Back To Normal?

 

Well, what have we been up to in the month since returning from our “holiday”?

Steve has decided to commission the freezer as he cannot keep up with the quantity of lobster and fish that he has been able to catch! We made this decision before heading back to the U.K., so immediately on our return we switched it on! I am quite pleased about this as it means I can now have ice-cream and frozen peas! A Chinese-style mushroom curry is much enhanced by frozen peas!!

On our first shopping trip on our return, Steve bought himself a large piece of gammon and a pack of Lincolnshire sausages. So far he has eaten half the sausages and not even a third of the gammon – thank goodness we put the freezer on!

 

We have been foraging – as previously mentioned we have made blackberry jam/jelly and apple chutney but have now also made haw jelly. This is not a spreadable jelly but more like an “adult sweet”. The book where we got the recipe from suggests serving it with a coffee. (Thanks for the book, Caroline!) The texture is pretty much like American Hard Gums and the flavour is really interesting, almost savoury but fragrant. Steve decided to try and turn some into haw vodka by adding some of the jelly to a small bottle of vodka. The jelly is still dissolving in the vodka but it has taken on a pinkish hue and when you open the bottle it smells like a very strong whisky – tastes pretty good, all the same!!

Haw Jelly
Haw Jelly With Coffee

As many of you are no doubt aware, my tipple of choice is vodka and coke and I tend to get through rather a lot of coke, so before we left Hull we purchased a Sodastream to save the extra weight of two litre coke bottles on shopping trips. This has served us well so far, the gas cylinders and concentrate are easy to find in England and France; however once we arrived here in Guernsey we were struggling to find it anywhere. Fortunately we managed to find this wonderful store called Aladdin’s Cave, probably ½ – ¾ hour cycle away that stocks it, so every so often we (or Steve on his own) make our way to pick some up. One particular return trip is memorable as Steve very nearly became a hood ornament for a shiny black Range Rover. There is a one-way road with a designated cycle lane in the opposite direction and we were busy cycling along. Coming up to a junction with the traffic light on red, we were slowing, ready to stop when this Range Rover started to pull out of a driveway. Somehow Steve just managed to stop in time, with me very nearly crashing into the back of him! The poor lady driver was extremely shocked and so apologetic it was quite funny – especially as it could all have turned out so differently! She had obviously checked for cars coming from her left but forgot about the possibility of cyclists using the cycle lane!

Back to our (or should I say, Steve’s) main activity. Since returning on 20th September and re-baiting his pot that day, he has caught:

  • Lobster – 30 (8 returned)
  • Wrasse – 7
  • Brown Crab – 4 (3 returned)
  • Spider Crab – 3 (2 returned)
  • Pollock – 1
  • Haddock – 2

The biggest lobster he has caught so far weighed in at 1.4kg and took a lot of cooling down so that he was dopey enough for Steve to squeeze him into the pan!

 

Surprisingly Steve kept up his science project of recording his catch and has come to the following conclusion:

Start with some going off gammon, a lobster will usually take the bait within 24 hours; use that lobster head as bait and within 24 hours (but sometimes as short as 6) a wrasse is caught. The wrasse bones will then take approximately 48 hours to catch another lobster and the cycle continues with the occasional white fish getting in on the action.

As I am sure we have said before Steve is allergic to crab. However, after catching a number of spider crab he decided to play “Russian Roulette” and risk trying one as he had only ever previously eaten brown crab. After taking inspiration from a devilled spider crab recipe he found, he created his own version, using the sauce from his mummy’s devilled kidney recipe. After freezing, killing, cooking and dressing the spider crab, he was then baked in the sauce in his shell in the oven. The next 24 hours would be critical for Steve!! Surprisingly, he suffered no ill effects at all and is absolutely delighted that he is able to eat any more spider crabs that he catches, even though they are far more fiddly to deal with than lobster.

 

The pollock he caught was huge (2kg)! He didn’t quite fit in the fridge (he had a bit of a bow!) and even though he had been killed and gutted I found it quite unnerving to open the fridge door and see his tail flapping up and down. We haven’t eaten him yet; he has been filleted and is now waiting in the freezer for a non-windy day for his battering!! Steve has also kept the head as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a recipe for Baked Pollock Head – I can’t wait for that day to come, I think I might eat elsewhere!!

Big Fish
Big Fish

We have celebrated yet another wedding anniversary (31 years!) and decided to go for a nice walk along the coast towards Pembroke beach. Steve even remembered to take his wallet so we could stop at the little kiosk at L’Ancresse for a coffee so we were a bit disappointed that it was closed when we got there with the possibility that it may be closed permanently. We thought we would continue to Pembroke and were sure we would be able to find a drink there. The Beach House (bar/restaurant place) looked pretty closed when we passed it on our way to the other little kiosk, which was also closed. However as we walked back past The Beach House we could see people inside and a worker sorting out the outside tables so Steve went in (leaving me outside as I would have melted going inside!) and returned with his cup of coffee and that was all!?! I was a little dumbfounded (!) and it wasn’t until he sat down with his coffee that he realised for the FIRST TIME EVER he had bought something for himself and nothing for me! Happy anniversary, darling!! (I did have a bottle of water that we had brought with us so I wasn’t going to die of thirst!!) After he finished his enjoyable coffee we set off again, across the common this time and for some reason I had my “fungi-eye” in and kept spotting mushrooms! In the end I succumbed to his pressure and agreed to pick and potentially eat a large field mushroom. We also saw quite a few parasols but we didn’t pick any of them as I thought one at a time is enough for me! I had it as a very tasty mushroom curry!!

On Guernsey a lot of the restaurants take part in the “Tennerfest”. It is a way to try and encourage people to eat out during the quieter autumn months and runs from 1st October until about the middle of November. In the past most of the restaurants had £10 menus but most now are slightly more expensive but still cheaper than at other times. Several people had told us about it and then Mark and Helen asked if we would like to join them at the Beaucette Marina restaurant. Of course we said yes, although I was quite apprehensive as I do not always have the most successful restaurant experiences! Obviously to help keep costs down the restaurant has a special “Tennerfest” menu and doesn’t cook their usual menu, this then meant that there was only one vegetarian starter and main. For starter I chose the Cantaloupe Melon with seasonal fruits and berry sorbet, I found it a bit weird eating such a sweet starter but it was very nice! Good start! It took me a while to decide on the main; it was either Sautéed Mushrooms Garlic on Croute with rocket leaves, truffle oil and shavings of parmesan cheese or Beaucette Fish ‘N’ Chips, mushy peas, sauce tartare. After confirming there was no cream anywhere near the mushrooms I decided to go for that. As Steve had chosen the fish and chips I could nick a couple of his chips! When the food arrived I was pleasantly surprised with how mine looked and when I looked at Steve’s fish and chips I was really pleased I’d gone veggie! For the first time in a very long time I had a very nice meal in a restaurant! Steve was a bit disappointed with his as we cook better looking and tasting fish and chips on board! Dessert was Sticky Toffee Pudding for me and Ice Cream for Steve. Again my choice was definitely better especially when Steve passed me his ball of vanilla ice cream (after trying to fob me off with the chocolate one – not for me, that!) A thoroughly enjoyable evening, thanks to Mark and Helen for inviting us out!!

We have been watching the forecasts quite closely, what with Storm Ophelia and then Storm Brian! Brian, the storm they call Brian! (Apologies to Monty Python!) Storm Ophelia had no impact on us fortunately, but it looked like Brian might. It was good to see that the forecast was improving as one day it showed gusts of 75+ miles per hour but eventually it went down to 40-50 miles per hour. Winds were mostly from the south – southwest which, fortunately, is not a bad direction for us. The marina entrance faces east so any storm with any east in would be a major worry! It did provide some beautiful looking seas (seen from land obviously) and we made the small walk to Fort Doyle to watch the waves on both the north and east coasts of the island.

Yesterday morning, whilst pottering around inside the boat, there was a “twang” followed by a “thud”. Steve was busy in the galley and called up to me to ask what was wrong. At this point I was having a look out the window to see what had hit us (the sounds were definitely like a bird of some sort hitting the rigging and then the deck). Sadly there was a beautiful, healthy-looking pigeon except for the damaged wing and the pool of blood underneath him. We weren’t really sure what to do but, with the state of his wing, it didn’t look like he would be able to “shake himself off and fly away” so Steve went to see if he would be able to catch it. He was unsuccessful on his first attempt and suggested we should contact the RSPB or some other organisation. I was a little unsure as, after all, it was only a pigeon, but looked online and couldn’t find a contact number for RSPB on Guernsey so instead we called GSPCA – the Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Steve spoke to them and they agreed to send out their ambulance. The pigeon had found himself a relatively safe position under one of the seats at the back of the boat by the time the ambulance arrived (approximately 20 minutes) and the GSPCA chap climbed on board with Steve on the pontoon to make sure the pigeon didn’t try to climb over the toe-rail and fall into the water. Within a matter of seconds the pigeon had been caught and was secure in the carrier the GSPCA man had brought with him. I doubt if we will find out whether he survives but if he doesn’t I think we did all we could to help him.

 

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Separate Lives

Having spent the first three weeks in Beaucette checking the weather for an appropriate weather window coinciding with a favourable tide time, we did quite a lot of soul searching and wondering just what it was we were doing. Whenever we saw Ricky (the marina manager) and advised that we would be staying a bit longer, his response was: “stay as long as you want”.   I believe this sowed a little seed in Steve’s head and made us face up to some difficult questions – What are we doing? What do we want out of this life?

It felt like all we seemed to do was watch the weather, looking for the opportunity to move to another marina to do the same thing again there – relax, drink and people watch. Neither of us particularly enjoys the sailing side of things but absolutely couldn’t go back to living in bricks and mortar. Steve felt that he wanted to put down some tentative roots – in fact it appears that we are not the gipsy/roaming types we thought we were after all!

Why is Guernsey the right choice for us?

  • The people are amazingly friendly. When we have been out and about, looking blankly at our map of the island, people stop (whether on foot or in their vehicles) and offer assistance
  • Steve can understand the locals
  • The ‘hills’ aren’t big
  • Honesty boxes are prevalent for local produce
  • The marina is picturesque, gnarly (being an ex-quarry), entertaining during strong easterly winds with a good mix of friendly live-aboards
  • Great walks – as we are in probably the least populated part of the island where beach and cliff walks are plentiful
  • Even in hot weather, as we are a stone’s throw from the sea, it is at least 5 degrees cooler

Why is Guernsey a poor choice for us?

  • Wine at English prices
  • Bread selection is poor as there doesn’t appear to be any small bakeries on the island (only the supermarkets)
  • Haven’t managed to find an egg supplier yet (other than supermarkets)
  • Shower block/toilet trips are best planned to coincide with high tide (the ramps are a tad challenging at low water). This also applies to trailer shopping trips as the decline is quite impressive which could result in a runaway trailer!

After chatting with Sunil in the marina office and then Ricky, Steve returned to the boat with the figures for a year’s berth here! Could we do that? Should we do that? We could always do some sailing from here and return but it would mean that Steve could have his required roots and he would be able to find something, other than the boat and the weather, to occupy his time. This again caused more conversations and we agreed that it might be a good idea so Steve ‘paid up and looked happy’, but this then caused more issues!!

After having spent practically every day for the last year together (ok we did have one 24 hour period apart when he took off with a French man!) we were starting to realise that we have absolutely nothing at all in common. So after many hours discussing matters we have decided that it is in our best interests to follow our own particular dreams and go our separate ways.

To be honest, it is not as bad as it sounds! We have both decided to return to our great loves. Steve’s love is food and cooking and being the hunter/gatherer type he decided that he would try his hand at fishing. He bought himself a tin of sardines and put them into his lobster pot and dropped that over the side of the boat. He didn’t have any luck for the first few days so decided to try the other side of the boat, closer to the pontoon. I think he had pretty much given up and was going to wash off the pot and put it away when he pulled it up and discovered a decent sized lobster inside. He was like a kid in a sweet shop, so excited!!! This was all the incentive he needed.

Surprisingly my love is for getting fit again. We have walked and cycled around some of the island and have discovered some lovely beaches – good enough to encourage me to “take the plunge”! So now I cycle the ten minutes to L’ancresse beach and spend some time splashing around in the water! When we first arrived we noticed a blackboard proclaiming “Bendy Beaucette Yoga”. I have wanted to try yoga and thought perhaps a small group here might be a good introduction – although I wasn’t sure if I would be confident enough to do something on my own. However, Steve encouraged me (or should that be, pushed me) to give it a try and so far I have been to two sessions and that combined with the swimming and cycling seems to have helped me with my intermittent back aches and has also resulted in a marked increase in my fitness level, such that on our most recent cycle ride together I had to brake whilst cycling behind Steve as he wasn’t going quick enough!

One particular cycle ride stands out in my memory – is this the unluckiest woman in the world? We had bought a picnic at the supermarket after visiting the largest car boot sale we’ve ever seen (well , at least ten cars!) and ended up at L’ancresse beach, sitting with a nice bottle of cider and some bread and cheese. The only other occupants of this part of the beach were a young family and then after a while a woman and her son stopped to chat with them. I suddenly heard a “thwack” and the standing woman fell to her knees. The poor lady had been hit by a stray golf ball. The fairway that the golfer was aiming for was at least 150 yards away. The man from the couple disappeared off and, according to the kids, was going to “go and tell off the golfer”. He returned shortly with two men – they had both hit their balls off course towards the beach so were unsure which one had actually hit her! Amazing, considering how much empty beach space there was, that one of them managed such a direct hit. Fortunately the lady had turned to reach her phone so it hit her on the side of the neck and not smack bang in the middle of her face.   She was a bit dazed and shocked but I don’t believe she suffered any serious damage and the rather embarrassed golfers were extremely apologetic.

There have been some very large, beautiful yachts visiting here. At one stage we were one of the smaller ones, having been dwarfed by an Oyster 62, Hallberg Rassy 64 and a possible Contest 60ish. When I went to my first yoga session, inevitably I was asked which boat I was on so pointed Shearmyste out. Comments were made about Beaucette becoming a ‘Super Yacht Haven’ and I believe Shearmyste was included! Quite chuffed about that, although I already knew she didn’t look out of place amongst them!

The buses here are cheap (£1 per journey) so we have taken advantage of them and have been into St Peter Port (Town) a few times. You can also go all the way around the island and if you want to sit in the bus station for about 20 minutes that still only costs £1. We did the trip but broke our journey in Town. This did mean that our ‘round the island’ cost £2 but to be honest I think we would have quite happily paid at least £5 each. The nearest shops to the marina are at St Sampson which is about a 10-15 minute cycle away with a Co-op and an Iceland and there is an Alliance (Tesco) fairly close too.  There are lots of small produce stands dotted around, so far we have purchased tomatoes, strawberries, cauliflower, new potatoes, cucumber and lettuce. As they all have honesty boxes it is necessary to make sure you have enough pound notes (yes I do mean notes!!)

Liberation Day back in May – we took the bus to St Peter Port, saw the parade and had a little mooch about. We walked past a lady who was the spitting image of Shane Spall (wife of actor Timothy Spall) and “star” of one of my favourite TV programmes – Somewhere at Sea where they sailed their Dutch barge around the UK. It is one of my go-to DVDs as they visited quite a few of the same places we have and I have noticed a lot of similarities in our relationships! I didn’t approach her as I thought it was inappropriate but when we got back to the boat I looked for her on Twitter and she had posted a photo of the life boats taken from the exact spot I had seen her! I am just amazed that she didn’t recognise me from my avid viewing!!!

Steve has now become quite a proficient fisherman. In his lobster pot he has managed to catch three lobsters (one too small to keep), a haddock, a brown crab and an eel. He took the dinghy out of the marina the other day and attached himself to one of the waiting buoys and caught himself two mackerel. I must admit that the only item I have eaten was a small portion of the haddock in a curry! I did try the first lobster but I really didn’t like it and I think Steve was quite pleased about that as he won’t have to share any!

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Steve then turns from fisherman to chef, so far he has made:

Lobster with lime and caper butter served with coconut rice

Lobster fusilli with a lobster bisque sauce

Haddock jalfrezi with boiled rice (this was for me!!!!)

Crab and Haddock with a spicy noodle broth

Smoked mackerel on toast

Smoked mackerel quiche

As I write, the smoked eel is sitting in the fridge, excellent taste test results, no dish yet created! (Cooking time 45 minutes, preparation time a day and a half – so not your Jamie’s 15 minute meal!!) Recipes will appear on the Recipe Page!

Other food highlights have included, I’m sorry to say, yet another falafel based meal. I had made a rather tasty pea risotto and as is normal I’d made enough to feed an army! So we decided to use up the leftovers as arancini – mozzarella stuffed rice balls. Steve thought about putting breadcrumbs on the outside but then suggested using falafel mix – hence the creation of Falancini! Served on a spicy tomato sauce they were bloody lovely!!!