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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.

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Fires, sunsets, dolphins and meetings.

 January 9th

Last night and with clear skies we decided to watch the sunset. Only a short walk from the camp ground there was a definite smell of something burning. Looking over at the opposite shore line we saw smoke.    Blue lights appeared, it was the fire brigade rushing to the scene. The shrub was alight. So dry and hot the last few days, a discarded cigarette could have been the cause. Anyway they were quick to act, the hose brought out and fire doused until all evidence of flames had disappeared.

 Ian got bitten quite badly on his back, even though sandfly spray had been applied liberally. He has one of those sweat tops with loads of tiny holes in the fabric, and I'm convinced the little blighters got in through to feast on untreated skin.  As for me, not a single bite...yea that 'Goodbye Sandfly' was working a treat.

By now it was roughly 9.30pm. Walking back to the Toy, a lady in a car stopped, wound down the window and said "There are Dolphins at the river mouth". That stopped us in our tracks. About turn and headed back toward the breakwater. And there they were, the smallest species of dolphins, the Hector's. They are  only found on New Zealand South Island and in a few areas of the North Island. We were very lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

Tiny fin showing at the bottom of the photo

Went to bed a very happy lady and couldn't wait to see how the photos looked. Not great, as it turned out, it was half light after all but that distinctive fin gave it a way.

January 10th

Marilyn and David were on the South Island. We knew they were coming but hadn't actually made any plans of where to meet. The phone call came and a place suggested. Lake Mahinapua at Hokitika. We were assured that we would love it, I trusted Marilyn completely, and we would meet them there. First the Toy had to have her service. 10 15 am was the time to drop her off at the Toyota dealer in Greymouth. 1 pm was the pickup time so what to do for 3 hours. Well we walked up the main shopping street, had a stop for coffee, walked down the other side, stopped for a bite of lunch. Stopped at several souvenir shops, bought T Shirts and a peaked cap. Spent way too much, well what else was there to do other than support the local town. 1pm on the dot the phone call came to say she was ready. Parted with our money, clutched the report with several advisory problems to deal with and was soon on our way to Hokitika. 

Another phone call from Marilyn, you must stop to take photos of the Southern Alps on the way. Turquoise seas, snow on the Alps and yes the views were stunning.

The track leading to Lake Mahinapua took us through an avenue of trees, Beautiful. 


Exiting into daylight, and it was everything that Marilyn and David had said, What a place to overnight. This was a DOC site, it had toilets, cold showers and sinks for washing pots. This was a huge place, it was difficult to chose where to park. We found Marilyn, they too had only just arrived, a spot was found, and camp set up.Well, David set up camp! Noticed Marilyn had already set herself up in the shade and busy on the phone! Gosh that man works hard!

 Then it was off to see the lake.

The afternoon went really quickly, I braved the cold shower and yes it was bloody cold! Marilyn had left her place under the awning and started with the making of dinner. I only helped a bit, mixed up the eggs and cream and was berated for leaving eggshell in the mix! But I have to say it again. She is the most amazing cook and what was whipped up in a motorhome kitchen was a masterclass in cookery. This was what she produced, Salmon and Swiss Chard Quichรฉ, new potatoes in butter and a side salad, Gosh we get spoilt. Hmm, I better start being nice to her after all, I suppose!!

Biscuits and cheese before dinner

Amazing to make this in the motorhome

We played Seven Crowns after dinner. I was hopeless, couldn't remember the rules and David ended up having to help. And with his expert tuition I actually won the game much to Marilyn's disgust!

Washing to do tomorrow, Marilyn was going off on a girly lunch and left me in charge of the two men and a great pile of laundry! Trust me....I will do you proud girl!

And wildlife,

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