Monthly Archives: April 2015

Bantam IV at the Cavalcade: Prep

On Sunday we went down to King’s Cross to do a few jobs on the tug. First, the exhaust pipe needed sealing, then James started the JP2 and we went for a little spin to test the engine.

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Then we got back and despite not having planned any painting, we couldn’t resist. This side of the tug is in the sun and have some fading from the UV light. We rubbed down and painted the green on this side, as well as all the red.

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Now it looks like this! All ready for the Cavalcade at the weekend!

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Categories: Bantam | 3 Comments

Wash Day

We’ve always used the local laundrette for washing, so didn’t have a washing machine on board. But then a neighbour was selling a second hand small Good Ideas twin tub for a very reasonable price so I thought it would be useful to have, for washing things in between big washes at the laundrette, or for when we’re out and about on the waterways. It’s great because it only uses 200W and doesn’t heat the water itself. I use the shower head attachment to fill it with hot water from the Paloma, then once things are washed and rinsed the spinner is surprisingly effective at removing most of the water, so that they only need hanging up overnight, and don’t produce much condensation. I use it in the shower tray so that the water can be pumped overboard down the shower drain. Very impressed!

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Categories: Daily Life | 2 Comments

Broccoli, Kale, Bacon and Blue Cheese soup

or how to use up what’s in your veg box!

After going away for much of Easter, I’d got behind with my veg and had a lot of greens to use up. So I made a vat of this soup, imagining it would last a week for my lunches. But James and I wolfed most of it down on Sunday night, so there wasn’t much left for lunches!


Olive Oil

2 medium onions

2 medium potatoes, peeled

Vegetable stock

Broccoli (about a cereal bowl full once destalked – I used the purple stuff)

Kale (about a small cereal bowl full once destalked)

A large chunk (about 100-200g) of blue cheese, in this case some Blacksticks blue

Smoked bacon (I used about 4 rashers, roughly chopped)


Chop the onions and cook them gently in olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Add the chopped, peeled potatoes and enough vegetable stock to cover them. Whilst they are cooking, chop the broccoli and kale to add later. Once the potatoes are soft, crumble up the blue cheese and add it, stirring until it’s all melted in (I used my potato masher to break the potatoes down a bit at this stage). Then, very last of all, add the chopped greens.  A bit more water/stock may be needed to get the right consistency. Quickly fry up the chopped bacon in a separate pan until its brown and a bit crispy. Once the bacon’s done, the greens will be too. You could fry and add the bacon at the beginning, with the onions, but I wanted to put it on top, kind of like a tasty garnish. I then blended the soup in the pan using my ancient trusty £5 stick blender, running off the medium sized inverter in the kitchen. but it would be fine unblended, just a bit less creamy. Serve with crusty bread and the bacon on top of the soup.

As I used purple broccoli it ended up a very strange colour, but I think with normal broccoli it would be a bit more green and less “green and lavender” coloured!

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Categories: Daily Life | 1 Comment

An evening under the stars

I have been reprimanded for not blogging enough, (sorry!) so here’s what I did last night. Our neighbour Xina moved in to her boat last year, having bought it from our previous neighbours, Chris and Simone. The boat used to be called Light Enough to Travel. Now it’s named Bümba. With the summer months and longer evenings approaching, Xina kept a watchful eye on the weather forecast and when a sunny evening was promised on Wednesday night, rallied friends to join her, bringing her dining table out on to Midsummer Common for an al fresco feast. We provided chairs and an oil lamp from Willow. It was a little cold by the time dusk fell, and so we all wrapped up in blankets, including Louis the dog, but it was a magical evening, a little surreal to be having a dinner party round a table out on the Common, and we plan to repeat it throughout the summer!

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Categories: Daily Life | 1 Comment

Easter 2: Ellesmere Port

Every year there is a gathering of historic narrow boats at Ellesmere Port, where the Shropshire Union Canal joins the Manchester Ship Canal. The warehouses here are now one of the Canal and River Trust’s Boat Museums, and the Waterways archives are held here.

We’d not attended one of these gatherings since we went up by train in 2010, and stayed in Chertsey‘s hold in our tent which has still never been pitched on land. This time we were to be staying in the hold of our friends’ new old butty Betelgeuse. They’ve only owned it 7 months but have made some incredible progress, creating a removable “pod” in the empty hold which houses a very nice bathroom and living room, to provide social space and a shower whilst they continue to mainly live in the butty’s back cabin, along with their cat Max.

We drove up from Cambridge on Sunday morning and were pleased to find virtually no traffic, meaning that we made it in about three hours, including a break, arriving in time for the Boaters’ Games, which was a lot of fun, involving mostly rope throwing skills. The sun came out in the afternoon and we went on a little pootle to the winding hole and back, with Mike’s Victoria towing Betelgeuse, but mostly just spent time wandering about, catching up with friends. The evening saw the Boaters’ entertainment, with singing, music, and for the first time, contemporary poetry!

On Monday after an excellent breakfast cooked on Betelgeuse‘s back cabin range we decided to explore the waterways archives, which was very interesting indeed. As well as Willow‘s BCN gauging record, we found a transcript of the Ellesmere Port Toll Clerk’s register, showing that on August 12th 1949, Willow was at Ellesmere Port paired with sister boat Elm, and between them they were loaded with 44 tons of flour from King’s flour mill, bound for Wolverhampton, carrying for the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive. This is the first reference we’ve ever found to Willow actually carrying a specific load, so we were very excited to find it!

Later on we spoke to the Carter family who have very recently purchased Willow‘s sister boat Ash, which was at Norton Canes last time we saw it. The boat was owned by their family in the 1960s so it has gone to a very good home. It’s not often that Severner owners get together so it was great to have the chance to have a properly geeky chat with Reuben and Mike. All too soon we started the lengthy process of saying our goodbyes (this took the better part of an hour!) and heading back down the M6.

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Categories: Out and About | Leave a comment

Easter 1: Waterbeach

We had to get some boating in over Easter, but didn’t have time to  go far. So it was out to the GOBA moorings near Bottisham Lock in the rain on Friday afternoon, a bit of time to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet, then a walk over to Pippin for dinner and drinks, and back into town in the morning so that James would be back in time to work on the trip boat. A short trip, but nice to have a change of scenery for a little while at least.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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