Monday, January 26, 2015

Greetings from Aberfeldy

We are in Scotland for the week!  We drove up on Friday through some very nice scenery that would have  been even nicer, especially for Mike, if it was not raining cats and dogs part of the way.  The roads were very twisty and turny so we were glad to arrive here in Aberfeldy just after dark.  Just how twisty you can judge for yourself since the last 21miles took 45 minutes to cover.

Yesterday we took a long Sunday drive around Loch Tay and boy were the views magnificent!  Looking down the loch was enough to take your breath away.

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We saw a lot of sheep during our drive, including a few that had left the meadow and were strolling along the road or chomping on what they had clearly seen as greener grass on the other side of the fence.

The road on the one side of the loch was one car wide and if you met up with another vehicle, which we did a few times, one of you had to back up to the nearest little pull off to allow the other car to pass.  We took this to be a sure sign that either this road is not traveled by a great amount of traffic or that Scots have nerves of steel, or both.

I expect we will take several more drives into the surrounding area so I will keep you updated.

Oh, since yesterday the Scots celebrated Burns Night in honor of poet Robert Burns may I leave you with this:

                                                                “The Selkirk Grace”
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit. 
- Robert Burns

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coldest British Winter in 3 Years

Winter has arrived and it appears he/she expects to stick around for awhile.

Temperatures have been at about 5 F and when the wind hits you it feels MUCH colder.

Snow is falling across Great Britain and children are enjoying sledding and making snowmen.

The canal is still open but that water is COLD, hovering just above freezing.  That means our floors in this steel boat that sits in that water are, shall we say, not quite warm. :-)

The roads are icy and the sand and grit that are normally used to improve conditions are failing to rise to the challenge in this cold.  The Automobile Association is busy responding to motorists who have slid off roads or been involved in accidents.

Mike and I are spending as much time as possible in the front part of the boat where the stove keeps the temp at a balmy 15 C.  And if you think I jest, it really does feel balmy when compared with the bathroom at 6C and the bedroom at about 3C.  We skipped our morning showers in case you are wondering.

We are very grateful for the abundance of cut fire wood we have now.  The stove is burning it at a pretty good clip as we try to stay comfortable.  But, there is still more down in the meadow if we need it. :-)

Well, I am off to work on the turkey noodle soup that will be our dinner.  I am going to serve it over mashed potatoes as it was in my childhood.  A carb overload did I hear you say?  Yep, but that feels like just what the doctor ordered for today.  Comfort food.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Harry Potter Was Here

This past Saturday we took the train into Durham to meet up with one of  Mike's former students who is also the daughter of a former co-worker and friend.  She is over here for a month on business for her company.  We had a wonderful pub lunch and general catch up.  Then it was time to play tourist:  the local cathedral and the local castle were the sites chosen.

Durham Cathedral was built to hold the body of Saint Cuthbert. St. Cuthbert never lived in Durham but ended up there due to Viking raids in AD 875 that forced the monks of Lindisfarne to flee, taking with them the saint's body.  The monks found refuge in Chester until they were again forced to flee in AD995 due to increased Viking incursions.  Local legend says that the monks, with St. Cuthbert's coffin on a cart, came across two milk maids searching for a brown (dun) cow.  Upon reaching a peninsula formed by the River Wear the cart's wheels refused to move.  The monks took this as a sign that here was where St. Cuthbert wanted his shrine to be built.  Once this decision had been made, the wheels of the cart again began to move.  The street leading past the Cathedral's eastern towers is called Dun Cow Lane to honor the legend.

The Cathedral, in addition to housing the coffin of St. Cuthbert also houses relics of St. Oswald and the Venerable Bede making it a popular destination for religious pilgrims of the middle ages. 


Yep.  Look closely and you should be able to recognize some of the locations used in Harry Potter.

 The Castle in Durham is an unusual example of re-purposing of an architectural structure.  The Castle has Norman origins having been built in the 11th century.  However, since 1837 it has been owned and used as part of Durham College.  Today it is the residence of over 100 students attending the college.  These lucky individuals get to eat their meals in the castle's great hall.  The castle is open to the public only through guided tours since this is the home of the students and their privacy needs to be respected.
As expected, competition to live here is high.  Who wouldn't want to be able to say they live in a castle?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Deliciously Making Do

I love the place we have been moored for the last little while.  It has beautiful scenery, wonderfully friendly people, a cafe across the canal that makes great lattes, a source of needed firewood just across the meadow, and lots of doggies walking by.

The one thing it does not have is a supermarket.  The little crossroads has a small convenience store run by a nice friendly lady.  She has done her best to creatively fit in as much stock and as great a variety of items as possible.  But, it would be like doing your major grocery shop at a gas station convenience store. 

We could move on but, due to canal repairs being made only a few miles ahead, we cannot go too far until mid March.  Since there is no great rush, why move when everything else is so appealing.

The answer, eat from stores on hand.  It has been fun making meals out of what is in the frig, freezer, fresh fruit and veg box and shelf stable items found here on the boat.  I have been making bread, chili, hummus, beans and greens,Stromboli, huevos racheros, egg and chips, fried rice, moo shu, chili spaghetti, burritos, etc.  It has been yummy.

Tonight is burgers, hasselback potatoes and honey mustard glazed carrots.  No complaints here.

I wonder just how long I could do this?  I have spent less than £15 on food this month.  A few more months like that and we could treat ourselves to a nice little extra trip.

I also wonder just why I had/have such a stockpile.  It might seem a little excessive if I stop to think about it too much.  So, I won't think about it.  I'll just say I was being prepared unless we got iced in.  Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Let the Hurricanes Roar*

Or, at least the hurricane winds.  Thursday is when the heavy winds are supposed to hit again.  Poor Scotland will, it appears, get the worst of it again.  We are projected to have winds about 50MPH again.

Before that, there is a chance of snow for us here but nothing like we were used to in Erie.  And, I take comfort that I don't have to clean off a car in the morning so that I can get to work.  I always hated that.

To make sure we stay warm we have been cutting and stacking wood today.  We once had quite a supply but the stove has "eaten" most of that and we needed to replace our stockpile.

Just down the hill from where we are moored is a huge limb of a tree that was victim to winter winds a couple of years ago.  After talking with several residents it was decided that it was fair game for our saw.  Mike cuts, I stack.  We worked for several hours today and hope to get a few more in tomorrow. 

Today a lovely local gentleman wearing a Harley Davidson jacket helped us out by carrying buckets and bags of logs from Mike to me.  (He offered.  Wasn't that nice?)  His help made the work go faster and was really appreciated.

An interesting aside:  this gentleman just stopped riding his Harley 4 years ago.  He was 76 then.  Today as he was lugging logs for us, he is 80!  Way to go!

*This is the title of a book by Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House fame.  Rose wrote her book about her mother's life before Laura wrote hers.  It was not as successful, unfortunately. 

Monday, January 12, 2015


 Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:  an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard them; example:  the Yorkshire Dales; AONBs were created in 1949 as part of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act

Recently, while we had a rental car over the weekend, we took a long Sunday drive into the Yorkshire Dales.  I have had a long distance love of the dales since reading  and then watching All Creatures Great and Small.  They did not disappoint.

You travel through areas that feel even more remote than they actually are.  Your view is often only of heather, stone built villages, green pastures full of sheep, fields plowed for farming and wonderful dry stone walls.

The region is a wonderful place full of wildlife, woodlands, rivers and walking paths for those who want to see the area very up close and personal.  We were unable to do that due to time constraints but it is wonderfully appealing and may happen in the future.

The abundant wildlife of the area includes some of the best grouse shooting to be found.  While touring the area we did hear the pops of gunfire and passed many older, traditional hunting lodges of the aristocracy.

There are twelve longstanding water reservoirs in this beautiful landscape that were built to supply water to the cities of Leeds and Bradford during the industrial revolution.  Today they add beauty to the landscape, homes for plants and animals, and wonderful places to fish, bird watch and relax.

A true AONB.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

OOPS, There It Goes

...although we did not actually see it go, unfortunately.

Our new stove chimney with rooster tail is now no longer to be found.  The winds have sent it to places not yet discovered. 

Now, you must understand that less than 6 months ago, because we had to replace our old chimney which had seen better days, we sprung for the new chimney.  And, now it is gone.  And with it goes £££'s,

The wind apparently decided to send it to its new home.

Scotland has been receiving hurricane force winds over the last two nights and while we have not, the winds have still been going over the boat sounding like fast moving trains.  It is an experience, let me tell you.

One of those fast moving trains of wind decided to remove our chimney from our boat.  Oops!

Since we will not be moving for at least another day, since the wind is still incredible, it will be a few days until it can be can replaced but then we will spend another£££ and replace it (and chain it down this time so it does not disappear).

But, it could have been worse.  Much worse.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We Will Be Rocking and Rolling

Tonight a weather front is beginning to move across the UK north of us.  Scotland is expected to experience gusts of winds up to 80MPH!  That is a dangerous wind.  The kind that blows semi trucks over, trees down and anything that isn't nailed down to heaven knows where.

Our winds will not be as hard but we will feel them, make no mistake.  For the next four days we are expected to experience winds consistently at 20 to 30 MPH with gusts of 50MPH.  We are currently on our upward journey across the Pennines and are moored above a valley.  It is beautiful but it also means that the winds will come roaring across that valley to our boat with nothing in its way to slow it down.

The result, a steel boat that weighs about 15 tons being made to rock and roll with every gust.  It can also be quite noisy as the boat ropes creek and  it bounces against the canal wall.  Let us say it does not make for a restful night's sleep. 

But, we are not in direct line of any trees that might decide to go horizontal so all will eventually be well.  Here we go with the rocking and rolling.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I Have Joined The Compact, Wish Me Luck

Way back when a thing came into being called The Compact.  If you join The Compact you agree, with certain exceptions that you get to decide upon, that for the next year you will not purchase new products but only used products.  The purpose of The Compact is to counteract the negative environmental and socioeconomic effects of our common consumer culture.  It basically is that you will stop buying new and instead make your own, buy used, or barter or borrow.

 As my family will tell you, I have been making my own or buying used for MANY years.   But I have also been buying new.  This year I hope to stop buying new, except for certain pre-established exceptions.  My pre-established exceptions are undergarments,consumables and gifts for others.  I figured now was as good of a time as any to join The Compact.  Especially since I am living in 242 square feet and cannot fit much new in to this space. :-)

Charity Shops are crammed with so many useful things why would I need to buy something that is newly manufactured.  May my carbon footprint grow smaller this year.

It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used. - See more at:
It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used. - See more at:
It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used. - See more at:
It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used. - See more at:
It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used. - See more at:

Our "Food for Refugees" Packages

Salvage grocery stores, scratch and dent stores, these are not commercial establishments I have seen over here in the UK.  Those of you who know me well know that I used to shop at such stores in the US to help keep the budget in line (helping us retire early).  Now, as Mike will remind me occasionally, that pot of money we worked so hard to save needs to last us for a few decades.

I don't want to not travel.  I don't want to not be able to "spoil" my grandkids.  I want to be able to help those who need in help.  Etc., etc., etc..

So, one of the places I still strive to stretch our dollars or, as the case may be.  That is why I was so pleased to be able to find a way to take advantage of  the bargains to be found at the online salvage store called Approved Foods.  The way it works is that you go through the products currently available at the site and place your order online.  Then you give them an address to ship your box or boxes of goodies to.

There in lies our rub.  We don't have a permanent address to have packages sent.  For awhile this issue seemed insurmountable.  But then our lovely British friends, RW and KW, generously said we could have our order mailed to them.  SCORE!

The other part of having the boxes sent there is that when you have to buy a lot of something to get the good deal you can share.  Hopefully a win for both of us.

This past weekend we rented a car and met RW and KW for lunch and to get our boxes from Approved Food.  RW has taken to referring to them as our "Food for Refugees" packages. :-)

To give you an idea of our good deals we bought:
     120 g of solid tuna for £.50 each from AF with a regular RRP of £1.28 each ( I LOVE tuna)
     820 g of green olives for £1.50 each from AF with a regular RRP of £3 each (Mike's martini need :-)
     375 g of white bread mix (1 loaf) for £.25 each from AF with a RRP of  £1 each (to stretch my yeast)
     375 g natural wheatbran for £.25 each from AF with a RRP of £.71 each (to put in the white bread mix)
     400 g of chopped tomatoes for £.14 each from AF with a RRP of £1 each (daily special)
     18 small french rolls for a total of £.99 from AF with a RRP of £2.99 total (yummy & quick)
     2.5 k of sage & onion stuffing mix for £1.99 from AF with a RRP of £11.99 (use as bread crumbs)
     66g packet for mushroom soup for £.12 each from AF with a RRP of £.45 each (canned soup sub)
     10 count pkg 10"  flour tortillas for £.33 per pkg from AF with a RRP of £1.20 per pkg (burritos, etc)
     35g packet for onion sauce for £.33 each from AF with a RRP of £.72 each (canned soup sub
     50 g pkt of tomato sauce mix for £.12 each from AF with a RRP of £.65 each (good for soups,stews)
     250 ml of lemon juice for £.20 each from AF with a RRP of £.71 each (used extensively in cooking)

On average, we saved about 66% off the RRP cost of the items ordered.  I'll take that, no problem.

Thanks again RW and KW.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Don't Tell Me People Over 60 Can't Adapt

I am in my bed, wearing pink thermal underwear and a flannel bathrobe, under two eiderdown quilts, with two pairs of socks on my feet, snuggled up to two hot water bottles and my husband and I am NOT making plans to change my lifestyle.  If that is not adapting I do not know what is.

Happy New Year!