Tuesday 28 February 2012

Monday 27 February 2012

What a storm!

We usually sleep with one bedroom window open just a little.  With the recent hot weather we've been having, we have had the window under our front verandah wide open and often the window on the side of the house open too.  Last night when we went to bed Mick closed the side window saying it looked like we'd be getting some rain.  With no verandah on the side, that window is exposed to the elements.  The front window is well protected from the rain by the low verandah and in all the time we've lived here we have never had rain touch the glass.

I woke to the feeling of water spraying on my feet and thought I was dreaming.  After a minute I realized my feet really were damp and I thought the roof was leaking.  There was a fierce thunder storm with a constant rumble of thunder and lightening that flashed without pause. The power was off and by then Mick had woken to my stumbling around trying to turn on lights that weren't working.  The carpet between the front window and the end of the bed was quite wet.  The wind was blowing so hard it was literally blowing the rain under the verandah and into the bedroom.  It's never happened in 12 years.

We met in the laundry - Mick trying to find a torch and me dragging out the stack of old towels.  When we shone the torch at the front door there was water being forced under it and the trickle was growing and spreading across the floor boards.  I bundled towels across the bottom of the door.  With the bedroom window firmly shut we lay towels across the carpet to soak up the worst of it.  Back in bed I thought perhaps I should check the back door but being on the opposite side of the house it was unlikely that the rain would come in that way too.

There has been the odd occasion where the wind has blown so hard that it's forced the rain up the back verandah and it's poured down the back door and under it.  A weather strip at the bottom of the door has made it much less likely but it has been known to happen.  There was water running under the back door!  How could the wind blow so hard from both the North and the South.  Couldn't it make up it's mind?!  More towels across the bottom of the back door.

This morning the power is back on and there's no wind, thunder or lightening - just a good constant rain.  It's great to have a decent amount of rain.  No garden watering this week then.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Pick of the week - Laura

Here is the boat we'd buy this week... if only....
Listed on Apollo Duck we found nb Laura.  A black boat wouldn't be our choice but with the cream trim this one looks great.  It looks like a well kept boat and ticks all our boxes. 

Price : GBP 55,000
Year : 2005
Length : 57ft
Stern : trad
Shell builder : Jonathan Wilson
Fitout : Roche valley boat builders.

Solid ash t & g and oak trim, all cupboards and cabinets are hand crafted in oak

Engine/electrics : vetus engine with two alternators, a 4 step sterling engine to battery charger, 1800w inverter, battery management system, monitor and alternator controller, 4 x 220 aph batteries plus engine starter battery.

Cratch : glazed steel with extra height for the taller person fitted by Johnathan Wilson along with a steel locker on the large front deck, a stainless steel water tank lies under with the water pump and a pressure compensator. Front doors are also glazed steel for extra security,

Hot water by engine calorifier, immersion heater on 240v and a Mikuni central heating system that also feeds 3 radiators and a heated towel rail in shower room, there is a shoreline hookup feeding 240v to sockets throughout, and the many ceiling lights in the saloon and galley are LED, in the saloon there is also a Morso multifuel stove.

Galley is well equipped with oven, grill, 4 burner hob, microwave oven and a new 12v fridge. All surfaces are granite with a deep sink and mixer taps.

The shower room has a techma pump out macerator toilet with dual flush, hand wash basin in vanity unit and full sized tiled shower unit with glass screens.

Dinette is a pullman that converts to a double bed, a fixed double bed in the back bedroom has a memory foam mattress, overbed cupboards with reading lights and large draws underneath.

Friday 24 February 2012

Cookbooks & recipes

I've been adding recipes to my blog so that we can cook our favourite meals while we're overseas.  I would hardly want to take recipe books with us so this way I have an easy resource to find the recipes we use most.  A lot of the recipes come from a series of books (soft cover) called Symply Too good to be True .

When my younger brother moved out of home his mum (my step-mother) gave him the set of 5 cookbooks.  They are written by Annette Sym and adapt many popular recipes to make them healthier.  When my brother and his now wife moved in together they started cooking most of their meals from these books.  I stay with them one night a week so have shared many a dinner with them.  I was soon a big fan of "the books" too.  A couple of years ago I ordered all five of them for home.  There really has been only a couple of dishes that I wouldn't make again.

So now each week I go through the books and mark the recipes for the week.  It's easy to add those ingredients to a shopping list and we know what we'll have for dinner each night.  A lot of the recipes use common ingredients so we keep stock, spices, curry pastes, tins etc in the pantry.  There's many weeks now that I buy nothing but meat and vegetables. It's made life easier with our new work hours.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Passport on it's way

I had a quick visit to Sydney this week to apply for my Finnish passport.  Finally it's on it's way!

I booked flights to allow plenty of time to spare in case of a delay - I didn't want to go all the way to Sydney and run out of time to do what I went there for.  As it turned out I needn't have worried.  I got a text message from Qantas saying my flight home had been cancelled and I should ring to re-schedule.  The passport dealing had already been done so I changed to an earlier flight.  Perfect!

Saturday 18 February 2012

Recipe - Moussaka

We've made this recipe once before and really liked it.  Last week we made it again to use up a pile of fresh tomatoes that were no longer quite so fresh.  The meat sauce got a bit more cooking and I added a bit more tomato paste and omitted the two tins (crushed & puree).  With our square lasagne dish, it fitted in well but we only used about 2/3 of the white sauce.  We had dinner 3 nights in a row from this dish and... it was delicious!

From Symply Too Good to be True

2 medium eggplants, cut lengthways into 1cm slices
½ cup grated cheese
500g lean lamb mince
1 cup onion, diced
1 tsp crushed garlic (in jar)
2 tsp beef stock powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
410g can tomato puree
425g can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp margarine
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups skim milk
1 x 30g sachet Continental 4 cheese sauce

Preheat oven 200 degrees
Generously spray frypan with cooking spray and cook eggplant slices until lightly browned.  Spray pan between each batch of eggplant.
Spray same frypan with cooking spray and sauté mince.  Drain off any liquid.  Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer until beginning to reduce.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan melt margarine, add flour and stir well.  Slowly add milk, whisk to avoid lumps. Stir continuously and once boiled add cheese sauce sachet using a whisk.  Set aside.
Divide eggplant slices into 3 portions. Coat lasagna dish with cooking spray, place layer of eggplant slices on base. Cover with ½ the meat sauce then add another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining meat sauce, then last layer of eggplant. Spread white sauce over the top then sprinkle with grated cheese.
Bake 30-35 minutes.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Update - new job

I've had 6 weeks at my new job and so far so good.  It has meant a bit of a change to our weekly routine. 

Firstly, I only spend one night a week away from home, compared to 2 or 3 for my previous job. 

Secondly, I work Fridays which we haven't done for 10 years!  So I have Mondays off and Mick has Fridays off. 

Finally on Wednesdays to Fridays I work 9 to 5.  I haven't done that since 1987!!  I'm an early bird and have always started work between 7 and 7.30am and finished before 4pm.  It gave me a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time in the mornings so my day was much more productive.  Finishing work at 5pm now means I don't get home until 6pm so we need to plan our meals ahead.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Exchange rate - 68p !!

Why oh why can't we sell our house.  The exchange rate between the Aussie dollar and the British pound is over 68p!  We'd never have thought it.  I remember reading an article when it was in the high 50's that predicted it could reach 70p.  That seemed pretty unbelievable at the time.  But, we're not far off right now.

Fingers crossed it holds out long enough for us to sell up and have money to exchange.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Poem - Waltzing Matilda

This one is best known as a song - a sort of unofficial national anthem of Australia.  It was the second choice by public poll when the anthem was changed in the early 1980's.  I recall there being some dissent over the suggestion of it being the anthem.  How could we have a national anthem about a swaggie stealing a sheep and then drowning himself?!

WALTZING MATILDA by Banjo Patterson

Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the Billabong,
Under the shade of a Coolabah tree;
And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a water-bag --
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water-hole,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee;
And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag,
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"

Down came the Squatter a-riding his thorough-bred;
Down came Policemen -- one, two, and three.
"Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

But the swagman, he up and he jumped in the water-hole,
Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree;
And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong,
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"

Monday 13 February 2012

Passport application

Finally today I received confirmation that I'm officially on the Finnish population register as a citizen.  All details had to be properly recorded before I could apply for a passport and now it's finally done.

It's a bit of a nuisance really because you have to apply in person at the consulate in Sydney.  I don't live in Sydney!  I just don't understand why countries in the EU can't have a single office in each capital city for the purpose of collecting biometric details for their passports.  Instead, different countries collect data in different cities.  I remember Tom (nb Waiouru) having to come to Melbourne from Adelaide to have his biometric details taken for his British visa.  Melbourne would be good for me but no, I have to go to Sydney.  Oh well.  It will all be worth it to have that passport in my hand.  My ticket to a year in England.

I better go check out flights to Sydney.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Before and almost finished

For everyone who has asked for progress photos from the house up the street.... inside is very nearly finished although not quite.  I took a couple of photos on my phone today but they aren't the best.

The first two are before and after of the kitchen.  Amazing what a good paint job can do!  Even the kitchen cupboards are the same ones.  They did get new door knobs though.  We bought a pair of flat pack drawer units to make up the island and Mick made a benchtop (draped with a drop sheet in the photo!) for it and side panels painted to match the cupboard doors.  We haven't bought the rangehood yet.

The pantry got a window, some flat pack cupboards and Mick's made up benchtop.  Now there's also a space for a fridge or freezer to the right of the new window.

More later.....

Saturday 11 February 2012

Pick of the week - Griffin

This one is something different.  I don't think we'd buy a boat fitted out in a really modern style but it's worth a look because it's interesting.  It looks more like a modern apartment than a narrowboat but that gives it a bright and airy look.  I'll keep an eye out and see how long it takes to sell!

nb Griffin - listed with ABNB
nb Griffin - PDF


Friday 10 February 2012

C'mon.... rain!!!

Driving home from work this evening the sky was very dark ahead.  I could see lightening flashing and knew I was driving into a storm.   I was within a few kilometres of our exit from the highway and it was raining heavily.  Just ahead I could see flashing police lights and all the cars were pulled over to the sides of the road on both sides of the highway.  When I got closer I saw why.  The road was awash with hail stones that continued to pelt down.  It looked like there was snow everywhere!

The exit was within sight so I carefully crawled along and turned off the highway.  It was strange driving with the hail crunching under the tyres. 

It was even more nerve wracking on the side road - it's lined with gum trees that arch over the road from both sides.  I'm always nervous driving under gums when it's very windy or raining hard.  Just the other day a woman had a very close call when a large limb fell on her car as she was driving.  She was very lucky.

The hail petered out shortly after leaving the highway but the rain was very heavy.  Water was rushing across the road in several places - doing nothing for my nerves.  In the floods last year I had a few times where I had to drive through water that was threatening to wash the cars off the road.  I was worried that the sections of road ahead that had been under water last year may be in the same state now.  But... the rain eased as I drove and by the time I got home was not much more than a drizzle. 

There's lots of rumbling thunder and the sky is dark but here at home there isn't much rain.  It's just what we need right now too.  The garden is looking decidedly sad and we've nearly emptied one of our large water tanks.  Come on..... rain......

Thursday 9 February 2012

Update - houses

I had someone say the other day that I haven't had an "update" post for a while.  I haven't felt we have much to tell lately but here's a start, Lucy.

The house up the road is coming along well.  The open plan kitchen / living room is looking great.  There's a few finishing touches still to go.  The carpet will have to wait a bit, the rangehood we're going to buy this weekend and the curtains and light fittings just need to be installed. The bathroom is almost complete, except for a shower screen.  I have a vague recollection that in the last mention I made of the house that I said I'd take some photos.  I still haven't done that so it must be my weekend task.  We had a very large tree at the front fence line split in half.  That wasted a weekend with the clean up operation.

We also lost an enormous limb from a gum at the back of our home.  Of course it crashed down on the fence which meant more work for Mick.  Not an ideal situation to have a section of fence broken down if someone came to look at the house.

As for the sale of our house, it's been very quiet.  We just have to wait and hope.  Mick saw the real estate agent down the street this week and he said he'd been contacted by someone who is currently overseas.  Apparently they are interested in the house.  We'll see.

Monday 6 February 2012

Recipe - Eastern Lamb

Here's another of our favourites that we want to remember when we're away.

It's from Symply Too Good To Be True - Book 4.  Serves 4.

2 cups raw pumpkin, peeled and diced 2cm
500g raw lean lamb leg steaks, cut in thin strips
3 level tbsp red curry paste (in jar)
1 tsp crushed garlic (in jar)
1 tsp crushed ginger (in jar)
1 cup red capsicum, cut into strips
1 cup fresh green beans, sliced
½ cup shallots cut into 2cm pieces
2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
375ml can evaporated light milk
½ tsp imitation coconut essence

Microwave pumpkin in a little water until just cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.
Coat a large frypan with cooking spray and sauté lamb with red curry paste, garlic and ginger until lamb is almost cooked. Add vegetables and toss with meat until vegetables cooked to your liking. 
Add stock powder, soy sauce, coriander and sugar to pan and stir well. Combine cornflour with evaporated milk and essence and pour into pan, stirring until brought back to boil.  Gently fold pumpkin through, stir gently until pumpkin heated through. 
Serve on Basmati rice.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Pick of the week - Windrush

nb Windrush  - for sale with Wilton Marina
Originally: £44,950, Reduced To: £39,950

This is an older boat but it has sprayfoam insulation so we wouldn't discount it.  The price makes it an appealing proposition!  There would be a few things we'd want to change or add but there would be money in our budget to do those things.

Boat Type Traditional Style Narrow Boat
Where Lying Key 18
When Manufactured 1997
Length 60
Hull Manufacturer Paul Barber
Plating Specification 10/6/4mm
Flat, V-Hull or Keeled Flat
Fitted out by Adrian Hall
Cabin Height 6ft2"
Number Of Berths Six
Fixed Berths Cross double
Additional Berths Double dinette & double sofa bed

Engine Specifications & Components

Engine MakeDuffield Phoenix MC42 2150
No. Of CylindersFour
Keel, Water or Air CooledKeel cooled
Gearbox MakeTBA
Bow ThrusterYes
Diesel Tank Capacity45 Gallons

Hot Water & Heating Systems

Source of Hot WaterEngine
Central HeatingYes
Solid Fuel StoveBackboiler
Water Tank Capacity120 gallons
Material usedStainless steel

Electrical System & Components

12 Volt LightingYes
InverterSterling 1800 watt
Batteries3 domestic & 2 starter

Bathroom Specifications

Type Of ToiletSaniflo macerator & porta potti
Separate Shower FittedYes
Vanity Basin FittedYes

Kitchen Specification

Make & Model Of CookerValor Vanette GG7000
Separate HobVanette 4000/2
Microwave FittedYes
Make & Model Of FridgeFridgedaire
Gas, 12 volt or 240 volt12 volt

Fit Out Materials

Insulation UsedSpray foam
Types Of Wood UsedOak
Window TypesHopper
Materials UsedGold anodised
Bulls Eye, Pigeon Box or Houdini HatchHoudini hatch
Exterior DoorsSteel
Side HatchesYes

History Of Vessel

Boat Safety CertificateNovember 2013
Last Hull Blacking2009
Recent SurveyNo survey

Saturday 4 February 2012

Spare parts

Our next edition of Waterways World arrived today.  I was reading an article about someone who had their narrowboat spring a leak.  They mentioned that they always carried a spare bilge pump.

Now that got me thinking about what spare parts you should keep on hand on your boat.  Aside from a bilge pump!

I'm off on a mission to see what I can find out.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.