Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Slipping and a Sliding

Despite Sheffield City Councils best efforts the roads of Sheffield were very slippery this morning. The run into work was at times interesting, not helped by the stupidity of many drivers and their lack of forward thinking.

One incident in particular showed how little some people think about what they are doing. As we all know Sheffield is a hilly city, to drive anywhere in the city means negotiating hills. On our drive into work we have came to one particular hill that has a nice long run up before the gradient gets too steep. As we approached the hill we could see that a few cars were having problems about half way up, so we pulled over well before the hill started in earnest and let the cars sort themselves out. As we did so at least half a dozen cars passed us, came to the stricken cars, by now going nowhere, were forced to stop and then of course they were also stuck. We just sat there laughing and waiting for them to sort themselves out before calmly pulling away and scaling the hill with no fuss, passing the by now parked cars with a friendly smile.

As the snow continues to fall here in a bitterly cold Sheffield, im sure there will be more of these silly tales to tell. But for every funny story to tell there is also those tragic tales of those who have not gotten away so lightly.

Stay safe.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Fair Weather Boaters

Fair weather boaters we certainly are not. We awoke yesterday morning to freezing temperatures and no liquid water aboard Naughty-Cal!!

The temperatures had been dropping all week and by yesterday morning had reached a low of minus nine degrees at 8am. The marina is completely frozen over encasing all of the boats in its icy grip.

We spent a good few hours thawing Naughty-Cal out, eventually managing to establish a liquid water source at both the bathroom sink and the cockpit shower. The galley sink it seems preferred solid water and refused to thaw despite several heat sources being out into use to thaw out the boat.

Unusually for us we left the boat yesterday due to a worsening weather forecast and judging by this mornings snow fall and the traffic reports we made the right desicion. Hopefully we will be able to get to Naughty-Cal at the weekend as it is Lincoln Christmas Market weekend and we had planned to attend again. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Wintry Weekend

Well still no snow here in Sheffield, however the weekend forecast is for more wintry weather on the way.

Despite worries earlier in the week that we wouldnt be able to make it to Lincoln at the weekend, we have as usual packed the car ready for the weekend and will set off tonight with the aim of reaching the boat.

It is forecast to be cold tonight so we will land at the marina, stick on the heating, unpack our gear and head for the warmth of the pub for a lovely evening meal.

We are both looking forward to a wintry weekend afloat. Nothing quite beats sitting in the cockpit in the warmth with a beer watching the water slowly freeze and the snow fall silently outside.

Still no sign of the LED cockpit lighting so again a job we can not complete this weekend but we do need to fill up the diesel tank to help reduce condensation and thus water in the fuel tank. A job that will lighten the wallet a little. She has not been filled up since we came back from our excursion on the Wash in August!!

Happy winter boating.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Still No Snow

Despite some grim weather forecasts over the past few days, there is still no snow here in Sheffield.

For the last three evenings there have been warnings of snow forecasts and yet still nothing white has fallen from the sky.

We have been treated to some lovely crisp cold winter sunshine and some nice winter frost but no snow. Where is it?

It may sound strange but we are hoping we get some snow at the weekend whilst we are aboard Naughty-Cal, or at the very least some frozen water in the marina. I love the sound of the ice cracking as the boats move around and the sun thaws the ice, especially if i am still tucked up nice and warm in bed and the sound is at ear level.

So come on snow, come on ice. We want you in Lincoln this weekend please.

Post Edit: It seems that there has been some snow in Sheffield albeit a very light dusting.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Stuffed Squash

Well the twice simmered stew of last night was amazing. I truly believe that stew is always best served the day after it is originally made. With lashings of gravy left over in the fridge for tomorrow nights steak pie.

Following on from yesterdays winter warming stew here’s another one of our favourite wintertime meals. Great after a cold day outside. This meal can be made with any squash variety, we like butternut and also any mince variety for the filling. We are eating most of our mince based meals with Quorn mince lately as a healthier alternative to minced steak. Turkey, pork or steak mince all work equally as well though.

For this meal you will need one squash per person, an onion finely chopped, mince of your choice, mushrooms finely chopped, cherry tomatoes halved, tomato puree, grated cheese and your choice of salad to serve. We usually also eat this with garlic bread.

So to start, preheat the oven to 200 degrees, scoop out the innards of your squash leaving a 1.5cm rim, keep the innards for the filling. Brush your scooped out squash with olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or until starting to brown.

Next add a little oil to a frying pan and brown your finely chopped onion, next if cooking with meat based mince add your mince and simmer until cooked through, (if using quorn mince it can go in later) once your mince is cooked through and browned add the squash innards, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and tomato puree. You may find a little water helps to loosen the mix slightly. Simmer the mix until the squash is bake in the oven.

Once the squash has started to brown remove from the oven and add the mince mixture to the hollowed out squash. Bake for a further 10 minutes before adding the grated cheese to the top and baking for just 10 minutes further.

When the cheese is nicely bubbling and browning, remove from the oven and serve hot with your choice of salad and garlic bread.

Another warming winter dish that is easy to prepare and bound to please any hungry guests. The filling can be premade in large quantities and frozen into smaller portions. The basic filling can then be used for Spag bol, chilli, stuffed peppers and squashes, lasagne and many more easy dishes quickly and easily.

All this talk of food is making me hungry now......

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Winter Warmers

With all this talk of cold weather our weeks evening menu has gone very soothing winter warmers.

Tonights delights are a huge pan of warming winter beef stew, served with herby dumplings inside a huge yorkshire pudding.

The stew was prepared and simmered for hours last night so just needs warming through whilst the dumplings and the yorkshire pudding cook.

Stews are amongst one of the easiest meals to prepare with any veg you have around the house or boat and cheap cuts of meat or even corned beef. The veg neednt be at its freshest and the stock can be made from the bones and carcasses of previous meals. Dumplings or yorkshire puddings help to beef up the content and provide a filling and warming meal anyone will be happy to sit and eat.

Hmmm im hungry all ready.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The cold weather beckons

After a relatively mild end to Autumn and start to Winter the cold weather is due to start in earnest later this week.

With this in mind we were extra careful to ensure Naughty-Cal was tucked up safely, with the heaters set and the water drained from taps with the taps left open.

We also did a quick check of friends boats and ensured they have an adequate supply of credit on their electricity bollards. Dont want them running out.

We love boating when the snow is falling and a crust of ice forms on the waters surface, but it does have its added dangers. Wooden pontoons become very slippery, GRP decks become like sheets of ice and cold fingers make hard work of the ropes. Still it is a small price to pay for quiet waterways, stunning scenery and lots of peace and quiet. If the weather forecasts are correct we will have a very seasonal weekend to come. I cant wait......

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Quiet times

Its been a quiet sort of a week so far, nothing much to report, no emergencies, no last minute problems, just a gentle steady week of work and relaxation.

The one issue we are having is tracking down a suitable 12V light switch to replace the current 2 gang one in the cabin of Naughty-Cal. We are adding some blue LED lights to her cockpit but we dont want them to be on all the time the other cockpit lighting is illuinated. The plan had been to replace the exising 2 gang switch with a 3 gang switch of the same type. It turns out they dont manufacture that switch anymore. So its all hands on deck to find a suitable alternative that doesnt look out of place.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Shiny Bits

The result of this weekends efforts. A shiny new transom gate to replace the not so nice one originally fitted.

We also installed the batteries and interior LED cabin lighting.

Next weekend we are installing the exterior cockpit LED lighting and an exterior 240V socket as well as installing the invertor.

Never ending jobs, but at least if we get them all completed over the winter we can enjoy Naughty-Cal next summer.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Its going to be a busy one

Already this weekend is lined up to be a busy one. We a number of jobs to complete on the boat tomorrow, including fitting the new LED lighting, installing the new batteries which involves adding another battery to the bank and installing the new transom gate (if it arrives in time, it should have been here by now!!) and setting up the Playstation which we have finally gotten around to taking to the boat. It never gets used at home, its best chance of being used is on the boat.

All of this and then we have to get to showered and changed before heading down to Saxilby for the Bootleg gig.

We dont make life easy for ourselves...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Batteries - Part 3

Well its all change on the batetry front, again. You would think buying a set of batteries would be easy wouldnt you?

Anyway, the good news is that the leisure batteries can be picked up on friday, which means we can spend saturday morning installing them and also happily means that we can have a reliable power supply for our overnighter at Saxilby on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The other bonus is that our LED bulbs have finally arrived so we can install those as well and drop our power consumption a little.

The bad news is that the starter battery we had found isnt currently in stock and we will have to wait a few weeks for it. We will just have to hope and pray that the existing starter battery holds out another few weeks.

To offset that little nuisance though we have had a chance find. Since we bought Naughty-Cal a couple of years ago we have been wanting to replace the transom gate. The newer model Sealine S25, which is the same hull and superstructure badged up different, has a stainless steel gate which is much more pleasing on the eye than our current perspex jobby. We had a quote from a Sealine parts stockist earlier this year and it was lets say a little too expensive at £675 plus VAT plus delivery. By chance yesterday I was looking through the pages of a sea boat parts website and low and behold they have genuine old stock stainless steel transom gates for £75 plus VAT. Needless to say we had to have one, so i bought one for the OH as an early christmas present. Hopefully it will arrive tomorrow. The other plus side is that we now know where we can get any Sealine parts we need. A shopping list is in order methinks.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Batteries - Part 2

A quick update on the battery situation. We have managed to find a suitable starter battery that has not broken the bank, a respectable £70. So all being well that should be delivered by the weekend and we will then have no worries about wether we will start when morning comes. Hooray.

The leisure batteries are ordered but we can not take delivery until next friday so we have just one more weekend of duff leisure batteries and poor power supply to suffer. Trust it to be a weekend we are heading away from the marina.

Bootleg are once again playing at the Sun Inn, Saxilby on Saturday evening. So as usual we will be heading down there for an evening of fun, drink and dancing rounded off by a carvery on Sunday in the Bridge Inn. The moorings should be fairly quiet at this time of year so we should be able to leave the marina quite late on Saturday and still manage to grab a spot.

This has all the makings of another alcohol fueled weekend......

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


We have known for a few months now that our batteries are on their way out. They have started to become unreliable and have increasingly have been letting us down.

Last weekend the leisure batteries let us down completely. No power come morning and boy was it cold with no heating. So we have no choice now but to buy a new set.

We only have two leisure batteries on Naughty-Cal as compared to a typical narrowboat there are few large power drains aboard. The largest consumer of power being the fridge during the summer and the heating through the winter. So we are to replace out two 85AH batteries with a pair of 105AH maintenance free Varta Leisure Batteries. We have opted for the more expensive Varta batteries as we have used their batteries on our cars for years and they are excellent and ultra reliable. That said we have been quoted a bargain price of £75 each which doesnt make them expensive as leisure batteries go.

The next problem is the starter battery. This is a little more complicated than we had bargained for. The Volvo Penta manual states that the engine needs a 140AH 1000CCA battery. This has our battery supplier confused as the only ones he can find are commercial truck batteries with different terminals that are super expensive. A little more research is needed on this one methinks but we dont have much time. The starter has "dropped" a cell and is now only holding 10.4V of charge. Luckily the engine is somehow still firing from this but with the onset of colder weather it wont do for long.

Monday, 8 November 2010

You dont get many like this

November weekends that is. Its been a great weekend in great company.

The sun setting over Torksey as we arrive on Saturday evening. It was a little chilly but none the less we all enjoyed the evening with dinner and drinks in the Swan.
A bright and fresh November morning over Torksey lock cut. Not a ripple on the water and so peaceful.
A cold sunny November afternoon on the Fossdyke, heading back to Burton Waters. Hardly another boat on the water as we make our way back home.

Still no other boats around and the trees are giving us a great autumnal display.
One final word of thanks to those who have taken the time to follow this blog. It is appreciated. Thanks.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Happy Weekend

Well the weekend is almost here again and this time brings with it the promise of drier but colder weather.

With a raft of small jobs to complete on saturday morning and the usual supermarket run, it will be at least lunchtime before we head out in search of somewhere to moor for the weekend. Chances are it will be Torksey again as the tides dont really fit for us heading out onto the Trent, but we like Torksey and the pub is lovely and serves an excellent steak pie.

So whatever you are doing and wherever you end up heres wishing you a happy and productive weekend.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Minor Modifications

When we bought Naughty-Cal over two years ago (how time flies!!) we made the decision not to make any modifications that would potentially devalue the boat or make her less attractive to potential purchasers should we wish to trade her in or sell her.

Over time of course you make minor modifications and alterations to suit how you use your boat.We have so far been very careful with how and what we have changed. Over the last two years there has been very little we have changed but the minor alterations include adding extra 240v and 12v sockets to match the existing ones in, locations we needed them, adding extra leisure batteries to increase our power capacity, alterations to the canopies and adding extra storage capacity in the cabin with a few sea grass boxes.

The time has now come to make some more minor modifications to enhance our enjoyment of Naughty-Cal. First on the list is the lighting. Currently there are six 10W halogen lights in the cabin. These are to be replaced with 24 LED equivalent bulbs to reduce our power consumption whilst away from the electric hook up in the marina. The cockpit lighting is also to receive replacement LED bulbs and extra LED strips are to be located around the cockpit to provide lighting in areas that are currently a little dim during the longer winter evenings. These strip lights will be cleverly hidden away so that during daylight hours they can’t be seen so as to avoid creating an eye sore. The combined power draw of the new cockpit lighting will be much less than the current setup which will again give us more battery power in reserve for longer stays away.

In the coming month or so we also intent to have further alterations made to the canopy to make winter boating easier. Currently access to the bow area with the canopies erected is difficult to say the least. We intend to have additional zips installed in the side canopy sections to allow these to be rolled up allowing easier access to the bow. Whilst the canopy man is making these alterations we will also get him to carry out some minor repairs.

There will, I am sure be many more alterations in the time we own Naughty-Cal but we will endeavour to make them as sympathetic as we possibly can.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Another one of our favourite easy dishes which we have on a regular basis. So simple to prepare and yet so so tasty.

For this one you will need, three good sized bell peppers (assuming serving two) an onion, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese and mince of your choice. This dish is good with whatever mince you choose. Tonight we are having it with Quorn mince for a change.

To get started, preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Then take your peppers, chop them in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them on a baking tray and pop them in the oven whilst you prepare the filling.

Next chop our onion and fry in a little oil until soft, then add your mince and fry until browned. When the mince has taken some colour, add some chopped mushrooms and halved cherry tomotoes, then simmer over a low heat for 5 or 10 minutes.

Next remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the filling into the peppers cavities. Replacd the peppers in the oven, then grate your cheese. Once the peppers and filling look (and smell) fantastic add the grated cheese and bake for 5 minutes of until golden and melted. Finally plate up and serve.

We mainly have this dish with hot garlic bread, but it is equally good with salad and a nice salad dressing.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Shooting,Eating and New Arrivals

Its been a busy sort of few days what with one thing and another.

Friday saw us heading off to Elsham for a spot of paintballing. We arrived in plenty of time to eye up the opponents and were pleasantly surpised when it turned out to be a coach load of 13 year olds. Where else can you legally shoot them? After a four hour session we had all had enough and head off in search of liquid refreshment to ease the pain of our wounds.

Saturday heralded the arrival of our friends new boat. They have been boatless since our trip to York. Needless to say we wet the babies head before heading out for a meal in Lincoln. We can highly recommend Ginos by the castle, we were spoiled with excellent food and equally excellent service. Certainly we will be going again.

Nursing hangovers we rose on Sunday to a spot of boat cleaning. Poor old Naughty-Cal was looking a little grubby but we quickly had her looking ship shape again and within an hour we were out of the marina following Bounarys Vice on her maiden voyage in the hands of her new owners. It was a quick trip into Lincoln but still memorable for our friends.

Sunday afternoon saw us head off home. The washing machine was to be delivered between 7am and 10am on Monday morning so we had to head home. It was strange spending Sunday evening at home instead of afloat, but we made the most of it with a lovely toad in the hole washed down with a few cans of Budweiser for good measure.

The starship Hotpoint is now plumbed in and is proving to be a much better machine than the one it has replaced, although it needs a Phd to work it out at the moment and we somehow managed to set the language to Italian, however we have sorted that out now.