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 31 December 2022

We meet with fellow bloggers and a Happy New Year to you all

 December 31st

If anyone had seen us make a break for the loos this morning, they would have wondered why not an inch of our skin was showing. Hoodies, long trousers and Marilyn, you would have been proud of me wearing socks with sandals! To be truthful 9.30 am couldn't come quick enough, that was the time arranged to leave for Westport. It was stifling in the Toy, dare not leave a window or door open with those sandflies ready to invade as soon as a crack appeared. Ian even started the engine early to get some cool air through the vents and the fly spray was in constant use. Very glad when our passenger arrived.

 Russ was his name, A really nice chap and very knowledgeable about the area. We talked fishing, him being a fly fisherman and me liking my course fishing. Poor Ian didn't get a word in edgeways! Plenty of great scenery to take photos of, we followed the Buller River all the way to Westport and a part of the SH6 had been cut through the rock making for a unique single track road controlled by traffic lights.

We dropped Russ in the middle of Westport, right by New World supermarket. Ideal for us to stock up on the booze, it is New Year Eve tonight after all. Oh, and it wasn't all liquid. We did throw a few groceries in the basket as well. No eggs though! Twice we have tried to get eggs at a New World and twice we have failed. Are all the chickens on strike????

It rained today, first time for a while, hmm, solar blanket would be no good in that and as an arrangement had been made to meet with Jenny and Robin at The Star Tavern in Cape Foulwind, we hoped to get power. This was a POP site, (park over property) and it was on a first come, first served basis. So arriving by 2 pm we hoped to be successful. Motorhomes had already parked up on the pub car park but none on the only powered site there was. We paid over $10 for the privilege, always pays to get in early. More parking for motorhomes and caravans a short drive along the road. As we hadn't found Jenny and Robin where we had parked, we walked down to see if we could find them. The door to the caravan opened and out popped Jenny. A lovely greeting from them both, and soon biscuits and coffee was on the table. We talked about places to visit, the dreaded sandfly, and typically toilets! It's not just a boaters thing. Appears that caravanners also have interest in this subject too! 

They have a lovely view from that parking spot. If only power had been down there we could have joined them in the Toy. As it is our view is of cars, not that we mind because the majority of the evening will be spent in the pub.

And the views Jenny and Robin enjoy.

Back at the Toy we thought we best go and pay for our electric. Of course, it would be rude not to stop for a quick pint! What is it about their glasses over here. A pint is a pint and a half is a half. The Kiwis do not understand a half pint. I got my larger served in what I can only describe as a kiddies glass! I must remember to ask Robin what I should ask for next time!

The resident duo singing

How the hell did they get that money up there? Stepladders or a really, really tall fellow (or lass)

I did find out from Robin. If you want a pint you ask for a handle (looks like a pint glass but is smaller) and for half a pint one asks for a 12 oz. Talk about confusing! Anyway it's off to the pub with Jenny and Robin, I think this could be a good night.

So from us to you all HAPPY NEW YEAR ๐ŸŽ†๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿฒ๐Ÿป

Friday 30 December 2022

Thrills and swing bridges, and we end up in Berlin!

 December 30th

God, we got eaten alive yesterday evening, as soon as the door was opened the swarm came in. It was those bloody awful sandflies, the bane of the New Zealanders and tourists life! Quite a few recommendations on eating marmite, for some reason this keeps them at bay. Shame I hate Marmite!

There were good reasons to keep going outside, not just the loo breaks, but we had very nearly run out of water. We did use the dump point at Murchison, fresh water was on tap there, but at the time we still had 3/4 full container. Quite why we have used so much is a mystery! Anyway with the river within walking distance, Ian was sent down with a collapsable bucket to bring back water to boil for washing up and having the last wash in the evening. He was very puffed out by the time he returned. "Buckets got a small pinhole in it, so it was a race to get back" he gasped. I did laugh...the tiniest, thinnest jet of water was spouting from that hole. In fact this morning there was still enough water left for another wash! 

 It was just a 20-minute drive to Buller Gorge swing bridge from Maruia Falls, we were to meet the jet boat captain there. What none of us realised, to get to where we joined it, a walk across the bridge was required. For Ian and me not a problem but those others that were on the trip this was a real issue. 


Consequently we left late, although for one American lady this was a bonus. A call came through to Mark the driver just before we set off asking if there was room for one other. I think he regretted saying yes judging what might have happened later! In the meantime his lovely Labrador was allowed in for a swim. He couldn't come with us, his paws wouldn't be able to hang onto the bar on those 360s!


As jet boating goes this was up there with the best. Rapids, dodging rocks, 360s we had it all. Mark was very thorough in his briefing, do not under any circumstances let go of the bars when the 360s were happening. There is always one that takes no notice. It was the American lady too busy with her hands on the phone taking photos. If Mark hadn't looked over his shoulder to check we were all okay, she would have been flung out of the boat, possibly onto those rocks, and he would have got it in the neck and lost his licence.  As it was, he stopped the boat immediately, gave her a bit of a telling off, and we lost out on one of those spins!

The American lady was right at the back and didn't show her face.

Apart from that this was a thrill seeker's dream. 40 minutes went all too quickly and back on land it was a 10-minute walk back to the swing bridge. We decided to wait for the next jet boat trip, wanted to see the 360 turns from above. Best place to see that was the swing bridge.


That job done the next job was to find water. A food shop would have been nice too. We had run out of bread, milk, eggs and almost of booze! We failed miserably in both these quests! There was nothing for it but to go to Berlin.

Ha...did you think we were in Germany? This is a very small place, can't call it a town, village or hamlet. There is a cafรฉ and camp site, that's it!

It is also sandfly capital of New Zealand! (so the locals say) In fact on the camp site grounds is this!

It's that knife and fork that gets me. Oh, how true that is!
 Speaks for itself!

Apart from those nasty biting things, we could have a shower, there was a camp kitchen and a meal in the cafรฉ if we wanted. The girl serving was ever so obliging when mentioned we had no bread or milk. Away to the kitchen and returned with the said items. Cost us $7...$5 (£2.63p) for the bread and $2 (£1.05p) for the milk. Still we were ever so grateful. Meant we could have our hot dogs for dinner after all oh, and more importantly, my cup of tea in the morning.

Before our showers we walked down to the river. Still smothered in sandfly repellent it would have been silly to wash it off and then reapply just for that walk. Well, the track down had seen better days, almost non existent.  Ian nearly came a cropper down a hole. Grass obscured the hazard. Glad it was him in front and not me!

Not sure if it was worth the trek and those sandflies were relentless in pursuit of a tasty meal. Not from us though. We must have smelt horrible to them. On the return I discovered the step I managed to get down from was much too high for me to get up. My man that can to the rescue by making a wooden step from driftwood.


The loos here are clean, a bit run down and not a door lock on any of them. They are also unisex, as are the showers. I came out of my cubicle, luckily half decent and was confronted by a fellow!

This same fellow later knocked on the Toy's window. I think I've met your misses was his opening words. Blimey what was coming out of his mouth next? T'was okay though. He asked if we could run him into Westport tomorrow morning, so he could collect his car. We agreed although did warn him that there were no seatbelts on the seat at the back!

Tomorrow we meet Jenny and Robin at Cape Foulwind, bloggers I have followed for some time now. ( Romany Rambler) We hope (if a table can be arranged) to go out for New Year's Eve dinner. Fingers crossed.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Extreme sport or just plain crazy!

 I wasn't wrong about that pesky Cockrell. No respect for those sleeping, no, he made sure we were all awake by 4 am! A short lull, we drifted off to sleep and bloody hell...he started again. This was to be our lot, one by one those sleeper car doors slammed (about 8 turned up last night) engines started and they drifted off. In the end we were the only vehicle left, that didn't last long because we also could stand it no longer!

There he is in full doodle!

Today has been a weird sort of day. I haven't really been myself. Very lethargic, not wanting to do much, even walking around the Museum in Murchison had me out of puff. Gosh, I do hope I'm not coming down with something! 

Driving SH6 toward Murchison what was most noticeable was the clarity of all those hills and ranges. No cloud to obscure the view and clear bright blue sky.

 That quaint little museum had a fascinating history looking into Murchison’s interesting past including the 1929 Murchison Earthquake. No photography allowed inside but items from yesteryear gave you an insight of the early 20th century. There was a vintage machinery building and another with more memorabilia. Early agricultural machinery was also on display. It was a good way to spend an hour, and free to go in although a donation box greeted you as you entered. $10 went in the box. It was worth every cent.

My brother used to play the Tuba. His was immaculate, cleaned it religiously on every brass band outing. It went when he left for Australia.

Ian really wanted to do the walk to one of the first public hydro power generation schemes in the South Island.  

Opened in January 1922 it was built by the local council using the existing water supply constructed by earlier gold miners and ushered in a whole new way of life for people in the Murchison district.  Six Mile Hydro Walkway showcases the historic remains of the Six Mile Hydro Scheme, in the Matakitaki Valley south of Murchison. The scheme was in operation from 1922 to 1975 and during this time provided power to Murchison and homes in the Matakitaki Valley.

Its called the Six Mile Hydro Matakitaki Walkway, groan...did he really expect me to walk 6 miles. It might be called that, but is only about 2.5 km return loop. I did start out, got myself covered in sun screen and anti sandfly spray. Got to where the generator was housed, literally just down a gentle slope. Gosh, I was buggered just coming back up. That was enough for me. Ian was sent on to take the photos and give me a low down on his return. Took him a tad under the hour to do the distance and that was with stops for reading information boards. Amazing how much quicker he is without me in tow!


Just a short incline down, should have been an easy walk up...not today it wasn't.

Looking back down to the hut. This is the gate valve to control flow from the reservoir.

Shows the weir coming off the river.

This shows the sluice gate open and the start of the water course

Six Mile Creek waterfall
 We need to be near Buller Gorge tomorrow, so it was back to Maruia Falls again, this time to stay the night. The car park was packed, of course it's holiday season! But 5 vehicles also carried canoes with lots of canoeists in their gear ready for some serious fun. I stopped at the top for another look at the falls and was amazed by the sight that greeted me. Those dare devil canoeist descending the falls. I took these stills at the top, then walked down to the bottom to video the rest.Watch to the end. One daredevil does a backflip going over the falls!


 I had better be okay for tomorrow. We have booked the Buller Gorge jet boat for 10 am. Oh, and look at the car park now. We are all alone!

And the traffic stopped for cows crossing.


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