Lottie earlier this evening, five weeks old now and just too damned cute.
So I went outside and pointed my phone at the sky, zoomed in to the 10x maximum optical zoom available, and got a white blob.
So, not expecting much, because I'm still in the old school mindset where you never zoom in beyond the digital but instead use the best optical zoom you have and then crop down from there if you have to, I thumbed the zoom up to just shy of the maximum 100x digital zoom available and pointed at the sky again.
And got what you see above. Hardly perfect, but even so . . .
They've come an awful long way in recent years, these little perpetual memory eyes we all keep in our pockets these days.
It's been busy, the last few days.
When we turned up to play on Saturday afternoon, we were met at the door by Charlotte, led through to the back garden and (re)introduced to her Elaine with a "Mum, your birthday present's here!"
I don't think I've ever been somebody's birthday present before. It was fun, they are a lovely family with some lovely friends, and a great gig. The sun shone, the band played, people danced and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody in the surrounding neighbourhood complained about the noise.
It was an early start and an early finish though, in deference to said neighbours, so by 2200 I'd dropped the band's trailer off back at Dad's, temporarily stowed my own guitar and amp in his garage, then he and I headed straight back down the motorway to the boat.
Sunday 1st May: Portishead to Cardiff
(18.7 miles, 3 hours 24 minutes underway)
Light rain was forecast to stay with us through till about 1600, accompanied by a westerly, backing to the south west, of around 10 knots set over the ebb of a 13.2m spring tide.
There's no point in having a sail boat if you don't sail her.
On the approach to Welsh Hook, we put a short tack in to take us back towards the Clevedon shore. We were still early on the tide, with about 8m still to fall, but the sand banks of Bedwin Sands and Welsh Hook in particular have caught more than a few boats out on a falling tide in their time, and I didn't want to add to their number.
Monday 2nd May: Cardiff to Portishead
(17.8 miles, 3 hours 27 minutes underway)
Then on Sunday we broke the Albacore.
|photo: william gardiner|
Two races. We sailed well, kept the boat upright and avoided any unnecessary swimming. I couldn't get much tension into the rigging however, which was very strange. We checked all the lines, nothing seemed out of place, just very slack.
|photo: william gardiner|
Thing is, you don't argue with a Flying Fifteen when they're bearing down on you in any kind of breeze. They're big and heavy and don't take prisoners whether they're in the wrong or in the right.
|photo: william gardiner|
The next race, we sailed well clear of them, and they of us. And, funny enough, we both took 1st place in our respective fleets.
|photo: william gardiner|
Back ashore, I was still perplexed by the lack of rig tension, so went meticulously back over the adjustment controls and lines for the shrouds and jib halyard. Nothing to slip, nothing broken, nothing out of place.
Then I spotted it. For want of a better way of putting it, the foot of the mast had collapsed.
Taking the mast down was a bit of a challenge. The foot of the mast had wedged into the remains of the mast step, so we had to lie her on her side and finesse the mast out. But it's done, the boat is safe. All that I need do now is await, with trepidation, an estimate for the repairs.
Our band Freefall playing live at the Railway Tavern in Fishponds, Bristol, earlier this month.
One of my favourite things about playing in a covers band? When the crowd know the songs as well as you do and bellow them back at you.
Video was put together by my brother (and our bassist) Jay, from assorted clips taken at the gig. The song is, of course, by a band called The Killers.
We're playing a 60th birthday party in Yate next weekend, then back at my daughter's pub, The Old Restoration, in Cheltenham the weekend after. The birthday party is especially cool. The birthday girl's daughter tracked us back down and booked us because she remembered us from when we played her 18th. About fifteen years ago.
I've just posted a version of Goodnight Salvador Dali up to my SoundCloud site. My brother Jay has been posting old videos of the band up on the Internet, which led our drummer Bean to say maybe we should re-record "some of the old stuff".
He's pushing on an open door, so far as I'm concerned. That's just what I've been doing myself the last twelve months or so.
So I picked a song and recorded some guide vocals and guitar for them to work with. But with only vocals and guitar and a little tiny bit of piano, I quite like where the song finds itself at the moment, and thought this version worth saving.
Other versions are available.
Incidentally, my SoundCloud site, and therefore anything and everything I ever record and post to it, can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/user-32512742
I'd meant to set the GoPro to time-lapse for the trip up to Sharpness and on to Gloucester last Friday; long videos of dull passages are boring, especially if it's just a motorboat. And video chews up battery quicker than time-lapse, so it felt like lower maintenance overall. Besides, I was mainly after a few stills of the boat going under the bridges, and they're better quality if snatched from time-lapse.
But, possibly because I didn't have my reading glasses to hand Friday morning and can't see much close up without them these days, I clearly pressed the wrong button and shot normal video. I didn't realise my mistake until the camera beeped at me shortly after we went the first bridge to tell me that the battery was about to die.
So, for a bit of fun, I've sped it up and overlaid an old song I wrote and recorded with the band a few (to many!) years ago. The song is called "Numb".
Friday 14th April: Portishead to Gloucester
(33.6 miles, 8 hours 5 minutes underway)
Saturday 15th April: Gloucester to Rea Bridge
(2.0 miles, 0 hours 41 minutes underway)
And perfectly warm enough, as long as you keep moving.
Getting into the O'Neill was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. I'm going to argue it's all muscle, and close on to a couple of decades of sailing and karate means that I'm not a 9 stone wimp anymore. I'm now closer to an 11 stone wimp. But get into it I did, and was acutely reminded of just how little stretch there was in 5mm thick neoprene.
I left Dad nattering on the bank to one of the local liveaboards from a couple of moorings up who had wondered over to see what was going on, and slipped into the water at the aft of our boat. It was about chest deep, as expected, and the wetsuit did it's job nicely. I could just about reach the prop and shaft, with my face up pressed cheek to the hull, nose just above the waterline. It was far from comfortable
I dived down. The visibility was horrid and the first attempt achieved little more than to orientate myself. Back up on the surface Simon, our new neighbour, lent me a waterproof head torch, but it didn't help much with the visibility. I took the GoPro down to try and get a picture of what was going on, but gave up on that. Again, visibility.
Another dive; with my face close to the prop, rope cutter and cutlass bearing, I could make out dim shapes. I prodded around the mechanisms, careful not to cut myself too much on the serrated rope-cutter blades, and found that the fixed back plate to the rope cutter was loose and rattling. Resurfacing, both Dad and Simon confirmed they could hear it too from above the water when I moved it.
The reason for picking an overnight mooring below Rea Bridge to do this was two-fold. Dad's house, and therefore his shower, was a ten minute walk from the boat from here. And Sellars Bridge, and the Pilot Inn, was a mere half an hour walk down the canal tow path in the other direction, and a friend was playing there on Saturday night.
Sunday 16th April: Rea Bridge to Sharpness
(11.6 miles, 3 hours 31 minutes underway)
Monday 17th April: Sharpness to Portishead
(20.1 miles, 4 hours 45 minutes underway)
We cast off at 0945 as Drait and her escort slipped past us and into the lock. The tide still had a bit of bite in it, so we turned into the flow and hugged the bank as we punched back against the last of the flood. Behind us, Noss Packet, Mistra and Mary-L pulled out of the harbour to follow.
Then maybe we can go back to being a sail boat.