Saturday, 31 December 2011

Is 2012 to be "a big year"?

Another year gone.  I have a good feeling about 2012 and hope it will be a positive year for us.  We're hoping it will be what we call "a big year" in our lives.  We've had one of those before.

1999.  That was a big one!  After years of debilitating pain I finally relented and had a hysterectomy at the ripe old age of 30.  No more pain, but no kids either.  It took a long time to reach the point of making that decision but by the time we got there we both felt very positive about it.  We'd done everything we could and it was time to move on. 

The week I got home from hospital I had a phone call from my old boss (the nice one) asking if I'd work for him again.  Yes! It was just what I needed and within weeks of my surgery I was back at work full time.  Immediately our financial woes were eased.  It was like starting a new life.

Mick, bless him, suggested I should go to Germany to spend some time with my long time friend.  I even got to join my friend and her family on their holiday on the Bay of St Tropez - the French Riviera no less!

We had only taken weekends away for years as we didn't have money for a holiday, we hadn't been able to afford for Mick to take unpaid time off work, and I was worried about being too far from home in case of the need for a rush to the hospital emergency department.  So, with the ability to now save some money and the need to find something to occupy us while our friends brought up their families we decided to buy a weekender to renovate. What a life changing decision that was to be. 

Here we are again on the brink of what we hope will be another year of change in our lives.  We're going to think positive.  I already have a new job to start next week.  We'll sell our house, we'll find a great tenant for the house up the street (which will eventually be our home), we'll find someone to rent some storage space out at the big shed and..... in September we'll take off on the adventure of a lifetime.  It WILL happen.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas news

We have some exciting Christmas news.... my brother and his wife are expecting their second baby.   Looking forward to the middle of the year and being an auntie again.
Congratulations Jeff & Kate!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Recipe - Christmas Truffles

1 packet Marie biscuits (or plain malt biscuits)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup dessicated coconut

Crush the biscuits - either in a plastic bag and then wrapped in a tea towel and bashed with a rolling pin, or use a food processor.
Place biscuit crumbs, cocoa and 1/4 cup of coconut in a bowl and stir through condensed milk until well combined.
Refrigerate the mixture for half an hour to make handling easier.
Roll mixture into balls and then roll in coconut.
Chill for at least 2 hours.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Recipe - Pavlova

Pavlova is a true Aussie favourite although it's origins are well debated - the Kiwi's claim it as theirs! Either way it's a dessert I remember well from my childhood. My Auntie Cheryl was the pavlova queen. I knew if we were having a family get together that she'd bring pavlova. I don't see her much now but when I do see her (like at my brother's recent wedding) I'm immediately reminded of the good old pav.
My new sister in law and I decided we'd make it our dessert for Christmas Day. Toppings can vary but the two most typical in Australia would have to be either crumbled Peppermint Crisp bar, or banana, kiwifruit and strawberry. They look so good together those three fruit and that's what we've decided on.

This recipe is from :

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 6 (59g) eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups (270g) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 2 tbs icing sugar mixture, sifted
  • Finely shredded rind and juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Lady finger bananas, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 3 golden kiwifruit, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 starfruit, thinly sliced
  • Pulp of 2-3 passionfruit


  1. Preheat oven to 120°C. Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 24cm-diameter circle on foil.
  2. Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to forms little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake in oven for 11/2 hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.
  3. Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Pour lime juice into a ceramic or glass bowl. Add banana slices and toss to coat with juice. Drain. Decorate pavlova with banana, kiwifruit, starfruit, passionfruit and lime rind.

  1. Decorate

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to our family, friends, and readers. We hope you all had a great day!

For us it's been a typical Aussie Christmas - the weather has been hot!  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my brother, his wife, and my stepmother.  My other brother and his wife stayed home at the last minute.  My little nephew wasn't well so they spent the day quietly at home rather than endure 2 1/2 hours in a hot car with a sick baby.  We missed them but had an enjoyable couple of days.

This side of my family seems to alternate between doing the seafood Christmas dinner and having a slightly more traditional meal.  This year we got out our Weber barbeque and roasted pork and also a beef fillet.  We had intended to roast potatoes and pumpkin but when I was at my mum's the other day I flipped through one of her magazines and saw a recipe for a warm potato salad that looked delicious.  We decided to make the salad instead of roasting potatoes.  So we had beans, pumpkin and warm potato salad with a fresh baked loaf of bread.  Not terribly "Australian" as far as Christmas goes but it was a lovely lunch.  I'll have to scan the recipe for that salad.  It was worth keeping!

We had pavlova for dessert and made a Christmassy ice cream that we were too full to eat. We all sat up and watched a movie Christmas night and woke this morning to a much cooler day.  Big relief.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Recipe - Summer Pudding

This is one of my typical Christmas favourites.  It's a great alternative to hot pudding in our Aussie heat.  Frozen berries work just as well but I always use fresh strawberries.  Any combination of berries is fine

Summer Pudding
Ingredients : 
2 punnets Strawberries
2 punnets Raspberries
2 punnets Blueberries
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup water
10 slices white bread, crusts removed

Method :
Wash & trim berries and put into a saucepan with the water & sugar.
Simmer for about 5 minutes until softening and juices become a little syrupy. Remove from heat.
Line a pudding basin with cling wrap, leaving enough overhanging to cover the top.  Use a pastry brush to "paint" one side of the bread with juice from the berries and place the bread juice side down to line the basin
Pour fruit and 1/2 the juice into the lined basin.  Reserve the other half of the juice for serving.
Use more bread to make a 'lid' for the pudding going all the way to the edge.  
Cover the top with overhanging cling wrap.
Place a small plate on top and weight it down (you could use large tins of fruit/soup).
Refrigerate both the pudding and the reserved juice overnight.
To serve, open the clingwrap and upend pudding onto a plate.
Pour the reserved juice over the top. 
Serve with cream.

Friday, 23 December 2011

The eve of Christmas Eve

Work is over for the year, with today being Friday the eve of Christmas Eve.  It was hot today - nearing 35 degrees at my mum's!

Mick and I went to Melbourne yesterday to have lunch with his mum and sister who are over from New Zealand.  As usual he grumbled about the traffic and the crowds.  He's turning into a "country bumpkin"!

Today I had a Christmas lunch at my mum's - my sister, her partner and 3 kids came up from Melbourne.  Mum and I prepared an Aussie seafood lunch.  We had a huge pile of tiger prawns, smoked trout, and salmon mousse with a couple of nice salads.  Things went pretty much as they usually do when we're having lunch with my sister.  She said she'd be there around 11am to check in at the motel just a few doors down and then come to mum's to eat.  I got there just after 11am and Mum and I sorted out the food.  At midday we were waiting... and waiting... and waiting... 12.30... 1.00.... 1.20 I get a text message saying they are still more than an hour away!  Would have been nice to know at 11am that they hadn't even left the house more than two hours away.

I had intended to do my last Christmas groceries after lunch and on my way home so they wouldn't be left in the car too long.but with them being this late Mum hustled me out the door to get them done while we waited.  I returned at 2pm to squeeze my groceries into mum's already full fridges and we waited some more.  Eventually at 2.30 they arrived and with the messing around of unpacking, the kids being excited and getting the food out of the fridge it was 3pm by the time we sat down to lunch! 

We have my brother and his wife coming up tomorrow to spend a couple of days with us and on Christmas day my other brother and his family and my stepmum will come for the day.

I thought I might post some of our Aussie Christmas recipes.  Coming up!

Mick had "end of work drinks" this evening so he's early to bed and a little tipsy.  I'm watching a girlie movie with the kookaburras laughing loudly outside the back door.  It feels like Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2011

A new job !

My working life hasn't been easy for me this year.  I left my long term job only to be dragged back into it against my better judgement.  This hasn't been terribly successful with problems over the stressful boss and certainly not enjoyable.  The old stress has crept back up.  I've been removing myself from this situation over the last couple of months and asked the nice boss for a reference so I could look for alternative employment.

Meanwhile I've been working one day a week at another little job which I'm enjoying.  It's just a pity it isn't enough to keep the bills paid!  It's likely this work will be something I can do while we're on our narrowboat.

So.... last Thursday I decided to look at what might be available on some of the online job search pages.  Most of the jobs listed are full time and I really only want another 2 or 3 days a week.  One caught my eye.  It was 3 days a week and in a town about 40 minutes away.  The only problem was that the advertisement had been listed over a week before.  I didn't think it likely I'd have much luck applying so late but figured there was nothing to lose.  I quickly printed out my resume and an application letter and raced down to the post office to get it in the mail before the close of business.  Friday morning I received a phone call asking when I could come in for an interview.  We made a time for Monday (today).

I was pleased with the interview and felt I got along well with both the business owner and his wife.  The job was just what I was looking for and it seemed I was just what they were looking for.  Very promising.  My old boss rang me this afternoon to tell me that they had called him for a reference and he'd said "all positive things".  Even more promising.  Late this afternoon the phone call came.... I have the job, starting 5th January!

Recipe - Corn salsa

I'm posting this as a recipe so that I don't forget about it but really we just threw some leftovers in a bowl and it ended up tasting good!

Corn cob (stripped)
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes
1/2 Avocado
2 Spring onions
Dressing : juice 1/2 lemon, crushed garlic clove, olive oil, cracked black pepper

I grilled the corn cob whole in a dry frying pan and once it was almost cooked through I added the tomatoes to the pan until they were slightly charred. Mick cut the corn from the cob and we tossed it into a big bowl with the chopped tomatoes, some avocado and a couple of sliced spring onions.  We made up a small amount of dressing with the juice of half a lemon leftover from the night before, a crushed garlic clove, a splash of olive oil and cracked black pepper.  Everything got a good mix in the bowl and we ate it on toasted bruschetta. 

We've discovered packaged bruschetta in the bread section at the supermarket.  It has a long shelf life and the pieces are fairly flat so they fit in the toaster.  They are a great backup!

Friday, 16 December 2011


Every year the weather conditions vary and each season the conditions seem to be perfect for something!  Sometimes it's nasties like locust swarms or harlequin bug infestions.  Maybe it's the germination of blackberry seeds dropped by birds (blackberries are a noxious weed in Australia).  Last year we had an incredible crop of blood plums, this year the raspberries are in abundance.

We also have something this year that I don't ever recall seeing before.  Thousands and thousands of butterflies!  Everywhere we go we see them, not just a few at a time but dozens of them fluttering around.  We seem to drive through clouds of them. What an amazing sight.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Pick of the week - Louisa Kay

This one is with Aqueduct Brokerage and is already sold.  nb Louisa Kay!

I did a little research on John White, the builder, the name sounded familiar.  I found him mentioned in this 10 year old article by Jim Shead but the link to the John White website doesn't work so maybe he's no longer in business.   I also found him mentioned in a comment on my own blog!  That's why the name was familiar.  Click here to read the comment.

2003 57FT SEMI TRAD £45,950

Built by John White, Louisa Kay is a spacious go anywhere boat with conventional layout. Complete with 3.5KW Generator and large Beta Marine 43HP engine perfect for river use. She has been fully shotblasted and repainted up to holding coat.
From a covered well-deck, steel doors lead down into the cabin area. Lined in ash tongue and groove with sapelle trimming, the saloon is open plan with L-shaped dinette converting to double bed and separate double settee. Both seating areas provide storage underneath and are situated opposite a television cabinet and solid fuel stove on a tiled hearth. Continuing aft, a U-shaped galley follows on from the saloon area and is fully equipped with 12V fridge, oven, grill and hob with sink and drainer neatly set into worktops. Cupboards underneath worktops provide generous storage space with shelving above.
A corridor passes down the starboard side past a pullman dinette converting to double bed and separate shower room with pump out toilet, large shower enclosure and vanity unit with inset ceramic basin. At the rear, the bedroom with fixed double bed provides plenty of storage including overhead cupboard with reading lights, under bed storage with double robes at the foot providing full height hanging space.
Louisa Kay would make perfect holiday boat and would be suitable for extended cruising or as a liveabord
Shell construction
Hull built by John White. Reported as 10,6,5,4 hull and superstructure. Covered semi trad stern with bow cratch and cover. Steel side doors are located opposite galley area.
Engine / Gearbox
Powered by a Beta Marine 43hp diesel engine with PRM 150 hydraulic gearbox 2:1 reduction.
Fully compliant with BSC Till April 2015 and Licence Till 31st March 2012
Style / Layout
Conventional layout consisting of saloon, galley, pullman dinette, bathroom, bedroom from bow to stern. Lined throughout in solid ash tongue and groove with ash veneered hull sides. The panelling is trimmed in sapelle hardwood giving a nice contrast. Large hopper windows positioned throughout.
Eberspacher diesel boiler with programmable controller supplying three radiators and towel rail in bathroom.  Morso Squirrel solid fuel stove in saloon on tiled hearth in saloon area.
Electrical systems
3 x new leisure batteries + 1 x starter Battery. 45Amp & 150Amp alternators with third generator alternator supplying a 3.5KW Travel Pack. A 1800W Sterling inverter with separate 30Amp intelligent charger provides 230V power to sockets throughout. The intelligent charger maintains batteries whilst attached to shoreline connection.
Plumbing systems
Large stainless steel water tank positioned under well deck supplies fresh water to cabin. Spacious shower enclosure and Vetus pump out toilet.Twin coil calorifier stores hot water heated by engine cooling system. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Australian Canal Society

I stumbled across this website a while ago.  An Australian Canal Society!  We'll have to join up!!
It seems they have get togethers in Sydney and also Australians meeting up in the UK.

Is there anybody reading who is a member?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Update all round

Where are we now with all the things going on in our lives?

The house up to the road is looking great.  I'll have to take some updated photos.  Mick's done a fabulous job freshening it all up.  There is some large expenditure looming and that might have to wait a while but it's not holding up progress yet.

We still haven't sold our house.  We had a promising prospect that went on and on over quite a few weeks.  There were 3 inspections and lots of phone calls but no offer.  Now their circumstances have changed so they are out of the picture.  Darn!  We have a second inspection lined up for next Friday for a lady who came to look this week so fingers crossed on that one.

Coco keeps getting slower.  Her twice daily walks are get shorter and shorter and a couple of times she hasn't been interested in an afternoon walk.  Unheard of for her!  The vet says it's only a matter of time as the fluid in her lungs isn't draining well any more.  At the moment she's still happy though.

I've been trying to find some local work but the timing isn't good.  I'm hoping it will be easier once Christmas is over.  I still have my day, or so, per week in the city which I enjoy.  Better than nothing.

Today we went and got a small Christmas tree.  We're "real tree" people but we didn't want one crowding our back room and making it look smaller than it is.  We've put in in a different place than usual which means we can't look at it if we sit down to watch tv but it keeps the room open - a sacrifice we decided to make with the house being on the market.

We had a possible tenant for the shed where we are storing our belongings.  There's heaps of empty space and this fellow had to move out of his current rented workshop.  He contacted the guy we own the shed with.  At first it sounded promising so we arranged to meet out there.  We had a talk before we got there about what would and wouldn't be acceptable.  I had a feeling that this guy was going to "live" in his workshop space without telling us - how would we know when we aren't there at night?  He's separated and we just couldn't find out from small town gossip where he lived or planned to live.  We all decided that we didn't want somebody living out there.  During our discussion with the fellow I said straight out that we didn't want someone living in the shed.  He nodded.  Later in the conversation he asked if there was a shower available.  When he saw the three of us look at each other he started saying that he often worked very late (like 2am!) and might just sleep in his workshop.  I repeated that we didn't want someone living there.  Oh no, he said.... just a couple of nights a week.  We talked about parking - his car, his truck, his forklift.  Then he asked where he could park his bus.  What bus?  He's fitting out a bus as a mobile home.  The whole thing was starting to sound very much like living there!!  Along with the 2am finishes (not nice for the neighbours next door when his workshop door would face their house), the fact that he was a smoker and fobbed off our concern about fire hazards in a timber workshop, and the fact that at the previous workshop contents had spread out all over the yard of the place he rented, we decided he wasn't the right tenant for us.  Oh well.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Pick of the week - no name

This boat is listed with Boat Finder Brokerage.  I imagine she must have a name, having been built in 2004, but the advertisement doesn't mention the name and it doesn't appear to be written on the boat.  It seems this boat hasn't had a lot of use with only 300 hours on the engine.  There's a couple of things we'd need to do like a washing machine and possibly changing the dinette to a Pullman and turning the bed around.

It's a nice looking boat, with a not flashy colour (we'd rather not flashy!) and appears to have been well cared for by it's owners.  At £49,995 the price is right too.   Click here

Built in 2004
Semi-Trad style

Quality steelwork with beautiful ash fit-out by Stenson Boatbuilders.
Spray foam insulation behind the cabin linings.
Concrete slabs beneath the floorboards.
Overall Length: 57’
Cabin Length: 45’ 4”
Width: 6’ 10”
Interior Headroom: 6’ 6”
Well Deck: 4’
Draught 1’ 9”

Port side: 3 x windows with top hopper style opening vents. 1 x set of steel side doors, wood lined internally. 2 x portholes with opening vents.
Starboard side: 3 x windows with top hopper style opening vents. 2 x portholes with opening vents.
Front: Hardwood half glazed front doors.
Rear: Steel rear doors, wood panelled internally with sliding roof hatch.
1 x 15kg Propane cylinder housed in the bow locker, provides gas to the cooker.
450 litre stainless steel water tank located beneath the well deck. Water pump with pressure switch and accumulator is located in the front cupboard. Twin coil calorifier is heated by the engine heat exchanger and/or the diesel fired central heating boiler.
Heating is provided by the Mikuni diesel fired central heating boiler running 3 radiators.
240v circuit from landline with RCD.
12v lights throughout protected by fuses.
2 x 12v, 50/80 amp/hr engine driven alternators.
1 x 12v, 110 amp/hr engine start battery.
4 x 12v, 110 amp/hr deep cycle leisure batteries.
Victron 3kw inverter/charger.

FIRE SAFETY 3 x 1kg Dry Powder extinguishers
1 x Fire Blanket
The boat was painted when built using quality coach enamels by Stenson Boatbuilders and has been well maintained. The boat was last docked for blacking in October 2010. The hull is protected by black bitumen and 4 anodes.
The boat comes equipped with a normal cruising inventory including a full set of ropes and fenders. Any additional items not listed must be negotiated separately with the owner.
The boat is powered by a Barrus Shire 2000cc, 4 cylinder, diesel engine coupled to a PRM 120 hydraulic gearbox with 2:1 reduction, turning the propeller. The exhaust is lagged, silenced and vents out from under the side deck. The engine powers twin 12v alternators to charge the start battery and the 4 leisure batteries.


Thinking of a UK Winter

We were talking narrowboats the other night... yes, I know, we spend a lot of time talking about them... and realized that this time next year we may be heading into our first UK Winter.  With the Aussie Summer upon us I thought I might find a "narrowboat in the snow" photo for my laptop background.  I searched on the net and found some fabulous photos.  I noticed that almost all the photos I liked had come from one source and that I'd probably seen them all before - the blog written by Fiona and John on nb Epiphany.

I emailed Fiona to ask if it's ok to put their photos on my blog and she made this comment "the snow last year was the worst we have ever encountered on the canals so maybe you won't have it so bad when you come over".  So bad?  What do you mean? We want snow!!  Now I know all you folk who live on your narrowboats will probably think we're crazy to wish for snow, and I know it will rarely look as pretty as these pictures.  I know it gets muddy and slushy when the snow melts.  We just want to experience it all.  Watch this space..... we might one day be complaining about the cold and the snow!

Meanwhile, here's what we're looking forward to.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Free Kindle books

I was talking to one of the girls at our 4-10pm sewing group about Kindle book readers.  She told me about these websites where you can find free ebooks!

The main thing to be aware of is that sometimes the books are only free for a limited time.  If you click on the book to buy it you need to check that the price is still zero.

This one has a list of free books plus links to other ways of finding books for free.  The list is updated every day at least  There are also email alerts available.

This is Amazon's list of their top 100 free books.  It's worth trawling through.
Amazon - Top 100 Free Kindle books

Happy reading!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Inspection frustration

Saturday 10am our agent rang to say they'd booked an inspection for 3pm that day.  Woohoo!!!  The first new inspection since mid October.  Mick came home (from the house up the street) and he did outside while I did inside.  The verandahs were swept, the gravel paths raked, the chook house cleaned out, the shed tidied, the cobwebs swept, the garden given a once over.  The cupboards were tidied, the cobwebs wiped down, everything dusted, wiped, swept, scrubbed.  I packed up my entire desk and put all confidential client documents away in a cupboard.  The place was spotless - not that it isn't clean and tidy all the time but it got a "Summer clean".  We make sure we're out of the house half an hour before the inspection time as we got caught out once with the people turning up 25 minutes before and sat outside in their car waiting. Just after 2.15pm Mick was back up the road,  I had the back seat of the car covered with a rug to take Coco with me (she can't even walk as far as the house up the street now!) and the agent rang to say the people just called and they can't make it!  Noooooo!!!!!!  

This is the second time this has happened to us with an inspection being cancelled less than an hour before, and another time they just didn't show up.  It definitely isn't as easy to make a time to see a house when it's a couple of hours away from the city but why don't they ring earlier.  Surely they know more than 2 hours before that they aren't going to get here! 

It is nice to have the house spotlessly clean but I had other things to do. Ho hum.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Pick of the week - Aotearoa

Nb Aotearoa is listed with ABC Boat Sales for £55,000.  Click here.  Very appropriate as Mick grew up in the land of the long white cloud!

We like the dark green paintwork, and the standard layout.  This boat has everything we need but it isn't the cheapest of boats for its age.

Year :  2004
Length : 58ft
Stern : Traditional
Shell Manufacturer : Severn Valley Boat Centre
Fitout : Severn Valley Boat Centre
Hull Material : Steel
Thickness : 10/6mm
Cabin Material : Steel
Thickness : 5mm
Engine : Yanmar Shire Model 2002E
Interior : Forward open plan saloon with bubble stove, storage, TV unit, 2 Elite leather reclining chairs & footstools.
Galley : Vanette Oven, grill & hob, Waeco fridge, LG 800w microwave, sink, worktops & storage.
Dinette : pullman double.
Bathroom : hip bath with shower over, basin, Thetford cassette toilet C-200 (3 cassettes), Zanussi washing machine.
Rear fixed double with wardrobe & storage.
Fit out in light oak veneer.  Spray foam insulated.
Last blacked : 2008.
Anodes fitted : 4 x 2.5kg in 2004.
Engine hours : 1985.
Last serviced at 1920 hours by owner.
Heating : Diesel heating by Harworth Heating Bubble to 3 radiators.
Hot water : immersion heater & calorifier on engine.
Electrical Systems : 12v system with 1 starter & 3 domestic batteries. Sterling 30A battery charger, Rutland 913 wind generator &2 x 40w solar panels with Marlec controller. 240v Sterling 1.8kw inverter, 3.5kw rating. Electrolux engine driven generator. Split charging. Galvanic isolator. Shoreline.
Capacities : Fuel – 190 litres. Water – 455 litres. Propane gas – 2 x 13kg cylinders.
Other items included in sale : Marine VHF radio, radio/CD player, TV aerial & amplifier, Lifebuoy, anchor & warp, mooring ropes, hooks, pins, etc.

Home exchange, narrowboat exchange

We spend our Sunday mornings browsing and talking narrowboats.  This morning I stumbled across a page on the Canal Junction website.  I had seen this page before but had forgotten all about it.  It's a page of advertisements for people wanting to exchange their narrowboat or to exchange their house for a narrowboat holiday.

In 2007, for Mick's first trip to England, we exchanged our home with a lovely lady in Leamington Spa for 5 weeks.  The whole experience was great and I think it could be a great way to have a narrowboat holiday too.  We will have to keep this in mind for the future - once we've lived our narrowboat dream.  It might be a way for us to get back on the canals for holidays.

It's worth a look at the exchange websites - even just out of interest.  There are such amazing properties on offer around the world.

Narrowboat exchange :
Canal Junction Boat Exchange

Home exchange :
Home Exchange
Home Link

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Pick of the week - Lilly's Girl

In view of the declining real estate market, we got talking about what we'd do if we don't get a good price for our house.  It's looking increasingly likely!  We've been looking at boats we could get for around the £45,000 mark and this morning we stumbled across this one.  Scope for a bit of improvement!

Nb Lilly's Girl is listed with Great Haywood Boat Sales : Click here.  She's a bit dated and there's quite a few things we'd change but at £33,950 there would be room in the budget.  When we first thought of spending some time afloat we had toyed with the idea of buying a lined sailaway but Mick decided he didn't know enough about boats to tackle a project that size (and where would we live in the meantime?) but improving a slightly older boat would give him something to do.  One of the main drawbacks of an older boat is that few of them have spray foam insulation.  My research, and advice from several boaters, has suggested that we should make spray foam insulation a "must have" on our list. 

We were pleasantly surprised to see that this 1999 narrowboat has sprayfoam.  She might not be our first choice in boat style but when it all boils down, we know we'll only have our boat for a year or two.  We might be fussier if it was something we planned on keeping for 5 or 10 years.  I'd prefer a reverse layout so that's a big plus on this boat.

Things we'd change : toilet, shower, remove dividers between galley and saloon, put in a pair of single dinettes in place of the sideboards, the tiled galley walls, the wall lining in saloon and bedroom, central heating.  There appears to be a bit of a sag in the ceiling near the rear hatch so that would need attention too.  Overall I think we could make this boat into a comfortable floating home.

Length : 60ft
Stern : Semi Trad
Price : £33,950
Year : 1999
Plating Specification : Steel 10/6/4
Flat V-Hull Or Keeled : Flat
Built by : South Port Boats
Fitted out by : South Port Boats
Source Of Hot water : Calorifier/ immersion/ back boiler
Central Heating : Back boiler
Solid fuel stove : Yes
Water tank capacity : 624 Litres
Engine make : Beta 1903
No of cylinders : 4
Keel, water, air cooled : Keel
Gear box make : PRM 260
Bow Thruster : Vetus (not working)
Diesel tank capacity : 200 Litres
12 Volt : Yes
240V landline : Yes
Inverter : 2000w
Generator : Beta 3.5kva
Batteries : 1 starter, 3 leisure & 1 for bow thruster
Type of toilet : Porta pottie
Bath/Shower fitted : Shower over bath
Vanity Basin : Yes
Fixed Berths : Fixed double
Cooker : Yes
Fridge : Yes 240v
Additional Notes : Washing machine, Front cratch cover, reverse layout, spray foam insulation, laminate flooring.


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Congratulations Anthony & Leanne!

My younger brother got married last Saturday! We were so glad they had a lovely day and the weather was just perfect. 

The bride and groom

Mick, me, Leanne, Anthony, Jeff (my youngest brother), Kate (Jeff's wife)

Friday, 18 November 2011

New Quilts from America

When I booked my trip to America I made sure to allow extra in my budget to bring home a couple of old quilts.  I really did only intend to buy a couple so when I found two lovely ones at an antique market in Kentucky I thought that would be it.  But then.... we were in a second hand store in New Holland, Pennsylvania and I saw a lovely pink, white and green quilt hanging over a railing.  The price was right so now I had three to somehow get home.  On our last weekend we visited an indoor antique market in Adamstown and I was quite pleased with myself to reach our meeting point having only bought a few vintage feedsacks.  The problem I hadn't counted on was Tammy.  She arrived at the place we agreed to meet and was about to burst with enthusiasm - she'd seen a couple of quilts I would like.  I went off with her to look at them thinking that's all I'd do.  One of them was just my thing but I did try and walk away without buying it.  While we stood at an automatic teller to get out some cash I started thinking that I would regret not buying that quilt.  I never see such good quality old quilts in Australia at such a bargain price.  So, I went back to the lady and bought it!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Small packet shopping

I've often wondered how we'll get by with storing grocery items on our narrowboat.  I'm in the habit of buying a few of an item if I see it on special - in particular non perishable goods.  We have a large cupboard in Mick's workshop where we store washing powder, washing up liquid, toilet rolls, tissues etc. We will also have to get out of the habit of buying larger sized containers of items because they are cheaper.

Our latest edition of Waterways World magazine arrived last week and I noticed an advertisement for a company that specializes in small packets of grocery items.  What a great idea!  It is called Piccola Online - click here.

I don't know how easy it would be to have an order delivered while you're moored up for a couple of days or if they would only post the parcel.  I've copied below what they say about delivery and there is mention of being able to arrange faster delivery, or Saturday delivery so there is obviously some flexibility.  We'd be interested to hear if anyone has used the service.


We aim to despatch your goods within one working day of placing your order with us.
The following delivery charges applies to UK addresses. Standard delivery (3-5 working days) 
1kg and under £3.99
1-2kg £4.99
2kg + £5.99
If you need a faster or Saturday delivery service,  please contact us on 08456 80 70 96 or email us on;  and we will make the arrangements where possible.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pick of the week - Sanctuary

Still in the under £50,000 price bracket, we found nb Sanctuary listed with Great Haywood Boat Sales.
Click here.
Positives : Ticks all the layout boxes, like the red paintwork, don't mind the name
Negatives : No solid fuel stove, no washing machine, not so keen on the bright blue paintwork

55ft Semi Trad
Price : £49,950.00
Year : 2004
Plating specification : Steel 10/6/5/4
Flat V-Hull Or Keeled : Flat
Built by : Liverpool Boats
Fitted out by : Liverpool Boats
Source Of Hot water : Calorifier/ Eberspacher
Central Heating : Eberspacher
Solid fuel stove : n/a
Water tank capacity : 120 gallon
Engine make : Isuzu 33hp
No of cylinders : 4
Keel, water, air cooled : Keel
Gear box make : PRM
Diesel tank capacity : 120 litres
Additional Notes : Twin alternator
12 Volt : Yes
240V landline : Yes
Inverter : Victron 1800w inverter charger
Batteries : 1 Starter, 4 leisure

Type of toilet : Cassette
Bath/Shower fitted : Full size shower
Vanity Basin : Yes
Fixed Berths : Fixed double
Extra berths : Dinette & sofa bed
Cooker : Vanette
Fridge : 12v
Additional systems : Side hatch
BSS : February 2012
Maintenance Blacked : 2008
Mooring Available : Yes
Additional Notes : Laminate flooring throughout, spray foam insulation, front and rear cratch cover.