Sunday, 27 February 2011

Wonderful day...

Just had a wonderful down wind sail. Those don't come along very often in our experience!
After a swim in the pristine waters of our anchorage, just surrounded by tons of birds we left on a leisurely trip.
With the Yankee out and roaring along at 4-5 knots for three hours of blissful sailing. TBH positioned himself at the mast, in the shade, and sat back to enjoy the scenery and watch the wonderful set of the sail. She did look superb, must be my helming I kept telling him.We even anchored under sail, things were going that well!

We snacked on freshly made shortbread and drank gallons of lemon squash.
Now we are relaxing after a supper of sticky sweet and sour ribs.The wind is still blowing pumping up the batteries and the sun is beginning to set. Great day...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Happiness is...

Waking to a flat-calm anchorage.

Time to bake with no bouncing of the boat.

Time to swim without being slapped in the face by waves.

Wind that blows up after noon, turning the wind generator and making lots of lovely electricity.

Rain that falls after dark in sufficient quantities to keep the tank full of fresh clean water.

Full tanks to have long heavenly showers at the end of another idyllic day.

Wind that drops well before midnight so there is a nice flat anchorage to fall asleep upon....

It's been like that here for the past few days, can't last though can it???

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Totally awesome muffins.

To celebrate the success of the engine repair I made a batch of muffins this afternoon as a thank you to TBH.
A new recipe to me and one that will most certainly be repeated over and over again. I cannot begin to convey the lightness of crumb, the intensity of flavour, the sheer 'orgasm on a plate' sensation of eating these little beauties.

Strawberry and sour cream muffins.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries ( 1/2 -inch pieces)
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3.  Cream the butter and sugar  until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Blend in the sour cream and vanilla.
4. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the berries.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups; it's fine if the batter rises above the cups. Bake the muffins for 14 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn them out, right side up, onto a wire rack.

No pictures 'cos we wolfed the whole lot down..We are currently comatose on the sofas and have decided not to have supper this evening!

Monday, 21 February 2011

My wonderful husband....

...has mended the engine(we think)!!!

What a man, what a paragon, what a star. I could go on but I'd have to pass out the vomit bags and you'd all hate me for ever.

Yesterday he set to with a purpose. Out came the box of electrical goodies, screwdrivers, pot of vaseline, can of switch cleaner. On went his headtorch, off came the clothes and down on the floor he went.

Oh the power was mind boggling. A rippling torso smeared with sweat and grease. Got my blood racing I can tell you.
First he cleaned all the relevant connections on the engine side. Then he took apart the consul in the cockpit and cleaned all the connections from the temperature gauge. THEN we fired up the engine.

He stayed prone on the floor beside the mechanical beast listening to the note, feeling the outer temperature and watching for any leaks.
I braved the heat of the sun to stare at the temperature dial, watched the water outfall from the exhaust and listened for any change in  tone of the engine sound.

Twenty minutes and holding, thirty minutes and I am starting to go cross eyed but the needle is holding firm. Every five minutes or so a concerned face peered out of the hatch to ask if all is OK. I answered with a thumbs up.

Its really hard to stay focused on a sound for forty minutes but despite the distraction of bungee jumping off the nearby bridge and waterskiers around the boat I didn't let my concentration falter.

Forty five minutes and holding, could this be it? Could success be ours? After an hour the gauge was still showing it's usual temperature and not a trace of a flicker. I let out my breathe. Wow looks like he may have done it!

We await today when we start up again and see what happens, fingers crossed.

One tired but happy husband....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Tenacity and Tart.

It's a frustrating time here. For the umpteenth day in succession TBH has the engine in bits. I hate it. the mess. The worry.

First an impeller blew, that's not too bad. It was replaced quickly and on we went.
Then the engine started to overheat. Well so the gauge said, in wild fluctuating swings of the needle..
I, of course, panic, every time.

There began the current epic struggle.

So far we have replaced the engine thermostat. We actually bought two new ones and then found the original was fine so put that back in place.
Still the overheating begins after 40 minutes or so of engine running. Next we cleaned and inspected all the contacts, dirty but cleaned up well. Still the overheating starts.
Now the fuel filter is to be changed....
The thing is we don't think that the engine really is overheating and we are running out of options,grrrr.
We removed the thermostat completely and low and behold no overheating. My hair is being pulled out in clumps.

TBH continues with his usual tenacious determination that he will find the problem and solve it. Thank god he is like a fierce terrier in the face of a challenge is all I can say!

I am doing my bit by providing tasty and tempting culinary marvels to reward his struggles,nothing like a bit of dog training(choc drop rewards) to keep this man focused!!

One of the delights is this Strawberry Ricotta Tart. Makes the boat smell like a very upmarket French patisserie as it is baking and it tastes even better..

Make a shortcrust pastry and blind bake in a tart pan then..

1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup reduced fat cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups strawberries hulled, and sliced on the thick side
1/2 cup strawberry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix your ricotta, cream cheese and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Pour the filling into the prebaked tart shell and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges have puffed up and toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a rack, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. Just before serving, put the strawberries in a bowl. Warm the strawberry jam in a small sauce pan over low heat, then toss and coat the jam over the strawberries. Arrange the sliced berries on top of the tart and serve immediately

Friday, 18 February 2011

Danny MacAskill strikes again..

..we may have been out of touch for a couple of weeks but son James is very much at the forefront of the latest internet news.

He has a new documentary going live on 20th February about the amazing cyclist Danny MacAskill... You can see the trailer here.

There is a nice piece on the front page of the Telegraph this morning as well...,

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Videocam view from Townsville, Queensland.

If you follow the link on the screen it will take you to the live webcam, that is until it goes off line. until an hour ago(1200GMT) we were watching a cam over the centre of Townsville, that then went off line so this is the next one i could find, not such a great view but hey this is amazing to be able to access live streaming video from the other side of the world during a Cat 5 hurricane. Blows your mind!

Am also watching the twitters from an amateur Meteorologist who is bunkered down in Cairns. They started to feel high winds just over an hour ago...
Live streaming video by Ustream

Cyclone Yasi, horrific...

My thoughts are with the folk of north Queensland tonight. With just over 10 hours to go until the projected landfall of Yasi I cannot imagine the fear and trepidation of anyone in that part of the world.