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.

Sunday 30 June 2024

A little bit of Oz at East Burra

 This island is beautiful if only the sun would shine and we didn't have this incessant rain and high winds, we could see it in all its glory. Everything looks dull and grey instead of alive and vibrant. Last night we even considered moving somewhere more sheltered. A sudden high gust nearly took the skylight with it. It was securely shut or so we thought! On inspection part of the seal had perished which allowed just enough of the wind to get under it. There is not much Ian doesn't carry in the way of materials for fixing things and out came a roll of double-sided tape. It was soon resealed.

Back into Lerwick this morning. Looking through all the leaflets picked up from the information centre, we rather fancied going to Unst which means taking two ferries to get over to it. So we booked to go across on Monday. One price paid, a little over £30 for the whole journey with the return ticket, was amazing. With that done we wondered where to go. Rain was still lashing down, the wind had died slightly, but still not really the weather for seeing stuff outside. In Lerwick was Fort Charlotte, hopefully there would be rooms for us to wander through. Well, what a let down. Everywhere shut other than being able to wander outside. and apart from a few canons and a flag pole in the middle of a grassy area, wouldn't say it was particularly interesting. So we left with just a few photos and two very wet people.

Our campsite for tonight was at a place called Scalloway. Campsites are few and far between, something we hadn't realised when we got onto the island. Wild camping is fine, nearly any large layby or graveled area will do but the problem of emptying the loo and getting water was always on our mind. So after trying one that was full, managed to book a place at Asta. On route towards West Burra, we came across Meal Beech. It was still lashing down, the wind made the rain almost horizontal but determination to have a walk put all that aside and the wet weather gear was put on.

Trying to take photos was interesting, the camera was protected by a plastic bag but as soon as I took it out, the lens got soaked. This was all I got but Ian managed a selfie as his phone was waterproof. It doesn't show the rain but trust me it was there!

 Having heard of a place called the Outpost, decided to take a look. This was one of the 'must do' suggestd to us by Normans son. Yep we had been in contact last night  and a list of things to go and see had been given.

The road to it was very picturesque. The rain had eased which lifted our mood enormously.

At one of the many tiny hamlets we drove past, this was seen.


Nearly at the end of the road, we turned right, down what I thought was someone's drive. But there it was about halfway down. We saw the flag first so knew we were on the right track.

Anyway, we arrived at a large hut, on the end wall was a great mural of Aussie animals. So why is this here? Well Tasmanian Dave Kok, built his own Aussie oasis in Shetland after deciding to settle there when he was travelling Europe. 

No one was about but there were donation boxes scattered around. This place was nuts! Who would have thought in this part of Shetland, Emus and Wallabies, as well as Pigmy goats could be seen? Not just them but KuneKune pigs from New Zealand, budgies, a lovely Green Cheeked parrakeet and a bird I have no idea what it was but looked like a quail

Ian popped £10 in the box, the animals looked well cared for and we enjoyed the visit.

By 3 pm we made it to the campsite. It was situated next to Asta Loch and golf course, a lovey rural location. The cost was £30, very high or so we thought. But what a surprise when we were told the washing machine and dryer were free to use. I made the most of this by doing two wash loads. We also had electric and was told not to hurry to leave in the morning. 

And we got to watch a bit of golf.

We had hoped to do Scalloway Castle but that was closed for renovations so a bit of a loss as what to do tomorrow. Really hope the weather improves though, because we could do with some warm and dry conditions.

  And seen on route,

Saturday 29 June 2024

The Shetland - New Zealand connection

8th June

Does the wind ever stop in Shetland? So far MB has been continually buffeted day and night. Temperatures are low compared to England, today has been no more than 12 degrees. And the rain started in the wee hours which was most disappointing after the glorious sunny evening of last night.

As small an airport as Sumburgh is, it is remarkably busy. By 8 am the first of the planes took off followed by a further two. Then it was the turn of the helicopters, Ian assumed they were off to the North Sea oil rigs. 40 years ago he was a regular at this airport when he flew back and forth to the rigs working as a gas turbine engineer.

So the rain did stop for a while and a good job too because right by the Sumburgh Hotel was a prehistoric and Norse settlement. A visit was on the cards so moving MB away from our allotted overnight parking spot to one to the back of the hotel, walked the short path to the attraction. As English Heritage members we could get in for free and I must say what an amazing and unique place. Called Jarshof (Earls House) 4000 years of Shetlnd history was laid out before us. This taken from Shetland Heritage site

Landowner John Bruce initially investigated the site between 1897 and 1905. Over the next 50 years Jarlshof attracted the attention of some of the most eminent archaeologists of the early 20th century, including Dr A.E. Curle, Professor V.G. Childe, Dr J.S. Richardson and finally J.R.C. Hamilton, who published the excavation results in 1957.

We saw the ruins of late Neolithic houses, Bronze Age village, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, a Norse longhouse, a medieval farmstead, and a 16th century laird’s house. All were explained on audio guides and this has got to be one of the most important and inspirational archaeological sites in Scotland. For anyone visiting Shetland try not to pass this by. At £7.50 adult or £6 concession, it is worth every penny.

A series of wheelhouses were built within the broch complex. The roofs of these houses arched right over and were sealed with a layer of turf. This considerable weight was supported on high radial stone piers- much like the spokes of a wheel.

Arial photo of the site.

Me looking up at....

him looking down. At The wheelhouse

We timed our visit just right, 90 minutes of looking around the ruins, we just made it back to MB when the rain started again. This time it stayed for the rest of the day!

One more attraction we wanted to see and that was the Crofters house. As it was indoors at least we could stay dry. Got wet through though, the path leading to it was long enough for a soaking. Anyway, the first thing we noticed was how small the door was. Even I had to duck to get inside. Once inside, wow, cosy warm, a roaring fire in the hearth, it was amazing. The chap telling us about the place was informative and funny and very interesting. Donations were asked for after the visit, we were more than happy to donate to keep this historic place going.

This could interest you Marilyn and David.


So we made our way back to Lerwick. One thing we realised very quickly, the 3 internet in Shetland is almost impossible to get. O2 is okay and Ian has been able to tether his phone to mine. At Tesco sim cards can be bought for £10 which would give us 20 GB of data. Called Gif Gaff this was the best of the bunch for coverage on Shetland. Once we leave Lerwick the 3 sims will be changed for the Gif Gaff with the hopes it does exactly what it says on the tin!

We are back in that car park along that narrow lane. By ourselves once again, the wind is howling, rain beating down and heating on. It's blooming cold! Where to tomorrow we have yet to decide. Our chairman (ECP&DA) son lives on the island and a phone call later will let us know the best places to visit.

 And wildlife today (I think the four birds are Wheatears)


Friday 28 June 2024

Sumburgh Head and puffins every where you looked.

June 27th

We awoke to rain. MB had been buffeted all night and something kept rattling on the roof. Ian thinks it was the satellite dish so from now on, whether we watch TV or not, the dish will be raised.

What to do today? The forecast for this morning was more rain, and without a coat to keep the wet out, I was sort of restricted to indoor activities. But Ian wanted to go into Lerwick, we needed cash as some motorhome sites won't take cards. Also, an information centre was in the town and this would give us a rough idea of where to go.  Of course, no sooner had we parked, (and the only place was high above the harbour), than the heavens opened.

The walk down to the harbour was steep and with all the rain, I did worry about slipping. Also, I was getting wet! That coat of mine was useless. We passed the outdoor clothing shop and suddenly realised they were not closed as stated on the website so I did no more than go in, purchase another waterproof jacket, paid, and said don't bother wrapping it, I would wear it now! 


So everything done that we wanted to do in Lerwick we headed off to Sumburgh head. Not sure why because the rain continued to fall but it seemed a good idea at the time. We started out of Lerwick on the A970. This road is the main road from North to South, the island is not very big! The rain stopped but the cloud cover came down. As thick in places as fog, we crept along and soon gathered a long line of cars  behind MB. We found a layby to allow the cars to pass, noticed it said viewing point and laughed! 

But just as Ian was about to pull back onto the road I spied this. 

 First Curlew seen so far on this trip.

 Nearing Sumburgh the airport could be seen, then a real surprise. The main road ran right through the middle of the runway! Flashing lights on either end would warn drivers of incoming or outgoing flights. A whole new meaning to having to wait at level crossing for a train to pass! 

The mist started to lift, we could see Sumburgh Lighthouse and decided to stop. 

OMG was I glad we did because this was also an RSPB area. Sea birds were everywhere but for me only one bird mattered, the Puffin. They were everywhere. No matter where you looked on grassy slopes of rocky outcrops, the endearing little birds gave us a great display. Loads of photos were taken, not so many of the lighthouse, and when the sun put in an appearance, our day was made. 

This was my favourite

So after three glorious hours, it was off to where we would stop overnight. Sumburgh Hotel has 5 spaces with electricity for motorhomes. At £10 this was a bargain and a water tap was nearby. The only downside to where we parked was no internet and no satellite. Still, we found a few channels on ordinary TV so that will do for tonight.

I'm hoping this won't be the only Orca we see! Sightings are frequent around the Isles

Lighthouse and fog horn

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