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.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Phew....It's over

 Bank holiday Monday. 

Quite chilly first thing this morning so gone were the T shirts and on with the jumpers. Stallholders arrived to set up, Ian was on gate duty to allow the vehicles on site and he got to have a lie in as today was an 8 am start, one hour later than previous days.  My first job was to check the loos, a discovery made with one of the ladies cubicles, the flush wouldn't stop flushing! All we could do was phone the hire company and get them to return pronto to sort it out.

The site opened on this the final day at 10 am and even before the allotted time, people started arriving. With the sun putting in an appearance the day warmed up nicely. I was rostered down to man the tea and coffee stall and would have done said duty if it hadn't been for more volunteers turning up for the same thing. So instead headed off to the bric-a-brac to do a stint on that. My photography duties were really not needed today other than when the Spitfire flew over at 14.38.

So again we had three flypasts like the Lancaster Bomber but this time, blink and you would miss it. If only it could have slowed down a tad ๐Ÿ˜œ I did manage a few shots and quite pleased how they turned out considering.

By 5 pm we were all knackered but once the public left, the big clear away still had to be done. Within an hour and with at least 15 volunteers, all the gazebos had been dismantled, the hard plastic beer glasses washed, the rubbish collected, marquee left an empty shell ready for the company to collect on Tuesday and bunting around the site stowed away. You would never have known a rally had taken place.

I can't see me putting fingers to the keyboard for a while as we won't be leaving Langley on FS until beginning of July. We do have Marilyn and Davids return to look forward to sometime in June and then the motorhome will be put away for the rest of the year. Our decision is to go boating and not return until December sometime...stoppages permitting!

Monday 29 May 2023

Day 2

 A slow start on Sunday but by midday the place was heaving, probably in anticipation of the Lancaster's arrival. As official photographer I had the task of being with Norman (ECP&DA Chairman) when he was interviewed first by Andy Twig for Radio Derby and then with the East Midlands today team. We made the evening news and there was even a brief glimpse of FP, fame at last!

Andy Twig, radio Derby

East Midlands today

With 10 minutes to go I found the perfect spot free from spectators. The end of the dry dock, I did ask permission first and I was even allowed to stand on the back deck of working boat Bath.  It was amazing how many folk turned up, a couple of thousand or more, and when the Lancaster arrived it was almost like the whole of Langley Mill came to a standstill. Three flypasts and what a spectacular sight.

More boats had also arrived. They had been allocated a place below lock but historic boat Oakley unfortunately broke down on the way to the rally and was towed by Dove to the boatyard. Without being able to get through the moorings, they were placed in front of Tug No 2 and us. Still amazed at how many boats can be fitted in a small space.

Sunday evening and two boats winded at the end of the boatyard and made their way into the lock ready to leave early next morning. But all went a bit wrong with that plan when we had a phone call to say the pound between Langley Bridge lock and Eastwood was down by at least a foot. Youths had been seen messing with the gates and paddles and sure enough, managed to lift one of the paddles draining the pound. One of the boaters came up with windlass to bring water down but with the boats in the lock, was told in no uncertain terms this wasn't possible. CRT had been informed as well as the Police, the paddles closed and eventually the feed from the river Erewash would bring the levels up. With some reluctance this was excepted.

The evening entertainment was brilliant. The tow tapping duo had us all singing and making merry. A very sore throat was had the next day!

Spitfire tomorrow and the weather is still set fair. The last day should be a good un.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Day one and the Rally is declared open/

 Opening day and the weather was perfect. So many more historic boats came up the lock and room was found for them all. The traders with their stalls arrived, such a variety which hopefully will keep the public coming in for more. And what a first day. The band walked to Anchor bridge, climbed into Meteor and Bath and gave all below lock a resounding chorus of Royal Britannia as they passed the boats. VIPs arrived and we had Richard Parry, Canal and River Trust Chief executive, pay a visit. All in all the day was a resounding success and with the Lancaster fly past tomorrow, we hope for bigger crowds than today.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Not long to go

 A lot of toing and froing today. Started off last night when I suddenly had a thought about poo! Strange I know but several boaters have pets with them and I suddenly realised we had no doggie-do bags to go in the boaters packs.The plan was to start filling the bags first thing this morning so I left my bed early to walk to Asda just to get a poop a scoop pack. Thought them good value too, 150 bags for 80p. 

By a tad after 9 am Heather, Margaret, Jenn and I started the mammoth task of preparing the 65 boaters packs. So much stuff to put in we got ourselves a good production line going. Of course some things got forgotten and left in the cottage (black rubbish bags, rally plaques and raffle tickets) and I found myself walking backwards and forwards from the toll house to the cottage on a regular basis. Definitely got my steps in today! By midday, we had all but finished, just the caravan and motorhomers bags to do.

Ian was in great demand. Three caps were his to wear, electrician, plumber and assistant harbourmaster. How he managed to do all three without having a meltdown was a miracle. That man of mine is amazing. As for my part this afternoon, I had the task of walking around the site taking photos. The easiest of jobs although I do think that pointing a camera in some of the faces of those working really hard must have been annoying, Still we need a record and plenty of photos for our magazine the Outlook so they just had to put up with it.

Building steps for the stage


The Portaloos arrived this afternoon. Didn't take long for the public wandering around to make use of them.Thankfully they will be serviced every day during the rally.

Loads of boats have arrived, all have moorings and the Great Northern Basin is now completely full. Talk about a jigsaw to get them all in. Never knew so many could fit.

Below lock moorings.
Last day of prep tomorrow, so far everything has gone to plan so confident that by Saturday 10 am the rally site will be ready to welcome the public.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Rally countdown

Gosh the wait is nearly over, only three days to go until we open the rally to the public. It's been a manic couple of weeks trying to get the site ready especially getting rid of reeds along the mooring site. CRT contractors came to mow which was a complete waste of time because that happened three weeks ago. I ask you....if the society hadn't taken their mower to it yesterday we would have been ploughing our way through a jungle!

Anyway the marquee arrived today, as did the barriers to stop the public from deciding to take an unwelcomed dip into the canal! Really???, Health and safety going a tad too far me thinks. CRT are almost saying that the public are a danger to themselves and can't be trusted near to water!

 Boats have also starting to arrive and shifting boats in the basin was necessary to get them in. More will follow in the next couple of days. In fact some were due to arrive this afternoon but this morning we found out that the pound between Potters and Greens locks was devoid of water. Little darlings doing their worst or a boater not closing gates or paddles? Hmm, we will never know. CRT sent their finest men and got the pound refilled late afternoon so tomorrow may be busier than expected.

Bath coming out of the basin. It will be used to transport the band from Anchor bridge to the rally site.

Ernie reversing Florie Kendle.

Vixen coming in.

 Those that have followed our boating adventures will remember the problems with our Webasto diesel heater. Well after many failed attempts by a Webasto engineer, Ian took it apart himself, ordered the parts that were faulty and fixed it in a couple of hours! There was a slight smoking from the hose on start up but Ian reckoned it was the hose drying out as no leaks showed up from the joints.  It now works a treat with no white smoke filling the basin when it fires up. We could have saved ourselves a shed load of money had he had a go at it himself first!

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