Busyness on land and water – heading to Blisworth for the weekend

What a fun experience facepainting (mostly) adults at an evening wedding reception in Leamington Spa on 30th July. I’m so thankful I took the plunge to build ‘Funtastic Facepainting by Sandra‘, an artistic talent I hadn’t realised I was capable of. Barry came along as my line-manager and supporter, and of course helper to carry the necessary supplies for the job on the twenty-minute walk from canal to venue. Actually it turned into a thirty minute walk after we started in the wrong direction!

Oh the fun of self-employment without a car …

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All set up and ready for the guests to sit in the magic chair!

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Chilling out at Merry Hill …

Following my last post ‘What’s wrong with Walsall’, as we wondered why other boats weren’t apparent in the area, Barry discovered more challenges when he left the basin that could explain it.

Though the sparse amount of water was clear and clean looking, the level of rubbish on the bottom of the canal was extensive and included clothing, plastic bags, a window blind (!), and an assortment of literally ‘crap’. Clearing the detritus from the weed hatch, he informed me reliably, was nauseating in the extreme …

Apart from a hire boat that passed us just before we arrived in Walsall, Barry didn’t see or pass any other boats along the whole stretch of around nine miles. Maybe it’s the time of year?

I met him back at Bumble Hole on Tuesday, after five days with my parents in Ombersley. Well actually he met me at the Old Hill railway station, a bracing one and a half mile walk away.

We’re now moored at the industrial park next to Merry Hill Shopping Centre, in Brierley Hill. There’s been a few boats passing us, most likely on their way to ‘Stourbridge Navigation Trust Open Weekend‘. Unfortunately we were too late to book into the weekend as a trading boat, so we’ve put up The Home Brew Boat banner here instead, hoping for some interested foot traffic!

Not long afterwards Barry got chatting to a delightful man from Cornwall, who’d brewed many years ago, and may just have had his interest re-sparked. Maybe we’ll be getting an order through for a beer brewing starter kit next week …

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There’s a very handy Sainsbury’s here, and it’s a very pleasant and fairly quiet mooring.

And Barry’s given me a few of his photos to play with, which I’ll be looking at and publishing here over the next few days for your delectation!

Life in the UK

In the meantime, we’ve been investigating what Barry’s UK visa requirements are, for his next application in November 2015. One of these is the test ‘Life in the United Kingdom’, for which he must get a 75% pass – 18 out of 24. There’s options to ‘practice’ doing the test online, for free. So we gave it a go …

I’d recommend if you have some time to kill that you give it a go, because to be honest, I seriously doubt that the vast majority of British people would pass!

We gave it a go – Barry got 16 out of 24 right, which is 66.67%, however as a British Citizen, I got a measly 12 out of 24 – 50%! Does that mean I have to leave and return to New Zealand where I’d most likely score a hell of a lot higher? What a farce, a box ticking exercise that we must go along with.

Practice makes perfect, looks like we’ll both be learning a lot more about ‘Life in the Uk’ in the next 12 months …

Brewing on board and a brewers meeting

During my 48 hour boat-break pass last weekend, Barry put a home-brew beer batch together. I grasped the opportunity to capture the process for posterity – and of course for this blog, The Home Brew Boat blog, and our Facebook page.

Experimenting with a new beer brewing method

Barry decided to try out Captain Ahab’s method. This involves commencing the brew in a sterilised bucket, then transferring into the pressure barrel half way through fermentation to complete the process and carbonate the beer at the same time. The brew is a ‘Bulldog Brew’ Triple Tykes, described as “Smooth, strong, malty with fruity notes and hints of vanilla and toast. Perfect balance between body and bitterness with a clean finish.” 

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Barry with his kit ready. Note the bucket was last used to make a batch of 5 day Rosé wine, it’s multi-functional once you have one!

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Step one – pour in the mixture …

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The consistency you’ll see is rather black-treacle-like

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Next, the water – it needs to be a certain temperature when it’s all added …

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So Barry’s giving it a stir and checking with the thermometer …

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Next up is the yeast – a vital component!

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Mix it up and make it nice …

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Last step for this part of the process, lid on and add boiled water to the airlock, now wait 5 days before transferring …

I’ll let Barry inform you how tasty the beer is once completed – I’m more a wine and cider person.

Meeting with fellow kiwi brewers and bloggers!

We were thankful I’d not left on Monday morning (which almost happened, dad wasn’t too good), as Barry would’ve left Great Haywood and travelled up to Stone for a delivery. Had that happened we’d have missed the opportunity to meet up with Andrew and his lovely wife Michelle from narrowboat Ashdown, who dropped in for a taste of strawberry cider. Andrew has purchased a kit from The Home Brew Boat and is loving making his own.

Andrew and Michelle previously lived in Christchurch, and moved to UK a couple of years ago. Andrew is originally from UK, Michelle from South Africa, and fortuitously gained her British passport five years after being married to Andrew. Oh those were the days! If only it was that simple now for Barry, though I can totally appreciate that the system may’ve been abused by some unscrupulous people at that time.

Michelle is an amazingly talented photographer, so do visit their blog and check some out.

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Cheers!

Our next trading event

Tomorrow I’m heading back to the boat for a few days, and we’ll be trading at the Etruria Canal Festival in Stoke-on-Trent. Do come and see us if you’re anywhere nearby. We can’t promise to be able to chat during busy times, but we’ll do our utmost to be friendly and helpful!

We’d love to hear how you’re getting along with any home brewing you may be undertaking, or if you have any queries comment below or contact Barry at barry@thehomebrewboat.co.uk