Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

The last three weeks have absolutely flown by.  I have been staying at work at lot of the time, just so that I don't have to drive in the snow or ice.  I have to say though, it has been a bit of a chore, waited on hand and foot by a housekeeper, three meals a day cooked for me, bed made and room cleaned every day, oh it has been tough!!  But I finally finished work yesterday and now have almost a week off.  Not all teachers get nice long holidays, our students are there all year and actually want to learn which makes you feel a bit guilty when you take any time off.
I handed over commodoreship of the sailing club a couple of weeks ago having done it for three years and I feel like I finally have my life back!  Although I enjoyed most of it, you always get one or two idiots who are determined to make life as difficult as they possibly can, despite the fact that you do the job for free and for the good of the club.  But now I am free of them and don't have to have anything more to do with them! However, I did have a lot of support from some really great people who I would like to thank.  The majority of the club members are fantastic and TSC is a really special and unique club.
The kitchen is almost done (sore subject considering I have ten to breakfast tomorrow and ten to dinner the day after!).  I can't wait to get back to the barge which has been a bit neglected for the last few weeks as we have been getting the house ready to put back on the market.  I do go down to the waterfront and say hello every so often!
Once I can get this place cleared up, the decorations up and the presents wrapped, I might begin to feel a bit more christmassy.  I am really looking forward to the New Year and having time for family and friends and the barge and allotment.  So Happy Christmas to everyone and here's to the New Year xxx

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Easy Way!

I don't know why we are going to all the bother of restoring the barge when there are obviously easier ways....................

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Margy's Surprise

I was tickled pink to read this post by Margy at Powell River Books Blog:

Margy and her husband live in a floating cabin in remotest Canada surrounded by the most beautiful scenery.  They have a floating garden and a floating log store.  It is certainly somewhere that I would really love to visit.

Her blog is well worth a trip to learn more about their fascinating lives and surroundings.  She also does a regular Friday Sky Watch post that I find really interesting, as I love the fact that our skies can be so different at the same time.  But there is something there to please everyone:  some recipes, book reviews, boat trips etc etc.

Margy says that she is constantly learning new 'English' words when she reads my blog but I also learn new words from her.  It is strange that we both speak the same language yet some words are so different.  She recently blogged about her  burpless cukes, which I had to google to realise she meant cucumbers!  Well Margy, right now I am dead on my plates of meat, so I'll just have a quick butchers at some of the blogs I follow, then climb the apple and pears for a good night's kip!!

Hi to everyone who pops over from Margy's blog.  Please don't be shy to say hello.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

It Gets Worse!!

Yesterday the kitchen disappeared and today the floor has gone!  All these joists are having to be replaced due to a leak over a long period of  time which we didn't discover until the worktops seriously parted company with the tiled splashback.  Although I joke about the upheavel, I do appreciate that I am one lucky girl to have a husband who can do all this type of work.  Heaven knows what it would cost to have to pay builders to come in, but I am sure Pete could tell me exactly!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Look What He's Done !

This morning I went to work without a care in the world, but look what I came home to!  A few weeks ago the kitchen collapsed due to a long standing leak under the cabinets, so this had to be done.  However, I didn't expect it to be quite so drastic!  The floor has got to be replaced and then the entire kitchen.  I did ask what we were going to have for dinner, but Pete had already been to the chip shop at lunchtime so I popped up to the chip van for a portion of chips and a curry sauce.  Not good for my waistline or purse!  Tomorrow we are going out kitchen shopping, if we cannot get one on ebay first.  Watch this space! 

Friday, 12 November 2010

Happy Birthday!

This is my favourite middle son Stuart and his lovely girlfriend Kerry.  Yesterday, for my birthday, Stuart treated me to a surprise night in London.  We had a lovely meal at TGIFs (their veggie burgers are wonderful!) and then we went to see Love Never Dies.  The show was fantastic and the effects are absolutely amazing.  He took me last year to see  the Phantom of the Opera, so it was great to see this sequel.  Thank you Stuart, I had a really lovely time.  But today is Stuart's birthday.  (See even as a baby he was considerate enough to hang on long enough for me to enjoy my birthday first!)  HAPPY BIRTHDAY Stuart, I am very proud to have such a special and considerate son like you. xxx

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Some Girls Get Diamonds.....

Some girls get diamonds for their birthdays, others get chocolate and flowers.  This is my birthday present.....

Now, do not get me wrong, I am absolutely chuffed with it.  I did originally want a pink one, but Pete said he would not be seen dead ever wheeling a pink one!  As it was, he got some serious stick at Doe's, where he is a regular customer, when he went to buy this!  On a practical note, I wanted a wheelbarrow that was light and yet sturdy and this definitely meets that criteria.  As well as using it on the allotment, I can use it to carry stuff, such as shopping, from the carpark to the barge.  On top of that, Pete got me a load of horse manure for my two new raised beds.  Oh, I am so spoilt, bless him!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Look What I Won....

I am really excited!  I won this beautiful cushion cover from and just in time for my birthday.

It is hand screen printed and sewn by Formosa Design.  It really is lovely and will look great on the barge.  Sarah at La Maison Boheme has some really lovely design inspirations and is well worth a visit.  Thank you Sarah.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


Here is the allotment all strimmed and ready for the next step.  Pete has also started to put together two compost bins out of old pallets (one at top end of allotment and one half way down so I don't have to walk too far!).

Here is Pete and No.3 son, Rob,  who did all the strimming for me.  Rob celebrated his 21st last week, I can't believe that my favourite youngest son is all growed up!  But he has turned out to be a fine young man that his mum is very proud of.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Writing's on the Wall!


I have a confession to make, I am absolutely rubbish at drawing or painting!  Stick people and balloon trees are probably my limit.  And, although I do appreciate other's artistic talents, the art that I love most is the art of words.  You name it, poetry, novels, quotes, crosswords etc etc, I love it all.  I am also a compulsive list maker; shopping lists, to do lists, garden lists, boat lists etc etc.  I write them and I type them, in books, on notepaper, on the computer, in fact anywhere.  So, one of the things that I am determined to have on the barge is a blackboard wall.  This would be for my lists, Pete's orders(!), inspirational quotes, messages from friends and family and anything else that can be written.  I may even allow people to draw little pictures on it.  What inspirational quotes would you leave on my wall (keep it clean!)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

More Lived In Look

I know that these photos are not from a boat, but they are from a cabin on a beach and there is a definite boatie theme going on here.   Again this is a very shabby look, but I think it looks great.  I  would love to have the confidence to feel I could get away with it.
 At the moment we are concentrating on getting the house up to scratch and ready to go back on the market.  Pete is decorating throughout and hating every minute of it!  Since it is what he does all day, weekends are very much a busman's holiday.  I am also not much help as it is painful everytime I move!  He just cannot wait to get back working on the barge.
On another note, I am not in hospital yet, still waiting for more tests and confirmation about what is actually wrong with me.  I have always been a great champion of the National Health Service, but my experience over the last few weeks is beginning to make me lose faith.  I am afraid that progressive funding cuts and the loss of morale among the very overworked and understaffed front line workers has taken its toll over the years and this looks set to get worse.  Our Health Service which was once the envy of the world is becoming seriously second rate.  Now I will get off my soap box!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Beginnings of an Allotment

Part of the long term plan is to become as self sufficient as we possibly can.  As we are selling the house and therefore the garden I put my name down for an allotment some time ago.  I have just heard that I have got a plot.  Typical, at a time when I can't get out there and get stuck in!!!  As you can see my plot certainly needs plenty of work.  However, lovely youngest son has said that he will get rid of the weeds, rotivate it and level it off for me and hubby is going to build me a couple of raised beds so that I can plant my garlic, onions, spring cabbages and broad beans before it gets too late in the year.

Still, while I am stuck here waiting to go into hospital I can at least plan the allotment, except that with the variety of fruit and veg I would like to grow I think I may have to get another plot!!!!  The plot already has an apple tree, which apparently produces eaters and this will be joined by rhubarb and gooseberries in this area.  We will also add compost bins and a log store here.  The rest is a virgin area just waiting for me!

Friday, 1 October 2010

The 'Lived-In' Look

As there is not a lot else I can do, I have been surfing the net.  I found this barge for sale.  There is something about this that I really like.  It is not fashionable, not even shabby-chic fashionable,  and it is certainly not all poshed up.  But there is something distinctly welcoming and homely about it that really appeals.  Also, the baskets of apples are quite appropriate for the start of Autumn.  Although I saved this picture I cannot for the life of me find the barge again to give credit, so please accept my apologies if it is your boat.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Friendly looking little cuddly toy?  No, this is a gall bladder (okay, so I am showing you a nice furry one rather than a gruesome photo) and mine is giving me some serious gip.  I am just waiting for a scan before they decide when they are going to take mine out.  This is probably the most pain I have ever had, mind you the heavy duty pain killers help especially as they send you as high as a kite!  So please excuse if the blog posts are a bit sparse in the next couple of weeks but I will be reading all yours and I am sure that they will help keep me sane while I am forced into doing nothing. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Home Grown

This is today's harvest from my little garden.  The tomatoes and chillis are really coming to an end now.  However,  I do have lots of French beans still and I am now in the annual race to beat the squirrels to my fair share of the hazelnuts!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Any Idea?

One of the lovely Ghurka wives that I teach has just given me these.  She said that they can be either eaten raw or stir fried.  They were growing on a huge climbing plant in her back garden and they have very spikey skins.  Has anyone got any idea what they actually are?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Happy 21st Birthday

It's Alfie's third birthday, which equates to 21 in human years.  Here he is looking cute, having just been out for a swim.  Get Alfie near water and he thinks that he is a duck!!

This is for everyone that knows Alfie.  It is his normal stance, waiting for someone (make that anyone) to throw the ball that he has just placed at their feet.  And he remembers who plays with him and always greets them with wild abandon where ever they are.  (He's certainly not stupid!)

And this is Alfie and his dad, doing what they both love best, being together and in a boat.

Alfie, you are such great fun, you guard me whenever we are alone, you know that by giving me 'that' look I can't say no, you make sure I get my exercise, you are there to greet me when I walk in the door, you are a lot cleverer than dogs are supposed to be and most of all you just give us such unconditional love.


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Income Tax

With all the hooha that's going on in the press at the moment over the total incompetancy of HM Revenue, I decided to take a look at my tax code.  It didn't look right, so I gave the tax man a call and guess what..... I have been paying too much tax for the last five years.  Not huge amounts, but enough, so now I am due a tax rebate, which will probably take forever to arrive.  Do they pay interest if they owe you money, bet they don't.  But take my advice, even if you are on the straight forward PAYE scheme like me,  I suggest you just have a quick check, you never know.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

More Floor/Roof

This is our wonderful friend Alex, who is a carpenter.  He is making up a jig (is that the right word?) to make the bowed beams for the wheelhouse roof.  We knew that mezzanine floor would have a use one day!  Just sixteen more beams to go.
Reinforcing done for water tanks.  We were going to use these tanks, but we have discovered several leaks in them and so have decided to buy new ones.  Don't fancy several tons of water cascading down on to us!!!!

Thursday, 2 September 2010


Today Pete has completed joists for the roof/wheelhouse floor.  We thought this would be happening tomorrow but, by luck, the timber that he needed was delivered today so he was able to get on with it.  Tomorrow he is going to make a temporary staircase so that I can play around with it and see where I want to put it.  Plus he is going to take out the mezzanine floor, so the staircase will be more user friendly than a ladder.   I can't believe how the barge is taking shape.  I knew there was a reason I married Pete!!!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Window Frames

Pete has been really busy today.  This structure will hold the windows; each of the bigger gaps is a window.  We are aiming for as much light and air as possible.  The floor for the wheelhouse will go on top, along with a reinforced area for the water tanks that will also be on deck/under the wheelhouse.  There will also be a large hatch on deck.    I have been getting quotes for the windows and for once we were quite pleasantly surprised at the price.   It really is beginning to take shape now.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Gone !!

One more bit to go ......................................................
Done ! Look at all that space.  Hopefully by the end of the week you will be able to see the beginnings of a wheelhouse.  As this area is so open, Pete has been having to sleep on board just to make sure his precious bench saw doesn't get nicked.   Not sure he would take the same precautions with me!

And this is Andrew, one of our new neighbours, who owns a Dutch barge with his lovely wife Tina.  I told Andrew I was going to blog this picture, as I think it is a lovely representation of a man in touch with his feminine side!!!!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Look What I've Been Up To..............

Look what can be done when you have a day off work!  I have been making tomato, courgette, onion, pepper and garlic sauce using veg out of the garden.  I have made wild plum jelly and damson jelly from fruits gathered while out walking the dog.  I have made more chilli jelly as I have given most of the last lot away as gifts.  And finally, as Pete has been working so hard, I made him his favourite rock cakes, just like mum used to make!  Tomorrow I am going out to collect blackberries and apples and next week I am going to raid Mum's garden for more tomatoes, quinces and runner beans.  After I had served Pete (and Billy) homemade spiced lentil soup with homemade bread, I just happened to mention that if only I could retire now, just think how much more I could achieve!!!!!!

High Tide

Twice a month the tide comes up really high and covers the road (the road is to the right on the first picture).  This means that we will not be able to get on or off the boat during this time as our walkway will be under water.  Not a problem we will just have to learn to live by the tide.  You always get somebody who gets caught out by the tide.  In the second picture the tide is actually on its way out, the water had been up to the car's doors and flooded in.  I did feel for the people, but there is a huge great sign saying 'Road Liable to Flood', I don't know why folks choose to ignore it so often. 


Ok the roof is off, what's next............................................?
Time for a break, where's the tea....................................?

Nearly there, watch this space..........................................

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Getting Ready ...........

This lot was delivered last weekend.  You can see the celotex and the plywood, the rest of the wood is on deck.  Pete has got a couple of weeks off after next weekend and is hoping to have the wheelhouse up and all the rest of the new superstructure completed by the middle of September.  Once that is done we can really move on with fitting out the inside.  I will keep you posted.

Yesterday we went foraging and found loads of damsons and wild cherries.  I have spent all morning making damson jelly.  My kitchen smells wonderful and it is very satisfying to create something so delicious when you have got most of the ingredients for free!!!!  Next weekend I'll make blackberry jam and sweet chilli jelly and then we should be set for the winter as far as jams and jellies are concerned.  Chutneys are next on the agenda.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


This our soon-to-be neighbour coming down the creek with his new boat.  Martin, Kim and Neil sailed the boat back from Amsterdam.  All went well until they hit bad weather at the Sunk and blew the head gasket.  However, all's well that ends well, as they arrived safely and in good spirits (apart from Kim's back of course!).

The weather was warm enough for a quayside BBQ and just a few bottles of champagne and beer!!! 
This is Neil, the BBQ King.  This hat may be familiar to some of my Dutch friends.  Sorry to rub it in, but they found them in a bin and decided they just had to have them!
And here is a very happy and relieved to be home Martin.  Enjoy your new home Martin.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Cadet Week

One of the things that I have enjoyed most about being Commodore is the time that I have spent with the Cadets.  This week has been my third (and sadly last as commodore) Cadet Week.  Unfortunately, this year I could only spent Thursday and Friday with the kids but I have had a fabulous couple of days.   I cannot believe how the kids' confidence has grown in a year.  Last year the girls were screaming in terror if the wind blew above a force 1, this year they are hanging out of dinghies on trapezes!  We had thirty-five kids out on the water and they sailed every day even though the wind was quite gusty a couple of days.  There were also various activities every evening with a grand bbq and presentation night last night.  A very good night as my head will testify today!!!!!   Well done to all the cadets and the helpers for making it such a great week.  Here are some images of the last couple of days :

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Pete's New Love

This is Pete's new love.  Apparently it is going to do everything for him and every so often I catch him giving it a little stroke and muttering sweet nothings to it!!!!
A couple of weeks ago I went sailing on Dawn, a beautiful old Thames barge.  It was JP's birthday (I won't mention how old, it would be very rude!) and he spent the day running around being a bargeman.  The rest of us just laid on the deck and enjoyed the sail and the passing scenery.  The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a really great day out sailing up and down the Blackwater.  The red sails are very traditional around here and these barges look quite magnificent, especially when you get a lot them together and they are racing.   We are lucky to live here!