Thursday 30 January 2014

His and Hers jobs

We are at our friend, Lynne's, place for a few days. Both of us have jobs to do.

This morning Mick got up early, ready to get started on the deck he and Lynne are building in her back yard. I got a bit of a sleep in...... now that's a change...... it's usually me up early to work while he sleeps on.  I walked the couple of miles into town this morning for a few bits and pieces. Most important was Vegemite that isn't stocked at Morrisons in Stone.  I almost got caught in the rain walking back carrying the shopping.  I was hoping that by the time I got back our packing boxes might have arrived and they had.

I spent the afternoon with Lynne's curious cats wrapping things in bubble wrap and carefully packing them in boxes. When I looked at all the piles of stuff around the boat I thought we would need three boxes but so far it is looking like everything will fit into two of them.  We have had great service from Anglo Pacific so far. I'm hoping the rest of the process goes as smoothly.

By the end of the day the deck's near on finished!  

ABNB and UKforex

Yesterday I finished gathering and packing up things to ship home. After lunch we played cards with Barry and Carol and I got a bit of work done. Lynne came to collect us, and our mountain of stuff, about 8pm and by the time we had a cup of tea and a catch up and drove back to her place it was near on 10pm.

We were talking.... again.... about when and how and with whom we should list the boat for sale when the time gets a little closer.  I have had emails from two other Aussie narrowboaters who have sold their boats through ABNB and they're both happy with how it went.  So that's what we have decided. We will aim to be at Crick for the end of April if we haven't found a buyer ourselves by then.

It got us wondering how we would send the funds back home again. We have used Ozforex to send money here to live on and I discovered there is also UKforex. I set up an account in preparation and they rang five minutes later to finish the account set up process. In the course of the conversation the very helpful fellow said if we already had an account with Ozforex he could just add permissions to use UKforex under the same account. No need for ID, no drama. Excellent!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Boaters tea party

There was a boaters gathering for Australia Day today. Diane and I put up the Aussie flags and everyone brought along appropriate goodies.... Anzac biscuits.... cheese and vegemite sandwiches.... lamingtons.... and Roly brought a cake with kangaroos on it!

We were all thinking of Elaine having her surgery today and it sounds like it has gone well.

Earlier in the day I got some work done and some more cupboard sorting. Our boat must surely be getting higher in the water and I suspect nb Winton's Folly will be a bit lower.  There's quite a few things being handed across.

1. Leanne's Aussie flag on the cedar hut (photo:Paul)
2. Cheers! (photo:Paul)
3. Sue (nb Festina Lente), Carol (nb Winton's Folly), Bev (nb Klara), Ray (nb Ferndale), Lyn (nb Valentine)
4. The cake
5. Andy (nb Festina Lente)
6. Gil (nb Shoehorn), Barb (nb Colombo II), Roly (nb Klara), Sue (nb Festina Lente and looking rather guilty?)
7. Aussie contingent cutting the cake


Monday 27 January 2014

Australia Day

It's Australia Day today.  Feels a bit strange on the other side of the world.  With tomorrow being Monday, there'll be an Aussie boaters afternoon tea so I've been busy baking Anzacs.  I've now tried three recipes since we've been in the UK and none of them taste quite right.  I think it's the golden syrup.  I've noticed the colour and taste is much lighter and the smell of the biscuits baking isn't as rich.  I guess nobody else (except the other Aussies) will know any different.

It was a rainy old day for the most part. During a lull in the bad weather we went for a good walk. I won't miss the mud when we go home.

We're in the throes of an enormous sort out of our belongings.  One by one each cupboard or storage spot is being turned upside down. We will be sending a couple of boxes of stuff home next week.  It's amazing the quantity of items that fit into the cupboards on the boat!  I found the box of "Australiana" for tomorrow.... flags etc to hang up around the cedar hut. It's Diane and my job to do the decorating.

Mick is looking forward to his decking job at Lynne's and is off tomorrow to sort out some materials. I think it's made him feel useful. He does love work.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Thunder and lightening

We had a quiet day yesterday. A walk. Cupboard sorting.  We are going to Lynne's next Tuesday and I will take a suitcase of stuff to ship back home and box it up while we are there. I have also been putting aside some linen etc for our NZ friends coming in March to spend 10 months in a motor home.  We are getting down to the bare bones now and there isn't cupboards bulging any more.  Phew!

This morning Mick went to Stone and arrived back just as I was heading out to walk to Aldi so he came along too.  We picked up a few bits and pieces and enjoyed the walk.  It was lunchtime when we got back and that was good timing. The sky began to darken soon after and about 2pm came a brief but intense storm with thunder, lightening and hail.  The wind was unbelievable and I stood out under the pram cover to watch.  Barry and Carol were next door watching too.  The hail stones were being blown hard against the back of the boat and the cratch at the front had hail stones inside - they'd been forced by the wind beneath the flap of the cratch cover down the side of the boat.  We have only heard thunder once before since we've been here. It happens far more often at home.  The photos below (last one borrowed from Paul) don't do justice to intensity of the storm.  When it was over the sky cleared and all that was left was what looked like snow on the gunwales of each boat.

Later in the afternoon Mick turned the tv on.  Nothing. What followed was a chaotic 2 hours of frantically trying to work out what wrong.  Barry came in to try and help. The floor was a muddle of cables and plugs and adapters. We tried both our tv aerials and both televisions, swapping cables and connections, and with me scurrying from bow to stern to try the bedroom tv. Nothing. Eventually, through a slow process of elimination we discovered we had one faulty cable and it's likely that the signal booster got damaged during the storm.  We have tv tonight using a cable bypassing the wired in system. The reception is fine without the signal booster.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Aussie products

I don't really use Facebook but do have an account to keep in touch with some overseas friends and look at photos. Today I was browsing and noticed Sue from nb Festina Lente had posted a link to an online store that sells Aussie products.

Someone had asked me the other day what foods we miss from home and I said we can pretty much get everything here.  We even order Vegemite from Ocado.  But.... looking at the online store reminded me of so many things we don't see even if we hardly ever buy them at home....  Tim Tams, Arnotts Mint Slice, Caramello Koalas, Butter Menthol, Cruskits, Chicken in a Biskit, Kraft peanut butter, Milo (although we still have some left), Weet Bix, and dip made from Philly and Continental French a Onion soup mix.  They all suddenly sound so much more appealing than when they were in the supermarket aisles each week.

I wonder what English supermarket items we will miss when we get home?!

Friday 24 January 2014


This morning we had a trip to Morrisons by car as Barry and Carol had a couple of hours spare before returning their hire car. Excellent!

Then we had an hour spare before the next engagement.  We had a text message the other day from Andy and Jean asking us to lunch at The Holly Bush in Salt (funny name for a village) today.   What a lovely pub it is. The lunch was good and with such great company we thoroughly enjoyed the outing.  On the way back we stopped at Burston and wandered down to the canal there for a look. It's a gorgeous little village.... if you can call it that.  It is more a collection of houses around a pretty pond.

With it being a sunny afternoon we came back to the marina for a change of shoes and the four of us went for a good walk. Thanks for a great afternoon Andy and Jean.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Where's the Winter?

Another mild day today. We are beginning to wonder where the Winter is although there has been talk of snow next week. We'll see.  The forecast for the next few days looks mild enough but a bit of rain on the horizon.

Mick went off for a walk this morning, leaving me to work in peace.  This afternoon I took the rubbish across to the bins, stopping for a chat with Dot on the way back. I hadn't seen her for a while. Clare from nb Foxglove appeared along the marina driveway returning from taking Wish for a walk. She came in for a cup of tea and a good natter. Wish came in for some attention!

I walked Clare home to collect our spare tv aerial that she and Roy had tried out on their boat and by then it was beginning to drizzle.  The days are getting a bit longer and it is still light at 4.30 and later.  I love the marina on a still evening.  These photos were from Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Kiwis calling

Today we walked into Stone to post a couple of items.  First we saw Jo from nb Gentle Presence who works at the Co Op. Next was Gil from nb Shoehorn waiting at the checkout. Goodness..... we are starting to feel like locals.

We decided to have a coffee at Costa and there it continued with seeing Roly and Bev from nb Klara who came in to join us and five minutes later in came Tony and Hazel with guide dog puppy Zia.  We had only been in Stone for half an hour!

The walk back to the marina was enjoyable despite the chill in the air.

Roly came by later on the hunt for something Aussie, more coffee and more chat.  A very sociable day it was and at Mick's speed of just a couple of people at a time.  Perfect.

The big excitement for the day is our NZ friends Clive and Marie, as well as their grown up kids Kyle and Charissa will be arriving in Manchester on 25th March.  They will be embarking on their second grand adventure. They've already done 18 months around the USA in a motor home a few years ago. Now they've bought one here in England and they will do 10 months around England and Europe. We are so thrilled that everything's come together for them before we leave. We won't have a huge amount of time to spend with them as we will be aiming for Crick by end April (unless we've sold Parisien Star before then). But still, it's lovely that they will get to come cruising. Awesome news guys. We can't wait to see you all.

Recipe - Linguine with Crab

Adapted from the little £5 recipe mag. We made this the other week and it was really good so we want to remember this one.
This is the recipe to serve 4 - we halved it.

4 garlic bread slices (we had none so spread garlic from a jar onto a couple of pieces of wholemeal toast)
400g dried linguine pasta 
4/5 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 x 170g tins crab meat
Juice of 1 lemon

Toast garlic bread slices under grill until golden.  Whiz in food processer to make coarse crumbs.
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water according to packet instructions.
Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and chilli and cook over high heat for 1-2mins.
Stir in half the parsley and all the crab meat, cook gently for 1-2mins then add lemon juice.
Turn off heat from frypan.
Drain pasta and toss it into the crab mixture, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and toss through remaining parsley.
Divide between four bowls and sprinkle generously with garlic bread crumbs.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Stitching, stitching

Mick walked into Stone this morning while I was meant to be working.  I spied Carol through the window and she came over for a cup of tea while Barry was off to the dentist. So much for getting work done!  The boys returned to find us gossiping at the dinette. 

Lunchtime came before we knew it and I still hadn't done any work at all.  Where does the time go?!  I went up to the cedar huts for an hour at afternoon tea.  A very quiet one it was, perhaps the others have all returned to their pub visits on Monday afternoons.  It was nice to have a quiet chat with Gil and Barb.  Gil, thanks for the little book.

So then I really did have to get some more work done. Perhaps there'll be a bit of catching up tomorrow and Wednesday.

With the snooker having been on all week, I've had plenty of time for stitching my quilt.  I've made good progress and just hope I can keep it up when we get home.  I'm almost on track now to get this project finished in 10 years like I hoped.... almost.  I also have in mind to send the fabric home that I won't need for the remaining few months of our trip so have been busy cutting so I've got plenty to do until June.

Monday 20 January 2014

A labrador fix

Roly asked us a couple of weeks ago if we'd like to come along with him to a dog show at the Stafford show grounds.  We've never been to one before so gladly accepted.

We've never seen so many dogs in one place and best of all there was an entire arena of labradors.  We spent a happy hour in there patting dogs and chatting to owners.  Thanks Roly, we enjoyed our morning out.

This afternoon is the final of the snooker masters so that'll be the day gone then!

Sunday 19 January 2014

Day out with Andy and Jean

We had a lovely day out today with Andy and Jean from nb Josephine.  They were going shopping and to check out Dobbies Garden Centre, kindly inviting us along.

I got some work done first while Mick pottered about.  Barry knocked on the window telling me to come out and pat some puppies. It was Tony with Breeze and today he had his wife Hazel along with guide dog puppy, Zia.  Mick was enjoying making a fuss of the dogs and it was nice to meet the new addition to the family.

We headed out with Andy and Jean about 11am, first to Stafford. We hadn't checked out the museum in the centre of town so did that while they did their shopping.  It was worth a visit to see the fabulous old building.  There were amazing old 250 year old wallpapers preserved in small sections.  After a quick stop in Asda we went on to the garden centre. We had a good browse and then sat in the restaurant for lunch and a chat.

It was a great chance to get out and as usual we enjoyed Andy and Jean's company.  Thanks so much guys!

A bit of a photo catch up from the other day with a couple of the breezy morning Barry and Carol came back into the marina.