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.

Tuesday 30 April 2019

No mistaking that sound!

The cabin top of FS was a disgrace! Full of stains and marks and when we took the top boxes off...well it looked every bit as bad as when we had to pull the fridge out when a £2 coin happened to disappear under it. I'm not exaggerating when I say the grime was sticky and ground in! Anyway, the plan was to start prepping the paintwork ready for painting. That was put on hold when a familiar sounding engine was heard below the lock. We knew immediately it was Hadar with friends Keith and Jo (Where I Belong) onboard. There is never ever mistaking the sound made from a 1949 National DA2 engine and there is a very interesting writeup all about Hadar HERE. Now first thing this morning, not a boat was moored by the facilities or on the visitor moorings. Knowing of their imminent arrival we felt sure they would get a mooring. But soon after 8.30am a breasted pair arrived followed closely by another two narrowboats. Blast!!! There go the moorings! All was not lost though as the only other place to stop was next to us. So after the usual meet and greet, we all piled on board FS for a catchup over a cup of tea. We have the pleasure of their company for a day or two and tomorrow a meal has already been arranged at the Great Northern pub.

Not see FS's cabin top naked for quite a while

It wasn't until late afternoon than when I set about washing the cabin top. Much too late to start on any other prep work as dinner still needed cooking and truthfully we couldn't be bothered. That will be tomorrows job.

Today's wildlife,

Monday 29 April 2019

Isn't a dry dock meant for boats?

Remember that huge tree limb? Well, it had to be cut down to size somehow otherwise it would have been left tied to a tree in the Great Northern basin for ages. A lot of head-scratching by the work party would have been needed as to what to do with it.  Ian happened to tell the tale of its trip up to Langley and the problems of getting it out of the lock to Dan and Vicky, owners of the Langley Mill boatyard. "No probs" said Dan, "Why not bring it into the dry dock when the next boat is due in and cut it up there" So long story short this morning Ian and I pulled it round to the dock on a long rope which, I might add, frequently got that limb snagged on underwater obstructions and only a good shove with the pole could dislodge it. Anyway, it didn't take long for the dock to empty once the gate was shut and when it did the sheer size of it could be seen. 3 hours it took Ian to cut through the majority of the trunk but a good 4 foot had to be left. The chainsaw just wasn't man enough for the last bit. Cutting was the easy part though, getting all the logs out and up the dock steps was the fun bit. Sack barrow, plenty of muscle, him pulling my pushing, and all the rounds were eventually stowed away in Dan's wood store. Stood to reason that he may as well have the wood it and was also thanks for allowing the use of the dock. 

This was the last cut. The rest was left to be refloated and for the Case to remove.

We still have two of the ducklings left but mum and dad leave them on their own far to much. The only good thing is they keep together when swimming across the canal thereby giving the impression to any passing Pike that it is too big a mouthful to attempt. So more photos for you all to look at.

That's mum having a wash

Saturday 27 April 2019

Crikey can the Case get this out.

I had a short trip down the Erewash yesterday. Not on FS but on ECP&DA's workboat Pentland. Quite unexpectedly really as I had only gone to chat with Norman (Chairman) about getting more tokens for the electric meter. Pentland was in the lock ready for the descent and he was raising the paddles. It was work party day and a large branch had snapped off during the March storms above Eastwood lock which needed removal. First noticed by us when we left for Warwick early March and was most surprised on our return to see it still there. So we told Norman once back at Langley stating that the only way to get past was to keep well over to the towpath side. Nesting birds were mentioned as the reason it hadn't been touched but I assured him that no birds would be nesting in the water! Anyway, an earlier work party had removed some of the smaller branches but the main limb still needed to be dealt with. Today they hoped to rope the large limb and tow it back to the basin to deal with there. Oh hang on, I've sort of got ahead of myself as I was telling the story of why I had that trip on Pentland. So at the lock, whilst Norman was winding the paddle, I happened to mention  that photos were needed for the Outlook magazine (Ian is the editor, I take photos!) and it was suggested that I go down on Pentland to the fallen branch, take some photos, leave them to it and walk back t'mill.

All day it took for them to remove the branches from that limb. Most were underwater and the bow saw was used to get rid of these. Pentland arrived back a lot slower than when she went out. Attached to the dollies and on a longish cross rope was that limb and in Pentland's hold, a huge pile of cut branches and logs which had been removed first.

Trying to get it out of the lock

Out came the chainsaw but that trunk refused to leave the lock!

Nothing for it but to drag it past FS and into the Basin.

 And wildlife seen today,

Only three ducklings left today๐Ÿ˜ข

Grey Wagtail

A poor photo of the smallest bird in Europe, a Goldcrest


Wednesday 24 April 2019

News on the Cromford canal & Ducklings

 I totally forgot to show off our gleaming boat now that most of the painting has been done. I say most because the cabin sides still need doing but we're not brave enough to tackle that so best leave  to those that know what they are doing. Four dry hot days in the dock and we managed three coats of bitumen coated onto the hull, 2 coats of shiny black paint on the gunnels, 1 coat of green gloss on the gas locker and new stencils painted on the bow.

On the dock

Just the masking tape to remove.

Back on the moorings and prep done on the gas locker and surround

The painting finished apart from the cream and the black Club.
Whilst we were on the dock and having a break in the blacking, I walked to where the Cromford canal ends. A notice had been put up on the gates leading to scrub land and the new section completed by ECP&DA in 2000

More Images of the build can be seen from ECP&DA website

 The Erewash terminates below Langley Bridge Lock and above the lock is the start of the Cromford. The moorings we have in the stop lock are part of the now disused Nottingham canal.

 A fingerpost unveiled at last years rally shows the mileage in each of the directions.

 It appears as maybe things are starting to move on reinstating the canal. Planning permission has been submitted so watch this space butI expect we wont hear for many a month.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention Richard Thorpe who travelled up the Erewash in his boat Tyto Alto. Lovely to meet you and the family and hope you enjoyed the trip back to Shardlow as much as when you came up.

4 pm and the Easter weather is a thing of the past. Now an awful lot colder and plenty of showers. Thankfully the painting I did this morning had dried.

 Wildlife today is all about the remaining Ducklings. Only six now as one was taken this morning by a Pike. Mum was going bonkers trying to see it off but to no avail.

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