Monday, 31 October 2011

All Hallow's Eve (Off-Grid Baking Special)

Celebrating Hallowe'en was not something we often did when I was growing up, although we did enjoy carving pumpkins. This year for the first time since I was little, I bought a pumpkin and carved it, in a somewhat non-traditional way. Talking of non-traditional pumpkins, Anna of Something about Rowing (which everyone, rower or not, should read, it's that good) created her own super scary carving. Genius!

I made puree from the duck-shaped chunks I'd carved out (simply by roasting the pumpkin and blending it with my hand blender). In turn, I used the puree to bake apple and pumpkin muffins to bring to a friend's houswarming/engagement party. They were really moist and seemed to be quite popular!

In a large bowl, sift together 300g flour, 350g sugar, spices, bicarb and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples. Spoon muffin mixture into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining flour, sugar and cinnamon. Rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

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Friday, 21 October 2011


James got me the BEST present for my birthday - a Kindle e-book reader. There were delays at the warehouse so although he told me it was on its way on my birthday, I had several days of excited waiting before it finally arrived. He figured that since I am commuting down to London a lot, having an easy way to read things on the train without lugging lots of books about would be a boon. Plus, as space constrained boaters it makes a lot of sense to buy ebooks rather than real ones. 

A case in point was that the new Terry Pratchett book, Snuff, came out a few days ago and I was itching to read it. But it wouldn't be available in the library for ages, and it would be a while before I could borrow it from a friend, so buying the ebook was the perfect solution.

I love it. It's so light and intuitive to use, and the screen really does look like paper! Plus, it only needs charging every few weeks so no worries about battery life.

Reading Snuff in the Grad Pad
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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Once Upon a Fen

Mysterious graffiti has arrived on the bridge near our mooring. A quick Google of the phrase throws no light upon it. Any ideas?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Moving home

With James starting to do some coxing for his college, it seemed sensible to move closer to the boathouse (I love that we can just do that!). So last week, we shifted up to this spot, betweem Suzie Q and Bacchus. It's pretty sunny, for the solar panel, has a much shallower bank so access is easier, and has some trees nearby for Lyra to play in (and camoflage herself within!)

Can you spot the cat?

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Monday, 17 October 2011

My Favourite Finds v15

I recently had to throw away my wonderful lace-up boots as the sole had come undone from the upper and none of the shoemenders in Cambridge could fix them (or at least, they weren't prepared to try).

So, I sought a replacement, as sturdy walking boots are a must when (as I do) you are walking in London a lot. I scoured the charity shops for lace-up boots for some time, but could find nothing. Then, I decided to try Jemporium Vintage. I don't normally advocate 'vintage' shops, as for me, half the fun of charity shops is discovering things for yourself, rather than having all the trendily retro things presented to you for inflated prices. But I found a veritable treasure trove of second hand Doctor Martens and bought myself this pair, at £20, as they were just so incredibly comfy, I couldn't resist. Given how quickly my other boots deteriorated, I'm resolved to only buy decent boots (second hand if possible) that will actaully last!

The ribbon laces were an afterthought - they came with standard brown laces - but I'd seen this done on full price DMs in the shops and wanted to try it out for myself. I like the way it adds a touch of colour and quirkiness so cheaply - the ribbon I used here cost me all of £1.30.

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Birthday fun

Yesterday was my 26th birthday (Hurrah, etc). I had a very lovely, quiet day, just spending time with James and enjoying the sunshine. We are both so busy with our respective courses that we've seen very little of each other for the past few weeks, and it was a treat just to be able to spend the day together. We went on a little trip on the new guided busway out to St Ives. It was a very quick, quiet, smooth ride, just like a train that can also go on the roads. We were out at St Ives in 20 minutes. We bought a picnic and the papers in Waitrose and then went for a walk across the river to the chandlery at Jones' Boatyard. The quayside was really busy so we headed down towards the lock and found a nice place to sit on the bank of the river in the sun, and read the papers while eating our picnic. 

We whizzed back to Cambridge in time for me to go and cast my vote for Chancellor of the university (as an alumni with an MA(Cantab) I am eligible to vote). Afterwards, we had dinner in the lovely St John's Chop House. In all, it was a lovely day.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

We've got ourselves a Convoy! (up the Backs again)

On Sunday, the Duck did the Backs again, taking some of James' college friends on a little trip. But this time, we were in convoy with Mark on Suzie Q. I stayed to crew for Mark, so was able to get shots of the Duck, which was great! Coming the other way, we also saw nb Theodora. I don't think I've ever seen so many narrowboats on the Backs at once before! The only issue we had was some nasty blanket weed round the prop which we picked up in the Mill Pond. We had to tie up to the famous Mathematical Bridge in order to remove it. (Don't tell the porters!)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

My Favourite Finds v14

I found this lovely autumnal cardigan in Sally Ann's on Mill Road, Cambridge for £2. I have said it before but Sally Ann's is the best charity shop for bargains! Anyway, I didn't recognise the 'Luisa Spagnoli' label when I was in the shop but simply bought it because it's gorgeous and good quality.

However, I am curious if I pick up something from an unknown brand and often do a quick google. Turns out that Luisa Spagnoli is a high end Italian fashion house. The website is devoid of any prices - I guess if you have to ask you can't afford them!

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Season of Mists

The advantage of getting up early to head into London for my course is that I've seen some incredible susrises complete with swirling mists. Quite spectacular - enough to make me get my camera out even when I'm running slightly late for the train! Walking through Mill Road cemetary was amazing - the mists there were even more evocative.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Cambridge World Rivers Day Festival 2011

Here are some photos from the River Festival. I really don't think it could have gone any better. The weather was perfect, we had big crowds- between 3,000 and 6,000 people!- who seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves, the open boats, music, food, craft and workshops were all successful and popular. James opened the boat to visitors for most of the day and we had a steady stream of interested people. Lyra sat on the table and was the centre of attention!

So, thanks, to everyone who visited, or helped in any way. I really hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

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