Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This post has been delayed again and again due to technological difficulties.  I simply could not get the pictures we took to load and transfer to the blog.  And then, we were so far out in the beauty of rural England that for awhile our internet connection was spotty and s......l.....o....w.  So, today we will give you a thumbnail sketch of Sheffield using stock photos since ours are still not being cooperative.

The city was a steel town known for its cutlery and other steel works.  During WWII it was heavily bombed due to those steel works.  Post war it suffered from all of the uglyiness of 1960's "architecture".  But currently a great deal of that is being torn down and urban renewal is taking place throughout the city and promises a much more attractive future.

As a juxtaposition, Sheffield is the greenest urban area in England with countless parks and trees for people to enjoy.  This juxtaposition of old and new seemed to me to be the trademark of the city.  And, in several areas it has been done quite well and quite attractively.

Above is the boat basin where we parked.  The series of arches you see to the right have been turned into shops and restaurants.  This area was recently rehabbed and it is now quite attractive.

The shots above show what I mean when I talk about the combination of old and knew with abundant green space.  When done carefully the result is quite attractive.  I especially like the photo on the far left:  new growing out of old.

In the name of greener transportation the city has an active electrical tram line as part of its mass transit system.  More and more British and European cities are going this route to lessen their carbon footprint.
Good choice.

But then you walk past something like the picture below.

This is a shot of part of Sheffield Cathedral.  On the right hand side you see the old and majestic stonework and windows of the Cathedral.  On the left is the new "modern" entrance to the Cathedral built of cement block with wide expanses of glass.  I am still shaking my head as to why one would attach such a modern monstrosity to an old and dignified Cathedral.  (Can you tell I am not impressed?)

Then you come across this eyecatching modern building known as "the cheese grater" for obvious reasons.  I still haven't really decided on this one.  It is unique and eyecatching but what will it look like in a hundred year?  Will it tand the test of time?  It might, but then it might not.  Time will tell.

Parts of the city are old.  Parts are new.
Some is attractive.  Some not.
Parts are clean and feel safe.  Others are strewn with garbage and abandoned buildings, reek of urine and abound with the homeless.

It will be interesting to come back in a few years and see what results from the obvious growing pains.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Last of the Notorious Mitford Sisters

Born in March of 1920, Deborah Vivien  Mitford, known as Debo, was the youngest of the six "colorful" Mitford sisters. 

From a child she loved living in the country and everything that came with it.  She was especially fond of chickens and dogs.  From the time of her marriage on she was always to surround herself with both.

Debo and her sisters never attended school and received only the most rudimentary education.  Their father, an acknowledged eccentric, did not believe an  education for women was necessary. 

Scandal and notoriety surrounded most of her sisters:  Diana was a Fascist and served time in prison; Jessica, known as Decca, was a Communist; Unity was friends with and "infatuated" by Hitler and later shot herself in the head over him.   Nancy, on a less notorious note, was a celebrated author.  Only Pamela, perhaps in an attempt to distance herself, lived a secluded and quiet life.

Debo is said to have lived the most normal life of the six and was known in the family as the "housewife Mitford."

In 1941, age 21, she married husband Andrew and in 1950 , when her father in law died, they moved onto the family land and took over its running.  Their new home was sprawling and Debo was heard to say that it was a "terrible place to housebreak a puppy."

The rest of her life was spent running their farm, keeping chickens, walking her dogs and enjoying the music of Elvis Presley.

To raise money and make the land pay for itself, she developed "cottage industries" that resulted in the selling of bread, cake, jam and chutney, as well as farm produce, meat and game in the farm shop.  Later, she was also to open a cafe, restaurant, catering and furniture making business.

Without formal education or training Debo was recognized as having a mind for business, a natural flair one might say.  Although her business endeavours were at first seen as quite eccentric, her neighbors and others in the position of needing to raise funds to keep their land and homes found themselves following her lead.

She has been described as being classy and classless; as behaving the way people should behave. She was, it is agreed, "wonderfully original".

A widow since 2004, Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, died on September 24, 2014 at the age of 94.  May she rest in peace after a job very well done.

Eleven Hours and Fifty Two Minutes

of daylight in my world today.  The darkness of winter is closing in.  Each day will be slightly shorter until we have only about 7 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset.

So, I am making plans for
  • shorter days of cruising which translates into fewer locks to do each day :-)
  • meals based around comforting soups, stews and casseroles that warm you before you even begin to eat them
  • crocheting and crafting during the longer evenings
  • soul pleasing fires in the stove to enjoy morning and night
  • movie nights with popcorn and some of the charity shop movies we have found
  • reading books with warm cups of tea
  • heck, I might even get to some of the mending that has sat here all summer :-)
And , as always, the daily walks to explore the area and get some exercise.  Sometimes they manage to end in a pub with a half a pint but that is an added benefit. :-)

And then, in celebration of Mike's birthday, the days begin to get longer again!

Friday, September 26, 2014

We're Off to the Dentist

About 30 years ago, Mike had two gold on lays put on 2 back molars.  Unbeknownst to me, these on lays have been loose for quite some time (the best I got as an answer is that it could easily have been years rather than months!).  Apparently they would pop off and he would replace them and think nothing of it, like how is something sitting loosely on top of my tooth really doing its job?.

Well, a couple of weeks ago he was eating and thought the same thing had happened yet again.  However, upon further examination not just the on lay had come loose, part of the tooth had broken off at the gum line.  In fact, as we have now learned, most of the tooth is missing above the gum line.

To return to the story, on Wednesday Mike told me that when he bit down he felt pain all the way down to his jaw from said tooth and he thought maybe he had an infection (maybe?).

It was calmly and quietly decided between us that he should probably see a dentist ASAP.  And no, it probably should not wait a month until we got back to the states. (You think?)

So, we found a dentist in the closest market town that would see him as a private pay patient.  He scheduled Mike for a same day appointment and it has been determined that:  it was ugly: it needed to be dealt with; we would be dealing with an extraction and antibiotics.

The antibiotics we got that day and the extraction will be done next Wednesday.  What happens next (bridge, pegged tooth, or whatever) has yet to be revealed.

Now, remember, we are private pay without any insurance over here.  The office visit, antibiotics (2), and extraction will cost us a total of £155 or less than $300!  Not bad.

Now, any suggestions for the patient next Thursday and Friday when he is sure to feel he is on his last legs and requires constant attention?  Oh, if only men had to have one child each.  How much easier life would be.

Shhh. Don't tell, please.

Can you keep a secret?  I wouldn't want it to get out but I have decided that the kitchen space on the boat leaves something to be desired:  SPACE.

Now I understand that a lot of people who are on narrowboats go out to pubs for dinner and use the kitchen for breakfast and lunch only.  And, it can handle that, just.

But I am a horse of a different color. 

I like to make bread, bagels, soft pretzels, cookies, crisps, soups, jam, casseroles, and meals that go a little farther than sandwiches or beans on toast (both of which I like but not everyday).

Our little kitchen has 3 feet of narrow counter space.  I can fill that up in the blink of an eye.

And then the fun begins. 

Recently, I had a small tray of something set to go into the oven and one coming out of the oven.  I had just finished one step of a recipe by heating things on the stove.  I was searching for a place to put one of the trays and decided that on the stove would be a good place. 

You guessed it, the burner I had just finished using was still on.  You would be amazed how quickly parchment paper scorches and then begins to burn.  I was.

So, to solve that problem I reached for the pan to yank it off the burner, forgetting (although I can't imagine why?) that the pan would be hot since it had been sitting on the burner. 

One loud yelp from me, a crash of the pan on the floor, and scattered goodies everywhere.

I am sure such thing are not good for my blood pressure.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Genetics Is a Strange Thing

Ask anyone who knows us and they will tell you:  my sister takes after my dad's side of the family.  She looks like his side, she acts like his side, she can not be disowned.

I look like my mom's side of the family.  In my looks, my actions, my emotional side.

And, I am OK with that.  Even when I walk by a mirror and without really thinking wonder when my mom let her hair go gray (a fate worse than death).

I love still be a kid at heart when Christmas arrives, although I have yet to make a transatlantic call to sing jingle bells in the ear of my daughter on Christmas day.  My mom did just that one Christmas when we lived in Spain and I will always remember it with a smile.

My mother was a crafty person and made beautiful ceramics, crocheted for awhile and was an artist in cross stitch.  I love to try my hand at crochet and other small (and easy) crafts.  I even did cross stitch once before my eyes decided that to continue to do so I would need squares the size of gingham. :-)

Her family and friends were my mother's world, as they are mine.  I remember one time when I was to receive an award she attended with broken dentures because she wanted someone to be there.  It was understood, however, that I was not to introduce her to ANYONE as she did not want to talk and reveal her plight.

She was always scheming ways to help her friends or raise their spirits or whatever she felt they needed just then.  I remember the year she stuffed and then gift wrapped dozens of empty cigarette packs to make them look like small presents that she could then use to decorate a friend's tree at their doughnut shop.  And the time she crocheted a ROOM  SIZE rug for a friend's living room because they couldn't afford new carpeting for awhile.

I am proud to have inherited these characteristics of my mother and her family. 

I just wish I had inherited the family's characteristic concerning arthritis:  basically they didn't get it or got it late and very mildly.

On the arthritis front God seems to have decided I will take after dad's family.  Their motto seems to be "Get it early and go for the gusto."  Drat! (And yes, I am feeling some of my joints this morning.  Thank you for asking.)

Genetics is a strange thing,  isn't it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Do They Go Forward Now?

The turn out of voters was "phenomenally high" at 85% and is a testament to the seriousness of the question being asked.

 The Scottish Referendum ended in a 55% No and 45% Yes vote.  Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom.

If it were only that easy.

As the election got closer the tide for a Yes vote (to leave the union) was gathering strength, a lot of strength.

English politicians, including the Prime Minister, began to worry.  Their lack of nerve, poor judgment and sense of panic can be seen in the  eleventh hour promises made to sway the vote.  A lot of promises.

Party leaders, including the Prime Minister, "vowed" to return more political power to Scotland. 

As one paper said, It was "reckless idiocy (to attempt) to rewrite in a few hour, on the back of an envelope, a constitution that has evolved over centuries."  And, just as importantly, these same leaders had no authority to give these vows. 

That authority rest with Parliament as a whole and not these few members, no matter how high up in the party structure they have risen. And, the vows made can only be fulfilled if BOTH houses of                   Parliament agree.  That agreement seems doubtful.

Now, it seems that keeping those promises may not be uppermost in politicians' minds. Amazingly, what seems to be more important is political survival and getting back at each other. (See, petty politics by insincere individuals who will say anything and mean nothing is not just a U.S. thing.  It seems to be a standard symptom of the disease of political power.) 

These promises were made to Scottish voters who were anxious as to the economic ramifications of a split from Great Britain.  It is understandable if their belief was tha,t with these promises of a greater say in the laws and policies under which they would live, they would in effect be getting a great part of what was desired without all the risk of seceding from the union. 

They did not take the time, they were not given the time, to think it through and discover they were being deceived, but the politicians knew it, or they should have known it. 

The ramifications of these promises; the upheaval; the many intended and unintended consequences are hard to get ones mind around.  These things can not be planned and all issues solved in the few weeks or months that Mr. Cameron has publicly said it will be accomplished within. 

It was originally promised that Scotland would have its new powers over taxes, social welfare and spending issues by January of 2015. 

How can all the questions be answered.  All the pitfalls seen and avoided or minimized in that length of time? How does one go about essentially reworking a constitution in only three months? Answer:  it cannot be done.

If the promises are not fulfilled the Scots will have every right to be angry.  This is adding fuel to the fire at a time when work should be underway to make people feel more united, not more torn apart and angry.

But, that is not the end of it all. 

Prime Minister Cameron appears either not to have learned his lesson or not to care.  At 7 am on the day after the election he promised England, Northern Ireland and Wales would also be granted the same  increased say in the taxes, spending and social welfare policies they live under, just as has been granted to Scotland. 

No public debate.  No real plan.  Just a politically fueled promise.  A cynic would be excused in thinking this is all just a personally inspired political ploy. 

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales already have their own national parliaments that would assume the responsibilities for these new powers when and if granted.  Only England does not have a seperate English only parliament.

England's representation rests completely with the UK Westminster Parliament, also containing members from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Does that mean that England now needs to set up its own national parliament or allow these other countries a say in England's laws and policies that England will no longer have in relation to their countries?

It seems that far from settling the issue, Thursday's vote, after the politicians got done with it (if they are done) just created one huge and ugly mess with the grave possibility of worse to come.

Reminds one of that ancient curse:  May you live in interesting times.

Mrs. Beeton Suggests

 I was in a charity shop today in Sheffield and found a small book of household tips written by a British lady in the Victorian era named Isabella Beeton.  I found some of the advice still applicable and some, well let us just say I probably won't be trying it.

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was written to help ladies run their household effectively and efficiently.  It is a classic in its field.

Here are some of the suggestions I believe are timeless:
  • A bargain is not a bargain when you don't need it.
  • Cheap food is not necessarily inferior.
  • Willful waste brings woeful want.
  • Ask the butcher what he is having to eat that night and you will know what is worth buying.
  • Hold some coffee grounds in the closed palm of your hand. If it falls apart when you open your hand it is pure coffee.  If it clumps, something has been added.
  • Clear as you go.  Muddle makes more muddle.
  • Tea should be poured into the cup and then the milk should be added ( something to do with the tannin in tea).  Milk should be in the cup when the coffee is added. I am guilty of doing it however it happens on that day.
  • When you eat vinegar or eggs with silver utensils the silver turns black.
  • Add vinegar to the dishwater and it will remove grease and help disinfect.
  • Egg whites will whip up better if you add a pinch of salt first.
  • When you rearrange furniture, if the carpet shows depressions from the previous furniture use a wet cloth, placed over the depression, and an iron, placed on the wet cloth, to steam the carpet and raise the pile.
 Now for the ones I will probably (or definitely not be trying, usually because they sound like WAY to much work and I am devoutly lazy.
  • Carpets should be cleaned by sprinkling with moist tea leaves and then swept with a stiff brush.
  • Or, wipe the carpet with a cloth that has been rung out in ammonia.
  • Polish a wooden floor by scattering steel shaving and then sweeping them up.  The shaving are mildly abrasive.
  • Bed linens should be stripped off the bed daily and aired due to the moisture that accumulates during the night from the bodies and breaths of the individuals sleeping there.
  • Bed linens should always be ironed after they have been washed.
  • Use the inside of a banana peel to polish brown shoes.
  • Castor oil should be taken for a cold.
  • A mixture in which two onions have been soaked in rum for 24 hours, should be rubbed into the scalp every other night.
  • Sleep can be improved by taking a cold bath before bed.

Today's home economics lesson is now at an end.  Class dismissed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'd Like a Double of Bengay, Please.

I am feeling every year of my age and then some. 

We are now in Sheffield but I had to do 16 locks in about 4 hours to get here.  Now, granted, I had some help, but my poor old body does not seem to remember that right now. :-)

What it does remember is that every lock has 4 sluices to be opened and closed with the winch; four LARGE gates to be opened and closed with brute force; and a canal path to be walked between each  (although I had company this time in the form of Tara, our friend Annie's dog who does not like being in the boat in a lock, poor thing.  She made the walking much more enjoyable and is a very sweet dog who I could steal in a moment. :-)

My right shoulder has not stopped its yelling conversation with me since I opened and closed the last sluice.

My knees and back are grumbling about all of the effort and pushing put forth on the gates and in the 5 mile walk that resulted in countless jars to both as I insisted on continually picking up and putting down each foot over and over again, all in the name of walking.

I have been wishing I could take an anti-inflammatory but have settled with pain relievers and strong cuppas to pamper myself until all body parts settle down and stop grumbling quite so much. 

And on Tuesday, yes this Tuesday, we shall start the return trip and do it all over again!  Something to look forward to?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


In September in Great Britain they have Heritage Days where different localities open up to the public historic sights for them to view and learn the history of the site.

Last Sunday Mike and I took a tour of Hyde Park Cemetery in Dorcaster.  In 1853 Great Britain was faced with a problem.  Parish churches found themselves running out of space to bury their parishioners .  As a result, communities were given permission to establish non denominational cemeteries.  Hyde Park was one of the first of such cemeteries to be established outside of London. Although it is almost full and only a few burials are performed each year, it was quite busy up until the 1970's when an additional non denominational  cemetery was created for the community.

For a cemetery that was quite active until less than 40 year ago, and is still somewhat active even now, Hyde Park Cemetery is in a horrible state of disrepair.  And, I realize that some of the graves are over a hundred years old and time and the elements will take their toll.  However, not the type of toll that we witnessed all over the cemetery.

Monument after monument had been knocked off its base and often broken into pieces on the ground.  Both the older monuments and the newer seemed to have been destroyed without any thought as to their age or to the lack of respect being shown to the deceased.  Weeds were everywhere.  Grass needed cut. The paved pathways were crumbled.

It was a sad sight to behold.  If anyone ever wanted a project to tackle, rehabilitating that cemetery and its grave would be a worthwhile one.  Let us hope someone takes it on.

Busy Nesting

 I know some of you probably thought I had died, broken my arm and couldn't type, finally tossed the computer into the canal in frustration , but actually none of that is true.  We have had some on again/off again connectivity but the main reason is that I have been "nesting".

I am sure that you have read about animals that store up more nuts, build the walls of their burrows thicker, eat enough to form an extra layer of fat to hold them through what they sense will be a long and/or hard winter.  Well, my instincts from long ago have been telling me to do the same.

Mike and I have been foraging and sawing wood to load up onto the roof in case we run out of coal and need to keep warm (ish).  It has not been all at my suggestion either.  He seems to have the urge to do so also.  We have stopped looking for kindling size and are now keeping our eyes out for small log size.  I am amazed at the amount of wood that can be found along the canal.  Some of it is much too large for us so we leave it for others who have large wood burners in their homes.  But, there is a lot of free firewood to be had and we are harvesting our share.

I have also been stocking the dry goods and shelf stable items cupboards until they are bursting with the ingredients for warm and comforting meals.  The freezer is also chock a block with food .  A couple of years ago the canals froze and people couldn't move for almost a month.  If that happens this year and we find ourselves in a location with no walkable store near (like where we are now) we will be prepared.

I have also been cooking and baking more now that the weather is cooler. 

I recently bought two eggplant, or a they call them aubergines, and I used them in a way that I have never done before.  I made eggplant pizzas.  I sliced the eggplant into rounds, oiled them, then put spices, sausage and cheese on them and baked them in the oven.  They were excellent, if I do say so myself.

I have also made two loaves of soybean bread with flax, whey, wheat bran, protein powder and mashed soybeans.  They taste quite good, I must say. And, the added benefit is that the beans, whey and protein powder provide a substantial amount of protein per serving.  It makes especially good toast and last night it made great grilled ham and cheese sandwiches when I felt too lazy to cook anything more complex.

I used some more of the above cooked beans to make a lovely apple, garbanzo bean and mandarin orange side salad.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out but it was quite good.  The beans "marinated" in the dressing and took on that flavor and it was quite yummy.

A chicken pot pie without the crust and served over mashed cauliflower has also been on the menu.  Now that is a real, traditional winter/autumn comfort food if I do say so myself.

Planned for this week is Swiss steak using frozen leftover French onion soup as part of the base.  This will also be served over mashed cauliflower.  My grandmother and mom made great Swiss steak that I always looked forward to having.  Mine has never been quite as good but it will do in a pinch.

At a local market Mike snagged a large, very large, bag of apples (seconds) for a £ and I am planning on making  some applesauce and apple butter with them.  I love apple butter and applesauce in the stores here is quite expensive.  Ergo, make your own.

I found some RTC blueberries (probably the last affordable of the season) so bought all three and they are now in the freezer to enjoy some cold winter day in pancakes, muffins or such.  Right next to them are some foraged blackberries that may turn into jam or a crumble this winter.

See what I mean, I am squirreling things away and lining my nest to make things all warm and cozy during the colder times.  Has anyone else had this urge?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Unusual and Interesting

Ae, near Dumfries. The shortest place name in Britain.
Anthill Common, near Waterlooville, Hampshire. A town named after an anthill?
Anton's Gout, near Boston, Lincolnshire. Gout is painful.  Anton deserved to have a town named after him.
Apes Dale, near Bromsgrove, Worce. Since there are no apes in England, maybe this has to do with evolution?
Hole in the Wall, near Ross-on-Wye. I've heard some people say they come from a hole in the wall, these people really do.
Land of Nod, near Grayshott, Hampshire.Lickey End, near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.  Winkin, Blinkin and Nod.
 British town names.  All countries have them.  I mean I live in Pennsylvania and they can boast of a town named Intercourse.  But still, I find some of these amusing.  Maybe you will, too.

Barton in the Beans, west of Leicester. What kind of beans?

Batchelor's Bump, near Hastings, Sussex. But there is no spinster's anything.

Beer, near Seaton, Devon. A town for red necks?

Besses o'th' Barn, south of Bury, Greater Manchester. Did the Besses live in a  barn?

Booze, Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire (but no pub, sadly).

Buttock Point, Isle of Bute. How could you tell people your address when you live here?

Cackle Street, near Hastings, Sussex. Some say hens and women cackle.

Dirty Gutter, near Leek, Staffordshire. Yep, I've had those.

Frisby-on-the-Wreake, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Is this where Frisby got its name?

Great Snoring, near Walsingham, Norfolk.Dull, near Pitlochry. The nightime sounds in this town must be interesting.

Hamsterley, near Bishop Auckland (also Consett) Durham.  I've had a hamster.  He was great.  But name a town after him?

Lickham Bottom, near Hemyock, Devon.Lost, near Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. No, but thanks for asking.

Mucking, near Tilbury, Essex. Are there a lot of stables there?

Noah's Ark, near Sevenoaks, Kent.  Was it built here or did the voyage end here?

Pease Pottage, near Crawley, West Sussex. Hot or cold?

Pity Me, north of Durham.  Please don't.

Raw, near Whitby. (naked or half-baked?) 

Wasps Nest, near Lincoln I don't like to look at them.  Why would I want to live in one.

Autumn's Urges

Fall, or autumn as it is always called here it seems, is definitely here. 

Many of the trees have lost or are losing their leaves.  Unfortunately, although the nights are cooler, they do not get cold enough to cause the leaves to produce all the beautiful color we are used to in the eastern U.S.  Here they just dry out, get brown, and drop to the ground.

I have also found myself feeling like making soups and casseroles.  That desire for warming and comforting foods definitely means the days are getting shorter and cooler.

So far, giving in to these urges, I have made bagels and French Onion Soup and a low carb shortbread for dessert;  a nice rustic loaf of bread (I got up early so it would be fresh out of the oven for breakfast which should give me extra points); chicken divan; and cooked garbanzo beans and soy beans for use throughout the next week.  I have mental plan to make  minestrone soup and a loaf of bread and brownies, both using cooked beans as part of the ingredients.

I have also broken out my yarn and crochet hooks and started on a few simple projects I planned during the warmer summer months. I have been snagging up the yarn at charity shops all summer so that I can crochet all winter.  Idle hands being the devil's workshop.

Mike has also been picking what appear to be almost the last of this year's blackberries.  They appear to be ready to stop producing quite a bit earlier this year than last when we were still picking them in late October.  I wonder what that portends for the coming winter?  Probably not the mild winter of last year.

We have yet to have a fire daily, let alone all day.  But, we have a nice supply of mini logs and a bag of coal on the roof so we are prepared for when that time comes.  However, we probably should stock up on some more coal fairly soon.

So, I am off to enjoy the warmth and sunshine and light of autumn while I still can.  Talk to you later.

Monday, September 8, 2014

We Had Ourselves Some Wheels!

We have been playing tourist with a rental car and had a wonderful three days. 

On Friday, we took the car and went to RAF Menwith Hill to take advantage of Mike's retired military commissary and exchange privileges.  We had not been to a commissary since last November and there were some things I wanted that I can't find locally (such as pretzel logs) and some other thing that are cheaper there than locally or available in larger quantities (such as ingredients for laundry detergent and white vinegar for cleaning.)  I also found a large eye of round that we bought and cut up into meat for 8 meals. 

Mike succumbed to the siren song of the deli counter, specifically it seemed that the roast beef, Virginia ham, pastrami, corned beef, roast turkey and Swiss cheese sang the loudest (I later added some provolone for lasagna.)  So, the "protein drawer" of the freezer is now full again.  And Mike is a happy man dreaming of great big meaty sandwiches in his future.

While I was shopping for food, Mike also took some time to go over to the exchange and buy adult spirits to restock the liquor cabinet.  He was really pleased with the prices and i now looking forward to some cozy winter nights and having some "spirits of Christmas and the New Year."

Yep, one happy man.  Why do I think we may not wait 10 months until we go to an RAF base again?

On Saturday we took to the roads and headed deeper into Yorkshire to the towns of Thursk and Askrigg.  We were in "James Herriot Country" and I loved every second of it.  First off, the All Creatures Great and Small book and TV series are long time favorites of mine.  I have read the book and watched the shows more times than I can count and they never fail to entertain me.

Thursk is where the real life vet, Alf Wight, practiced with his partner from 1940 until his death in 1995.  He wrote his books using the pseudonym of James Herriot so as not to run afoul of the Royal Society of Veterinary Surgeons regulations.  The home where he lived and practiced is now a museum so that you can see how things were when James, Sigfried and Tristan were hard at it.

The actual front building facade used in the TV series is actually located in the nearby village of Askrigg where we went next.  The building is still named, as it was during the series, Skeldale House, and it is now a charming bed and breakfast.  After being awed by the beautiful stone buildings, dry stone fences and miles and miles of beautiful countryside views, I am now working on Mike to go back some time, stay at Skeldale House and explore the countryside some more.  Wish me luck.

Yesterday we met with our friends for lunch and hada great time and a good chat.  Then, upon their recomendation, on our way home we drove over to view the beautiful home and estate of the Duke of Devonshire.  The grounds and pastures are decoratively scattered with unfenced sheep and cows and the traditional manor house is HUGE and very, very awe inspiring.

As an aside, JFK's sister Kathleen married the heir to the then Duke of Devonshire.  If her husband had not been killed in WWII she would have become the Duchess of Devonshire when her husband inherited the title.  But, it was not to be.

I loved our three days of playing tourist.  What a beautiful and historic country.  And the food and drink bargains didn't hurt either. :-)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gathering Up the Fragments

We are now in Selby.  Mike has made an appointment here for the boat to have a yearly "physical" and tune up before winter sets in.  An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.

I looked out the window today and actually took in the fact that there are several trees along the canal that have already lost their leaves.  Now when did that happen?  It really feels much too early.

But, along the same line, yesterday I collected quite a few horse chestnuts.  They remind me of my childhood when we had a tree in the front yard.  I love how bright and shiny they are.  And, according to some people we talked to who were also gathering them, if you keep small bowls of them throughout the boat it helps deter spiders.  I am all for that as the spiders seem to love the boat but I am not as fond of them.

Blackberries are still plentiful in the hedge rows and I need to get out there and pick some more to put in the freezer for later this winter when they will be a real treat.

Mike has also been busy cutting some of our "gleaned" wood to appropriate size for our stove.  We have quite a supply but I know it will disappear quickly once we need to start using the stove every day.

I have been using down the items in the freezer and cupboard as tomorrow we will be renting a car for the weekend and one of the things we will be doing is heading to the nearest military base and taking advantage of our commissary/px benefits.  We did this last November, too.  I am hoping to pick up some items we have difficulty finding here (such as pretzel rods) and some meat as well as other things that strike my fancy.

On Saturday we are heading to Thursk where the real life James Herriott had his veterinary practice.  I want to go through the museum there and spend some time driving around admiring the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.

On Sunday we are meeting friends for lunch and maybe some outlet shopping. And then Monday we are back to the canals and 3mph.

P.S.  Happy 38 Mike.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Anyone Have A Suggestion?

I want to buy a pedometer.

I had settled on a fitbit zip but the cost of about $50 was considered too high by a family member who shall remain nameless.

So, now I am back looking at the non electronic, dumb, pedometers.

Just to let you know.  I have had some of these before.
  • I have lost them ASAP
  • I reset them without meaning to do so
  • I have never figured out how to set them up correctly as to stride length, etc.
  • I don't like wearing them on my waist
I would have really liked one of the newer wrist or ankle models but I knew that would never fly.

So, I would like something
  • small
  • thin
  • easy to set up
  • hard to lose
  • difficult to inadvertently reset
  • cost at a level all family members can live with

Welcome Home, Aurora (Rory)

While DD1 was on her vacation her cat, that she has had since she was in college, pushed out a window in the basement and went adventuring. (Causing the poor pet sitter MUCH anxiety.)

Now, I must say this is not the first time Rory has given in to her wanderlust.

When DD1 was a senior in college she escaped via a second floor window just before graduation.  (This cat knows how to time things to get the most attention.)  Obviously, she was recovered after being located up in a tree.

Then, there was the time she escaped while visiting Mike's great aunt Evelyn in New York state.  We had to leave while she was still out gallivanting.  Luckily, Aunt E telephoned a couple of days later to say that the "tramp cat" Aunt E fed and provided winter shelter to had led Rory home to Aunt E's.

This time I was afraid that she might be gone for good and that has caused this grandmother of furry friends a great deal of worry and some sleepless nights.

But, DD1 emailed today to say that when she got up this morning she found Rory in the kitchen.  Kind of like "What's the big deal, Mom?  You went on vacation.  I went on vacation.  You're back.  I'm back."

And you thought only children gave you grey hair! But, I am so glad you are home safe and sound, Rory.  Grandma loves you. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Unexpected Visitor

You know how you sometimes feel you are being watched?

I was in the living area of the boat checking emails (we finally had some connectivity) and I had that feeling.

When I looked up and over to the open hatch doors I had a bit of a shock.

An inquisitive swan had stuck its neck in the doors and had turned its head to look at me.

Now remember, they are mute.  No "asking" for food.

However, this swan had plaintive eyes and great body language.  Reminded me of a beagle we had once upon a time. :-)

I got up to go answer the call for food, wondering if the swan would lunge for me as I got closer as they sometimes do. 

But, no.  As I got close to the doors the head was pulled back and Mr. Swan waited patiently while I got the food and threw some out for him.

It disappeared quite sharpish so I guess he really was hungry.  Or maybe just being polite.

But I thought that was quite a parlour trick for the swan to have.

Quite effective.