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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 June 2020

In amongst the carrot tops

After a lot of deliberation, head-scratching, swearing and drowning one's sorrows with a glass of Port, we finally came to the conclusion that paying for a taxi to take us to Nuneaton was the only option we had. A phone call last night secured the taxi for 9.30am.

 This morning we had a strange text from son in law. Having told our daughter all about the problems we were having to which she related to Kev, he suddenly realised that he knew one of the men from Cox's. Seems they are both bikers! Anyway, he phoned his mate, explained our plight and long story short, told us to phone Cox's first thing to see what progress had been made. Well, whatever he said worked because after leaving a message, back came a call to say they would have the travel pack ready for collection after 2pm.

The taxi arrived on time and masks and hand gel was used for the whole journey. Paperwork all done and by 10.30 we were on the road to Sandiacre. By 11.30 am the generator had been placed in the hire car boot and, I might add, on an old towel 'just in case of petrol leakage'. Two empty petrol cans also stowed ready to fill at a garage and we were on our way back to FS.

On arrival at Trinity and walking along the pontoon, I did a double-take when I noticed what was in a box on the stern of one of the boats.  In fact, I wondered if this duck was real but the owner of the boat assured me she was. This duck decided that the box of sown carrots was the best place to make a nest. Eggs have been laid and, apparently, this was not the first time she has used this boat. Last year she did the same in a box on the bow and then 20 eggs were laid but only 2 hatched. Later in the day she left for a dip and feed and the eggs were revealed





 Got to Cox's after the time quoted and sure enough the pack was ready. New brushes had replaced the old although they still looked to be okay. The chap mentioned oil on the brushes, quite where that had come from was most baffling but this wouldn't have caused the problem. No, it was the electric part of the travel pack that was the problem. He reckoned a spike had blown the thing up taking out 3 of the 4 modules (these had been replaced back in 2017!) but even though he asked all the questions on loading, what we used it for, where was it situated, did we charge our mobile phones through it, well the list went on and on and every answer we gave baffled him more as to why the thing had packed up. A suggestion was made to see if the invertor could be the culprit so Ian is going to plug the computer into it (he has a program showing how the invertor is working) and check it out.



It's nice to think we can leave tomorrow. The wind has died down so getting out of Trinity should not be as difficult as getting in!


Monday, 29 June 2020

Good grief...nearly ran into a boat! And not news we wanted to hear!

Horrendously windy today and by far the most difficult conditions to leave any marina by! So with some trepidation, the ropes were untied and Ian eased us away from the pontoon. But for a change, the wind was in our favour and actually helped us out instead of hindered.



Back onto the Coventry and before bridge 24, I very nearly ran into a burnt-out and sunken cruiser! I steered around a right-hand bend and noticed a tree down on the right. So intent was I on missing that tree that I only noticed the cruiser on the towpath side at the last moment. Blimey, that tiller was pushed hard to the left and phew just missed it with the stern. That was one close call!





Sod's law said that the only boat we would meet on the Coventry would be by Boot wharf! Always chock-a-block with moored boats the channel here is considerably reduced in width. That wind and holding back to allow it to pass was no easy matter! Hmmm, I'm beginning to change my mind about bow-thrusters!

The boat hadn't quite come into view on this photo.
 I fully appreciate that when a tree or large branch falls it will more often then not, block navigation. Normally C&RT are very quick on the uptake and the offending object is removed. So quite what has happened here is baffling!




 After nearly three hours we arrived at Marsdon Junction. Again would those gusts be a hindrance but no, blowing straight down from the Ashby it made the turn remarkably easy.



And then a boat we knew well. It was Al and Del on Derwent 6  So even in the blustery conditions and knew we would have to fight with FS to keep her stationary, we just had to stop for a natter. We probably bored them silly with our woo's but it was lovely to see them both looking so well and enjoying being out of lockdown. Hope to see you soon guys. 


Pulled onto the service point so Ian could find out where we had to go. I was dreading taking FS in as the wind was blowing from left to right and trying to reverse into any pontoon mooring would be difficult. And so it proved when we found out which one it was. When you see that last photo of the windsock you will what I mean. Anyway, with help from one of the boaters, someone from the Trinity staff pool and with no end of trying to correct my aim for the gap (every time the stern was lined up the wind grabbed the front and pushed her to the right!) I eventually got her in.




Now that we had arrived and sorted ourselves out Ian was straight on the phone to Cox's to see when the travel pack would be ready. I could see Ian was getting a bit irate and it turns out that no delivery had come to replace the damaged parts and worst of all the chap who told us he would be in today to sort it out was on his day off! "B***er it" said Ian, "We'll get that car from Enterprise and I'll go fetch our generator to keep us going." Hopes raised again only for them to be dashed by those at head office Enterprise. The reason we had come to Hinkley was that the hire firm was within walking distance but guess what....they were shut!!! So not only do we not have our travel pack, but we also don't have a generator and at £15 a night here at Trinity, it's going to be a very expensive wait time ahead! So we are now in the process of trying to find alternative transport. As for Cox's, Have they been leading us up the garden path? Had they had any intention of getting us mobile again in the near future? No recommendation will now come from us and we won't be using them again!!!

Some wildlife photos today.







Sunday, 28 June 2020

And the chimney falls.

So today we have lost one of our iconic landmarks on the Erewash. A loud explosion was heard around the Long Eaton area and all due to the demolishing of the previous Britannia and Portland mill chimney built in the early 1900s. A fire at the mattress warehouse owned by Elson and Robbins was the cause of the mill's demise and the chimney and a small part of the wall was the only remaining thing standing. Since we have lived here (2003) it had been utilised for telecommunications equipment. The land is to be developed for housing but why they couldn't incorporate the chimney in the design was very short-sighted in my opinion. Maybe the upkeep will just take too much money. Another structure of our industrial past to bite the dust!

(As I couldn't find one of my own photos I have taken this from the Nottingshire Live with the image credit to Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)


To see the moment of demolition click on this from Derbyshire Telegraph In the first video forward the bar to 26 seconds then once watched scroll down to see the second video from a drone.  There is also more on U Tube click on this link  You need to forward the bar to about 28 seconds.

Silly me but had a bit of a lump in my throat when watching it. Anyway, it's gone never to return and another reference point missing from our skyline!

More photos from Springwood Haven marina









Friday, 26 June 2020

A bit annoying really!

Last night, as the sun was setting, a boat came past from the direction of the lock. Yippee, that would mean at least some of the locks would be with us in the morn. Looking at the chap sitting on the cabin top  I thought we were in for a red sunset! This chap had his top off and his torso was bright red!  Gosh, I expect he will be in agony later 'cos that sunburn was pretty impressive.

We set off in stealth mode this morning, well we did depart at 7 am. Not wanting to wake Jim and Jenn it was cast off before turning on the engine. The ploy worked as a text message from Jenn later in the day said they never heard us go!


That pound between lock 9 and 8 was low again. Looked to be even lower than yesterday. All the paddles were down so it must be due to overnight leakage.



 We sailed up the flight 15 minutes short of two hours. It's not often every lock is with us which meant Ian had it easy for once. No running to the next lock to lift a paddle and then back again to close the gate. Usually, I would do this but that coccyx of mine...well that's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it!

 No volunteers in sight as we entered the last lock, still a bit early I suppose but as I was about to depart that lock and go onto the facilities, a boat came toward us also gesturing that they too wanted the services. Blast I would just have to wait. It did give a perfect opportunity to photograph ducklings up close though. They were in the side bywash pound without mum.



A bit young to start smoking!
On route to Springwood Haven and by bridge 35 (where the winding hole used to be)  another marina was in the process of being constructed. I can't find out anything about it on the internet so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear from you.



So now for my post heading. We have religiously watched the weather forecast, Ian has also an app on the phone showing our position and what the weather will be for the day. If we had known the cloud cover would burn off I suspect we would have stayed another day on last nights mooring. The solar panels did the job of keeping the batteries topped up nicely and we could have gone into Springwood Haven Marina on Saturday instead of today. Still, they got us in on short notice and for that, we are ever so thankful for their help. The £30 for three nights stay plus £4 for the electrics, is very reasonable considering the circumstance. They got is out of a really bad hole and for that, we are extremely grateful.



 On Monday then, we leave here and head for Hinkley on the Ashby canal. Hinkley marina is expecting us for another two nights stay and the good thing about this town is that Enterprise car hire is within walking distance. Due to Covid they no longer collect and we need to get back to Cox's to collect the travel pack and also, for peace of mind, Ian will head back to our garage in Sandiacre to bring back the generator.  I doubt if I will post again until we set off and until then I will leave you with this photo of a female Mandarin duck and two ducklings seen on the Atherstone flight.





Thursday, 25 June 2020

Oh dear it goes from bad to worse.

Watched TV last night, charged laptops, phones and tablets and the battery volts were only down to 88% this morning. Sunrise today was at 4.44 am and in anticipation of another fine day, Ian had swung the panels last night to catch the first rays.  By 9 am the volts were over 90 % If only we had another week of this good weather than our worries would be over. Unfortunately, the worries remain as you will see later.

With temperatures predicted to be in the low 30's, I left Ian checking our batteries and set off for a walk. One lock up and the pound was very low.


And by this bench a disgusting amount of rubbish! Two volunteer lockies had arrived to run water down from the next pound to top up between lock 8 and 9 and I happened to mention the rubbish by lock 8. "Three months worth" was one of the volunteers replay. They too had only started back on Monday.  One black bag was all they had with them and I expected that would soon be filled. Give them their due though, when I saw them later they had walked to the facilities at Bradley Green bridge, dumped what they had collected and fetched another black bag to tackle the rubbish by lock 8. To say they looked hot was an understatement and when I mentioned a cup of tea they said no kettle was supplied anymore because of the covid cross-contamination from one volunteer to another. Flasks it was to be then.


In that low pound was a duck with newly hatched ducklings. She was determined to get below lock with her brood but because of the lack of water, no way would those ducklings have made it onto the bank.

Ducklings in the left corner by the lock gate


So she gave up

But then tried again

And again
I left her too it but on my return two of the ducklings were missing. Once that pound had been filled the bywash started flowing and I found the two below lock in the long pound with us! I tried with my net to catch them and return them to mum but to no avail. They can survive without mum if no preditor gets them so hope they make it.








Mid-afternoon Ian decided to phone Cox's to see how the repair was going. I could tell by the way the conversation was going that the news wasn't good. Turns out its the electronics that's kaput which is the reason the brushes needed changing so frequently. Friday now was out of the question as new parts had to be ordered. A time scale of 5 to 6 days was mentioned, no blooming good to us! As I mentioned earlier if we had another week of wall to wall sunshine we could just about manage but the weather is set to change tomorrow and without the solar panels putting in a charge we were well and truly up the creek without a paddle! Thinking caps on and our only solution was to find a marina with power. The nearest one was at Springwood Haven and hopefully, they would have space. Well they didn't!!! But hats off to them because once we told them of our plight they said space would be found even if we had to go on top of another boat! (pity them on the bottom๐Ÿ˜Š) So tomorrow we set off early to finish the flight which will probably take a couple of hours now especially as a boat has come past taking the empty lock. More work for Ian me thinks.

I mentioned yesterday about the bike rack handles overhanging the stern fender. Well with nothing else to do, Ian got out his trusty hacksaw and took a good 9" off the ends. That should do the trick and saves me having to continually go backwards and forwards with the revs to keep it away from the back gate. Honestly, anyone listening would think I was a novice, okay, okay, as Ian always tells me, I'm not that good!!!!



Oh and guess who caught us up. Yep, our cruising buddies Jim and Jenn.

Dire Straits moored behind.

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