Friday 28 February 2014

Some more farewells

We got up early today as there was a full day ahead.  The washing machine was going while we had breakfast and by 9am we were over at the bridge where the services are.  Mick got started on the loo pumpout and I rang the marina office for someone to come over and fill our diesel tank.  Martin from nb Moriarty came over for a chat and jumped aboard for the mini cruise out the marina exit, along the canal, and back in the entrance to reverse onto our pontoon.  I think there was a bit of nervous anticipation about reversing into our mooring in the brisk breeze.  A job well done, Mick.

We had a visit from Claire and their little dog from nb Rose of Sharon.  Nice to meet you, Claire.  Missy the little cat down the pontoon came out to defend her territory when they tried to walk past.  I'm sure that cat thinks she's a dog.  It took some coaxing to convince the dog to walk past the hissing kitty.  It's so comical to see the tiniest cat I've ever seen hissing defensively at a dog who is scared of her.  Funny.

I took the two loads of washing up to the dryer and paid for the diesel top up and by the time we got back settled on the pontoon it was time for us to go back around the marina for coffee with Clare on nb Foxglove.  It's been lovely getting to know you Clare.  I've enjoyed our chats!  Mick even managed a photo of Clare and I before we left, giving Wish a final pat.

We collected the washing on our way back, put another load on while we had lunch and then a break before the next social engagement.  Time enough to pull apart the dinette seats to put the wheelie case away and a few bath towels for the Kiwis arriving in a few weeks time.  It still amazes me that we managed to stash our two suitcases and our cabin wheelie case under that one dinette seat.  This is a new wheelie case as the old one began to lose its stitching on this last trip to Germany.  It served me well since 1999 on so many flights so was due to be replaced.

Next was a cup of tea with Roly and Bev on nb Klara.  We've so much enjoyed your company, both in the marina and when we've met up on the cut.  Thanks so much Roly for all the times you've given us a lift, picked up coal, and taken us on an outing.  Just look at Phantom slouched over Roly as if he were his personal armchair.  We always get a giggle out of the way this dog likes to sit on Roly's lap.  Such a daddy's boy.

This evening Martin from nb Moriarty joined us for dinner. Cathy's away for a couple of days.  I promised her I wouldn't feed him unless he'd had a haircut and it was a little alarming to see there was no haircut in evidence this morning.  Thank goodness the problem was rectified by this evening.  What on earth would I have done when he arrived at the door?  Sent him home?!

Thursday 27 February 2014

Walk on the Downs

Andy and Jean mustn't be quite tired of us yet.  They asked if we'd like to come along for a walk around Downs Banks which is owned by the National Trust.  The morning was lovely with blue sky so off we went.  There was less wind than yesterday but it was definitely a bit chillier.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk up a couple of steep hills to walk along ridges with incredible views.  Dog walkers had their dogs racing about carrying long sticks.  What a popular place, and any wonder.  So close to town yet it feels like you're miles from anywhere.

We came back to meet up with Roly and Rob, then lunch and work.  Mick got on with his boaty chores... this time it was the waste pipes in bathroom and kitchen sinks.  I took the opportunity to sort out the kitchen cupboard under the sink once again.  The storage of our perspex double glazing screens is much neater now.  With the one we had for the side hatch (we decided it was unnecessary as our privacy blind does a fabulous job of keeping the condensation way) going up to the rubbish bins in the hope it might be of use to someone, and the odd one from our first double glazing attempt gone to Cathy the day before we now have just 4 of them all the exact same size.  They sit neatly in the slot beneath the gunwale that is meant for the dinette table when you use the dinette as a bed.  This dinette has a slatted panel that folds over to form the rest of the base rather than using the table as many of them do.

I sent an SMS to the boaters I had numbers for in the marina to say we were leaving a perspex sheet up at the rubbish area.  Mick picked up the sheet and the rubbish bag and headed off to take it there.  Before he'd even closed the pontoon gate the perspex was claimed by Dot so I raced out to call him back just as Dot emerged from their boat.  Good to know it will get some use! Sorry to the others who said they'd like it.  You just weren't quick enough!

This afternoon we had a farewell chat with Jim and Joan on nb Two Jays.  It's been great knowing you both.  We passed Clare and Wish on our way and have coffee planned for tomorrow.  Another farewell.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Holly Bush lunch

Today we had a lunch at the Holly Bush lined up with Andy and Jean.  Another "last". It was a work day so there were things to be done both before and after lunch.

This time I remembered to take photos of the pub to add to our memories on the blog. It was an enjoyable lunch but my Greek lamb was enough to feed two! What a waste!  Thanks Andy and Jean for mementoes to take home with us.  We won't forget you and your furry family.

I did my last couple of hours work while Mick went off for a wander to leave me in peace. I'd promised him a game of Canasta when I'd finished. He beat me!

There was even time to sort through my stationery stock and I passed on some unused bits and bobs to Jean.

We definitely feel we are winding down our adventure. Yesterday we spent some time choosing a washing machine and some other smaller appliances we need to buy when we get home.  Then when I got up early this morning because I couldn't sleep I stumbled upon a labrador rescue website. So many things to look forward to.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Join the queue

I had a good days work today. Very satisfying!

Mick got on to some maintenance chores... cleaning out the shower pump... re-doing some of the connections which didn't look too secure... checking the bilge.  With perfect timing Andy from nb Josephine said he was going to the chandlery for coal so Mick went along to get us some too and picked up a new hose to replace the one he had been trying to fix on the shower pump.

While he was out I heard the familiar chug of a "proper" narrowboat engine.  It was nb Foxglove returning from their jaunt into Stone. 

I had offered some vacuum storage bags and the Perspex sheet I'd used to cover a jigsaw puzzle on the dinette table to Cathy on nb Moriarty. In the afternoon she sent a message asking if it was a convenient time to come and collect them.  I had just packed away my work for the day so the timing was perfect.  A quick cuppa stretched on through the afternoon for an enjoyable catchup over beer and more coffee. Seems we might have some more guests lined up for the bungalow that's not even built yet back home!  We will so much look forward to see our boaty friends again once this adventure is over.

It looks like there's rain back at home.  The garden will be relieved!

Monday 24 February 2014

A blustery day

We slept late today...... Mick catching up on missed sleep from the night before when he was still feeling unwell.... and me awake half the night feeling awful.  By the middle of the day I felt better. We didn't do anything much all day.

It feels really quiet without Barry and Carol next door. They've gone off to Tenerife for two weeks.  Next time we meet will be on the cut.

We had a good chat with a couple who were checking out marinas and had driven from their home to look at this one.  They had seen it when they cruised past last year.  They had a look around the boat and we chatted about our respective cruising over the past year. It was great to meet you Richard and Linda!

This afternoon we had a look at our cruise guides to work out a plan for the next few weeks. We are looking forward to meeting up with our Kiwi friends. We will be on our way out of Manchester when they arrive but they'll have a hire car.  We need to keep moving on in order to reach Crick for the beginning of May if we haven't sold the boat by then.  It's starting to feel a bit more real... we are going to be parting ways with our floating home in a couple of months time!

Recipe : Courgette tart

Paul.... you guys will like this one!

When we were at Lynne's a few weeks ago we tried one of the recipes from her box of ingredients that came delivered.  We bought the ingredients ourselves last week and tried it again.  We love it!  It's one worth remembering so I thought I'd type our version of the recipe here so I can find it again. 

1 courgette (zucchini), sliced about 1/2cm thick
1 sheet pre-made puff pastry
2-3 tbsp diced sundried tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
3-4 tablespoons Philadelphia cheese
Small bag rocket
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of milk
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 200 degrees c (gas mark 6)
Toss the courgette slices in a little drizzle of olive oil
Fry the courgette in a pre-heated fry pan for a minute or so each side.  Don't overcrowd the pan, do it in batches.
Mix the Philly cheese with half the parmesan, and a little bit of milk to loosen it.
Lay the sheet of pastry on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.  I just roll the edges in to make it fit the tray so it has a slightly thicker border all the way round.
Spread the pastry with the Philly, sprinkle the tomatoes over, then lay the courgette slices in rows on the top.
Sprinkle the dried oregano over.
Grind some fresh salt and pepper over.
Bake in the over 15-20 minutes.
Mix the rocket with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground salt and pepper.
Once the tart is cooked, sprinkle the rocket over the top and then the remaining parmesan cheese.
Serve immediately!

Sunday 23 February 2014

Or is it she-flu

No sooner did Mick begin to feel better and I started coming down with his ailment. I've felt rotten for a day and a half now. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

This afternoon one of the nb Josephine kittens came to see what all the fuss was about while Mick was talking to Martin and Cathy from nb Moriarty about the fixing for our tv aerial. When I unzipped the cratch cover to look out and say hello to them the kitty leapt right in and went wandering all over the boat. After a while I thought maybe she would be missed but the little monkey wouldn't come when I called her and wasn't impressed with my attempt to catch her and put her out again. Eventually I coaxed her back out the cratch and she darted off home.

We are going to have to start saying goodbye to the folk we've met in the marina with less than a week til we go now.  We will have to head south to fill in a week or so because a bridge closure to the north will prevent us going that way until the 8th March.  So a visit to great Haywood then?

Friday 21 February 2014

A glorious afternoon

Mick was feeling slightly better this morning, having gone to bed at 7pm last night.  We decided to walk to Aldi late morning.  We kept fingers crossed that the rain would stay away and it did.  On our way back we encountered Andy and Jean coming the opposite way so stopped for a chat.  Next came Paul with Bombo and Sammy.   It was a good day for walking and with not too much rain lately the marina field wasn't too bad.

As the afternoon wore out the sun streamed in. It was just lovely inside.  A bit windy out though. I had another sort through the tardis cupboard behind my armchair and washed and ironed the new batch of quilt fabric I brought back from our trip.

The resident swans have been visiting regularly.... knocking on the side of the boat to get our attention.  We have even started closing the living room blind at night because if they are sitting on the hill on the other side of the marina entrance and see us walking around through the window they come rushing over and start knocking. The youngsters are long gone now.

I found our canal map. Orange was our cruise for 6 weeks at the end of 2012, pink was our cruise for 2013.  With just a few weeks of cruising left I'll have a bit more to add before the end.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Maybe man flu!

Mick has been feeling increasingly unwell today.. Perhaps the onset of a dose of man flu.

I worked most of the day with the sound of young Molly, Barry and Carol's granddaughter, giggling in the background. Her choice of ultimate treat for good behaviour was a sleepover on Nanny's boat.  She came knocking on our side hatch a few times.... to give us her cut out picture of us.... to show us her new clothes... and to say goodbye when it was time to go home. Such a cutie she is.

I've also nearly finished sorting the photos from our trip away and started putting them on the blog.  What a chore when there's so many days worth at once!

We have both been thinking of home today after watching "Wanted Down Under" on tv this morning. They were having a barbeque!  Goodness, if I could choose anything on earth for dinner right now it would have to be a proper Aussie barbeque!!

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Thinking of cruising

We are settled back in and preparing for our last stretch in the marina.  How exciting to be heading out again at the end of the month!

It was a quiet day yesterday of catching up with chores and me working. 

Today we decided to walk into Stone for the couple of items we forgot when we placed our Ocado order which came yesterday.  As we were locking up the boat to leave nb Moriarty cruised in the marina entrance after topping up their diesel.  We walked around to watch them moor up.... no pressure then.... and they came along for the walk into Stone.  It was right balmy as we walked and everyone was peeling their coats off!

We had a cup of tea with Carol this afternoon... printing their accomodation bookings and rumaging through storage containers in the hope of resolving their problem of their pram hood zip catching in the rear doors.  A couple of wooden beads did the trick.

Late afternoon was just glorious today.  The sky was blue with some puffy clouds and the marina surface was like glass.  We stood outside on the pontoon chatting to Barry and spied Missy and Milo, the little kitties from nb Josephine, romping along the newly built fence enclosing the cedar huts.  They noticed me looking at them and rushed down for attention.  They literally ran along the pontoon.  Such curious little guys they are, hopping on and off the boats along the pontoon.  Our rear door was open and Missy just strolled right in. 

Monday 17 February 2014

Back on deck

We went to say farewell to Claudia's parents who live across the road. Her dad handed me one of his hand made copper roses. Lovely!

Yesterday was a day of travel. An hour by car to the airport at Frankfurt, our flight to Birmingham, train to Stafford and then a cab to the marina. It all went like clockwork and we were back on the boat 2 1/2 hours after the plane touched down.  There was even time for coffee and a snack at the airport while we waited for the train and at Stafford I walked across to Tesco for milk and bread and stir fry ingredients for dinner.

In the cab on the way to the marina I couldn't help but notice how much greener the roadsides were compared to Germany. Our floating home was toasty warm thanks to Barry and Carol who lit the fire and put the central heating on. The unpacking was finished in the blink of an eye and we had a cup of tea and catch up next door.

It's good to be home!