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 31 December 2019

Seeing in the New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR from us in New Zealand to all our family, friends and those that follow this blog. May 2020 bring you much joy and happiness and all your hopes and dreams come true.Xxx

It's nearly the end of 2019

 The skyline of Auckland at night, quite something to behold.

So the motorhome, not bad but we do have one big issue. The bed is a wee bit small, not used to that at all! If one of us moves the other knows about it! I suppose we could at least curl up but that in itself is unpleasant. Two sweaty bodies....you get the picture.

Took the ferry to Auckland city and made our way to the hop on hop off bus. Long long queue greeted us so being the good Brits dutifully joined the end. Then a chap came by asking if anyone held yellow tickets. We did so he did no more than beckon us to the front. Oh my God!!! You would think World War One had set off. The abuse was hurled at us in all directions saying how dare we jump the queue. They soon shut up when we explained we were on a different bus to them!!!

The tour took a couple of hours and we did hop off at several places. One being the Sky Tower and the other Winter Gardens Greenhouses.

View from Sky Tower

We dared make that step onto the glass.

Walking along the outside of the Tower

 Winter Gardens

It's nearly time for the New Year celebrations. The light is fading and loads of people have turned up to get their spot. My next post will be to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Wildlife today,

Monday 30 December 2019

Wow what a place to view the fireworks tomorrow.

It is obvious that this time of year if one hasn't booked one misses out! Such was the case yesterday at Gulf harbour when an excursion to the islands of Tiritiri Matangi was a must. Full of native wildlife and birds I would have been in my element. But fully booked we left and headed for a place that looked to be perfect for viewing the New Year fireworks in Auckland. A place called Bayswater Marina. Ian found it on one of the free camping apps a site that had a fee attached and run by the marina. We really didn't hold out much hope of securing a spot but gosh we were lucky. A few places left and only one on a level spot so we paid our $80 for two nights. And wow...what a great spot. A direct line of sight to the Sky Tower and we can view the display from the luxury of the motorhome. It doesn't get any better than that!

Looking at the tower from inside the van.

A ferry runs regularly from Baywater to Auckland city so decision made, go see what is on offer across the water. Plenty, especially the dolphin and whale trip. Enquired if there was space for the morrow but told no, fully booked. Again we were disappointed. Never mind, all was not lost as we have paid for a Hop on Hop off bus with tickets to go up in the Sky Tower.

Sky Tower to the left and harbour bridge right.

The motorhome
 Dinner tonight consisted of Pizza and Garlic bread. Nothing wrong with that, a quick easy meal before watching a film would be good. Went to turn the oven on and.... arggg NO OVEN! Suddenly realised we only had a hob. What to do....would it work in a frying pan with a lid on? Only one way to find out, try it.

 It worked...it really did. Okay, the bottom was a tad crisp but the cheese melted and it was hot through. Amazing what can be done in a pan,

A few wildlife photos.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Not all plain sailing

 28th December
The good news is we have finally arrived in Auckland but it was not without the usual Jameison dramas. First back to December 24th

Christmas at our daughters, great fun, plenty to eat and drink and late nights playing games. All to soon Boxing day arrived and at 12 noon Christine took us to the coach station in Nottingham. The coach was 15 minutes late but time made up as the roads were almost empty. We were well on our way when Ian suddenly remembered he hadn't switched off the inverter on FS. Thankfully we had left a set of keys with the canal societies chairman who assured us that he would get it sorted.

 Singapore Airlines took off on time and we settled into 12 hours of the cattle class experience. To be fair this airline has a tad more legroom than others so it wasn't all about being hemmed in a small space. Of course, I forgot to put on my compression socks so swollen ankles were the punishment for not having done so.

Arrived in Singapore and with a 60-minute turn around to get to the next flight. I must admit I was panicking a bit. But then a bombshell, for looking to see where to check in on the information board, the words CANCELLED was very much in evidence! 7 30am the next day was the earliest we could getaway. Ian joined a very long queue of passengers all needing hotel rooms and their tickets transferred to the next day.
The queue to sort out the cancellation
 All plans had to be rethought, letting the motor home hire company know, getting a hotel booked in Auckland as we don't arrive until 22.00, and hoping for some meal vouchers as we had no New Zealand dollars with us. Air New Zealand staff were fantastic. Hotel booked, taxi paid for, fabulous meal courtesy of the airline and transfer back to the airport. They had even organised a hotel in Auckland because we land too late to collect the motorhome. Massively impressed how they dealt with the cancellation. We found out the reason for the delay. The Pilot had been taken ill and no replacement was available. We ended up being taxied to the hotel, had one of the best 'help yourself' meals experienced and after a good five hours sleep, taken back to the airport for check-in at 6 am.

Jen Hotel Singapore

The flight to Auckland was on a much smaller plane, most notable was the lack of legroom and being 'squashed in'. The good news was the plane was only half full so we got the three seats to ourselves. 9 hours of very good flying conditions only marred by the landing! One wheel touched...plane skewed to the left. Other wheel touched and we skewed to the right. By now I had almost freaked out and only Ian's calming influence saved me from producing some very loud expletives!

So you would think nothing more could go wrong, but we hadn't planned to find out that the Air New Zealand desk where we would have found out which hotel we had been booked in to was closed! We had no idea where we had to go! Across from the airport was the Nova Hotel so we made for there. Asking the price of a room, my God we would have had to take out a mortgage! At $300 a night we thought that extortionate! But they were so helpful. The manager phoned Air New Zealand who confirmed a hotel had been booked but about 8 k from the airport. As we were already at Nova the booking was transferred to this hotel, room paid, breakfast also paid and we could have had an evening meal up to $40 each. Didn't feel like eating at nearly midnight though! So finally the holiday is all coming together. Being collected by a shuttle bus to take us to the motorhome about 9 am (20.00 UK time) so about to have a very early breakfast. Its this time difference which is a real killer, last night we only had about four hours of sleep, but that's better than nothing I supposed.

Nova Hotel

How nice.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

 wish you all a
and a

Sunday 15 December 2019

Countdown has begun

The last few weeks have been manic. Grandparent duties at Milton Keynes, Turkey and Tinsel at Cromer and preparation for the NZ and Australia adventure.
First The babysitting! Were we up to the job of keeping two lively under 11's under control? Gulp...But a trip to the park, playing plenty of games, making sure homework was done and then as a special treat, allowing some gaming time on the computers which all helped to make the time go quickly. Back home and 3 days get our house in order for the Turkey & Tinsel coach trip to Cromer.

So the journey to Norfolk...hmmm... long, very long! Pick up was for 8.30am, actual pickup time.... 9.30! Arrival at Hotel de Paris....4 pm  Yeah, took us over 6 hours instead of the 3 if we had gone direct. As it was the hotel management did not want coaches arriving before 4pm so two 45 minute stops and a trip to Sheringham for an hour passed the time. The allocated room was huge with a decent size ensuite and to top it all we had a sea view. Great start we thought but delving a little deeper several unwanted problems arose. Only one main light in the bedroom and nothing toward the bathroom which in itself felt cold. It was never a wonder though with no radiator and only a small heated towel rail feeling a smidgen above freezing! The windows rattled annoyingly cos of the gales that blew continually throughout our 5-day stay and without any form of double glazing, an icy blast was a constant thorn in our sides To top it all the two radiators in the room were cold and couldn't be turned on. A very small electric heater was the only means of taking the chill from the air! Of course, we complained...three times in all but to no avail. Would I recommend this hotel, yes if they could get their act together to listen to the complaints! We couldn't fault the food or entertainment, just the room.

The excursions were also okay, shame we had already been and done it all on our earlier visit in the Beast, but that was our fault, we never gave T & T a thought! I did get to test the new waterproof camera at Sea Life and very pleased to report it worked a treat. Thursford too was amazing. The lights and show spectacular and one I would highly recommend as a Christmas treat.

View from the room

Christmas day Turkey and Tinsel style. I must say the food served every day was very good.

Sea Life

Thursford grounds
I can't believe we only have 10 days left before we fly to Auckland. It's now a race against time to get everything done including Dentist, Opticians, Doctors and pre Christmas family visits. We spend Christmas day at Christine and Kevs new house and Boxing day Kev will take us to the coach station in Nottingham to catch the National Express to Heathrow. Think we may have to curb the festive drinking, not advisable to be 'hungover' before we fly out!

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