Monday, 21 December 2015

Small Boat Heroes (and Heroines)

There are sailing and boating heroes, people we all know, whose names are spoken only in hushed reverential terms – Chay Blithe, Joshua Slocum, Francis Chichester. But then there are others, less famous perhaps, but equally deserving of the title. One such couple is Dave and Natalie. Did they sail non-stop around the world against all prevailing winds and currents? Did they pass through Drakes Passage or take the long route around Cape Horn?

Nope, they did something far more adventurous. They cooked a four course Christmas Dinner on board their partially restored English Narrow boat on the deepest darkest reaches of the Isle et Villaine canal somewhere in Brittany. I was witness to their achievement and I can confirm it was the best Christmas dinner I have ever eaten!

The boat was bedecked with lights and garlands, the Champagne was served perfectly chilled after having rested in the cockpit for a few hours and the cabin was a haven of tropic heat thanks to the efforts of the driftwood burning stove which burned brightly throughout the evening. The electric cooker was powered by an extension lead connected to a socket in a public toilet further along the towpath.

We had – home-made salmon pate with country bread, roast free-range chicken with vegetables
cooked in the pan juices, pork, chestnut and cranberry stuffing, and all the trimmings. For dessert we had spiced bread and butter pudding. There was also a cheese course but no-one could manage it. 

There was beer,Champagne, white Muscadet and Red Bordeaux. Crackers were pulled, stories were told and presents were exchanged. 

Then a tot of Monkey’s Shoulder Whiskey set us up for the trip home along the towpath, not drunk but pretty mellow, full of food and good cheer. It doesn’t get better than that – Merry Christmas everyone!