Friday 31 October 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015 - Part 2

The second cruise into the unknown for Naughty-Cal in 2015 is set to be a cruise up the Great Ouse to Ely and perhaps a little further upstream.

We have previously cruised across the Wash to spend a couple of evenings in Kings Lynn at the mouth of the river, however have yet to venture further upstream. The plan for our two week summer cruise is to head up onto the non tidal river for a week before heading back downstream and across the Wash stopping in at Wisbech on the Nene and Fosdyke on the Welland of the weather and time allows.

Whilst on the Great Ouse we also plan to cruise the River Lark, River Wissey and Brandon Creek on the way back downstream towards Denver Sluice. We have used this cruise as Plan B for so many summers now that we thought it was about time we actually got around to heading up that way. This wont be a cruise on the scale of this summers voyage but non the less it will be a cruise into the unknown.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015

After an incredibly busy spring and summer of cruising during 2014, we are now winding down ready to enjoy some peaceful and relaxing, autumn and winter cruising. With this more relaxed pace of cruising comes some time to start looking ahead and planning ahead for our 2015 cruises.

2014 was all about heading into the unknown and exploring new places and waters we had previously ventured into, a theme we hope to emulate next year with yet more new waterways we are keen to explore.

The first of these we hope will be the Black Sluice, or the South Forty Foot Drain as it is known locally. In 2009 this navigation was reopened after nearly 40 years of being disused opening up 19 miles of river to the west of Boston. The navigation is entered via a lock within the Port of Boston Docks which locks boats up onto the drain. Immediately upstream of the lock is a small tunnel which limits the size of craft which can enter the drain. Luckily for us we can either take off the navigation loop or if necessary drop the whole arch to lower our air draft. We have cruised past the lock many times on our way out to sea but as yet have not entered it.

We hope, weather dependent of course, to visit the Black Sluice next Easter during our first few days holiday of the year. If things go to plan we would aim to spend just the one evening on the sluice which should provide us ample time to cruise the 19 miles to the current head of navigation and back again, taking in both of the pubs along the way before heading back upstream and heading for home again.

This is just the first of our intended exploration cruises for 2015.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Free Food

Everyone loves free food. We have over the years planted our garden to give us an extra source of free food with the fruit trees and dabbling with growing vegetables. This autumn however our garden has given us a surprise crop, a bumper crop of parasol mushrooms.

Now of course you need to be very sure about identifying wild growing mushrooms before picking and eating them but these are unmistakably delicious parasol mushrooms. Keys to identifying this species of mushroom are the brown and cream stripy stem with its moveable white collar, the white gills, brown crown and the flecks on the cap. The spores are white and when cut the flesh stays white.

There are similar species the shaggy parasol for instance that can cause slight stomach upsets in some people but they lack some of the distinguishing features of the parasol. Of course if in doubt leave well alone.

Tuesday 28 October 2014


We hate wasting food. If one of us has gone to the effort of cooking a nice, healthy meal, why throw it away again if there is some left over?

On a Monday lunchtime I have to do the mad dash home to put away the shopping I did first thing in the morning, sort out the four days worth of post on the door mat and stick a load of washing in the machine ready to hang up when we get home from work. In between this little lot I have to grab a bite to eat all in the space of a little under 20 minutes.

So here is where left overs come into their own. I portion them up and freeze them and then on Friday morning just before we leave for work and a weekend on the boat I grab a tub out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge to thaw out, ready to reheat on Monday.

The picture opposite is what I rustled up yesterday lunchtime and comprises the leftover filling from last weeks bacon, leek and mushroom pie reheated and then a packet of precooked basmati rice mixed in. Took the whole of about three minutes to make and was super tasty. The blue cheese sauce was still as pungent as when it was made last week and went really very well with the rice.

Monday 27 October 2014

Autumn Colours

Autumn is finally taking hold over summer, the trees are changing from green to an array of yellows, oranges and reds and the whole river scene is taking on a colourful new look, albeit for a brief period before winter fully arrives.

Sunday 26 October 2014

All the Fun

It was all the fun of the fair this weekend in Lincoln and Naughty-Cal was moored right in the thick of the action.

This is a surprisingly quiet mooring during the evening,  busy during the day yes but come 6mph the crowds disappeared and calm was restored.

Friday 24 October 2014

The Glory Hole, Lincoln in the 1950's

The River Witham through Lincoln drained down to carry out maintenance work in the 1950's. 

If you looked at a picture taken from the same angle today, just how much has changed?

Thursday 23 October 2014

Clean, Clean, Clean

Now who would have thought that the purchase of something so simple as a new vacuum cleaner would spark off such a big clean up operation?

Now we have always prided ourselves in keeping our home looking presentable and tidy but along came Henry (the hoover) and he proved that actually our old vacuuming and dusting regime was a little below par, well it must have been judging by how much dust he has sucked up in just a few short evenings!

To say we were a little dismayed by the amount of dust would perhaps be an understatement, we were mortified but going forward we can now aim to keep the house even cleaner ans fresher than before. 

Our big clean seems to have upset the troop of large house spiders padding around the house, they all came out at once last night to have a look at what all the fuss is about. Liam has gracefully ejected the ones he could catch into the garden but no doubt they will be back to swell the ranks before too long. 

With inroads made into getting the house dust free once more we are now making plans to redecorate a few rooms this winter, perhaps starting with the living/dining room which will be one of the easier rooms to complete. This room doesn't need much doing just a quick lick of paint to the walls and ceiling and then a bit of work to the chimney breast to make it more of a focal point to the room.

Watch this space for updates on the decorating in the next couple of weeks. The plan for this winter is to freshen up the living/ding room, the kitchen/breakfast room and our bedroom. None of which want much doing to them, nor much money spending on them but they just need a bit of a tart up to keep them looking nice, clean and tidy.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Bacon, Leek and Mushroom Pie

We had a load of random bits of different cheeses left in the fridge at home so I decided to rustle up a dinner that would use them all. This dish was so tasty, but did leave the kitchen smelling a little of stong blue cheese!

So in one pan add some peeled and chopped swede and boil in a salted water until soft. In a separate pan fry some chopped leeks, mushroom and chopped dry cured smoked bacon until the leeks and mushrooms have softened and the bacon is starting to crisp up. In the final pan make a simple cheese sauce with butter, plain flour and milk and then a good chunk of chopped string blue cheese. I used the last of the Roquefort we bought from Waitrose whilst we were away on the boat a couple of weeks ago.

Once your blue cheese sauce is cooked add it to the leek, mushroom and bacon mixture stirring well until everything is nicely coated. Finally drain your swede and mash with a knob of butter and plenty of cracked black pepper. Dish up the leek mixture into pie dishes and top with the mashed swede. Top with some grated cheese, I used the last of the 24 month aged cheddar again bought whilst we were away on the boat and then bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees.

I served this simple with roast potatoes, roast parsnip and roasted carrot.

One word of warning the cheese sauce comes out of the oven like molten lava and sticks to the roof of your mouth!

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Henry Hoover

We blew up our vacuum cleaner recently, so much for all singing, all dancing, so we had been relying on an el cheapo supermarket branded piece of crap for the vacuuming at home. It was at best poor, to say the least. So last week I bit the bullet and bought a Henry.

Now Henry is nothing fancy, but everybody knows the Henry brand. It doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't. It isn't even bagless for heavens sake, but then again whats so good about bagless? Its messy, there are too many filters to clean, it loses suction at the drop of a hat, the list is endless. With Henry simply wait whilst the Hepa filtered bag is full, which at 9kg capacity will be some time, and then simply take it out of the machine and throw it in the bin. Job done, no mess, no fuss and most importantly no loss of suction.

For all of his good sides there is one downfall mind. He's bloody heavy. At 8.5kg he is a bit of an unwieldy beast and not the easiest to carry up and down stairs but we will forgive him that one small flaw. Luckily the hose is long enough to do the stairs from either the top or bottom landing so no need to perch him mid flight.

We were lucky to find an old stock 1200 watt Henry as the new ones are now 580 watt, apparently some new EU regulation means that vacumm cleaners now have to be lower powered. The one we bought was an old stock higher powered variant which was one of the reasons we bought one now rather than plodding on with the old useless supermarket vacuum cleaner.

One last bonus with Henry is that Liam now seems interested in vacuuming. If I had known all it would take would be to get a vacumm with a face and then Liam would use it, I would have got one years ago!

Monday 20 October 2014

A Wicked Weekend

Well, so much for a quiet weekend!

It all started so well. On Friday evening we had a leisurely cruise into Lincoln and a few quiet pints in the Lincoln Boat Club. We have taken the small electric oven back to the boat for the winter so I rustled up a pizza and some spicy wedges for a bit if a snack before we hit the sack for the evening.

On Saturday we did a spot of decorating in the boat club bar room. The ceiling was in need of a lick of paint so Liam, Chris and I set about it and in a couple of hours it was much better. After a quick walk around town we decided to head to Saxilby for a few quiet beers and a takeaway to round of the evening.

Well this is where it all went tits up to say the least. We were quickly joined by several other boats from E pontoon and before long the party started aboard the lovely Sunseeker, Sole Mate. The drinks were flowing, the takeout did happen from the newly opened Italian restaurant opposite the moorings, the lasagne was amazing by the way, and the party continued well into the night. I was semi sensible and went to bed reasonably early, Liam however was dumped, quite literally, on the back of our boat at 3.00am. 

Sunday didn't really start until gone 10.00am for most of the rabble. Most were nursing sore heads. But eventually everyone had to get up as we had to get the boats back to the marina. I believe it was an early night for all last night. We rounded off the evening with a lovely meal of roast Silverside of beef with roasted med style vegetables, it was very yummy but I dont think Liam really enjoyed it, he just wanted his bed!

Next weekend doesnt look to be any quieter as we have another E Pontoon outing and meal booked. This time to Wagamama's in Lincoln City Centre. 

Let the good times roll!

Friday 17 October 2014

River Trent 2014 - Part 5

 Torksey Lock Cut.

 Torksey Basin.

 Leaving Torksey and heading closer to home.

 Bob the Builder high up on some scaffold.

 Autumnal colours lining the banks of the Fossdyke.

 Saxilby visitor moorings.

 The no fishing signs are working well at Saxilby!

 Purple Haze, our friends new boat. No doubt you will be seeing many more pictures of her. Sadly you are unlikely to see many more of Wish You Were Here, their old boat.

 Sole Mate and Devocean on the Saxilby visitor moorings.

 Leaving Saxilby.

 Magnificent sunset over Burton Waters to end a great week away.

And another of that sunset.

Thursday 16 October 2014

River Trent 2014 - Part 4

 Autumnal colours.

 The church at Muskham.

 Stormy evening at Cromwell Lock.

 The calm after the storm.

 Sunny Cromwell.

 Cormorant on the weir boom.

 Cromwell Weir.

 Leaving Cromwell Lock.

 Mill looking glorious in the sunshine.

 Dodging the sunken islands.

 Approaching Dunham on the Trent.

We know we are almost home when the towers loom into sight.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

River Trent 2014 - Part 3

 Castle Barge, Newark

 Town Lock

 The roof of the Butter Market.

 Looking out across Market Square from the town hall.

 Town Hall Banquet Hall.

 The Mayors Parlour

 Town Lock again.

 The Castle peeking over the trees.

Castle Gardens.

River Trent 2014 - Part 2

 Blue Pearl on the Trent.

 Shallow corners!

 Cruising at dusk.

 Cruising into the sunset on the way to Dunham Bridge.

 A wet cruise between Dunham and Marnham.

 Old Gravel Barges.

 Lovely converted mill on the banks of the Trent.

 Brief stop at Cromwell Lock visitor moorings.

Stormy skies over the Trent as we cruise towards Newark.