Feeling hot, hot, hot …

I expect you’re imagining this is going to be yet another post about our fabulous new fire aren’t you?

Sorry to disappoint – we’ve bought coal, and the fire is fabulous.

Having been away from Barry since Friday, we decided we’d treat ourselves to a night out yesterday, rather than sit in front of our respective laptops all evening. We’d discovered Stourbridge is a rather lovely little town, so went out for dinner.

I’d suggested ‘pub grub’. Nothing fancy, just something cheap and cheerful that would save me from cooking and give us a chance to reconnect. It’s getting a bit strange so much coming and going. And it’s not going to change any time soon …

We thought ‘The Talbot‘ could be ideal. It looked like such a pleasant British pub from the outside.

The furnishings were fine. Rather pleasant in fact. However, the atmosphere was eerily quiet, and rather frosty.  Not a whisper of acknowledgment of our presence. No “hello”, “good evening”, “we’ll be with you in a minute”. Not even a nod of the head. And worst of all they didn’t have any ale on.

So we walked out. No-one batted an eyelid. Not that there were many lids present to bat!

Walking further up the High Street in the drizzle, we weren’t sure what we’d find. Then some coloured lights caught our attention. Just a doorway, nothing to predict what was in wait.

A couple around our age then walked in the door and said it was a really good restaurant. Barry loves a spicy Indian curry, and they had this amazing deal that looked far too good to be true. So we took the plunge and entered ‘Tropical Spice‘.

It turned out to be one of the finest Indian meals we’ve ever had. Not a posh place, wallpaper obviously fitted by people who have no idea about ‘pattern matching’, but fabulous service, and the most delicious four-course meal for £6.95 each!

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An extensive menu for the special

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Nothing stingy about the popadoms and sauces

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Beef samosa, chicken pakora and an onion bhaji – a tropical spice mixed starter – delicious

We’d suspected the portion sizes would be small considering the price, but that was definitely not the case.

Barry and his brothers have this ‘thing’ about hot curries. Whenever we went out for one in NZ, they’d ask for theirs to be HOT, very hot, seriously hot. Rarely did the dish come as hot as they liked.

Barry chose the lamb Vindaloo last night, after asking the waiter how hot it was. “Very hot”, was his response. Barry was doubtful.

He was right – the waiter that is!

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A lamb Vindaloo and a chicken tikka dupiaza – and a hand made completely irresistible garlic naan, along with colourful pilau rice

So Peter and Ray, here’s the challenge. Come to England and try a REALLY HOT curry in Stourbridge.

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This is hot. This is REALLY hot …

Oh, and the fire’s been on most of the day today – it’s such a delightfully warm boat. Not too hot, not too cold. Just perfect 😉

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New territory to Stourbridge – and a couple of publications

Barry’s been ‘boat alone’ now since Friday morning, he left Merry Hill yesterday en route to Stourbridge where I plan to find him (!) some time tomorrow. I’ve forgotten how many locks he’s doing on his own, somewhere between 20 and 30 I think (forgive me, the nuances of the routes don’t stick in my geographically challenged female brain as much as they do for Barry).

I spoke with him yesterday and he’d not found any more coal – it’s looking challenging for him to have found any before I return. Oh dear! I have heard there’s another warm snap coming …

We’ve not done this section previously, so it’s unknown territory. I’m a little sad to miss it, as we may not do it again. But I’m here at mum and dad’s for a slightly extended period as he has a consultant psychiatrist coming to visit tomorrow, something I’ve been waiting a good while for, and I want to be here for the discussions.

Weekends away

Too-ing and fro-ing a little this week as I’m then returning here on Friday so mum can have a break and go to my elder sisters house for the weekend. Dad and I will have a jolly weekend together.

The following weekend we’ll be with my grandson celebrating his fifth birthday – woohoo!

Last weekend of November I’ll be heading down to Devon for my younger sister’s hen weekend, we’re staying somewhere with a spa which sounds a real treat.

The first weekend of December we’ll be heading down to Brighton to see my younger daughter – and another celebration, Barry’s 59th (yikes!) birthday.

Mid December and I’ve organised for the Walsh family to have a christmas meal together. We’re a close but miles apart whanau, extending from Malpas in Cheshire, down to Exeter, Southampton and of course Brighton, throwing in Lichfield and Worcester on the way down. We’re going to a local eatery to mum and dad with lots of room for 27 of us, The Honey Bee.

Latest publication/s

This morning I got the url for our latest article, published in the Gisborne Herald ‘Weekender’ on 4th October. If you’re interested in reading it click the link – ‘Experiencing the Seven Wonders’.

I believe we’re featuring in a magazine later this month too, called ‘Great British Food’, about food traders on canal boats. Barry was interviewed a few months ago now, so it’ll be interesting to see what eventuates from this.

Good luck with the locks Barry 😉

All snug and warm on Areandare – more coal and kindling would help …

We’re loving our new look Areandare. The cut out of the dividing wall from the kitchen to the lounge has made a huge difference to the feel of our living area, and transporting meals and drinks is so much easier.

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Small is beautiful and plenty of heat to keep us cosy

What we omitted prior to leaving Oxley Marine, was the opportunity to buy more coal and kindling – silly us! I guess it’s something we’ll get used to and maintain a stock in future.

Luckily we had some left over from the Epping stove, and a few bits of wood to start us off. Barry’s bought some kindling in Asda today, but we’ve not found coal yet – we’re in the middle of The Black Country for goodness sake …

If anyone knows of a good source let us know.

We’re in Merry Hill for a night or two, then Barry will be heading to Stourbridge once I’ve left him – again – as it’s my weekend at mum and dad’s.

Last night and today has been rather cold, I suspect the clear sky and full moon included a frost. I even put my long sleeved fleece nightie on as I just couldn’t get warm enough to go to sleep despite the toasty body lying beside me.

We’re heading south slowly, for our three-month winter mooring at Worcester Marina. I’ll be grateful for the stability to be honest, as we’ll be close to public transport to get me to my parents and other places.

I have no problem catching trains and buses as I’m not having to rush anywhere, though getting from here to Ombersley tomorrow is going to entail a bus to a train to a bus and a short walk! It’s seriously not far, but sometimes it’s more complex than others.

I still prefer it to driving on the busy roads here, especially when you’re used to travelling at less than three miles an hour 😉

Boating festivals for 2015

We’ve been making headway organising festivals and possible routes for 2015.  Some events will be ones we’ve enjoyed this year, and a few new ones. We’re booked into a huge festival in August at Blisworth which will be fabulous, and may even go as far south as Banbury for their ‘Canal Day’ in early October.

We’ve met so many friendly and fascinating fellow traders in 2014, many of whom we keep in touch with and will be ‘working’ alongside again. It’s a very different way of earning an income than having a structured schedule of work days each week, in the same place, with the same people.

It has it’s drawbacks of course, such as having to do accounts and not having a set and secure income to depend upon.

This year we set the foundations for our three businesses – next year we’ll be so much more experienced. Which is helpful seeing as we won’t be able to live off our savings anymore, they’ll be securely stored in the bank ready for Barry’s next UK visa application in November 2015!

Anyone readers Facebook who want to support us in a small way (apart from buying home brew, having some life coaching or booking a face painting party that is!), we’d love you to ‘like and share’ our pages – The Home Brew Boat, Awaken Life Coaching and Funtastic Facepainting.

Interesting times ahead, none of us know what the next day will bring …