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.

Friday 15 March 2024

Too wet to fly

 The phone call from the Falconry centre arrived well after 5 pm with the news I had been dreading, no flying or handling the birds in the morning. The inclement weather put paid to that! Another couple had also booked at the same time, there would have been four of us.  As the other couple were locals, it was easy enough for them to rearrange within a day or two, but for us, well that was a different matter.  David expressed his concern that we had come all this way only to be disappointed, but when I explained we would be returning later in the year, I could hear the relief in his voice. Such a lovely man. So it was agreed that we could come again in June, a date was set, and we now keep fingers crossed the weather (then) will be a lot kinder.

So now back to our lighting dilemma. Without lights, a torch had to be used. One we bought in NZ was multi functional, it could also be used as an insect zapper, which worked brilliantly in killing those horrible sand flies. Anyway, shining the light up towards the ceiling worked a treat as the beam bounced back illuminating the table, so playing Quiddler was a lot easier than we thought.    


The rain and high winds continued well into the night, but sods law said it would be dry when we awoke. And such was the case! Not only that, but the sun put in a very brief appearance too! It was but a short respite because the forecast showed more high winds and rain. By the time we set off toward Beverley, the rain had started, it diminished the further East we went, and I was beginning to think we could have gone to the Falcon centre after all. A quick look at the phone for weather in Settle and it showed this.

It took the best part of 2 hours to reach Beverley. A stop at Sainsbury for lunch and whilst in the car park  Ian removed the Sargent unit. Gosh, the wires seemed to be in a tangle and I wondered how Ian would remember where they all went. Very wisely, Ian took loads of photos so that when we eventually have it sent back fixed, he knows exactly where each wire bundle goes.

Having taken the unit out, it meant that all remaining electrics failed, including the fridge. It couldn't even run on gas because the igniter was electric. We knew, though, that as long as the door was kept shut the food in the freezer would stay frozen, but it was the retractable step I had most trouble with. I forgot that it wouldn't come out to allow me off MB, much too long a drop for my little legs, so my only means of getting out was through the passenger door. 

Sargent electrical services was eventually found at Tokenspire business park, then it was a matter of handing the unit over with the reassurance that it would be sent back to us within 2 weeks. I do hope so because we hope to leave with MB again after Easter! Anyway, a further 2 hours later we were back on FS, and bringing the rain with us.  The stove was lit and MB unpacked. Such a shame we had to return early, and I was disappointed on not handling those birds of prey today, but something to look forward too in the summer. Our next adventure on MB will be after we have blacked FS's bottom. Toffee is also coming to stay for a week over the Easter break, so really looking forward to that.

Thursday 14 March 2024

More problems with MB (Mini Beast)

Turning mild, we didn't need the heater on this morning. Shame the rain hasn't eased, though. In fact, it was that and the wind that woke us before dawn. With no plans today, should we stay at the site and watch a film or two? We were so close to the Dales that I fancied a drive out and, heading toward Settle, decided to find the Falconry centre at Feizel.to find out if tomorrow's Bird of Prey experience was still on. 

Well the sat nave took us along some very narrow roads, onto the Dales and even one with a width no more than 7' 6". It was too risky to even try, so we did no more than turn around (not easy) and find another route.

Eventually we found the Falconry centre, gosh the road to it was EXTREMELY narrow and how we made it there without meeting another vehicle was sheer luck. I would hate to try and get there in the height of summer! Although to be fair this place is open by appointment only so the chances were pretty slim. Anyway no one was around so all that way for nothing! We did find a lay-by which seemed a good place to stop for lunch. It was high on the Dales, and we watched the horizontal rain crossing a very misty landscape. If the rain had eased we may have been able to go exploring because this lay-by also had an information board about the Winskill Stones

After an hour of listening to the wind and rain, it was decided to head back to the camp site. At least we could watch a film and switch on the electric fan heater. The journey back was along the main roads, so no trying to negotiate those tiny lanes.

Back at the site and..... groan....yet another problem with MB. Discovery made that the satellite wasn't working and that wasn't all, no lights either apart from the one in the loo (at least Ian will be able to see where to aim) and the outside lights. Was it a fuse, and if so which one?

 Unfortunately, all seemed to be working okay, so what could it be? When we bought the van it was found that the Sargent power unit had a fault, luckily it was exchanged, but we have no idea if it was replaced with a new one. It seems strange that the heating packed up a couple of days ago and now the lights. We have a horrible feeling that the unit is to blame. Groan again....why now...although at least it didn't happen when we were on our way to Shetland! Ian phoned Sargent electrical services, who mentioned it could be one of the circuit units having failed. The good news is it is repairable but obviously at a high cost. To send the unit would add another £15  but on enquiry as to where they were, turns out they are in Beverley near Hull. Good news in a way because at least we can drop it off on our way back to the Mill. 

I also phoned the Falconry centre to see if all was good for tomorrow. So far I'm still waiting for a return phone call, but the weather looks to be as bad tomorrow. Somehow I think they will reschedule, although the earliest we can do it now will be June. We wait and see.

The biggest concern though was how to cope without lights. We have torches, so that will have to do.

Wednesday 13 March 2024

On route to Settle

 The rain started again in earnest in the wee hours. Huddled deep into the sleeping bag, even the extra blanket didn't keep out the chill. Luckily I had a thermal long sleeved vest in the cupboard so that, and thick socks for my cold feet, went on. I noticed Ian had also grabbed a blanket to put over him.  And he wore a woolly hat to keep his head warm. Ha....so much for he never feels the cold! And if you're wondering why we didn't cuddle up, well this motorhome has two single seats either side which can be made up into a double by adding a centre piece, but we find it easier to sleep on them as singles. 

7 am, both lying awake, Ian drew the short straw to get the kettle on. The gas ring, once lit, gave out enough heat to take the chill from the air but the continuing rain made inside feel damp. Unfortunately the cassette light came on during the night which meant Ian had to brave the rain to go and change it. It's a shame it couldn't have waited for another hour because suddenly the incessant drumming of droplets on the roof stopped. Of course both of us needed to use the loo so that job had to be done pronto.

Water tank filled and waste water emptied, we headed off to Wicks (not Argos as I stated yesterday) to collect the heater. I don't envisage being cold tonight as it has two heat settings and a thermostat!

The Sat nav had the co-ordinates put in for the next camp site at Coniston Cold. It was the nearest Camping and Caravan site we could find to Settle and as I mentioned two days ago, this will be the place to go to for the flying and handling of Birds of Prey, another gift from Marilyn and David. Thursday is the day for that

The 55 mile journey took us over the Holme Moss Summit. The climb was bad enough, ears popping on the way up, but the descent was as terrifying as the Remutaka Pass in NZ.  This from Wiki. 

Holme Moss is high moorland on the border between the Holme Valley district of Kirklees in West Yorkshire and the High Peak district of Derbyshire in England. Historically on the boundary between the West Riding of Yorkshire and Cheshire, it is just inside the boundary of the Peak District National Park.

Why does Ian insist on letting MB run with his foot hovering over the brake pedal? Hands clenched, I was preying for him to brake but no, great pleasure in terrifying the misses! When he finally did have to break on an S bend, my prayers went to the brakes, hoping they actually worked! Very relieved to get to the bottom, and Ian's comment of "Just like those hills in NZ" made me realise he was wishing he was back there.

Going up

View from the top

 And this was seen on route at Glossop,


The camp site was lovely, in fact we were the only van there. The only downside was how far the showers and toilets were from the hard standing. Predominantly a camping site, a huge field was set aside right by the facilities and only 6 hard standing areas were available for caravans and motorhomes. I expect it had something with our having toilets and those camping did not.

In the field opposite were sheep with newborn lambs. A constant 'baaing' has been going on since arrival, wonderful as this means Spring is just around the corner. 


Tuesday 12 March 2024

Dog fights, take off and landings

 When we left Langley Mill, MB was in tip-top condition. Everything was working fine, especially the heater. Our heater works either with gas or electric, and both settings were tested before we left. Last night was freezing, so the electric heating was switched on until we went to bed. On waking to a very cold Beast, it was again switched on, only to find the £3 we put in the meter yesterday had been used. Right...switch to gas, electric was far too expensive at this camping site. But guess what...the error code came up on the panel and until Ian could figure that one out we had to bite the bullet and top up the meter, so electric could be used instead. The dial was moved to the required setting and...blast.... another error code appeared. Long story short, we now have no means of warmth, and the nights here are below 4 degrees.

Sitting out the chill with only the gas cooker rings to throw a bit of heat our way, both were glad when the time came for us to drive the Beast to Stockport for Ian to attempt to fly a Spitfire. By 2 pm we arrived, was greeted by the instructor Keith and taken to the cockpit of the Spitfire. Here Ian was shown the controls, and so he could get used to them, decided that a few dog fights with the Luftwaffe was the way to go.

Having shown an aptitude for flying and impressed the instructor, take off and landing were next. Well, never have I laughed so much. Ian mastered the takeoff, but the landing was disastrous. I have a video on my web album if you fancy a look. CLICK HERE. It's over the 100mb blogger will allow. Below is his takeoff attempt, followed by two more awful landings.



Ian was at the controls for one and three-quarter hours. Loved every minute and threatened to wake Marilyn and David up in NZ to thank them once again. I had to curb his enthusiastic intentions because after all, to wake them at 3 am would not go down well!

On our return Ian once more had a go at starting up the heater but no, it is deceased so to freeze for another night is our lot. Tomorrow we buy a fan heater from Argos, so a good job we are not freedom camping and have found sites with electric. The only bummer moment was when we realised Ian had fed the meter on this site with another three pounds, and I very much doubt this will be used up by the lights or TV. So a present left to the next motorhomers when they arrive!

Monday 11 March 2024

We head North to participate in our surprise gifts.

 Would you credit it!!! How many years have we been boating??? Last night we ran out of water and at the most inopportune moment. I won't say what, but the loo was featured! Anyway, with only enough water in the kettle for the first cup of tea the next morning, Ian was kicked out of bed very early to run the hose out. He was not best pleased and kept blaming me for doing 4 wash loads and having two showers without checking. Hmm...he does have a point, but I'm too stubborn to admit it was my fault, so I kept on that it wasn't just my job to keep an eye on things.  Still, all was forgiven because things needed sorting for our getaway tomorrow morning. Yep, our next adventure was but a few hours away and the Beast (motorhome) had to be stocked with food, clothes, etc and of course filled with water! Don't want the same thing to happen again ๐Ÿ˜€

 So by midday today we left Langley Mill and set off with MB in the pouring rain! The plan was to first head to Stockport and then onto Settle 'op North'. In one of my earlier posts I sort of hinted this was coming, and today I can reveal exactly why this trip was happening.

Think back to last summer and the weeks we spent with Marilyn and David helping to get Waka Huia ready for sale. Well after their return to NZ we of course kept in touch via plenty of WhatsApp messages and the occasional FaceTime. One of those messages had this for Ian

A 90 minute virtual aerospace and flight deck experience

 And another for both of us

Settle Falconry, Fly birds of prey in the heart of Yorkshire

I can't tell you how touched we were and no amount of "You shouldn't have" and "As our most cherished friends we would always come to help out" it all fell on deaf ears, so thank you once again Marilyn and David for the most wonderful gifts ever ๐Ÿ˜˜ 

After 90 minutes of battling the wind and rain we finally arrived at Marl Houser Farm, Little Hayfield nr Stockport. Nice small Caravan and camping site for members only. Five dogs sounded the alarm as we came through the gate, and I was a little worried that Ian had to negotiate all of them to get to the front door. But all that racket brought the owner to the door, showed us where to go, and found the one and only remaining space. Gosh, they were busy even this early in the season. Still it's pleasant although a bit odorous! At the back of a huge barn, so it's ever a wonder! Tomorrow it's the 'Flying a Spitfire simulator experience' for Ian, and the great news is I'm allowed to sit in the back and watch. Yea.

5 Old English Sheepdogs

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