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.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

A visit by the Beeb!

Well, well, well, who'd a thought that we would be on telly! It all started with a phone call to Norman, (ECP&DA Chairman) from Phill Mulligan, (C&RT area manager) who had been approached by BBC East Midlands Today asking if he had any liveaboards in the area, mainly to find out how boaters had been coping with isolation and loneliness during the lockdown these past 5 weeks. Norman didn't hesitate and gave ours and Jim and Jenns (Dire Straits) phone numbers to the producer as good candidates to be interviewed. So on Monday, we had the call to ask if we were prepared to be on interviewed on Wednesday (today).

10 am and the crew turned up. Only the two, the cameraman Neil Evans and interviewer Quentin Raynor. We were immediately put at ease (I had worried a tad about what we would be asked) and filming commenced, first with the interview and then with shots inside FS. (knew I should have tidied!) Action shots were also required so a walk along the outside of the basin and then me wiping down the back cabin hatch slide whilst Ian sorted out ropes in the top box, with all being met with a thumbs up. A good hour later and they said they had enough footage so next stop for them was to make their way to see Jim and Jenn.

Hopefully, it will be put out on air tonight at 6.30pm and also on catch-up on iPlayer for 24 hours. What parts will be shown, that is the question?

We also had the first BBQ of the season. Last Sunday evening and just about got everything cooked before the rain came.

With face coverings in the news recently (do we or don't we have to wear them) I decided to make my own. Ians old boxer shorts came in very useful! I did wash them first though!

Thursday 23 April 2020

Amazing what you can do with a plank!

Gosh, we have been doing a lot of walking and found tracks that we never knew were along the canal, all of which cried out for us to try. It's amazing really, but with us not normally here in late Spring or Summer months, the walks were a great find and made us appreciate the Erewash even more.

 On one of our jaunts, a CRT guy was walking the towpath and happened to mention about a fire at Sandiacre Tuesday night, right by Padmore moorings and in one of the upper flats of the old Springfield Mill. Water was pumped from the canal to fight the fire and on hearing this we wondered if this was the reason one of the paddles at Eastwood lock had been raised. 

Water would have had to be run down from Langley to keep the water levels up on the lower section so when we told him about the raised paddle he admitted that doing other jobs around the lock, had completely forgotten to drop it.  Good job Ian did it then! It was also mentioned that half the CRT workers were being furloughed with the other half working until May. Then a swap would occur with the furloughed guys who would resume the work leaving those that had worked now furloughed! Confused??? Yes so was I!

Some work on FS has continued mainly the back deck and swan neck. Ian would love to do the gunwales but with boats either side, that's not possible. We are now thinking of doing something with the back cabin doors, they badly need a repaint.

 We are both getting bored and I know millions of people are all in the same boat (sorry about the pun!) so to try and keep us (namely me) occupied I have subscribed to Amazon Prime. The first thing to view was The Grand Tour. Top Gear was a real favourite of mine and when Clarkson, Hammond and May left the Beeb and then The Grand Tour was shown on Amazon, I was gutted. So now I can binge on it every afternoon.

Had a bit of fun today. Decided walking alone was not enough to keep us fit so Ian found a scrappy bit of rope and I attempted to skip. Good grief, I thought it would be like riding a bike, once mastered never forgotten but most of my first attempts were abysmal! Ian attempted push-ups in the gap of the back hatch. Think he did a better job than me.

Marilyn mentioned planking would be more beneficial after I posted on FB. Not sure if this was what she had in mind ๐Ÿ˜‚

The front of FS can just be seen from the bank so we did our bit to carry forth the message to keep our NHS workers safe. Ian downloaded this poster from the web and then printed it off.

And of course, I've not been idle with the camera on the walks,

Friday 17 April 2020

Now comes the hard part

And that is keeping safe. Wrapped up in the bubble of confinement we suddenly found a different Langley Mill from when we left back in December.

To think it was only 14 days ago since arriving back from Australia where conditions in that country were very different from GB.  Everything was shut down apart from public health centres, hospitals, public transport, banks, grocery stores and take away outlets. Fines were issued if found to be doing any unnecessary journeys and all the public places where people met, including the beaches, were closed. What didn't happen until well after we had returned home was the supermarket queues. So you can see why all this was very new to us.

 So for us leaving the basin for the first time most noticeable was the lack of traffic, never have I seen the roads so quiet. Usually, the traffic queue stretches from the Roundabout off the A610 to the mini roundabout by Asda.

And the queues of shoppers waiting to get into the superstore, all keeping to the 2 metres apart and no more than 10 people being allowed into the store at once, but only after 10 have left.

Trolly wipes were available to clean the handle tube on the trolly, which we used even though we wore gloves, but the number of people that didn't bother was staggering!

Lastly, it's the arrows on the store floor. You are asked to follow these even though there is nothing on that particular aisle that is needed. We tried to duck down a different aisle and go against the arrows but was told to stay on track! Fully understand that we need to keep far apart from the person in front so next time we will do as we are told.

We were advised by Jen to go before 9am as the queuing was almost non-existent at that time. Well, we got there at 8.25am and was amazed to see the line stretched around the store. From joining the back it took nearly 40 minutes to actually get in.

Eventually got back to FS by 10.15am, not that we minded, it was just great to be out and about. Kettle on before unpacking the shopping and blast noticed we had forgotten one of the most needed items on the list, the pepper mill. Yes, that list did work but unlike Sally's idea of listing the goods aisle by aisle, we found we missed a few things and had to try and backtrack. This too was frowned on by one or two people but we did wait until the coast was clear.  Anyway because I needed that pepper mill thought I would try my luck at Lidl. More queues but this time only had a 15-minute wait. No arrows on the floor but there were floor signs by the till.

 Ian wanted a few bits from B&Q and tried to go online to order the stuff. But he was held in an 'online' queue for 53 minutes before he got onto the site and then placing the order for three items, two were out of stock, the most important two! Eventually, he got an email to say he could come and collect the remaining one item. On his return, he relayed the tale of how difficult it was to actually get the order. Firstly nothing at the store was set up for pedestrians. Everyone who was waiting was in a car. A bay would be allocated to the car driver, their order would then be brought out and left on the ground and the driver would get out of his car and collect it. When Ian turned up on foot, well he was given short thrift! How dare he walk and not come by car! Even when he explained we had no car he got exasperated looks! In the end, he was allocated to a car bay, standing there feeling a right idiot but the primer paint was brought out and left on a pallet nearby. He was most relieved to walk home.

Talking of walking we had our first outing. Along Anchor lane to the disused Nottingham canal where parts of the canal had been filled in but a decent stretch was still in water. Then took the track through the woods to Eastwood lock before the return journey which took us along the towpath of the Erewash canal. Just before Langley Bridge lock, we saw that burnt out cruiser Jen had told us about.  No sign of the ducklings though.

What a great day to be out. And the birdsong...the A610 runs alongside the Nottingham canal and the traffic noise can drown out any tweeting from them birdies. But not today with the lack of vehicles. Wow, the chirpings were so loud and a joy to hear. There may be some good coming out of this lockdown after all.

Nottingham canal

A sense of humour in these dark times

Anchor bridge

Not a mooring to be had.

Ian on the back of FS
Now that our self-isolation is over this may well be my last post for a while. Might touch base every now and then. Until I do stay safe, keep the distance and wash those hands. We all need to do our bit to stop this virus in its tracks and if that means continuing to stay ah home and see our family by video link, so be it.

Some wildlife photos from our walk.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Got there at last.

April 15th

Fourteen days of confinement, not the easiest thing to do on a narrowboat but for us we have been lucky to have moored away from others. And we have also been able to leave the boat, walk around part of the basin and have the use of the workshop without fear of anyone coming in. Ah, well, that is with one exception, of course,  Howard was a big problem but as of now, we can safely chat to him so long as we keep our distance.

Very excited to decide on what groceries to get from Asda. That really sounds sad but I cant wait to see for myself the queues that form and how the shop deals with it. Leaving Oz and going shopping, apart from tape on the floor to keep everyone 1.5 meters apart, you could still enter whenever you liked.

Talking of shopping, we have copied an idea by Sally. Every week she would go to Coles in Thornleigh armed with a shopping list. But not a handwritten list, a blank template downloaded by my brother which he then listed every item aisle by aisle of groceries to keep the household going.
 Ian has printed something similar but because we have three supermarkets within walking distance, compiling it by aisle was not an option. Will it work for us? We will finally find out tomorrow.

Hardly done anything today. Did one more wash load but most to the morning was trying to find a suitable photo to place in our New Zealand frame. It was down to three and we decided on the last one.

Soup and Corned beef sarnies for lunch. Really nice with a tomato.

 Ian kept occupied all day. This time rubbing down the green on the back deck. Found to his annoyance that the green paint put away in paint screw-top tidy pots last year caused a massive skin to form over the top. It was only by digging deep that he found a bit of liquid paint. Hardly enough to do the job so he eeked it out the best he could. The trouble now there is not enough of the green to do a second coat.

As for me I just chilled out and watched my man at work with the brush, and a great job he did too.

Cajun chicken with pasta and peas for dinner. Slowly but surely the supplies bought by Colin and Christine are going down. Soon we may be able to get our bookcase back.

Still haven't watched Jane Eyre but Ian managed to record it on his computer. At least we can watch this at our leisure.

Have already decided to go early to Asda tomorrow. So excited about going out at last! 

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