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.

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?

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Ignoramus simpletons!

Bastards...Mindless idiots with no regard to anyone or anything. Bloody youths.... school holidays and they have nothing better to do than stone boats. And we were sitting targets being so near to the bridge. Missiles raining down on us, how they didn't break the glass in the cratch I will never know. Unfortunately, it's too dark to see what damage has been done to the cabin top or solar panels. That shock is still to come. ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜  So in the dark and not feeling safe on that mooring anymore, I backed FS out between the two boats while Ian fed Destiny's centre rope over the chimney and roof furniture and secured her back next to the boat by the bank. Reversed to the lock knowing that all the moorings were taken beyond the lock landing so we have done the unthinkable and tied to the landing bollards. And all this done with hardly any light, just a small pocket torch!  I think it will be an early getaway tomorrow back to Langley Mill.

View from the stern

All moorings were taken.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Part 2. A snail could go faster!

Friday 25th Oct (early afternoon)

So back to yesterday, That mooring space we pulled in at, not the nice straight edge one would have liked but a long sweeping curve making side fenders useless. Only by fixing the balloon fenders bow and stern could FS stop knocking on the side. While Ian was sorting this I happened to notice two C&RT bods by a workboat. "I'll just go and see if they know what the state of the river is," said I. And they did. "The Soar is in flood," said he. "But at the moment the Trent is within normal parameters." "Right then, should we try and make it to the Erewash?" I asked. His reply was yes "because there is a lot more rain to come overnight and the Trent will no doubt be on the rise and be on red boards later this evening."  Ian had just secured those balloon fenders when I returned to tell him we had to leave NOW.

Heading toward the Shardlow stop gates and the first thing we noticed was the Red light. "What the" I exclaimed. "That C&RT chap said the Trent was still open!"

But phew....the red light was for the Soar, not the Trent.

Derwent Mouth lock and we descended onto the river.

Looking at the marker board below the lock it appeared to be only just into the amber but we powered on anyway knowing there was a big weir to get past.

Amber or still in the green? Hard to tell by this marker below Derwent mouth lock.

Weir at Sawley
 Approached Sawley and the flood lock gates were closed. Gosh, I can't remember the last time Ian had to go and set this lock. Both the bottom gate and the top gate had red paddle markers meaning in times of high water those paddles must be left in the raised position when leaving.

Sawley stop lock closed. In normal river conditions, both top and bottom gates are left open.

Canalised section and making our way toward the lock

Green light showing it was safe to proceed down to the river. Sawley lock

This below Sawley lock
The rain had started again and we were most relieved to reach the junction of the Erewash Canal. Even with the river only just in Amber a bit of power was needed to do the left turn.

Junction of the Erewash

Having successfully made it off the river the plan was to stay at Trent lock for the weekend (because of the Rugby again!!!) but how dismayed were we at seeing all the moorings, including the facility point, all taken up by boaters. Wonder what the reason was as we have never seen it so full. What it did mean though was we had to continue onwards and in the pouring rain too, just when I was so looking forward to drying out by the stove!

Got to Long Eaton Lock (full and had to be emptied) ascended and Ian broke the bad news that the levels were down by a good 18 inches. Oh eck, best keep to the middle then!

 But then it all went horribly wrong. We inched forward at a snail's pace with the prop digging deep into the silt churning the clear water to a muddy soup and hardly making any headway at all. Even the ducks were unconcerned by our progress.

Ian decided to phone C&RT just in case we got stuck. "Oh yes we know about it," said the lady on the other end of the phone. "It has already been reported and we have dispatched our guys". "You should notice a rise in levels shortly" Well, that was a relief we thought still doing the heady speed of about a half-mile an hour! Then suddenly we ground to a halt. Into reverse and a horrible drumming noise followed by the boat bouncing. Into forward and the same thing happened. We were going nowhere! Down the weed hatch was the answer so it fell to Ian to do the deed. (My excuse...he has longer arms and I couldn't possibly get my hands dirty, think of the nails!!!)

Ground to a halt but to far away from the side to get off.

Thought I might have seen some fishes so near to the bottom were we.

Could be the remains of a holdall.
 Took an hour to do nearly a mile but finally we made it to Dolkholm lock. Thank goodness for those fishing platforms although I felt they were an unnecessary structures as very few fishermen had ever used them. I think they were installed when the Angling fishing championships were held a few years ago. Anyway, I digress. Ian managed to leap onto one of the platforms and while I tried to stay away from the side, Ian ran ahead to set the lock.

Now, I fully expected it to be empty with paddles up 'cos wasn't C&RT supposed to be running water down? The answer was no, not a sign that they had been there at all and so it was when we arrived at Sandiacre lock. That too needed emptying and I'm sorry to say but this annoyed me. We may have been stuck for all they cared. Of course, being cynical it was late Friday afternoon and I don't suppose they wanted the bother so close to knocking off time!

So we managed to nuzzle back into the arm, first pushing Destiny out of the way (permission had been given by the owner) and all night the rain fell. Saturday morning TV went on and Ian was ecstatic that England had won, not expecting that against such a good team as NZL  And what of  C&RT? No idea if they had turned up or not, we saw no sign of anyone on Friday pm and I doubt they would have turned up during the heavy rain on Saturday. Judging by how much water was flowing over the bywash today, they probably won't need to after all that rain.

Photo was taken this morning. What a change in the weather eh?

Lots of water flowing.
I must admit there was much relief of being able to plug into the bungalows electrics. Ian will take the travel pack and alternator to Cox's on Monday and the Snipe satellite dish sent back to Germany. Then all he has to do is repair the electric gate on the bungalow for the tenants and we will be free to head back up the Erewash.

And wildlife,

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