Friday, 18 May 2018

Switching off Ravensdale’s engines at sea for the first time

Photo of Ravensdale on the Solway Firth by Jan Fialkowski

Ravensdale on the Solway Firth by Jan Fialkowski


Turning off a boat’s engines at sea may not seem like a big deal to seasoned sailors - or landlubbers - but we’ve been reluctant to do it just in case they didn’t start again.

So, we must have been feeling particularly brave this week as we switched off both of Ravensdale’s 300hp Volvo Penta engines while at anchor in the Solway Firth, near Maryport, Cumbria, UK.

We’ve previously only switched one off and kept the other one running while fishing, just in case…

Thankfully they both started again first time, which will give us the confidence to turn them off when we drop the anchor in the future.

We aim to take Ravensdale out to sea at least once every couple of weeks to give her engines a run and to keep her hull relatively clear of growth.

Photo of Phil checking the antifreeze/water mixture with a hydrometer

Phil checking the antifreeze/water mixture with a hydrometer

As we took her out fishing on Bank Holiday Monday (May 7), we didn’t really need to go out again just yet, but the weather was too good to stay in the marina.

And this time we took a friend along with us – our first passenger since we bought our Neptunus 133 and moved  onboard in November 2016.

Before our latest outing, Phil replaced the water in Ravensdale’s port engine with a mixture of water and antifreeze.
I must admit it seemed a bit strange adding antifreeze on a warm, sunny day, but I do know there’s more to antifreeze than stopping the water in the engines freezing up in cold weather 😊



Fishing in the Solway Firth


We’d offered to take Mic Horton, a member of the marina staff who’s become a good friend, fishing with us on Monday morning.

The gate was due to open around 9am and we were all ready for the off, but it didn’t open until nearer 9.30am as they have to wait until the water levels on both sides of the gate are even. We left the marina soon afterwards, returning before the gate shut again at around 2pm.

Photo of Ravensdale leaving Maryport and heading for our fishing spot

Ravensdale leaving Maryport and heading for our fishing spot


We definitely broke our single figure rule where the wind was concerned this time as it was around 11mph when we left the marina and blew up to about 14mph while we were at sea.

After I posted photos taken during our last, not particularly successful, fishing trip, a local fisherman told us we would’ve had more luck if we’d been about 100m closer to the shore so that’s where we went this time.

And Phil and Mic definitely got more bites than we had on our previous outing.

Mic seemed to enjoy his fishing trip. In fact, he caught more fish than Phil did 😊

Photo of Phil (right) and Mic preparing to start fishing

Phil (right) and Mic preparing to start fishing


Photo of Mic landing a very small skate

Mic landing a very small skate


Photo of Phil with one of his dogfish

Phil with one of his dogfish


Mic caught five dogfish and two small skate and Phil pulled in two dogfish and two small skate. All were returned to the sea.

Phil also caught what looked like a small bull huss, but sadly it came off his hook before he could reel it in. At least I saw it before he lost it, so I know he’s telling the truth about the one that got away this time 😊

It was lovely and peaceful on this fishing trip as we turned off both engines for the first time.

We’d decided to do so before we went out and Phil ran the generator up before we left to make sure it would get us started if for any reason our batteries let us down.

The sea got pretty choppy while we were out in the firth, so much so that I now know we need to get some sort of rail around the stove as I ended up having to hold the kettle in place until it boiled, which is probably not the safest thing I've ever done.

And the teapot and mugs were trying to slide all over the bench, so I put them in the washing up bowl in the sink, which seemed to solve that problem.

Photo of tea making on a lumpy sea

Tea making on a lumpy sea


Phil started up the engines well before we needed to head for home, so we had plenty of time to sort any problems that might arise, but they started first time, so we will feel a lot more confident about turning them off again.

The boat was still rolling well when Phil brought the anchor in and we set off home.

We'd travelled at around 9.5 knots on the way out and did 7.5 knots on the return journey, but the revs were higher on the way back as we were heading into the waves. We also needed our windscreen wipers on for the first time purely due to the spray.

Photo of Ravensdale returning to Maryport

Ravensdale returning to Maryport


We had wall-to-wall sunshine the whole time we were out. I wasn’t at all cold in shorts and a vest top despite the wind and I caught the sun a bit, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but I didn’t really get burnt.

Phil let Mic, who is a powerboat instructor, take the wheel on the way back to Maryport, which he seemed to enjoy quite a lot too 😊

Photo of Mic at Ravensdale's helm

Mic at Ravensdale's helm


Then Phil took control again before we entered Maryport basin and he brought Ravensdale back into the marina.

The wind speed was higher than on previous occasions and it caught Ravensdale a bit on the way in, but Phil backed her up and tried again and we had a nice smooth return to the pontoon.

I got a break from running around to throw the ropes this time as Mic kindly offered to do it for me and Andy, another member of the marina staff, was waiting to catch them when we reached the pontoon.

Photo of Andy sitting on our steps waiting to catch our ropes

Andy sitting on our steps waiting to catch our ropes


A photographer friend, Jan Fialkowski, previously offered to take some photos of Ravensdale at sea for us so I let him know when we were returning to the marina and he got some lovely shots of us bringing her back in and mooring up.

Photo of Ravensdale coming back into Maryport Marina by Jan Fialkowski

Ravensdale coming back into Maryport Marina by Jan Fialkowski


Sadly, most of the photographs I took while we were at sea were considerably less clear than I would’ve liked. I’m blaming it on the fact the boat was rocking more violently than on previous outings.

A taste of Scotland


Soon after we got back from our fishing trip, we heard the sound of bagpipes drifting across the marina. We’d also heard it the previous day but hadn’t managed to work out where it was coming from.

This time, it was louder and we traced the piper to one of the camper vans staying at the marina’s campsite. We could just see the pipes sticking out from behind the van, so I went up there to say hello - and to take a few photos, of course 😊

Photo of the piper practicing next to his camper van

The piper practicing next to his camper van



The skirl of the pipes took me back to when we lived in Scotland before we sold our house and bought a boat.

And, by sheer coincidence, we’d already bought a haggis for that night’s dinner, so the day took on a distinctly Scottish flavour 😊


Replacing the antifreeze in the sunshine


Last Saturday was a lovely calm sunny day and, if we hadn’t taken Ravensdale out fishing on Bank Holiday Monday, we would definitely have done so that day.

However, Phil wanted to replace the water in her port engine with a mixture of water and antifreeze before her next outing.

Photo of Phil draining the water out of the port engine

Phil draining the water out of the port engine


He put off replacing the antifreeze until he was happy the engine was running properly after the heat exchanger and intercooler were cleaned and refitted. He refilled it with water first in case it needed to be drained again.

As we discovered it was fine when we took Ravensdale out to sea on Bank Holiday Monday, we went to a motor parts shop on Saturday morning to buy antifreeze, which seemed a little bizarre when the sun was shining and I was wearing shorts 😊

Photo of antifreeze sitting on Ravensdale's aft deck in the sunshine

Antifreeze sitting on Ravensdale's aft deck in the sunshine

That said, I do know antifreeze performs a number of other functions.

When mixed with water, it acts as a coolant and lubricant for the internal parts of the engine.

It also contains chemicals which help to protect the engine from corrosion.

Or at least that’s my understanding of it. I’m sure someone will let me know if I’ve got it wrong 😊

Saturday afternoon. Phil went down into the engine room to drain the water from the port engine and replaced it with the antifreeze and water. He then started the engine to circulate the mixture.

Photo of Phil pouring the antifreeze and water mixture into Ravensdale's port engine

Phil pouring the antifreeze and water mixture into Ravensdale's port engine


Phil removed, cleaned and replaced the heat exchanger and intercooler on the port engine earlier this year after the same work on the starboard engine cured an overheating problem.


Skate delivery


Photo of Phil setting about gutting and filleting the skate

Phil sets about gutting and filleting the skate


We had a lovely surprise on Saturday evening when one of the fisherman with a small boat in the marina delivered a good-sized thornback ray, aka skate, to our boat.

We were sat in the dinette watching TV when we were aware of someone on our aft deck.

I jumped up to see what was happening and found the fisherman leaving our boat and the large skate, laying on top of Phil’s fishing tackle box.

I called out after him to thank him for his kindness.


Return of the mullet


There were lots of grey mullet in the marina last summer and we’d been wondering when they would return this year.

And we saw them for the first time last Saturday.

Photo of a shoal of grey mullet swimming past Ravensdale

A shoal of grey mullet swimming past Ravensdale


There may have been a few around before Saturday, but that was the first day we saw large shoals of them swimming around the marina.

This set me wondering where mullet go in winter, so I asked Google.

According to the British Sea Fishing website, mullet is a fish which lives in calm, still water. They are therefore often found in harbours, marinas, estuaries and sheltered natural coves and bays.

When the sea is still, they can often be seen slowly swimming just below the surface of the water in small groups.

Spawning takes place in the middle of winter and continues into spring, with the small immature mullet spending the early part of their lives living in inshore waters.

Mature mullet are seen as a summer species as they only spend the warmer months in shallow water and retreat to deeper water in winter.

So now we know why we only see them in the marina during the summer.


Heron's fishing demonstration


The heron that we’ve frequently seen around the marina was obviously pleased to see more fish around too.

And he showed us how catching them is supposed to be done (not that I have any plans to try his method of fishing 😊)

Photo of the heron waiting patiently at the bottom of the marina slipway

The heron waits patiently at the bottom of the marina slipway


I spotted him waiting in the shadows at the bottom of the marina slipway, which is one of his favourite hunting spots, on Sunday afternoon so I grabbed my camera and went around onto the next pontoon to get closer to him.

Photo of the heron with his catch

The heron with his catch

Thankfully, I didn’t spook him and was able to get a few half decent shots, given that I don’t have a particularly long lens.

I was really patient and watched him creep forward, stalking his prey until he dived in and came back up with a fish.

All the time, I was snapping away, convinced that at least one photo of the magnificent bird with a fish in its long, pointed beak would be clear, but sadly it was not to be. I guess my shutter speed was too slow.

Oh well, I’ll just have to learn from my mistakes and hope I can do better next time.


Photography and the death of my camera


Sadly, my camera packed up altogether while I was taking photos of the amazing sunset over the marina on Tuesday evening.

Photo of a colourful sunset over Maryport Marina

Colourful sunset over Maryport Marina (Ravensdale is at the far end of the pontoon on the right)


Photo of the same sunset looking from Ravensdale towards the marina buildings

The same sunset looking from Ravensdale towards the marina buildings


The shutter stuck closed and no amount of switching it on and off, pushing various buttons or removing and replacing the battery would clear it.

Thankfully, I’d already taken plenty of photos of the sunset, but I was so sad that my camera appeared to have died.

Phil had a good look at it when I returned to the boat and, after much searching online, he discovered it was likely to cost almost as much to repair it as to replace it, so we ordered a replacement, which arrived today (Friday).

Meanwhile, I took photos with my phone, which is nowhere near as good as my camera was (better than it is now, of course 😊), or borrowed Phil’s camera.

Photo of the view looking across Maryport Marina towards the town

Looking across Maryport Marina towards the town


Photo of Maryport pier with the Scottish hills in the distance

Maryport pier with the Scottish hills in the distance


Photo of the view looking in the opposite direction along Maryport beach

Looking in the opposite direction along Maryport beach



Passers-by


Yesterday (Thursday) was a busy day in the channel alongside Ravensdale with a number of boats coming and going.

Photo of Barrule undergoing work at the MPM boat yard

Barrule undergoing work at the MPM boat yard


Barrule, the Isle of Man Fisheries boat that arrived for work at the MPM boat yard as we were leaving the marina on Monday, left yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

Photo of Barrule heading out of the marina

Barrule heading out of the marina


And a wind farm boat, called Solway Spirit, came in immediately after Barrule left. She was moored up on the harbour wall opposite Ravensdale overnight and was lifted out of the water today (Friday).

Photo of Solway Spirit arriving at Maryport Marina

Solway Spirit arrives at Maryport Marina


But before these boat movements could take place, Lodestone, a project boat that's permanently berthed in the marina, had to be towed off the slipway, where the owners have been carrying out work at low tide for the last few days.
Photo of Lodestone is towed along the marina wall

Lodestone is towed along the marina wall



Hot off the press


Photo of a billboard advertising Lauren's story

A billboard advertising Lauren's story

Our newish harbourmaster Lauren Bambury made the front page of our local paper last week.

Lauren, 26, is Maryport’s first female harbourmaster and she believes herself to be one of the youngest in the UK.

I was really pleased she was getting the recognition she deserved but couldn’t help thinking the newspaper was a bit behind the times given that Lauren has been in post for months now.

Anyway, she’s really nice and we’re very glad she’s based here in the marina.


Photo of Lauren on the front page of the Times and Star

Lauren on the front page of the Times and Star


Spring has sprung – at long last 😊


The weather over the past week has been amazing and I’ve been comfortable wearing shorts and a T-shirt the whole time.

In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if we really are still in the north of England or if the boat mysteriously drifted to warmer climes one night while we were sleeping 😊

We’ve had sunshine every single day since I posted my blog last Friday afternoon. OK, so it rained that day and overnight, but the sun was out again on Saturday morning and it remained calm and sunny all day.

Photo of Maryport Marina from Ravensdale's aft deck on Saturday

Maryport Marina from Ravensdale's aft deck on Saturday


I was enjoying the weather so much that I forgot to check the top temperature or the wind speed 😊

There was a bit more wind on Sunday when we had a top average wind speed of 10mph and the highest temperature recorded locally was 12.5C (54.5F).

Photo of Maryport Marina basking in the sunshine on Sunday

Maryport Marina basking in the sunshine on Sunday


Monday was another beautiful sunny day from the very start and fairly calm first thing. The temperature went up to 12C (54F), with southerly, then south-south-easterly winds averaging up to 14mph.

Tuesday started a bit overcast, but the cloud soon burned off to give another lovely sunny day. The top temperature was 14.7C (58.5F) and it was very calm for most of the day with wind speeds starting at 1mph and increasing to 8mph.

It clouded over later in the afternoon and rained for a while before brightening up again during the evening.

This was followed by a pretty windy night of north-north-westerly winds averaging 16mph and gusting to 30mph - we certainly got rocked to sleep that night 😊

Photo of another sunny day at Maryport Marina

Wednesday - another sunny day at Maryport Marina


Wednesday started overcast, but the sun soon came out again. It was warm out of the wind, but most of the time the north-easterly wind averaging up to 17mph made it feel much cooler than the top temperature of 14.6C (58.5F).

Photo of washing drying on a line on Ravensdale's aft deck

Great drying weather on Wednesday

We awoke to a bright, sunny morning yesterday (Thursday) and the daytime temperature reached 12.1C (54F).

The day started fairly calm but got a little windier early afternoon when we had a north-westerly wind averaging 10mph.

And, so far, today (Friday) we've had blue skies with sunshine, a few wispy clouds and a slight wind.

The top temperature so far has been 12.8C (55F) with the average wind speed reaching 11mph.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Our new docking sticks prove a great success

Photo of coming into our mooring with the docking stick at the ready

Coming into our mooring with a docking stick at the ready


Ravensdale was beginning to look a bit like the bearded lady, which is not a good look, so we took her out to sea this week to clean her hull.


It was a good excuse to go fishing – not that an excuse is needed – and we took the opportunity to clean out the bilges at the same time.

I also decided to try our docking sticks for the first time and they are brilliant.

Poor old Phil has spent most of the fortnight since we returned from Scotland suffering from “man flu” – a particularly nasty strain of influenza that only affects the male of the species 😊

But he managed to recover sufficiently to skipper Ravensdale when we took her out into the Solway Firth on Monday.


Cleaning Ravensdale’s bilges


Photo of Phil pressure washing the engine room floor gratings

Phil pressure washing the engine room floor gratings


Photo of Phil scrubbing the bilges

Phil scrubbing the bilges

The gate at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK, wasn’t due to open until around 2.50pm on Monday, so we used the morning to have a bit of a clean-up in Ravensdale’s engine room.

Phil removed the gratings from the floor and cleaned the bilges with Bilgex and a soft brush.

He then put some water into the bilges in the hope it would slosh around while we were out at sea before it was pumped out.

He tried to scrub the gratings with a brush, but they were still quite dirty, so he left them on the pontoon until he had time to use our pressure washer on them.

They’ve since been cleaned and returned to the engine room and the last of the oil that was in the bilges was soaked up using spill mats supplied by our marina.


Cruising in the Solway Firth


It was great to be heading out of the marina gate into the Solway Firth again as it was two months since Ravensdale’s last outing.

Photo of Ravendsale heading out from Maryport

Ravendsale heading out from Maryport


This was the first time we’d taken her out to sea since Phil removed the heat exchanger and intercooler on the port engine for cleaning and replaced all the jubilee clips when he refitted them.

We knew the engine was running fine while she was moored up, but we were keen to check that it was equally fine at sea and, thankfully, it was.

We’d also noticed there was some growth developing along the waterline around Ravensdale’s hull so a good blast through the water would hopefully help with that too.

The bilges were in need of cleaning, Phil wanted to go fishing and, last but by no means least, we needed to fulfil our promise to scatter the ashes of fellow liveaboard Phil Lee at sea.

So, despite Phil still feeling pretty rough due to man flu, he decided that he was well enough to take the boat out, even though we may very well have broken our single figure rule where the wind was concerned.

On Sunday, when he definitely didn’t feel well enough to go to sea, the wind speeds were around 2-3mph for most of the day. That said, a recurring sea mist could have made it a less pleasant outing.

By Monday, the forecast for the afternoon, when the marina gate would be open, was 9-10mph south-south-westerlies, gusting to 14mph, but we decided to go anyway and were very glad we did.

Photo of Ravensdale at sea

Ravensdale at sea


When we left the marina, we had wind speeds of 10-11mph, but it dropped to 7mph by the time we returned.

We knew a few local fishermen who were going out that day and we’d already discussed fishing locations with them.

We decided to anchor off Allonby Bay and try our luck there.

The new deck table and chairs were securely attached to the stanchions and guardrail and were no trouble at all, but they do get in the way of my photos. That said, it’s great to be able to sit out on the aft deck and eat in comfort when we’re moored up so I’m not complaining.

After dropping the anchor, Phil set up two fishing rods using his new rod holders that are fixed to the guardrail along the sides of the aft deck. He had lots of bites but, despite all the interest, he only caught three dogfish, all of which were thrown back so sadly nothing for the pot this time.

Photo of one of Phil's new rod rests

One of Phil's new rod rests


Photo of one of the three dogfish caught on this outing

One of the three dogfish caught on this outing


However, we enjoyed a cup of tea in the sunshine on the aft deck and completed all the tasks we'd intended to do while out, including scattering our former neighbour's ashes.

Photo of a docking stick in action

A docking stick in action

And giving a good blast on the engines while heading into the waves on the way home worked a treat and Ravensdale is clean shaven once again 😊

Before we left the marina, I realised that I'd never tried the docking sticks we bought last year to enable me to put ropes ashore if there’s no one available to catch them as the boat is too high for me to jump off onto the pontoon to moor up.

We searched for something to do this job online and the best solution we could find was these docking sticks that we ordered from the States.



The stick clips onto the end of a boat hook and holds the rope in a loop while it’s slipped over a cleat.


Once in place, a sharp pull on the boat hook unhooks the stick and the rope is securely over the cleat.



I’d tried them from the boat while moored, but it was good to find that they worked perfectly when used for real. I’m sure it helped a lot that Phil came in really slowly, making it very easy for me to get the rope loop over the cleat.


Photo of me holding the boat hook with docking stick ready to hook the cleat

Me holding the boat hook with docking stick ready to hook the cleat


Phil went down to the engine room to carry out the routine checks and close the seacocks on our return to discover water in the bilges, despite having pumped them out at sea.

He immediately checked the port stern gland and found it was leaking again, but not as much as last time we took the boat out. This time, he knew what the problem was and was able to fix it himself.

We're planning to repack the stern glands next time we take Ravensdale out of the water.


Fitting Ravensdale’s galvanic isolator


The galvanic isolator we’ve had sitting on Ravensdale waiting to be fitted for months was actually installed this week.

The marine electrician who supplied it turned up to do the job on Tuesday.

Photo of Ravensdale's new galvanic isolator fitted above the 240V fuse box

Ravensdale's new galvanic isolator fitted above the 240V fuse box


I have to say I'd never even heard of a galvanic isolator let alone had any idea what they do until he suggested that we should really have one fitted.

I now know it is a device used to block low voltage DC currents coming on board a boat on the shore power ground wire.

These currents could cause corrosion to underwater metals, such as propellers and shafts, so will hopefully make our anodes last a bit longer before they need changing.

Also, if there are any faults, it will stop power discharging into the water in the marina.


The pigeonhole and the prawn pot


Photo of a pigeon taking nesting material into the hole

A pigeon taking nesting material into the hole


The pigeons that have been nesting in the hole in the harbour wall near Ravensdale have been coming and going regularly again.

We saw a previous nest washed out of the hole, which provides drainage into the marina from the road above, and they started rebuilding it before we went to Scotland on holiday mid-April. 

I don’t know if it has been washed away again since and, if so, how many times, but the daft birds have spent this week carrying more nesting material into the hole. It seems they will never learn...
Photo of the rockling we caught in the prawn pot

The rockling we caught in the prawn pot before it was returned to the water


Meanwhile, all the small crabs we usually catch in our prawn pot seem to have disappeared as this week we only caught three larger crabs, a very small rockling and a dogfish.


Holiday snaps – bearing in mind that every day’s a holiday 😊


We had lovely weather here over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, so I just had to get out and about with my camera again.

I took it on a walk around the shore, marina and harbour on Saturday and again on Sunday.

Photo of some of the fishing boats in Maryport Harbour

Some of the fishing boats in Maryport Harbour on Saturday


Photo of a small fishing boat returning home to Maryport on Sunday

A small fishing boat returning home to Maryport on Sunday


And a trip out on Ravensdale is always an excuse to take many more images, even though they're mainly of sea and sky 😊

Photo of a beautiful cloud formation over the Solway Firth with Scotland in the distance

A beautiful cloud formation over the Solway Firth with Scotland in the distance


Photo of Robin Rigg wind farm, which is just off the Scottish coast

Robin Rigg wind farm, which is just off the Scottish coast


The most difficult thing for us to get photos of is Ravensdale at sea as we have to rely on others and I was delighted to this week be sent two photos that a local man had taken in early February.

Photo of Ravensdale passing the end of the old pier on the way out of Maryport

Ravensdale passing the end of the old pier on the way out of Maryport


Photo of Ravensdale in the Solway Firth

Ravensdale in the Solway Firth


Meanwhile, I missed a good sunset on Monday evening because we were still getting sorted after returning from our fishing trip and, by the time I noticed the colour in the sky, it was too late.

Photo of Maryport beach at sunset with one Scottish hill just visible in the distance

Maryport beach at sunset on Tuesday with one Scottish hill just visible in the distance


On Tuesday, I went out more than half an hour before sunset, which was 9.01pm, but the sky didn’t colour up anywhere near as well as it had the previous evening – not that I let that stop me taking photos 😊
Thursday provided another opportunity to get out for some lovely sunny photos of Maryport Harbour.
Photo of Maryport Harbour basking in the sunshine

Maryport Harbour basking in the sunshine




Painting class


Photo of me at the art class

Me at the art class

A while back, a local artist called Roy Simmons, whose work I admired, contacted me out of the blue on Facebook to say he liked my photos of Maryport and to ask if he could use some of them as reference material for his paintings.

I was delighted and very honoured to be asked so I said yes.

During our messaging about this, he mentioned that he ran painting classes at a cafe in the town. I said I’d like to attend and this week there was a vacancy so I went along to give it a go.

I really wanted to learn to use pen and watercolour wash and they were working in gouache this week, but it was interesting to see how Roy uses it and then to attempt to use a Turner painting as inspiration for my own work of art.

It was great fun as I hadn’t even picked up an artist’s paintbrush since my children were little and they’re both in their 30s now.

Roy seemed to think I’d made a good first effort, but I think he was just being kind.

Photo of my first attempt at painting for almost 30 years

My first attempt at painting for almost 30 years


Let’s just say, I won’t be making millions forging the old masters anytime soon 😊


Pudding from my childhood


I made a dessert this week that took me right back to my childhood.

Photo of bread and butter pudding

Bread and butter pudding

My mum used to make bread and butter pudding when I was little.

I haven’t made it since my children were small, so it was a very long time ago 😊

But we had half a loaf of bread that needed using up, so I decided to introduce Phil to this delicacy as he’d never had it before.

I’ve just Googled bread and butter pudding and discovered that it goes back to at least the 18th century and used to be known as whitepot.

It’s made by layering slices of buttered bread scattered with raisins or sultanas and sprinkled with sugar in an ovenproof dish, then pouring a mixture of egg and milk over the top and leaving it to stand for half an hour before baking.

So simple and great for using up bread that’s past its best.

I love it with custard, cream, ice cream or just as it comes…


Gnome Gnuptials


Photo of bridge and groom garden gnomes in a local supermarket

Bridge and groom garden gnomes in a local supermarket


I can't help thinking this is royal wedding fever gone totally bonkers 😊

We came across these bride and groom garden gnomes on our way into the Asda supermarket in Workington last week and I couldn't resist snapping them with my mobile phone.

I mean, they don't even look much like Harry and Meghan 😊


This week’s weather


The weather was pretty good over the Bank Holiday weekend when there was lots of lovely sunshine and it hasn’t been too bad for the rest of this week.

I guess I would summarise it as dry, bright and fairly windy.

We had a cloudy start to the day on Saturday, but the sun came out in the afternoon and temperature climbed to 10.9C (52F).


Photo of Maryport Marina in the sunshine

Maryport Marina in the sunshine


There was a cool wind, but it was still warm enough to take my camera out for a walk in a T-shirt without feeling cold (I was wearing the T-shirt, not my camera, in case you were wondering 😊).

It was calm and mild overnight, followed by a very misty start to Sunday. The sun started burning it off during the morning, but the mist hung around until lunchtime.
Photo of the misty view from Ravensdale's aft deck on Sunday morning

The misty view from Ravensdale's aft deck on Sunday morning


Photo of Maryport Marina in the mist on Sunday

Maryport Marina in the mist on Sunday (Ravensdale is far right)


The average wind speed for much of the day was just 2-3mph and the temperature went up to 16.8C (62F) so we both put our shorts on for the first time this year.

Photo of me wearing shorts for the first time this year

Me wearing shorts for the first time this year


Sunday night into Monday was very mild with temperatures falling to just 9.3C (49F) and we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning.

There was a bit more wind than the previous day, but it was still fairly calm and this time there was no mist.

The wind dropped off during the morning and the temperature went up to 16.7C (62F). The wind speed started to build again after lunch and was 10-11mph when we left the marina on Ravensdale, dropping to 7mph before we returned.

Photo of sunshine and a good wind while cruising on the Solway Firth

Sunshine and a good wind while cruising on the Solway Firth


Tuesday started mainly dry, but we could feel dampness in the air and it started raining around lunchtime. The top daytime temperature was 11.1C (52F). The average wind speed during the morning went up to 19mph, dropping to just 5mph in the early evening. 

Wednesday started dry and fairly windy, with the southerly wind strengthening during the morning. The top average wind speed recorded locally was 21mph, gusting 30mph. The highest temperature recorded during the day was 9.9C (50F) and it started raining mid-afternoon.

Yesterday (Thursday) was bright and sunny, but very windy. The temperature went up to 10.9C with wind speeds averaging up to 18mph. 
Photo of blue sky and fluffy white clouds over Maryport yesterday

Blue sky and fluffy white clouds over Maryport yesterday


We had another mild night last night (Thursday/Friday). The wind dropped overnight then started to build up again this morning.

So far today (Friday), the temperature has reached 11.8C (53F) and wind speeds are averaging up to 29mph, gusting to 40mph.