Sunday, October 12, 2014


Just a short note so that I can let everyone know that we are now on the train heading towards where we will meet the ship tomorrow. 

And...we are traveling in First Class comfort!  We have been served complimentary coffee and later, if we so desire, we can ask for sandwiches, crisps, cookies or blueberry muffins.

We also have a very comfortable seat with plenty of leg room and a table to make our dining even more comfortable.

One could get used to traveling like this and it would not take long at all.

For those of you that are wondering, no Mike is not getting senile and booking first class and who cares about the cost.  Hardly.  Actually, due to a special deal, traveling first class was actually cheaper than traveling our normal class. 

Let us hope for more specials in our future.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Our Bags Are Packed

The boat is moored at a marina in Lemonroyd. 

Our luggage is lined up, bulging and heavy, and ready to go. 

Tomorrow we take a train from Leeds to where we meet the ship on Monday. 

And then we are off on our two week repositioning cruise with stops in Lisbon and a couple of ports in the Caribbean.  Our final destination is Florida. 

There we will leave the boat and take a train to DC to visit the kids and grands. :-)

We will also be making visits to Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to see friends, family and doctors so that they will renew prescriptions (so picky ;-). 

I expect to be  back posting regularly in about 5 1/2 to 6 weeks.  I know I will not have internet access on the ship but may have in a cafe here or there.  If so, will try to make a quick post.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Spiders Hate Horse Chestnuts

They are called conkers her in the UK but Americans know them as horse chestnuts.  And, it appears to be widely known over here that spiders do not like them.  So, if you pick some up off the ground and take them home and disperse them around your house, magically no more pesky spiders and spider webs!

I first heard about conkers and spiders when I was walking along the canal and came upon an older (probably around my age come to think of it) couple picking them up off the ground.  Now I like them, too and usually pick up a few shiny ones, put them in my jacket pocket and completely forget about them until much later when they are all shriveled.  Then I throw them out.

But this nice lady told me that she actually had a purpose for them:  to ward off spiders.  She said she did this every year and she swore it worked.  I must admit I was, at best, skeptical.

But then I read a blog about them.  The woman's mother in law always placed a conker on the window sill in each room to stop the spiders from living in her house.  The blogger was also skeptical and for years just filed the information away as a good old wives' tale.

And then came this fall.  She has been waging a losing battle with the hordes of spiders that have moved into her house and seem to like the neighborhood so much that they invited their friends to live there, too. She was desperate.  So out came the old wives' tale.

She took the three conkers that she had picked up when out on a walk and dispersed them around the house.  Just 3, remember.  And no, that was not enough for one in every room.  But they did the trick.

She reported that there are now no more spiders in her house!

Well, spiders seem to love boats, too.  But, I don't like spiders.  The only spider I have ever felt close to was fictional, could spell words in her web, and was named Charlotte.

So, excuse me while I get some conkers and spread them around the boat.  Spiders, you have just been evicted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wellies, Wood Fire and Wet Weather: God Laughing.

Yep, that pretty much describes my day.

The paths can (are) muddy so on with the wellies I have not worn since last early spring.
The are is damp and cool (cold) so we have had a wood fire going all day to make us comfortable and to soothe old joints (mine).
And the weather, well that has been wet, by and large.  It rains, it stops, it rains again, it stops again, you get the picture.

Well, about 2:30 I decided that since we were out of butter, eggs, bread, and four to make bread with, that a trip to the store would probably be smart.  Yeah, right.

So I headed out with my wellies and vest on.  I got to town OK (town is now Castleford, BTW).  However, after making my purchases ( of the above including the flour and some custard donuts that just happened to jump into my cart without my knowing it), I headed home as it began to sprinkle.

Not bad.  What could be called a soft day.  However, it did not stay soft.

Slowly but surely God turned up the faucet until it was really and truly a rainstorm.  The dripping off your hair and nose, can't see out of your glasses rain storm.

But hey, this is England.  Rain is to be expected.  Roll with it, right?

So, once home I dried off, but on some warm jammies, and got comfortable for the evening.

And, I swear the rain stopped as I god dried off and it has not rained since.  Does anyone else hear God laughing?

Where Can You Find Teens at Night? (A Journey of 1000 Miles)

If the beer cans are any indication, they appear to favor hanging out along canals and river locks.  Walk along the paths and you do not have to go far to find cozy little indentations in the hedges and the litter of beer cans and crisp packaging.

I understand the teenage need for private spaces out of sight of eyes that always seem judgmental.  I can even reach far back into the recesses of my mind and remember feeling that way myself.

But, what I can not understand is leaving all the garbage behind.  First, it clearly gives you away.  Anybody who looks knows what is going on here and could come back some evening and confront you.  Second, that cozy little indentation can't be all that comfortable when it is full of garbage.  And third, one reads that the younger people are very concerned about what mankind is doing to the environment.  Well, here is an example of environmental harm close to home that need not happen.

Keep a plastic bag of some sort in a pocket.  Collect all the refuse from your get together in the  bag and either put it in a handy refuse container or sit it somewhere where others can dispose of it properly.  That will be much easier than them having  to hunt around in the hedge rows and pick up after you.  I promise they will think much kinder thoughts while disposing of a neat bag of refuse than they would think if they had to pick up said refuse piece by piece.

The same can be said for all the garbage that ends up in the canals.  Using a garbage bag or a refuse bin would be neater, more environmentally friendly and leave the canals looking much more attractive.  A floating garbage heap is not a pretty sight.

How do you make the world a better place?  One positive action at a time.  So, when out walking the canals I am going to take a plastic bag with me and pick up the refuse along the way and dispose of it properly.  It's a small step but that's how one makes a journey of a thousand miles:  one small step at a time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Food Live On Forever?

How Long can one meal last?  This one seems to never be all eaten and a thing of the past.  Enough.

About a week and a half ago, before the rains of October set in, I made a pasta dinner with fresh tomato, sweet peppers, onion and cheese sprinkled on top.  It was dressed in a very simple homemade Italian.

As I have been known to do, a million times or so, I made too much.  The amount of pasta seemed fine.  The vegetable mix looked great.  When I put them together I swear something weird happened and the amount I had multiplied.  Let's call it an act of nature. (Then it is not. my. fault.)

So, we ate it for dinner that night and lunch the next day.  And the leftovers still looked like they could feed a few hungry teenagers. 

So, we went with using the leftovers in minestrone soup and I added some garbanzo beans and chopped tomatoes and adjusted the seasonings.  It was good and we had it for dinner and lunch.  And it still was not gone so into the freezer it went while I hunted for inspiration.

Today it came out of the freezer and was pureed by my immersion blender into a tomato type sauce.  It will be the base for tonight's churizo and cheese pizza. 

No worries now.  Pizza always gets eaten between dinner and lunch.  Always.

The saga is over.  Finally.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday was a gorgeous autumn day:  full of sun, warm, no rain, just enough of a breeze.  Perfect.

We took advantage of the day by traveling a little further on our voyage to the Leeds and Liverpool.  The fields are so green, the cows and sheep and horses look so "pastorally contented" (can I say that?  who cares, it's my blog so I will anyway).   Off on the horizon, at the end of the fields and meadows, you can see the church towers, the stone and brick houses, the rows of mature and stately trees. Idyllic. There won't be many more days like that. 

To make the day even better, we skyped with John and Emma (and Meg and Ash).  It was breakfast time for them and lunchtime for us.  Once John got over his shyness we had a great conversation.  He told us about his visit to 'Mommy's grandpa' and the animals they saw.  He was all excited about the visit to the pumpkin patch for later in the day and his plans to bring home a small pumpkin for Emma and a BIG pumpkin for himself. And we learned about his latest interest, dinosaurs.  Emma was just busy toddling around, playing in cupboards and smiling and giggling at everything.  She really enjoyed when mom would pick her up and stand by John's chair (where he was busy eating half of mom's bagel).  Emma loves to take that opportunity to give John kisses in his hair.  When I commented to John that Emma loves her big brother he nonchalantly answered 'Yeah.' Great kids.  Lucky grandparents.

After our conversation Mike and I went out to Sunday lunch!  He had a cheeseburger and chips and I had potato skins (not nearly as stuffed or as greasy over here so I don't have to feel as guilty).

We moored for the night at a beautiful section that makes you feel you have literally stepped off the world and left all that hustle and bustle behind, at least for awhile.  Very calm and serene (I have always loved the word serene.  Princess Grace was 'Her Serene Highness'.  I always thought that was a great title to have.)

That was yesterday. 
Now we have today and it is a horse of a different color.

The breeze is now a strong wind.  The sun is gone and the rain is pelting the boat.  It is damp and very, very cool with a high today expected to reach only 10 celcius.  Today we will stay inside and take care of projects and chores and try to stay dry and warm.  The wood is burning in the stove and just seeing the flames helps you feel warmer.  It's a placebo effect but I'll still take it.

And, as Orphan Annie said, the sun will come out tomorrow.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I REALLY Wish I Could Get These Comments Right!

I have tried yet again to get the comments part to work.  Please try it out and we will hope, fingers crossed, that it works!
Edited:  I think it will work now.  I have also been able to add a way to follow by email so you can know every time I post a new entry.  A means to search the entries and a list of the top 5 posts is also now available.  Let's hope all this new stuff works. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Retracing Our Steps

We have left Wakefield behind and are retracing our route on the Aire and Calder heading towards Leeds and the next stage of the adventure. On the way out of town Mike and I managed to scavenge a few more logs for our stove from the conveniently provided brush pile.  We could "harvest" some of the bigger ones this time since we got ourselves an early Christmas present:  a petrol powered chain saw.  It will make cutting things to the appropriate size much easier.  The hand saw could only do so much.

Mike has purchased some new canal guides, Pearson's Canal Companion, and in one I was browsing I cam across the author's description of Wakefield which sums up my impression of so many of the towns in this part of Yorkshire where heavy industry once thrived but is no more.  I have included his description below.

Wakefield:  "scarred by an acne-like rash of Sixties architecture, Wakefield reminds you of Dr. Johnson's adage that some places are 'worth seeing but not worth going to see'."  But, hidden among all the less than beautiful buildings are such treasures as the Cathedral (if only the local kids didn't use it as a hang out and pepper the air with four letter words starting with "f"), the town and county halls, some of the older stone built warehouses along the waterfront, and the very historic and rare Chantry Chapel.

The Chantry Chapel is located on the medieval bridge over the River Calder. and is the only survivor of four chantries in Wakefield  it is also the oldest and most ornate of the surviving bridge chapels in England.The chapel was used for worship until the Reformation and Abolition of Chantries Acts when all Wakefield's four chantry chapels were closed. The bridge chapel survived because it is a structural element of the bridge.  The chapel was transferred to the Church of England in 1842 and its restoration was undertaken.  The chapel opened for Anglican worship in 1848.  Currently, it is again being rehabbed.  You can, however, go to Holy Communion there the first Sunday of the month if you would like to do so.

Coal was actively and unattractively mined in this area until fairly recently.  Open pit mines left the countryside with massive "scars" instead of the original beauty of nature.  But now the blackness of the coal mines is returning to the green of fields and meadows as the necessary long term and massive work is done to reclaim the area.

In fact, the area is now a major grower and supplier of rhubarb.  If you like, you can attend the Rhubarb Festival every year in late February.

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Stanley Ferry Bridge

At Stanley Ferry, where we moored last night and will probably spend today due to the 100% likelihood of rain, is an elegant aqueduct of iron suspended between girders.  It was this bridge that is said to be the inspiration for Australia's Sydney Harbor Bridge. 

Next week we will be mooring the boat at Lemonroyd Marina near Leeds, where some friends have their boat moored. 

Next up:  the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Stream of Consciousness Thoughts About Year One

It's been a year already.  We have seen and done a lot but there is still so much to see and do.  Of course, we haven't been here the whole 52 weeks but we have been here for a large chunk of time.  When I think about the year here are some of the thoughts that come to mind.  No complete sentences, no order, no rhyme or reason:

Making homemade mayo in 30 seconds or less with 5 ingredients and an immersion blender

The wonderful bite of real English mustard.

Learning to talk to strangers.

Walking more.

Letting go and being less stressed.

The need for constant decluttering.

A grater, knife and immersion blender can so almost anything a food processor can do.  But, I am still keeping my food processor.

An immersion blender, a hand held masher and a whisk can do most of the things a mixer can do.  But my kitchen-aid will stay.  The hand held mixer I have to think about.

A service for 8 or 12 of your ordinary dishes, glasses and cutlery is not needed 99% of the time.  For the 1% I think I will just use disposable.

White dishes are the way to go.  You can find them in different charity shops and different times and they still look great together.

When boats hit the sides of locks it sometimes leads to having to replace some of those same dishes.

A wood fire takes a lot of beating.  They should prescribe it for people with SAD.  I swear it helps.

A stainless steel saucepan with a metal handle makes a great container to cook bread in.  Great crust.

Hand washing dishes really doesn't take a lot of time, even when you have to heat the water on the stove.  But no, you can't have my dishwasher.

Politicians, no matter what country, appear to be the same.  They look out only for themselves.  They have a difficult time telling the truth.  They can justify anything.  Not good.

I miss my slow cooker.  I have a small pressure cooker and it is great.  But, I still wish I had a slow cooker.  But I just haven't found a small one in a charity shop yet.  I guess other people like them, too.

Most anything I want/need will show up in a charity shop eventually for pence on the pound.

Approved foods and RTC items are a food budget's friend.

Hot water bottles are something everybody should rediscover and own.  They warm cold sheets in the winter and soothe aching body parts of the not yet old so why do my joints think I am.

Porta Potties will never make it.  No matter how you empty, sanitize, clean, deodorize.  But I am still willing to give a composting toilet a chance (especially if it is the type that composts in my basement and not under where I sit.

If you buy it, try it, despise it, redonate it and try again.  The beauty of charity shop/cheap purchases:  no guilt.

Family (especially growing quickly grandchildren and family and friends closer to the five score mark) are more precious than life itself, friends and pets are VERY HARD to leave behind.

I am still cooking at home 99% of the time!  Time to work on that.

Wondering what I will do with all the space in the Erie house when we go back there.  Maybe reconvert it into a duplex and use that to help fund our "older age".

Smaller spaces to clean but need to stay on it more

Organize, organize, organize

Such a small island, such a dense population, so much beautiful countryside

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bits and Bobs

Yorkshire's former industrial cities are now trying to recreate themselves with various levels of success.  I empathize but I must admit the cities made me feel nervous.  The young people on the streets hanging out in groups had the ability to frighten you with what they might do.  The litter and trash in the streets and in the canal showed a lack of caring.  The many homeless in doorways even during the day and the pervasive urine smell (public toilets cost money) pulled at your heart strings and was off putting at the same time (the food market with stalls was nearby and I just couldn't make myself buy anything).  A sense of danger is just under the surface.  That kind of feeling that tells you to be safe inside and not out on those streets once darkness falls. Of course, the slinky of razor wire at the tip of every fence and along many roofs may also have something to do with it all.

Just past the last lock before you get to Wakefield was a large brush pile.  Upon exploration, we scavenged many branches that will make good mini logs for our stove.  There were also larger real size logs that people with other stoves could use.  Hope somebody finds them and uses them so they don't go to waste.  I have seen quite a few more brush piles on the way into town but they look like too much work and too much distance to get to and then drag limbs back from.  But if someone had a cart or sled or wheelbarrow it would be worth exploring if in need of free wood.

Wakefield runs a free city bus that has a 14 or 15 stop circular route that you can jump on and off to get to where you need to be.  We used it yesterday to go to charity shops and today to get to the train station.  It runs every 10 to 15 minutes and seems to be rather well used.  Good thinking for getting people to use the businesses and restaurants in the city.

The public transportation system here is great.  Mike went back to the dentist today to have his broken tooth removed. We took the free bus to the train station, an 18 minute train ride to the town the dentist is in and a bus to the office.  The bus station and train station were right next to each other.  It is not like that in all cities but we have seen it like that in many.  No need to rent a car, hire an expensive taxi or stress out over how to get there and home.  The appointment was for 12:30 and we were back home by 3.  Not bad. And the bus driver on the bus to the dentist's office was the same one we had a week ago and he remembered us.  How great is that!

Has anybody else out there reading this read The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith?  I have been looking to see if there was a connection between this Wakefield and Goldsmith or the title and this Wakefield.  But I can't find a thing about it.  Disappointing.

Sheffield to Wakefield

Here we are, first in line on the left, going through one of the large commercial locks with four of our friends.  We made a convoy, a la Smokey and the Bandit.  You can sorta see our geraniums on the bow and our herbs and wood pile on the roof. 
This is an abandoned train bridge that we passed.  Mike and I loved the many arches.  Surely something could be done to make use of the structure.
Looking out of the boat one evening when we were parked for the night at Barnby Dun.  Gorgeous! It reminded us of sunsets on the peninsula.
The same view and sunset just a few moments later but a very different sight.  Still tranquil and pretty but no longer fiery.
This reminded me of a modern Stonehenge.  Makes you think, doesn't it.  You can travel all day and they are still there overlooking you.

Another train bridge but this one is still in use.  See all those white discs with the Xs in them?  I wonder if those are there to reinforce the structure of the bridge.  I know they do a process similar to that on old historic buildings.

A beautiful and serene trip down the River Don.  We actually turned the engine off and just drifted for awhile enjoying the view and the quiet. A pleasant journey over the Sheffield Canal, The River Don, and the Aire and Calder Navigations into Wakefield.