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, 30 June 2017

A tad disappointed.

Walked 5.2 miles today. From FS to College Lake Nature reserve, around the lake and back again. And how could I be that precise? Well I have a new watch which measures distance, sleep patterns, how many steps taken, exercise time and calories burned. I must say it has been a big motivation to get out and do the recommended 8000 steps in a day. I exceeded that total by another 3100 steps so dead chuffed about that.

Ian came with me, although at the lake we went our separate ways. I look for birds, butterflies, bugs etc but Ian fidgets and gets very impatient. So he went off with the binoculars while I took both cameras. Meeting at an arranged time at the cafe for a spot of lunch, we both said how very disappointed not to see more in the way of wildlife. Not sure what to expect but there was nothing we hadn't already seen on the canals. Apart from a few Butterflies and Orchids, the odd bird or two, spiders and Toadlets, that was it. Probably just the wrong time of the year so I expect another visit on our return in October will be on the cards.




Speckled White



Brown Argus






Common spotted orchid

I think this is a lacewing


Toadlet



Willow Warbler

Not sure if this is a Hobby as they have been seen by the lake.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

So I was wrong

Quick to judge before knowing the facts, that's me. But when a boat entering a bottom lock and the chap at the lock looks straight at you knowing we were ascending the previous lock and still blatantly closes the gate without waiting for us, well what would you have thought. And to top it all the ascending boat was a C&RT work boat! Well I was not best pleased and with Ian and myself muttering about C&RT's asking boaters to share locks if possible and NOT to waste water, we were understandably miffed. It wasn't until we got to Marsworth Junction that we saw C&RT's work boat moored by their workshops. No one around so stopping at the facilities to do loo and rubbish, we headed off for the lock.




Our plan was to stop between that lock and the next and stay for several days. All good in theory but again it was a lack of water that was the problem. Only a few boats moored and the long length on the offside looked like a reasonable place to stop. But could we get anywhere near to the side? Not a hope as the pound was almost a foot down. So managing to push off we tried the towpath side. First attempt failed with FS stuck once again. Lots of heaving by both of us managed to get her free. We then tried by the reservoir and managed to get near enough to at least get off and put pins in (no cladding on this stretch). Having thought we now had a suitable place, well blow me down if more water was drawn off and now our rudder was wedged on, what we assumed, was a ledge. Ian got in a bit of a tizz as the last thing we wanted was a damaged rudder so when another descending boat put water back into the pound, we hastily untied and pulled her forward. With the rudder free and away from the ledge, we tied once more hoping that this time we would be okay.



Not long after who should come walking along the towpath but the two C&RT guys off the work boat. After saying hello I asked the question, "Why didn't you wait for us at Marsworth lock 37 when you knew we were behind you at 38?" At this they looked surprised as neither had seen us coming. "But the chap doing the paddles looked directly at me" I said "And still he closed the gate" That's when the penny dropped as the chap helping them was, in fact, another boater waiting to come down. So it was him and not C&RT that closed the gate and it was this man that was at fault. In fact, the two C&RT guys were very apologetic and said they would most definitely have waited if they had known we were coming up. So you see,  I was wrong and I should have known better so my apologies to C&RT.

Tring Reservoir and Marsworth, must be in my top 10 fab places to moor. Canal on one side and the reservoirs on the other. Wonderful for bird spotting. The towpath though, was very busy for a Thursday with families (surprising for early afternoon as I would have thought the children to be still at school) and plenty of dog walkers.

Looks like our notice in the window about the rally is being read.

And time for a photo!
 Also loads of runners and walkers all with numbers strapped to their shorts. Took a bit of finding out what it was all about on the web but I think it is the 250 mile Thames ring challenge. Good luck to them as they need to complete the challenge in 4 days 4 hours and have very little sleep. That's some challenge





And on our journey,



Shutting the top gates on exit.  Wide open when we arrived so twice the work at this lock and sorry but there is no excuse not to close them!

The GU certainly have a variety of craft.

First swing bridge I have done in years. Ian normally does them

Love these canal side properties.
And here at Marsworth,


In attack mode










Wednesday, 28 June 2017

What with canoes and loose boats....

So, okay, now what was I saying about an incident free day yesterday? Settling down to watch the Great British Menu and FS started rocking. Not violently, quite gently really but this continued for some time. Of course, we had to investigate and going past us at a rate of knots were canoeists, lots of them and boy do they make that water move. Then as we were watching, one of them just rolled out of his canoe and right behind FS too. Getting out was a struggle and we rushed to the stern to see if we could help. But he had it in hand and after a few attempts got back into the canoe and paddled off. So we missed a lot of the TV program but I must say for us this was more entertaining. Not so for the poor man in the canoe, soaked from going into the canal and with the relentless rain, must have made for a miserable return journey.


This morning another mishap, not for us but for the boat moored behind. A motor and butty came past reasonably slowly but clean pulled the centre mooring line and pin into the water. Why he hadn't secured the boat with the bow rope is beyond me 'cos that was always going to happen. Anyway, Ian had at that moment stepped onto the back deck and realised the moored boat was now adrift. A hail to the owner brought no answer so assuming he was still in bed (dogs barked but still he didn't stir) Ian rushed to get our boat hook and returned just in time to grab the centre rope (with the pin still attached) and pull the boat back to the bank. All he could do was push the pin in as far as possible but with it only just holding, I expect the next boat to go past will do the same thing.



Not long after this incident we set off fully expecting the motor and butty to be at the next lock. Luckily for us they had pulled over so we sidled past and kept fingers crossed that all the locks would be with us. Nope, we were unlucky as the next 4 locks had to be turned.

The slight drizzle had turned heavier and the wind picked up which had a decidedly chilly feel with it. Also, the stretch between Slapton Lock and Horton lock was hard going. More mud than water as FS's bottom stirred up lots of glutinous mud. Then our worst fears as we met this!


We got stuck as we had to move hard over onto the towpath side giving them more of a centre line. Had to reverse off the mud before we could get underway again.

 By the time we reached Horton Lock I was feeling very cold and wet, doing all the steering didn't help matters and as it was nearing lunch time, ascended the lock, found a suitable piled edge and pulled in for a warm bowl of broccoli and stilton soup.

We did set off again once the rain stopped, more because a boat had descended and we knew the next lock (as was the final 4) would be with us. Stopped before the bottom of the Seabrook three and if no more boats go past us tonight, that lock will be with us in the morning.

And seen at Grove lock, unique hanging basket brackets.



And todays wildlife,


Reminded us of Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds.

Tiller feeding station







Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Glorious bugs

Today we did a grand total of 2.5 miles and for a change, we had no issues, dramas or upsets during the cruise. The plan was to go as far as possible before the predicted rain started and, well, we only got as far as Leighton Buzzard to do a shop when we felt the first drops. Got slightly damp walking to Aldi but on our return, the rain had stopped. Mind you, even if it had been torrential we would still have had to move FS from these 2 hour moorings, enough time for a shop but not for lunch, so Ian got us underway while I stowed the groceries  

Deciding to get moored before the rain started again we pulled in just after Mardle Road Footbridge so only about half a mile further. Aerial went up and we settled into, what we assumed would be, a wet afternoon. It stayed dry until 5 pm!. Annoying really as we could have continued for another couple of hours. Never mind, I had a very good bug hunting expedition in the nearby waste ground which left Ian unhindered to play with the engine!

Wyvern hire boats. Very surprised at how many were still in.




Loads more photos posted on my Wildlife photos

There are loads of Ladybirds at this time of year, all emerging from their pupae.

Ladybird larvae turns into...

This, the pupae

They emerge without spots

But they soon appear

I think something went wrong with this one







 

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