The Wanderer Returns. Then Quickly Leaves Again!
Featuring my triumphant return to Port Edgar Marina.
And the sad realisation that it's the same inhospitable, badly managed, poorly maintained, swell-ridden shithole
that I sailed away from almost exactly three years ago :(
It's very disappointing to report that whilst the lucrative properties around the marina - the shops and restaurants -
have been improved immeasurably whilst I was away,
the infrastructure and facilities of the marina itself have not gained in the slightest.
The pontoons are every bit as rotted and holed, the cleats as loose and unreliable
and if anything there is even less tyre barrier and even more uncomfortable swell than when I left!
Not only that but the old amenities have completely evaporated, with the marina now offering a single men's toilet and two miniaturised shower stalls
to be shared not only between all the berth holders but also the marina staff and even some of the local shop workers.
And all only a short cycle distance away from the pontoons!
The sooner they build this fancy new marina
down in Leith to offer some real competition on the Forth
the better for everyone I reckon.
From the very start Port Edgar management were unwelcoming - I hurried to the marina office to announce my glorious return after 3 years of travelling the high seas
and their reception troll sourly informed me that "You're not allowed to receive mail here"
whilst handing me a 'Welcome Home' card that some kind soul had inadvertently sent me in the post (thanks Flora xx).
I explained my plans to live onboard the yacht until I found a flat and was told that the marina policy was to allow no-one to stay aboard for more than two weeks
and that I would have to leave after that.
How a marina can function without allowing visiting folks to stay on their boats more than two weeks I simply don't understand but there you have it.
I've only come across two or three other marinas which were in the least bothered by the idea of paying customers actually using their marina,
and they were only concerned about people spending more than two or three months
Mind you, those marinas didn't feel as if they might break apart and wash out to sea. Well, excepting Holyhead that is :)
I tussled with the reception troll over whether this two week period was consecutive or cumulative
(apparently the inflexible marina policy is entirely at the troll's discretion) and we finally agreed on my being kicked out at the end of the month.
Just time to dry out on the slip and restore Harmony's anti-fouling (badly needed),
and to do all my laundry (for free - since Port Edgar management isn't competent enough to maintain the coin boxes on their washers and dryers).
Silver clouds eh?
To take a break from Port Edgar's inadequate toilet facilities, if only for a few days, I moved in with Flora and Marco.
Whilst there, in-between doing house repairs, I cooked a couple of traditional British roast dinners for Marco,
who's from Italy and therefore completely ignorant about good food.
Flora has been wanting to try out a fancy starter she'd recently eaten and which I thought sounded like a good contender for my family's Christmas dinner:
figs with goats cheese and basil
So she prepared them to kick off our classic roast beef dinner; featuring
, boiled potatoes,
, some over-cooked asparagus and a rich gravy.
The gravy was absolutely delicious - if I say so myself.
I persuaded the nice Stockbridge butcher
to chop me up a big bag of bones
which I boiled up into stock
to bulk out the typically meager roasting juices
so we could have a decent amount of gravy.
Unfortunately the centre-piece beef was disappointingly tough and dry.
I presume a combination of a relatively poor joint (butcher
and an unsuitable roasting method (my fault).
Since the butcher's sirloin was dauntingly expensive I had gone for a cheaper rolled topside (or was it silverside?)
and roasted it at a moderate temperature (around 180°C) for a couple of hours.
Perhaps the joint would have more suited longer cooking at a much lower temperature, say 100°C possibly in a little liquid?
And it also might have benefited from being sliced much more thinly than I managed?
Still, the failure of the meat was more than made up for by the magnificence of the Yorkshires, which exploded out of their muffin tins like miniature aliens,
and the richness of the gravy.
Did I mention the gravy?
All was not lost with the chewy beef though since Marco used the leftovers to treat us to some fine Italian meatballs
- justa lika his Mamma useda to makea :)
Fortunately we made up for this partial culinary success with a very fine lamb dinner
beginning with a surprisingly tasty turnip soup
(possibly because it was mostly sweet potato)
and finishing with a classic bread and butter pudding
Served with a not-so-classic vanilla ice cream.
The roast leg of lamb was absolutely gorgeous. Perhaps because, as Flora never resisted reminding us, it was extraordinarily expensive.
We cooked it at a very high heat with a ton of garlic
à la Keith Floyd
(though without the anchovies)
and served it with salsa verde, creamed leeks
some green beans with lemon, capers, garlic and anchovies
and the usual roast potatoes
Flora turned down my offer of bread sauce
Every so often Flora gets a care package from some French friends, and I was lucky enough to be there when the latest one arrived.
She suggested we attempt to make a meal out of one of the cans of mystery meat, which turned out to be some kind of tinned French haggis.
I won't even attempt to describe the smell. Or the texture. Or the taste.
I'm not generally a fussy eater but take my advice - if anyone ever offers you some delicious French haggis; Run! Run Fast!
The eventual return of Flora's Mum meant I got kicked back to Port Edgar (getting kicked out seems to becoming something of a pattern)
since she can only handle one awkward house-guest at a time, but I didn't leave empty-handed.
Flora kindly gifted me a bottle of weird Czech liqueur called Becherovka
for flavouring vegetables
, and cleaning toilets.
And now my two Port Edgar weeks are up, so I'll be setting off on my nautical wanderings again
- I'm heading down the coast for Newcastle's Royal Quays Marina
where I fancy spending the winter.
In preparation for which I'll be soon making up some aromatic
for our fabulous Christmas gravy
I shall miss having a real kitchen.