At Sea on Literature

My apologies for absence last night, another £1 in the pot to Unicef, which is all good for the cause.

I have an excusable reason though, I was out at sea with Guy Grieve……metaphorically speaking. I was reading his book ‘Sea Legs’ and the quality of his prose as he described the emotions he and his family endured on their epic sailing journey was too good to miss. Like his journey in deep seas, once I was committed to a chapter I had to stay the course. At the end of every chapter you want to know if they will make it unscathed.

His description of acute seasickness was so powerful I began to feel mildly nauseous myself and I consider myself to have fairly good ‘sea legs’ but they have never been tested in the way Grieve and his family experienced. Visions of the Clooney film ‘Perfect Storm’ flashed through my head as he described his scary nights at sea. Add to that the threat of pirates, sudden depth changes, perilous coral that could cut through a hull in seconds and weather that, sods law, never quite goes your way, and you have a potent mix of irresistible peril all wrapped up in a deliciously written book.

The book will appeal to land-lubber and sailors alike.

I am no sailor, but I am the other half of a budding amateur with an 18 foot trailer sailor and I have 2 kids. I gulped at the prospect of crossing the Solent in bad weather with kids in tow but to do what these guys did, repeatedly, is stunning. The danger onshore was as high as the danger offshore and Guy is admirably honest in his account of his feelings as a skipper albeit a capable one, but very much learning on the job.

Before we bought our boat, I asked my uncle, an experienced commercial fisherman, for any advice, tips, dos and donts. Apart from the must-haves of VHF, flairs and fire-extinguishers, he just said ‘the sea is the best teacher’ – just get out there and learn.

It takes serious sized cojones to take on the sea with a young family in tow – the Grieve family didn’t let that stop them from an experience of a lifetime.

Read Sea Legs and enjoy.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

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October is the new August

It is that time of year when you start to get a tickle in your throat and a snuffle in your nose. That combined with two glasses of wine, a tummy full of curry and a day spent painting the garden fence meant bed beckoned early, minus the blog post – so £1 in the pot to Unicef, as per the fundraising initiative.

I admit it became obsessive yesterday – a wooden fence, a large tub of green paint, kids occupied, a dry October day – it didnt get better than that – it was project paint the fence.

I also got paint on my face, hands, trainers, jumper and jeans. As it was green I looked slightly mouldy, perfect for Halloween preparations. The children were having fun in the front garden in the ‘trench’ that had been dug up for the new car park area. Every now and then I went to check on them and tried not to look at how muddy and brown their faces and clothes were quickly becoming.

Sometimes doing things on impulse, just because the weather is good and doing an activity that doesnt cost anything or requires you to drive anywhere can be immensely satisfying. During the day I turned a brown fence green, while I turned green too and the children turned brown. Not often you can enjoy so much quality time outside in late October.

Today I went out on a ride on my friend’s horse, when he went loony after my Jack Russell decided to chase and bark at him while were cantering along. But she had a grin on her face the entire time, which gave her something else to think about other than picking a fight with her Mum.

We then got the boat out of the water for the winter and my son enjoyed feeling for barnacles on the hill while my daughter helped scrub seagull poo off the deck.

Turns out October is the new August.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Schizophrenic Sailor Saturday

“A bad day at sea is better than a good day at the office or school…or even, at times, home’.

I had never put this saying to the test but today, in force 5 plus winds, we put it to the test.

I am relatively new to sailing. I did my RYA 1 and 2 in a crash course in my late teens (in 3 days our whole crew hit a wreckage and capsized and spinnakered into Royal Naval waters and got booted put by the Military Police). I always had designs on logging up enough hours to go for 3 plus but it didnt happen until the day my husband (slightly more experienced than I) took the plunge and decided to buy a boat the whole family could enjoy. We have only owned it a year (and have already grown out of it) but it has changed our lives. Every spare moment we get we hike down to the coast and have become obsessed with tide times and weather.

Today the wind was up, which was fun (although feel slightly nervous when we are on the heel and glance down below to see the dogs upended out of their bed and baby boy astride the keel for stability…..while our daughter just leans back and carries on reading her book). The world and his wife were also taking advantage of the wind and everyone was buzzing around tacking and zipping along. Sailing is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while hopping and skipping – you have to have your wits about you.

Even anchored its a challenge on choppy seas. For example, making coffee, putting baby boy on potty, getting daughter out of a wetsuit and trying not to wet yourself because it was ages since you visited the loo (and there isn’t one aboard).

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the job I had of hoisting the sails. Sails are schizophrenic. On a calm day you study the sail as it makes its steady journey up the mast and cajole it to take some wind and when it catches you cajole it some more, but all in a very relaxed manner while munching maybe on a cucumber sandwich and sipping tea. On a windy day it feels like you are trying to haul up a bag of concrete that threatens to swing into your face at any moment and rather than studying it’s progress you hoist it as quickly as possible while it has a fit. You do this while trying o to stay upright yourself by some kindof pole-dancing move round the mast. This is made even worse if you are trying to take the sail down. Add a lunatic genoa to the mix trying to swipe you from behind and it feels like you are involved in a pub brawl.

But believe it or not, it was strangely enjoyable and a very good way to spend a Saturday…..

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Love handles and seagulls

My obsession of washing machines was thankfully short-lived. We now have an ex-rental Bosch that is actually washingpur clothes hurrah! Having the ability to wash is vital and when you are denied that ability it is more than just frustrating, you feel like a student all over again..

My new obsession is tackling my love handles. It seems I cant escape them. Next year is my 35th and a friend once said to me that once you hit 35 anything stuck to your body by that point remains there til you die. So I have 6 months to shift unwanted lumps and bumps before everything is set in stone (or flesh). I have resigned myself to the ‘junk in my trunk’ bum, which I have learnt over the years to ‘package’. Love handles on the other hand just cant resist to give me a little ”muffin top’ regardless of what I am wearing. If I could choose a cake to resemble it would NOT be a muffin. I am thinking more along the lines of a chocolate eclair (brown and slim). There is a cake in my local cupcake shop that you can buy called a ‘Dolly Parton’, which consists of a meringue top, with a cherry. My favourite is the ‘Clark Gable’ which has a coffee fondant (to be alittle more up-to-date it should be re-named the ‘George Clooney’.

Next, why the seagulls? We have a small boat moored in a harbour on the South coast. It has now appeared on the Seagull version of google maps as ‘a good place to hang out and poop’. Last time we we t to the boat, the gulls had really gone to town. I refused to embark until all the poo had gone, so I bobbed up and down on the tender while hubby scrubbed and I occasionally threw him the odd baby wipe. So I have been reading reviews on the best things to repel gulls and have opted for this rotating mechanism that spins with the wind.

But while I was bobbing up and down on the sea waiting, a huge splash sound came from the starboard side and as I turned I caught sight of the end of a tail of something very big. We were in the shallow waters of the harbour so I struggled to think what it could have been. Then a movement caught my eye and I turned to see a seal about 30 metres from us, its beautiful head and huge eyes looking at us – I shouted for my hubby to catch sight of it, then it disappeared and popped its head up further along the channel. It was a lovely moment to be on the sea and catching a glimpse of such a beautiful creature sharing eachother’s environment. It made all the seagull shit worthwhile.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Blowing away the holiday

As the saying goes, ‘The sea remembers what you forgot’. In this instance, we forgot to download the marine weather app to our mobile phone. We had planned a sea crossing to a popular island n England’s South-East coast, but on the day it was dead calm, we decided to anchor down at a beach for a while too long followed by supper at a marina for my Dad’s birthday. The plan was to make the crossing the following morning. We awoke in the morning o gale force winds and gusts, not all that confidence inspiring on a small boat with two kiddywinks in tow. So we decide to hedge our bets and head back to our mooring. 

On a good note we made it back to our mooring in record time with a few grins thanks to fill sails to go with it. Thankful for the shelter of the harbour, we assure ourselves that we made the right decision. Once home, we consult the weather app to find winds dont improve much, so the week we had earmarked for the boat has had to change (plus one night spent with two children on an 18 footer sent my husband calling ‘time out’ the following morning……he has been looking at bigger boats ever since.

So now tomorrow we have swapped the water for tarmac and are spending the rest  of the holiday on a motorhome. Don’t get us wrong, we would rather be at sea but the weather is not on our side.

Sometimes I feel like I am married to Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows. Next it will be the gypsy caravan, narrow boat or train…..or Easyjet.

This blog raises money for Unicef, so I will be putting a pound in the pot for every day of missed blogging.

Hope you are enjoying the summer and thanks for reading.

Truth or lie

My daughter came ‘boincing’ (baby boy’s term) out of school today full of talk about her new teacher for next year. Apparently she asked all the children to say 3 facts about themselves, except 2 are true and one is a lie. God knows what the teacher thought about us when my daughter replied, ‘i can sleep on a boat that we sail on, i once had 7 pets and i watched the world cup matches’. I knew the world cup was a lie but i wasnt entirely sure about the 7 pets either until she explained it was when my older dog had her puppies, which we kept until they were old enough to be sold, plus the fish. What was a bot morbid was that she counted the boy puppies, who later died sadly (it was either hypothermia or fading puppy syndrome). Ever since i have been kicking myself that i didnt have a heat lamp or hot water bottle in the whelping box when they were first born. I was then obsessed with the girl puppies’ body temperature as i didnt want o lose any more to something so trivial. The boy puppies are buried at the bottom of our garden. It was a disastrous situation. She gave birth in the middle of the night, i had not checked her before i went to bed because i had been distracted by an argument i had with hubby. He then woke me at 6am when he got up for work to say she had already had a puppy and it was dead. I was devastated. I had carefully bought all the books and equipment i needed and had helped my mum with her whelping bitches throughout my childhood but to let d day slip because i got distracted was unforgivable. She had given birth to the biggest puppy of the litter first with no help. I tried to resuscitate but rogpr mortis had already set in suggesting he had been dead a while.  I remember looking at his perfectly formed body and the entire process of gestation and thinking he had fallen at the final hurdle because of me and my negligence. I was there for the other 5 puppies, not that it made much difference because the two boys started ok and then slipped away. The girl puppy that we ended  up keeping i had to resuscitate but thankfully she pulled through – and thats dogs. I cant imagine the responsibility that rests on midwife’s shoulders.

I wanted to have another litter to put the bad experience behind me but figured that was selfish so will just put it down to a bad mistake. The worst things that happen in life are down to mistakes caused by a momentary lapse in concentration. The lucky ones are those who dont have too many of those experiences between birth and old age.

So back to the teacher’s question, it is a good one. It pears you can tell quite a lot from a person through truth and lies, but how you interpret it is a different matter entirely, she probably thinks my daughter was born  into a wealthy family with all the pets and a boat.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Losing yourself

OK, I admit there are moments (too frequent) when I am away with the fairies. Evident in posts such as the one a few days ago when I was moaning that there was no coverage of the Isle of Man TT race. For some bizarre reason I thought it was taking place over the bank holiday weekend. Imagine my delight and confusion when we purchased a TV recorder earlier this week to find the TT previews and reviews had popped up all over the next 7 days on ITV 4. I even had a stupid moment when I thought ‘well that’s no good, what’s the point in previewing the past’. I feel it is good to recognise moments when my brain has momentarily left my skull and have a little chuckle.

I am seriously liking this record TV lark. I was enjoying it so much i didn’t watch any TV because I was too busy planning what programmes to record. Rather I was spending my TV time in anticipation of good TV. This task kept me up til past midnight (we dont do Sky hence why I am so excited as the ability to actually watch a programme when you want to watch it is a wjole new concept. Although i am only 34 i sound like a complete dinosaur.

However, we still had to watch a film the other night on the tablet because we havent got Netflix sorted put.

Which moves me nicely onto a movie to add to your must see list – Robert Redford’s ‘All is Lost’. Before you groan at the old Redford (my goodness he is old although it looks as if he has ‘had some work’) please don’t let prior judgements get in the way of seeing this film. The dialogue in this film is virtually nothing, Redford is very good at acting without words -arguably a sign of a good actor? in fact the only words you will here is right at the start of the film and then about 3\4  of the way through when he gets a little frustrated. If they had filmed me alone on a boat you would not have wanted to watch it for nearly 2 hours as the scenes would have featured a lot of muttering to myself, lots of swearing, crying, witnessing unpleasant personal’ habits culminating in suicide or an early death because I doubt I would have lasted as long as Redford. However, I am a natural optimist so I would never have admitted ‘all is lost’ even when gulping my last breath (and I wouldnt have wasted my last breath stating the bleeding obvious).

Regardless if you are in or out of sailing, All is Lost, is a brilliant film and I recommend giving it a go.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.