Tuesday, 19 January 2021

first signs


Spring has sprung. Noticed the first daffodils beginning to push through on my way into the office this morning. Weather has warmed up since last week, currently around 10c. I guess we're currently in the warm sector of a frontal system that'll push itself over the country over the next few days with the storm that's forecast.

Apparently the Met Office have named this one Christoph. Hopefully Christoph won't blow the garden fence back down that I've only just screwed back together and put back up after Bella had her fun with it a over Christmas.

I'm not sure I particularly like the Met Office affection of naming the various storms that hit us as if they were new born babes. In any case, Christoph sounds like a jerk. The weather's forecast to turn icy again by the weekend, so at least if he does knock the fence back down the swamp that is currently by back garden should be fairly solid to walk on if I have to go out there and put it back up again. 

And it's not as if I have any other plans.

In other news, whilst I might be unimpressed with the modern affection of naming storms, modern technology never ceases to amaze me. Nik told mentioned a couple of nights ago that the oven had ceased to warm up. I'm guessing the heating element has gone; it did this before some years ago.

However, to replace it, I've got a) remember to look for a replacement online and b) remember to make a note of the make and model of the oven so that I know what I'm looking for. Yesterday I forgot. So today Nik rang me to remind me. At which point we deduced that neither of us could remember the make and model of the oven and neither of us were home to check.

It needs to be fixed, but I can't say it's a huge priority for me. Most of the cooking I do is done on the hob. The call ended with a dissatisfied "Guess one of us will have to check when we get home" and the underlying, unspoken threat that I'd be cooking tea for the foreseeable until I got it sorted.

However, Dad and I refitted the kitchen back in 2014, which was when we replaced the oven. And I have a habit of taking photos of everything. 

So I went onto my Google Photos and typed "oven" into the search bar. And there it pops up, my oven, shiny and new in the showroom on the day I decided that was the one.

That has to be the singularly most boring photo I've ever posted up here. But from that, I was able to zoom in and sharpen the image on the label sat on the hob, and having then identified that it was Kenwood CK305 (which I don't recommend, by the way) it was a simple matter to source and purchase a replacement heating element for the oven which, if all goes to plan, should be with me by tomorrow.

Clever thing this technology stuff.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Dry January


I should've sailed New Year's Day. I've done so every other New Year for countless years now at Frampton, or if I've not it's either been because the lake has frozen over, or I was dumb enough to win the previous year's race and so was stuck with Race Officer duty for the year following.

But of course I'm now at South Cerney rather than Frampton, and South Cerney don't race on New Year's Day. We did have a race on the Monday following Boxing Day and that was fun. It involved a drive through the snow to get to the Club; I'd mean to race the Albacore with Amanda, but she rang to say she'd been snowed in and couldn't make it, so instead I cracked the ice off the Laser's boat cover and massaged life back into the frozen up lines and raced that instead.

I had meant to go play by myself New Years Day, race or no, but when the morning came around, the weather was so dank and dismal, without even the redemption of a breeze that, having glanced briefly out of the bedroom window, I rolled back over and slept off the excesses of the night before for a couple more hours instead.

I'm not proud of myself.

And shortly thereafter, of course, we went into a new lockdown. Or at least a lockdown-lite. We're still allowed to go to work if we can't work from home, and the definition of essential shops that are allowed to remain open is pretty broad, but we're not allowed out to play. And certainly not out to sail.

The one saving grace is that the weather has remained dull and boring. Actually, that's not true. We did have a freezing fog in the first week of the new year, which was atmospheric if not especially pleasant, but not the sort of weather than makes you wish you were out on the water. 

But freezing fog or no, with no boats to play with, no gigs and no karate, the weeks and weekends are kind of blending in to each other. Although I do still have work, and work is staying busy, which provides a demarcation of sorts, and for that I'm grateful.

Otherwise, my only real distraction other than work and walking the dogs has been the piano, which I've spent a fair amount of time at since Christmas. Possibly to the despair of my wife and, perhaps, next door. 

I've been struggling over the notes of Chopin's Prelude in E Minor and Beethoven's Für Elise, which of course has involved an awful lot of clumsy repetition. Both are, slowly, getting there, a progress which I've found very satisfying. But both have still a long way to go.

That said, a week ago last Wednesday was our 25th anniversary, so I guess Nik must've built up a tolerance to me by now. And whilst I don't actually know if next door can hear my piano through the walls of our semi-detached, I do try to be careful with the volume and constrain my practice to daytime at weekends and early evenings during the week.

Of course, it being an electric piano, I could always plug a pair of headphones in. But nobody's asked me to yet, and so until somebody finally feels driven to mention it, I'm going to not think of that.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Laser: selfie sticks

I'm not especially big on "selfies". Just the term itself makes me cringe a little inside, and besides which, there are far prettier things to be pointing my camera at that my ugly mug.

But, it has to be said, the boom of my Laser does make for an absolutely splendid "selfie stick".

It was, at times, quite lively out on the water today. The weather is, I guess, the tale end of some very heavy wind that came through on Friday and Saturday. 

The 2020 racing season, such as it was, finished at South Cerney last Sunday, but as there were a few of us out on the water, we entertained ourselves with a series of single lap sprints across a windward / leeward course. Lots of starting practice, and if things went too wrong, not so long to wait until you could reset and try again.

I think I won as many as I lost. It has to be said though that some I lost particularly badly, and I failed to even make the start for a couple of them. But it was just for fun.

And it was good to be out on the water. There is actually a final race scheduled for the Monday after Christmas, and I shall certainly be there, hopefully with Amanda and the Albacore. However, I might try and sneak down again for a play on Boxing Day, unless the weather is especially dull.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

attention seeking

Yesterday evening. If dogs could talk, I think she'd be saying leave the damned guitars alone and pay some attention to me please. 

It's not as if she doesn't get plenty of attention. But attention seeking is their speciality. I don't know who they get it from.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Laser: dunked and recovered


I found the clip around the photo in the previous post was too amusing not to actually post up here for posterity. The sun was bright on Saturday, but the water was definitely a bit chilly.

I'm really very happy with the new GoPro. Given that most of my photos are, these days, taken on my phone simply because it's always in my pocket, I suspect that will continue. But the GoPro has a 20mb sensor, and it's pretty simple to extract stills from any interesting clips. I'm going to have fun with it, I think.

After Saturday's playing around, I had a great morning's racing on Sunday. The Albacore's jib halyard is currently broken and the forecast was blustery, so I put the radial on the Laser and took that out. 

When I first got to the lake in the morning it was still pretty quite; it felt a bit silly rigging the smaller sail and I found myself wishing I'd brought the larger standard sail with me. But it picked up as we were about to launch, just as forecast, and I soon found myself grateful I'd deprived myself of the choice and left the bigger sail at home.

I am definitely not in shape. I was also overdressed; having got quite chilled the day before I put some extra layers on, including a waterproof and a thermal spray top over my wetsuit, but whilst I therefore kept quite warm, moving with all that bulk was exhausting.

And the Laser really does demand you keep moving.

Pleased with the results however. A 6th place in the first race, which I guess is respectable enough, and a 2nd place in the second one. I actually had a much worse start in the second race, but got lucky when there was a bit of a pileup at the leeward mark amongst the leading boats in the second half, which let me close the gap and slip through.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

Making a splash


I have a new toy. Finally gave in and got myself a GoPro as an early Christmas present. I know you're supposed to buy Christmas presents for other people, but, well, you know how it is. Took it out on the lake this morning, and am entertaining myself by watching through the hour of footage it captured.

Some bits are more entertaining than others.

House of the Rising Sun


I've had a very enjoyable Saturday morning blasting about the lake with my Laser. No racing, no agenda, nothing organised, just took the chance of a spot of nice weather and a bit of free time; Nikki asked me to drop her and her mum off in town to do a bit of Christmas shopping, so I figured if she was going out I wouldn't be missed.

I'll be racing tomorrow morning as usual, so let's hope I haven't worn myself out today.

Before I left for the lake this morning though, I had a very pleasant twenty minutes or so with my morning cup of tea and the piano. I've never tried accompanying myself on the piano before, but I obviously knew the chords to this one as Mum taught be to play it on the guitar when I was about six, so I thought why not? 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Geneva: in conclusion


And so in summary, two weeks of harbour hopping across Greece reduced down to a few simple metrics. Even with the photos now posted, without accompanying dialogue I guess it loses some of the poetry of the trip. But I think over a month on now, I have to accept I've missed the opportunity to properly write it up.

I've noticed that's a frequent theme on this site, following any protracted length of time away. I should learn to journal these things as I go; I often spend too much time running around on my return having to make up for the time I've spent away to actually have the time to properly describe where I've been and what I've been up to. And that's an opportunity lost.

So Dad and I flew to Greece where we met our friend Mark, who had been kicking around enjoying his retirement aboard "Geneva", a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389 he'd had on charter for most of the summer. We pottered around in the Ionian for a few days until another friend Vernon joined us, then met up with a fleet of five other yachts led by Rich, the guy who had organised the Athens trip. 

We then spent the next ten days sailing east roughly in the direction of Athens, stopping at various harbours each night, sometimes together, sometimes on our own, transited the Corinth Canal in convoy and finally delivered the boats to Athens.

The weather was amazing. We swum most days, and drank every night. Made good friends, sailed beneath the mountains and sky with them, and did our level best to drink each other under the table when the sailing was done.

Actually, on that last point I do exaggerate. But only a little.

And so, reduced to the final bones, in summary:

14 nights aboard
11 harbours visited
5 bays swum (10/12 updated - I'd overlooked Parga)
1 bridge passed
2 canals transited
426.94 nm sailed
82 hours 48 minutes underway
1662 photographs taken