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.

Monday 31 August 2020

Monday mania

 Sunday pm

Not the most sensible day for a BBQ, A bit on the cool side, but we had agreed it was to be today so  meat had been taken out of the freezer and had to be used. Lit by 5pm it did mean we had to start drinking earlier than normal though.πŸ˜‰πŸ·πŸΊ Cant have a BBQ without some sort of alcoholic drink in ones hand whilst cooking.

Look at that...enough for two days!

Well would you believe it. Ready to leave this morning and moored in front was Festina Lente with Andy and Sue. Damn, if we had realised last night they could have joined us for the BBQ. Anyway we had a natter this morning, Andy reminded me where we had met several years ago (Thames) and a pleasant 15 minutes was spent catching up. 

I somehow think we made the wrong decision to move today. Every man and his dog was out on the cut. And no wonder, it being a bank holiday Monday and all. Negotiated Bridge 41 without incident, (the bridge that Ian was stuck in the mud). But then, guess what...I did the same thing at bridge 40. Saw the lady walking along the towpath first. Noticed she kept looking back and then high tail it back toward the bridge ole. Out came a hire boat, not at all slowly and had to put on the brakes. I in the meantime had gone far over as I could to the right which happened to be on a bend, and immediately FS's stern dug into the mud. Hire boat made it through, I tried to swing the bow to the left aiming for the bridge hole when the inevitable happened, I put on the power to get off the mud, the bow swung to far left and I ended up in the offside vegetation on the far bank. No photos of this incident. To busy trying to sort myself out! Anyway I did manage the manoeuvre only to find yet another boat had arrived at the bridge and was hanging back watching, with some amusement no doubt, at my plight.

Next mishap (not to me) happened to a nice shiny beautiful looking private boat. Again arrived at a narrow due to overhanging trees, I moved as far right as I could, that boat also moved over to his side but went too near to the offside and straight into those overhanging branches. Not only the sound of scraping of those branches along the cabin side but his chimney got picked up and thrown onto the cabin top. I cringed as I went past but for some reason the owners seemed totally unperturbed! I would have been heartbroken! For this reason alone I persuaded Ian to remove our chimney.

Offside hanging branches where that boat went through.

And a good job too as plenty of towpath overhanging branches too

 Still more madness to come though. Through bridge 37 and passing moored boats another boater who got the turn wrong. I truly believe the trouble on this part of the canal is the amount of built up silt on both sides. Go slightly off-centre and the boat rides up on the mud which means loss of control on the tiller.

Having seen FS, into reverse he went.

And then not long after passing this boat, yet another hire boat heading towards us. Took this photo to show the typical example of what I was talking about. 

Quite a lean on!

He also got himself in a pickle trying to straighten up and unfortunately for him another boat was almost up his backside.

Brakes went on again and blow me down if behind that boat, another boat turns up as well!! Absolute mayhem and blooming glad we were heading away from it all!

Finally, we reached a heaving Sutton Cheney. Where was the social distancing here?? After filling the water tank, emptying cassettes and getting rid of the rubbish we really thought our best bet was to find a mooring sooner rather than later and let the madness of this Monday pass by.

Oh and one more mishap that I must mention. In front of all the Gongoozlers at Sutton Wharf bridge, Ian once again at the helm, hit the coping on the bridge towpath side...again sending my chilli plant in the well deck onto the seating!!! So much for women drivers!!!! πŸ˜πŸ˜’

 And seen on route.

Someone has a sense of humour.

And seen in the field by Carlton moorings,

Sunday 30 August 2020

Tractors and locos.

 Unbelievable! Still into summer and the stove had to be lit! Proper arctic it was last night, even firing up the diesel heater didn't help. Only took the chill from the air but to be comfortable we threw in a firelog. Soon we were toastie warm.....well, a bit too hot really....ended up opening the front doors to cool the place down! Seems we just can't win.

So now let's get back to yesterday.

The reason for this mooring was to see the steam loco trundle past. But Saturdays timetable for the  Battlefield Line showed it to be the diesel engine running. Ah, but what a good opportunity to find the best place to see the loco on the 'morrow.

A very short walk took us to the railway viaduct. Not a bad place to take photos, as was the lane on the other side of that bridge, but I had looked on Google Earth to see if there was anything better.


And there was. A left turn at the junction, along the lane for about quarter of a mile, cross into a field via a public footpath, over a stile and hey presto we were at the line.

Don't much like the look of those dips in the track!

Good, this will do nicely. Set off back to FS to find the moorings were filling up fast, must be a popular spot at weekends.

Today then, having timed the walk to the track we left by 10.40am. The steam loco was due to leave Shackerstone at 11am. Gosh, we were lucky on the walk because suddenly all these tractors appeared. There must be an event somewhere.

Eventually arrived at our chosen spot, settled ourselves next to the line (before anyone starts to have kittens, a public footpath crosses at this point) to await the locomotive. Nearly 7 minutes late it finally turned up.

Having gone past and been waved at by the passengers (quite an experience to be so close to a moving locomotive) we decided to head back to the viaduct and await its return.

Obviously no turntable or cross over line at Shenton so having to pull backwards. 

Ian took this video on his new phone.


And this from the mooring. Could someone cut those trees down please?


Tomorrow we move on, would have stayed another day but fishing here is awful...no, worse than awful...non-existent! Need to find a good fishing spot. Have all this bait and nowhere as yet decent to use it!

And wildlife

Silver Y moth


Friday 28 August 2020

Gosh, almost got kicked out of the pub!

 Thursday 27th

Handy having Christine visit with the grandkids, not only did she bring the post but half a pint of wrigglers as well. We had ordered masks, the sort that has a pouch for filters and wire to pinch around the nose. It was a pain when the homemade masks I made back in April kept steaming up our glasses every time we breathed out. To try and read the shopping list through a fog was nigh on impossible! Anyway I ordered from Amazon on the Tuesday and by Wednesday they had arrived at our daughters. Most impressed with the prompt delivery.


Having really enjoyed the two-hour visit with the family, our next visitors were friends of old. In fact neighbours of ours when our children were little, must be well over 30 years ago when we moved away from Barlestone, but we did keep in touch periodically. Off to the Rising Sun with all the proper social distancing rigmarole put in place. We asked about the 'eat out to help out' scheme the government put in place for August but this establishment decided not to go ahead and register their establishment. The meals were good although a tad pricey. Seems the days are gone when one could get a decent pub meal for under a tenner. Having booked the table for 6pm we were the last to leave the restaurant at 10.30pm! Well, there was a lot of catching up to do as we hadn't seen each other for nearly 2 years. It was a glance from the waitress lurking nearby compelling us to ask if we should leave to which her reply was "yes, it is about time you made your way home"!

Friday 28th

Nappy pins were unhooked from the cladding, ropes pulled through and about to leave when we were inundated by wasps! Where had they come from? Crikey the boat behind had loads of wasps flying around the cratch. Managed to get a couple of photos but there were far more than shown here. There must be something that attracted them to this boat.



Leaving Shackerstone. Sharp left-hander through the bridge so best go slow.

Looking on Google Maps we noticed that Carlton would probably be the best place to see the steam loco on Sunday. Moor by Bridge 44 and short walk on the road to a bridge where the railway viaduct goes over the lane. Had it in mind to give it a trial run on arrival at the mooring today but rain put paid to that. On route, we again saw Al and Del Derwent 6 This time we stopped for a much longer natter. With no wind to take FS all over the place, it was easy to keep FS into the side. In fact if it hadn't been for two boats approaching in the distance we would have been with them a lot longer. We may well cross paths again when we leave the Ashby so let's hope for good weather where we can stop and partake of a glass of wine or two. 

And wildlife,

Thursday 27 August 2020

Hmm, he failed to tell me that!

 Wednesday 26th

Not a great night sleep. The wind kept us awake and every so often a noise came from the cabin top. Solar panels rattling possibly? Then a light kept going on and off. I was convinced someone with a torch was aiming the light at FS. But then...hang on...it's coming from water side so how could that be? Turned out it was the security light being triggered by a swaying branch.

Today we left Snarestone. Stepping off FS it became obvious what those sounds were last night, came  from small twigs snapping from the tree nearby and bouncing off the top and sides. Ian also found a finger nail chip in the paintwork by one of the solar panels. No idea at all how that happened! Before leaving we walked over to Chyandour to say farewell to Lisa and Fred.  Fred opened the swing bridge as I took FS through, and we stopped briefly at the facilities to take on water and do both cassettes.

Ian at the helm again (was that a good idea?) but the washing needed hanging out so into the well deck I went. Still trying to hang out the laundry when FS entered the tunnel stopping any idea of continuing with the pegging. Got these photos though.

That bendy bit.

Got to dreaded bridge 59 and Ian still made the same excuse of the bridge towpath sticking out to far. Yea...right... Seemed perfectly okay to me. Anyway I think we should put this behind us, what is done, is done! 


I really think this willow should be cut back. To avoid it FS ended up on the wrong side. Hoped nothing was coming!

Saying that...something he kept very quiet about after the incident, not just the cans damaged but the back hatch slide as well! 

 Back through the wooded bit and most surprised there was not more fallen branches after those 40 + gusts. Plenty of leaves lying on the water, felt most Autumnal.

At Shackerstone we hoped to find a mooring. A long line of offside boats obscured our vision and it wasn't until we got around the bend that we could see several of the 14-day moorings free. That will do nicely for the next few days. Our daughter and grandsons are due for a visit to bring our post and arrangement had been made with friends to meet at the Rising Sun for a meal tomorrow.


Anyone interested in steam locos would find the mooring here idyll for a trip on The Battlefield line   operated by the Shackerstone railway society. I walked up to enquire when the Loco was running. Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday was the answer so if we can leave on Friday or Saturday, maybe a mooring will show itself next to the line. Would love to get a photo as it trundles past. Must use Google Earth to find out.

 And wildlife,

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