Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thames Barges,

Just been watching a series of English programmes called Shoreline Detectives. Pretty interesting, but part of the programmes featured a graveyard of Thames Sailing Barges which made me feel very sad because many years ago I used to live on a Thames Barge. After the second world war, my father bought a Thames Barge named Iota, from a company which was converting them into habitable living vessels. Iota had fitted carpets and every mod con which was available at the time. Including a propane operated fridge which was constantly going out due to the movement of the vessel. My father sailed Iota to France, Belgium and Holland although they were actually designed for the coastal and shallow river waters of the British Isles. They were cargo vessels and transported things like bricks, straw, coal, etc. bringing much of that into London from other parts of the UK. When operating commercially they were sailed by a man and a boy although in one case a man and his wife who spent their whole married life working a barge. It was sad to see the rotting hulks of the barges in the mud of an Essex shore. I know, in fact, that Iota too has been left to rot and yet there are still a number of barges which have been restored by enthusiasts and are still being sailed. Years ago they used to have a Thames Barge race, don't know if they still do. My father entered Iota at least once that I remember. This has filled me with lots of nostalgia tonight.

I thought this looked very tempting.

Grilled Citrus-Shrimp Lettuce Cups

This marinade recipe works with any other quick-cooking shellfish or seafood—try scallops or squid. Just be sure to stick to the 30-minute marinade in any case, since going longer can toughen the flesh.

1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 5-inch lemongrass stalk, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp finely chopped peeled ginger
1 tsp (or more) kosher salt
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Cooked white rice, Little Gem lettuce leaves, sliced cucumber or julienned carrot, lime wedges, mint or basil sprigs, and toasted sesame seeds (for serving)

1. Whisk shallot, lemongrass, chile, lime juice, orange juice, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Reserve half of marinade for serving; cover and leave at room temperature until ready to use. Pour remaining marinade over shrimp in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

2. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Grill shrimp until lightly charred and cooked through, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a large bowl and toss with sesame oil; season with salt, if needed.

3. Serve shrimp with rice, lettuce, cucumber or carrot, lime wedges, mint or basil, sesame seeds, and reserved marinade for making lettuce cups.

Servings: 4

Source: Bon Appétit
Author: Rick Martinez

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - life moves on sadly ... this is where Maldon salt originated. But the fascinating thing is - is that these vessels and others similarly around the UK - here we have shore archaeology going on - is that there is a great deal of interest in finding out how the barges and other vessels were made and recording as much as possible, before the sea totally reclaims them. Citizan - is the organisation behind these investigations ... here's the link to the Maldon ones:

    Love shrimp and lettuce cups ... a delicious light summer dish - cheers Hilary

    1. Yes, they mentioned Maldon salt although apparently it was begun in a slightly different area Hilary. I was wondering about the Moot Hall in Sussex, as a kid they said the sea was taking it and that was a while back. Thanks for the link, will check it out later. Do you know if the Thames Barge race still takes place? There used to be lots of barges renovated and in wonderful condition years ago.

    2. Hi Jo - no idea and no idea I'm afraid ... the Moot Hall in Sussex might be part of the University Campus now - but there's no obvious reference. The barge race I'm not aware of - but could well take place ... cheers H

    3. What an idiot I am, I meant the Moot Hall in Suffolk Hilary. It was right on the sand when I was a kid.

  2. That is so cool your dad did that! Must've been a lot of fun for you!

    1. Actually I was too young to appreciate it I guess JoJo. All I wanted was another adventure story. I remember there was a big problem, a storm and the main sail coming loose and I was bemoaning the lack of an adventure book. My father said for **** sake you are living an adventure.

  3. This sounds like such a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I watched that episode as well. It was really interesting and it must have brought up all sorts of memories. If you have old pictures, I would love to see them and would love a story or 2 about your time on the barge.

    1. Well that one above is Iota and if you could increase it enough you could see my mom on the stern Birgit. Unfortunately I don`t have many pix from that time. I didn`t manage to get hold of the photo albums when my mom passed. Don`t know what my cousin did with them. As for stories, I will see what I can remember.

  5. Your Dad sounds like an adventurous and interesting man!

    1. I guess he was Pinky, not something I thought about at the time. He was great at chatting to people, something I think I have inherited. He was also very keen on boats.

  6. Replies
    1. I haven't made it yet, koi seo, but I certainly thought so.