Friday 28 February 2014

Getting There

Do you remember this picture from just a few weeks ago?
Well Im glad to say that the last of the boaty stuff has vacated the kitchen this morning and has been loaded into the car ready to fit to Naughty-Cal this weekend. I have my kitchen back!
The ropes and fenders are still hung in the hallway but on Thursday evening when we make the trip back to Naughty-Cal we will will refit those to the boat ready for her relaunch on Friday morning. I cant wait. But first we have just one more weekend of graft to get her looking her usual shiny self.
Tomorrow we have to refit the sterndrive rams and bleed through the hydraulic system. Liam has fitted new seals to the rams and cleaned up the stainless shafts to ensure a good fit and to hopefully, fingers crossed, cure our slight oil leak. If this doesnt cure the problem it will be new rams next year at £400 + VAT each!!
After the rams are fitted it will be a case of polishing the hull and topsides. We did a small section of hull last weekend around the waterline to ensure the masking tape stuck well for the primer coats. It was nice to see that with just a quick run over with the machine polisher and some T-Cut the hull was gleaming. Last years wax has obviously worked well. So polishing shouldn't be too long winded this year. We also hope to have the hull mopped over with a coat of Autoglym Super Resin Polish and the lambswool head on the polisher as well on Saturday.
Whilst Liam is polishing I intend to apply a coat of antifoul to the sterndrive. It will be the first time this has been done but it really does need doing this year as the original paint is looking shabby and isnt really providing the protection it should anymore. So a quick sand down and a coat of black (well it says black but is more likely to be dark grey) paint and it will be looking good as new.
This leaves an easy day on Sunday with just a couple of coats of wax to apply to the hull and topsides and a coat of antifoul paint on the hull bottom.  
We are both feeling much happier about this whole affair now. It has seemed a long time in the making but we are really looking forward to a weekend afloat next weekend.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Slow Cooked Beef Shin

We had beef shin again last night. I know I have written about it before so I wont repeat the whole topic again but I will just say it is one of the cheapest and tastiest cuts of beef that there are for slow cooking.

To make this slow cooked shin, I put the diced shin, chopped onion, mushrooms and carrots along with some beef stock into a large oven proof dish with a lid and put it in the oven for three hours at 140 degrees. I cooked this the night before, left it in the fridge overnight and then reheated in the microwave for ten minutes stirring every few minutes to ensure it reheated evenly. Season well with Hendersons Relish and plenty of cracked black pepper.

Last night I served this with Yorkshire puddings and a simple root vegetable mash. You can use pretty much any root veg for this, I used sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, swede and a maris piper potato. Again season well with cracked black pepper and to make it extra creamy add a spoonful of butter and mix through well. I leave the skin on the vegetables to give it some texture but also to keep a lot of the flavour as well.

You can add some real ale to the stock to give this dish a deeper flavour which works really well with slow cooking but I didnt bother this time. It was super tasty all the same.

Tuesday 25 February 2014


My cheesy veg bake is getting better with each attempt. As is my cheese sauce. It was something that had always eluded me that perfect cheese sauce. 
Well not now. Thanks to plenty of practise it's now just about spot on. Although reduced fat cheese doesn't melt quite so well as it's full fat counterparts we are still using it in a bud to cut down the fat intake. 
So here's last nights cheesy veg bake effort with 50% reduced fat mature cheddar. It was very nice served with a freshly baked garlic bread. 

Monday 24 February 2014

Sunday 23 February 2014

That's Better.

Naughty-Cal is in primer!  

It's seemed like a long time coming but finally she is looking better. 

We have hopefully lined ourselves up for an easy weekend next weekend with just refitting the drive rams, polishing and a coat of antifoul paint. Fingers crossed for decent weather. 

Thursday 20 February 2014

Whining and Dining

We were once again wining and dining guests at home last night. If I’m brutally honest I didn’t get much enjoyment from the evening due to this bloody cold. Everything seemed much more effort than normal, a simple roast chicken dinner turned into an ordeal. And to top it off the sweet potato and smoked bacon soup which was better than my attempt last week.

Back in the land of the living and we are starting to collate our plan of attack on Naughty-Cal for this coming weekend. The plan this far is to finish the last couple of bits of scraping of antifoul, sand down the hull and apply a couple of coats of primer. There should only be a couple of hours to finish scraping and sanding before the hull is ready for the first coat of primer. Seeing the hull in primer will be a happy moment, it has seemed like a long way off these last five weeks or so, and it will be nice to see a uniform and smooth finish once more.

After the primer we can start on some polishing. This really does signal the home straight for this year’s session ashore. We don’t expect to get much in the way of polishing done as we are also due to be helping a friend put his stern drives back together but a start on the polishing all the same will be made.
Unfortunately the seal kits for the drive trim rams have yet to arrive so they won’t be back on this week. But it’s not big problem, they shouldn’t take long to refit next weekend. The biggest pain will be bleeding the hydraulic system through to get them functioning effectively again.

Naughty-Cal is provisionally booked in for relaunch on the 7th March. I plan to take the day off work to get her back across to her berth and get her cleaned up and ready for a weekend of cruising. We have both missed being on the water.

So fingers crossed all goes well this weekend.

Wednesday 19 February 2014


Having just started to feel "normal" again after January's stinker of a cold, both Liam and I have contacted yet another bloody common cold.

When will it end?

We were only saying before Christmas that we had had a good run of 18 months or so without any illness and then we both come down with colds. Sods law I suppose.

This one doesnt seem anything like as potent as last months version thankfully, its more of an annoyance than a real threat to life.

Still its far from ideal when you have guests expecting a fabulous three course dining experience after work. Oh well we shall just have to knuckle down and grin and bear it.

Tuesday 18 February 2014


We had scraping well now it's stirring. Well stir frying anyway. 

We were only saying at the weekend that we have not had stir fry for ages so last night I remedied that with stir fried vegetables, rice noodles and tuna steak. 

Very nice it was too and so simple to make. 

Sunday 16 February 2014

Scrape, scrape, scrape

Not much more to say really its bee a day of scraping and sanding. The bulk of the old paint is now off with just some sanding to do before the first coat of primer can be applied. 

If we get a fine weekend next weekend we will be able to prime the hull and make a start on some polishing at long last. 

Saturday 15 February 2014

More Bits Coming Off.

Today the trim rams have been dismantled so they can have new seals. The existing seals have developed a slight weep so whilst the boat is out we may as well replace them! 

Friday 14 February 2014

Boring and Laborious

Its going to be one hell of a boring and laborious weekend this weekend. We have put aside this weekend for scraping off the remaining antifoul paint. Great job!

There is no easy way to do this. It is just hard graft, elbow grease and a pull scraper. 

Thankfully there isnt actually that much paint on Naughty-Cal's hull. The antifoul paint we have used for the last five years wears really quite well leaving just a fine layer which scrapes off easily enough. It is the layer beneath and the existing primer which are a pain to remove. 

Hopefully we should have the paint removed by the end of this weekend and by next weekend it will be back to the nice jobs of polishing, waxing and applying fresh, new antifoul paint. I always like that part of the job as Naughty-Cal starts to glimmer and gleam in the spring sunshine and starts to regain her fresh look again ready for a new year of cruising.

Thankfully you dont have to scrape the antifoul back very often. If we didnt have a couple of minor repairs to do to the hull this time we wouldnt have needed to scrape the paint back. Hopefully after this years mammoth spruce up we wont have to scrape the paint back for another ten years at least. We will still have to lift her of course for her annual stern gear service and polish and to apply a fresh layer of paint but by putting in the hard work now we are saving ourselves work in the coming years. It all pays off in the end.

We have a few other minor odd jobs to finish as well. The drive needs filling with fresh oil, it was drained last week but we didnt have enough oil to refill it as someone (no names mentioned here!!) forgot to bring the extra oil, and the refurbished props are ready to fit. With the drive filled with oil and prop and anodes refitted the drive can be masked up and painted with its first coat of antifoul paint. We also have a few bits in the cockpit to tidy up and some new bulbs for the dashboard instruments.

After this weekend we should really be on the home stretch with more jobs crossed of the now decreasing list of things to do. It will be a weekend of hard work but it will be worth it in the end. The end goal to have Naughty-Cal ready and raring to go for her first trip of the year to Kings Lynn at Easter.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Good Old British Weather

It seems that good old Blighty is taking a bit of a battering at the moment. From the flooding in the south, blizzard conditions in the north, hurricane force winds across the east and Force 12 seas nowhere has been completely safe.

But is there an end in sight?

Not for now. It would appear that another atlantic storm is heading our way for tomorrow, but tentative forecasts seem to suggest a drier, more settled period of weather in the next week or so. Which will make a pleasant change and will hopefully allow things to settle down a bit.

Heres just a few pictures from around the country in the last 24 hours.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Sweet Potato and Smoked Bacon Soup

So as to make tonight’s entertaining go a little smoother I made the starter last night. It’s a simple soup but easier to make in advance and warm through just before serving.

To make this soup fry a finely chopped onion in a large pan in a little oil. Add some grated garlic and fry until softening but not too brown. Add some chopped smoked bacon (we used some streaky, smoked Berkshire bacon) , a couple of rashers is enough, and fry until crispy.

Whilst the onion and bacon are frying add some chopped sweet potatoes to a bowl of water and cook in the microwave until soft. Alternatively you can roast the sweet potatoes until soft for a deeper flavour but this takes a little longer.

Next add a pint of vegetable stock and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika to the pan with the onions and bacon and add your cooked sweet potatoes. Leave to simmer for a few minutes before finally blending together with a hand blender until smooth. 

Serve with hot crusty bread rolls.

This is a fantastic warming soup full of flavour yet so simple to make. Its always a winner with guests. Enjoy.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Clean and Tidy Again

We have been somewhat neglecting the house of late what with all the working going into the boat and obviously our jobs during the day. It has seemed like too much hard work to get around to really, thoroughly cleaning the house.

Yesterday, as I finished work a little early, I decided to spend my spare couple of hours blitzing the house. I always find it strangely satisfying to set about with the vacuum cleaner, bleach and EVM. Don’t get me wrong the house wasn’t filthy, we wouldn’t let it get like that, but it was nice to see the house sparkling and gleaming once more. Quite timely as well as we have guests for dinner tomorrow evening.

It wasn’t all house cleaning though, some boaty cleaning crept in there as well. The fenders were scrubbed with magic sponge to bring them back to a shiny, clean, white finish and the ensign was put through the washing machine to get rid of a bit of lock slime it had picked up.

In theory all we need to do tonight after I have cooked tonight’s dinner of pasta bake and tomorrows starter of sweet potato and smoked bacon soup, is give the kitchen a quick once over and the floor another quick wipe around and we are ready for our guests.

We try and keep both the house and the boat clean and tidy. It is much easier to keep it that way then to leave it and leave it and then clean it. Why make it more hard work than it needs to be?

Monday 10 February 2014


So we tried the Diablo toasted sandwich maker out yesterday and it was a roaring success.

We didnt remember to take any pictures of ours so the picture opposite is from the Cook Uk website.

We rustled up chicken, chorizo and mature cheddar toasted sandwiches on multigrain bread. And it does have to be said it was a fantastic.

I can see the Diablo getting a lot of use whilst we are out and about this summer, when we finally get relaunched that is!!

Now we need to think of some more recipes to rustle up. I'm thinking smoked bacon, egg and cheese for next weeks breakfast toasted sandwich combination, with possibly a dollop of brown sauce.

Hmm. Thinking caps on for some recipe ideas.

Sunday 9 February 2014

I Can See The Light

The light at the end of the tunnel that is! 

After another weekend of hard graft we are making real progress, everything is coming together at last. 

Another couple of weekends polishing and a coat of anti foul and we are ready to launch again. 

Friday 7 February 2014

A Weekend's Work

It’s here again. These weeks are just flying by at the moment and we don’t seem to be getting much in the way of work at home done.

This weekend we have another long list of jobs to do on Naughty-Cal. The jobs are becoming more and more weather dependant as more and more of them (percentage wise) are outside jobs. The inside dry weather jobs are getting crossed off much quicker than the outside jobs so we really do need some dry weather in the coming weeks.

As this weekend looks likely to be hit and miss, again, with the weather we plan to finish off the tidying up and resealing of the midships berth. Other inside jobs we can do if necessary include fitting new bulbs to the dashboard instruments and polishing the cockpit and cabin GRP. Ideally these little jobs would wait until the boat is back afloat but if the weather is foul at least we have some little bits and bobs to keep us occupied.

We would really like to get the work on the stern drive completed this weekend. It is almost there and just needs the oil draining again and refilling with fresh oil, gear linkage greasing, props fitting, anodes refitting and a coat of antifoul paint. In theory a few hour’s work tops but it depends on the weather.

It would also be nice to get the few remaining minor hull repairs finished and a coat of primer on the hull below the waterline. Naughty-Cal will look much better for having a single colour coat of paint on her bum!!

Hopefully we can have another productive weekend this weekend and get many more jobs crossed off the list. It would be nice to think that after this weekend we will have broken the back of the list and it will be all downhill from here. 

Roll on the end of the month when we can, hopefully, get back on the water.

Thursday 6 February 2014

It's Taking Over

Boat stuff is taking over the house. 

It's everywhere, in the kitchen, the hallway, the spare bedroom, the car, some is even still on the boat. 

It's madness. I will be glad when it's back in the water and normality can resume! 

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Hello Piggie

We paid a visit to our favourite pig farm, Highwoods Rare Breeds on Friday evening to pick up a small order of pork for at home. All of their pork products are made with their farm raised free range Berkshire pigs.

This week we only had a small order of a 2kg shoulder joint for our guests next week, a 1kg pack of smoked bacon and a 1kg pack of their new chilli sausages, which it has to be said are simply delicious. The picture below is last nights bangers and mash.

Berkshire pig is a small, slow grown variety of pig which fell out of favour as newer, larger, quicker growing varieties were bred. The flavour of the pork is much deeper than commercially grown pigs due to their slower growing nature and they lay down a thicker layer of well flavoured fat. 

Buying direct from the farm means we get to meet the pigs in the flesh and see how happy and content they are before they are sent to the butchers. It also means that by buying direct we cut out the middle man and get the meat at a much cheaper rate. The price for 4kg of Berkshire pork was just £14.90, although to be fair the shoulder joint was on offer with a third off the price for this month only.

We now dont buy pork elsewhere. We have since found the flavour to be a bit of a let down of commercially raised pigs. If we cant get to Highwoods to stock up them we dont eat pork!!

This spring they also have some new rare breed chickens which should be ready for laying shortly so we can also stock up on fresh eggs and chickens!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

More Gadgets

Who doesnt love a toasted sandwich? Its one of the things we have always missed onboard Naughty-Cal. 

There has been many a time as we have been cruising downstream when a toasted chicken, chorizo and cheese sandwich would have filled a hole.

We dont tend to use much in the way of 230V electrical items on our travels so a bog standard household sandwich toaster wasnt ever really considered an option. But then someone told us about the Diablo toasted sandwich maker which is specifically designed for naked flame heat sources. Ideal for cooking on Naughty-Cal's gas hob.

At that we had to have one. So a quick flick through Ebay found the cheapest supplier and the item was delivered within days. Excellent service. Now we are planning just what we will try in it this coming weekend. I suspect we will be eating quite a lot of tasted sandwiches this weekend as we try out as many combinations as we can!!

Watch this space for how successful they are.

Monday 3 February 2014


We made some real progress on Naughty-Cal over the weekend. The weather helped no end with two dry and sunny days. 

The drive is reassembled and currently filled with fresh oil which will be drained again next week to flush out the last of the water contamination. 

The retrimmed throttle panel is now installed and looks much better than the old tatty one. The throttle action is also much smoother now thanks to a good greasing. 

Externally a few minor GRP repairs have been carried out. I also managed to polish the stern which already looks much smarter. It still needs a final polish and wax but this can wait until the primer has been applied to the hull. 

So a very productive weekend it was. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting closer! 

Saturday 1 February 2014

Chilly Start

It's a chilly start to the day but at least that has brought with it some sunshine. 

So it is all hands on deck to get some work done to Naughty-Cal.