Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Roll on 2009.

Well as 2008 comes to a close I am looking forward to 2009......

Although we knew when we left to go cruising that we would have to stop for a year or so after a few years in order to complete TBH's project the reality has been more difficult than I had anticipated.

We were talking the other day about what it was about sailing that we really enjoyed and I said it was the self sufficiency that I loved so much. Sadly we haven't practiced a lot of that this year. Being in a marina is the closest I have EVER lived to other people in my whole life and it is not an experience that I am in a hurry to replicate. We were talking about what have been our most satisfying times as cruisers and we both agreed it has been the periods when we have been on our own, reliant totally on our own skills in order to live. We need to get back to that!

Meanwhile of course we are very much in the 'real' world at the moment. Watching the dismantling of the World Economy. Aghast at the appalling waste of human life and the misery of war and hunger. It breaks your heart every day in so many ways.

My wish for 2009 is happiness, health and the courage to follow my heart more. Scary stuff.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing we wish you all that your own heart desires. Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Thought for the day. is a new fascinating site that addresses some weird and wonderful issues. Every day you can have sent to your inbox a different aphorism. Some good some great and some downright odd!

Our son received a gift voucher for a course with them for Christmas, he was delighted and says he is looking forward to 'going back to school'!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas Day.

We had a lovely Christmas, and hope you did too.

For the past few years we have taken part in 'potluck' events to celebrate Christmas lunch. This year we decided to pass. It is inevitable that at times, like holidays, cultural differences become highlighted and this year we felt that we wanted to celebrate our 'Britishness'. And to be totally honest nobody cooks Christmas lunch quite like we do!

So we planned a day around our own self indulgence. It was wonderful...

We had coffee early in the morning with our good friends over in the restaurant and then settled down to our own world for the day.We spoke to our children, all celebrating together at home, and spoke to parents and sister on the moors of Devon.

After cooking TBH's breakfast we read our Christmas books. I had a copy of Dervla Murphy's new tome on Cuba. The island that dared. It is fascinating reading and should be on the 'to read' list of anyone with even the faintest interest in Cuba. I love her travel writing, she doesn't hold back in her criticisms and observations and from our own experiences in that country we agree with the vast majority of the perspectives that she writes about.

Smoked salmon and a bottle of really excellent champagne gave us a break from reading as we sat in the sun in our cockpit. Just listening to the birds, the occasional slap of a wave on the hull and the scuttling buzz of outboard engines as the small boats flit around the river.

There are no roads here, all travel is done by water. Sometimes I forget that this is an isolated location and then you remember!

Back to the book interspersed with cooking. Roast chicken, roast potatoes, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts(!), carrots, sage and onion stuffing and thick gravy. Oh it was good! No room for pud, which was a good job as I hadn't made one...

Then as the rain began TBH pulled his ace, he had managed to obtain a copy of 'Slumdog Millionaire'. I couldn't have had a better present if he had showered me with diamonds and furs!
We settled back in our cosy saloon to enjoy a simply superb movie. Accompanied by a box of chocolates . Bliss!

Every Christmas is different isn't it? We have has wonderful one's with the family, one's spent in the middle of oceans but this qualifies as one of the best. Sometimes the simple things in life, the company of your best mate and an unexpected pleasure add up to deeply satisfying times. This was one of them.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Greetings from Guatemala.

One potluck down, breakfast, one to go, 'heavy' canapes!!?

Made sausages in maple and mustard for brekkie, easy and tasty...

Cook sausages in pan until browned. Put to one side and empty excess fat from pan. Add 1tbsp Maple syrup and 1tbsp dijon mustard. Heat until combined. Slice sausages in to bite size pieces. Add to pan and toss until well coated and sticky. Yummy!

Tonights contribution will be minature Yorkshire puddings, first batch just out of the oven. Topped with a slice of bbq fillet of beef with a horseradish cream on top. I am having great trouble keeping TBH away from the Galley!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas carrots.

My recipe tip for Christmas lunch!

Maple and pecan glazed carrots.

Boil carrots until just cooked. Drain pan and keep carrots warm. Put 2tbsp maple syrup, 1tbsp butter, 1tsp sugar in pan and heat until combined add 1/4 cup chopped pecans and the carrots. Toss until coated with glaze.

That's it! It is delicious and soooo easy. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Cartoon Time.

Well it may be political but at least it has a Christmas theme....

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Where did it go?

One of the worst things is saying goodbye to good friends, it's a big part of the cruising life. This week Woolly and The Blonde aka Roger and Carole set off for their season's cruising. We were sad to see them depart and envious of their return to the ocean. Mind you at the rate we are moving we are likely to still be here when they return in June!

It's strange how the people you think you may never see again turn up in your life with almost alarming frequency whilst those you plan to catch up with rarely pass your way!

As the Christmas letters start to arrive I am struck by the number of cruisers who came across the Atlantic at the same time as us are either on their way back to Europe or are planning to head that way this season. I guess all good things come to an end...

I think that I have persuaded, finally, TBH to put away his computer for a bit and concentrate on some boat jobs. There is a pretty long list waiting for his attention. Boats can get you down if ignored for too long. Our little ship, bless her cotton socks, is an undemanding creature but nevertheless there are some things we should not put off any longer. Almost a year ago we purchased a new radio which came with a CD and DVD player that still sits in the aft cabin awaiting installation. It looks like a good way of watching movies when we are off the dock as it runs through the car radio and has a fold away screen. I am looking forward to getting that up and working. Well, TBH, getting that up and working!

Then of course there are still the new wind instruments to put at the top of the mast..... I will say no more!

Christmas approaches and I am still searching for a glimmer of the 'spirit'. Thought I glimpsed a small bit of it yesterday but nope, it ran off in the opposite ditection. Is it my age do you think???

I have been keeping myself occupied by cleaning systematically through the less used lockers in an attempt to get rid of some 'stuff' and make more space. I don't know about you but for every item that I throw out we seem to acquire two more to take its place. The grand total of stuff cleared this week comes to 4 (!) assorted fly swatters, a cheese grater, a splatter guard and a couple of shirts. Somehow I don't think that's going to help the boat's waterline too much!
I think that my sense of humour is becoming a little strange but this cartoon made me smile...

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Che - Part 1

This Soderburgh movie due for release in January 2009 looks set to be one of the cinematic triumphs for next year.

I cannot wait to see the production and the second part due for release in February 2009. Che is certainly a fascinating historic figure and it will be interesting to see how Soderburgh has dealt with the story.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

What a difference a year makes!

Well there is a pretty fundamental difference in the world these days don't you think?

With so much talk of Economic Meltdown, Depression and Conflict I am finding it hard to get into the Christmas Spirit. Actually to be honest I am finding it pretty nigh impossible.

And that worries me. This is a woman who loves Christmas, who plans(usually)and prepares year round for the annual holiday season.But not this year. A full 12 months on the Rio Dulce has wrought some changes in my outlook that sadden me. There is so much poverty, want and sheer unpleasantness here that it cannot fail to touch your heart.

Don't get me wrong there are some great upsides too but for me there have been some doors opened in my mind that it will be difficult to ever close again.

We have met some of the nicest people here and on the other hand a few thoroughly unpleasant ones.

BUT I refuse to let that get to me so here is the first of, what I hope, will be my Christmas postings for 2008...Cheers!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Mama Mia Moment...

We took advantage of the superb surround sound system at The Cayuco Club last night for a showing of the movie Mama Mia!

TBH and I had watched it a couple of nights ago, despite the bad reviews we had read. It was wonderful. Light frothy and left me with yet another big grin on my face....It's starting to make my muscles ache all this smiling but what the heck!

The gang loved the movie, we roared with laughter and the girls from the kitchen were equally captivated. Isn't it great when something transcends language and culture. The music is instantly uplifting and the views, particularly the boaty ones, made your heart sing too.

Here is a clip of one of my favourite parts, not the soppy love duet that begins it but the wacky 'flipper' dance on the dock. I have been trying to persuade some of the chaps here in the marina to work on the routine for Christmas but the sad conclusion is that we don't think the docks here at Mario's are up to a small herd of baby elephants stomping along in fins!! Ah well guess I'll have to rely on my imagination for that one.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Happiness is TBH shaped!

I am one very proud lady this morning. Indeed it is impossible to wipe the wide grin from my face...

TBH has worked for a long time, extremely hard and with his quiet determination to bring together his philosophy, technical genius and lifetime experience into a new and innovative concept to help this troubled world of ours move forward into a more honest, open and frank space. A place where the thoughts and contribution of the individual can be heard, and most importantly valued, in this fast moving and constantly changing new enviroment.

I have lived through the conception and birthing of his book. Learnt more than I really wanted to know about Complex Adaptive Systems(!) , proof read until blue in the face. And today, finally, it all became worthwhile.

Three reviews of the book arrived via the ether, email to you and me, from the Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, the Dean of MIT and a respected British Captain of Industry. They love it! They love the originality, the concept and the idea that people respond to trust..

I am so pleased for him. TBH is the kindest, most thoughtful, wise person I have ever met, it has been such a privilige to travel this road with him. And he even managed to make my own dreams come true by taking me sailing around the world whilst he was doing all this. What a man!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Food thoughts.

I guess that I could rightfully claim to being a pretty obsessive foodie. From consuming the finished product to growing my own and raising it too, in land dwelling days. I love cooking, eating and sharing the results of a particularly successful foraging expedition! But most of all I love Cookery Books!

Until we gave up our house in the UK I had an enormous collection of books, spanning a life long interest in the culinary arts... Even back in my school days I could be found poring over an original edition of Mrs Beeton in the school library-must have been there since the inception of the place back in 1850. It wasn't the sort of book we were encouraged to read, no way intellectual enough.

However I found the old books bought history alive for me. I would attempt to make some of the old dishes from Hannah Glasses's book, written back in the mid 1700's. Mastering syllabub, an Elizabethan desset, a dish I still produce from time to time here on the boat!

I was pleased that my daughters kept many of the books I had collected, they are both great cooks, but it broke my heart to get rid of so many. We still have a pretty fair collection on board, I tend to read them like novels and always enjoy rereading Elizabeth David or Alan Davidson.

My mother was a great cook, back in the sixties we were already blase about duck a la orange, prawn cocktail and black forest gateaux. Dad was a bit of a gourmet, regularly rescuing me from my rather uninspiring job in the local chemist to join him for lunch in the towns best restaurant. Ah the sophistication of my first Chicken Kiev, served with plain boiled white rice and half a canned peach!! The excitement of Steak Diane as it was flambeed at the table in a blaze of brandy fumes...

TBH and I were recalling some of the greatest meals we have had the privilege to consume yesterday. The jog for this conversation came from an email received from an old colleague, reignited through the publication of TBH's new book. He reminded us of the superb dinners that we shared from time to time in London. Well true they were amazing, especially as they were funded through the company expense account and we were able to indulge our wildest gastronomic fantasies in the name of sourcing new business....

TBH began by recalling our favourite, Chez Nico, a somewhat exclusive french establishment in the west end of London. Unbelievable quality and presentation served in elegant and sophisticated surroundings. The tasting platter of bite sized examples of their dessert menu was to die for. Sadly Nico has long since retired and the place no longer exists... But as we began to recall other experiences we realised what a varied bunch they were, from the glamour of big cities to the rural charm of small European backwaters.

The Sunday brunches in Chicago, I have never seen so much food! Fish lip soup in China Town and fresh grilled corn on the cob from a tiny vendor by the road in Grenada.

But you know its some of the meals that we have enjoyed in our cruising life that are the most outstanding memories. After a long, and hairy, passage from Gibraltar to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands we went to the Yacht Club in the marina for dinner. Foie Gras, suckling pig, excellent local white wine. It was magnificent. Until it made a reappearance at midnight- too much rich food, too fast, oh dear a mistake that I have tried not to replicate!

Our first hamburger after crossing the Atlantic, first Roti. I could go on but you'd probably get bored with my reminisances.

But you just can't beat those wonderful Caribbean afternoons as you settle in to a new anchorage. Anchor well set, boat put up safely and the days catch of Wahoo ready to be consumed. Best of all a plate of ocean fresh sashimi, tongue tingling wasabi paste, warming pickled ginger chased down with icy cold white wine fresh from the cold box...wonderful.

The luxuries of life truly are the simple things....