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.

Monday 25 December 2023


The lead up to Christmas has been fairly quiet. Plenty of catching up to do with family and friends, and a few problems to resolve with FS. One that was of urgency was the CO alarms going off on a regular basis. Could we find out why? Almost impossible and one that still hasn't been fully resolved. Ian replaced the door seal which we thought may have been the problem but, with the alarms still going off intermittently, it was obvious it wasn't that. A new alarm was bought 'just in case' but nop, still the sudden bleeping going off at all times day and night. So we replaced the small chimney with our very tall one. Placed a revolving cowl on top and kept fingers crossed. So far it has worked, but ever mindful of the dangers, before going to bed and no matter how cold it is, windows are opened to keep the boat well ventilated.

The next problem was the water pump kept cutting in. Again we searched high and low for a leak, none was found. After taking, it apart, checking seals etc, it now works as it should. Most baffling! Anyway, fingers crossed it stays that way!

Nothing more has gone wrong...so far! Long may it continue!

On Tuesday we got notification from CRT that a car had gone into the canal below Barkers lock. Ian drove over to Ilkeston yesterday, saw the car in the canal but failed in getting a photo! How many times do I need to tell him to take photos!!! Anyway there is a video from Newsflare so check it out on this LINK

The wind was an issue on the 21st. Storm Pia gave us gusts of 40 to 50mph which rocked FS and at one point during the night, (just gone midnight) blew down the pole holding the Christmas lights. Gosh, the almighty crash had us sitting up, hearts racing, clutching chests and wondering if the World had ended!

So with nothing further to report, it just leaves me to wish you all a


To every one that has dipped into the blog and read my ramblings. Have a wonderful Christmas holiday.


Tuesday 5 December 2023

God that was scary!

Went to bed with the rain still coming down in torrents, the only noise heard was as it lashed against the windows. For once all was quiet above the bed, the snow deadening the sound of the drops on the roof.  When we both woke around 2 ish with the distinctive sound of drumming above us, we knew the snow must be all gone, we lay awake hoping the rain would soon stop, it was not to be.

Monday 4th

We wanted to leave today and try to get up to the Mill, the rain was relentless, not a great day for travelling. But then by 10 am a lull, just drizzle, easily coped with. Hardly any ice was left, just a few stubborn floating islands that occasionally could be heard cracking against the hull. One of those islands were full of pretty patterns where water fowl had walked across.

Ian did most of the steering until the first lock, no point in both getting wet. As expected it was full because that boat on the landing at Stanton went past FS yesterday and doing a good job in ice breaking. One thing quite noticeable as we approached Potters Lock was how much the bywashe was flowing. Most unusual for the Erewash Canal. Potters lock had another of those nasty low bridges, the chimney was still up so it was imperative then that I pull over onto the landing to get it removed. Ian obliged, started to walk toward the lock as I shouted after him to open both gates. "What for" he enquired. Mentioning the viciousness of the bywash plus the exceptional low bridge, felt it would be better for me if I had a clear run in. Well, his "If I must" tone of exasperation had me shouting back to say "Well if it's to much trouble don't bother!"  Now in a huff, I set off, muttering under my breath that it would be his fault if I hit the bridge! Anyway, he did open both gates in time and FS sailed in without incident.

I took over steering after that, had the brolly up whilst Ian went inside, no words were spoken! Then up he comes with a very welcome hot cup of coffee. I thanked him and then put my sixpenny worth in by saying he was totally oblivious of what I was up against and how difficult some situations were.  An apology was forthcoming and harmony was again restored.

Rain started in earnest, in fact it was more than rain, sleet appeared to be mixed in. Both of us decided this was stupid, and we would stop by Stenson Lock. It was near enough lunchtime after all. What to do with coats now dripping and making puddles on the floor, hang in the bathroom for the time being then put near to the stove, we fully expected that no more boating would happen today. I took the usual photo and realised just how much water was flowing over Stenson bottom gates. And that bywash looked deadly. Would not be looking forward to running the gauntlet into the lock tomorrow!

Lunch was devoured, TV on, the warmth of the boat making us sleepy but then, silence! No sound of rain on the cabin top. A look between us said it all, so coats back on, FS untied, and both gates would be opened so Ian had told me. So my dilemma, how would I tackle that bywash. Head to the left, put the power on and hope the flow would bring me nicely to the right and lined up with the lock. Yep, good plan, I would try that.

OMG, that didn't work at all!! The flow was so fierce it grabbed hold of FS's bow, pushed her hard right toward the concrete ledge under the bridge. I used the F word a lot...and sh*t and probably other words too. My only hope in averting catastrophe was to push the tiller hard to the right but too late as the bow hit the concrete hard, bounced off veering to the left. Then the stern was caught and that too headed right.  How I missed scrapping the handrail against the left bridge arch I will never know. All I remember was full throttle deployed, smoke filled the basin with the high revs and the tiller was pushed hard to the left to try and bring the bow right. God, my heart was going like the clappers and next thing I knew, I was in the lock...phew. And watching it all was Ian! "See what you mean" said he as calm as you like and totally unconcerned!!!!!!What...can I throttle that man now!!!! Did he not realise just how close I had got to damaging a lot more than the handrail? And there he stands, as cool as you like and just said "See what you mean"!!! Next time I will hand the reins over to him! With so much water pouring over the top gates I was very reluctant to get too close to the torrent, so quickly back into reverse which actually took me out through the gates again. Bugger!!! Anyway, I did creep in enough to allow Ian to close the gates but made sure to stay well back from that cascade.

In the lock and looking back


Opening the paddles he got wet....yea...how I did laugh because a jet of water whooshed up from the paddle vent just where he was standing. That helped enormously with my anxiety, and I felt a lot calmer having witnessed this.

This was at Potters lock, I managed to get the photo but not the one that happened at Shipley

Although the rain had started again, we continued, through Eastwood lock, which also had water pouring over the gates. The bywash comes in at an angle, and well away from the entrance. The Langley Bridge lock came into view with the bottom gate open. Our friends Jim and Jenn were ready to greet us and welcome us back.

So by the time we eventually got onto our mooring time was getting on and never more relieved were we that our journey was over. I can't remember if there has ever been another time when it has taken so long to get from Sandiacre to Langley Mill!  Normally done in 4.5 hours, two days was a bit extreme!

Today (Tuesday)

Rain continued all night, the water in the basin rose, and the boat rose with it, so much so, that to get off the back and onto the bank, wellies had to be worn! 

 It's the end of our travels for this year, next year has been planned, and we are hoping to get to Shetland with the motor home. There are also two exiting trips planned for March, and that is all thanks to David and Marilyn. More of that to come at a later date.

Sunday 3 December 2023

Never had this trouble getting out of a lock before!

 Our time in Sandiacre was over, car passed the MOT…yeah...the problem our tenants had with the bathroom radiator... sorted, and from our wood store good sized logs were placed on FS ready for chopping into manageable firewood at the Mill. Shame then that we didn't leave Sandiacre yesterday, it was dry and sunny, very cold but if we had known that overnight would bring snow, well we would have gone! A good 4 inches fell, what a surprise, especially as our temperature gauge showed a balmy 2 degrees, hardly icy conditions then. Luckily, any ice on the canal was thin and easily breakable and with the forecast for tomorrow for rain, going today seemed like a good idea. We soon found out it was a very BAD idea indeed! 

Ian brought out his inner child and started playing silly buggers! Throwing snowballs, he missed me and  straight down the hatch it went, covering the engine cover in a splattering of snow!

Didn't feel cold as we chugged along, in fact with no wind at all I would go as far as to say quite pleasant really. Not that these photos show that, looks to be blooming freezing!

At pasture lock, the top gates were open. Bugger!! A boat came past FS last night well past 7 pm, so our immediate thought was at every lock we would be doing double the work.

A bit of a B too was the ice stopping gates fully opening.

The ice did appear to get a bit thicker as we proceeded towards Stanton lock. This was the lock where chains were put on overnight to conserve water. (stop the little darlings from draining pounds).We arrived well after 9 am, chains were off but then so were the anti vandal locks which meant anyone could wind those paddles up, dah!!!! But good news...the top gates were shut...yea...

The further along we went, the thicker the ice was getting, this was not what we expected! Obviously, back in Sandiacre, the temperatures were positively balmy! At Hallam Fields, a boat moored on the landing. Was this the boat that had come past last night? This lock can also be a right pig to get into during the winter months. Not so much during the summer because it's all to do with the chimney. Such a low arch that the only way to miss completely destroying the chimney is to keep to the highest point, which does then mean you have to get in through the gate at an angle. I suppose Ian could have opened both gates, but from his position looking down, couldn't see what I could see from below.

This was taken looking back.

 For goodness’s sake, top lock landing also had a boat moored and on one of the shortest landings on the Erewash! Trying to get out through one gate, I had to shout to Ian that I wouldn't be able to get through without hitting the stern. So what did he do instead of opening the other gate? Decide a good push on FS's bow would do just as well.

The lady on the boat came out, I was very annoyed and vented my spleen, she said CRT had told her to stop there, said the ice was thick and for her not to continue. Well I soon discovered she was actually right, the ice was extremely thick, and the cracking of the ice which made contact with the moored boat's hulls was awful. I can only apologise, not just to that lady, but to the moorers as well!

Slow-going now, nowhere to stop, so had to continue to Gallows Inn Lock. Ian checked above to see what the ice conditions were like, came back said he had touched the ice with a stick, it went through, so could see no problem in continuing. Well for once this man of mine was most definitely wrong! Oh, we ascended alright, the problem arose when I tried to leave the lock. 

A right-hand manoeuvre is necessary to get onto the landing. The easiest way is to have both gates open with the bow pointing to the right and stern pushed over to the left, normally a very easy manoeuvre! 


Today well, OMG the ice above was so thick every time I tried steering to the right, the bow got pushed over to the left, The ice acted like a barrier I couldn't get the bow to the right no matter how hard I tried. Numerous reversing, Ian holding the centre rope to try and pull the boat toward the bank, all to no avail,

Finally, Ian went along the lock landing edge with the pole breaking what ice he could. Then he grabbed the bow rope and, with me now giving as much throttle as I could, somehow broke the ice enough for me to bring FS round to a mooring. 40 minutes it took to achieve this, we decided enough was enough, and then to add insult to injury, the stern just refused to get anywhere near the bank! Too much broken ice stopping that, but was eventually removed by Ian with the trusty pole.


 That's it...definitely not moving ANY MORE today and with the rain now starting, even more determined to hunker down and sit it out!

And wildlife

Festive Holly

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