Monday 27 June 2011

I think I'm a list kind of person!

It's a good thing Mick and I work so well together when planning renovations to a house. The vendor of our soon to be new home offered us the opportunity to spend some time up there last weekend and have a good look around again.  We systematically worked our way around the property deciding what needed doing and where.  We've got floorplans drawn up and and a full page list of things to be done, plus a list of costs.

We have at least two months, or longer if it takes some time to sell our house, to have the new place ready to move in.  We're lucky that we won't have to live among the renovations.

We've decided to take down the two old chimneys (left from the original 1850's miners cottage that burnt down 30 years ago), insulate the entire house (goodness knows how the old lady who lived there managed in the middle of Summer or Winter), remove the wall between living room and kitchen area, replaster the kitchen walls (currently painted a deep green gloss over wallpaper!), partition the single bedroom into two smaller ones, carpet the loungeroom and bedrooms, move the stove in the kitchen, install evaporative cooling and a new wood heater, put in a sink and window in the walk in pantry, cut down the tree blocking one of the loungeroom windows, replace the shower screen, cut out a large clump of blackberry (a noxious weed in Australia) and where to fence for the chickens and Coco.

I have a list of shopping to be done : carpet, paint, smoke detectors, exhaust fan, rangehood, shower screen, wood heater, lighting....

We took the key back to the vendor for them to remove the last few belongings and this evening she brought it back to us to keep.  With settlement not until Thursday it shows the trusting country spirit.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Another update - cruising miles

Carol from nb Rock'n'Roll has put her cruising statistics on her blog too.  Thanks Carol, I've added you to my little list below.

nb Northern Pride (2009) - 180 miles per month
nb Gypsy Rover AU - 120 miles per month
nb Gypsy Rover NZ - 100 miles per month
nb Epiphany - 80 miles per month
nb No Problem - 67 miles per month
nb Rock'n'Roll - 55 miles per month

Derek Bird - 150 engine hours per month (not the same thing as cruising miles!)

Saturday 25 June 2011

No Problem stats and other boaters

Ok. ok, so now I'm fascinated by how much or little people cruise.  There's such a huge variation!  I think perhaps there's a difference in whether the boaters are UK retirees, Aussies/Kiwis, or other types of continuous cruisers.  It seems the Aussie/Kiwi contingent travel a lot more.  It makes sense though - you've travelled from the other side of the world, more often than not on a limited timeframe (whether it's 6 months like Northern Pride, or a year or two), and you want to see as much as you can in that time.  UK retirees would see things from a more leisurely viewpoint.  There's more family and friends to catch up with, and a more open ended time frame.

nb Northern Pride (2009) - 180 miles per month
nb Gypsy Rover AU - 120 miles per month
nb Gypsy Rover NZ - 100 miles per month
nb Epiphany - 80 miles per month
nb No Problem - 67 miles per month

nb No Problem in more detail from the summary I made :
Year 1 - 71 miles per month
Year 2 - 69 miles per month
Year 3 - 56 miles per month
Year 4 - 49 miles per month
Year 5 - 66 miles per month
Year 6 - 83 miles per month
Year 7 - 73 miles per month (less one week)

There are many factors that have made a difference to the miles travelled in a year - iced in Winters, being caught up in floods, mechanical break downs, illness or injury, and there were a couple of occasions where Sue appeared to have lost the plot and couldn't remember what they had done!

Hmm... I have a feeling when we finally get there that I'll be keeping all sorts of records and statistics.  My younger brother is even more obsessed with this stuff than I am.  I'm sure he'll have other ideas of what records we should keep!

Friday 24 June 2011

House progress

For those who have asked about the progress of our house selling....

The real estate market has been a bit quiet.  We had an editorial in The Age last week and that definitely generated a little interest.  We've had a few inspections, and another tomorrow, but no offers yet.  One couple asked for a copy of the S32 so we hope that's a positive sign.  Lucky we aren't in a hurry.

We settle on the house we bought up the street next week.  We got the key from the owner today and went up and spent some time looking around and planning what needs to be done.  We need to prepare for Coco and the chicken family, to insulate the place, and put in a new wood heater.  I'm not spending hundreds of dollars on electricity heating the place with a portable heater (which is what the tenants must have done)!  Plus, Mick will partition the single huge bedroom into two so I have a little office/sewing room. That's the bare essentials. Then there will be removing the wall between lounge room and kitchen, painting, evaporative cooling, carpet for the bedrooms and lounge room, moving the stove and installing a range-hood, cutting down a tree that blocks the light from the living room (it's a fairly dark house as it is), a couple of over-cupboards in the kitchen, cutting out a clump of blackberry from the garden, and eventually a new front fence.  We'll get there!

Thursday 23 June 2011

Update - cruising miles

A couple more cruising miles statistics.

Epiphany - Cruised 3,480 miles (2,348 locks, 1,930 hours) over 44 months - 80 miles per month cruised.
Derek Bird - 7,500 engine hours over 4 years - 150 engine hours per month (no record of miles cruised) but Derek says they run the engine a few hours a day if they're not cruising.

And... finally.... Sue from nb No Problem better close her eyes....

Over 7 years they've cruised approximately 5,600 miles - an average of 67 miles per month.
I've been home sick for a week with nothing better to do and a couple of hours in front of the tv is all it took! There was a few odd missing stats but near enough.  Sue, if you didn't close your eyes when I warned you, and you'd like to have these results by year, let me know and I'll email to you!

Monday 20 June 2011

How many miles do cruisers cruise?

We saw a boat for sale this week with engine hours in excess of 9,500, and discovered that fellow Aussie bloggers, The Manly Ferry also found this interesting.  I had assumed that they ran the engine a lot while moored up but perhaps they were very continuous cruisers!

It got me thinking about how many miles continuous cruisers do on average.

The boat we saw is 10 years old so it's an average of about 80 engine hours per month.  If they were cruising and averaged 2 miles per engine hour, allowing for hanging around at locks etc, would this be a reasonable rate?  It would mean something like 160 miles per month.  A lot!

I've asked some of the bloggers if they'll tell me how many miles they've travelled.
Gypsy Rover NZ did 4,335 miles from November 06 to June 10 (43mths) – 100 miles per month
Northern Pride in 2009 they did 991 miles in 160 days (just over 5 months) -  185 miles per month
I wouldn't think you'd be likely to maintain this level of travel for 10 years!
Gypsy Rover AU have averaged 120 miles per month in the weeks since they've been cruising this year.

Please continuous cruisers.... will you post an entry on your blogs of your current engine hours, how old the boat is, how many miles you've travelled?  It would be interesting!!

Saturday 18 June 2011

Recipe - Chicken tray bake

This is a regular of ours.  It was originally from a Jamie Oliver recipe book - I think it was Jamie at Home.
We make it a lot because we often have cherry tomatoes and potatoes in our vegie garden.  I don't know how close it is to the original now!  We have reduced the quantities to suit just the two of us, there is enough for Mick to have a small seconds.

Serves 2.

  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • A few little potatoes or a couple of larger ones cut up
  • Punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • Handful fresh oregano
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Microwave the potatoes until just soft.  We don't peel them if we use fresh small ones, but if they are the larger ones then we'll peel them first and cut them into smaller pieces.
  • Cut the thigh fillets into thirds, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and brown them in a fry pan.
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  If they appear to be really juicy, then I pinch each half to remove a bit of the juice first.
  • Pick off the oregano leaves and bash them up in a mortar and pestle with a good pinch of sea salt.
  • Once it is a mush, add a good splash of red wine vinegar (about 1 tbps) and enough olive oil (about 4 tbsp) to loosen the mixture.
  • Put the browned chicken, the halved tomatoes and the microwaved potatoes into a dish - use a baking tray or lasagne dish, about the size that everything covers the bottom in a single layer.
  • Drizzle the dressing all over and stir it all around.
  • Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Canal etiquette and The Boaters Handbook

I've read everything I can get my hands on about narrowboating and the canals.  On several blogs and in some lovely books about peoples' experiences on the canals there have been some daunting stories of angry fishermen or other boaters - often completely unfairly. 

I also notice this week that Gypsy Rover (AU) had an annoying experience with bad canal manners.

It got me thinking about the rules out there that we might not be aware of.  When we hired in 2007 we really were told very little about what we should or shouldn't do.  They provided a boaters handbook but not everyone would bother to read the 40 pages.  Here's a link to the handbook.

I found this unofficial list of etiquette matters.

Monday 13 June 2011

New Zealand

We were up bright and early Wednesday morning for our flight to Auckland.  Having left home with plenty of time to spare we ended up being the last to check in for our flight!  I hate being rushed at the airport!!  The freeway was covered in ice and there were cars sliding around all over the place, police, flashing lights, accidents.  I have never seen that highway so icy.  It was crunching under the car tyres.  There was no choice but to crawl along slowly behind the row of cars.  It wasn't a good start. 

We quickly parked the car and rushed to get in the queue to check in for our flight, feeling relieved that there were many people arriving behind us in the queue.  That was until someone official looking called out asking if anyone in the queue was waiting for the Auckland flight and we were the only ones!  We were given an express pass to hurry through customs and security and were glad to be on the plane.

We drove North of Auckland to Warkworth to have dinner with Su, Mick's twin sister.  It was a lovely evening and a great meal.  We stayed just a few doors up at Warkworth Lodge.  I was disappointed to discover my camera battery had gone flat so the few photos I took were on my phone.  Better than nothing.

Thursday we had breakfast in a nearby cafe and headed off South, back through Auckland, towards Taupo where Mick's mum, Robin, lives.  We saw the turnoff to where Clive and Marie live so made a last minute decision to turn off and have coffee with them.  We got off the highway and rang them... they were home.  It was a bit of a rushed chat and coffee considering we hadn't seen them for a couple of years, but we would be back Saturday afternoon and could talk more then.  We had lunch at Cambridge, my favourite little town of those I've seen in NZ, and reached Taupo in time for afternoon tea with Robin.

Following a stunning view of Mt Ruapehu covered with snow as we headed into Taupo, we weren't to see it again.  The weather turned rainy and pertty much stayed that way.  It was a pleasant visit with a couple of lovely meals out with Robin, but we didn't get our walk around the lake until the last morning in Taupo when the rain eased off.

We did our usual side step on the way out of Taupo to gaze at Huka Falls and then had lunch at Matamata, where Mick grew up.  The tree is still there when he and Clive used to play, their neighbouring houses haven't changed much either.  The old family friends that we often call in on were away at a funeral so we drove on to Clive and Marie's.

As usual we had a great visit.  We talked about our narrowboat plans and Clive and Marie's Europe adventure plans. Great to see you guys!

I was determined to allow more time than necessary to get to the airport and check in.  Everything went fine and we were waiting at the boarding gate when there seemed to be a fair amount of discussion happening among the boarding crew and other officials.  An announcement was made that we would be leaving half an hour late due to the ash from the Chile volcano eruption. Once we were finally on the plane the pilot announced that we would be detouring over Brisbane.  It was to be a long trip.  As we landed, the pilot said we were near on the last plane being permitted to land in Melbourne as they were closing down due to the ash cloud.  The airport was amazingly quiet and we breezed through.  We were extremely glad to get home knowing thousands of other passengers were now being held up and unable to fly.

What is it with those Kiwis!  The coffee comes in a bowl!

Sunday 12 June 2011

Home... by the skin of our teeth!

We had a lovely few days in New Zealand but it's a big relief to be home again now.  It seems we were on one of the last flights allowed to land!  Dozens of flights, and thousands of passengers, have been grounded due to a volcanic ash cloud from South America.  We were late in leaving Auckland and there appeared to be a fair amount of discussion going on among the ground crew while we waited.  Eventually we were on our way with a warning that it would be a much longer trip than usual because we'd be making a wide detour over Brisbane to approach Melbourne from the North.  If you look at the direction from Auckland to Melbourne, Brisbane is a long way off the usual direction.

I only took a couple of photos on my phone, a camera with a flat battery isn't much use!  More about our time in New Zealand tomorrow.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

A visit to NZ

We are off to New Zealand tomorrow morning for a flying visit.  Not the best timing with this being the week our house will be first advertised in the local newspapers and also an editorial in The Age in Melbourne this Saturday, but the airfares were booked months ago.

Mick was born in New Zealand and his mum and sisters live there still.  We are having dinner with Mick's twin sister the first night, then South to Taupo for a couple of nights to spend some time with his mum and the final night back up towards Auckland to spend a night visiting Mick's childhood friend, Clive, and his family.  We haven't seen them for a couple of years so it will be great to catch up with them.

Clive will be good as encouragement for our narrowboat plan.  He and his wife, Marie, have had an adventure of their own a few years ago.  They took the kids out of school and home-schooled them while they spent almost 18 months travelling around the USA in a motorhome.  The original plan had been to spend 9 months in the USA and then 9 months in the UK/Europe.  With the USA running way overtime they decided to defer Europe to a future trip.  We have talked of them hiring a narrowboat and joining us for a while when we buy our boat.  We'll have to wait and see what they're up to when the time comes.  They always seem to have something exciting in the planning!

Monday 6 June 2011

Pick of the week - Morfe Lady II

Having been rather busy lately with readying our house for sale, we haven't been in our usual routine of a leisurely Sunday breakfast with browsing narrowboats for sale. This week we've done exactly that. There seems to be so many boats for sale at the moment with new ones appearing all the time. Seemingly a buyers market in the used narrowboat department! If only we were in a position to take advantage of the situation!

This boat is on the ABNB website.

Although it misses on a couple of our preferences we still really like it.  
Positives : we like the paintwork and the inside timberwork, great shower, galley dinette and saloon are all open which gives it a great feel, cross bed
Negatives : L shaped dinette and walk thru bathroom

Price: £69,950
Length: 57ft 11in
Builder: Bluewater Boats
Fitter-out: Kingdom Boats
Year registered: 2005
Style: Trad
Engine: Isuzu 35 diesel
Bowthruster: BCS 12v 85kgf
Plating: 10/6/4
Last blacked: Water line blacked every
Fit-out materials: Hull sides in maple-faced ply, cabin sides in framed maple-faced ply, bulkheads in maple-faced blockboards, deckhead in shiplap t&g ash boards.
Insulation: Spray foam
Headroom: 6ft 4in
Berths: 2+2
Berth sizes: 5ft 11in x 5ft 0in cross double, 6ft 6in x 3ft 5in double on L-shape dinette
Mains Power: Landline, Victron Phoenix 2500W inverter/charger
Cabin heating: Eberspacher diesel c/heating, 2 designer pipe rads & 2 panel rads, Becton s/f stove
Water Heating: C/heating + engine + 240v immersion heater, calorifier
Water tank: 150 galls s/steel
Cooker: New World s/steel hob, separate grill & oven - gas
Fridge: Shoreline 12v 5cu ft
Washer/dryer: Baumatic BWD 1300W full size washer/dryer
WC: Thetford Cassette
Shower: Large shower in tiled cubicle with curved acrylic doors
Other: Cratch & cover. Two private owners.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Recipe - Spicy Apricot Lamb Casserole

We've made this casserole many times and it's a favourite.   My brother and his girlfriend also use the STGTBT cookbooks and we all agree that we don't need as much water as the recipe recommends.  We serve this with rice or mashed potato.
Symply Too Good To Be True - Book 3

·         Cooking spray
·         500g lean lamb leg steaks, cut into large cubes
·         ¼ cup plain flour
·         ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
·         1 cup diced onion
·         1 cup sliced carrots
·         1 cup sliced celery
·         2 cups apricot nectar
·         2 tsp dried oregano
·         2 tsp chicken stock powder
·         1 x 300ml jar medium salsa
·         1 tsp curry powder
·         1 cup water (I use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup)
·       Preheat oven to 180 degrees
·       Coat lamb in flour
·        Heat a casserole dish and spray with cooking spray
·        Brown the lamb and then add all other ingredients, stir to combine
·        Place lid on casserole dish and cook for 1 ½ hours in oven