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Monday, April 16, 2012

An Answer for Bryce--One of our readers

"Curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought it back!" ~Anon.

Bryce from Canada commented on a previous blog post with many good questions commonly asked by non-boaters, so I thought I would take his email and answer it here in a post. That way I can share the answers with anyone else reading the blog who may have similar questions.

Some questions, then...Q. Photographically speaking what are you/Les utilizing for a photographic device?
 A. Les gave me my first digital camera: a Canon 520. His is newer but very basic. We use Microsoft Office 2010 Picture Manager to edit and re size our pictures.

Q. The ingredients in the foods for say visitors who drop in (float in?) from seemingly nowhere. When you lived in Pullman, as much as here you went to the chest or upright freezer, pulled something out and then thawed same and warmed it or cooked it. With no visible freezer on board your NB and a very small (compared to North America refrigerator how do you manage to produced such delectable and a fattening meals and cakes and the like?

A. Even Les stands in awe (and terror) of how much I can squirrel away in the limited space available. He refuses to open the fridge and look inside anymore. It is intensely packed and he cannot find anything whereas I know where everything is located.
Les was kind enough to add little storage shelves in nooks and crannies and we are very good at making use of practically every bit of space we can.
I worked for awhile as a pastry chef at a lodge in Alaska. My mother was also a cook--she was part owner in a restaurant before I was born and she also managed a school cafeteria, so I learned a from here about how to store things.
I also had a catering business of my own and have prepared meals for as many as 60 people at a time, so I have a very good idea of how to get the most out of the least. I re-wrap all meat once we return from the store. I mix meatloaf and then freeze the mince--as they call ground beef over here. I also mix and shape hamburgers and wrap and freeze them individually. Easy to thaw and cook, and I can work them into the nooks and crannies in the freezer!
I use evaporated milk most of the time for cooking because it provides richness in taste and is easy to store.
Les' first and first rate Raspberry Bakewell Tart!
   I spent three hours every evening after work for the entire month of January 2011 building a new recipe book for my life over here. I've subscribed to Fine Cooking magazine for fifteen years. No way I could bring all those with me, so I cut out the best of the best and pasted the recipes in my new hard bound book. I also copied all my old tried and true recipes from my old, tattered spiral bound recipe books.
   Under my expert tutelage Les is even learnng to bake from scratch. Here is his first attempt at a Raspberry Bakewell tart--and it is much better than the one I made!!
Q. Do you have problems on the boats with what we call house flies (have you tried a traditional fly swatter instead of the fun?), spiders, cockroaches, ants and similar?
A. Oh yes indeedy we do. Our boat does not have screened windows or doors. We each have our own personal flyswatters and we vie for who is the fastest and most accurate swatter.
I have arachnophobia and spiders love to hitch a ride on the boat. I think the majority come from the fire wood we store on the roof. Les is now used to my hysterical shrieks accompanied by a dance that resembles the mashed potato, jitter bugging, and the hokey pokey.
    When I first moved on board and encountered a spider my hysterical antics nearly gave Dear sir a heart attack--now he just finds the eight legged menace, scoops them up in his hand and either releases them outside (yes--my thought exactly--so they can find their way back in again to torment me) or he squishes them.
   I found a product at a chandlers called No More Spiders and I am eager to try it out. The directions say, "It creates a natural border preventing spiders form wishing to enter one's home. Consisting of natural extracts of chestnut and clover leaf oil, it deters spiders but doesn't harm them. just spray around doors, windows and any areas spiders use to gain entry to one's home. Reapply every time you clean or every 2-3 weeks."

Q. And a report came over the airwaves that a substantial fine would be imposed if anyone was found to be using a hose for watering the garden anywhere (the UK calls them hose pipes) due to the lack of water just about anywhere. Will this affect boaters?
A. This ban does not affect boaters. Please visit NB Yarwood's website for more in depth information.

   Oh and Les didn't enjoy the summer heat you had for in Pullman, something here in Southern Ontario which is common in the summer ie 30 to 35 degrees in the summer, on a regular basis. Seems we either have a cold weather alert in the winter OR a high heat alert in the summer.
    You are correct about Les hating the high temperatures of Eastern Washington summers. He was not alone. As an Alaskan born and bred I too hated those miserable hot summers.
I love the weather here so far. Any place that requires me to consider slipping on a sweater in summer is fine by me!

Q. As an aside how do you handle money? Is there a central postal drop point for letters and such? Do you have a bank account where? How is money handled, obtained when living on a NB? Assume what we call AT M's abound however the home or base account is where?
A. Finances are similar here as they are in North America. We have debit bank cards which we use for most items. If we are going to purchase coal or diesel from a working coal/diesel boat then we try to find an ATM at a nearby town and have cash in hand. They too live on their boats and work on them as well so it is easier for them to be paid in cash. We have wireless Internet and everything that can be electronic--monthly account statements, etc. are available online.
    We use Les' son and daughter-in-law's address as a permanent land based mail address which is essential for certain things over here, however we are now a long way north of Luton which is back south about thirty five miles outside London. Occasionally Kev and Joanne post us a large package of mail which has piled up for us--boating magazines, fliers, catalogs, etc. via Post Restante.
      Does Canada have general delivery for mail? In the States if one lives in the boondocks, the Bush, or the end of the known world, then it is possible to receive mail addressed to you at that post office address and "General Delivery." This way the Post master of that station knows you don't have a box and they will hold any and all mail addressed to you until you collect it.
Here in the U.K. there is a system called Post Restante. We have a set of books called The First Mate's Guides and they deal with finding services in local villages and towns on respective canals.
    We check the First Mate's guide for some place near us with a post office and we call the post master or mistress to inquire as to whether or not they will accept mail Post Restante. If they say yes, we give them our names, explain who we are, and ask them to expect mail addressed for us in the next week or so.
    It works brilliantly and allows us to keep traveling along and still receive letters and packages. We just have to calculate how long it will take us to get from wherever we are now--to wherever the post office is located.

Q. Ditto other of life's requirements Medical care (National scheme as here, no doubt but is there a floating doctor setup?)
A. Not to my knowledge and this is where things get sketchy for me as an American who is used to the requirement of paying for health insurance through an employer or paying for medical treatment--or both. Part of having a permanent land based address in teh U.K. is registering in that area with a physician.
    As one travels one is supposed to explain one's circumstances to the clinic or hospital in the area near where on is actually located on the boat and still get assistance. My experience recently in Whitchurch left much to be desired and left me totally unimpressed with nurses and doctors, and the system in the UK.
   It was however a small village and Les assures me a visit to the hospital in Shrewsbury will be a different story as it is a large town and its hospital is set up to cope with accidents and injuries of strangers who do not reside locally.
    Any of you other boaters living aboard and CC'ing may chime in on this issue with your wisdom and experience any time for the benefit of both Bryce and me. I am a medicinal herbalist and buy what I need and have it sent to me or wild craft what I need from along the towpath.
Q. And how has Jaq adopted to living in a different country/world versus a set not moving home?
A. I am really happy here Bryce. Les is the kind of man I didn't believe existed. We are very well suited for one another and delight in each other's company. We both love the waterways and living aboard a narrow boat. It won't suit everyone but it does suit us.
   I love it when we up sticks as they say and cruise along. Les gets a certain look on his face--think of a dog that LOVES to stick its face out the window into the wind as the car roars along (only Les is much better looking and doesn't make large lip faces!) and I love seeing new scenery and something fresh around every turn. 
   Then, after a day or two cruising along we will moor up for a few days, settle in and explore an area while planning our next moves. 
   We keep an eye our for fresh firewood, new lambs and baby ducks and geese, waterfowl in general, buzzards, and all manner of wild life. I saw my first Munt Jac deer back near Napton. 
   Boat people are wonderful. There is a real sense of community here. One gets to know the other boaters from their blogs and from meeting them at locks, swing bridges, on the bus to town for groceries and at the local canal side pub, and of course--whenever we run into boaters we know heading in our direction, we might moor up for hte night nearby and visit for a cuppa and some cake, or a natter to catch up. Folks look out for one another from all across the system. 
   Yes, there are things I miss about life in the States--especially my children, grandchildren and dear friends; I miss Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix, Lipton Onion Soup mix, Gulden's spicy mustard, Graham cracker crumbs, Saltine crackers, decent dill pickles and bread and butter pickles, sweet 
italian sausage, root beer floats, Fontina cheese, Pepper jack cheese, Havarti cheese, and the multitude of chile choices such as Anaheim, Ancho, Poblano, and corn tortillas--but they are small things indeed by comparison to the things--and people I've gained as a result of becoming an ex-pat.
   There you are then Bryce. Thank you for your questions and I hope I've answered them thoroughly.



Anonymous said...

Les, that Bakewell tart looks wonderful. It's one of my favorites. Here I have to grind the almonds myself (see Jaq, there are some things you can't get here either) so it's a bit of a fuss, but I do make it occasionally...yum!
And Jaq, we are coming over in August/Sept. What things do you miss most that you'ld like us to bring? We can bring a few that won't spoil as we are going to France and Germany first :)


Les Biggs said...

Oh Sally I cannot believe we will get to see you and Jo so soon! Yippee!! I will email you wiht a list of things I cannot get here and you can decide what you want to bring. Thanks so much for the offer!!
Love Jaq
p.s. yes ground almonds are lovely and so is that tart! I'd never had it before. I think they would go over quite well in the States. I wonder of hte CoOp has ground Almond meal? Cannot get corn meal here--or corn tortillas!! :(

Julia nb Even Balance said...

Interested to read of your difficulties getting to see a GP in Whitchurch. As a general rule you should be able to use a GP in any practice in the UK as either a temporary resident or as someone requiring immediate and necessary treatment.This is presuming you are registered with a practice at your UK mainland address. I suspect others will have found their own ways around the system. I had a problem in Atherstone a few years ago, but persistent and knowing the rules paid off.
Hope this helps and I very much enjoy reading your blog.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Julia,
We didn't try to see a GP in Whitchurch-we went to the hospital to minor injuries. They have a part time x-ray unit.We are registered down in Watford at a clinic there--but we are seldom ever down there.

I'm so glad you enjoy our blog. Where are you located on the canals?

Anonymous said...

The reply solved some problems..
Bryce from Canada, that's like saying Jaq from the USA. Both are enormous areas. I live in Burlington (The English call it Bridlington) Ontario. When Mike and Phil get settled you can talk to them. I was out to their once former home about a week ago and insisted they take a photo of me beside my Honda Ridgeline truck, with I think Phil beside me. Now you'll see why a narrow boat of any size will not fit me!

Canada Post (and Storage as the mail locally can take upwards of two weeks to be delivered) is in the business to make money, lot o of it. have some long-time motorcycle sidecar friends livingin Canterbury. The send me care packages of publications about motorcycle which can't be
purchased in Canada. Sometime the uS however never Canada. The latest package arrived today, April 18.
The weight in pounds is seven
the postage rate over seas first class was 13 quid. That same package
going the other way from Canada would have been closer to 20 quid or more and would have to go surface which would mean about a four month delay. What you and I would call a Number 10 business envelope with a weight of 0-30 grams;
61 cents for Canada, $1.05 to the USA and $1.80 anywhere else.
Oh and those prices don't include 13 percent sales tax.
I just may purchase one of the Waterways World books, if only to enlighten my sometime feeble brain!

Mostly as descriptions here in Canada and the USA is often so different than UK descriptions.
For example a pond versus a turning basin...

And then Mike told me the boats
stay to starboard rather than port when under way; odd as the UK drives vehicles on the side opposite to what we knew in North America are accustomed.

You may manufacture one of those tarts for me at any time!

And how is Les coping with his non-smoking habit. Has he been able to overcome the demon tobacco??? And maybe substitute same for Jaq's wonderul treats!

Warm here in Lower Southern Ontario overnight into Thursday, temperature shall be hovering around freezing or a bit more than that.

KevinTOO said...

Hi Les & Jaq,

Have a look here for Healthcare, Walk-In Centres, GP Centres and the new 111 phone line (free!)


NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs