Friday 5 July 2024


A party that considers the ex-Tory MP Natalie Elphicke to be a good fit, but a fair and moral man like Jeremy Corbyn to be unsuitable is not a party that represents me. Nonetheless, I'm very glad to wake this morning to find that Starmer won and the corrupt, duplicitous, divisive, self-serving shower that have abused their privilege of governing our country for the last fourteen years are finally out on their collectively irresponsible ear.

I find it hard to reconcile voting Tory (or Reform, for that matter) with anything resembling a moral choice, but that choice is a necessary freedom of democracy so I try hard not to judge people too harshly on their political views. As individuals, at least. Despite differences in our moral perspectives, what unites us is greater than the sum of what divides us. 

I'm sure I stole that from somewhere.

On a similar theme, I particularly liked the now former Chancellor's parting words this morning:

"This may seem like a tough day for our family as we move out of Downing Street, but it isn’t. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where decisions like this are made not by bombs or bullets, but by thousands of ordinary citizens peacefully placing crosses in boxes and bits of paper."

Tuesday 2 July 2024


Walking the dog has become something more of an exercise in logistics, of late. Still, it's nice to have company for our daily evening romp around the local park.

The twins are growing like weeds and my daughter appears to be positively thriving on her new responsibilities.

Monday 1 July 2024

meanwhile, somewhere in Upton-St-Leonards

A barn dance. In so far as we were playing in a barn, and some dancing was definitely done.

Friday 28 June 2024

Petrella: refloated

We successfully relaunched Petrella at the beginning of the week. I got both my weekend's gigs out of the way on the Saturday, as previously reported, then Dad and I headed down to Plymouth to complete a few jobs on the boat.

There wasn't actually much to do. Some antifoul on the foot of the skeg and some preliminary investigations into the loose floorboards in the main cabin. The later could have actually waited until we were afloat, and the remedial work that still needs to be done will do just that. Basically, most of the coach-bolts holding the wooden spars in place that cross the bilge and support the floorboards have corroded away, leaving the spars, and therefore the floorboards they support, decidedly wobbly.

Dad, who knows about these things, was highly vocal in his disgust that anybody would consider using bolts of such an inappropriate and inferior grade of metal on a boat, let alone in the wet and potentially salty environment of the bilge. 

To my way of thinking, as they've apparently lasted the last 45 years or so, they couldn't have been that inferior or inadequate, but I will bow to Dad's far more qualified opinion. The bugger now is going to be getting those old corroded bolts back out so that we can replace them with new (and appropriately graded). We removed one, but the rest are a job that will keep for now.

Anticipating an early start on Monday, and the marina being two and a half hours away from home by car, we might have broken a rule or two Sunday evening and stayed aboard whilst the boat was still on the hard. I'm not sure. I didn't ask, figuring it was safer to seek forgiveness than to risk having permission refused.

With a brief pause with her in the slings so that we could apply a bit of antifoul to the base of the keel, Petrella was lifted back in without mishap on Monday morning at 0900. It was a calm, warm morning, and hardly any wind should've made putting her back into her berth simple, but I still managed to overshoot the final turn, which led to the need for some jockeying back and forth on the throttle to get us realigned to enter our berth, and Dad managed to fumble getting the bow line onto the dock cleat. 

However, the calm conditions meant that whilst my mishandling did result in us coming to rest briefly against our neighbour, the fenders were more than adequate for their job, and I was able to manually push us back off, which then put me easily within reach of the cleat at the end of our finger pontoon that I needed to get my midship's spring onto. Once that's done, we're home and safe, regardless of whatever might be going on with the line at the bow.

So not the most elegant of landings, but one achieved without any damage to ourselves or anybody else or any great embarrassment. If only through merit of the fact that it was early on a Monday morning so nobody else was watching.

With Petrella safely back in her berth, we retrieved her freshly laundered genoa back from the local sail makers, stopping at the café opposite their workshop for a quick breakfast, then back at the boat I bent it back on to the forestay, reattached the sheets and furled it away. An easy job as it had been neatly flaked and rolled, and whilst the wind was astern, it wasn't strong enough to actually fill the sail.

Once I'd refitted the repaired binimi and put the cockpit tent back up, Dad jet-washed the decks. Finally, with everything squared away, we were on the road by mid-afternoon and, the traffic light, were home again by tea-time.

There is some kind of juniors' regatta running at the lake this weekend, so the routine Sunday racing has been cancelled. The weather looks very light anyway. We could slink off down to the boat for the day and potter around the Sound, but I'm actually free of gigs the weekend following, so I'm thinking that if instead I spend this Sunday at home and pretend to be domesticated I might actually manage to wrangle a pass for the whole weekend the week following.

So likely just two gigs, tonight and tomorrow, and no sailing for me this weekend. But I did race the Laser this Wednesday evening just gone. A fickle, occasionally boisterous wind and 30°C so no wetsuit, just rash vest, buoyancy aid, gloves, boots and swimming trunks. A lovely evening.

Which made the unexpected capsize both comic and inevitable. It wasn't the warmth of the wetsuit I missed, so much as the padding and protection. In vaulting out of the water and onto the dagger-board to effect the recovery, I managed to take about an inch of skin off my right shin. Just a flesh-wound really, and the capsize didn't cost me a place so much as my poorly managed start had already cost me a few. 

Despite the swim, I still managed a creditable fifth place, out of the twenty-eight boats racing. Which is fine. I was only sailing the Laser because Amanda had been unable to make it this week, so not being in the Albacore, with which we're actually completing for this series, I had no real skin in this race. 

Aside from the that which I left on my dagger-board, that is.

Wednesday 26 June 2024


Actually had a canvasser knock on my door yesterday evening. Well, a leafletter - a polite, well scrubbed young man, handing out little flyers for our incumbent Tory MP. I was in a rush so simply smiled and said no thanks. Anyway, it's not proper canvassing unless it's freezing rain in the middle of December. 

Aside from a single house on Tuffley Lane with its garden fence shrouded in the new mock-nationalist colours of our local Labour hopeful, that's the first hint I've seen around here that there's anything resembling an election coming up in a couple of weeks. On which note I don't know why, but I have a distinctive distrust of any political party that feels it needs to be so unnecessarily up front and centre with our national flag in its branding. It smacks of populism, and that just makes my hackles rise.

I guess I'm a little disillusioned with politics these days. But that's probably a healthy state to be in.

I almost felt sorry for the Tory flyer guy, and wish I'd had a little more time to chat to him. If only to say how I admired his nerve for volunteering as a poster boy for the debacle of the last decade and no, I'd never vote for them but appreciated the effort he'd made in knocking on my door.

Maybe if his candidate Richard Graham defected from the Tories and stood as an independent. I actually quite like the guy, just not his political allegiance, which I can't help but worry could be a direct tell as to his moral character. Or maybe if he went full on political survival mode and switched to Labour. I mean, if they'll take Natalie Elphicke, they'll take anyone these days. Anyone to the far right of the old New Labour's politics, anyway.

The photo at the top was a snap I took of the band that followed us at our first gig last Saturday in Yate. We hung around to watch them as we had an hour to kill before we had to to get to our next gig in neighbouring Thornbury. I took the photo because I was admiring the guy's guitar, a PRS like mine, and wanted to see what model it was; so I zoomed in hoping I could see the branding on the headstock or the detailing on the body. The resolution isn't quite good enough.

But I quite like the photo. Very much captured the mood of the afternoon. It was a great gig. As was the one that followed later that evening. 

Tuesday 25 June 2024


Lottie thinks that since the twins arrived I have been remiss in that my camera lens has spent far too long pointing at them, or occasionally, my boat, and not at her. So, to remedy my apparent misdemeanor, above is a snap taken in the park yesterday, where I walked her after getting home from relaunching my boat.

Actually, I do her a disservice. Lottie thinks the twins are fascinating, gorgeous and lovely, and her favourite pastime when not out walking with me is to sit watching over them, patiently waiting until they're big enough to throw a ball for her.

I will add, just to state the obvious, she is never left alone unsupervised with them. Never leave any dog alone unsupervised with any child.

let the canary sing

“I just think you keep going and you find the little things that are joyful. Things that you think are the absolute end of the world, they are not really, they are just the end of that chapter and there are many chapters in your life. I had a friend tell me that once and I didn’t understand, but I understand now.”

Cyndi Lauper

Thursday 20 June 2024

Petrella: shiny

She's had a bit of a buff and polish this week. Looking forward to seeing her again on Sunday. More so to relaunching on Monday. It will be good to have her back on the water again.

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Petrella: high & dry

The weekend's fussing and fettling went well. Lightly rubbed down the copper coat, which for now remains in reasonable shape. After the jet-wash when she was lifted out, it really didn't need or want anything more than a light burnishing with what amounted to a scouring pad.

Scraped the hard growth off the prop, prop shaft, foot of the rudder's skeg and around the engine's water intake. Antifouled the keel and a few patches the copper coat didn't cover. Freed up the paddlewheel of the log so that it spins again. Fully in the anticipation that it'll seize up with growth once more within about a week or two of relaunch.

Was surprised at how easily the copper coat cleaned up. Not sure when it was put on, but it's nearing end of life now. Was dubious about the almost certainly significant cost of replacing it, but having seen how well it's looked after everything below the water line, and how easy it's been scrubbing her off for another season, I'm having a serious rethink.

A local company (same chap that sorted out the forward heads and resealed our aft windows earlier this year) is giving the hull a deep clean and polish this week, so she should look all shiny and new, or as shiny and new as a lady of her admittedly veteran age can hope to be, when we relaunch next Monday.

Fingers crossed for some settled weather. My unintended theatrics at the helm when we moved her to the slip to lift her out last Monday have left my confidence a little unsettled. Which is silly, because it's not like I'm entirely new to this.

But it will be nice to get her back onto her berth cleanly and without mishap.

I haven't opened negotiations with my wife yet, but I'm conscious I have no gigs the first weekend of July. Weather permitting, that might be the perfect opportunity for a mid-season shakedown cruise. Perhaps sneak the Monday off work as well, and stretch the trip all the way out to Falmouth and back.

We shall see.

Monday 17 June 2024


Last Friday we laid my Uncle Steve to rest. The youngest of Dad's brothers; where there were once five now only Dad and Uncle Mike remain. Uncle Steve was a gifted stone mason, an architectural surveyor, and a talented guitarist. He also had a green thumb and kept a beautiful garden with his wife, my Auntie Jo. He had a passion for roses. And good food, he was an excellent chef. And motorbikes.

He died aged 68, which these days feels like no age at all, after a bitter and painful struggle with liver failure that he met with his characteristic grit and stubbornness. 

It was a good ceremony. My brother-in-law James conducted it, and I read a few touching words that Auntie Jo had written. It went well, and we gathered with friends and family at a local pub after afterwards. My cousins and I joked that we only ever seemed to gather together for weddings and funerals these days, and it seemed more funerals than weddings of late. We promised to remedy that this summer. We might, or we might not

I count myself lucky to have a close family. Even if we don't see each other as much as we should or we used to, we're always there for each other when needed.

It's easy to take that for granted. But really, it's no small thing.

Thursday 13 June 2024

The Guardian: Susan Smillie

A link to a post on the Guardian's website that I've just read over my morning cup of tea. It put a smile on my face, so thought I'd share. 

I remember reading Susan Smillie's story, probably in an article on the same website, of how she and her small yacht "Isean" ended up sailing from here to Greece, and have enjoyed many of the photos she's posted of her travels on Instagram, so I'm something of a casual fan.

I'm also quite fond of dolphins.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

great grandad

I've got to admit, I'm not even sure which one he's holding. Think it's Charlie, but could be wrong. As usual. My daughter refuses to let me touch them with either paint or permanent marker. 

I don't think it matters. Which ever one it was, their Great Grandad was enthralled.

So was my brother, their Great Uncle Jamie. Think he got Harry. Could've been Charlie. But pretty sure it was Harry.

I can see we're going to have a lot of fun in the years to come.