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.

Saturday 30 July 2022

So many road cones!

 A glorious start to the day, wall-to-wall sunshine and at 8 am already the temperature was in the 20s, we felt sure today was going to be a really hot. Just before we left, looking out across the channel this semi submersible rig was seen being towed.

 Diesel prices have come down slightly in this part of the UK and the cheapest was at Portsmouth at £1. 94 litre. On route was the Battle of Britain Memorial. We had to stop and glad we did. The emptiness of the grounds spoke volumes. The wall of remembrance, the two British fighter planes and the crashed German Stuka all helped to set the mood. This was a site for reflection and to remember the lives lost in fighting to keep us free. It was all very moving and to think the Ukrainians are going through a terrible war at the moment, just so they too could be free.


It was roughly a 90-minute drive to Nymans Gardens and house or should have been! A good twenty-minute delay on the M23 and nothing really to show for it! I expected some delays on the M20. The local news warned of more delays going into the port of Dover for the weekend, miles and miles of queueing traffic again, but this time lessons had been learnt as the west bound carriageway was now down to two lanes with the east bound toward Dover having taken the fast west lane for eastbound through traffic too.  A total of 5 lanes could now be used, including the hard shoulder, for east bound traffic. On the opposite carriageway cones separated the three lanes. They stretched all the way to Junction 8, that's a total of 36 miles of cones! I didn't think there were that many in the UK!

The Gardens at Nymans were wonderfully colourful and well looked after. Unfortunately we were a day early in seeing the house. It had been shut since end of April and would reopen the next day. Never mind, walking the well kept lawns and flower beds were enough for us, especially as the day had warmed to over 26 deg! The shade was a welcome relief.

Oh, dear. There is always an element of surprise when a CS site is booked. They are nearly always rural with no facilities other than water, rubbish and elsan. What one can never envisage is what the site will be like. Yes this one was everything a self sufficient motor homer would want, level ground, shade, 5 cows and a bull romping in the field to keep the interest and a gorgeous black pony to pet. We felt this would be just the place to get chairs out and relax in the sun. And then, overhead a roar was heard! We looked at each other and groaned. This place was right under the flight path of Gatwick!  One plane every two minutes either landing or taking off. I hope its true about no planes flying after 11 pm!


Tomorrow we collect Toffee. We have her for three weeks...wonderful. Not sure how she will react to the motorhome life because our next adventure will be in the Lake District.

And today's wildlife


Friday 29 July 2022

We descend into the dark.

 Look what buzzed the shore line yesterday. A huge transport plane. And that wasn't all. Three Spitfires and what Ian believes to be a modified American Thunderbolt (thanks to a comment made by microdave, it is a WW2 T6 Harvard and the transport plane is a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules)  Amazing what is seen over the Dover cliffs.


Today we walked… and boy did we walk! Well over 7 miles, all along the top of the Dover white cliffs to the South Foreland light house and back. Not an easy track by any means and for those that suffer from acrophobia, not for them!   


Along the route found more WW1 tunnel shelters. Tours taking folk down was on today and for a tenner each one could take the 137 steps down to the very damp, cold, claustrophobic and dark (no lights other than on the hard hat) underground tunnels But a bonus...as NT members we got in free...result. 



Fascinating to see the marks etched into the walls from bored solders.

Remember Roger Moore as the Saint? Well story goes he came down to the tunnels and scratched out this picture of a saint! Possible tongue in cheek me thinks!

And a fossil of a giant clam on the ceiling.

What was fascinating and something I was unaware of was the huge dish shape carved out of the cliff. It was used as a sound mirror during WW1 Here is an excerpt from NT site

Sound or acoustic mirrors were one of the first early warning detection systems invented to give advanced notice of an approaching enemy aircraft. These worked by focusing the sound from the plane’s engine so it could be heard before it was visible.

I was put at the back of the group for the ascent of those 137 steps. Personally I think our guide used me as an excuse! With his age similar to mine, he admitted once we got to the top that he needed the rests and was very relieved that I also wanted to stop frequently!

With legs shaking from the effort, we once again continued toward the lighthouse. Thankfully a tour had just left which meant a good sit down until the next one!

Very glad of that rest because yet more steps to ascend and descend. Over a hundred in all. I should be that fit with all that climbing but instead I end up aching all over! Most unfair!!

That walk back....OMG I hurt....Both knees this time screamed for me to stop. There was no other way than to go the same way back. Painkillers were immediately taken on the return to MB, and with the lateness of the afternoon, it was decided to return to last night's car park at St Margarets and set off early the next day. 

We leave Kent tomorrow heading  for Nymans in Surrey. We are heading back toward the Midlands and a stop-over was necessary. It's another NT house and gardens and about 20 minutes from a CL site a necessary stop for water and loo emptying.

And wildlife today,

Dead Mans fingers growing on rotten timber in the WW1 tunnel

Thursday 28 July 2022

An amazing castle

 Well, I was wrong. That Cockrell never made a peep until well past 7 am. Getting to sleep was a bit of a problem though,  Late evening and a car with trailer turned up. Seven sheep were herded into a pen and three lambs were separated. They were set to be slaughtered, I felt for the mums calling in vain for their return. Their baaing went on well into the night....poor things. Maybe I should consider becoming a vegetarian although lamb is one meat I never eat, anyway.


Oh, and what with the grass tinder dry I did wonder if lighting a bonfire was the right thing to do next to a field of corn!


If I raved about Walmer Castle yesterday, Dover Castle was even more impressive. It's another English Heritage property but even though as members we both get in for free, I would gladly have paid the £21 OAP rates to see the place. So much to do we actually spent over 6 hours wandering inside and out. The underground wartime tunnel was a real eye-opener, apparently there are over 4 miles of tunnels under the white cliffs! A hospital was also underground, quite how the surgeons managed to operate under such poor lighting conditions amazed me. Just shows how adapted they had to be with the bombing raids raging overhead. No photos allowed, and really had to be seen to appreciate how skilful they must have been.

Anyway loads of photos as usual and yes I did continue to use the camera. Would you believe that as suddenly as that blemish appeared, it disappeared! Don't ask why except I did give the camera an unintentional knock against a post as I walked next to it. Maybe that dislodged what ever it was. Anyway, this photo with that spot...


That's France across the channel
And this after!

Spot gone!

Gosh MB's wheels only just stayed on the road. Talk about narrow!

The view from the castle car park.

20 miles from the English shore to France at the narrowist point..

There was not much around the Dover area for parking overnight, well not for a beast like ours. In the end we had to try that road down to St Margarets, I almost closed my eyes going around some of those tight bends, only one car met and a sigh of relief breathed as we made the car park. It's a stunning location, one can't get a better place to stop.

And today's wildlife

Chuff at the castle

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