Saturday, 31 December 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Okay, I know I am a bit late with the Merry Christmas bit, but this is the first time I have had a signal in over a week.  I hope you all had a great time.  I certainly did, spending both Christmas and Boxing days with all my family, you know the score - eating too much, laughing at things that only families can laugh at, playing silly games, remembering Christmases past and those not with us any more etc etc - great times.  However,  boys if you are reading this, I'd quite like some grandchildren to spoil next Christmas!!!

Pete has been really busy over the holiday period building the extension!

This is what we fondly are calling the back porch (what on earth would you call it on a boat?!!).  The extension will have double doors and cupboards for coats and shoes.  The reason for this is so that we can bring the staircase right back to maximise the illusion of space below.  Today (if it stops raining) Pete will be building the wooden frame - more pictures to follow.

I would like to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR and hope that all your dreams come true xxx

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

For Carla

I am sorry that I haven't posted for some time but I haven't been able to get a signal and although I can read your blogs at work and comment on some, I can't actually post on my own blog from there. My cyber friend, Carla Yvonne ( ) who lives on a Dutch barge with her husband and travels around The Netherlands, asked to see a picture of the shape of the barge.  So here it is.  It is very much a 'work in progress', there is a back porch to go on yet and we intend to break up the line of the upper front deck with some sort of railings.  We will eventually have a 'lid' over the entire aft deck, as, in the UK, it is either too hot in the summer or chucking it down with rain!  With a lid, we can use the deck all summer.  We have been given two lovely great big portholes and are trying to decide where we are going to put them.  Any suggestions?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Mushroom and Cashew Stroganoff

I seem to have a thing about mushrooms at the moment,  I can't get enough of them!  As I type, I am waiting for some stuffed mushrooms that are cooking in the oven for my dinner.  This is another of my very quick, cheap and healthy mid week specials.

250g mushrooms
150g unsalted cashews
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp paprika
200 ml veg stock
100 ml low fat creme fraiche

'Toast' the cashews for a few minutes in a dry frying pan, remove from pan.  Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft, add mushrooms and cook for 5 mins.  Add paprika and stock and simmer for another 5 mins.  Add creme fraiche and cashews and simmer for a further 3 minutes.  Serve with tagliatelle or rice.

No picture I'm afraid, so you will have to trust me that it is delicious xxx

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mast off - Season Finished

This is Moana, the boat that Pete sailed at the weekend.  Today Mouse took her out of the water, took the mast off and laid her up in the Sailing Club car park.  When the car park is full of yachts that's when I know that summer is definitely over.   Still, we have the Laying Up Supper to look forward to in a couple of weeks.  Will have to dig out the posh frock!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Looks Like Windows!

From a distance it looks like Pete has cut the windows out, but don't be fooled, he has just blacked them in so that he can paint round them!  It did give us an idea of what it will look like with the windows in and we have decided that we need another one (to the left of the bottom picture) as otherwise it will look odd.
Pete had a great birthday.  He was adamant that he didn't want a surprise party, so we just had dinner with a few close friends and it was a lovely evening.  Yesterday he went out sailing for the first time this year with Chris and Wendy, (see, I do let him have the day off occasionally, as long as he doesn't get too used to it!) and came back a happy man.  Back to work now Churchie!!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Look Who's 60 - But You Wouldn't Know It!

He might have got his bus pass now, but he couldn't resist a paddle in an exceptionally high tide.  The water went over his wellies and had to be poured out.  Did I laugh  at the twit.....of course I did!!!!

Pete has been a life long Arsenal supporter, so my boys treated him to a day at the Emirates ( including going round to Highbury to kiss the sacred ground!).  Luckily the Arsenal won 3-1, so they all came home happy with sore throats from shouting and singing.

He spends a lot more time these days having a quick kip!  (We were at a great party, but you wouldn't think it!)

He might think that dirty laundry lives on the floor, watches old black and white war films on tv at every opportunity, talks rubbish when he's had a drink, be known as 'One for the Road Pete' and can never, ever see the mess that he's made.  But he's my Pete.  My world changed for the better when I met him.  We have been through good times and bad.  He puts up with my hormonal mood swings, often cooks me dinner,  buys me chocolate,  gives me a cuddle when I need one and is always there for me.  He will always help anyone if he can and is generous to a fault.  He is working very, very hard to make my dream come true and I don't think I tell him often enough how much I appreciate it.  In fact Pete, I don't think I tell you often enough how much I love you and that you are my best friend.  Have a great birthday and rest assured I think you are as sexy and as gorgeous as the day I met you, 15 years ago!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Dried Mushroom Curry

I have just cooked this .....

The recipe came from Lisa's Kitchen Blog  It is absolutely delicious and very quick and easy.  I didn't actually have any dried mushrooms, so I used fresh but it still tasted amazing.  Thanks Lisa x

Fibreglassing and Storing Produce

Ib asked what we have been up to on the barge.  Well, Pete has been taking advantage of the sunshine to fibreglass all the wood.  He has been out there day after day, putting on mesh, giving it a coat of resin, grinding it, more resin and more grinding (excuse me if I haven't got that the right way round, any technical questions I will pass on to Pete).

Hopefully he is almost there, so far he has thrown away three pairs of jeans and several tee-shirts that have become rigid with the resin, he is fast running out of old clothes and anymore and he will be going out naked!   But he assures me that we are going to be completely watertight by winter.  I hope so, because look what I am using the wheelhouse for.......
.....storing squashes, garlic, haricot beans and hazelnuts and lots more to come yet.  Have a good weekend everyone x

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Saving Water

We have to be very careful with water.  Not for financial reasons, as our water costs are included in our mooring fees.  Not for 'green' reasons either (although I would like to spout off about saving the world!)  but because of this.........

We have to move the fridge, take up the floor and run a hose from a tap, across the barge and down the hatch!  To be honest it is a pain in the neck and something to be done only when we have too.  When we don't have quite so much work to do, we will fix the water cap on deck, that at the moment steadfastly refuses to move!

Thursday, 13 October 2011


People quite often ask how Alfie is on the boat.  Well, he always runs aboard ahead of us, he takes over our bunks whenever possible, he guards it with a verocity that belies his size and most of all he loves that we are there with him.  Does this look like an unhappy, uncomfortable dog?...........

Mind you, it's not the most dignified way to sleep!!!!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tutak Goes North

You will recall our friend Billy who set off up the East Coast of England, went right round Scotland and came back down the East Coast.  Well, he has put together a blog of his voyage and since he so blatantly advertised it in the comments of my last post, I thought I better have a look!  Even though he is a friend so I have to say nice things about it, it really is worth a visit.  His journey is told in a sometimes dramatic, sometimes comical/ironic and very interesting narrative and is accompanied by some wonderful pictures.  It shows  pictures of Britain that you wouldn't find in a guide book, the sort of things that gives Britain its unique character.  Go take a look by clicking here.

This is the Harbour Master's Office in Brightlingsea, just up the road to us.

Some caves up the coast, picture taken from the sea.

The most northern point of Great Britain.

Post post note : He has now put some great posts on there about France and Holland x

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Smack Race

What a glorious day we have had, the temperature hit 81 degrees, which is just ridiculous for this time of the year.  But I am not complaining,  I have had a lovely day out on the river as part of the committee boat for the club's annual smack race.  Here are a few photos from the day :

How many people can you get in a dinghy (yes they did make it to their smack safely!)

Here are some of the girls from the committee boat - we were plastering sun cream on like there was no tomorrow - first time this year!  The wine hadn't appeared yet, well it was only ten o'clock!

Sorry about the quality of the picture, but here are some smacks all hustling for the lead.

Just a couple of smacks, they are just magnificent when they have all their sails up.

And there is always the free beer and wine on the hard as an added bonus!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Look at these Handsome Devils!!!!

I was playing around with my eldest son's iPad when I found this picture that I hadn't seen before.  So I emailed it to myself (I'm only being flash about my use of modern technology!!!) and I thought I would share it with you.  When they were all little, the eldest two boys, Philip and Stuart,  used to gang up on Rob and I always told them to watch out as one day he would be bigger than them and I was right!  Don't they all look alike?  In fact Stuart passed in me in his car today and I had to look twice as I thought it was Philip!  They may look alike but they are certainly all very different characters. The thing that I love is that they are the best of friends and enjoy each other's company.  Their girlfriends are also very good friends.  They are always there for each other and have a very special brotherly bond.  They also always look out for their poor, old mum!  xxx

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Day in France

We were supposed to meet Mum and Dad, who were on their way home from a six week holiday in Spain.  However, on Sunday we got a phone call to say they wouldn't be meeting us as they had been involved in an accident and had written off both the car and the caravan.  Thankfully they are both okay and the Caravan Club have been great and have arranged a chaffeur driven car to get them home.  I have told them that I think I am going to book them into a 'Home' so that I know where they are, what they are doing and that they are safe.  Also holidays are now confined to a day trip to the seaside!!  I won't tell you what their reply was, but I think I have been disinherited!!!!

Anyway, once we had established that they were okay, we decided not to waste the ferry and have a day in Calais, 'we' being my favourite eldest son and my brother and his wife.  The weather was glorious and the crossing was so smooth.  We had a wander around old Calais and then found a lovely restaurant on the beach to have lunch.

How French is this?  We  headed off to Cite Europe to stock up on some wine, beer and food from Carrefour.  I haven't been there for a couple of years and I was quite shocked by the way prices have risen.  But at least the booze was still cheaper.  We had some time before the ferry home and the sun was still very warm, so we headed back down to the beach for the obligatory frites and mayonnaise.  So much for my diet!

It was a great day out and such a shame that Mum and Dad couldn't join us, but we have saved them the bill for the lunch, so that'll teach 'em!

P.S.  To Mike (mum's brother) - I assure you they are okay and didn't want us to go down and get them or help in any other way.  They will be back Friday.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Stocking Up

As I insinuated in my last post, I take after my Mum and Grandmother in that I like to feed people.  Even if you arrived at my Grandmother's house just after having had a huge dinner you still had to eat.  She was a fantastic cook, and I can still taste her steak and kidney pudding (even though I am now veggie) and apple pie, but her standby meal was homemade chips (mmmmm), corned beef and peas.  She always had all the ingredients and it could be knocked up very quickly.  My Mum and I are a bit more adventurous and like to have a variety of things in so that we can get a meal together very quickly for any amount of diners.  To that end, I like to have a well stocked store cupboard, even on the boat.  I miss my freezer, especially at the moment when I am harvesting like crazy up at the allotment (still, all my neighbours are benefitting from the excess produce - can't promise the same next year guys!).  I have been making pasta sauce, jam and jelly for the store cupboard (I cheated and did it at Mum and Dad's, which was great because they got all the washing up!).  On the barge I am going to have a proper walk-in larder, fully tiled with its own sink, something I have always wanted. 
I had to buy a small table top fridge for Carpe Diem as we didn't have any proper refridgeration of any kind. We have always made do with cool boxes, ice packs and the bilges (areas under the floor and below the water line for those that don't know, keeps the beer and white wine lovely and cool).  It is amazing how much you can put in such a small space......
.......but I can't wait until I can get my big American style fridge back!

Saturday, 24 September 2011


Pete and I are well known for entertaining, especially on a large scale.  We quite often organise a dinner party or BBQ for six and it ends up with twenty or more guests.  We have entertained many times on Carpe Diem and are used to knocking up a roast dinner for eight or an impromptu supper for anyone who drops by.  I insisted that I didn't want plastic on the boat, so we have china and glass which, touch wood, has survived crossing the North Sea and the Channel several times.  So it was Sod's Law that when we moved on to the boat full time that the door of the oven would drop off!
We are reluctant to buy a new cooker at the moment, so the oven has become extra storage space.  Luckily we had an electric oven to hand and that came on the boat with us.

It has proved somewhat of a Godsend.  We cannot use the rings and the oven together because of the wattage, so I use the electric oven and the gas rings.  On the barge we are going to have a Rayburn which will be fuelled by solid fuel.  Not only will it do the cooking, but it will provide all our hot water and heating in the winter.   We have decided to buy a brand new Rayburn, as the modern ones are very efficient and hopefully will outlast us!  But for now normal service with entertaining has been resumed, so feel free to drop round and have a bite to eat.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Everyday Life on the Boat

Diane asked for some more posts about living on the boat, so here we go.  One thing I had to give up when we moved on to the boat was the tumble drier.  It sounds mad, but I only ever tumbled dried anything that needed ironing.  I made sure that things got the minimum amount of drying and then took them out and hung them straight up.  That way I never ever did any ironing, my most hated chore in the world.  Over the years I have conditioned all my boys (and hubby) that if they bought something that needed ironing after tumbling, then they ironed it themselves!  I used to wash every single day when we lived in the house, but now I do two wash loads a week.  I don't quite know how that has worked out as we are still wearing clean clothes and don't smell (as far as I know!).  A lot of my washing I do at work, but sometimes when I am off work I have to use the washing machine at the house.  Pete put this line up for me and it turned out to be the most expensive washing line in the world.  The actual line and pegs I had in the shed at home and the posts were left over from the barge.  So where was the cost you ask?  Well it was the £350 drill that Pete used to put the line up and then immediately dropped in the mud below!!!!
I have now discovered that hanging some things on hangers and leaving them to blow in the wind, they also don't need ironing.  Amazing what you learn later in life!!!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


On a really high tide the barge can rise up above the quayside and way above me.  Even on a lower high tide it can rise quite a lot and I was having difficulty getting on and off the boat, especially if I had Alfie with me.  So when I was out on Saturday playing boats, Pete built me a passerelle (gangway).  It has changed my life! I can get on and off with no problem.  No more coming home from work and finding somewhere to go for an hour waiting for the tide to drop, no more risking my neck climbing on the log piles beside the barge and swinging up on to the deck and no more jumping across the gap when the wind blows the barge sidewards.  He has promised a hand rail, but I am happy with what I have got so far.  What a wonderful husband!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Storm Clouds Gathering

I was on the committee for the club's GP14 Open Meeting.  The first two races were great, lots of wind which made for some exciting racing.  However, as you can see from this picture the storm clouds were gathering.

And then the heavens opened!  I took this shot from under the cuddy where I sat, sheltered from the wind and rain, only poking my head out to note down sail numbers as the dinghies crossed the line.  The poor racers got absolutely drenched and the crew in the safety boats were bailing out the water from the heavens.

We even picked up a poor stranded sailor whose engine had stopped and towed him to his yacht (oh, the indignity of it!).  But all in all we had a great time and now I have dried out and been fed and watered at the clubhouse, I am snuggled up in my PJs chilling out. 

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sticky & Sweet Roasted Beetroot

I love beetroot in all shapes, sizes and tastes.  When I was pregnant with no. 1 son, my grandmother could not pickle beetroot fast enough to cope with my cravings!  Today I tend to prefer my beetroot unpickled and I love it hot.  I found this recipe in River Cottage Everyday and absolutely loved it.  It is soooo easy and yet gloriously decadent tasting, sweet and delicious without the calories!

Preparation and cooking: about 1 hour 15 minutes


about 1kg beetroot
1 large rosemary stem, broken into little sprigs
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves, skin left on, each lightly squashed
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Peel the beetroot, cut them into thick wedges and place in a roasting dish. Add the springs of rosemary and squashed garlic cloves, trickle on the oil and season generously. Toss everything together, cover the dish with foil and roast in an oven preheated to 190C/gas 5 for 40 minutes [maybe less for our small Camel CSA beets], or until the beetroot is almost tender.
Remove the foil, trickle over the vinegar, give everything a good stir and return to the oven. Cook uncovered, stirring again once, for another 30-40 minutes or until the beetroot is starting to caramelise. Serve straight away or leave to cool.

I have also just bought the new River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook and it is wonderful.  The couple of recipes that I have tried so far have been great and I will let you in on them soon.  But I do highly recommend it as a good read with mouth watering pictures and lots of easy and accessible recipes.  (And I didn't even get paid for that plug!)

Friday, 9 September 2011

BBQing With Friends

Last Saturday I went to a friend's for a bbq and the weather was gorgeous.  Pete and I had planned to have friends over for a bbq at ours on Sunday.  It is always good to spend time with friends, especially over a glass of wine and good food.  Everyone bought their own meat and booze and we supplied the rest.  That way it doesn't end up costing the earth.  It was also a welcome home party for Billy.  Don't be fooled by the picture above, where everyone is sitting outside.  This is where we actually bbq'ed.............
I knew the wheelhouse would be put to good use soon!  It absolutely chucked it down all afternoon!  Still a good time was had by all and several people (including myself) went to work with very sore heads the next day!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Carpe Diem

I thought I would show you some more of Carpe Diem.  I apologise for the quality of the pictures, but I am not the best photographer in the world.  Above is the headboard in the forepeak (main bedroom for those not familiar with nautical terms!).  Pete found this in the attic of an old hotel that he was doing up.  I think it was probably some type of ceiling moulding, but doesn't it look great as a headboard.  I keep saying the one day I am going to pick the detail out in gold.  Everyone takes the mickey out of me for my 'boudoir' but I think they are just secretly jealous!
This is the splashback tile behind the sink in the heads.  Unfortunately you cannot see too well, but the colours are magnificent.  When I first met Pete, he had just started fitting out Carpe Diem and this was my first Christmas present to him.  (See, even in the beginning I was marking out my style!)  Dolphins are a bit of a theme on the yacht and we have had some lovely North Sea crossings accompanied by real dolphins, which is a really special situation to be a part of.

Saturday, 3 September 2011


Wheelhouse now floorboarded and furnished!  The floor is temporary and, I hope, so is the office chair.  However, Pete has taken to sitting in this drinking his morning tea and looking out over the creek.  He had better not get too attached, as there's shabby chic and downright tat!  It is such a lovely space that I cannot wait to get moved in. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

Welcome Home Billy

He goes up the East Coast, round Scotland and the islands, through the canal and back down the East Coast.  He endures gales, fog, rain, sun and no wind.  He gallantly drinks for England with the Norwegians, has engine problems, lives on veggies and generally toughs it out.  The flags were out, the fog horns going for his homegoing and then at the very last knockings, where he could almost touch his mooring, he runs aground!  Well that's Tollesbury for you!  Welcome home Billy, glad to have you back xxx

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Double Decker

Another picture from Billy on his travels.  I have often joked to Pete that if we put a second storey on top of the wheelhouse, we could rent it out as a penthouse suite!  I won't tell you what his answer was as it wasn't polite, but this picture shows that it can be done!!!  I like this boat,  I think it is reminiscent of a Mississippi paddle steamer, very Huckleberry Finn.  (And I could get a lot of plants on those decks!)  Have a great weekend xxx 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Veg Boat

Our friend and neighbour Billy, who I have introduced before, has been sailing around the top of Britain and is now on his way back.  He has just sent this picture of this wonderful boat with a message saying 'thinking of you'.  I have the mickey taken out of me as I already have pots on the fore deck of the barge and plans for window boxes full of lettuce, tomatoes and herbs!  If you click on the picture and enlarge it, you will see the bags with potatoes growing and other veg in various pots etc.  Just one thought though, I wonder if they are fixed to the deck or they just slide around when the owner goes sailing!!!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Help with Comments

Is anyone else having trouble with commenting on blogs?  This has been going on with me for quite some time.  I don't seem to be even able to comment on my own blog.  Any advice anyone?  I apologise if anyone thinks that I am neglecting their blogs or comments on mine, but I promise you I am still reading and enjoying them all.  I don't like it when I can't chat to friends.  Have a good weekend everyone xxx

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Courgette Salad

At the moment Pete is fibre-glassing the roof of Bonnie, so there isn't a great deal of difference to be able to show you in pictures.  It goes like this, weeks on jobs that you can't see and then a weekend painting or something and everyone says " wow, the barge is moving on!"  But it is good when you can see a significant difference.

I continue to work on the allotment and keep Pete well fed and watered (can't have the old boy collapsing when there is so much work to do!).   We are just going in to the courgette/patty pan glut, so here is one delicious way that I have found to deal with them.

Courgette Salad

Courgettes or Patty Pans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lime juice (or lemon)
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp mustard seeds or poppy seeds
1 crushed garlic glove

Slice the courgettes or patty pans.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Done! 

I picked this small posy from the allotment, just to brighten up the boat.  I love freesias and they smell so beautiful.  They always remind me of when I was a young child and a bridesmaid at my Aunts' weddings.  Why is it that the freesias that you get in the supermarket do not smell?

Friday, 22 July 2011

Time for a Change

I spent the day yesterday interviewing and assessing potential Physical Training Instructors for the gym at work.  They were doing all their physical assessments and I had to observe them taking a lesson.  Well, by the end of the day I certainly felt middle aged, fat and frumpy and decidely unfit!!!  The gym has state of the art equipment and I can also have a personal trainer, all for the princely sum of £10 per year.  There really is no excuse.  So now I am inspired, I am going to pay my £10 today and start on a really healthy eating programme.  Within three months you will see a new me!  Now to google 'chocolate based diets'!!!!!