Monday, 31 December 2012

Feeding the Forty Thousand!

Having had a few too many lagers yesterday lunchtime in the club, I invited 10 people back for more drink and some food. Thank heaven for the larder! I threw tins of tomatoes, baked beans, kidney beans, fried onions and sweet corn into a wok added veggie mince, garlic, ready cooked rice and chilli powder and voila, a vegan chilli. I also gently fried a bag of kale, added garlic, two tins of chick peas and two teaspoons of mint sauce. I put the two saucepans on the table along with corn wraps and let everyone help themselves, it was a feast fit for a king and even the die hard carnivores went back for more. Desert consisted of chocolate and coffee. A lovely afternoon spent with good friends. Now excuse me, I have a little headache that needs seeing to!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Growing Older Disgracefully!

I LOVE this poem!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.

Beware I am already wearing a lot of purple!!!!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Well, shopping done, presents wrapped, table disappeared under mountain of gifts, time for a sherry! Not really, it is only 0930 after all!!!!
I hope you all have a really lovely Christmas.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Win Some, Lose Some.

That is going to be my motto for 2013.  We have a lot to do on the barge, which is going to cost a huge amount of money.  I am also hoping to take voluntary redundancy in 2014 and cut my hours down to part time working, which means saving up and paying some stuff off.  So next year is going to be a seriously frugal one with every penny being saved.  Every pound saved will be a win win situation.  I have a lot of blogging pals on the same journey for various reasons.  You might like to check out one of my great inspirations over at Saving For Travel .  SFT and her husband have managed to pay off their entire mortgage and are now saving for their retirement funds and to be able to travel the world.  I have joined her sealed pot challenge and am saving up for a trip to Holland to see my blogging pal Val at Watery Ways  in Rotterdam.

And the Lose Some bit....well these are a  few pounds I definitely want to lose...those around my waistline.  I WILL be slim and svelt like by Christmas 2013! I will blog more about the way I intend to do this another time.

Have you set yourselves any challenges for the New Year?


PS Here are some inspirational sites :

Laura at

Datacreata at

Sue at

And there are many more on my blog list to the left of this post xxx

Monday, 17 December 2012

More Ideas for Christmas

For those of you that are spent out or can't face the shops again, if you head over to Janys' blog you will find lots of ideas and tutorials for homemade gifts. Personally, I think there is nothing nicer than a homemade gift as it shows that the giver has thought about you and taken time to create a special gift.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Another Lovely Present Idea About Life Afloat

My lovely blogger pal, Margy, lives in the most amazing floating cabin amongst the mountains in Canada. There is a whole series of wonderful books that describe their floating life that is very much off-grid. Margy has a floating garden which just has to be seen, the amount of produce that she gets is unbelievable. Pop over to her blog where all the books are available to buy, as well a lot more information about their lifestyle.

Last Minute Christmas Present Idea

If you are interested in reading more about living on a barge, then you should read Watery ways by Val Poore. It it a cracking read and would make a great Christmas present. Below is a review of the book taken from SunPenny blogspot. I can't quite work out how to repost, but if you go to the link you can see the full interview with more pictures.


About 'Watery Ways'

Trading life in the fast lane of Johannesburg for that of Rotterdam's serene Oude Haven, Valerie Poore packs all her worldly possessions aboard the historic Dutch barge, the Hoop, and sets about rebuilding both the boat and her life after divorce – and rediscovering herself and her own capabilities in the process.

Along the journey of renovation she is joined by an array of characters, including two dogs and a rather adventurous cat, a smiling but absent-minded ‘landlord’, a quirky friend and confidante, and an olde worlde charmer whose mastery at the helm wins more than just her respect. Before long Val has to learn to cope with the strenuous demands of acting as Skipper's Mate during numerous nail-biting adventures – frequently with hilarious effect.

When the Hoop, her rented home, is sold, Valerie relishes the new challenge of hunting down the Vereeniging, another picturesque barge aboard which she builds herself a new home and learns that, when life on the waterways is threatened by rust and insurance critics, it is those who band together to help who make the lifestyle so worthwhile.

Valerie’s touchingly sincere story is one of discovery and friendship, endurance and love and, most importantly, never allowing the landlubbers to get you down!

About Valerie Poore

Valerie Poore was born in London, England, and after completing her degrees in English, History and French, and a further course in the conservation and restoration of museum artefacts, she worked for a furniture restoration company until the birth of her first daughter. She lived a life of ‘self-sufficiency’ on a smallholding before going to South Africa in 1981 with her husband and very small children, where they lived on a farm in Natal (subject of her first book, African Ways). She currently lives on a barge in Rotterdam – a rather special lifestyle.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


I HATE driving in the snow and ice!  I get myself so worked up, that I could almost cry.  I am lucky that I can usually put off going in to work a bit later in the morning, rather than attempt the drive in the dark.  However, this week I am delivering a particular course and I HAVE to be in work every day and early.  So to overcome my fears I am actually staying a work.  It is such a chore as I have all my meals cooked for me, the room cleaned on a daily basis and tea served first thing in the morning and last thing at night!

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I have discovered recently that if I use my computer at work to read and comment on your blogs, quite often my comments end up in your spam boxes or disappearing completely.  I would hate you all to think that I don't care or that I cannot be bothered to read your posts and comment.  Blogger obviously has some sort of prejudice against the MoD computer system!!!!  Also being a military establishment, I do not get a signal on my phone or iPad to blog or comment.   I have managed to get on to a stand alone computer to post this.  But please excuse my absence from commenting on your posts, rest assured I am reading them all every day and thoroughly enjoying them.  In fact, you are my escape from work each day.  So please bear with me and normal service will be resumed as soon as I get home (providing I get a signal!!!)   Lots of Love to you all xxxx      

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Ship's Stores

This is what I was so excited about - my new walk in larder. It was something that was on the plans from day one and now it is beginning to come together. The reason for getting this bit done was to clear Carpe Diem of some clutter, although I don't know where all those stores came from! The outside part of the larder will have more shelves, a nice deep butler sink (for bathing Alfie) and some cupboards. It is well insulated and hopefully will maintain a fairly constant temperature. Got to go now and fill up some more shelves!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Coming Soon.....

.....something I have always wanted. I am so excited and can't wait! Here is a tantalising little glimpse...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Birthday Gifts

Look what my lovely daddy made for me.... a bench for my greenhouse. He also repaired it from the wind damage earlier in the year. Mum and Dad bought me a Pink Lady apple tree. It's a minerette tree that doesn't grow very big, so perfect for the allotment. Rob has just planted it for me and will teach me to prune it when it grows a bit.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Tea at the Ritz

This is one to cross off my bucket list!
My lovely eldest son and his fiancée treated us to afternoon tea at the Ritz. It was an amazing experience! The sandwiches, cakes and scones just kept coming. Of course there was jam and clotted cream for the scones. We chose Royal Ritz tea which was so nice we managed two pots! You couldn't finish all the food, because every time you did the waiter filled it back up! The Ritz is so beautiful, but I have eaten so much cake! But now excuse me I am feeling a little sick, must be coming down with something!!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Alternative Lifestyle?

My new boss has been bombarding me with questions about the barge and living on a boat.  I didn't know if he was doing it as part of 'getting to know me' or out of general interest.  He then mentioned that he had a fascination and admiration for people who chose to live an alternative lifestyle.  I have never thought of the way that we live and what we are trying to achieve as 'an alternative lifestyle'.
Working for the MoD, my job is very much part of the system, my qualifications etc put in me a 'middle class' bracket (although certainly not a label I would use!!!), we own a house (albeit mortgaged), two cars and three boats!!!  Yet it is also true that we have chosen to drop out of the rampant consumerism of today's society (also by necessity if we are ever going to get the barge finished!) and try to live a simpler life, to do something that will give us a chance to enjoy our retirement and also to give us the 'home' and 'lifestyle' of our dreams.
Living on the water certainly makes you more in tune with nature. For a start we live by the tides. In the beginning we frequently got caught out by a high tide and couldn't get on or off the boat, one soon learns! But seriously I have felt a lot more at peace since living here. The depression that I suffered from for years has now lifted and life is great.
There is always plenty of wildlife around. Laying in my bunk at night I am never quite sure whether it's birds or rats running up and down the decks, but hey as long as they don't join me in bed I'm okay with both!
Anybody who has anything to do with boats will tell you how boat people will almost always go out of their way to help you and are generally very friendly and sociable. Our little community is no different, everyone is lovely and we all get along just dandy.

I honestly don't think that I would like to go back to living on land. I enjoy our alternative lifestyle, be it ever so humble it's now life afloat for us.
High tide in Tollesbury

Monday, 5 November 2012

Buttons, Boots and Bonnie

Rob and Emily have the patter of tiny feet around their house. Meet Boots and Buttons. They are so cute, but Alfie is terrified of them! I think it is probably because they are so small that he knows he cannot bark at them or shift them out the way with his paw. So much for our big brave guard dog!
Bonnie, my almost granddaughter, on the other hand is proving quite a playmate for Alfie. She has just started crawling and they have great fun when Alfie puts the ball just out of her reach and then grabs it back just as she gets to it. Bonnie then squeals with delight and the whole game is played over and over again!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lost in Translation

Look what I bought in Sainsburys' this
morning. It has tickled me all day!!!!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


This was my view first thing this morning. Okay, I know all about red sky in the morning but I still can't help thinking how lucky I am.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


This is the latest tjalk to join our little community. Dave and Tina bought her in last night and we provided some help with the ropes and a welcoming beer. She is such a pretty boat and I can just see the flower boxes on her deck and seating areas for next years summer!! Sorry about the quality of the picture but it was getting dark when they got here.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What Shall We Have For Dinner?

Here is my latest haul from the allotment. Any ideas what we can have for dinner?

Also here is a picture of my Stevia bush that I have very carefully grown from seed. I have now moved it in to the greenhouse, should I do anything else to it?

Saturday, 22 September 2012


That got your attention!! I may not have walls, ceilings, toilet etc but I do have a chandelier to swing on! Someone on a job that Pete was working on was throwing this out, so he rescued it. It is solid brass and I think it is beautiful. More money saved and a bit more done for the environment.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Vegan Soda Bread

Most of you will know that I am a vegetarian, but recently I have been following a vegan diet. I am having great fun discovering new tastes and trying to find great tasting vegan substitutes for things like cheese (Vegusto is winning that competition by a mile!!). I love soda bread but my old recipe included buttermilk, obviously not vegan! So today I tried a vegan recipe, which basically substituted soy milk and lemon juice. Although the loaf looks a little anaemic as it was cooked in the combination microwave oven, it tastes wonderful and is lovely and light.

I mixed 1tsp of lemon juice with 2 cups of soy milk, left it for five minutes and then gently whisked together. Meantime I mixed 4 cups of plain flour with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp of salt. I slowly added the liquid to the dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon. When it reached a dough like consistency, I kneaded it a couple of times and put on to a lightly greased baking sheet. I then baked it for 45 mins at 190C, until a knife stuck in it came out clean. It smelled lovely and when I took it out of the oven, I had to take Alfie for a walk to pass away the time until it cooled down enough to eat!!!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Hi everyone, sorry for such a long absence but I've had the usual Internet difficulties! I've had a couple of days off work to get the allotment back up to scratch. As you can see from the pictures, we have now carpeted between the beds, which hopefully should keep the weeds down. There is also the added bonus that when I weed the beds it is very comfortable on my knees! I've not done too well this year with veggies, so I am hoping that the weather will hold out long enough for me to get a reasonable crop of winter squash. I have just planted some kale and spring greens and sorted out a bed to plant some garlic shortly. The beds that are going to be put to bed for the winter will be newspapered and mulched in an effort to keep the weeds down next year. We have had a good crop of garlic this year, so that is two years running we have been self sufficient in garlic. Let's hope for a better summer next year!!!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Only Way To Spend A Hot Sunday

We have taken the weekend off and come sailing with some friends. We tried to race yesterday but with no wind, at one point we were going backwards. Great BBQ last night a Bradwell Quay, a lazy Sunday morning, and hopefully a gentle breeze to get back to Tollesbury.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Barge Update

Even though we have had a lot going on, Pete has been getting on with the barge. He is trying to get our bedroom (forward cabin) ready so that we can get our bed in and start sleeping together again!!!! These pictures show how far he has got, with putting in the celotex to keep us nice and snug, and building the wardrobes. These will line both sides of the bedroom giving us plenty of storage space, essential on a boat.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

More Pics From The Proud Mum!

Okay a few more and then I promise I will stop! Stuart and Kerry got married at Leez Priory, which was the most amazing place and everything was perfect. The setting was magical, the rooms were great, the food was terrific and the staff wonderful. All my boys gave great speeches (Rob and Phil were the best men) and everyone looked beautiful or handsome, but I will leave you to see for yourselves....

Monday, 30 July 2012

Introducing Mr and Mrs Cairey

Here is my favourite middle son Stuart and his lovely new wife Kerry, don't they look a handsome couple.  It was such a beautiful wedding, perfect in every way.  Even the sun stayed out for them!  I will post a longer report with more photos later, but I thought I would give you a taster!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Good News All Round

Thank you everyone for your words of support and good wishes for my Dad.  I am very pleased that he has amazed all the doctors and pulled himself back up.  He had a pacemaker fitted yesterday and, all being well, should be out of hospital in a couple of days.  It has been a tough couple of weeks, he had us all worried and I think my Mother will give him some stick when he gets home!  The care and treatment that he has had at Broomfield Hospital and Basildon Cardiac Unit has been absolutely wonderful and I would love to be able to thank them all personally for looking after my Dad so well and not giving up.  THANK YOU.

We have the wedding next week of my son Stuart and his financee Kerry (and yes Dad can come to that) and the Hen Night tonight.  I have my dress, hat etc and am all set up and ready, so can't wait.   Also more good news,  my eldest son proposed to his girlfriend on Wednesday and she said YES.  I am so happy,  Lucie is a lovely girl and a welcome addition to the family.  I am so lucky with all my sons' girlfriends, they are all wonderful, caring girls and have been a great support to Mum and myself recently.  Congratulations Philip and Lucie, I am looking forward to the wedding next year.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Get Well Soon Dad

My lovely dad is seriously ill in hospital, so please excuse my absence. We are all praying that he will be on the road to recovery soon. I may be slightly biased, but he is the best Dad in the world and we need him x