Kennet & Avon here we come

With winter well and truly with us, I’m reflecting on a rare break that Chris and I, along with our friends Dino and Kate, took in October. Given that so many Gables students end up cooking on luxury yachts around the world, it’s ironic that our two-week break was on a narrowboat in the heart of the beautiful Wiltshire countryside.

Visions of Rick Stein’s French canal trip in our minds…

What a revelation the trip was, as we navigated the beautifully restored Kennet and Avon Canal at little more than walking pace. I’d always harboured a desire to own a narrowboat but Chris wasn’t so sure – his perception of narrowboating was of a caravan holiday afloat. Our compromise was a ‘try before you buy’ experiment, which is how, with visions of Rick Stein’s waterborne adventures in France in our minds, we set off, armed with only a few holiday essentials, some cooking basics and a copy of my new book Simply 3 – 5.

A string of lovely country pubs

October’s good weather, a string of lovely country pubs, and the joy of a slower pace than our normal busy lives, was a refreshing contrast to life at the helm of a busy cookery school. By the end of the trip, even Chris and Dino’s  scepticism had been converted by days of sleepy canal banks, gently puttering engines and the manual work demanded by a series of locks.  The funniest thing about the trip was Dino’s transformation. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that he isn’t a great fan of water, or heights, so the combination of a canal and those high locks ensured that he started the holiday with trepidation. He even spent quite a bit of time walking alongside us on the towpath, only returning to the boat when he’d built up a healthy appetite for the next meal…

Anyway, after a few days even Dino was converted to the fresh air and freedom of the narrowboat lifestyle, and all four of us appreciated the enthusiasm of die-hard narrowboat enthusiasts and their wonderful sense of community. If you’ve never tried it, I’d urge you to make narrowboating a priority for 2010. I’m sure you’ll love it.

It’s easy to prepare stylish, delicious food on board

Thinking about priorities for the New Year, maybe 2010 should be the year for revitalising and updating your cooking repertoire with some simple, stylish dishes and easy to prepare new recipes. Our trip was a perfect opportunity to revisit some of the more than 200 recipes in Simply 3 – 5 and prove yet again that delicious, sophisticated food really can be prepared very quickly with minimal ingredients. Whether you’re on a narrowboat, in a holiday apartment, rushing to prepare a stylish meal after a busy day, or just want to avoid a long shop for ingredients, it’s got everything you need.

It’s perfect for caravan holidays too!

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