It’s nearly eighteen months since I wrote my last, and as it turns out, penultimate blog on this ‘foodieafloat’ website. It is a funny thing but although I could have just continued using the name that everyone recognised, it felt odd knowing that with the sale of ‘Friesland’ I was no longer ‘afloat’ but rather, well and truly ‘up the bank’; that’s the term for ‘running aground’ in canal parlance. With the sale of the boat, a huge chunk of my daily life had disappeared and with it much of the subject matter usually devoted to the minutiae of barging life which was what ‘foodieafloat’ was mostly about.

Now two years on I still miss the boat now and then but there is always more in life to do and see, to talk about and speculate upon. We’ve been busy settling into our French ‘hovel’ and facing the reality of a home without an ever changing view. This loss, of everything I thought I would miss, is the only thing which every so often still causes that little gulp of grief. I do so miss the view from the boat: looking across the water to the fields beyond - particularly compelling in the first light of morning or when the sun is setting. I miss sitting in the wheelhouse looking out on frozen water and a snowy landscape or watching an electric storm bouncing off black clouds or just seeing the rain falling like arrows, beating the canal into a froth and setting the roof a-drumming.

It’s just not the same in a house.

Nevertheless, the time has finally come to ‘goodbye’ to all that.

Now let’s see what’s new.

Last year I wrote a book called ‘Barges and Bread’:

Here’s what the critics say: “‘Barges and Bread’ - This is a compelling account of how London, throughout its 2,000 year history, has always been fed by water. The grain which gave its citizens their daily bread, and ale too, was traditionally brought to this great city by barge via the River Thames. Even in more modern times imported grain still arrives in London in ships. Here in ‘Barges and Bread’, Di Murrell recounts in a highly readable and entertaining way how the Thames, with its flash locks and mills, was made navigable; how bargemen brought grain to London even during the time of the plague; how the masters of the ‘hoy’ barges established the first Corn Exchange in the City and how the American gold rush caused the great sailing clippers of the time to bring wheat to the Capital. All this and more is to be found in this truly fascinating little book. Her first hand knowledge of the Thames and direct involvement with its grain traffic brings a fresh approach from a different vantage point and gives us new insights into a little known area of London’s story.”

It has won a prestigious prize and seems well thought of by those whom one respects. It hasn’t become a ‘best seller’ but my publisher assures me it is the sort of book which will enjoy slow but steady sales over the years; if you haven’t bought a copy yet I’d be most grateful if you did so soon.

A second, rather different book, will be published in the spring of 2019. Called “A Foodie Afloat’ it’s my swansong to our life of boating on the continent. Here is the story of a cook’s journey through France on a barge. As the landscape changes so too does the cuisine and the wine. Bought in the market, dug from a lock-keeper’s garden, even foraged along the towpath beside the waterway, the food I find and cook is always seasonal and local to the region. The boating life, though rarely sensational, is full of small events and chance encounters. This, I hope, is an enticing story of slow boats and slow food brought to life. I hope it will appeal to those who dream of boating off into the sunset as well as those who nurse a special interest is food and wine in all its guises. I suspect though it is most likely to annoy both groups in equal measure. I can only wait and see.     

I’m closing down my ‘foodieafloat’ website now but hope to welcome to my new blog: both those who happen to stumble over this small goodbye for the first time, and those of you who have loyally put up with my ramblings over the years.

I’ll work out what it is to be about as we go along.


Goodbye to All That

Wednesday 17 October 2018