Friday, 24 December 2010

'Twas the night before Christmas...

..and all through the boat we are summoning up the spirit of the season!

The turkey is boned and stuffed with a pork,sage and parsley stuffing. It's covered in butter and bacon and sitting patiently in the fridge ready to go. Bread sauce is made. Pate is in the fridge, bread in the freezer. Vegetables ready for peeling and just the dessert to make. No Christmas pudding this year sadly.

TBH has just put the carol cd on and we are listening to I'm dreaming of a white christmas! Actually it's raining here this evening...

And now it's time to put up the decorations, unearth the tree that has traveled the oceans with us, wonder if the lights will work this year? Time too to open the vino and sit back to think of you all, where ever you are and what ever you are doing.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Bread Making

I love making bread, particularly on a cooler morning. The smell as the dough rises and the warmth of the oven make the boat feel very cozy.
The delight of taking the crusty loaves out of the oven and that first hot slice covered with melting butter, mmmnnn!

After the excitement of the pig killing yesterday I settled down to make my usual white crusty farmhouse loaf but decided to have a go at a new, to me, recipe for green onion and sage bread. It sounded like just the thing for those turkey sandwiches that I am anticipating later this week! Boy was it good....

This is the recipe I used. I didn't have any wholemeal flour so used all white, no fresh sage so I substituted one and a half teaspoons of dried sage. Two loaves are in the freezer waiting for the turkey and we've already finished the other one...

Dan Lepard's green onion and sage loaf recipe

    Green onion and sage loaf
    475g strong white flour, plus more for shaping 150g wholemeal flour 1 tsp fast-action yeast 2 tsp fine salt 1 tsp sugar 50ml olive oil 1 medium egg 250ml warm water 6 medium green (spring) onions, finely chopped 20g sage leaves, shredded Sea salt flakes and olive oil, to finish Put the flours, yeast, salt and sugar into a large bowl and toss with your fingers. In another bowl, whisk the oil, egg and water until smooth, stir in the onions and sage, then add to the flour bowl and mix to a smooth, soft dough. Leave for 10 minutes. On a well-oiled patch of worktop, lightly knead for about 10 seconds, then return the dough to the bowl. Leave for 10 minutes, then repeat the light kneading twice more at 10-minute intervals before leaving it at room temperature for 90 minutes. Divide the dough into three, shape each into a ball with flour, then sit them touching like a clover on a baking tray covered with nonstick paper. Cover, leave to rise for about an hour, then brush with oil, sprinkle with salt flakes and bake at 240C (220C fan-assisted)/465F/gas mark 9 for about 30 minutes.

Digital McCarthyism.

A really coherent interview with Julian Assange on the dangers to the first amendment and the American Constitution.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Pig Killing day!


....the voice wafted through the hatch  sometime before dawn this morning. It was dark, chilly and starting to drizzle. I was already up and dressed, not warmly enough but at least I had some clothes on!

John, the manager, stood bundled up in a big jacket on the dock.
'C'mon it's pig time!'

Ephrine, the guardian here, and his family rear a couple of porkers every year. Today was D day for one of them. We cruisers were offered some of the meat to buy but we needed to be on hand once the butcher started his work as, how can I put this, butchery isn't quite what we understand  here in Guatemala!Their cuts are somewhat abstract to say the least!

We carefully made our way in the gloom down the boardwalk to the rear of the marina property where Ephrine and his family live, in amongst the swamp. Man those mosquito's were biting!

The slaughter had taken place around 2am right there in the jungle, the pig had been scalded and flayed by the time we arrived. It's quite a communal event. Two other cruisers arrived to point out the cuts they wanted and a convivial time was spent discussing 'animals we had butchered', 'hunting in Alaska' and ' strange joints I have cooked'!

The butcher was a scrawny little guy armed with a large knife and a lump of wood to use as a mallet. He worked away down in the grass under a lamp in the dark, sawing and pulling and chopping away at the fast diminishing corpse.Buckets and pans were pressed into use to contain the various cuts and the rest of the family busied themselves weighing and bagging and working out the cost of each parcel on the mobile phone!Young Allan, the eldest child(12), was contemplating the delights of a roast leg and various relatives were claiming the joints they had ordered.

It is quite different here to other 'pig-killings' what I have attended! In Portugal the occasion was a village event, all the women got together to process the carcass,making salami, blood sausage, tripe, brawn and all manners of delicacies. Not a piece was wasted. That doesn't appear to be the case here. No bacon curing, ham smoking or sausage making that I could see. I wonder why that is,  maybe the lack of refrigeration in such a humid climate ?

I claimed a pair of 'patas', trotters and yup, you've guessed it, I am going to make another mammoth pork pie! For now though the meats in the freezer, that's a job for after the Christmas holidays.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Nothing like a choirboy for Christmas...

oh lordy the tears are starting to flow! Memories of the son as Senior Chorister at his Prep School, so many years ago,,,,

Monday, 20 December 2010


Son James, took this last night from his window in a tiny, snow covered village in England....Brrrrrrrr!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Jolly Olly

I was reading yesterday about young Olly Rofix as he gets ready to set sail on a round Britain fundraising attempt in an 18 footer!
 Recovering from a near death experience with a particularly rare form of Leukaemia he has set a target of  recruiting a thousand new donors to The Anthony Nolan Trust . A most worthwhile challenge.

I have been pretty scathing in the past about some of the attempts at long distance sailing that you read about in the 'sailing comics' BUT this one looks like a well thought out, well prepared and praiseworthy challenge. I wish Olly lots of luck.

If you feel like sponsoring him or donating please do this looks like an excellent venture. I will be following his experience with enthusiasm. It's going to be quite a challenge in such a tiny boat but good on Olly!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Over the top Christmas lights...

Paul Tudor Jones, one of those infamous hedge fund supremos goes over the top at his home in Greenwich, Conneticut.Displaying how one of the richest men in the world likes to spend his money....

Boy I bet his neighbours just love this in their exclusive cul-de-sac!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Assange speaks on his release.

As Julian Assange is finally able to walk from his solitary confinement he had these words for those waiting to greet him on the court steps.

Justice, Assange, Sanitary towels.

Just heard Julian Assange has been released by the Judge. At Last.

These are The Royal Courts of Justice in London where Julian Assange is having his bail appeal hearing this morning.

It is Britain in all it's Gothic splendour.
Fingers crossed for him that finally justice will be done and he will be allowed to leave his confinement later today.
Sadly the Judge in this mornings case, Justice Duncan Ousley, has ruled that twitter will not be allowed from the court. Why not? Actually it just confirms the arcane and ridiculous attitudes of British Law. For goodness sake lets not live in the 21st century it's all far too scary for the learned lawyers, I ask you!

The High Court is a intimidating place. Many years ago I had occasion to appear in a case there(civil not criminal!) and I can tell you from personal experience that the echoing stone corridors and severe architecture of the place is quite a sight. Shiny leather benches line the corridors and they are littered with gown clad 'briefs', surrounded by piles of documents all tied up with red ribbon. Their little white wigs perched on top of their heads all add to the surreal experience. I wonder what Julian thinks of it all?

The courts themselves are lofty rooms, sunlight from high windows and old wooden fittings. I remember a dusty smell of old papers and mold!

On a lighter(!) note an ad for sanitary towels has gone viral in Pakistan it reads:

 "WikiLeaks, Butterfly doesn't"

Love it!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Can you believe this...

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is to remain in jail after the Swedish authorities decided to challenge a decision by a British court to grant him bail on allegations of rape in Stockholm.
A judge in London granted Assange £240,000 bail with strict conditions, including a curfew and the surrendering of his passport.
But when counsel for the prosecution indicated it would appeal, the judge told Assange he would remain in jail until a hearing at a higher court within 48 hours.
Assange's lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, had asked the City of Westminster magistrates court in London for bail on five conditions: £200,000 in security, surety of £40,000 from two people, a curfew, daily reporting to police, and surrender of his passport. The judge agreed, to much rejoicing among Assange's supporters.
But elation turned to anger as lawyers representing Sweden challenged the decision.
Speaking outside the court, Mark Stephens, one of Assange's lawyers, said: "The prosecution is doing no more than taking instructions from Sweden.
"They are continuing to persecute Mr Assange ... An innocent man is in custody."
The decision followed two hours of confusion as Stephens first said he understood that the prosecution would decline to challenge the court's decision.
Sweden's decision means that the next legal arguments will be heard at the court of appeal. No time has yet been fixed.

From The Guardian

Pretty appalling

So he is released on bail of £240,000. Held to a curfew of 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am, has to report to a police station at 6pm every night . And all this for a man who hasn't even been CHARGED yet. Disgusting. What a wonderful example of 'British Justice'. Not.

Oh and he's not actually free yet as they have to deposit the money in CASH. How antediluvian is that?

Assange gets bail.

With conditions he's released. Thank goodness. he has to reappear on 11th January.

It has been quite extraordinary to be able to sit here on a boat, in the jungle and watch the twitters from inside the courtroom as the hearing unfolded. What a change in news reporting!

I have been following Alexi Mostrrous of the Times, the Guardian and Heather Brooke a freelancer....

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Well done James and Gramafilm, over 4 million views of the Danny MacAskill film....
Danny MacAskill film breaks 4million views & remains top of the viral charts

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Justice for Assange

... and now the T-shirt. Vote to see our design produced, here:
(If have the guts to accept our submission!)
All proceeds will go to Assange's defense fund.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Justice for Assange.

As the news breaks that Julian Assange has been remanded in custody until 14th December I am ashamed to be British. This decision shows the contempt for democracy that our Government has.

I believe that we need to stand up and speak out for what we believe in. It is hard at times to do that, particularly when fear and threat are rife. When the foundations of free speech are removed in such a flagrant and outrageous fashion we will only have ourselves to blame if we stand to one side and allow these things to happen.

I believe in Assange's actions.
I believe that transparency and honesty are the way forward.
I believe that this is a pivotal time for the future of our world.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Antidote to stress.

The delightful Dylan Winter is still working his way, slowly, around the coast of Britain in his tiny boat, The Slug. This is a soothing piece of film from one of his wonderful video logs that are available on

Make yourself a coffee and settle down to enjoy the sights and sounds of one mans journey.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Death in El Diamonte

El Diamonte is a well sheltered lagoon on the mainland of Honduras. It's a safe well sheltered anchorage that many boaters use when making their way east.

We have made use of it's protection on a couple of occasions, sitting out strong Northers with 40knots plus of wind in complete safety.Well we will no longer be able to rely on it's safety.

Last night at around 9.30pm a Canadian boat Adena was boarded, the captain shot dead and his daughter(25) left frantically calling for assistance.

Just last week in the adjoining bay a french boat was boarded and robbed by six men carrying guns and machetes.

More news here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Wikileaks : Making it safe to talk.

We live in extraordinary times and this has been a hell of a week.

There's no doubt that the global economic meltdown is not just a minor slump or merely another double-dip recession but a one time event in the history of mankind. More and more of our traditional businesses and institutions are stalled or failing. Banks and countries are teetering on the point of bankruptcy, huge manufacturing companies are collapsing. Heath care systems are in crisis, education is in disarray and so it goes on. It really feels as if we are on the brink of revolution

And just as all this is happening the internet, which for so long seems to have been "a solution in search of a problem", a technology in waiting, seems to have come of age.

Books like the recent management bestseller "Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World "  tell hopeful stories of collaborative developments in manufacturing (Local Motors), health care (PatientsLikeMe), and regulation (wikileaks )

As a former reporter I am riveted by the unfolding saga of WikiLeaks and (I expect like everyone else) quite divided. On the one hand, I am not at all surprised by the breath and depth of worldwide corruption. On the other hand, I am left wondering where it all ends.For example, we know our financial institutions are bankrupt. Of course they are not going to "mark to market" their assets. Is it better to remain in blissful denial or to tumble into the precipice that awaits us?

I am particularly appalled at the death threats and persecution of Julian Assange, the front-man for WikiLeaks. I do understand the surge of patriotic feelings in the hearts of the nationals of countries that are having their leadership exposed. However I cannot, currently, even begin to come to terms with the attitude of those governments attempts to strangle the free speech from around the world.

There are some aspects of the USA that I don't particularly like, nevertheless I have always believed that their first-amendment adherence to freedom of speech was admirable. Well, it seems they lied about that. I am shocked to the core. The Australian government should be ashamed of its attitude to Julian Assange (one of their nationals).

Shame on  these governments, shame on their politicians and shame on all those that support attempts at silencing critics.

I found this speech of JFK very helpful. It explains why this is so important to all of us.

What does it all mean? Where to now? I wish I had some answers. Currently I am struggling to keep up with the deluge of information coming out, the rhetoric of the worlds powers and the chatter of ordinary people like you and me.

My gut feeling? This is a revolution, a change that will impact all our lives. A moment when we see through the veil of polite chatter and glib spin of modern life. We have an opportunity to make a difference, but will we have the courage to take that chance? I truly hope so: to each learn, and weigh, and balance our own views in order to contribute to the future that we want to see after this amazing event

TBH unearthed a book that he read decades ago "Straight and Crooked Thinking". It shows us how dishonest most of this propaganda is, and how to tell the difference. It was written in 1930 and is about to be re-published! You can currently download or read it online HERE (note: it is a pdf file just under 1MB in size, so it may take a minute or two to download). I really encourage everyone to arm themselves with the skills to discriminate between truth and fiction. Our future could depend on it.

Lets move from leveraging phony financial instruments to leveraging our integrity. Wouldn't that be an amazing change! Keeping secrets doesn't necessarily mean that you are covering up some dishonest act; but keeping your honesty secret is self-defeating.