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.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Last holiday photos

I've had quite a few people asking to see photos of our USA trip so I'm putting the last of them on this blog entry.  I know they haven't been in any sort of order!

Several states in the USA have "quilt trails" where people put up painted quilt blocks on their barns.  We didn't follow a map of them but it was lovely to stumble across them as we drove.

 We spent a couple of days with my friend, Sheri, in Kentucky.  She has a beautiful creek through her property and Phantom, the Australian Shepherd joined us on a morning walk.  Sheri, Tammy and I had an enjoyable afternoon visiting an antique fair.  I bought a couple of vintage quilts! More on that later.

My friend, Erin, flew down from Maine to spend a few days with us in Pennsylvania.

Tammy at left, Erin at right

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

House update... we're still waiting

We've still had no luck with selling our house.  It is so much slower in the country!  We do have a very interested party but it seems they are in no hurry and are biding their time - probably waiting to see if time will force the price down.  They've told the agent if there is anybody else seriously interested they want to be notified.  We're in no real hurry either so that's fine with us. 

I won't be bothered if we see out the Summer in this house as we have a fantastic evaporated cooling system and it gets extremely hot here.  We won't be dropping the price any further, even if it means we have to wait until 2013 to start our narrowboat plan.  It would be pointless for us to sell a house we love if we don't realize enough to fulfill our dream!  Meanwhile the agent sent the photographer back to take an aerial photo.  It turned out quite well.  You can see how far it is to the next house on our side of the street.  We are surrounded by crown land.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Pick of the week - Thomas

Here's a cheapie!  And we like it too.  Listed with Swanley Brokerage is nb Thomas - click here.
We've been looking at what is available in a lower price bracket and were pleased to stumble across this one.

Positives : the price, blue paintwork, we like the name Thomas
Negatives : dinette isn't raised, shower over the bath, those kitchen bench tiles

Reduced to : £39,950
Built : 2003
Conventional layout and 4 berths.
Steel specification : 10/6/5/4
Dimensions : Length 57’ / Beam 6’10’’ / Draught forward 18’’ / Draught aft 24’’
Hull builder : Sterling Narrowboats
Fitted out by : Sterling Narrowboats
Engine : Vetus 4.15
Hours : 676
Gearbox : Technodrive TMC60-2R
Batteries : 1 Starter battery and 2 domestic batteries
Water tank : Stainless steel tank 150 gallons
Diesel tank : 40 gallons
Heating : Eberspacher diesel central heating, Stove
Water : Twin coil calorifier
Electrics : Sterling 1500-2500w inverter
Shoreline connection
Additional : Cratch cover
Extendable extra large double bed
Galley : U shaped style fitted with Spinflo cooker, Shoreline firdge, stainless steel sink/drainer and plenty of
storage/work top space.
Bathroom : Off the corridor with Thetford cassette toilet, bath with over shower and basin in vanity unit.
Berth(s) : Fixed double plus a converting Pullman dinette makes Thomas a 4 berth vessel.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Booking holidays

I had a request for information on how I found the places we stayed on our holiday to America.

Mick and I have always preferred staying in self contained accomodation when we travel, rather than in hotels.  It's nicer to sit in a living area to watch tv or read rather than having to sit on the bed, and we also much rather be able to make our own meals if we choose.  We would also choose to stay in a historic cottage rather than a modern apartment whenever possible - that's just our preference.

I use to look for what accomodation is available in the places we want to visit.  You can choose to look at accomodation by hotel, B&B/inn, or specialty lodging.  I generally skip the hotel section unless it's to stay near an airport, or just a place to sleep on the way to somewhere else.  This method has served us well in our past travels.  It's very useful to be able to read reviews by other people who have stayed there.  You do need to be a little cautious of taking the reviews at face value - particularly the ratings - as often people will give a low rating for silly reasons or things that are simply cultural or regional differences.  For example, whether they provide face washers!  Some countries deem them to be personal items.

While planning my holiday with Tammy to the USA we had a few things on our agenda.  We wanted to visit Paducah in Kentucky (lots of quilt, antique, craft shops), Lancaster County in Pennsylvania (Amish country), the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Kentucky (lovely buildings and furniture) and Richmond, Virginia (so I could visit the quilt I wanted to see).

We stayed in Paducah for 2 nights and we wanted to find somewhere right in the middle of the town so pretty much everything was walking distance.  The accomodation was restored apartments above a row of historic shops and we were happy with our choice.

Lancaster County was a week long stay so we definitely wanted somewhere we could have our own space and be able to prepare meals.  We rented a lovely little house called Das Haus in the village of Intercourse.  We would highly recommend the services of "Intercourse Lodging" (click here : ).  Daryl and Tina who rented us the house were so friendly and helpful.  The house was just on a side street from the centre of the village so we were able to walk to look at the myriad of shops.  The house had 3 bedrooms which turned out to be very useful as my friend, Erin who lives in Maine, came down to stay a few days with us.  Waking to the sound of an Amish buggy clip-clopping past the house was fantastic.  Although there were lots of tourists during the day, the village was just the right speed for a pair of women who live in a small town themselves!  Best of all, it was quite economical to rent a house for the week so it gave us the opportunity to go to New York for one night and be able to leave our luggage and car back at the house.  It worked out well.

I had discovered the Shaker Village in a book Mick has about Shaker furniture.  It was near to where my friend Sheri lives in Kentucky so at first we thought we'd make a day trip there while staying with her.  When we discovered you could actually stay in the village we decided we couldn't miss the opportunity so we spent a couple of days there before visiting Sheri.  The accomodation was Shaker style so quite basic but we loved it.  The couple of nights we spent there were the most peaceful of the entire trip.

We were looking for somewhere to stay and visit near the place where the quilt I wanted to see was kept.  We looked around the area of Richmond, Virginia.  While looking at a map of the area I Googled the name of nearby towns to see if there was anything interesting.  When I stumbled across Williamsburg I knew I'd found the place for us.  Tammy and I both love historic buildings and history in general.  In Ballarat in Australia there is a fantastic re-created gold mining village for tourists called Sovereign Hill.  It's a favourite day out for Tammy and her family and for Mick and I too.  Williamsburg just seemed to be an oversized version!  There were many of the old buildings used as old style shops and taverns and also for accomodation.  It was like stepping back in time with people wandering around in period costume. 

As for booking hotels.....
We had 2 nights in LA so just chose somewhere close to the airport so we could use the free shuttle service.
The one night we spent in NY we splashed out on a hotel in the centre of Times Square.  We're glad we did as that was the place we liked best in New York and we could safely walk out at night to have dinner.  Perfect.
The only other night we stayed in a hotel was on our drive from Kentucky to Pennsylvania - 14 hours over 2 days.  We hadn't pre-booked it.  We found ourselves very tired and in rather foul weather late on the first day so decided we'd just take the next exit and stop at the first hotel.  When I look at the reviews for this hotel now, I wouldn't have chosen it but we needed somewhere to sleep and that's what we got.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Recipe - Chicken Piccata

This is a little recipe we stumbled across on a card displayed in Woolworths - it was a Margaret Fulton recipe. 

4 chicken breast fillets
Plain flour
Salt & pepper
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tbps chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
To serve : steamed pototoes and green beans

Slice the chicken breast across the length to you have 2 thin slices from each breast
Coat chicken pieces lightly in flour and shake off excess
Heat half the butter with 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat and cook half the chicken pieces for approx 4 minutes, turning once
Place first batch onto a plate and cover while repeating for second batch
Remove chicken from pan and add the wine to the remaining juices in the pan, stir until reduced by half
Add lemon juice, capers & parsley
Add 1/4 cup water if reduced too far and mix well while re-heating
Pour sauce over chicken to serve with steamed potatoes and green beans

Thursday, 3 November 2011


One thing we really liked during our trip to America is the houses and businesses decorated for Fall (or Autumn as we call it here). They use all types of pumpkins, gourds, corn husks.  I wasn't so keen on the scary stuff they use for Halloween decorations but the harvest time decorating was lovely.  We just aren't so much into seasonal decorating here in Australia and it's a bit of a shame.  Maybe we can start our own trend!  I always like to be in Germany around Easter time, or some other time that they decorate for.  It's so cheerful.

So here's some American pumpkins......