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.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Oh dear Ian, maybe you should have gone to Specsavers!

Go back 4 years to when we were on the Wey. Then we broke down near to Town lock. (I mentioned this on my post of 12th July). A few days ago we found the engine had not given us any hot water. On checking Ian found the header tank had very little water in it. Topping up the header tank seemed to resolve the problem. But today Ian had to top it up again. He now thinks the head gasket is at fault, almost exactly the same problem we had back in 2013. Water is being pumped out and he has yet to find from where. This has caused air to build up in the skin tank which can only be got rid of by bleeding. The head casket would most likely be the culprit but without the proper torquing tools we are somewhat flummoxed as Ian wont be able to check if this is the case. All he can do is to keep a daily check on it. In August we need to go back to Nottingham for Ian to have his annual MOT so this will be a good time to nip back to the bungalow and pick up the torque wrench. Until then we have to hope we won't suddenly break down!

6.30 am....and the reason why I love this river.

Today we left this 'ever so quiet' mooring by 9 30 am. Would have loved to stay longer but a fee of £5 per day for longer stays would have applied. Bit tight of us not to pay, I know! Anyway the few miles we did do was very uneventful. Both locks Bray and Boulters were manned and not a side fill on either of them. There was a moment though when I thought Ian had completely lost it. Waving at a gentleman sitting in his garden, he thought it most rude that he wasn't acknowledged. I fell about laughing as I pointed out he was never likely too being a garden statue!

At Boulters Lock the lock keeper mentioned we could moor on the Islands near to Cliveden house. The grounds are NT but the house has become a hotel and only open on certain days for a fee. Being NT members we rather fancied a walk around the grounds so mooring on the island for free tonight and then pushing across to the Cliveden House moorings in the morning and paying the £5, was rather appealing.

Cliveden House view from the river.

Look at that for the perfect island mooring.

Just perfect for the BBQ
 We found a fabulous spot, ideal for BBQ if the weather holds and have the island to ourselves. You cant get better than that!

And seen on route,

Bray lock weir.
Someone with a sense of humour

Another casualty of this river. Cruiser.
 And wildlife seen today,

Another freeloader!
Seen in a garden,

Friday, 21 July 2017

This could have had consequences.

Fully expecting to be woken by the first of the planes to leave Heathrow this morning, imagine how surprised to find we had slept in! The wind had picked up today and was coming from a different direction so instead of the planes taking off, they were now landing, so much quieter.

So didn't rush to get away this morning but, in saying that, for nearly 4 miles we were the only boat on the move until we got to Old Windsor lock. And today all the locks were manned. Good-oh.. or so we thought! To fill Romney lock the water flows in from the sides. This means that holding the rope against the swirling water you need muscles like Hercules! One other lock had a side fill and that was at Bell Weir yesterday. As that was self-service Ian brought FS up very slowly and so had no difficulty in hanging on and keeping into the side. But the lock keeper at Romney opened all the paddles, side and gate! Trying as hard as I could I couldn't stop FS's bow from swinging out. Every muscle in my arms was screaming 'stop stop' and my nails made grooves in the palm of my hands with the effort of gripping the rope. If a plastic cruiser had been next to me well....God help them!. So this lock keeper is not getting the thumbs up from me, in fact, felt a dangerous situation could have arisen if I had let go. FS's bow would have swung across with such force, hitting the other side and possibly catapulting me out of the boat!

Nursing my sore arms we continued along the Windsor Park stretch. This is a glorious bit to cruise and one also gets the occasional glimpse of Windsor Castle.

Coat of Arms on Victoria Bridge.
 As we neared Boveney lock I could see a chap in a small dinghy trying frantically to start his outboard engine. Ian slowed right down and a good job too as coming round the corner a huge cruiser. Us heading toward him upstream and the cruiser downstream. Now I could see the urgency of his actions.  Thank goodness he had an oar. It's the only thing that saved the day.

Boveney Lock
Stopped on an EA mooring above Boveney Lock. Only just got onto bollards as the 'not sharing rings' seems to be the norm around here.  Our arse-end sat proud of the mooring by several feet. Never mind at least we found a space, not like those coming along later all wanting to use the same mooring. (It's leaving those spaces again you see) We were about to go for a walk when a lady came up to me and said she read the blog. Not a blogger but one who loves the narrowboat life having hired in the past. Lovely to meet you Ann and your gorgeous dog Linda.  Thank you for saying such lovely things and it's nice to know I have at least one reader.

 Took advantage of being near Dorney Lake rowing course (site of the rowing in the 2012 Olympics) and decided to walk all the way round. 4 km, roughly 2.5 miles in a howling gale. How the rowers manage to row a race in those conditions is beyond me.

Looking toward the finish line in the distance.

And from t'other end, the starting line

We also found a lovely chapel, St Mary Magdelane.

And on route,


Oh dear.

Freeloaders again! Snail yesterday, these today....what will be next!
And wildlife at Dorney Lake

Thursday, 20 July 2017

New crew member ( Shhh... dont mention how slow he is)

Not a bad sunset last night, far cry from the stormy night before!

So this morning, Shepperton lock and we arrived dead on 9.am. No lock keeper...where was he (or she), they should be on duty by now but just the self-service sign displayed. Oh, blast, now what do we do. Need a Thames licence to continue on this lovely river and Shepperton lock is the first after leaving Weybridge moorings. Nothing for it but do it ourselves and hope he turns up. 9.25 am and still no sign. So we waited above the lock, got rid of rubbish and emptied the loo and he finally appears a few minutes later. After parting company with £122 and a fortnight to cruise the river, it was head off for Runnymede.

Shepperton lock and self-service.

Apart from Penton Hook lock, none of the others were manned. I remember all the locks having a lock keeper years ago. Sign of the times perhaps? So.... Penton Hook Lock.... This is the lock where I broke my wrist and was amazed that I'm still remembered by the lock keepers (although my name is no longer in the accident book. A new one was started in 2011 a year after my accident). To see what happened to me back in 2010 click here.

We finally made it to Egham (Runnymede) having had an hour stop at Staines first. A Sainsburys was within walking distance, not a store I normally shop at as I feel the food is over priced  (give me Lidl of Aldi anytime) but when needs must....

The mooring here is lovely and also free which is a bonus but the downside is Heathrow. We are almost within a stone throw from the end of the runway (about 4km as the crow flies) and plane after plane continuously takes off. But......the fishing here is amazing. Plenty of Chubb and Perch to keep me happy, it's a wonder I have found time to write this!

 Oh and our new crew member???

Seen on route,

Some unique properties on the Thames.

And weird and wonderful garden ornaments.

No they are not real!

This must have happened in the storms

 And wildlife,

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