Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sail north till the olive oil solidifies

It's a bit of a photofest this time - we've been busy since the previous post.

We're now having the coldest weather since arriving in Mortagne. A big high pressure over Norway is sweeping Siberian air down this way. I woke up with condensation on my moustache this morning, the marina water supply is shut off to prevent ice damage and the olive oil has turned into something more like a spread.

Icicles on the limestone cliffs
Condensation. It's probably the worst nuisance that comes with living on board a normal sort (ie uninsulated) of boat in colder weather. We've managed to avoid it in the main cabin by keeping the main hatch open overnight but the forward cabin and the quarter berth still get it. Happily we've got everything stowed in dry bags or plastic containers for protection from damp, but it's still a bit of a pain to pull it all out to dry and clean the surroundings.

The job of replacing the conked-out battery monitor provided a useful incentive to empty out the quarter berth as half the boat required dismantling for that relatively simple task. It only took two days in all.

Out with the old. The wires go WHERE?
In with the new. Pity one of the buttons is faulty...
Otherwise, we've been doing quite a lot of cycling. We want to take the tandem home with us and what better way than to ride it there? Well, at least to Plymouth where, once on UK soil, we can send it the rest of the way up to Scotland relatively cheaply. Anyway, we're in training for the big ride up to Brittany next month, on the Velodyssey route. The main thing is getting the backsides to the stage where they can handle 7 or so hours in the saddle per day. It's also a good chance to see the remaining sights of the interior around these parts.

The Camino de Santiago passes through this region. The local appellation is Chemin de Saint Jacques, but we saw a classic bit of translation on a sign in Pons which referred to it as 'The way of the James'. Obviously, that struck a bit of a chord with me. Now Sonja, when somehow dissatisfied with my driving on the tandem, complains that we're always cycling the way of the James.

Mediaeval market hall in Cozes
Vitrezay, on my birthday
Roman stuff in Saintes
Abbaye in Saintes - favourite pigeon perch
Abbaye door arch
More Roman remains
The amphitheatre - yes, there has been a lot of rain
Notre Dame de Royan (again, but I couldn't resist)
3D stained glass in NDdeR!
And some more
A pause for refreshment - great cycling country
The coming road trip has prompted us to expand our repertoire of food flask cookery. Our boat breakfast for months past has been food flask porridge, which might be the best ever way to cook porridge:

100g porridge oats
2 tbsp full fat milk powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp sultanas
1 small apple, diced
Add 500ml boiling water, mix well, leave about 30 min (possibly less if you're in a hurry), stir again and serve 5 or 10 min later. It'll keep hot for hours in the flask if you want it for later.

Now we're branching out into couscous, polenta and mashed potato with stock powder and different vegetables and salami. Simple, lightweight, easy to prepare on board or on the road. Washing up: minimal.

When resting after the cycle training, we've been continuing with our rambles through the marshlands in our immediate area. The light around here is often amazing and ever changing with the weather and time of day.

Dusk settles
Cold front passing 
The front
In a hunters' shelter on the marsh
Evening wagtail visitor, perched on the toe rail

No comments: