.

Stockton Locks

Don't you just love my hat?  From Australia, I call it my Jessie hat after the cowgirl in Toy Story

At the top, we both moored. Only 7 miles and three locks to do tomorrow. Now keeping fingers crossed for a mooring in Braunston.

And seen on route

Almost our namesake

Checking the power lines
And wildlife,

Orange Tip Butterfly

Brimstone Butterfly

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