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