A traditional boater’s dish that’s very filling
‘I’m sure the boaters consumed plenty of spuds back in those days when the back cabin stove was their hob and cooker’
Iwas rinsing my washing at Plank Lane Bridge near the start of the Leeds & Liverpool. The Captain was ‘multitasking’ – sitting on the deck watching me while telling me about the workings of the bridge, and where we would go after we had been through it.
A dog walker passed and said “Eh, you ’ort buy your missus a washing machine, mate.” I laughed and said that the offer was there but I didn’t want one thank you. I’m quite happy with my bucket which, incidentally, when not in use also serves as the waste bin.
There are a few reasons why a washing machine doesn’t ‘float my boat’ and the first is environmental. All the detergent, soap and fabric conditioner used goes straight into the cut and that’s a lot of potential pollutants. I know many boaters use Eco washing products but I’m sure a lot don’t. With the small number of clothes I have to wash, I would rather have space for storage than a washing machine.
My bucket has served me well over the years. I simply fill it with hot water, add the Eco detergent and soak the clothes over 24 hours and then scrub where necessary. My soapy water gets thrown into the bushes followed by the rinsing water which I can hopefully do at the towpath tap.
When the sheets, towels and heavy items are ready for a wash, it’s a trip to the launderette and the job’s done in no time. Washed, dried and ready to put away.
The bucket system served the working boatwomen so it’s okay for me, too. Folk stop and chat and no doubt think I’m barking mad but I can cope with that. It’s a tradition like having a water can on the roof with a mop, dressing like a boater in collarless shirt and waistcoat and having a traditional looking old boat. It’s my choice though I’m sure it might inspire some of you to email the letters page.
This month’s recipe is also a bit traditional for boaters. It’s a thick, creamy smoked haddock fish dinner garnished with watercress and mashed potato. I’m sure the boaters consumed plenty of spuds back in those days when our modern appliances didn’t exist and the back cabin stove was their hob and cooker.