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 24 January 2022

The dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

 Considering we usually twiddle our thumbs and wonder what to do whilst back at the Mill, it's been quite a busy time. Back to doing work parties on a Friday, my job, not the most pleasant, was cleaning the facilities block consisting of the loo and elsan! The loo wasn't too bad thanks to Barbara, another of the ECP&DA members who made sure the loo was clean and toilet rolls replaced, but the first thing that greeted me when opening the door was the amount of books, DVD's magazines and the blooming great box of religious pamphlets that had been left on the floor and shelves. On busy stretches of canals this is a great way to recycle books but here on the Erewash so few boats make it up that they become a nuisance. All went into the skip! Then in flushing the loo a mini waterfall occurred when the water in the bowl overflowed the rim! Yep it was blocked! Good job CRT didn't need to get involved (the society looks after the block for them) 'cos they haven't the best record of prompt action dealing with these sort of situations.  It was Dave our work party organisers that had the pleasure of that job!

Convinced the problem was the paper towels being used as loo paper, it turns out the sewage pipe had a slight crack, just enough to allow roots from the neighbouring conifer to cause the blockage.

Over several nights the temperature had been below freezing. Consequently, the canal froze, and the swans had a hell of a job getting around.


The boat was also cold! Banking the stove up with coal and opening the vents to get it roaring didn't seem to help because an icy draft was coming from the back. The wind was blowing through the gap in the engine room door so to resolve that, a towel and my scarf was used to block the gap under and above the door. When our CO2 alarm went off they were immediately removed! We had a blow back down the chimney and only by placing the tall chimney over the smaller one and putting on the cowl was that issue solved.


 I'm only mentioning this because on our return to the Mill, a small cruiser was seen on the offside at anchor bridge. Police tape surrounded it and it turns out the owner with his small dog both died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Moral to this story, to suffer a bit of cold is better than being found dead!

Today we went to see what progress had been made at the lock landing wall repair, Long Eaton. 


Obviously the towpath was blocked off but after explaining we were from the canal society and wanted pictures for the magazine, the very nice site manager Adam, although not allowing us onto the workplace, took these photos with my camera. Most impressed because he got down into the lock showing a much better prospective than I could ever have achieved by standing on the side. So a big thank you to CRT for being so obliging. 

When the canal was drained, more of the wall collapsed. A bigger job than anticipated.

 Oh and remember that boat moored on the landing? It was still there when CRT came onto the site. 


All attempts to find the owner failed, although neighbours did mention it was left there on a regular basis! In the end, main office granted permission for Adam to remove it to below lock! As yet the owner has not returned!

CRT has also been busy here at the Mill. Holes in the tarmac leading from the swing bridge to the boatyard appeared probably due to the ice and frost getting into cracks and lifting the surface. But, and this is where sometimes we all shake our heads in despair, they arrived with not enough tarmac to finish the job and the biggest hole of the lot by the bridge, wasn't even on their worksheet! Now another visit is needed to rectify the mistake!

By the swing bridge

And this after just one had been dealt with. 

 Next week both of us attend the first of many rally meetings. One to put in your diary for May 2023 as it will be the 50th year of the reopening of the Great Northern Basin and the 55th Anniversary of the formation of ECP&DA. We are there purely in an advisory capacity having already helped organise and been involved in 2 previous rallies, Ian as site electrician and harbourmaster and me as the trade boat's coordinator, planning the dog show and organising the quiz.

And finally, the swans are already thinking of the next brood as quite a bit of rumpy pumpy was seen.


And on the feeder, Long tailed tits.

Oh and this very territorial Robin!

Monday 10 January 2022

The lock walls were alive!

 Today we left for the final leg up to Langley Mill. The sunrise over Sandiacre lock and Lock Cottage was spectacular this morning. Always trying to find a front cover for the society's magazine 'The Outlook', well I'm pretty sure after a crop, this will do.


 Remember that wide beam? Well it was moored at Padmore moorings in Sandiacre. The chap was exiting with his dog and I did mention the stoppage at Long Eaton. He was completely unaware of this but asked almost matter-of-factly, how long for? My reply of two months floored him. He knew he couldn't get any further because the boat was too big and he was understandably concerned. I suggested he phone CRT to see if work had started yet, and if not, reverse back to the junction where the disused Derby enters (where we were moored) and head back to Trent Lock. I hope he gets back because there is no tap or toilet pump out facilities anywhere in the area.

Pasture lock was the first lock for today and dismayed to see it full with the top gate open. Ian then informs me the top gate swings open all the time and apart from quickly dropping the water levels in the lock after ascending to keep the gate closed, this gate will continue to swing open. Unfortunately a full lock here didn't bode well with the state of the all the rest of the locks and such was the case

Stanton lock had me shuddering! The lock walls were crawling with what looked like woodlice. Looking on the web I found this information. CLICK HERE to have a read. Asellus aquaticus never have I seen these before, and what is it with that white worm like creatures? Why should they all be in this one lock? Nearby is the Stanton recycling plant, massive pollution happened here in 2012 when a fire raged for over 60 days. I blogged about it HERE. I know these creatures can survive in low oxygen water but it did seem strange that so many were in just this one lock.

The rest of the journey was as predicted. Every lock full and needed emptying first. That was until we reached Stenson Lock. Here we met Jim and Jenn armed with a windlass and who knew we were on our way up because Ian had sent a text yesterday. They joined us on FS for the last leg and thanks to them, had emptied the last 3 locks so no hanging about.  It took over 5 hours to reach Langley Mill and after taking on water and doing the bizz with the cassette at the facilities, we pulled back onto our mooring, plugged into the electrics and put the satellite up.  That's it now until the end of March. If there is anything of interest to mention I will sign in again but for now, farewell for the foreseeable future.

And seen on route, at Padmore moorings this Muscovy duck was a bit too near to the road, I thought.

 And storage containers built near Stanton recycling plant. Not sure what they are storing, but Ian thinks it could be some sort of gas, methane perhaps because Bio Energy was written on the side.

And wildlife,

Goosander or Merganser. I can never decide.

Saturday 8 January 2022

This could cause a problem for CRT.

 Jan 7th

Sudden loud bang got us shooting up from our chairs last night. Was we being used as target practice? Thankfully no, it was the aerial that had fallen in a sudden gust of wind! 

Such a lazy start, even got to watch all the BBC news and part of Morning Live. It was frosty first thing but by the time we left the sun had warmed the ground nicely and the back deck, usually lethal if ice or frost had formed, was safe to stand on. I did manage to be up to see the sun rising over Radcliff cooling towers.

It was very slow-going for the first mile. Trent's lock has many houseboats, some of which made us  think about what we would do when we stop cruising but still want to stay on the water. The one below seemed perfect with that huge window and sunny outlook.

Erewash seem to be a magnet for cruisers, this one looked to be dumped and we passed another two at Long Eaton.

Not seen a goods train on this bridge before. Last night the trains were quite noisy but it was the roar of the planes that kept waking us from our slumber. A shock to the system now that holiday travel is permitted once more. I did wonder if there should be a time limit on when the planes were allowed to take off. Obviously not because 2 am and they were still going!

What was I saying about mooring under railway bridges? This boater found a unique way to secure the boat!

Yesterday I mentioned that wide beam. So far we have not seen hide nor hair, so where are they? Opposite Sheetstore's is the only wide enough bit of canal to moor but the one already there is on it's mooring. I even took a photo looking into the sheetstore moorings just in case they had gone in there. Not actually sure they would fit in the entrance!


Long Eaton lock and where the stoppage is due to start on Monday. Both bottom gate paddles were up leaving the lock empty, strange if that wide beam had gone up. Hmm, but they must have because where are they otherwise? All I can think of is one of those cruisers facing toward Trent Lock must have passed that widebeam and left them up when he descended.

And look what was moored on the lock landing above the lock. No one on board, back doors padlocked, had it been left? What will CRT do on Monday if it is still there? I think a journey back to Long Eaton in the car next week is on the cards, just to see what has happened.

And this is why the stoppage is happening. To repair the lock landing.

Only Dockholme and Sandiacre lock to do. Convenient fishing pegs were near to Dockholme landing, I dropped Ian of at one of these so I could hold out.

Dockholme Lock

Last lock for today, Sandiacre.

 Only one other boat moored on the visitor moorings and we took the first of the line. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and Ian wants to take our car to Langley on Sunday, and then cycle back so we won't be moving until Monday.

And loads of Swans and Cygnets flying today. Parents must be getting the youngsters ready to leave.

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