About Us

My photo
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 21 May 2024

There is good news on both counts.

It's been a busy time for us both since arriving back on FS. More so for Ian having to sort out all the problems with MB including one not so nice, in fact down right nasty! Stupidly, we travelled back to FS with a full cassette. All the going around corners and not being able to avoid potholes meant the contents got well and truly mixed. It was as we pulled onto the drive and I went to turn off the fridge that the smell grabbed my attention. On investigation (Ian pulling the cassette out of the housing) the discovery made was most unpleasant. The contents had somehow leaked out and partially filled the tray, Ian drew the short straw and, with rubber gloves on, set to cleaning it the best he could. Meanwhile, the small carpet rug in the bathroom was also found to be stained, so into the bin that went. Floors cleaned and bleached, and we thought that to be the end. But no, still a smell continued and only be my getting down on hands and knees, sniffing the main carpet, did we realise it had seeped under the door and into that! Then I had to get up! Good job no one around to watch because being confined as I was to a small area, it would have made people laugh. Anyway, I managed eventually, but had no choice other than to remove the carpet and for me to give it a good scrub. The cassette was found to have a leaky valve, it was this that allowed some of the liquid to spill out. A new valve was purchased, and we hope this will have solved the problem.


As to the list of jobs to do, well, the bed has been fixed, Solar charger still under investigation, brakes will be changed on Wednesday when it goes into the garage, water hose and pipe fixed, Microwave fuses have been ordered, starter motor and battery looked at but a lot of head scratching over that, (Ian is still convinced it has a lot to do with the battery not charging from the solar panel and the Sargent Unit is to blame) and the damaged panel on the van may have to wait until after our Shetland journey. 

It sounds as if Ian has been doing all the hard work, well in a way he has, but I haven't been idle either. One of my biggest bug bares in the recent months has been the computor. Slowed right down and waiting for any program to open was painful. We have a lovely chap (Guy) that normally sorts this out for me, so before handing it over, I decided to look through and sort all my photos since 2023. As you can imagine, this has taken days and the amount of deleted photos numbered in the thousands. In fact, before I started, my folders had 194 GB of photo files in them! Having backed up nearly 70 GB onto another hard drive, deleted the rest, my one and only folder left has but 14.5GB of photos. The document file came next, deleting all the dross gathered over the years, and guess what? The computor runs nearly as fast as when I first got it. Well that has saved a few quid in getting the lovely Guy in to sort it!

So now to the heading.

I have had a great result in getting compensation for my camera. A face to face 'Microsoft Teams' call from the liability adjuster, Portsmouth Water, has resulted in my claim being accepted and the cost of the camera refunded. Asked if I wanted to make an injury claim, I declined, and I do believe this is what swayed him to not only give me the full price of the camera, but £250 more. What a great result, and today I have heard from the doctors that my fears of having a blood transfusion in 1984 were unfounded, as no mention of that was in my notes. I can now breathe easy, phew!


Thursday 16 May 2024

It would be a puzzler for a monkey

 Almost to the minute of 9.30 am our taxi arrived. Well, actually it was Ian's brother Alan that found us ready and waiting to be taken to their cabin. The drive was along more windy and narrow lanes, and this time it was Alan that had to reverse when a lorry was met.


No photos of the cabin because I forgot, but needless to say it was lovely and exactly what we would have chosen had we been coming off the water and leaving FS for good. After a quick catchup during a cup of tea, Alan drove us all to Pencarrow House and Gardens.


On arrival, we were informed that the next house tour was in 10 minutes time. Unfortunately, Alan had to stay outside because also with us was their lovely flat coat retriever, Sky. So while he went off for a very long walk around the grounds, Angela, Ian and me, along with another 8 people, waited for our tour guide to arrive.

Now, which way have I to go, Ian?

So the tour begun outside, our guide happened to be an American now living in the Cornwell. In fact, she was the wife of the second brother James Molesworth-St Aubyn, the first being the 16th Baronet William Molesworth St Auybyn of Pencarrow.

Her name was Gilly Molesworth St Aubyn, and never was there a more knowledgeable person about the history of this house. I wondered about a title, but she humorously mentioned that the title of Lady can only happen if she 'does away' with the in laws! She is a hoot and this from Cornwell Live where she talks about a silent house and children is a  'must read

Never have we had such a memorable hour in her company and I would highly recommend this property for a visit, Click HERE for the history. It makes good reading. All the rooms were presented beautifully and the fact you could walk around the rooms and have a close look at all the objects within, was something I love about Historic Houses. 

Once the hour was up (in fact we did go over the time, it was because Gilly was very pleased to answer any questions) it was a walk to the café where we met Alan and Sky. Lunch was had, mushroom and tarragon soup with half crusty baguette and butter, and as the rain kept away, it was time to walk through the gardens.

On this estate, a row of Monkey Puzzle trees had been planted along the long drive down to the house. This time of year Rhoderdendrems lined the length and a colourful display had greeted us on the drive down. The Monkey Puzzle trees were still quite small and on the tour Gilly told us the history of these trees.   

I have taken this excerpt from Country Life  (https://www.countrylife.co.uk/gardens/curious-questions-how-the-monkey-puzzle-tree-get-its-name-211369

 On a late summer day in 1834, a house party gathered by the rock garden at Pencarrow, the Cornish seat of Sir William Molesworth MP. The guests were there to witness the planting of a young Araucaria araucana, the first to be grown at Pencarrow.

As a rule in tree-planting ceremonies, the planter is more celebrated than the tree, but not so on this occasion. Ever since the arrival of the first specimens in Britain in 1795, this extraordinary Chilean native had been an object of wonder and longing. Sir William paid the Chelsea nursery Knight & Perry a princely £25 for his new prize — the equivalent of over £3,000 today — aware that its advent at Pencarrow would be a spectacle to delight and fascinate the most distinguished of guests.

One of these, on that day in 1834, was the starry barrister Charles Austin. Testing the apparently tactile quality of the young tree’s branches, he received a sharp rebuke from its hard-pointed leaves. ‘Climbing it,’ he quipped, ‘would be a puzzler for a monkey.

The gardens were a delight, especially the walk through the rockery to the lake.

Ian with his plant identifier app

Just before we left and seeing several people with cameras pointed at a window ledge, I think we all did a double take. This is the photo. Can you see what it is. Answer at the bottom of the blog.

It was a fabulous few hours spent and so glad Alan and Angela took us to experience the history of this Historic property. That evening, dinner was had at the Coombe Barton Inn overlooking Crackington Haven Beach. The tide was in and the surf high. Watching a surfer trying to catch the waves passed the time nicely.


Taken on our way back to MB this morning

Back to MB this morning (15th), farewells said and time for us to return to Langley Mill. Next outing will be after our nieces wedding in June. Till then, Ian will be busy trying to address all the problems MB has thrown up.

And on the window sill

And wildlife

Tuesday 14 May 2024

A day of hunkering down.


 Rain and wind, from 2 am onwards MB was buffeted, and we had a very annoying howling sound coming from somewhere. I thought it was the skylight, it does that occasionally if we are facing directly into the wind, Ian got up to check, nop not from there, Ear to windows and even into the bathroom until he tracked down the noise coming from the door, ah...it wasn't closed properly!  Ian was the last in due to changing the cassette after the full light came on. It was quite late in the evening, so I suppose he can be let off.  Anyway it took an age for us to drop off again, the wind seemed to be getting stronger and honestly, the things that go through one's mind when there is nothing to occupy it.  'Will the van be blown over?'  was all I kept thinking about. This airfield is so very open and exposed, and as the gusts were hitting MB side on, felt justified in my thoughts. 

Still the rain lashed MB as we stirred, and opening the blinds, it was to see those poor sheep with no shelter all with their backs into the wind.

  We will be returning early to Langley Mill, probably in a couple of days time, not just because the weather all this week is set to be abysmal, but several things need addressing with MB before we head North for the epic 2-month getaway in June and last night was the final straw when Ian went to get a few tools out from under the bed so he could have another look at the sergeant unit, and the hinge holding the struts in place broke!  So things that need sorting.

  • Bed (obviously)
  • Solar panel charger for the starter battery not working
  • Occasional problems with starting MB
  • Microwave
  • Try to straighten the skirt where Ian hit the mound of earth.
  • Fix the fresh water pipe underneath (it got dragged off when Ian went over a boulder and is now held on with tape)
Today has been a wash-out, nothing much to do in this atrocious weather, so a paid site was found with a washing machine. The afternoon was spent doing 'not a lot', we were on electric, so all down to TV catch up. Tomorrow Ian's brother Alan is coming to take us to see his log cabin, It's near to Bude and not far from this site. Having a look at another HH house was mentioned, Pencarrow House and Gardens near to Bodmin. Hope the weather is better than today, 

Monday 13 May 2024

Two nostalgic episodes in one day

May 12th

 Anyone know anything about this cloud phenomena?


Staying up late, watching the Eurovision Song Contest and wishing we hadn't, the skies stayed clear and dark and our hopes of seeing the Aurora were raised. We watched through the window, played cards by torchlight to stop any light pollution and even staying up till well past midnight, but not an inkling of any light show at all. Disappointment all round, but there again, with the moon in its waxing crescent phase. the stars still looked pretty good.

It is so very peaceful here, just the odd bleat of a lamb and the sound of the wind through the skylight. A Cuckoo sounded its song in the trees yonder, and racking my brain trying to think the last time I heard that sound, As a child the cuckoo welcomed the coming of summer and was heard often. Nowadays, we hardly ever hear the distinctive cuckoo, cuckoo sound any more.

This is my photo of a Cuckoo from May 2015

 A Horse box turned up, gosh I went all nostalgic because inside were two beautiful greys. What a fabulous place to exercise the horses and had me reminiscing back to when I owned Hugo, a 16.2hh grey Hanoverian. We went everywhere together, including local shows where a friend rode him in the ring for me, I really wasn't brave enough to jump those high fences!. That horse could jump though and won many a rosette. He was a true gentleman and both the children would ride him. I retired him at 22 years old, and he died aged 32.


The day warmed, another good one we hoped. The ponies and foals put in an appearance, lovely to watch this foal frolicking about.

I wanted to go to Dartmeet, remembered years ago being with friends Pat and Keith with their three children and us with our two, the enjoyment of paddling in the cool waters of the River Dart and jumping across the big boulders. So we left late morning for Dartmoor, crossing the county line of Cornwell and into Devon again. 

Took a good hour to get there, hmm, hadn't realised it was quite so far. Anyway, into the National Park we went and, before we reached The Two Bridges Hotel, stopped at a viewing area. An ice cream van was parked up! Ian's eyes lit up, so did mine, even though I'm not an ice cream lover. But because it was real Devonshire clotted cream ice cream....well this really is the only ice cream I would go out of my way for. We stayed for a spot of lunch, went for a longish walk across the moors, took photos of a Skylark and Stonechat, tried taking photos of the views, (was much too misty for a good picture), before continuing on towards Dartmeet.


Somewhere parked over there was MB

Dartmoor ponies

Well, I don't remember back in the day of having any difficulty in parking, but today, with only a small car park which was already full, we had no option but to drive past. So, apart from a long nostalgic look, we turned around and headed back to the airbase in Cornwell.

Dartmeet where East Dart and West Dart meet.


It was a long drive back and one could say a wasted journey, but the scenery was lovely and well worth driving through, and we did have that yummy ice cream after all!

The weather is set to turn bad. I believe this was to be the final day of high temperatures and sunny conditions. We had hoped to sit outside and enjoy the last of the rays, except a very cold wind was blowing right across the airfield. Unanimous decision to stay in the warm!

And the wildlife today

Big bug that landed on MB



Sunday 12 May 2024

A giant indeed


 Aurora Borealis, lots of expletives because we missed them last night. A glance outside at 11 pm saw no sign and thinking ourselves to be too far south, went to bed!

Unbeknownst to us our Son in Law Kev, (lives in Derbyshire) WhatsApp'd us at 23.45 with the message 'Get outside people', Of course by then we were well in the land of nod so didn't here the phone bleep at all. The photos he sent this morning had us both green with envy....and they were all taken with his phone camera! 

Kev said that was a plane.

Castle Drogo was where we went to today. Both of us were up early, mainly to leave the lay-by and stop the locals of having any more distress.  One car beeped at 5 am, Ian heard it, I did not!

More of those narrow lanes to drive along before we reached Castle Drogo, appears that all these NT places around here are at in the back of beyond! Anyway, a huge car park with motorhome parking was present and with full sun on the solar panels to top up the batteries, we felt secure in the knowledge of a full charge. The walk from the entrance was down a lovely long sweeping drive, all downhill, so expected a bit of a climb on the way back! The most noticeable thing about this castle was how modern it looked. To read the history, click HERE

In short, The castle was commissioned by Julius Drewe, the retail entrepreneur who established ‘The Home and Colonial Stores’ which made him a millionaire by the age of 33.   Set within 600 acres of park and formal garden, Castle Drogo is a modern interpretation of medieval themes. The stark, block-shaped granite exterior with mullioned windows contains comfortable tapestry-hung rooms The outbreak of the First World War and the Great Depression delayed the project somewhat and the castle was not completed until 1930, a year before Drewe passed away. Drewe’s grandson and great-grandson gave the property to the National Trust in 1974. (Excerpt from the link above)

Our decision to do the castle first was a wise move, we beat the hordes and with this being another self-guided house, most of the rooms were free of people. 


Before entering the gardens, a stop at the café for a cup of tea. The place was becoming packed, well it was after midday and lunch was being served. It was just a sausage roll and a packet of crisps each for us. Suitably replenished, we continued to the gardens. Again another two weeks and the colours would have been wonderful but even so, what plants did flower were very impressive and the lawns immaculately mown. With the glorious sunny weather we took our time admiring all aspects of the garden and continuing the walk through the woods, came across a sweet little house. I just had to get a photo of Ian next to it, a giant indeed as he towered over the house. Ian tried the door, and it was open, With some encouragement from me, he entered and nearly got himself stuck inside. I laughed, two ladies next to me laughed and Ian...well his expression said it all!

The gardens were beautiful, especially the Wisteria. We, too, have Wisteria growing along a pergola at our bungalow but to date, it has only ever had one opened bud to show for it.. We moved in 2004, and it was our tenant that had the pleasure of that one and only flower.

I don't know why we do it to ourselves, but leaving it to the last minute to find somewhere to stop over for the night, is something we really should address. Ian's many apps showed a lovely place about an hour's drive away. It's a disused airfield at Davidstow in Cornwell and wow, if the skies are clear tonight we may just catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and millions of stars. This time, we won't be going to bed early!

Blog Archive