Daisypath - Vacation

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Under The Bed...

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I'm scared of under the bed. I think I'm scared because I read so many horror stories on Canal World or on other people's blogs about it being a prime place to get 'damp' or for condensation to form under there, and worse of all, the possibility mould could grow there...

Doesn't sound like the ideal "Boudoir" does it?! I'm a bit fussy like that. Can't stand dirty bedrooms, kitchens or bathrooms.(doesn't leave much left does it!?) I basically have OCD.

Anyway, I'm scared that horrible things could happen under my bed!! Sometimes I have sleepless nights thinking about what's under the bed, because I also store tons of shit all my worldly possessions under there which could contribute to condensation/damp/mould/filth/lice or whatever.

Hmmmm. So despite being scared of the bed, I do routinely check it and make sure everything is OK. Today was one of those days.

However, when I lift the mattress off to do a check, my heart starts racing, hands sweating and my pulse increases to about 160 beats per minute! It sounds ridiculous but that really is how it is!

The reason I decided I'd check under it today is because I'd also gone into town early this morning to get some slim plastic storage boxes to put some of my shit possessions into that were otherwise unprotected. I suppose everything should be in plastic storage cases really but it's just one of those things that we've never got round to!

Everything was fine under the bed - no mould, no damp and nothing was wet, although I don't know how this would happen anyway as I made our bedframe and made sure the mattress sits on slats rather than a solid piece of wood to allow circulation etc. So it's something that puzzles me when I hear about people having damp problems under their bed on their boats... How can it get so wet??

I'm rambling now I know! Anyway, pretty much all the stuff under there is now in boxes. I'll need to get one more box for just a few bits and bobs but I'll be happy then that under the bed really is a friendly place and not somewhere to be feared...

So yes, this is about as exciting as my life is at the moment - cleaning!!

Nothing else new really. Oh, I did take this pic last night of Eddie sleeping on me! Check out those teeth!!



Its been a beautiful day here today though, although the winds have been really strong - they've been throwing the boat around no end. They're supposed to last until the weekend and it's a bit scary when the gusts don't seem to taper off and the boat keeps rocking and rocking!

We've had some sunshine though which has made me feel a bit brighter and looking forward to summer. Here's a pic of the cows on the field outside our boat:



I made a chocolate pudding yesterday - my Chocolate Gooey Espresso Puddings that I posted the recipe to a few weeks back.
Anyway, here's how not to serve it:


(Hahaha, not funny at the time, but it is now!)

Yep, can you believe it, I took it out of the oven and it flew right out my hand onto the worktop and the ramekin smashed!

Oooops!

After a lot of swearing and shouting I ended up sitting down with a biscuit...! One Thing After Another!




Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cheese and Apple 'Slaw Sandwiches

Only a quick post today as I've just not had time and to be honest there's not an awful lot to write about lately!

Anyway, I love a good sandwich but was fed up of the normal fillings....cheese, ham, egg mayo.....ugh!! All the same and really boring, so today I gave this a go.

Despite me being apprehensive about it containing grated apple (and Pawel even more so!) it was great and I have to say its probably my most favourite sandwich filling now! (and Pawel's!)

CHEESE AND APPLE 'SLAW SANDWICHES



Ingredients:-


* 2 apples
* Mature cheddar cheese
* a couple of spring onions, snipped
* 1tbsp of mayonnaise
* Squeeze of lemon

Method:

1. Grate your apples into a bowl and grate in an equal amount of cheese.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice and stir and then add the mayonnaise ( more or less depending on your tastes!)
It's now ready to go into your sandwich.

Simple!


We had it today on a crusty ciabatta roll with a good ole' packet of Quavers!

Sorry there's no pictures like there usually is but I was too busy eating today ;)

Monday, 28 January 2013

We're Back!

We've had an action-packed day. We awoke around 9AM and despite the weather forecast showing that there should be heavy winds, it was all quite calm.

We had a spot of breakfast before deciding to head back to our usual mooring spot. We actually missed it and couldn't wait to go back, if nothing more than to watch the birds at our bird feeder that we installed when we first moved onto the farm-end mooring.

Pawel was so excited about his return, that later on in the day when we went shopping, he bought 2 loaves of "FRESH", yes, FRESH bread to throw away on the ducks. It wasn't cheap bread either from Waitrose which is ridiculous just to throw out the hatch for duckies! *Not Impressed.com*





Anyway, around 1030AM, we set off from the mooring we were at and said a final goodbye. It was a later start than what I wanted (as usual!) and the wind had picked up quite a bit by then as well and we had to turn the boat twice before we'd be safely moored up!

We stopped for water on the way, so we now have a fresh, full tank of water so don't need to worry about that now for the next couple of weeks. We then headed back to the mooring, turning around and reversing into it as we wanted to face a certain direction and have the hatch on the canal side rather than the towpath side. That proved a bit of a challenge with the wind, and I think we did bump into a boat, but no damage was done (sorry!)

For some reason we see a lot of other boaters reversing in perfectly straight lines, but this boat never reverses straight and ends up all over the canal, so even on a still day it's a bit of a struggle! But, we did it and managed to get back into our space and were moored up by 1PM.

The weather had turned quite severe by then with heavy gusts hitting the front of the boat which is still continuing even now as I type, and the rain had started to come down too. It's set to get worse overnight and be with us for the next week really!

Here's our forecast for the next couple of days:



Around 2, we headed to town to do a bit of food shopping so all that's left now is to cook dinner and watch a decent film!

Oh, we topped up the bird feeder again today as well, so everyone is stocked up on food and Eddie even got these biscuits as a treat from the supermarket today:




I bought them as I thought they were funny and a bit ridiculous. "Bed Time Biscuits" with...wait for it....Passionflower and Chamomile, "to help with a blissful good nights sleep"!!

So basically then, I'll use them as a good sedation method for when he gets too out of control!!!!!

He approves anyway....





Sunday, 27 January 2013

And Then It Was All Green

We woke up really late this morning...for some reason I just couldn't be bothered. I looked out the window and everywhere was back to being green!

The view today from the hatch:



All the snow everywhere has completely gone. The canal has also almost completely defrosted, helped along today by some arsehole who decided to come tear-arsing down the canal to break the ice, only to get stuck just in front of my boat.... He then reversed back, sending more sheets of ice against my blacking and then tried forward to no avail.

It ended up with him and his family at the front of the boat, kicking and punching the ice to break it along with his missus who had an 8ft pole, also attempting to break the ice. Twats!
It was more infuriating by the fact that once they'd broken through all the ice, they carried on for a bit, turned around and then came past again, to head back to their usual mooring spot in their 'lovely' marina. Definately weekend boaters who (stupidly) thought: "Wouldn't it be nice to have a trip out today!"

Ugh!!

Anyway, rant over, I did not a lot else today! To make up for some of the guilt of staying in bed until nearly lunch time ( I never do that these days!) I thought I'd silicone between the worktop and the gunnels as there was a really horrible, dodgy looking gap!




See? It looks like its just not quite finished off, so thought I'd give it a go especially seeing as I'd got a new tool to finish the sealant off (rather than using my finger and making a balls up of it!)

Here's the result:



So finally, the worktop is varnished and looking good and the edges are sealed off and smartened up!

I'll get some decent pictures up in the next day or two as Pawel had his phone at work with him today (better camera) and pictures never look quite right when I take them using this iPad camera.

I finally finished the worktop the other day after using a solvent on it to strip it back, as I mentioned last week. To then get a more 'even' match with the other worktop, I used a stain (light oak), followed by a matt varnish rather than the satin I had previously used.

That stain matches the other top pretty well and also takes out the horrible pink pigment that beech wood is renowned for.
More pictures to follow!

I won't be doing anything else today now. I'm off to cook dinner and sit myself down to Dancing on Ice with a glass of red wine.

Laters

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Slush

The snow arrived last night as I mentioned in yesterday's post, but the humongous flakes soon turned into rain. It was a horrible night, the worst winds I remember since being in Castlefield Basin in September 2011 where it felt like we'd never survive as we were right on the corner with the wind whipping round us!

However, the wind phased out after about 11.30Pm last night so I ended up getting plenty of beauty sleep ;)

Today, the towpath is slushy and really muddy which is horrible. I was trying to take a photo of it when we had a new friend come to greet us:



He's from a boat a little bit further down and came for a visit last week too. Lovely dog!

Anyway, you cant really tell in picture above and its got a lot worse as the temperature warmed up throughout the day, but its just soggy, wet, muddy puddles on the towpath now. Because we're still away from our normal mooring spot (which has a gravelled path!) the next day or two is going to be a NIGHTMARE with having a dog that's going to be jumping around in it every time we let him out!

We still can't move either, as down this end is still completely iced over - Pawel thinks its about an inch thick! I'm hoping that the temperatures will stay above zero for a day or two now (its currently showing as 5.5 degrees!) and that should thaw the canal out enough for us to move!

We also need to top up with water soon and this is something I'm starting to worry about! We're fine for now, but I've had my fun with the snow... I just want it to disappear and let me move my boat!!!

Nothing else new really. Pawel was off today so we got a cab to a local Topps Tiles to have a look at what tiles we might do the bathroom in (if it happens at all!).

At the moment, it's looking unlikely that we'll even be able to buy the tiles due to funds etc, never mind get them fitted, but I'm just desperate for it to be done! The main reason is that at the moment I have to keep kneeling down to shower which is an absolute killer for my knee.

We'll see!




Friday, 25 January 2013

A Jammy Biscuit!

I didn't get much sleep last night... All night I could hear the sheets of ice scraping and bumping into the side of the boat. It's a bit disturbing!

We awoke this morning and the winds were incredibly strong, moving the boat around and bashing it into the side of the bank :(

Not good!

It's also been so, so cold today. Our weather station was showing temperatures of about 1.5 degrees all day but with the winds, it really did feel arctic! The winds are still strong now and are set to get worse later tonight. The snow has also started here again and it's supposed to be really heavy later tonight. Just looking out the window now, the snow flakes look the biggest they ever have... I'm sure they're the size of saucers :D

There was nothing else I wanted to do today apart from stay on the boat. So I tried a recipe for a jammy biscuit...

A Jammy Biscuit!




I gave this a try today and have to say that I was pleased with the results... I did make them slightly too big I think, which led me to leaving them in the oven that little bit longer, causing more of the jam to bubble and roll down the sides than I liked.

However, it was really nice! If nothing else, I've discovers a really great biscuit base recipe. You could do all sorts with it. I thinking next time, I'll make the biscuits but not out the jam in...then just dip them in melted chocolate and chopped mixed nuts so its like a florentine cookie!

Ingredients:

* 200g self raising flour
* 100g caster sugar
* 100g butter, use room temperature for ease
* 1 egg
* 12 tsps of jam

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to Gas mark 5 and take all your ingredients out.


2. In a large mixing bowl, measure out your flour, sugar and butter and rub the butter into the sugar/flour so it resembles breadcrumbs.




I found that it was actually better to use room temperature butter that was soft, rather than butter from a fridge that can be really difficult to rub into the flour for this - it made it a lot quicker!




3. Next, add just enough egg to make a stiff mixture that comes away clean from the bowl. Then, shape the dough into a sausage shape which is about 5cm in diameter.





4. Cut the 'sausage' into rings - around 1.5-2cm thick. You should get around 12 biscuits






5. Place the biscuits on a baking tray and make an indentation with either the end of a wooden spoon or your finger! The indent should be big enough to accommodate a teaspoon of jam.





6. Add your teaspoons of jam to each biscuit!





Mmmmm...




7. Pop them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, they should be just turning golden and have risen ever so slightly, with a slight 'cracked' appearance





These didn't look perfect, but that's life - they tasted good though and were still a bit soft in the middle like a good cookie!

I think the new chilli plant was impressed with them too! :D

Brilliant with a coffee and dead quick to make!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

I Was Thinking Today...

...and it takes a lot of effort! No, seriously I've just been thinking about our plans to have the bathroom tiled at the end of Feb. I'm not sure if its going to happen at the moment though as with me being off work, money is a bit tighter than usual.

Anyway, the plan is to still try and go for it as its a little while away yet, so who knows. We need it doing really as I'm not confident that the bathroom is completely watertight - we fitted it ourselves! At the moment we have PVC cladding on the walls which looks nice and is something that I had in one of my previous homes. However, it doesn't quite work that well on the boat as no wall is straight, no corner is a proper corner and....my siliconing skills aren't that great which has given a messy finish overall, which we're both not happy with.

This is how it currently looks :







It's hard to get a decent pic in a small space!

Hmmm. So some may say it looks fine as it is but its definately something we're not happy with and will be changing.

I've been looking online at tiles and we're thinking of something like this:





We're thinking of having most of the bathroom tiled - exactly the same areas that are currently cladded, leaving the oak faced wall next to the sink and bathroom cabinet just as in the picture of our bathroom above.

So to make sure its not too monotonous, we're thinking of getting an accent tile to break it up a bit - having a border at mid-height, with something like this (which is currently my favourite!) for example:





So overall, it'll look a bit like this:





It will definately be an improvement on what the bathroom is like now and having a professional in to do it will make sure that its finished off properly and looking good.

We are due to meet with Rob early in February to discuss the job in detail and to arrange for tiles to be delivered to him ready for fitting, so we will see!

I rescued this fella today:





A chilli plant!

It'll come in handy as I'm using fresh chillies in quite a few recipes lately, plus it'll brighten the kitchen up a bit after I've finished the final coats of varnish on the newly sanded/solvented/aborted worktop :)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cabin fever


Do all your other boaters get cabin fever!? Come on, be honest! Sometimes in here, I could quite easily light a match to the place and walk away...

Well that's how I felt yesterday with all the problems with that damn worktop!! So, we went out into the local village for a coffee and to do a bit of shopping as P was off. Anyway, not far from the local Waitrose where we normally shop, we found a butchers - Tittersons! We'd never been there before but decided to have a look in the window (despite it being slightly off-route!) for a peek.

Tittersons butchers was great! They had a selection of meats, chicken, beef, lamb etc but also a section with "prepared meats", all sorts of stuff, such as "Chicken with Lime and Ginger" and "Spanish Chicken" (garlic,chilli and herbs) and ready chopped meats for stirfrys!

Not only that but they also have a deli counter - selling sausage rolls, pies, potatoe cakes etc!




Anyway, I decided to buy a couple of sausage rolls which we had with our coffee in Costa along with an egg mayo sandwich from there ( a costa coffee sandwich - not great, but adequate!)

WOW!!! The most amazing sausage roll I've ever had! That sounds ridiculous - it's a bleeding sausage roll for cryin' out loud!! But....for a sausage roll, it was amazing!

Pawel is polish, and doesn't 'get' or understand the British desire for meats wrapped in pastry - sausage rolls, pies, pasties - he can't bear stuff like that.

Slowly, I've got him into eating stuff like that though, but he's never really fond of it. However, he tried that sausage roll from the butchers and couldn't stop praising them!

Needless to say, we went back to get some Spanish chicken for dinner which we had with some golden vegetable rice and a feta cheese, tomato and cucumber salad.

It was an amazing dinner and the chicken breasts were huge! Pawel also tried their potato cakes which he had as a snack beforehand (and loved) so we will definately be going there again!

No pictures sorry as we were too busy tucking in!

It's bloomin cold tonight - minus 2 on my weather station, so I'm gonna chuck some more coal on!!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Worktop worries!

I've not had time to make a proper post today as I'm still acting like a perfectionist over the new worktop we had installed just before Christmas.

We found out too late, that the other worktop is Birch and the new one we had installed was beech, so to match them together we decided to stain the new worktop so they both would match better.

Stupidly, and I should know better, we coloured the new worktop with a coloured varnish which kind of goes on like paint, and looks incredibly artificial.

About a week ago, Pawel scratched that coloured varnish off accidently with a baking tray(!) resulting in the whole lot needing to be sanded back using an attachment on the drill...





What a mess that caused ! Imagine having a load of sawdust and blowing it around with a hairdryer - we had the worktop sanded back but were left with that mess!!!

Anyway, through boredom with me not being able to do anything because of my knee, yesterday, I took a stool to start re-varnishing.... OMG!!

After a few coats of varnish, I noticed that the worktop looked worse than ever! Varnishing highlighted every mark and scratch caused by the sanding attachment we used on the drill, despite me having sanded using a light sandpaper before applying the new varnish.

It looked a mess this morning and I was unbelievably :

- fuming
- depressed
- angry

The kitchen was ruined as far as I could tell and my mouth would not stop bitching about it to the point where I think Pawel was going to insert cocktail sticks into his ears.

A trip to the DIY store in a taxi resulted in me buying a solvent to take the varnish off yet again (rather than sanding again!)and more stain and varnish which I will attempt in the next few days.

I'd heard and known about solvents that can strip paint or varnish but had never used them and that's why we went ahead last week and sanded rather than using that method then. Therefore today , using a solvent was kind of an experiment.

We applied the solvent onto the worktop and the varnish came off like butter. Now I'm angry that we didn't use a solvent last week rather than sanding it back and having all that dust everywhere!!

Lesson #1: Use a solvent to dissolve old varnish and don't sand!

Lesson #2: Don't use coloured varnish - it's too artificial and streaky looking.

Lesson #3: Don't ever, ever, ever attempt anything related to DIY ever again!!!

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 21 January 2013

It's All You Can See For Miles

It wasn't until I let Edward out last night at around 930PM that I noticed it was snowing again. I guessed it had been snowing for the last two hours at least, as it was around an inch thick by that point!




Pawel was home from work early, just after midnight, and I was still up - he said then that it was still snowing even at that time, so I think we really have had it all night. This morning we awoke to a winter wonderland. There's so much more snow about today than there was a few days back. It's been coming down none stop all day as well.

My knee is still painful and I'm under doctors orders not to use it at all. However, I am so BORED that I had to do something today. I also have no appetite and am feeling sick all the time, but I think that's because of literally doing nothing - I think my metabolism is dead! So despite the fact I shouldn't be moving, I suggested we go for a walk this morning just to get myself revving again! I'm not the type of person who can be stationary for long periods of time!

So off we went, with Edward in tow and I've took a few more wintry snaps which I've posted below!

The plant (and table!) completely thick!:




We returned later and decided that we would get a move on with filling the tank with water, so went back and forth with the containers that we've borrowed and did a bit of filling up for an hour or so.

It was so boring though just going back and forth to the water point with the containers in the wheelbarrow! We were glad when it was done, as at least now, we don't really have to worry about water for at least the next 10 days and I'm hoping by then that the temperatures will have increased and everywhere thawed by then!

Who knows though?! It could be another repeat of the winter of 1963!!

We are having problems with our batteries again despite now only using the small inverter that we installed just before Christmas. Everything was fine until around a week ago, but now the batteries are decreasing around 10% an hour again like previously! We're not sure why, but suspect it may be partly down to the cold weather.

I thought temperatures had to be really severe to affect battery performance - perhaps around minus 30 degrees, but apparently not! When the temperature is at 0, batteries lose around 25% of their rated capacity/performance, so I'm hoping this is our problem and that it will be just temporary until the weather gets a bit warmer.

I'm turning into a nervous wreck with these batteries now though! I'm checking the Smartgauge (which tells you how much % you have left in your batteries ) every hour! I'll see how it goes in the next few days, but I'll probably be posting about this again in the not too distant future!

The more annoying thing is the amount of diesel we must be using by having the engine on for so long each day. I'm now a firm believer of the theory that you aren't really a 'boater' or 'living aboard' until you've gone out and lived on the cut with no shoreline... So true!

OK, now it's photo time! Enjoy...!

From the deck:




On the towpath side:




Just shows you how much snow we had overnight :




Our boat -note the solar panels completely covered in snow!:




Our boat looks lonely and desolate!




A few more pictures from our towpath walk :
















White for miles:




















Alice in wonderland!?:




Pawel and Eddie thought they were stopping for a picnic...Eddie was waiting for the sausages to come out!:
















Finally some water that wasn't frozen:












Some unusual ducks: