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.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

It's only a number

 March 21st to date (30th)

Since our arrival in Australia not a lot had been going on. We have been enjoying the company of my brother and Sally, been for several walks (not leech falls walk) and one at Mona Vale where we completely misjudged the weather forecast expecting rain late evening, for it only to arrive as the walk progressed. We got soaked! Even the planned fish and chips had to be consumed in the car! Anyway Sally had gone off for a couple of days for a girlie break with old school friends leaving us to sort ourselves out, which was done by catching up with the mountain of photos both Ian and I had taken during the NZ trip.

So as twins my brother Andy and of course yours truly, would celebrate our 70th on March 27th. The plan was to go to our niece Lizzie's place to hold the celebrations. On Sunday 26th we set off for the three-hour drive to Bulahdelah. Now they have the most amazing place consisting of three dams, 30 acres of land, a glamping business, numerous animals which include chickens, ponies, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and a huge Python that lives near the chicken coop, the Python is of course not a pet but does keep the rat population down, (although there have been moments when the evil eye had fallen on the chickens!) There is an outdoor spa and swimming pool, and I mustn't forget the outdoor cinema! If anyone wants a fabulous few days under the stars with the use of all of the above at the Challenge Chaser Retreat click HERE to see what one gets.

Our accommodation at Liz and Rich's was in one of the glamping tents. Luxury under canvas with a huge Queen size bed, huge bathroom with shower and a balcony overlooking the lake. 

First night was interesting. The sounds of the night were amplified, snuffling sounds nearby (probably Kangaroos) and Possums using the roof as a highway from one tree to another. Gosh, they were noisy. Thankfully they only turned up on the first night and my fears that critters, (snakes) could get in were allayed by the knowledge that those zips and fasteners made everything very secure and tight.

So the 27th dawned fine. Breakfast was laid out for us twins and a family meeting convened. Today we were going to have two teams, Aussie v Brits. Now you would think that a bit one sided with all the Aussie family there but Liz's husband Rich arrived from England 10 years ago and never went back. He off course was one for the Brits team, and as I was the British captain I made Matt (my other niece Jen's husband) an honorary member. My Brother was team captain for the Aussies. The games consisted of badminton, croquet, giant jenga and two board games, UNO and Rummicub. I am very pleased to announce the Brits won 3 games to 2!


Big Bro

Another lovely surprise for both of us was when Sally's sister Ali turned up. We spent several days with her in Tasmania in 2020. Out came the champagne to celebrate, gosh we consumed a lot! Anyway presents were opened and a combined family present from the UK family, as well as the Aussie family, was presented to us both. It was for  a twilight dinner Sydney harbour cruise on board the tall ship Southern Swan. Later a wonderful video presentation put together by Liz and Rich of all our family and friends sending birthday messages were played later in the evening. It was a birthday to remember, perfect in every way bar one. We missed our son Colin, daughter Christine,  daughter in law Iwona, and son in law Kev. The grandchildren would have been the icing on the cake. Still we did get a Zoom call from them all so that nearly made up for it.


28th was spent recovering with a trip to Seal Point. Beautiful white sands, the squeaky kind that sets one's teeth on edge! The weather was perfect but that was all to change. No sooner had we returned to Bulahdelah when the most horrendous thunderstorm hit us. Australia's rain is something else, more like sheets of water and the thunder and lighting rolled around for quite some time. The evening spa had to be abandoned so I never did get to check it out!


Now that we are back at my Brother and Sally's house the next big adventure to take place is the Harbour cruise and the Ghan. Still more planning to do and we may even go to Canberra for a few days.


Wednesday 22 March 2023



Yuk....how did I forget about that? 

Our first morning wake-up call in Oz was at 6.30am, Those Kookaburras, a family of 5 so my brother told me, started their very loud laughing song almost outside the bedroom window. The noise echoed all around and the answering calls could very plainly be heard from across the valley. Unlike blooming Cockrell's who never stop crowing, within a minute all was quiet once more. So a cup of tea was made and the daily Wordle completed before getting up.

A very lazy day, nothing at all planned except a trip to Hornsby to purchase a suitcase. Ours had been totally destroyed by the baggage handlers when we arrived in Oz last October, ripped sides and wheels hanging off, it was beyond repair. We gave it a ceremonial ditching by taking it all apart and stuffing it into the rubbish bins. But of course that meant we were a suitcase down and although plenty of shops selling bags, none were big enough for our needs. In the end we purchased a very large 140 lt travel bag with wheels. Ample room to bring everything home but not so expensive that if it gets damaged we wouldn't rant and rave over the fact. 

A visitor turned up in the afternoon. Loud screeching was heard coming from the balcony and there, perched on the rail was a Rainbow Lorikeet. Bread was produced and held out to it. So tame it hopped onto my brother's hand and tucked into that bread. I, too, tried to feed it and the same thing happened. A wonderful moment which quite made my day,

 So now back to my opening sentence. 

"Let's take Hank out" said my brother Andy, "Down to paw rock" Now this is a large rock where my brother and Sally had taught a party trick to their previous dog Neddy. He would have to place a paw onto it before being allowed to continue with the walk.  It sounded ideal but we had instructions not to go in sandals but wear socks with walking shoes. The ground could be muddy but worse than that, leeches also lay in wait for a hot blooded meal to pass by. Well....on hearing that, sod just the socks and shoes, long trousers would also have to be warn. 

Off we went, a really lovely walk through the bush. We stopped at various streams and spied a water dragon basking on the rocks.

Andy far left, Hank and Ian

A good hour was spent, Hank thoroughly enjoyed himself, Sally at one point stopped and pulled a leech from her leg, she was only wearing shorts. I congratulated myself at being sensible by wearing long trousers and felt rather smug at that! Got back home and the first thing was to check Hanks paws. Sure enough two were found. "You had better check your legs" said big Bro. Ian went first, one was attached to his ankle! Sally was fine, I nearly didn't bother but just to please my brother I pulled up my trouser legs. OMG...two dropped off from inside, neither had attached themselves but it didn't stop me freaking out! I raced upstairs, stripped off and went over every inch of my trousers as well as my legs making sure no more was about. Somehow I don't think that walk will be taken by me again. I cannot express how revolted I am by leeches. Totally irrational I know but nothing will ever make me change my mind.

The ones that dropped off

We are a bit of a loss as to what to do tomorrow. The weather looks to be bad, rain coming in, could be a day for just chilling out and watching films.

And wildlife

Golden Orb
Bush Turkey


Tuesday 21 March 2023

Day 1 of our Oz adventure

 March 20th late afternoon

That final trip from Auckland to Sydney went brilliantly, a very short delay of 30 minutes before boarding our Qantas flight was no more than a slight hiccup. We got talking to other passengers about their experience in NZ and the time flew by. Even the three hours seemed to go quickly, had in board entertainment, not that there was much I wanted to watch but the kiddy channel had a Disney film on so that was my viewing for the journey. 

Last sighting of the NZ coastline

And first sighting of the Aussie coastline

On arrival at the Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport it seemed to take forever until the cabin doors opened to allow us all out. No point in standing getting crowded by those other passengers, instead we watched the luggage being taken off. Suitcase after suitcase was literally thrown onto the trolley cart. No finesse at all and if breakables were in those suitcases, well I hope they were all very well wrapped!

Finally our turn to disembark but before we could collect luggage we were asked if we had anything to declare. What I hadn't realised was that some shells were part of the banned goods.  Luckily we had ticked the box with outdoor activities such as hiking being near water and in forests etc and mentioned to that security guy about the shells. Turns out though that it is only closed shells that they were interested in not the Paua shells I had in my possession so he stamped the docket with nothing to declare and waved us through. I get to keep them after all.


From the airport to Hornsby was much easier to do by train than by car, especially if you could get the through train that only stopped at four stations rather than the 'all stops' which took in about 18 or so. Within 30 minutes we had arrived and met by my brother and whisked away for welcome back drinks at his home.

New adventures now begin, and more to blog about no doubt. How often depends on what we do and of course the Ghan will be the main adventure but that won't be until early April.

And the lovely laughing sound of the Kookaburra greeted us as we arrived. Quite what I will think of them when they start at first light tomorrow, well it's something we both will have to get used to again I suppose.

Monday 20 March 2023

On our way to Oz

 March 20th

The last couple of days had us frantically cleaning the Toy, doing umpteen loads of washing at the Liquid Launderette (so loved that launderette) before taking the van back to owners Mary and Alan. 


A night was stayed at their place in Whanganui, OMG a proper large springy bed with room to stretch out, didn't realise quite how we missed that luxury and a toilet that I didn't have to get dressed first and go outside to use, it was heaven! A meal booked at Stella Bar for a fabulous farewell meal, it was a big thank you to both Alan and Mary for the use of their camper and that didn't seem enough for what they did for us. I do so hope when they come to the UK that we will meet again and our boat could be of some use to them. Let's hope so

This morning Mary drove us to Whanganui Airport, such a small terminal that check in took but a few moments, none of this snaking around in long queues as is the want at international or large domestic airports. We missed the landing of the plane, got it as it taxied in and within 30 minutes the turn around had been completed and we were ready to board. A very fond farewell to Mary and we were on our way.

 Fifty five minutes was the flying time to Auckland. At first low cloud obscured the view from our emergency exit seats. Yep we had the same seats as when we arrived, row 1A & B with that propeller within sight through the window, but as we rose higher, there in its majestic glory was Mount Ruapehu  

Approaching Auckland the cloud turned wispy and more could be seen. It was the perfect flight and landing and the 15-minute walk to the International terminal was done in a sweltering 20 degrees, what a lovely way to leave NZ.

So I'm writing this in the Strata Lounge at the airport. I sailed through security although for once it was Ian that set the alarms off when he went through the barrier. Keys, watch and wallet were to blame.


Farewell NZ. The most amazing experience only ever done once in a lifetime. Would we do it all again? Most definitely, and with the same van too. Living in such close quarters for 5 months is not for everyone but for us, it was a laugh a minute taking in the good times as well as the bad. Will we be back? That is a decision for much later, best get over this one first!

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