Saturday, 29 December 2012

Back from a Christmas break...

Its just after 7.00 Debs at work, I'm about to start sanding, Jess is back in Winchester.

We had a great few days together at Pips near Reading. The division of the Christmas lunch went well; me on starters, Deb on meats, Jess on veg and Pip on puds and cheese.

Mediterraean veg terrine, vodka gazpaccio ad thyme palmier

Ready for battle, not even half of Jess's veg could fit on the table

Of course Christmas is not just about the food its also about the pressies!

We brought our tradition of a mid present eggnog break with plenty of spiced rum!

Tickets to the West End for Pip

Happiness is a Kath Kidson bag, look at that face! (well  done Jess)

Thank you every one for; chocolate orange, coffee, phone cradle, after eights, crocs, socks, cap, hat, peculator, cheque, mug, tolarone (several), shirt, mug, phone case, watch, boot wax, chili shaker, cheque, shirt, nougat, and boot cleaner!!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

And now for something completely different...

Well Santa never came at midnight, in fact we stayed up in Pip's sun room well past midnight playing drinking games waiting :-) Could we have frightened him off with the noise? We did however have appearances from Scrooge at regular intervals trying to douse our party fire with his own style of extinguisher (I'll know what I mean when I read this back in years to come)

Of course Deb being only small appeared to cling on to the alcohol effects far longer than us better equipped lot and soon after 5 this morning was wanting me to text jess upstairs and ask if we could get up yet! (And I think its bucks fizz and eggnog for breakfast :-) 

Any way saw this lot on metro online yesterday and they made me laugh. 


Rover under estimated the competition at the blogging contest

Are you absolutely sure I can turn my head 300 degrees?

Has anyone seen my mum?

Auditions for 'kung fu panda return of the guinea pigs' went better than expected

I'm sure my Andrex contract mentioned full medical insurance in the case of an accident

No you're not coming down 'til you tell me where you buried my shoe!

Deb won the drinking competition :-) 

This looks like the cat that accepted us years ago, it was called cat

We have earl grey, chai, that lap sang one or chinchilla

As happy as a pig in ... A fluffy towel

Don't let it get to you this Christmas... Just chill 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Break from DIY...

It has been tricky over the last few weeks, I could have got so much more done if I still had access to my garage. Deb has been leaving for work some days before six so at least it has been one less body to limbo past the drying skirting boards, new outside table, boat plank and pole etc etc. I think I pushed my luck a bit too far the day I started taking the bathroom apart though!

My efforts the last few days have been trying to get as many coats of primer and undercoat on the boat sides that the weather would allow. The goal was to get two topcoats on before Christmas but alas rain stopped play so it will have to wait until after the festivities.

No I have't gone mad and decided to repaint in sky blue, that's just a drop of topcoat colour in with the undercoat.

We also had a visit from Mark on Calliisto the coal boat yesterday who had a fair price for diesel and a really good price for coal (exell and supertherm) so we are sorted for the next month or so.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Coventry market sells cheap chillies too...

We haven't spent much time on Coventry so far, a few bits bought in Ikea, new CO alarm from Argos and a quick bit of fruit and veg from Coventry market. Whilst in the market though I decided to buy some more chillies as the chilli jam I made with the ones bought in Birmingham is just about gone. I wanted to make another batch that was a little more piquant than the last time.

I reckon that, if it sets ok, this lot should see me through to summer for BBQ's and cheese sarnie :-) 

Not bad for £1

All the secret ingredient in the pot

Stir anticlockwise if you're in the northern hemisphere - very important

Boil the beJesus out of it for a bit before adding the last ingredient

Pot it up
It made 7x 75gm jars; 1x 275gm; 1x 340gm and a ramekin full to keep me going for the next few days :-) 

Watch out next year for home smoked chilli and ginger jam!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Feeling Christmasy yet...

Christmas shopping time! (well last week actually) I fancied a day away from the routine so surprised Deb with a day at the German market in Birmingham. As it isn't too far to go we left at a reasonable time and headed by car to Coventry to get the virgin train to New street station in Birmingham. I had worked out that this would just   about be the cheapest option. Couple of miles to the station, £2 to park all day and £3.40 each return train fare (not bad eh)

Of course with only a couple of Saturday's to go to the main event it was heaving. In the early evening there were big queues just to get outside to the market stalls! A leisurely stop at Jimmy Spices and a warming mug of gluhwein saw us through our day trip to the biggest German market outside Germany/Austria

View from Hawkesbury bridge ad we set off

How very undignified 

Decorations in the bullring

View from Jimmy Spices over gas street basin

Outside ICC

sadly we didn't win a 5ft fluorescent stuffed banana 

The queue to get outside into the German market

The same square where we watched the Mandela 

We had to go through it all to get to the gluhwein

Punters were ten deep for whatever these were 

Plenty of Christmas decorations if you've got the space. 

Deb wasn't too happy with me when she got home yesterday...

Apparently it was a year to the day that my DIY 'incident' occurred. We were getting ready for our big canal adventure as we would have been finalising negotiations and sorting out surveys about now. We had loads to do at home and my job of the day was to get the gas hob fitted so that it could be connected to the gas by the engineer. Not a difficult job but whilst contorted in the cupboard I managed to dissect an artery in my neck that led that night to a stroke.

So why the ticking off from Deb? Well yesterdays boat DIY job was to sand the gunwale to rubbing strip of LJ's port side. Initial sanding down had been done a couple of days ago with a coat of primer and some filler over the top but it was a bit of a slog sanding sixty feet by hand so I bought a cheap sander from Lidl. Much easier to get the job done but it needed me to keep the boat away from the towpath as the there was no gap for the sander. With both hands full the only way was to lean against it with my head. Ah well no damage done - hopefully ;)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Final Decision On Winter Moorings... Just in time!!

We had been chatting again at length regarding where to moor up for our first 'live-aboard' winter. As soon as I sat down with my pro's and con's list it was really a no-brainer for both of us. The obvious plusses of electricity and a laundry/shower block at Trinity marina in Hinckley just wasn't good enough to sway the argument.

When we started to plan our change of life all the canal press had wall to wall pictures of the big freeze of the winter of 2010/11. Beautiful snowy scenes of rows of crisp white-topped boats and boaters carrying supplies by sled. None of the pictures were of rows of boats 'sardined' together in a marina. The marina at Willington would be the only one I would consider from the many we have seen this year. It was one of the first we had seen and Deb and me both sat in our respective offices logging in to their web-cam all last winter, texting each other whenever a boat moved or potential buyers visited the boats for sale.

The other problem with Trinity this year is that the the canal between the bridges either side of the marina is closed for work during January and February so we wouldn't even manage a day away in the new year.

So, the final choice was a location (and just in time as the ice was nearly half inch thick in places today!) that we have been to a few times and just happens to have our favorite pub on the network (so far), adequate facilities, a great pub, small and large towns within five miles, lots of history, a pub, no neighbours within arms reach and, oh yes a really good pub on the doorstep. We are at Hawkesbury Junction for at least a couple of months - so if you're passing give us a knock, if we're not in we will be in... well you know where we will be ;)

Just after sunset

Moon over Pump house and ice

We are just under the bridge on the right

Sutton stop lock

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Life is an equation...

The universe is made of numbers and life is like an equation, both sides gotta balance :-) 

Today's equation

10 miles cycling to get the van on a cold windy morning...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lord of Lotto Lumber says 'ITS YOU'...

It was such a beautiful morning today that the 'move boat first or move bongo first' question was a no brainer. It was 10 miles from where we were to where we wanted to be and I really wasn't in the mood for a bike ride, yesterdays mere 5 miles was enough! So definitely boat first and van whenever.

Not a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind as we left one of our favorite moorings just before all oaks wood. Although it was only slightly warmer last time we were here, loosing the genni was a PITA last time and I was glad that it hadn't tainted our opinions of a great location.

We left some CC'ers that we are getting to know quite well as they cruise the same fairly limited area about 40 miles either side of Rugby (mainly cos of work commitments) not strictly within the CC rules but I would prefer they did that than claim bucket fulls of benefits from the state that's, well, in a bit of a state.

Even though we were only there for a couple of days I saw my first crash landing swan one of four cygnets landing with both parents obviously used a touch too much flaps and ended in a heap about 10ft from the waters edge. And also had ring side seats for one man and his dog as they negotiated fields, fences, wood piles and a bridge to cross the canal to the destination field. 

Beautiful Day

Beautiful location

Quiet Neighbours

Arty types

As yesterdays weather got worse 'chainsaw carving man' and his 'painter partner' moved their separate boats back to where we were out of the way of potential falling trees. We had even parked half a mile further away where the tree's looked safer. 

Few boats today and no hurry on our part until we spied...

No tree was gona beat me and my 14" chainsaw

Now where did I put the boat

She was enjoying herself really!

A felled tree ;)  No messing about lugging branches back to the boat this time, straight out with the chain saw and down to work. Roof stacked with logs ready to split (about a months worth) we set off into the blinding setting sun.

'IT'S YOU' - said the lord of lumber as we passed a power station that had been trimming back and had nice neat little piles of logs already cut into 3 or 4ft lengths ready to sling on the roof - whopee our numbers have come up, we were about half a mile from where we are mooring 'til February and we have gone from 0 logs to about 8 weeks worth if we use half and half with coal.