Tuesday 31 October 2017

A weekend away with the boys

On Thursday last week, David flew off to Brisbane to see his sister's new home (I was originally going to go, but work came along and we cancelled my ticket, then work got deferred/postponed/cancelled - not sure which - and it was too expensive to re-purchase my ticket). So I decided on a weekend with the boys.

I joined Bruce and Gary at Pete and Warren's place in Carterton. It was the Wairarapa Agricultural and Pastoral Show and we were going on the Saturday.
Two Toyotas - my small old grey/silver one, and B&G's beast. And the view from my bedroom over to a neighbours' place
Pete and Warren have two of these large plastic magpies - great for changing birds' minds about flying through their verandah - and pooping on the way through ... I think I need a few strategically placed around our garden to discourage them from scratching so actively for lunch in the bark/mulch and spreading it all over the place. GGGRRR!!!

Warren loves having the livestock grazing on their two paddocks. He feeds them the grass clippings and they trot up and down the fence line by the driveway when he is mowing that section - just waiting (and reminding him) for the clippings to be dumped over the fence. Talk about the grass being greener ...

But Friday night came first and there was a modestly sized gathering at P&W's place - much chat and laughter, and for me, a couple of new faces. Still and all, I went off to bed early and slept as soon as my head hit the pillow, I think. I hadn't slept well the night before, as it was the first night David was away and my imagination runs riot about the noises the house makes ... 😫😨😱

So even though there was loud chat, lots of laughter, a bottle of chardonnay** swept off the bench to the floor with a resounding crash, I slept on. And even though the front door was right next to my bedroom, I didn't hear anyone leaving. 😴

We had consulted the A&P Show programme and there seemed to be a general consensus that the shearing and the wood chopping had to be seen for some reason. I lost the guys almost as soon as we arrived as I had to get cash from the EFTPOS service, so I wandered lonely as a cloud while they wandered elsewhere. I managed to buy an Xmas present for a friend, a loaf of ciabatta (merely as comparison, you understand, as I had taken a home-made loaf over to P&W's and I wanted to see what the differences were) and a wet weather fedora-type hat for me - I am starting a collection of that hat style as it is the only one that suits me, and as Kirsty says, if you like it, get one in every colour ...
This wee dress was in the sewing competition, and it reminded me of the dresses that David's mum Mary used to have made for Kirsty when she was little.

I couldn't find the guys and I couldn't get in contact with them either, so decided to walk back to the house - it was sunny and warm with a slight breeze, so not too hot. I did wonder if my silver shoes would be up to it, but they seemed fine.

However, shortly after I got to the main road (the state highway no 2, no less) I got a text telling me where they were. A text exchange followed and Gary said he'd pick me up as they were leaving. I was instructed to wait at the Clareville Nursery and Garden Centre. Of course I was obedient; I had been there the day before with Pete and while he spent about $5 on a marrow plant and a pumpkin plant, I'd spent $75 on a rhododendron, a climber and a tree.
The first rhododendron. The second one is a very very pale lemon - so pale it is almost, but not quite, white.

So while I waited for Gary, of course I had to go in - $32 later for another rhodo, Gary turned up. I did tell him it would have been cheaper if he'd told me to meet him at the cafe ...

Lunch was out at a lovely cafe in Carterton. Very friendly service.

And I liked this tip jar - not that I approve of tipping, mind you - esp not in NZ!

Real grated chocolate on these cappucinos! Yummy indeed!

Warren borrowed Gary's Johnny Cash hat - an actual Johnny Cash hat from the US, not just a cheap knock off, I tell you for real.
The food was lovely but I was still full from brekkie - toasted cheese scones and scrambled egg with lots of other yummy stuff in, so I couldn't really do it justice.

Then a nana nap for me and a SCAN for the others, as they are not nanas. SCAN is a senior citizen afternoon nap. It even sounds medicinal, whereas a nana nap just sounds elderly ...

Dinner was out at a very nice Thai/Vietnamese/Malay restaurant called Marigold which is BYO alcohol - Carterton is quite small, so fusion is important and BYO is a key success factor. Even so it has about 5 or 6 eating out places plus takeaways. And Marigold was quite busy - filled with diners and takeaway customers. I was still full so didn't finish my Tom Ka Gai either. ** Gary had swept the chardonnay off the bench the night before, but told me not to worry - he had a Ponder Estate chardonnay in the boot of their car - I do like their style as they travel with their own wine stash! Ponder Estate chardonnay is VERY nice indeed! It was good I was sharing, as I didn't need more stuff in my stomach!

And then breakfast on Sunday was at Everest cafe in Featherston which is south of Carterton, so it's on the way home for Bruce and Gary and for me. So a three car convoy, followed by a very very nice breakfast for all of us. But boy oh boy, I didn't need any more food for the rest of the day, and ate very little on Monday too.
Gary (under the paddle), Warren, Pete and Bruce with his back to the camera
Warren had grilled asparagus in bacon with poached eggs and rosti

Gary had the Everest Big Breakfast - in the ramekin is cauliflower cheese - interesting addition for brekkie, but seems to fit somehow.

Pete's quiche was apparently nice but didn't really have the breakfast look ...
My eggs benedict - very yummy

Bruce had ranch eggs - they weren't called that, but it's what they were. Kidney beans, tomatoes, chorizo and eggs poached in the mix. I have made these before and the eggs take ages to poach in a tomato mix - clearly tomatoes have a lower boiling point than water!

Then home. And as I came on to Gray's Road in Plimmerton, almost out to State Highway 1 and within about 20kms of home, I get a call from Pete - AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I had left my plants behind!!!

Stupido in extremis - I has been so careful to check the bedroom, the lounge, the kitchen for any of my belongings. but I hadn't looked outside where the plants were nestled in the shade under B&G's bedroom window!

So on Monday, I drove over to collect them - good to see P&W after such a long absence 😏

They gave me a cup of tea and some girl guide biscuits to sustain me for the trip home. Which led to a discussion about where Griffin's biscuits are made now, which led to Pete looking it up on line. Which led to the shock and horror finding that Griffin's gingernuts are now made in the Philippines - triple AAARRRGGGHHH!!! That's the end of buying them then! An NZ icon being made in the Philippines? What is the world coming to?

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Cheese scones

My routine of gardening first thing after I get up is being sustained - if I leave it till later, my tendency for procrastination will kick in ...

And yesterday I managed 40 minutes and my back seemed to cope quite well. I think it works best when I bend rather than kneel to weed. I always knew that kneeling was bad and that women shouldn't do it!
Standard cos and baby cos lettuces are in - it rained overnight so no watering required today!

Second wheelbarrowful of mulch awaits. In the background are the 4 trunks of a formerly HUGE rhododendron so huge it overhung our roof and Jillian's garage roof. Luke took all of the branches off and it is on probation - either it'll sprout and regrow, but not to its former lofty height or it'll be chopped out at ground level - its probation period is up by the end of this summer, so best it gets itself into gear ...

Later in the day I filled the wheelbarrow with 2 loads of mulch from the front drive's pile, and emptied one load on to the garden at the back outside the bedroom window - the second barrowful is still waiting to be decanted by bucket, as I cannot get the barrow over the box hedge to empty it.

I decided David and I needed a reward for the hard work we are both undertaking, me in the garden and David in the office trawling through our 44,000 digital photos (there is a project underway) and his Weaving Memory assignments. His work now is split between digitally publishing people's old video and old film. And he does a fabulous job with it - cleaning, correcting colour, editing and chapterising. He is always busy!    Here's his website 

So I made cheese scones. While we were on the boat, I made them quite often - they taste great (except twice when I used cream instead of milk [too heavy by several hundredweight] and the time I used baking soda instead of baking powder [tasted strange, looked stranger]).

Yesterday they were magnificent. I am not sure what makes the difference - could be the tasty cheese here is sharper - I think the electric stove may be the change factor - a drier heat, and a bigger oven. Also NZ butter is saltier than any UK brand I've tried, and the combination of cheese scone and cold well flavoured butter is a wonderful taste sensation!

They rose more and took less time to cook

Anyway, they were yummy; so yummy that I hid the last three in plain sight on top of the fridge (our fridge is about 6 foot high so it's out of our sight line, and as any student of child development knows, Piaget says that if a baby cannot see something it no longer exists - not saying David is a baby, mind you 😜😘), and texted Luke that they were his for the picking up. There was a bit of a scuffle at the front door this morning when David realised:
a) that the scones did still exist, and
b) that I was giving them to Luke.

I was on the phone at the time to 2 fifths of the convoy who are home in Desborough, so Mick witnessed aurally the disputed handover. Needless to say, given he is younger and significantly taller, Luke went away with the spoils of that particular battle.

I'd make more for David today but he is off to Brisbane to stay with his sister Ginny and her husband Graham for a long weekend and I am heading to Carterton to stay with Pete and Warren tomorrow. Before I head off in the morning, I'll make a loaf of ciabatta and see if that works better than in England - I have a feeling that the flour I get in the UK is pretty damn good for bread. I'll keep you posted on the result. Of course, my taste testers are probably more critical here than the convoy team of John, Julia and Mick are. It's not that the latter are easier to please, it's that they are kinder!

Monday 23 October 2017

Gardening continues ...

Instead of watching a Netflix movie before getting up to work in the garden yesterday, I caught up on Adrian and Adam's nb Briar Rose blog about their epic journey aka The North West Passage - I am aware that they have a great deal of boating stamina and can do huge number of hours each day (it's being so youthful, you know!), but reading about it (started from the end and read back to where they left us and Jaq at Tixall Wide) made me tired again. But valiantly, I got up and finished the unpacking, and then went out to get some gardening done.

I managed to empty the raised vege garden (RVG) of all its plants plus an extensive root system of mint, left the large perpetual rocket in place, and saved some things to be replanted:
  • a couple of other small perpetual rocket plants, plus 
  • some mint shoots for transplanting into an isolated container (to curtail the triffids-taking-over-the-world syndrome) and 
  • about 9 hydrangea cuttings put in the RVG earlier in the year that had happily taken and were thriving.
Then it was into the car and off to buy some mulch and compost/potting mix. At 40 litres per bag they were too heavy for me to lift sensibly, so staff loaded them into the boot, and back home David transported them from the car to the RVG in the wheelbarrow - that is Bruce and Gary's, by the way, as we don't own one, but every time David tries to give it back, they say they know where it lives now and can come and 'borrow' it whenever they need to. Lovely, aren't they?

In to the RVG went 80 litres of commercial mulch, then 3 wheelbarrow loads of mulch that is currently residing on our drive (and needs to be out of here before the motorhome** gets here in a month), followed by 80 litres of compost/potting mix. Then I planted the coriander and basil seedlings (some Thai basil in there - yay!!) and the lettuce seedlings. The small potted cherry tomato plant went into a pot and is in the middle of the RVG.

Planting has begun

Happy sprouting hydrangea cuttings

Luke and Diane turned up unexpectedly yesterday arvo with Lyall as the walking wounded, requiring grazed bleeding knee repair and grazed belly repair. Doctor Marilyn was on duty with the trusty Ayrtons ointment (no longer made, dammit!), the plasters, but both preceded by wound washing. I'd have to say that toilet lids are such a handy device as they double quite usefully as seats for patients requiring first aid.

It is great having Luke and Di as surrogate children, by the way. Doesn't mean we love Tim and Kirsty any less, but they are both too far away to be helpful on home handyperson jobs that are now beyond us.
  •  After I had cleaned (with hot water and white vinegar) the outdoor table glass that has been in the garage since we left back in May Luke helped me carry it around and place it again on the table - today it still looks sparkling clean, but that won't last long in the breeze.
  • Lyall recovered well from his injuries and was sent down (by his father) into the sinkhole on the motorhome pad to clear away the leaves. He retreated rapidly when he saw a spider, but not to worry - there weren't many leaves in there and they'll rot away quite happily I think. We just need to put chicken wire over the grill before next autumn so the full crop of falling maple tree leaves doesn't end up down there ... 
  • The RVG had a distinct tilt from back to front - mainly because the corner framing at the front wasn't extended into the ground while the rear ones were (already there as part of a manky old bean frame). So Luke raised the front section - amazing what a spade and garden fork (with suitably strong shafts) can do when wedged under the front bottom plank and levered up using my weight and Luke's.   He rammed a piece of 4x2 under each front corner, and Bob's your uncle. Looks like it was always level!!
The RVG has had a front face lift and now looks pretty level. See the newspaper packs of cos lettuce waiting to be planted when it's a bit cooler this evening? And down to the right of the RVG is the section I weeded today - some spreading thyme is now in place.

Lyall is attempting the blunt instrument solution to effect the termination with extreme prejudice of a small spider ...

Spider conquered, back in the hole goes that child - it is the opposite of chimney sweeps ...

Working, boss!

I have decided that if I do 20 - 30 minutes of weeding a day, I can probably keep on top of the demands of the garden ...

I did more than that yesterday, and did 30 minutes today: a bit more weeding and then I planted the spreading thyme seedlings - some by the RVG, some under the kitchen window and some by the clothesline - it spreads and can be used as lawn or ground cover so sounds ideal to me. On our supermarket visit earlier today I bought some baby cos and cos lettuce seedlings - Cafe Rata's vege garden is back in business!

However I'd have to say that gardening is much easier in the rooftop allotment on nb Waka Huia - no bending, for a start!

** Re the motorhome:
  • It has left Durban and is on its way across the Indian Ocean towards Freemantle, then around the southern coast of Australia, up to Sydney and Brisbane (not sure if it calls in to Adelaide on the way) then around the top of NZ and down to Auckland. Current ETA is 17 November  but likely to be a day or so later, but definitely not earlier!
  • The name is changing - you may remember that we decided on Vangelic (it's a van, my first name is Angela and I am angelic, and the inspiration came from my shouting out the answer to who wrote the music to Chariots of Fire at a pub quiz I wasn't in a team for ... ) However our original name for it was CROW, an acronym for Cafe Rata On Wheels. David didn't like that, hence it was subject to change ...
  • But back when we were moored up at Mount Sorrel, Kirsty (the lovely daughter) rang and indicated that Vangelic was a bit nothing and needed too much explaining. I explained about CROW and she was definitely definite that needed to be the name. Her thinking was this:
    • Crows are covids and covids are apparently the cleverest birds
    • I am a clever bird (OK, that was my addition to the discussion but Kirsty agreed)
    • Cafe Rata on Wheels expresses what will most likely occur with the motorhome
    • I said I would work on her father who was extremely resistant...
  • Fast forward to couple of weeks later and I watched a YouTube video of a Michael Parkinson  interview with David Attenborough (and Billy Connolly) in 1998 Here's the link to it: Michael Parkinson, Billy Connolly and David Attenborough
    • David Attenborough (at about minute 27, if you don't want to watch Billy Connolly and why wouldn't you - he is hilarious) tells the story of a carrion crow in a city in Japan that uses trucks at traffic lights to crack walnuts ...
    • So as we were cruising along towards Debdale, I told David about this, and about my being a clever bird. He said 'OK, I give in, CROW it is.' Yay!!!

Sunday 22 October 2017

The lag of the jet is letting go

It is now 7 days since we were on our way home over Europe (or somewhere), six hours into our flight to Singapore. It will be 6 days ago at midnight tonight that we landed in Auckland and it's 5 days since we got home. I only know these stats because I look at the top right of my laptop screen and I can see the day and the date. Otherwise, I would struggle to respond correctly if administered the confusion test ... 'What day is it today, Marilyn?' 'What day was it when you arrived back in Waikanae?' Ah, no idea on either account over the last few days.

But now I am feeling almost back to my normal nutty self. I think a full day in bed yesterday helped a lot: there was only reading, watching movies on Netflix, getting out of bed just for food and drink preparation and elimination.

I did make avocado on toast for brekkie, preceded by a very early morning cup of tea; for lunch I made cheese tart from pastry and the cheese mixture I had left over from dinner with Joy and Grahame (what night was that?) served with sliced tomato and ciabatta (bought, Julia, not home made), and David made a salad accompanied by tuna and mayo in a pita pocket for dinner.

And even David didn't get out of his pyjamas all day, so it wasn't just me, honest!

Today I am planning on being a fully functioning adult again - there are some final things to put away, the raised vegetable garden needs to be topped up with compost, seedlings planted and the mint brought under control. If my energy holds out, I'll pull a few of the larger weeds from the flower gardens beside the dining room and at the back. And I'll clean the glass top for the outside table so we can put it back on.

Because I am sure there is more to be done, I feel a list coming on! But first I think there's a movie I need to watch on Netflix...

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Home again, home again!

Well here we are, back in NZ, back in Waikanae, back in our lovely cosy house with our spring garden looking lovely, back with the tuis and the wood pigeons.

I am losing the appetite for flying - my fear seems to have increased as my sense of impending doom arising from the idiocy of the trumpster in the White House. So now, not only am I scared of the plane falling out of the sky (I have the best imagination for things that could go wrong and are most likely to do so when I am onboard) but I am scared that whatever plane I am on will be the focus of bad people or that the two children in the kindergarten sandpit of the world will start a war while I am flying near where their bombs may go off ...
Our plane at LHR - we were seated upstairs - I've never been in the upstairs cabin before.

In our large business class seats - David was leaving a message for Kirsty.

For Jaq - see the cheese selection, darling?
The Singapore Air table setting - no photos of food though ...

However, I have an increased sense of safety if I am sitting in Business Class - I know, I know, it's not logical. However, being physically comfortable, being well cared for by the four (Singapore Air) or two (Air NZ) staff assigned to ~48 and 32 passengers respectively, not having to queue for the toilets and not having to be careful where I put my feet in the aisle or the toilets, and not seeing the 300 other people being carried high above the earth in a metal tube added to my sense of safety and reduced my anxiety levels - this was in spite of both flights being rather bumpy.

From London to Singapore I remember it being bumpy after a few hours, then smooth until we were approaching Malaysia across the sea. And from Singapore it was bumpy for the first 3 or 4 hours until we crossed the coast of Australia near Darwin and then again as we crossed the Tasman Sea to NZ.

We have decided that we love AirNZ Business Class - great seat configuration, really comfortable sleeping arrangements, lovely food (plus an excellent Villa Maria Reserve Chardonnay ...) So our next UK trip will be through Shanghai on a code share with Virgin Atlantic, as the AirNZ staff told us that VA has the same business class configuration (AirNZ bought it from VA, apparently).

Singapore Air's Business Class had lovely food and OK wine (French chardonnay and an Australian sauvignon blanc - what are they thinking?) and the service was friendly and helpful. But their seating/bed configuration is not anywhere near as good as AirNZ's. The seats are definitely larger and more roomy, but for the two seats in the middle, there is no handy storage apart from on the floor and no overhead locker for the middle seats; and the bed arrangement was downright strange, with the folded out seat being sort of L-shaped: a long-ish rectangle with a small square at the foot end. And it sloped rather than being level. Because of the weird shape, the mattress was velcroed on (not always successfully) to the folded out seat and it wasn't terribly comfy really. However David tells me I did sleep, although I don't remember that I did, much. He says he didn't, but I remember getting the staff to come and wake him so they could put his bed together ...

The Butterfly House in Singapore airport was lovely - but this was the only variety I could photograph as the others were constantly on the move and very fluttery!
I know I slept on the  AirNZ flight, dozing as the bumps occurred and the seatbelt sign pinged on and off, and more deeply as we crossed Australia from Darwin to Brisbane. That was in between my numerous trips to the toilet - nervousness is one of my excuses ...

After a night in the hotel just across the taxi stand/bus route from the International Terminal at Auckland, we caught a little plane (50 seater) complete with our 5 suitcases, back to Paraparaumu. A lovely flight, and it was wonderful on the approach coming in from the west of Kapiti Island in the sunshine.

Kapiti Island across the bay. The back patches are cloud shadows

Green spaces, large sections, separate houses, the beach .... Aaahh!

And there to meet us were our favourites, the lovely Bruce and Gary!! Yay!! It is so lovely being able to fly in to an airport that is only 20 minutes from home!

A quick flit around the supermarket ('I am only going in for milk, bread and butter' says I and came out with a trolley load of meat, veges, fruit, wine, fish, cheese, crackers, croissants, date scones ... plus a tomato plant in a pot!) then home to Rata St. Scones, tea and coffee with B&G - funny how after 5 months my mind forgot where things were kept, but my hands and body remembered - I'd think 'where do we keep the plates?' as my hands and feet were already moving towards the drawers ...
See, the sun is shining, flowers are out - OK, there are still some weeds but Susan is coming today!
Yes, I am home too.
Our favourites with David. Joy and Grahame's magnolia behind Gary.

On the corner of Horopito Road - we had walked around to see Joy and Grahame, but they were out, dammit!

Looking up Kohekohe Road - juxtaposition of imported blossom trees and native trees on the hills beyond.

The Waikanae social round has resumed:
  • dinner at Bruce and Gary's on the first evening home, after a nana nap
  • breakfast yesterday at Jan's Cafe in Paraparaumu
  • dinner last night at John's in Paraparaumu

Eggs benedict with ham at Jan's Cafe in Paraparaumu yesterday - best we've had anywhere

Today I think I will see if we can get Joy and Grahame over for a catch up ...

Sunday 15 October 2017

Two thirds of the convoy reunites

Mick and Julia joined us at the top of Foxton Locks on Friday arvo (over a week ago now!), and came for dinner preceded by nibbles - so no dessert, even though I had planned to make little open apple tarts from my 20 minute dessert recipe book by Alison and Simon Holst (I'll post a copy of the recipe when I get home if anyone is interested). Still, when we emptied the cupboards, they got the rest of the apples and the pastry so they can make them and think of us ...

In the morning, Julia drove the car to Debdale and then walked back, prior to brekkie - she is a champion! We came down the locks in convoy, them first and fastest, and moored up. They were going to head for their mooring, but Mick had to get briefed on all the work he is doing for us over the winter.

Then he helped David diagnose the source of the water that had persistently been leaking into the cabin bilge since we bought the boat. Although we'd thought it was to do with overfilling the washing machine, it turns out it was not.
A bit out of sequence, but here is Mick putting the panel back in place

Mick and David pulled out the washing machine and then removed (16 screws later) the panel between the washing machine and the calorifier. Aha!! The leak was from a pipe connected to the end of the calorifier, seemingly as an overflow/pressure outlet. As the pipe had a jubilee clip on the open end it seemed most likely it had been connected to a previous washing machine that was dual feed (hot and cold). When the washing machine was replaced, the hose was left attached to the calorifier and angled down into the bilge. Dammit!! It had leaked slowly and persistently and the water had made its way to the inspection hatch, and created quite a rust problem in that area of the cabin bilge.

The hose is still in situ, but there is a container beneath it to catch any drips, and we will get Ed to sort it next time he comes. In the meantime, we know it won't be leaking as the water has been drained from the system.

So Mick and Julia's departure for their mooring was delayed and my access to the galley was disrupted - hence lunch just had to be at the Foxton Locks Inn, for the second time in 3 days ...

I had managed to take the pram cover down while David and Mick were heads down in the bilge, and I very cleverly dropped a couple of the fittings in the cut as I did so (DOH!!!) - so more need to be ordered for delivery to Mick and Julia's place.

Sunday we stayed on at Foxton to complete some cleaning/clearing on the boat and to work on the giant packing exercise.

And of course we had to have dinner at the Foxton Locks Inn again.
Squint and you'll be able to read it. I think it expresses it well ...

From the by the swing bridge on our way back to the boat

On Monday morning we did headed the short distance to Debdale and made our way in the the mooring after chatting with Pat (I cannot remember the name of their boat) while we waited for a few boats to be moved about.

At least the boats meet, even if the owners don't ...

Yep, it's the WaL nestled in front of us, while Lisa and David are in the Caribbean (sp?)

And we had a lovely dinner with Mick and Julia in Rothwell at a Thai restaurant that night - very yummy, and Mick and Julia's treat, thanks, team! Getting back to the boat was easy, but getting there was fraught:
  • First of all I couldn't start the car. Even got out the manual - a tome of about 600 pages ... Only to find that I needed to depress the clutch while starting the engine ... Doh!!
  • Then I failed to follow the TomTom instructions as I was focused on what Mick had told me about going past Gartree Prison. Not the way he told me of course ... So I am sure we travelled about twice the distance we needed to through the slowest roads possible at the taile end of rush hour, such as it is near Market Harborough!
The next couple of days were taken up with packing, packing, packing - for which I had to go into Market Harborough to buy two more cases. I have brought home the sewing machine to replace the one I have there which is at least 60 years old and which weighs about 60 kg - well, I exaggerate, but not by much. OK by a factor of about 6.

Mel is coming home with us as he has declared his rightful place is in the motorhome now.
Take a deep breath, Mel!

He has done the 5-2 diet so he fits in the case easily.

Wednesday was departure day from the boat but first cleaning, cleaning, cleaning inside and out. Care packages were prepared for Mick and Julia, Barry and Pauline, and Molly, plus for the B&B hosts we were staying with before heading south.

We had intended to be away from the boat by 3pm, and did well to be on our way not long after 4pm. I do clean while we are on board throughout the summer, but clearly not thoroughly enough!

We stayed in a lovely B&B called Marston Croft in Marston Trussell. We thoroughly recommend it - 6 stars out of 5. Amanda and Graham are great hosts, and Amanda provides yummy cake and bisuits, plus a wonderful breakfast. Her style is more like an NZ B&B than the usual UK experience.

Then on down to Surrey to stay with the lovely Aunt Molly. A nana nap was required on arrival, and the next day a trip into London to go to my favourite osteopath, Rupert Chapman in Warwick Way.

We are clear that we are over London - too busy, grubby, noisy. I am sure it is our age and nothing against the city really.

Dinner that night was at The Plough in Leatherhead, with Molly and Gordon and Sharon. The restaurant there is Thai and the food is excellent. David had scanned and printed in a larger size, some old family photos for Molly, so she had an extremely late night of nostalgia - looking at the the photos and  reading a book about New Brighton, near where she and my mum had been in a home for waifs and strays after their mum died.

Yesterday morning, Molly and I went to M&S in Dorking - a favourite haunt - then back to hers for lunch and then off David and I went, heading for the Premier Inn at Heathrow. A nap after the marathon of returning the car to Enterprise - returning it was simple, getting a cab back to the hotel was a challenge and time consuming, plus the driver took me far further than he needed to as he wouldn't U turn where everyone else does ...

A snooze and then dinner at the hotel with Barry and Pauline - lovely to see them again before we left.

We are now checked in, sitting in the Singapore Air Lounge with just under an hour till we are due to leave - my goodness, blogging helps pass time!

Foxton to North Kilworth and back to Foxton

But first pikelets! Jennie Gash of nb Tentatrice commented that she had looked up pikelets after I referred to them in a previous post. They are the grandsons' favourite breakfast when with us - at home with their mum it's waffles, but it's been pikelets for them since I first made them for Olek when Marta asked me to make pancakes for him. As I don't do pancakes much, I did pikelets and he has loved them since. And Karol took to them with gusto as well - well, he would esp when he can have them with nutella! None of that on the boat, so he had them with a pot of Aero chocolate mousse. He told me it was yummy.

OK, so pikelets. They are like pancakes but smaller and slightly fatter. The recipe I use is a modification of the Edmond's cookbook (it used to be that very few NZ households were without an Edmond's cookbook, and many young NZers who came to the UK had one put in their backpacks by their mums - I know I gave one to Tim).

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk soured with 1tsp of vinegar
1 dsp butter - melted

Sift dry ingredients, add egg and soured milk, and beat with a whisk (as I do on the boat) a hand beater, or electric beater (at home). Add the melted butter and briefly beat it in.

Heat a frying pan to pretty hot and drop in about 1/2 tsp butter and coat the pan. Drop tablespoonsful of the mixture from the point of the spoon on to the surface. When bubbles start to burst on the top of the pikelets, turn them over and cook the second side until golden. Place in a clean tea towel to cool. This mix makes about 16 - 20 depending on the size; it feeds David and I plus the boys for brekkie; it is only just enough if I am making them for morning tea when Luke is working at our place. 😜

For the boys I put maple syrup and jam (and Aero chocolate mousse 👍) on the table. If there is no maple syrup, then it's golden syrup. I like them with just butter - either hot or cold. They are often served in NZ with butter, jam and a dollop of cream for morning or afternoon tea. When we were B&Bing I used to serve them with bacon, banana and maple syrup with a side of plain yoghurt 👍👍👍.

Olek in the limelight,

and then Karol.

On Sunday after pikelets and when Tim and Dana picked up the boys, David and I walked up to the top of the locks to meet John who had brought our hose reel back for us. Kind man! Then back down to the boat and a decision to proceed up to the top to moor up. There was a bit of a wait for a boat to come down, and then up we went.
Into the second lock, I think.

In the 5th lock, about to enter the passing pound. There is a boat coming out of the lock ahead of me, and they will pull over and I will go straight in. Easy peasy.

David working - paddles on staircase flights have to be done in a certain order: Red before white and you'll be alright; white before read and you'll be dead. Not sure what is fatal about it, but clearly it matters ...

David was assisted by three quite small children (the eldest was about 6) - I am sure he got them to help as that way he could make sure they didn't fall in. We were both frit, as John would say, that so many little ones were allowed to wander/toddle/totter near the locksides ... I know Tim thinks we are super cautious, but we were both on tenterhooks as we made our way up, David from on a level with the kids and me from well below them. I was watching them like a hawk as I moved from one lock to the next as several kids seemed to be racing to watch, and I knew I'd be hard pushed to stop if one of them fell in. But safely to the top we got without casualties but several more grey hairs for David - too late for me, all of mine are grey!

There was only one boat moored at the top when we arrived - it was Bob (and Oliver the lovely dog) on nb Inanda, both of whom we met at Kilby Bridge and we've been leapfrogging since.

There is a large apple tree on the offside at the top of the locks. It is accessible and apparently part of an orchard. I only saw the one tree fruiting and there were loads on the ground (and in the cut). So of course free food had to be taken advantage of. They cooked up beautifully and tasted great with greek yoghurt and muesli.
On Monday Bob kindly drove us into Market Harborough for some shopping and for me to get a haircut. I found a small place just off the square and across the bridge from the (expensive) Toni and Guy place. The Polish woman who works there did a great dry cut and it only cost £11.50 - about a quarter of what I paid in Woodstock a couple of months ago ... As a thank you for his driving us around, we invited Bob to dinner on nb Waka Huia - BBC GoodFood Saturday Night Curry (Ginger Chicken but with the addition of heaps of veges).

On Tuesday we moved on to North Kilworth having first filled with water - said operation required that I reverse back past Bob's boat and past a hireboat who'd stopped for lunch on one waterpoint (GGGRRR!!!). There was much laundry to be done as we had avoided doing any while the weather was pants and although we'd got some done on the journey from Kilby Bridge to Newton Harcourt to Fleckney, somehow the stack did not seem to diminish! I am not sure why this occurs - any ideas, anyone?

It was a breezy day and I managed to get thoroughly cold - for some reason I didn't pause and get my thermal top on and just got colder and colder and colder - methinks that incipient hypothermia  affected my brain. We stopped at North Kilworth to get diesel and to re-fill with water and I managed to thaw out a bit in the sunshine. I did decide I needed to moor up and so we attempted to do so about 100 yards past the wharf. What a bloody disaster! 😡😰😱 David couldn't jump off the boat as the grass was too long for him to see if there were holes in it (sensible), there was a boat coming along behind us, and once David did get off with the front rope, the stern went out past the middle of the cut and it didn't matter what I did we still splayed out across the canal. Bloody hell, I HATE that!!! And what I hated more was the laughter on the faces of the hirers coming along behind us ... I do HATE looking stupid! And it's definitely worse in front of hirers!

And the mooring place was crap. So in a tantrum, I said that as soon as I'd eaten my Magnum (when cold eat something colder to make you realise how warm you are really) I was moving to a better place. David was valiantly trying to make me feel better but I was past being comforted/cared for/attended to/reasoned with - David seemed to know without being told that the last would have sent me into orbit!!!😱😱😱

So we moved on about 400 yards, moored up successfully and I retreated for a lie down/nana nap with a strengthening cup of tea and magnesium. What a wuss I am! (My sister Dee and I have talked in the past about how I go from full steam ahead to hitting the wall in about 5 minutes flat - she knew I did it, but hadn't seen it really until she came to help me in the B&B when David was in Opunake helping Marta out when Karol was due - she was meant to be resting up, but getting her to do that was not easy ... ) Anyway, I notice that I hit the wall that day and it was after a very poor night's sleep.

Bob moved up too and moored a couple of hundred yards behind us and through the bridge. He has been for cheese scones and to help with a range of tasks - another very helpful boater with all the tools/equipment on his boat that anyone could possibly need!

Bob taking advantage of a selfie.

Oliver the dog is very lovely - but good heavens, he can shed hair! Following Bob's example, I guess ...

Yesterday (note before posting on 15/10: I now have no idea what day that was, OK?) before David did a Hammerite paint job in the cabin bilge where we'd had overflowed washing machine water gathering off and on since we bought the boat, I managed to wash and paint (with said Hammerite) the starboard gunwale. And this morning we cruised to the entrance to the Welford Arm and winded (it was a bit windy and I messed it up, so David had to get off the front and pull the boat around until I could complete the turn, doh!!😡😡) and then we moored up in exactly the same place but facing the other way.

Since then, David has walked to and from Welford to do a shop for the last supplies we'll need this season, and I have:
  • made cheese scones
  • made two loaves of bread
  • cooked a piece of gammon for tonight's dinner
  • done three loads of dishes
  • washed and painted the port side gunwale
  • painted the sides and hinges of the gas locker
  • painted the deck cover for the weedhatch area.
 I sense that wall approaching ...

And today we have cruised back to Foxton in beautiful sunshine - a stunning morning indeed. It was chilly though so I had 5 layers on:
  • camisole
  • long sleeved merino thermal top
  • shirt
  • my dad's jersey
  • my coat
plus my silk scarf, David's dad's leather and lambswool driving gloves (only flaw is that they are domed and have an elegant keyhole gap at the wrist) and my fedora. And I was still quite cold by the time we arrived ...

We have done some painting - I let David loose with the Hammerite and the paintbrush and he insisted on wearing rubber gloves. When I went out to do a smidgen of painting on the roof, I realised why the gloves - he manages to cover the brush from bristle tips to the tip of the handle in paint, and he seems to think that wiping the brush off is done on the outside lip of the tin. Hence I picked up brush and tin and was instantly messy. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

However he has painted the front deck and the gas locker lid in and out, and the engine cover, and I didn't have to do them, so that's the payoff for me.

If he promises to accept the coaching about dipping only the tip of the bristles in the can and wiping the excess off on the inside lip, I will let him paint the back counter - he'll have to be very well behaved though!

Note later: he did do a great job on the back counter. He may be promoted to painter-in-chief of unimportant-how-they-look bits (acting) for the next season.