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.

Thursday 31 March 2022

Who's daft idea was it to leave today?

Blooming typical!  Last week with 20+ degrees, I almost got the shorts out and walking around in a T-shirt was not unheard of, so it was a real shock to the system when we woke to snow this morning and, I might add, on the very day of departure from Langley Mill. It's the Pie and Pea weekend at the Sandiacre lock cottages so leaving on Thursday was a necessary evil to grab our spot before other boats arrive. It also marks the start of the cruising season for some of the moorers in the basin, always a 'looked forward' date on the calendar by all.

7.30 am

The cruise down to Sandiacre wasn't as bad as it could have been. Cold, frequent snow showers and add the wind chill, well this was most unpleasant but when the sun did come out, felt very spring like. We expected the journey down to be long as two boats had left the basin to travel down yesterday meaning all the locks would be against. It was a relief then, to find the majority of the locks full, it all helped to get us moored at Sandiacre and out of the wind in double quick time. In fact, we did the 11 locks and 8.5 miles in 4 hours 30 mins, quite an achievement.

Dark skies full of snow and heading our way!


 No dramas at all for once although water levels were a bit low and the top section between Langley Bridge lock and Eastwood could do with a bit of dredging! Lack of boat traffic is probably to blame. Anyway, there was a bit of floating vegetation clearing to do at a couple of locks but apart from that, all went swimmingly.

 Managed to get the last two moorings at Sandiacre and just in time as the weather turned nasty. We needed to be right by the towpath because on Sunday Colin and Iwona's wonderful Labrador, Toffee, is coming for a two-week stay and I didn't want her having to jump over other boaters boats. This does mean there is still space in the Derby Arm for the taking, at least 3 more boats could get in so it will be all hands on deck when they start to arrive.


Tomorrow night is games night at the cottage, always good for a laugh and then the main event on Saturday with lots of music followed by the serving of the Pies. Our visitor numbers may be down a bit, Covid has reared its ugly head around these parts although still to date, Ian and I have managed to stay free of the virus. Testing regularly and wearing masks has, no doubt, helped. 

And wildlife,

8 eggs laid this time by the resident Langley Mill Swan.

The Ilkeston Swan

Friday 18 March 2022

Hand, rope bridge, and a witches hat thrown in for good measure.

 Clear skies and a full moon was begging for a photo opportunity. 

Suffered massively last night with that knee of mine. Tried all sorts of positions in bed but nothing worked. Had to pill pop again to get some relief. I'm waiting for a date with an orthopaedic consultant. The referral has to go through a physio this time and can no longer come from a doctor. Seems weird to me and still unsure as to why this is but hey ho, such is life. This morning then I felt heavy eyed and so not looking forward to the Heligan Garden visit. More pills taken before setting off and by the time we arrived I was ready for anything.

Those pills were good. 5 hours spent touring the gardens and then going up hill and down dale to find the Jungle trail and Lost Valley and not a twinge or click of the knee at all. No doubt I will suffer again tonight but for now, being pain free is wonderful. What else was incredible was the visit. It may be only March and not so many flowers to be seen yet but all beautifully presented and very well laid out. As usual loads of photos so I'm once again putting a WEB ALBUM together which will also include some of the wildlife. These are just a few of 80 or so taken that I have picked out for here.


Remind you of Moana?

The structure of this piece was made from repurposed steel scaffolding and offcuts of plywood, used hay compressed into second-hand tights to bulk out the frame into a realistic hand shape. With the support of chicken wire and a hessian fabric covering, the hand was finished in wicker, chosen due to its status as an eco-friendly material. (exert from In Natures Hand)

This is a charcoal sculptor bit reminds me of a witches hat.

And a selection of the wildlife, the rest are in the web album.


Thursday 17 March 2022

What one does just to find a swimming pool!

 Having looked long and hard to find something to do today, only 13 miles away was another NT house. I can almost hear the groans but hey ho, as members and wanting to get the most out of the membership, we headed off to Lanhydrock House and Gardens.

 As usual, I took loads of photos, and no doubt some of you in the past scrolled down to avoid them, so this time I have decided to put a link to my web album  and you now have the choice of whether you want to have a look or skip them completely. But don't think you will get away with not seeing any. Nop, I will put a few on here anyway.


If you did click on the link you will see this was one of the best presented NT houses seen in a long time. The detail of furnishings in every room, and there were many, was second to none. A must-visit place if you are in the Bodmin area. Needless to say we enjoyed wandering around the rooms, all self-guided, although there were staff around if you wanted to ask questions. 

The grounds were vast with several good walks ranging from 1.5 miles to just over 4 miles. We decided to do the easy walk and find the swimming pool. My knee was giving me gyp today so nothing strenuous was on my mind. 


Looks a lovely and easy stroll

But I hadn't planned on Ian's reaction when he found our way blocked by a fallen tree. 


That's the way to go.
Was there another way?

 His adventurous side came out and he was determined to find a route past, and the only way was by scrabbling over branches still attached to the trunk, as well as those scattered haphazardly over the ground. Crossing the trunk to avoid having to get one's feet wet as the brook ran underneath was a balancing act on my part, and then finding a route past all the mud and broken branches was also challenging. So much for my gentle walk of 1.5 miles!

The steps destroyed.


 I made it! phew

A  blooming great long hill to climb loomed ahead of us, the only way to get to a small field gate leading to yet another long incline before we finally found the pool! Was it worth it? Well actually yes. Although I struggled in places and that climb over the tree trunk challenged my balancing skills, I really enjoyed it.

Really steep and this was only half way! I'm taking a breather and looking back

Finally, the swimming pool

The hours walk turned into two and getting back to MB was a relief, more so because my knee was playing up something awful. Tablets taken to stop the pain and within 30 minutes we were back on the farm site. Tomorrow, the Lost Gardens of Helicon, our last planned excursion of this short holiday. On the way back to FS we will stop of for a night in Upton upon Severn to see Ian's brother, so tomorrow's post will be the last until we set off toward the Thames after Pie and Pea at Sandiacre lock cottages at the end of March. We also have the boat safety inspection to look forward to. Fingers crossed FS passes.

And wildlife,

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