Thursday, 21 December 2017

Phenomenal Fudge by our very own Mrs Christmas

As a Christmas Treat, the lovely Pamela here at F!nd has very kindly given us all a lesson on the wonder that is her beautiful homemade fudge! Followed correctly, the below recipe should be bombproof, and provide you with festive fudge for the holidays...


115g salted butter

1 tin condensed milk

1 large tub clotted cream (Rhoda is my brand of choice)

450g demerara sugar (Billingtons has the best flavour)

1 tsp vanilla paste


Put a jug of cold water in the fridge.

Line a small toffee tin and butter the paper

Select a reasonably big pan (for this volume I use one that’s c20cm wide and c10cm deep)

Use a wooden spoon (that’s important)


Over a low heat melt the butter and then add the cream, condensed milk and sugar. Gradually bring the mixture to the boil.

Increase the heat a little to achieve a relatively vigorous boil and continue to cook until the mixture thickens and darkens (this usually takes c15-20 minutes). Test for soft toffee stage by trickling some fudge off the wooden spoon into the jug of cold water. After a couple of seconds lift it out with a metal spoon, roll it into a ball and place it on a plate/work surface. When the ball is firm enough to hold its shape, but will squash down a bit when you press it, take the pan off the heat.

NB: If you need to test a few times do it quickly and get back to stirring.

Continue to stir as the fudge thickens and cools. You don’t need to beat the mixture…just keep it moving. To save my arms and let gravity do some of the work I sit down and put the pot on a wooden board on the floor during this stage. This has the added benefit of getting me away from the heat of the cooker!

When the mixture holds a trail stir in the vanilla paste.

Pour into your tin and leave to cool. It's really is as simple as that ;o)


For salted caramel: use a tin of caramel condensed milk and sprinkle with sea salt when nearly cold.

For chocolate: once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat and add a 100g bar of quality dark chocolate. Leave to melt. Don’t do this with the pan on the heat as the chocolate may burn. I find that 85% chocolate gives the best result. You will need to scrutinize the label and note how many grams of fat the chocolate contains. This figure should be deducted from the 115g of butter in the recipe…it’s usually about 40g.  Don’t be tempted to use the chocolate flavour condensed milk. I’ve tried and it tastes awful.

For rum & raisin: soak sultanas (much nicer than raisins) in rum, drain off excess rum and add with the vanilla.

For cherry brandy: soak dried cherries in brandy.


Happy fudging!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Well what a week of ice, snow and frost that was. The canal has been frozen solid meaning Clutie and I had to remain put. It was however, great fun feeding the ducks on frozen water! 

Transition from northern canals to southern canals. Had to go through the Hawkesbury toll gate, a lock only 6 inches deep, but in olden times essential to ensure people paid the tolls!

It may be beginning to look a lot like Christmas outside but thankfully, inside, Clutie is always warm! 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Clutie the Ice Queen

This week started with some bad news... an accident on a lock ahead meant the path ahead was closed until further notice! Thank goodness for woollies, temperatures definitely dropping.

After spending my spare time gathering more wood for the incoming cold snap the lock was finally reopened. I was first boat out of the mooring at 8.00am. It all seemed extremely quiet on the water, I was busy wondering why no one else was keen to leave on a very crisp,bright and sunny morning... I soon discovered why! Large sections of the canal had frozen over in the last few days and Clutie was now an Icebreaker. Cracking through ice up to an inch thick in places.  A bit unnerving as you hear the ice cracking under the hull and shaking the tiller. I had visions of my fellow boaters sitting, drinking hot chocolate and chuckling at my bone headedness. I was determined however, to get underway and try and make up for the lost time. The ice had different ideas and lasted all day and by the end of the day I had made just a few miles with constant back up and revving forward to break ice...  Diesel engines like steady speed, having to constantly accelerate to break the ice meant the engine was feeling a tad tired, as was I at this stage! 

Friday I spent much of the day navigating a few frozen locks and canal sections, brrr! A few of these hours were spent going through an army live fire range! Bit unnerving when you hear gunfire close by! Real shame because they have tonnes of cut timber by the bank!

Half way through the next day, black smoke started coming out of the exhaust and there was a distinct lack of power on the pulled over to investigate. On review I immediately saw the issue, the belt holding the air filter on had shaken loose, and presumably been crunched. Think the shaking from the ice-breaking must have shaken it loose. When I worked Seismic in the oil and gas industry on jungle jobs, we always said you could fix anything with three simple products....duct tape, string and bamboo....Fortunately for this I only needed duct tape and string....bamboo being in short supply in the north of England! We were however kept entertained by a Goshawk who swept low over Clutie and me while the repairs took place.

Finally arrived at the weekend destination where we would spend a couple of days laid up having a well earned couple of pub roasts (maybe a pint or two)  and interesting chats with the locals.

Heading south again now... Hope they open locks as promised by tomorrow...

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Finding Clutie and setting off on our Adventure...

After looking in the London area and taking advise, I was told go north for best value quality boats. So that's what I did.  
I ended up just outside Chester, stopping at various brokerages along the way and checking out several boats. In the end I decided on Clutie Dumpling. 

I then spent the next three days getting essentials shipped up from London....winter woollies etc..Fitting her out for the, axes,saws, spare parts,engine lubricants etc and carrying out some pre-journey engine maintenance.

So I was ready to leave Nantwich on the Adventure of a lifetime and left on a very cold foggy morning. 

The quickest route was down the Shropshire canal to Birmingham but due to scheduled maintenance by the Canal and River Trust, some sections were shut! I was forced to backtrack North up the Middlewich Branch and then down onto the Trent Mersey Canal.

After a few days of sailing, I have found the main highlight of my journey so far has been the people I've met. You could not hope to meet a friendlier, more helpful and interesting group of people than those who live year round on the canals. So far I've met with accountants, lawyers, ex military, a hugely diverse assortment!  Everyone has their own expertise and is happy to share. Naturally once people hear of my background, I become the local geography, mapping and technology Guru....sometimes unfounded...