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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 28 November 2023

God give me strength!

 Monday 27th

We set off in mizzle and much earlier than planned. Weather was for heavy rain starting at 10 am, so to get a couple of hours under our belt seemed like a good idea. By rights, we would have hunkered down, enjoying the warmth inside and watching other boaters looking miserable going past. Our plan was to stop at Shardlow and meet friends Lynda and Tony on Tuesday so unfortunately for us, we had to leave. The forecasters were nearly right though. Not the 10 am on the dot but 15 minutes earlier and the heavy rain stayed with us from that moment on. 

We arrived at Stenson lock, it was full...goody...this is a deep lock which takes forever when ascending. Going down was so much quicker.

I found myself a nice bit of treasure at that lock. I happened to spy a rope fender complete with rope and handrail clip as I descended. Shame the clip had broken, but as to the rest, well it will replace the one we lost very nicely!

Such a deep lock

. Had it been left to me,  we would have stopped below the lock, but Ian was adamant the rain would stop soon so we should carry on. Fine, he can get wet...I don't mind staying nice and dry inside! I had settled down nicely in the warm, a coffee had been brought up to Ian, time was passing me by so engrossed was I in sorting photos when the doorbell rang making me jump. Ah, Swarkestone lock was coming up. Blast, now had to leave my cosy chair and get fully kitted up with wet weather gear and brave the cold again! 

The lock took forever to fill, in fact the gate paddles were usuless, only a trickle of water coming from the ground paddles. I was getting very wet just standing holding FS on the landing, so decided to secure FS and go see what was the problem. Took the two of us to open one gate and realised as I descended why!All four gate paddles culverts were chocker block with debris. Hardly any flow so the ground paddles had to do all the work.

 Anyway, getting ahead of myself again. Walking back at FS and three people came towards me with windlasses. Hmm, where did they come from? Turns out it was a RYA boat instructor giving his clients tuition on the workings of a lock. They had just bought a share in a boat and never having boated before had organised a boat handling course. Very wise and something certain people would do well in doing. I will tell you why later.

The chap in orange was the instructor

Ian got back on board, what great timing for us and beneficial to them to see a boat actually descending. We wished them happy boating and went on our way.

Another 30 minutes and I felt the rain was getting heavier. In fact, I went all authoritarian on Ian saying he had to pull over and stop. No objection was forthcoming, he was cold and very, very wet! A hot coffee and a slice of banana bread warmed him up nicely.


Lunch was had, still it rained but then a break, quickly Ian got the soggy wet weather gear back on and set off toward Weston lock. A boat was coming up, excellent. Also helping at the lock was a chap who had recently purchased the lock cottage at auction for a cool £250,000. Ian had a long chat with him and was told that the boat in the lock had been bought at Castle Marina yesterday and the four on board were on their way to Milton Keynes. What grabbed Ian's attention was they expected to be there in two days. Ha…someone hadn't done their research!

 I had hoped to share the lock, much easier with two boats in these big locks, and had a quick look back with fingers crossed.  No boat approaching, but what I did see was this.

Ian was most indignant when I mentioned he may have gone past that boat to fast! 

The chap who bought the cottage.

Lots of reeds to contend with too. These stopped the gate from opening.


So remember yesterday and those newbies on the wrong side of the cut? Well, it happened again today! Coincidence or maybe my theory of things happening in threes is correct. Yes I know only two things have happened...so far...but wouldn't it be uncanny if it happened again during this week!  So today, another boat did exactly the same thing. In fact, he pulled right across our bow, "Mooring are you! we shouted at him but no, and when we asked what the hell he was playing at, he had the audacity to say we were on the wrong side! A few swear words were said back to him, but there was no convincing that ignorant B. High on wacky backy no doubt or something stronger! He'll soon find out who is right and who is wrong by the next boater he meets!

Aston lock was ahead, it was full so instead of stopping above, we took advantage of it being with us and descended. Shardlow was now so close but with it starting to get dark, and with the rain beginning again, decided to stop on the first available mooring. Just past the lock actually, with only a wide beam moored further on. Then coming towards the lock, another boat. Headlight shinning bright, I wonder if he plans to continue in the dark?

And seen on route

More Pennywort

flooded fields.

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