A tra­di­tional boater’s dish that’s very fill­ing

Canal Boat - - This Month -

‘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.

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