Thursday 23 December 2010

A year of firsts

Well 2010 has certainly been a year of firsts for us. It all kicked off in February when for the first time we had Naughty-Cal chocked ashore for her first spruce up since we had purchased her. It all went suprisingly smoothly.
Then not long after she was relaunched we went down the Humber for the first time in the middle of March. The weather was brisk but the boats performed well.

June brought with it our first trip out to sea, with a coast hop from Boston to Wells next the Sea. A great trip was had by all and another trip for next year is in the planning. Lets hope the weather turns out as good as it was this year.

August brought with it the first holiday away with our good friends off Wish You Were Here with a trip to York. It was also the first time they had ventured downstream on the Trent, hence was also their first time on the Ouse.

December, and a more sombre first. This month has been the first time that we have genuinely been concerned for Naughty-Cals welfare. The cold weather is having a huge impact on many boats across the country, with damage reported from many areas. Lets just hope that Cal isnt suffering too much.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

The final countdown

Its the final countdown to christmas, only a few days left to prepare and only a couple of days further until we can relax and chill out aboard Naughty-Cal, once we have defrosted her of course!!

I will take this chance to wish you all a very merry christmas and all the very best for the new year. It will be a busy couple of weeks for us so this may be the last you hear of me for that time, you can stop cheering now please!!

So best wishes and i hope you all enjoy the festive period and lets hope for a start to the thaw in the new year. I dont know about you lot but im a little fed up of Naughty-Cal being iced in now. I want to get some winter cruising in before the warmer weather comes. After all the nights are going to start getting shorter now.

Monday 20 December 2010

Some People....

There are sometimes no words for the stupidity of our fellow human beings. And they let these people loose with cars!!

All Set

A boat free weekend, well that was a change.

The house is as ready as it will ever be for the descending family over the christmas period. Hallway carpets cleaned, oven cleaned, kitchen scrubbed, bathroom spruced up, now its the countdown to the big day.

By Boxing Day evening it will all be over and we can head to the boat and chill out (quite literally) unwind and relax safe in the knowledge that it is over and done with for another year. Just New Years to get over and done with and then a whole year of new suprises, places to visit and people to see.

Friday 17 December 2010

The Weekend

With the weather set to draw in again tomorrow, with a large dumping of the white stuff expected, we have taken the decision to not visit the boat this weekend. Its a very rare occurance that we dont at least visit the boat each weekend.

The weekly shop has been completed this lunchtime to save us the hassle of getting the car out tomorrow if the snow does arrive. It is currently sat in the car at work, I shall put it away when I get home, no doubt late due to the icy roads.

Tomorrow should then be a quiet day with just a walk to the butchers to stock up on fresh meat and eggs during the morning. The carpet cleaner finally arrived yesterday, almost three weeks later than planned, so tomorrow may well be spent trying it out on the hallway carpet. Cream carpets in the main entrance to a house are not wise, however they were new when we bought the house four years ago so we dont really want to rip them up. A good clean should see them as good as new.

The rest of the weekend we can spend cleaning the house and getting it ready for the family arriving on Christmas day. Its hard to believe that christmas is only a week away. This year has certainly flown by, well they do say that time flies by when you are having fun.

Thursday 16 December 2010

The Perfect Roast Potato

With winter set in for the long haul, the boat is put on a little bit of a back burner, and as you can probably guess by now our second love, food, is taking over.

For the next installment, how to make the perfect roast spud. No roast dinner is complete without them.

First of all you need to choose a potato variety that is light and floury when cooked. We prefer Maris Piper for roasties. With the spuds peeled you then chop them into large pieces so that they wont break up too much when cooked. Next put a large pan of boiling water on the hob and cook the spud until they are just softening and the edges breaking up ever so slightly. Drain the potatoes and gently rought the surfaces by shaking the pan. Then leave the potatoes in the pan to air dry.

Whilst the spuds are air drying, take a large baking tray and add a good glug of oil, any oil will do we tend to use Sunflower. Along with the oil place in the tray three or four crushed garlic cloves and a good handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, then chuck into a preheated oven with a temperature of at least 220 degrees. The hotter the better.

When the oil is shimmering hot and you can start to smell the garlic and rosemary add the potatoes to the oil and coat them thoroughly with the oil. Chuck them back in the oven and roast for an hour to an hour and a half turning and basting with the garlic and rosemary oil on a regular basis.

Im sure you will enjoy these

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Christmas Dinner Menu

With just over a week to go, the all important Christmas dinner menu has finally been decided. It has taken months of experimenting but finally the three courses have been confimed and agreed upon.


Home made Smoked Haddock, Leek & Mustard Fish Cake on a bed of fresh salad

Main Course

Free range organic Norfolk Black Turkey with homemade lemon thyme stuffing served with Lincolnshire pigs in blankets, Rosemary & Garlic roast potatoes, Lemon butter new potatoes, buttered sprouts and a seasonal vegetable bundle


Homemade Christmas cake
Homemade mince pie

served with a choice of custard or cream and fresh filter coffee

Tuesday 14 December 2010


Its steak night in the Broughton/Jennings household. But not after much haggling and debating.

First off which cut of steak? The OH prefers a big T-Bone, me i prefer a nice ribeye. Well this time around i won ribeye it is.

Next debate, how to cook it? Me i prefer mine quite rare, the OH well cremated is the only way to describe his steak. This one is easily sorted, his goes into the griddle pan first and chars away.

The one thing we do agree on though is where the steak comes from. Our local butchers. Our local butcher has a small abbotoir to the side of his shop where he kills locally farmed animals ready for resale. All of his meat is top class and we rarely buy our meat from elsewhere.

The only remaining debate, what to serve the steak with. Tonight it will be chunky chips, fried egg, garlic mushrooms and grilled tomatoes.

Monday 13 December 2010

Still Frozen In

Despite a few days of above freezing temperatures Naughty-Cal is still well and truely iced in. Slowly but surely the ice around her is giving up its grip and she is now gently moving around in her own private pool of water.

We have had a lucky escape this week. Our heater in the engine bay has been turned off all week due to a faulty thermostatic switch which has led to no heat in the engine bay. Luckily all that has suffered is the domestic water pump. The engine and raw water cooling system have thankfully survived with no obvious ill effects. Needless to say the heater is now plugged in permenantly to reduce the risk of any further problems.

The Fossdyke is still frozen over with no sign of an immenant thaw, as you can see from the pictures below:

The ice in the marina is now thick enough to walk over, although this is not adviced people were gingerly testing the thickness. We decided against it, you never can tell. The far reaches of the lakes have ice in the region of 4 or 5 inches thick and with the weather forecast to take a turn for the colder again later in the week, there is no chance of a total thaw just yet.

Friday 10 December 2010

Ice Breaking

It seems that the narrowboat fraternity (narrowboatist’s) are getting their knickers into a bit of a twist. What with the ensuing thaw they are all making plans to move on, fill up water and diesel tanks, empty holding tanks, stock up on provisions etc. However the horror of what lies ahead of them fills them with dread. They will have to potentially ice break past GRP boats.

My lord, the way they speak you would think that GRP boats are made of egg shell. Narrowboatists seem to be under the impression that anything not made of steel will buckle, fold in two and sink at the mere thought of ice and should the worse happen and a piece of ice touches a GRP hull it will instantaneously sink to the bottom of the canal/river.

They appear to be imagining mythical sheets of ice that can slice a boat in two being pushed from the bows of their steel tubes, sawing boats in half right, left and centre. The reality of course is much more down to earth and little if any damage will be caused to GRP and wooden hulled boats by ice from passing boats.

The pattern in which a boat breaks the ice is dependent on the hull type. Displacement hulls push water so it stands to reason that they attempt to push through ice. This causes the ice to crack in front of the boat then as the boat pushes further through the ice it breaks the leading edges into smaller pieces that sit on the surface. Nothing that will damage a structurally sound hull of any construction.

Planing hulls climb out of the water. They behave in a similar manner in ice. Last year during our ice breaking adventure we noticed that Naughty-Cals bow rides over the ice immediately in front of the boat before crashing through the ice to break it. This process creates small pieces of ice again far too small to cause damaged hulls to moored boats.

It is also worth bearing in mind that GRP hulls have a relatively thick hull construction. Modern planning craft work on a rough basis of 1mm for every 1ft of length, thus a 25ft boat such as Naughty-Cal will have a general hull thickness of almost an inch with thicker sections where high forces are expected, for example around the transom where the thickness will be almost twice that of the hull. River boats tend to have a thinner hull construction but again the force needed to push a blunt piece of ice through a piece of GRP maybe half an inch thick is well beyond the capabilities of your average narrowboat.

So come on guys, let’s get real here.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Thai Green Curry

Tried this one for the first time last night and it is really easy and super tasty.

For this one you will need:Chicken breasts, 1 per person, leek, mushrooms, a bell pepper,200g Philidelphia cheese, thai green curry paste and rice to serve with.

First of all thinly slice and fry your leeks. Whilst the leeks are frying finely chop your mushrooms and peper and set aside. Next dice the chicken into cubes. Add the chicken to the pan and cook over a medium heat until almost cooked through then add the mushrooms and peppers. When the mushrooms start to soften add to the mixture the Philidelphia and thai green curry paste. The amount of curry paste you add will depend on your preference and how hot your paste is. We added a good heaped tablespoon.

Next simmer the mixture until the cheese has melted and there is a thick sauce in the pan coating the chicken. If the sauce is too thick thin down with a splash of milk. Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes or so, then serve with fresh rice.

I promise you wont be disappointed with this one.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

For the first time.....

For the first time in a generation the River Ouse in York has frozen over. This is a sure sign that the water temperature is severly low as the flow of water on this major river usually keeps it clear of ice. The next step no doubt, when the thaw kicks in, will be the Yorkshire Ouse flooding and topping its banks!

Toad in the Hole

Last nights dinner was a toad in the hole, nothing special but a simple honest home cooked meal.

The secret of a good toad in the hole is a good quality sausage and that all important batter. Yorkshire puddings are a fickle food, sometimes they work and sometimes they flop. But a few simple steps can aid your chances of creating a pudding that rises.

Firstly fresh eggs, fresh milk and sieved plain flour. The fresher your ingredients the better your chances of success. Next your fat must be shimmering hot. The fat needs to be super hot and the oven needs to be preheated to at least 220 degrees, the hotter the better. When whisking your batter ensure you get as much air in the mix as is possible then add salt and pepper to season. If all of these steps are followed you should get the perfect yorkshire pudding. There is of course no guarantee though.

Remember whatever you do dont open the oven before your yorkshire pudding is cooked. It will flop if you do......

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Thaw Quicker

A couple of weeks ago we ran out of windscreen washer fluid in my car on the way back to work from the boat. Needless to say we were in a hurry so refusing to pay the super inflated price of washer fluid at the service station we just filled up the bottle with water.

Then guess what happened. Correct. The weather played a blinder and the big freeze started. Result, no way of washing the windscreen, a frozen washer bottle, a frozen pump and a filthy windscreen.

It is not much fun driving down the A1 not being able to see where you are going. Still there is plenty of fresh snow around to wash the screen each time we have to pull over to clean it!!

Monday 6 December 2010

Thawing Out

The thaw is certainly setting in. We have noted a marked improvement in the conditions in and around Sheffield and with this in mind we made an unexpected trip to see Naughty-Cal on Saturday.

The roads were suprisingly clear until we reached Burton Waters where the access road and carpark was a little icy.

The first problem was encountered when we decided to use the facilities after being in the car for a while. Out of order the water supply has had to be turned off as there are burst pipes on the pontoons. Never mind we will use the facility block on the other side of the marina. Same story. Lets hope the loo on Naughty-Cal isnt frozen!!

After a hairy walk/slide down the pontoon we find Cal with a decided list. The weight of the snow pushing her over. So we quickly set too brushing her clear of snow, before getting all the heaters on full power to warm her through. Suprisingly it didnt take too long this time. Then its time to settle in for the night with a few beers and a nice pan of warm stew simmering on the stove.

Yesterday we again thawed her out after another harsh frost, before finally installing her new starter battery. The difference in starting is unbelievable. She springs into life with the slightest turn of the key now. Amazing.

Friday 3 December 2010

Still Snowed In

Well the Broughton/Jennings household are still snowed in, with any thoughts of a trip to the boat this weekend out the window.

This has thrown up something of an emergency situation however. Naughty-Cal is stocked up with plenty of beer. The house, is not. We have the sum total of 3 bottles of Bud in the fridge. This is not going to last the weekend.

If all else fails, including delving into the white heap on the drive to find my car and digging it out, we will have to break out the sledge and walk the mile and a half to the supermarket. This i do not look forward to. Going wont be too bad its all downhill, but of course coming back with a fully laden sledge it will be all uphill! Lets hope we can find a more local supply of beer and soon. The local pub wont be much use, it shut down a few weeks ago, the nearest pub is now a half mile up an icy hill.

Why did we choose our house again?

Thursday 2 December 2010

Snowed In

As you can see from this photo we are still getting masses of snow here in Sheffield.

Tuesday evening saw a couple of feet fall over parts of Sheffield and with the non stop onslaught yesterday another foot or so has easily been added to that.

Our car the Nissan opposite is well and truely stuck in the drive, the photo being taken yesterday morning before a further days efforts on top.

We took the oppurtunity yesterday to catch up on some housework and also to visit our local butcher who we dont see as often as we would like anymore. It was a tough walk up the hill to the butchers in Grenoside but we made it in good time and the fridge and freezer are now well stocked which is more than can be said for the bread cupboard. All the bread, milk and eggs have been bought from our three most local shops. What do people do with it all?

Anyhow today we have made it into work thanks to one of Liams workmates who has a 4x4. He picked us up and will drop us off at home tonight, although if this snow continues to fall as it is now we will leave work early i suspect.

Its all good fun this snow but boy is it making life difficult at times.......