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 28 February 2024

Time to make the Mini Beast ready.

 On this cold dismal grey day with nothing much to do except watch dross TV, I began to wonder where these last few months have gone to. Hardly weather for venturing out, there has been a lot of cleaning and sorting out of clothes. Three large carrier bags have made their way to the charity shops, mostly size 14 which I unfortunately no longer fit into! I suppose I could go on one of those starvation diets but at my age...well what the heck! A bit of extra fat keeps me warm! Anyway my thoughts also went forward to our upcoming trip in the Beast. In less than 2 weeks we head up North but for why? Well more of that in a later blog.

So getting MB ready was now a matter of urgency. Several problems needed addressing. Repair the water tank outlet, fix the reversing camera, try to get the radio to work, and today the screen washer packed up. Thankfully, a motor factors on the industrial estate in Ilkeston had a new pump on the shelf, so Ian high tailed it to the shop pretty quick. But for me, the utmost importance was to replace our cooker.

The cooker is a good cooker, has three gas rings and one electric hob. The grill and oven work fine, although like all calor gas cookers, to grill anything takes forever. We have always maintained that to toast bread it would have to be put on the night before! Anyway, my issue with the cooker was the oven door. It opened to the side which meant that if we were not one hundred percent on the level, a very hot door would shut on my arm! Too many times I nearly got burnt and in the end we had to resort to Ian holding the door while I took the food out. So a new one had to be bought. 

Looks like the oven door should open downwards, but it doesn't!

Anyone want a decent cooker for £150?

We were almost at the stage of choosing a new Thetford cooker from Midland Chandlers when, having mentioned this to Ian's sister, she then tells us an almost brand new Thetford cooker is sitting in her garage. Well....turns out this was a replacement after the glass top had shattered when the electric hob had been accidentally turned on when out with the camper van. A year later, the company who had sold it to her still hadn't picked it up. The deduction was it had been forgotten, hence why it was offered to us. All that was needed was a new glass top, and that can be easily purchased. Last week we drove down to Maldon for a few days so we could visit and fetch it back. On our return, Ian removed the old cooker and replaced it with the new. Excellent result, the new one works a treat, and I am now one very happy lady.

As to FS, she will be going into the Great Northern Basin moorings on Friday whilst we are away for a few days. Nice and secure, we never have to worry when she is in there.

Oh, and one sad note, the Great Northern Pub is up for sale. (Click Here) Changing its purpose to flats has been mentioned. Groan...I do hope not, but as far as we know, the days of it being a pub are now almost over.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Yessss, no more alarms.

 For Goodness’s sake....not again.... we returned from a shopping trip to hear the CO alarm going off. Things were getting beyond a joke. Everything we could think of to rectify the problem had been tried, except for one. So we let the stove go out overnight, brrr, turned very chilly in the cabin, and even with the extra blanket on the bed, it was freezing.  Good job I had my human hot water bottle! 7 am and the diesel heater was fired up. Not as good as having the stove lit but took the chill from the air and stopped me moaning. So after breakfast, Ian drove to Tool Station to purchase a packet of smoke pellets. 10 in a packet, and by Jove we nearly used all 10! Also, he decided to fetch the spare stove door which was in our garage. Why have two stove doors? Well, when we purchased the stove from new roughly 10 years ago there was a problem with the door, so the manufacturers sent a replacement. Anyway, having changed the doors over, placed a smoke pellet inside, this happened! Ha...no wonder we had replaced it!

The silver surround was the original door, the replacement had a gold surround. The door seals were obviously the problem

 So that door was removed and replaced with the other door to try again.

In went another pellet

 Sure enough, smoke was seen escaping from the ash pan door as well as the glass surround.


Although Ian had replaced the rope seal from around the door a while ago, a search on the web found he had used the 8 ml rope instead of the 10 ml. Blast! But then he remembered a conversation with Jim (nb Dire Straits) who had the right size rope given by another boater, so maybe Ian could go cap in hand and see if we could purchase it. 

Jim came good, asking not a penny (thanks Jim) and the old rope was removed, and the 10 ml stuck down in its place. He even replaced the rope around the main door.


 To try and sort the smoke seen escaping the glass, a brainwave! Take out the glass from the door with the silver surround, replace the gasket seal and try that instead.


In went another smoke pellet.

I could swear now....and if Ian had any hair, that would have been pulled out in clumps!

Time was now 3 pm. All blooming morning and into the afternoon, he had been trying to resolve the issue. The heater had been going too and goodness knows how much diesel had been used! Off came the door again. This time another gasket was placed on top to make double the thickness. In went yet another pellet and YESSSSSSSSSS. No smoke was seen. OMG, we both did a bit of a jig on the spot. Grins all round and a celebratory cup of tea. Fire was lit, diesel heating switched off and now back to being nice and toasty and more to the point, not a single bleep has come from our alarms......result.

Update. All is still quiet, last night was stress-free, no windows or doors had to remain open, and I have high hopes this will now continue.

To everyone that has sent suggestions, I say thank-you, your input was much appreciated.

And as today is Shrove Tuesday, for the first time in ages I made pancakes for lunch, 4 for Ian and three for me. There is an argument in this household as to what filling should go in them. Ian is a traditional lemon juice and sugar person, as for me, it has to be golden syrup. Oh, and Ian made a cake! Yep, he found a recipe for the bread maker. Raisin and walnut loaf, and that was even yummier!

Friday 9 February 2024

Latest update

 Blooming weather! Really getting fed up with the constant rain with the risk of more flooding to come. Snow was welcome yesterday, a brief respite from the rain, but for us here at Langley Mill, very short-lived. Pretty though while it lasted.

 And today the barometer dropped considerably. Not another storm coming, surely???


These last few weeks have been very quiet, I have become something of a hermit, leaving FS only to go shopping or visit family. Ian on the other hand is never still, always managing to find something to do even if it's just to fix the squeaky wheel of the association's wheelbarrow! Fridays are always a hive of activity for the work parties and one of the jobs CRT have handed over to ECP&DA is offside veg clearing from Langley Mill to Shipley, a race against time because come March all will have to stop as the nesting season starts, and we can't let our feathered friends go without good cover to raise their young now can we.

 Photos provided by Canada Dave and middle size Alan (don't ask!) Surnames of both I have yet to find out.

During last week, the water levels of the basin dropped considerably. A paddle was found partially up, not sure why because as far as we knew, no boat had come up. But there again we had been out shopping, so anything could have happened while we were away. Anyway, with the water levels so low, Ian decided what a great opportunity to try and find the pipe outlet from the pump house. The problem still persists of a leaky pipe from the pump to the main pipe and all other tries of finding the outlet has failed so far, (See Post.) So on went Ian's work clothes, grabbed a builder's bag from the yard to lay on, fetch my waterproof camera and lower it into the canal to see if the entrance to the pipe could be found.


Great result, as my camera worked a treat and showed by the escape of air bubbles exactly where the pipe was.There was a moment of mirth from me when Ian stood up and a sudden gust of wind got under the bag and blew it into the canal. He made a grab for it and almost disappeared into the murky depths. Me to the rescue as I waited for it to slowly sail across the canal where I could retrieve it with a rubbish grabber.

  So on the next work party, a hole was dug, and a small manhole was found with the cut-off valve to the pipe. This meant that at last the dodgy leaky pipe could be replaced and a new one filled. 



 And after

 We are still having problems with the CO alarm going off, and the one thing in common every time it starts bleeping is the wind direction. Whenever the breeze blows over the boat from front to back, the alarm sounds. We have sort of deduced smoke and carbon monoxide could be coming in through the roof vents, but we obviously are very reluctant to cover them up! It's our only ventilation during the winter, our windows all have a secondary film across to stop condensation and yes this works a treat, but it does mean no windows can be opened. So before we do go to the route of a new stove, Ian has extended the length of the chimney by adding the smaller one to see if this will make the stove 'draw' better.


At the weekend, the tiniest pony was seen being led along the path across from FS, made us wonder what sort of boat it could pull and more to the point, what size would it be?? Any ideas? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And wildlife

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