Jackie Parry – author


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TOMORROW I WILL REVEAL ALL – big announcement

What can it be?…. I can tell you, it’ll be worth a look….

You will have a chance to win, lose and save……

Win…… lots!

Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lose …. yourself in another world!

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Save… who doesn’t want to make a saving this time of year?!

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

…coming up

watch this space….

In 2 days time…. I will announce an… erm….announcement ….. a big one… that is….

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Eating Healthy for your body and wallet

My body has been hinting, quite heavily, at the kinds of food I should and should not be eating. I’ve decided to try and listen to what my tummy is telling me and eat less meat; certainly less red meat.

I have always wanted to adopt a healthier way of living and have managed to find excuses. Now, when I seem to be busier than ever, I’ve delved into cooking vegetarian (mostly) meals and I am amazed at the fantastic results.

So, after finding the wonderful farm/vegetable shop four kilometres up the road, I rubbed my hands together, googled vegetarian recipes and off I went – here’s the first week. (I spent 20 Euros on three huge bags of vegetables.)

Just a small part of my first shop.

Just a small part of my first shop.

First night: Ginger Veggie Stir Fry

I used the vegetables I had purchased that day and I used plain old flour instead of cornstarch. I never have all the correct ingredients. This worked a treat.

I cook great rice, even if I say so myself. I cover the rice by about an inch of water (maybe a fraction less), boil until the water goes milky, then put the lid on and turn off the heat. Ten to fifteen minutes later, perfect rice.

This meal fed Noel and I for two nights.

Stir-fry

Stir-fry

Second night: Left over Ginger Veggie Stir Fry.

Third night: Curried Lentil Pies Recipe

This is a fantastic recipe, so easy and so fulfilling.

I stirred in some Tandoori paste instead of ghee. I used olive oil instead of butter, I didn’t use mustard seeds or ground cumin and I used the vegetables I had purchased. Definitely use pumpkin and potato for the top – fabulous!

This fed us for three nights! And I have made it again since, I can’t get enough of this and it fills me up easily.

Curried Lentil Pie

Curried Lentil Pie – when dished out, add a spoon-full of natural yoghurt – delicious

Fourth & Fifth nights: Left over curried pie.

Sixth night: Chicken stew

Noel bought some chicken. I find it hard to completely cut meat out of our diet. I enjoy it, but I haven’t eaten red meat for a few months now and I certainly feel the benefits.

This was just plain old chicken stew, with all those great ‘in season’ veges, swedes, parsnips, carrots, also onions, leeks, and whatever you have to hand.

I braised the chicken separately first. In the big pot I used vege stock, cup of wine, a few herbs (whatever is to hand – basil, parsley), a bit of sweet chilli and soy sauce. A half a cup of French lentils is a good idea to help fill you up. Perfect!

So easy, tasty and filling.

So easy, tasty and filling.

Seventh & eighth night: Left over chicken stew

Healthy wallet

My 20 Euro shop lasted a week-and-a-half (and I still have a whole cabbage left). I did another shop this week, and that cost 13 Euros – for two enormous bags of veges. This week I tackled:

Spinach and blue cheese frittata – I didn’t have nuts or tomatoes, it was still yummy.

We'd worked hard that day - so I added pumpkin and potato mash and a delicious salad of spinnach, fresh parsley, carrot, zuchinni, onion - yum!

We’d worked hard that day – so I added pumpkin and potato mash and a delicious salad of spinnach, fresh parsley, carrot, zuchinni, peppers, onion – yum!

A treat! – Walnut and Coffee Cake

We were given some walnuts and did I have fun cracking them – then I made this wonderful, truly fantastic cake – with a healthy twist!

I didn’t want to use double cream and I had only ‘normal’ yoghurt. So I spooned out two pots of yoghurt (small pots) into coffee filters (one pot per filter), then, I stood the filters in a colander, and let all the liquid drain away. Voila! Thick (Greek style) yoghurt – thick enough to use as a cream substitute!

Draining the yoghurt - for 1-2 hours.

Draining the yoghurt – for 1-2 hours.

It worked perfecting – the icing is so sweet that the yoghurt balances out the sweetness and in all honestly, tasted just like cream!

Not as pretty as the recipe picture - but absolutely delicious!

Not as pretty as the recipe picture – but absolutely delicious!

I was so proud of my efforts - I had to include two pics!

I was so proud of my efforts – I had to include two pics!

Healthy living

I am loving the ‘zone-out’ time cooking is giving me. My body is enjoying the benefits and so is our bank balance! The big plus is finding recipes that are fulfilling, I am a big eater. Now, I can eat as much as I want and I’m not piling on the pounds!

I;d love to hear from anyone who has great recipes to share.


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An Englishman, Irishman, and Australian were at a market….

We are loving Buzet sur Baise. We’ve perfect autumn weather, a safe and quiet port, nice friends just down the road, all within a wonderful quaint village.

With one week of good weather forecast, Noel and I are busily painting the top sides of Rouge Corsair. It’s so easy to forget how hard painting is, this morning every part of my body aches, including my fingers!

Sunday morning we took a break and cycled 5 kilometres (uphill) to a vide-greniers (garage sale). Although it was more like a huge market with just about everything you could ever want – good stuff too.

Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of federico stevanin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Within the bustling, friendly market we met, an Australian, an Irishman and an Englishman, who have invited Noel to play cricket, tennis and go cycling. Noel thought this was rather nice, but did wonder, ‘can’t we just sit under the shade of a tree and drink beer?’

Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chestnuts! Image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While Noel tried to convince the locals that beer, shade and trees, really was the way to go, I had great fun searching for rugs to insulate our floor for the coming winter, some blankets and bits and pieces. We had great fun with Lorna and Kim from MV Sunflower and a great giggle coming home – thankfully it was downhill!

3 rugs on the back of Noel's bike, our work-mate bench in Kim's basket (as well as their stuff) - I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)

3 rugs on the back of Noel’s bike, our work-mate bench in Kim’s basket (as well as their stuff) – I had a full back-pack and panniers (as did Noel!)

To find out about the calendar of garage sales, flea markets and flea markets of France, Switzerland and Belgium, dial up: http://vide-greniers.org/

And if ‘coins’ are your thing, look up Richard Lytton. He is a numistatist (and a rather nice chap), www.gascogne-monnaie.com (Australian and world coins).

Kim and his  (and our) 'load'!

Kim and his (and our) ‘load’!


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The Midi, perhaps once isn’t enough…

The two days that inspired my last blog, were just two days. Rude visitors on hire boats made the busy stretch an arduous journey. Our patience was tested to the extreme, but it was just two days!

Shower of autumn golden leaves.

Shower of autumn golden leaves.

In the last two days since, we’ve only seen two hire boats on the move and no other boats whatsoever. The tie ups near the locks are easy, quiet and safe.

The autumn leaves shower down on us as we putter through, burnt oranges, flame reds and deep purples. The ducks still laugh at us as we pass by, the Herons flap lazily across our bow and the otters paddle beneath the dappled light.

Dappled light - stunning

Dappled light – stunning

With great tie up places and crisp, blue days of low humidity; no bumper boats (hire boats) and perfect countryside views, the days are a joy.

Helpful lock-keepers together with helpful public that push the buttons on the automatic locks or catch our lines have made  the last few days perfect.

Perfect days

Perfect days


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Where are all the barges?

Well? Tell me?  Yes, yes, they are probably more sensible and have NOT come to the Canal du Midi in peak season.

Peak season? I thought we were safe after August. How little do we know! But we have not seen ONE OTHER barge on the move (except a hotel barge).

We travelled through a system of 6 locks with these two boats. We let them over-take us on the canal - then they wouldn't let us in the next lock!

We travelled through a system of 6 locks with these two boats. We let them over-take us on the canal – then they wouldn’t let us in the next lock!

There are mobs and mobs of hire boats, a whole gaggle of them. Great, lovely….. some of them are. Others are rude, obnoxious, block the locks and worse have NO IDEA where a boat’s pivot point is!

At the helm , they assume they are in a car, so astern propulsion (yes, astern propulsion, not reverse)…. is incredibly exciting to watch and completely terrifying if you are any-where near  the ‘helms-person.’

The wash keeps boats apart.

The wash keeps boats apart.

I know, the old hands here (less of the old please!) will have heard and suffered this before. But for us it is an eye opener. Thirteen years ago I don’t remember having this trouble, I thought people had less money for holidays now, not more.

Oh, I know, it is the Midi.  Someone wrote a book once about sailing the Red Sea, they called it, ‘Once Is Enough.’ I may do a 5th book, (yes there are more to come), about The Midi, as beautiful as it is, ‘Once is Enough!’

Pleasant company.

Pleasant company.


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Tackling our Nemesis

It had rained for two nights a bought flood waters.  So, of course, we decided to tackle one of the lowest bridges: The Capestang.

Not helping by raising the water levels and decreasing our likelihood of getting under the bridge.

Not helping by raising the water levels and decreasing our likelihood of getting under the bridge.

It’s not so much that it is low, but the curved arch reduces the height dramatically, the wider the boat.

Brilliant!

Brilliant!

We inspected the bridge, and there is not one inch of it that hasn’t already been gouged-out by previous boats. More rain was forecast, we had to have a go.

Really?

Really?

With sweaty palms and flip-flopping stomachs we puttered up to the bridge. The game plan? I was on the bow indicating centre – then watching the stern and pointing in the direction the stern needed to shift to keep us in the centre.

Flip-flop, flip-flop (my stomach!)

Flip-flop, flip-flop (my stomach!)

If we scratched the paint we didn’t care. We went that slow, we could stop, reverse out and go back to our mooring with nothing more than our ego damaged.

My cool cucumber!

My cool cucumber!

Noel, as usual, was great on the helm and cool as a cucumber. I matched his coolness on the exterior but inside my stomach was making its way up to my throat.

Phew!

Phew!

With an inch gap each side of our wheelhouse roof we glided under and it was then  that I remembered to breath – we made it!

Farewell to the lovely village of Capestang, and Jane (fellow WOB – Women on Barge member (FB)), (and John and Sophie), hope to see you again when we’re heading north!

Leaving Capestang.

Leaving Capestang.


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I am not sure how we made it

But we did make it. Ecluse number 56 de Fonseranes (K206.5), has six locks, one after the other. Fortunately, we were first in line, but two other boats where squished in with us, testing everyone’s skills and patience.

6 locks

At the first lock, the lock-keeper swaggered over and managed to stop chatting on his mobile for a second. I naturally assumed he had come to take my line (as per every other lock-keeper). He took the line, slipped it over a bollard and then rapidly shot fast-French at me, ignoring my pleas to slow down. His disgust at handling our lines was evident.

He chatted on his phone more, watched the other boats come in and then said, in near perfect English, ‘you do your own lines.’

‘Of course,’ I said, ‘No problem.’

To which he replied with the most magnificent Gaelic shrug, that I would assume is usually reserved for vermin.

This was before they REALLY let the water in.

This was before they REALLY let the water in.

The hire boat was ordered to leave the first lock, first. While the crew gathered the lines the lock-keeper tutted, rolled his eyes and stood with hands on hips. Who knows what was going on in his tiny mind – but the phone rang and it was all smiles and back to chatting with buddies.

As we puttered in I wondered how I was going to get the lines on the bollards with the boat-hook, the lock walls were too high.

‘About a third-of-the-way-in are steps,’ I said to Noel, ‘You’ll have to get me near them.’ Noel nodded in his usual relaxed manor.

I’d climbed up many locks before in our sailboat. I know it is ‘not the done thing’, but we had no choice back then or here. Back then I was on a low boat, with no lock-keeper I had to get the lines on a bollard, so up I went. Here, with muscles some thirteen years older, I had to think carefully about what I was doing.

The dry steps, of course, the lower ones were underwater and covered in green slime.

The dry steps, of course, the lower ones were underwater and covered in green slime.

I took my time but it was  a little scary.

I took my time but it was a little scary.

You could walk the boat through (and others did, keeping hold of the lines) but they had plenty of crew, shorter boats, lighter lines. But, they still couldn’t ‘walk the boat through’ when we all got to the bridge. Besides Noel was doing inch-by-inch manoeuvring (handled brilliantly), and I wanted to help him too.

What followed was a scary launch of my body out to the slippery, slime-ridden steps, a steady climb with a fore and aft line on each shoulder and crowd-pleasing success. Noel manoeuvred the boat’s bow and stern right up close to the wall, however the curved lock-wall still meant I had large leap. I received ‘whoops’, claps and admiration. Meanwhile, the lock-keeper straightened his sunnies and chatted on the phone.

There was plenty of cheering as I made my way up.

There was plenty of cheering as I made my way up.

What resulted was me feeling alive, working the ropes, being independent, and being strong. I was thinking on my feet. On this trip, we’ve been hauling anchors, furling heavy ropes several times a day, climbing on deck, jumping ashore and shopping via bicycles. My muscles are becoming defined, my jeans are looser, I feel alive and yes, I am loving the whole thing!

The other amusing result I’ve noticed is that our precious paint is no longer precious. After six locks in what can only be described as ‘water-fall’ conditions, just inches (sometimes much less) between boats and walls, and all of a sudden you don’t give a flying fig about your paintwork – just surviving unscathed!

The climb.

The climb.

In my opinion, as lock-keepers, there’s too much responsibility for surly youths, which results in an attitude. That said, apparently since their hazard pay has been taken away, the lock-keepers on the Midi will not take your lines. I am not sure what the hazard is of taking lines. Actually it created a hazard as we took a moment or two than usual to secure the boat, and the lock-keeper let the water in before we were ready! Not fun!

I noticed, also, that not one of the boats’ crew looked at, waved, said Merci or even acknowledged the lock-keepers.


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Sunken boats (not ours!)

Fanfare if you please, we’ve made it to the Canal du Midi.

Entering the Canal du Midi

Entering the Canal du Midi

Lake Etang de Thau was welcoming in its expanse. It was nice to see a long watery horizon. We had perfect conditions, the sun bounced off the silken water and reflected the cloudless blue sky.

About to enter the lake.

About to enter the lake, prior to reaching the Midi

DSC_0372

Lake Etang de Thau. It is illegal to traverse this lake in winds in above Beaufort scale 3, (7 to 10 knots).

The Midi has presented its own challenges, round locks, shallow depths, narrow stretches and low bridges. It’s had our adrenaline up at times, it’s tested our boat handling skills and we’ve loved every minute.

Squeezing under bridges, there are lower ones to come!

Squeezing under bridges, there are lower ones to come!

Rouge Corsair's fine bow, slicing through the water.

Rouge Corsair’s fine bow, slicing through the water.

Many plane trees are still left, but more are sadly marked for cutting down. But there’s hope that the beauty will be restored with new trees lining parts of the canal.

The beautiful trees are still in abundance... our first mooring in the Midi - just heavenly.

The beautiful trees are still in abundance… our first mooring in the Midi – just heavenly.

small scale big lake

Frontignan - our last stop before crossing the Lake.

Frontignan – our last stop before crossing the Lake.

The startling array of sunken boats as we entered the Midi was quite astonishing. These few, in the pictures, were in a stretch of half a kilometre, and I didn’t photograph them all… so sad to see…

A useful sunken boat!

A useful sunken boat!

DSC_0415 DSC_0418 DSC_0412 DSC_0411 DSC_0408 DSC_0407


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It smells different here

We’re in south France. Rouge Corsair is galloping along and we can’t quite believe we are down near the Med already.

Gallician - moored on the bank, just a short stroll from the pretty village.

Gallician – moored on the bank, just a short stroll from the pretty village.

It smells different here. The salt air is refreshing, the Medittranean breeze is cooling. The dry grass is a contrast to the lush paddocks that we saw in the middle of France, but the harshness of the land reminds us of Australia – where things sting and stick-in you!

Gallician location

Gallician location – on the Canal du Rhone a Sete

We’ve made good time, enjoying the scenery pass us by is a heavenly way of viewing France. The friendly waves, the great (free) tie up places and the fun boat people from all over the world keep us smiling all day.

We love not having a car to worry about and pay for. Freedom is a moving boat and two bicycles.

Work doesn't stop for boats, we all had to squeeze between the floating bollards and the crane!

Work doesn’t stop for boats, we all had to squeeze between the floating bollards and the crane!

The midi is approaching and that’ll be breaking new ground for us.

Approaching the lakes.

Approaching the lakes.