Category Archives: Food

Blue And Red Jobs. 31st May

Lockdown Mooring 3 and a bit that way, then winding, then there and back a bit too

Malvern our nearest neighbour

Tilly had an hour of shore leave whilst we had breakfast. As we waited for her to return I gave the gunnel a wash down to remove the fertan, hoping it hadn’t been too hot yesterday for it to do it’s job. Well there were a few places where there was still a touch of orange where I hadn’t quite managed to sand it well enough along with the fertan having dried a bit too quickly. Maybe I should have given those bits a second coat, but that would delay the repainting by a day. They will do for now, we’re considering taking Oleanna out of the water later in the year to check her blacking, so a better less knee killing job can be done then.

Oleanna with a go faster stripe

With the gunnel steaming away nicely and Tilly back on board we sought the shade again. Time to give the primer a good stir before applying a coat to any bare metal. This didn’t take long. I was now ready for the starboard side, so we pootled down the cut to Bunbury winding hole.

Where have all the hire boats gone?

For the first time a boat was pulled up alongside the towpath whirligig and just about all the hire boats had vanished. They had been two abreast right up to the locks before, but now only a couple were visible. On our last trip to Chester they had all been moored below the locks and had taken a bit to squeeze past. Maybe they have all been moved back there to make them ready for when hire boats can go back out.

I love this owl

We pootled back to the shady mooring, tied up all ready for me to start again! My poor knees!!

At least this side had been sanded back towards the end of last year, so there was less general sanding required, but a few new rust patches and the rubbing strakes needed loose paint scraping away and a good sanding down. Then a rinse off followed by more fertan.

Blue job

I wasn’t the only one being kept busy. Mick inside had decided to give the oven (or both of them) a good clean, a blue job. The glass fronts were cleaned as best he could with Bar Keepers Mate and Pink Stuff. They didn’t end up looking like new, but far better than they have for a while. The hob also got a clean just ready for me to spill cheese sauce on this evening.

It’s the same as this morning, just on the other side of the inside!

The crew have lost it again! They think they can fool me, but I’ve got their number. They thought I’d be pleased with three outsides in a day again, but two of them were the same as yesterday just on the other side! She thought I’d be confused and run off the wrong side of the boat, but I am far too intelligent to do that. I’d already taken note of which side the outside was on!

A nice bit of shade

0 locks, 0.38 miles maybe (didn’t have the trip computer on), 1 wind, 3 outsides, 1 side primed, 2nd side fertanned, 2 knees owing, 1 tasty friend consumed, 1 oven bright and twinkling, 2 wings, 1 cauliflower cheese with bacon, 3 glasses of wine well it is Sunday!

Two wings

Frying Pan Or Plate. 29th May

Lockdown Mooring 3

I woke to an email from Amy regarding my illustrations. Penny who is editing everything together was impressed with the resolution of them, so no further action was required from me. Just have to wait now for the trailer to be done and then the final production. If the show had been going ahead rehearsals would be starting in a weeks time. The set would already have been delivered to Dark Horse and I would be doing my best to get costumes finished so that everything could be used in rehearsals. It’s a bit strange not knowing quite how it will all come together. I’ll just have to be patient.

Tilly managed to find a patch of shade

So what to do with myself now? Gunnels? The sun was already beating down on Oleanna and would continue to do so until late evening. I didn’t fancy getting burnt to a crisp, we’ll need to find some shade if the weather continues like this for me to do outside jobs.

Winter packed and ready to deflate

One thing that has needed doing for a while now was getting summer out from under the bed. So before we put the bed away this morning we pulled the mattress right over to reveal the storage and pulled out the summer vacuum bag. Tilly is an unwanted addition to such jobs as the holes in the bed base are just big enough for her to climb through. Summer clothes were released. Cupboards and drawers were edited, winter put into the bag ready to be reduced later in the day. A couple of old t-shirts were kept out for another job.

Did all that really go in there?!

In the afternoon we braved the sun and walked up to Calveley Mill Shop which sits alongside JS Bailey Cheese Ltd. Over the last few months we’ve meant to go into the shop to see what there is, other than cheese, but we tended to come past on a Saturday when they are closed.


We arrived too late for the cafe, you can pre-order at the moment and take away, but the shop was still open, filled with all sorts, mostly gifty stuff that we don’t need. We wanted to try some of their cheeses and also wanted a bit of bacon to go with broccoli and cauliflower.


The choice of cheese was extensive, we chose Wensleydale with cranberry and apple and a Bonfire smoked cheddar. We only went for small quantities but could have bought breeze block sized pieces, but we just don’t have the fridge space now. Bacon, 6 to 8 rashers would do us, but it only came in huge packs. 2.27kg packs infact! Would we use it? Could we freeze it? Was there enough space in the freezer? We’d give it a go.

Cheeses and a slab of bacon

Back at Oleanna I seperated the bacon into 4 rasher quantities, greaseproof paper between them and two bags of rashers went in the freezer, leaving us with enough for a couple of meals. The freezer is now very full!

A years worth of bacon

Next job, masks. When we start to cruise again, we’ll end up having to go into supermarkets, so I want us to be prepared. I’ve spent a bit of time looking at patterns for masks and the general consensus seems to be that they will stop you passing the virus on but won’t stop you from getting it. That is unless your mask is properly fitted and made from specific fabrics and filters. But a homemade mask will cut down the risk.

Sheep gave the thumbs up to the frying pan

Neither of us were wanting to give up an old shirt, but t-shirts come and go, they also meant I wouldn’t need to get the sewing machine out from under the dinette. The pattern called for a 25cm diameter circle, my compass lives next to the sewing machine! Time to hunt round for round things. A plate was too big, cake tin too small, the quiche tin the right diameter but with a crinkly edge. But our pancake frying pan was bang on.

His and her circles

Circles cut out , I then cut them into four, paired them up, sewed round the curved edges, trimmed one centre and sewed both bits back together, leaving a gap for a filter. The suggestion for ear loops was to use hair elastic bands. I finished mine off and tried it on. Fine for me for short periods of time, maybe I would change the hair bands for some elastic that can fix to my glasses with buttons, plus I think I may add a nose wire for an improved fit.

Masks or posing pouches?

Then we tried it on Mick. He has a bigger face than me and the hair bands most certainly would not go round his ears without folding them in half! A larger mask was needed. One of our plates became a new template giving about an extra inch overall. This one will definitely need proper elastic as my suggestion of shoe laces for ties, of which I have a white pair, was firmly rejected.

Make it cooler again!

So still work in progress. Once we are happy with them I’ll make two each, one to wear the other to wash.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 shade, 1 winter wardrobe packed away, 1 summer wardrobe brought into daylight, 1 cat through the holes, 2 cheeses, 40 rashers, £10, 2 t-shirts, 1 frying pan, 1 plate, 2 masks, 1 hot cat, 6 years since our leaving do in Scarborough.

Jam And Scrambled Eggs. 28th May

Lockdown Pickup mooring to Lockdown Mooring 3

Despite being so close to the road last night we both managed to sleep pretty well. The layby here was chocka when we arrived yesterday, but luckily emptied out over the evening making room for the Sainsburys van. This morning we watched as vehicles came and went, twitching the curtains when ever we thought it might be the veg box man.

Playing pen in the spotlight of a porthole

After baking bread there were two egg yolks in the fridge that needed using along with half a pack of bacon. Mick set too in the kitchen adding a couple of the many tomatoes we had. Two things we are certain to get in our veg box, tomatoes and carrots. He did refrain from adding jam to our toast though.

Num num num

It was then time to introduce the printer to the new laptop. How hard could it be? No need for IT support, I thought! Plugged in turned on, I waited for them to say hello. They needed prompting but then they acknowledged each other. Only thing was I had no means of scanning from the computer. Looking round for an ap or programme or whatever, I downloaded what was suggested. Time to scan my illustrations.

Oh! All the subtleties had gone and the greens now fluoresced off the pages at me. Not what I wanted. The old printer scanner had done a much better job (before it died) and to think of it the new one with the old laptop had done too with a different programme. I down loaded another programme but that was no use! IT support was required but that would have to wait until later. I uploaded the images and emailed Amy explaining. The original plan had been to send the paintings to Penny who would photograph them before compiling the play.

A touch too bright

After jumping at every sign of a dark grey people carrier, we finally spotted the right one around 1pm. There was time for a short chat with the chap as he handed over this weeks £15 veg box. Next week might be our last one before heading eastwards, we may have to order extra to keep us going!

This weeks box

Asparagus and sweetcorn were in there, that made up our minds what we’d be having tonight to make the best out of them. The rest of the week would take a bit of thinking about.

Last weeks giant red onion with this weeks mini one

Where to head now? I need good internet in a few days time and after an email from Val in Scarborough (Hello!) we’ll be taking another trip to the house as it has now had a deep clean. But more importantly we needed a good outside for Tilly. Decision made Calveley.

A touch too close

First we had to get past the fishing people who were busy setting up in front of us. The lady asked if we were moving because of them. They weren’t the reason, but they were far too close to us even in normal times! I could only just keep 2 meters away when untying us, current guidance is to treat moored boats like others who are fishing and to try to keep 15 meters away!

More boats pulling up on the side of the reservoir

A toot on the horn as we approached the flag bubble and time for a chat before we carried on. Several boats were at our ‘home’ mooring, we’re saving their for later. Under Bridge 97, the visitor moorings now empty but the off side filling up with more boats. I wonder where the chap from Hebden Bridge headed? At Barbridge we carried straight on. Here the weed is growing again, long lengths swaying as we passed, the sort that fouls props.

We pulled in on the 48 hour moorings and let Tilly out. The sun was high and maybe a touch too warm for her as she seemed to prefer the bathroom floor to the sideways trees.

That’s better!

IT support did it’s thing and found the programme I needed. Having a choice of what original I was scanning made all the difference. Even though the scans were a touch smaller in size they were far truer to the originals. I forwarded a link to Amy. I now had the nerve wracking hour or so where I wondered if she preferred the more garish version, but fortunatly she came back with ‘I see what you mean, they are even better!’ PHEW!!!

The asparagus was threaded onto skewers, sweetcorn chopped in two and a couple of turkey fillets marinaded for the barbecue. With a lack of shade by Oleanna Mick positioned everything close to the boat, hoping the sun would move over soon. The wind direction was indeterminate and we really could have done with a Lazy Susan for our chairs and the barbecue, a gentle constant spin would have worked perfectly.

As we enjoyed the evening sun, Tilly enjoyed it getting cooler. It took quite a bit of mad cat woman in the field below to entice her home, but she eventually sauntered back from where ever she’d been.

Just before sunset!

0 locks, 4.15 miles, 2 straight ons, 16 illustrations scanned twice, 1 thumbs up twice, 6 tomatoes, 7 potatoes, 1 small red onion, 2 onions, 11 spears, 1 cob, 1 cauliflower, 1 brocolli, 1 red pepper, 1 courgette, 12 radishes, 1 lettuce, 2 parsnips, 5 carrots, 6 mushrooms, 1 weeks menu to plan, 1 sunny barbecue, 1 tyre in London!

Just Like The Old Days. 27th May

Lockdown Mooring 5 to Lockdown Pickup Mooring

Yummy chestnut and oat toast

When to move today? We had a Sainsburys delivery booked at Henhull Bridge, but not until 9pm at the earliest. This morning the ideal position by the bridge would be full as NB AreandAre would be there picking up their veg box. Should Tilly be allowed shore leave or not? I decided that it would be mean to keep her in all day so she was given a couple of hours shore leave as Emails were checked and breakfast consumed. She returned bang on time and the doors were closed.

A beautiful morning for a cruise. We winded and headed back towards Nantwich. Flag Iris dip their toes in the water, Michaelmas Daisies are taking advantage of cracks in the concrete edging and Dog Roses cling to the trees.

Nantwich Aqueduct

Boats had moved about. Some from the 48hr moorings were now just outside town where restrictions end giving them 14 days. Other boats still sat where they have been for months, well past 48 days now. We wondered whether the emails from C&RT had been clear about visitor moorings also reverting to their times when the 14 day rule was brought back in, I had checked in the FAQ section. But we don’t know what everyone’s situation is, they may be shielding and have asked to stay for longer. Just how many though are interpreting the guidance to their benefit?!

Get your coffee here

NB Islonian and NB Myrtle were on the embankment hoping for more trade whilst the second mate considered a dip to catch the passing fish.

Myrtle’s second mate

Two boats were on the water point, we’d still got a pretty full tank and didn’t feel the need to loiter to top up so we carried on past.

Passing boats

Just coming under Acton Bridge was NB AreandAre having just picked up their veg box. If we’d known our paths were going to cross we could have shared a delivery slot, but it wasn’t guaranteed so we’d both gone solo this week. One advantage was that the pickup mooring was almost certainly going to be empty for us to pull into, which it was, our spikes dropping straight into the well established holes.

The cast

This afternoon I continued with The Garden portraits and finished them off, I also added a touch more to the fireworks. I’ll look at them again tomorrow, but I think they are now finished. They’ve taken longer than I was expecting, some I’m quite pleased with, just hope Amy is too! The chap top right, is currently playing Josh (the best man) in The A word on TV.

After we’d eaten this evening we didn’t feel we could settle down to watch TV as there was still our delivery to arrive. We had one glass of wine with our meal and waited. At 9.30pm an orange coloured van pulled up into the layby, Sainsburys!!! Just like old times.

Ohh and orange van!

The chap was very friendly and informed us that the rules with regards to substitutions had changed. This morning we’d received an email from them informing us of only one item having to be substituted, some bread flour for some spelt flour, everything else was as ordered! I was happy with the flour as I can still make bread for Mick with it. But if I hadn’t wanted it we could mention this to the driver before anything came off the van and he would return it for us. It just has to stay on the van. Handy to know, shame we couldn’t return the pudding rice.

Just like old times

Mick asked him about the delivery slots that were now coming through. Sainsburys had stopped offering slots to anyone who wasn’t shielding and at risk. But Mick has been checking every so often, click and collect started and now delivery slots. The chap thought it was down to two things, an increase in drivers therefore slots and things now settling down so fewer being needed for those shielding. We can still only book one slot at a time and only a week in advance, but that is just fine.

Once everything was sorted, quarantined items were put in the bow and everything else disinfected we could settle down for what was left of the evening, oh and a second glass of wine!

0 locks, 3.88 miles, 1 wind, 2 hours, 0 friends consumed, 1 panto email, 2 many at the water point, 2 waves to AreandAre, 2 pirates, 16 illustrations finished, maybe, 1 noisy road, 1 jaunty mooring, 1 orange van, 2 boxes wine, 1 more handwash, 2nd glass of wine and relax.

Loaf Of Bread. 26th May

Lockdown Mooring 5

That maple syrup and spoon of other flour had done the trick to my starter, this morning it had doubled in size and hadn’t sunk back down the jar. It was ready to bake with. I wasn’t prepared. I’d thought it might take until this evening for it to be ready to start a loaf and if I started a loaf now then I would end up baking it tonight at bed time!

That looks very good

I scanned through my recipes and found one that suggested it would rise and be ready to bake between 5 and 7pm. The recipe did have a touch of yeast added to it, but I thought it was well worth it as I didn’t want to waste the progress my starter had made. So a loaf of Chestnut and oat bread it was. My starter was so airy, the airiest it’s ever been. I ran out of white rice flour, so had to add some brown rice flour. Once mixed the sponge was left on the proving shelf for four hours to see what it did. It rose up and showed great promise.

Domed and cracked top even without the yeast

Time to get on with the portraits of the actors who would have been in the production of The Garden. I’ve been putting this painting off for a while, but it proved to be quite pleasurable to work on.

They look a touch like they need a good wash

Skin tone shadows were painted in for everyone and highlights washed back. Then I started to work up one face at a time.

Four finished only six more

Whilst painting we listened to Anno Domino the new Alan Ayckbourn play. Alan and Heather play all the characters and it is well worth a listen. Back in the 60’s Alan had a stint of being a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC. This showed as we both laughed out loud at images that simply wouldn’t have been as funny on stage. The sound effects (an Ayckbourn hobby) and atmosphere along with the multi track recording worked very well. It must have been great fun for them to make as it is great fun to listen to. Available until the 25th June.

Starting to prove itself

Final ingredients (including some yeast) were mixed into the sponge. Then it was poured into a lined tin and left of the proving shelf for an hour and a half to rise. It gained about a third in height, time to bake it. Mick was requested not to step on and off the boat for a few minutes whilst I transferred the tin into the hot oven. Any knock right now would end with a very flat loaf. Transfer completed Mick could continue to mend one of our tyre fenders that has developed a puncture.

Up by a third

I’d spent all day sat at the dinette table working, so after dinner I headed up the towpath for a walk. I’d spotted a footpath on the offside of the canal which would bring me alongside Oleanna as the sun started to set.

You get a lot of sky round here

Quite a beautiful evening.

The bottom lock

I walked up to Hack Green Locks. The field beside them had the now rotund lambs/teenagers we’d seen back in March. They still played and demanded milk from their Mum’s teets. One old lady just stood and stared at me until I moved away.

What you lookin at?!

I crossed over the bridge between the locks and started to walk back towards Oleanna. This side of Nantwich the fields are all pasture where as to the north they are more arable. Blimey the long grass was hard to walk through and there was no obvious footpath.


A murder of Crows circled the nearby wood, cawing to each other. I found my way into the second field and walked round it’s perimeter trying to find the way ahead. Nettles and brambles stopped my progress. By now I felt like I’d walked through miles of deep snow, my calf and thigh muscles complaining.

I found a narrow bridge across a ditch into another field with more long grass but decided to turn back and head to the bottom lock where a pathway had been worn to the bottom gates. The bywash here was just narrow enough to hop over and I was back on shorter grass.


Tonights sunset was beautiful. A good Shropie sunset is hard to beat. Not having Hurleston Reservoir in the way helped to get the full effect.

0 locks, 2 walked to, 0 miles, 1 frothy starter, 1 loaf, 84th play, 4 portraits finished, 1 Sainsburys order completed, 9 hours, 2 friends consumed at least, 1 tyre mended, 1 stunning sunset.

Lazy Starter. 24th May

Lockdown Mooring 4A

Yesterday I got my sourdough starter out of the fridge, it’s been a little while since I used it so it needed a feed. It had been fed twice yesterday and shown some growth, but this morning it still wasn’t rising as high as needed for a loaf of bread. Only one thing for it, we had to have pancakes for breakfast! What a shame. I’ll give the starter a couple more feeds before I use it to bake with.

Not quite enough gluten free oats, so I had to steal a few from Mick’s 3kg bag we bought from the garage to make up the correct quantity to zuzz into flour. Once mixed up and frothing away happily in a bowl (no need for whipping egg whites in this recipe) I started to cook the pancakes. In our last Morrisons delivery we’d bought frozen blueberries instead of fresh. These are not the same with cereal so I decided to add some to the pancakes. But because they were frozen as I added them to each pancake they of course melted producing water which affected the batter a touch. Still tasty though.

Blueberry pancakes

Tilly had a full day of outdoors as the wind had calmed down considerably from yesterday. As the day progressed the sun came out to warm the world again and Tilly had to be encouraged to return home, her eyes heavy and ready for several cat naps.

Mick found a delivery slot with Sainsburys this week that we can combine with our veg box delivery. It’ll be the first delivery from Sainsburys since we were at Wheaton Aston back in March. This got us both quite excited as we tend to prefer Sainsburys to Morrisons. It looks like they are now allowing people who are not shielding to have slots late in the evening.

Is that Tilly?

A day of painting illustrations again for me. I can only manage a few hours before I need to give my right hand a rest. It must be that my fingers don’t like the thin handles of my brushes, so I did two stints of painting in some long grass, adding detail to trees, adjusting shadows and highlights to faces and deepening shadows on clothes. By the end of the day there was just the sideways trees to finish off and add colours to fireworks and they will be finished. Then I’ll need to turn my attention to the portraits of the actors.

Of course it is

Mick finished setting up the new laptop and handed it over. He will now spend the next few days waiting to cringe as I find things that are different or missing. The programme to add copyright to photos has been missed and for some reason I managed to reduce all the writing and icons in size as soon as I started it up.

A touch bigger than the last one

There have been more boats passing today. Those who have been moored on visitor moorings like us have to move on after the stated time, this means we’ll be moving in the morning. NB Coddiwomble headed off late afternoon to the junction and most probably headed on up the locks onto the Llangollen.

Everyone still there but the scrabble boat

I bobbed up to the bridge before dinner to see who had moved off from below the reservoir. Andy and Helen from NB Skydance (the Scrabble boat) had moved off, most probably up the flight. It will be the first time they’ve moved their boat since lockdown began, they preferred to collect water in containers from the top of the flight than move their boat. I suspect it will have been nice for them to use their hose pipe again.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 full day of shoreleave, 12 pancakes, 1 new laptop bigger than the last one, 125% required, 15 illustrations almost finished, 1 Sainsburys order, 1 farcical, 1 last night at 4A, 1 big Happy Birthday to Jac.

It Can Stop Now!!! 23rd May

Lockdown Mooring 4A

Well it seemed to be less windy this morning, so Tilly was allowed some shore leave (an hour) whilst we had breakfast and got ourselves ready for the Saturday morning Geraghty Zoom.

Hello everyone!

Gradually everyone turned up on our screen, eight from around the UK and one from Bangladesh. It was so lovely to see everyone, but especially Marion who has just spent a short spell in hospital. So good to see her back home. Todays topics covered, whipping up egg whites in pancakes, physio sessions and walking sticks, the National Theatre and how windy it is across the country.

Sandra (NB AreandAre) and Duncan (NB Coddiwomple) stopped as they passed for a chat and catch up. NB AreandAre will be loitering around Nantwich like us for the next couple of weeks, but NB Coddiwomple aim to head up onto the Llangollen for a while before heading northwards hoping that their trip across the Ribble Link will still go ahead.

New neighbours blown in

A couple of passing boats did the crab manoeuvre along the cut, their sterns being pushed towards us as they passed. The first one pulled in at the end of the moorings, not sure if they’d intended to do so. Another could be seen being blown into the side a touch further along. Not really a suitable day to be going for a cruise.

It can stop now!!

I ventured out to encourage Tilly home. She was a touch disgruntled as she’d just started to venture along the path the Wheelie Shoppers use when I called her home. She wasn’t impressed in having to stay in the rest of the day, she far prefers shore based facilities now. But we are very aware that on days like this she is more likely to go missing, her scent being diminished by the wind.

Mick however braved the elements and set off on his bike into town. Our laptop of six years is showing it’s age, one hinge is held together with a cable tie and this is the hinge that the lead goes through to the screen, so it is only a matter of time before something more serious happens.

Earlier in the week Mick had found a suitable laptop at John Lewis so with various vouchers we’d collected he ordered one to be delivered to the Co-op south of Nantwich. He was away for quite sometime and I was just starting to get a touch concerned when he returned with a full Brompton bag.

A big shallow pork pie

Computer, bread, milk, potatoes (we didn’t get any in our veg box this week). He’d also ventured into town noticing that Clewlow’s was now open to more than pre-orders. A pork pie somehow managed to make it’s way into his bag. He also stopped at Holland and Barrett and got me some buckwheat flour, so a good trip.

Gas delivery

The new laptop will take a bit of setting up and the helpful lady who immediately started to try to help Mick was very quickly silenced. This kept Mick occupied for much of the rest of the day whilst I continued with my work. Mid afternoon NB Mountbatten pulled up to deliver a bottle of gas before turning up onto the Llangollen.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 windswept cat, 1 bike ride, 2 inches more of laptop, 1 bottle gas, 1 yellowed broccoli, 1 improvised meal of sausage slop.

This weeks Thursday photo taken on a Saturday