Friday 30 September 2022

Amore: Gaios and done

I've been abandoned.

Actually, nothing so grim. The original plan was for Amore to take me back to Corfu today, then I'd get a taxi to the airport whilst Mark and Amanda would take the next couple of days to move Amore the last 60 miles down the coast to here final destination of Perveza.

But we woke up this morning to find that tomorrow they'd have 20 knots on the nose and Sunday 40 knots on the shoulder. 

Not fun.

So we sailed the 5 miles back around the island from Lakka to Gaios where they dropped me and my bag on the wharf of the ferry terminal and then they set off directly for Perveza.

Only 30 miles from here, and a nice day for sailing.

Meanwhile I find myself kicking around the little town of Gaios until my ferry departs at 6pm tonight.

Does feel odd to be without boat or any other kind of base for the day. Is a lovely day however, and I have my Kindle and a book to read, so we shall be fine.

Monday 26 September 2022

Amore: Prelude to a night passage


Amore: whether the weather be fine

Landed in Tivat Wednesday evening, met Mark and Amore on the town quay and moved to a nearby marina for the night. Following morning cleared customs to leave Montenegro at 0630 and we were on our way.

Lovely sailing. A bit of motoring to keep the times up, but not much. Wind on our shoulder gave us a fast broad reach all the way down the coast of Albania. Gorgeous sunset, escorted into the night by a pod of dolphins. Mark and I split the night watches into 3 hour shifts, Mark taking the first from 1900 to 2200.

No moon to speak of. The stars were breathtaking. Pretty sunrise with Corfu in sight, more dolphins.

The passage took 32 hours and covered 200 nautical miles.

Now we're just kicking around in the Med, killing time until I fly home on Friday. Tonight we are on a mooring in a small bay near Sivota. We are expecting a lively night, gusts up to 30 knots. We should be sheltered here.

The weather has been a bit unsettled since we got to Greece. It was the right decision to take our chance and go straight away. Hoping the weather clears enough for us to visit Parga tomorrow.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Amore: wind a howling

Tivat. We may well set straight off for Mandraki, Corfu, in the morning.

Feels like we've only just landed. On the plus note, ear infection feels diminished. Again, I'm having to guess what I'm typing because my glasses are in my bag by my bunk. 


Excited  and a  little bit scared.

Longest passage ahead so far.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Amore: Saplunara

Reminding myself of what I'm missing. This snap was taken on Tuesday 23rd August, on a mooring buoy in Saplunara, a bay on the eastern end of the Croatian island of Mljet. I think my head is more there than here at the moment.

A five day course of Amoxicillin doesn't seem to have cleared up an ear infection that's been bugging me for the last couple of weeks. I'm expecting the flight out to Montenegro to be uncomfortable.

Calstar: Portishead to Cardiff

The plan was to meet at Dad's for 0930 Saturday morning and drive down to Portishead. A 1015 arrival on the boat would make for a leisurely prep and plenty of time to stop by the fuel pontoon before out 1200 lock-out. However, Friday night's gig in Bristol made for a late night, and the 0930 meet up turned into 1015, which meant that we didn't get to the boat until just before 1100.

Time and tide, etc.

Saturday 17th September: Portishead to Cardiff
(19.8 miles, 4 hours 47 minutes underway)

Despite the delays in getting to the boat, we were still ready to cast off by 1130, which gave us just enough time to refuel. The fuel pontoon is just outside the lock gate. They were pumping water in from the estuary as we approached to maintain the water level in the harbour, putting about 3 knots of turbulent flow along the pontoon. It made for an easy landing, but once refuelled, Dad accidentally let slip the stern line too early, and Calstar was swept away from the dock leaving me stood there on the pontoon holding onto her bow line.

It was like holding a big dog on a lead. The flow was too strong for me to pull the boat back in by hand, but once Dad had untangled himself from the stern line and got his hands on the tiller and throttle, it was a simple enough matter to nudge the boat back in to pick me up.

The lock felt crowded with powerboats; there was in fact only three other boats for company but one of them was rather large so the lock out was a cosy affair. Saturday's high water for Portishead was at 1215, a relatively small tide of 10.8m, approaching neaps on Monday, so the lock didn't have far to fall, and by 1206 we were disgorged into the awaiting estuary.

The blue sky had a scattering of cloud across it, and the cocoa coloured sea was ruffled but flat. Out past the breakwater there was a slight breeze from the north west, so at 1216 we optimistically turned Calstar into it, hauled up the sails and stilled the engine.

The first twenty minutes were tricky. As if to complement the chaotic eddying of the tide as it churned beneath the headland and through the narrows off Battery Point the inconsistent breeze backed and veered like a dervish. Too shifty to accommodate the autohelm I hand steered the boat, tacking a number of times as I sought to pick a way out from the shadow of Portishead and into clearer air and water. Eventually, out past Woodhill Bay and the sailing club, things calmed down, and Calstar settled on an easy beat down the King Road under full sail with about 15° of heel.

A number of tacks took us down the channel, past Welsh Hook and onto Clevedon, until a final tack onto port put us onto a long fetch that cleared the English and Welsh Grounds and let us lay distant Penarth. Very early on the tide, we still had 6m of water once we reached the far shore, so cut a corner off our rout by cutting over the spoil grounds rather than clearing them to the north as we'd normally do.

North of the still submerged sandbanks Cardiff Grounds, the wind finally failed us, so we rolled the genoa away and started the engine to motor-sail the final mile or so. Locking in to the Barrage was straight forward, and Penarth Marina was welcoming as ever, but originally directed us down a narrow dead end in the dock to a berth that was already occupied. Turning Calstar back around to make our way back out in a channel that was little wider than her own length was a tricky affair.

Redirected to an alternative berth that was indeed vacant but somewhat tight, we overshot a little and grazed our starboard side along the corner of the finger pontoon before I could step onto it to put enough weight onto the boat to fend her off. But no other damage was done; a scuff mark on the gel coat, but nothing that won't rub out.

Sunday 18th September: Cardiff to Portishead
(17.9 miles, 3 hours 53 minutes underway)

Sunday morning's return was an earlier start to catch the tide. We cast off from Penarth a little after 0630, and locked into the Barrage for 0700 in the company of three powerboats full of hopeful anglers looking to bother the autumn's cod. A long drop down to the outer harbour, and then we were on our way, picking our path down the Wrack Channel to open water as the cod botherers accelerated away past us, leaving us bobbing around in their wake.

We found a light breeze blowing off the Welsh shore, so clear of the channel we turned into it to pull the sails out and cut the engine. Settling onto a gentle broad reach as deep as we could go without covering the headsail with the main didn't give us a course that would clear the sandbanks of the English & Welsh Grounds so we poled out the genoa to goose wing the sails and settled on to a training run that let us lay Clevedon some 10 miles distant on the far shore.

It was nice easy sailing, with minimal work from the crew, save to occasionally tweak the course to ensure the main didn't run by the lee and risk a gybe, or to occasionally ease the genoa a little to keep it flying by the lee when the wind backed and took us off the run onto a broad reach. The sea was very slight, the wind with the tide and serried waves of no more than a foot running with us, although as the morning wore on they started to break lightly, suggesting the westerly wind was building as it carried us across the Bristol Channel.

A big car carried heading up to Portbury passed well ahead of us. Sailing into the climbing sun, we passed close by the clear water buoy of EW Grounds to starboard at around 0830, and then the port lateral of E Mid Grounds half an hour later. Approaching the King Road off Clevedon, we hardened up onto a broad reach, releasing the pole to gybe the headsail over to join the main on a port fetch.

The sea was still flat, but the sky by now had clouded over and the breeze was lively. Across the VHF we heard Bristol VTS inform an inbound vessel passing Welsh Hook that they recorded it at 15 knots westerly. As we passed Black Nore Point it caught us up, a large barge being pushed along by a tug, passing us to seaward as, off Woodhill Bay, we rounded up into the wind to drop the sails.

Putting out the lines and fenders as we passed close into Battery Point, we called up the Marina on the VHF early, taking a few attempts to get through as their aerial was at first still obscured behind the headland. But contact made, they held the 1015 lock a few minutes longer for us, and we slipped in to come alongside, the gates sliding shut astern at 1020.

Early on the tide, there was still a five meter climb for the lock to bring us back up to the dock level, but eight minutes later the inner gates yawned open to let us in and we entered the marina, returning a friendly wave to a small boy watching from the side of the lock.

We landed back at our berth without mishap, the fresh wind blowing us directly onto the pontoon made for a relatively hot landing, but Dad judged it perfectly, and no further scuffs were put along Calstar's gel coat.

I feel like this year, for the first time in the eight years we've owned her, we've seriously underused Calstar. Lots of things have got in the way; not least my daughter's wedding, a stupidly busy band diary and two weeks "seeing another boat", as Calstar would put it had she voice, in the Adriatic. We sailed just short of 38 nautical miles this weekend, over just shy of 9 hours out on the water, we some lovely sailing each way, beating into wind on the outbound leg, and running back.

So that's a small way towards remedying our neglect. Of course, I'm about to compound it again, because early Wednesday morning I board a flight out to Tivat, Montenegro, where I'm going to meet up with Mark and Amore again and help sail that "other boat" back to Corfu.

Monday 19 September 2022

Freefall: a little more Friday

A little more Friday night. My brother just sent this over to me. Camera work was my GoPro, along with my dad in the crowd and a mate of ours, Tony. All the patching together was done by my brother, Jay. It's a Coldplay cover, possibly a song I've posted before, I'm not sure. It's something of a favourite.

Freefall & Calstar: weekend

Friday evening, Freefall, The Railway Tavern, Fishponds, Bristol. As I might've mentioned, I don't play favourites with venues. But if I did, this place would be one of my two.

Sunday morning, Calstar, early morning run back to Portishead after sailing over the day before. The weekend was a great gig followed by a great weekend's sailing, beat down, run back. Smooth seas and lovely wind each way.

Friday 16 September 2022

Q is for queue

This just made me giggle; I've copied it from an article I'm currently reading on the Guardian's website. As an ardent republican (in the more global sense of the word, as opposed to the American sense, of course) I've been pretty much avoiding the BBC and most mainstream media for the last week or so. Too many trigger points and, frankly, I've gotten bored of my wife telling me to "stop going on about it".

Although it does occur to me that when we had a King Charles the first time around, it did actually conclude with our briefly becoming a republic. I am, of course, being irreverent, unfairly or otherwise; in any case, I don't think that brief experiment actually ended well for those involved.

Anyway, being British, I guess an article about queuing was bound to snare me. It has to be said, I hate queues, but in the same way that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others (Churchill?), it is fair to say that they are a necessary evil.

Thursday 15 September 2022

new toy

a new tablet arrivedd al th PoSt today.

A Samsung tablet, arguably to replace My dd Saus * feria (that was supposed to read "Sony Xperia" - worked better secand timearound)

Either the handwriting recognition isn't very gooff though, or my handwriting is poor.
I'm trying to write this with the fancy "S Pen" that comes with the tablet, but so for it is something of an exercise in frustration.

Not as frustrating as it is to read though, perhaps ?

Maybe practice will make perfect?

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Amore: Loviste [UPDATED]

A few short weeks ago, at anchor aboard Amore in Loviste, Croatia. A chilled out version of an Oasis song, Wonderwall. Only a few short weeks, and it's been nice being home again, but I'm missing the sea already.

Monday 12 September 2022

Freefall: teenage dirtbag [UPDATED]

By way of a postscript to my previous post: One of the very nice things about playing a venue ten minutes from home is that we're often joined by my brother-in-law, Jim, on keys. James was one of the band's original members, and I guess our inviting him to form a band with us led all those many years ago led to my meeting his sister at a gig a couple of years later.

But the really nice thing about having Jim along for the night is that my young nephew Josh gets to join us  on stage with his guitar for a few songs. 

The following clip (embedded from the band's Facebook page, so hopefully it works) is a cover of "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus from Saturday night, Josh on guitar.

It's tough though. As the front-man of the band, I'm very much used to being the centre of attention. But moments during Saturday night made it quite obvious that this aging rocker can't compete with youthful energy and good looks anymore!

EDIT 16/09: The previous video, embedded from Facebook using their default generated iframe tags, wasn't running on Apple devices so I've manually changed the embedding method to use div tags on the off-chance that this might fix it. However, I'm not particularly optimistic . . .

Freefall: the Pilot Inn

Saturday night's gig was a wonderfully lively affair. Four YouTube clips follow, recorded by my dad on the night from amongst the crowd. If do you click on them, be careful with your volume.

The Pilot Inn is one of my favourite venues, although as a musician you do have to be careful picking favourites. Venues are a bit like one's children in that respect; they're all your favourite and you naturally love them all equally. 

But the Pilot is in many ways special. And only ten minutes down the road from home, which helps.

I wasn't entirely sure how the evening would go, given current events. I'd been booked to play a solo spot in Gloucester earlier in the day but that had been cancelled. But I'd checked, and the Pilot was still a definite go. As were the crowd that turned up on the night.

I love it when they go like this. There's kind of this trigger point at gigs, where the crowd trips from being a thing of observation to an act of participation, where they become a part of the performance, a part of the band. 

And you know then that the night is made.

Albacore: relaunched

Those with a good memory might recall my mentioning that we broke our mast-step back in April. It took until the beginning of July to get it repaired and the Albacore safely back to the Club, but then she has since sat forlorn in her berth, mast down for a couple of months as a busy summer of "stuff" continued to get in the way of a relaunch.

We fixed that on Sunday. The mast went back up with a little bit of bodging but no major mishap in the morning; there was some damage to the mast gate that had gone unnoticed but we temporarily remedied with a nylon ruler, a hacksaw, a bit of epoxy and some gaffa-tape. 

The wind filled in by lunchtime and Amanda and I had a lovely hour and a half of aimlessly bashing around the lake just for the fun of it as the Club had, very annoyingly, cancelled racing this weekend "out of respect".

So some non-racing metrics, just for the fun of it: partially cloudy, 21°C, wind southerly, 8.4 knots. 6.9nm sail over 1 hour and 28 minutes underway, average SOG 4.7 knots, max 8.8 knots. Average heart rate 73bpm, max 90bpm.

Annoyed as I was that racing had been cancelled (I fail to see how doing so was in any way "respectful" but I have been told by my wife Nikki to "stop going on about it" so I shall) I have to admit, it was actually quite nice just being out on the water without any pressure or agenda for a change. And great having the Albacore afloat again.

Thursday 8 September 2022

SCSC: the last hotdog

Wednesday evenings are now over for the year. Well, not the evenings as such, but the racing at the lake that characterises them for me through the summer. From the beginning of April through to the beginning of September, our club runs an unofficial Wednesday evening series called the "Hotdogs", so named because that's what we all eat after the racing's done. 

It's kind of odd that it's not part of the Club's official programme, as it's probably the best attended; we had 26 boats on the start line last night, which is a good turnout by anybody's standard and pretty typical for what the Hotdog attracts. It is a long series, stretching as it does across the late spring, summer and into early autumn. This year that made for 23 separate races, albeit you only needed 8 to qualify.

Unfortunately, I couldn't sail last night as it was my turn to man the safety boat. I'd originally volunteered for the duty last week, but was incapacitated by my foot, so a friend covered for me, and I returned the favour this week. 

It was an easy duty though, sitting in the RIB with my mate Alex for company, watching the the fleet drift around the cans. The evening started out blustery, but the wind, typical for a Wednesday evening, swiftly faded once the racing started. It could even have been a comfortable watch, save for the rain that set in about ten minutes before the end, just as the sun set.

It would have been nice to have sailed the last one, but I'm pleased with how the series went anyway. I won the Laser class trophy again, and this year took 3rd place overall in the Hotdogs general handicap.

Not so sure what I'm going to do with my Wednesday evenings now for the rest of the year, but am meeting Amanda at the Club again on Sunday to finally put the Albacore's mast back up and relaunch her. At the very least, we should manage to get that sorted in time for the afternoon's pursuit race.

Monday 5 September 2022

self portrait

To plagiarise a friend. But I agree that it's so much more an elegant turn of phrase than "selfie", even if the subject matter is not. 

Hoping to get Calstar off her berth the weekend after next. Had considered this weekend, but with a gig on Saturday it would have to be a day-sail on Sunday, and Sunday looks like rain. That's no fun.

So fingers crossed for the weather the following weekend. Just a Friday gig, so could possibly get away to Cardiff and back across the Saturday and Sunday, but in other news, I'm flying out to Montenegro on the 21st for nine days to help Mark move "Amore" back to her home berth in Greece for the winter, so Nikki might take a dim view of me staying away with Dad and Calstar the weekend before I go.

In which case, we'll just take her out of Portishead for a couple of hours sailing across the top of tide.

Friday 2 September 2022

Yacht "Amore" & the Dalmatian Coast

On the evening of Sunday 14th August, my dad, my wife and I landed in Dubrovnik Airport and got a taxi to the quayside of Srebreno where we joined our friend Mark aboard the yacht "Amore". Within twenty minutes of boarding, we'd slipped our lines and were underway, heading towards Sudurad, a village and small bay on the eastern end of the island of Šipan.

As the sun lowered in the sky, we passed under the medieval walls of Dubrovnik's Old Town, nosing into the harbour for a quick look and pausing briefly to watch a water polo match taking place just outside at the foot of the wall.

Over the next thirteen days, we worked our way up through the islands off the coast of the mainland. From Sudurad to Šipanska Luka at the other end of Šipan, via a stop for lunch in Saplunara bay on the eastern tip of Mljet. We then sailed the length of Mljet to stop over at the village of Pomena, then made our way to Vrnik, one a scattering of smaller islands at the eastern end of the island of Korčula where we anchored for the night against a couple of stern lines that I'd swum to shore.

We spent the night moored bow and stern meters from the shore in the small bay of Mostir on the northern side of the island of Šćedro. We ate ashore at a small family restaurant where the menu was basically a choice between meat or fish, either cooked on their open fire grill.

The fish was delicious.

From Šćedro we sailed around the western tip of the island of Hvar to land on the quayside in the town of Stari Grad. The sailing was superb, but we had to sail through heavy rain to the sound track of accompanying thunder and lightning. There were a couple of other days when we had dry lightning storms, but this was the only rain we had in the two weeks we were out there.

From Stari Grad we turned around and made our way back. We mistook a cove at the end of Hvar for another that Mark knew, but were welcomed in by a resident RIB and assisted onto the restraurant's mooring, a sinking line to which me secured fore and aft, that stretched from a pinion on the rocky shore to a massive, submerged concrete block in the centre of the bay. There was a small bar at one end of the bay and at the other end a quiet restaurant called Konoba Mareta, where again we were offered a simple choice of meat or fish, either cooked on the grill of their open fire. 

To pass time until supper however, Nikki, Mark and I took the tender over to the bar, leaving Dad n the boat to read, whilst we sat in the sun sipping our drinks between dips in the sea. After a couple of hours of this peace and quiet, it was disturbed by a succession of RIBs descending upon our solitude, depositing dozens of young holiday-makers. The sudden party atmosphere and distinctly vibrant crowd made for an amusing distraction, mitigated by the fact that after a couple of hours or so they all got back into their RIBs and disappeared again, ferried no doubt to their next party venue, allowing peace to descend once more on ours.

Heading back, we spent the night at anchor in Orebic Bay, eating aboard the boat. If was a fine, fast sail, gybing from broad reach to broad reach, specifically not racing another yacht of a similar size to ours, clearly intent on the same destination. And, despite their having a clear head start, we still won.

The next day we set off back to Pomena on Mljet, dropping anchor for a couple of hours off the island of Badija for a lunchtime swim. The final stretch from there back to Pomena was the last decent sailing of the holiday, as the wind faded completely for the final three days.

Moored stern-to outside the restaurant Konoba Barba Ive there was a bit of a mishap. There was something of a swell pushing into the shelter of the quay, making for a bit of a bumpy mooring. Nikki misjudged the distance between the end of Amore's bathing platform and the quayside, jumped to follow me ashore and mistimed it. She took a nasty fall, cutting up her leg on the concrete and badly bruising the instep of her foot. But thankfully nothing worse. She took it well, we cleaned her up and disinfected the cuts and grazes, and then had supper at the restaurant. 

Afterwards, unable to walk well enough to make it to the bar at the other end of the village, we installed her back aboard the boat and I went with Mark to find her ice-cream.

The following day we motored down the length of Mljet to Saplunara bay. We took a restaurant buoy, and spend the day swimming and paddle-boarding. That evening, Mark retired early, but the restaurant's RIB came out to pickup Dad, Nikki and I and take us ashore for supper.

They had tuna steaks, the size of plates, which I think I've mentioned before. I'm a sucker for anything I haven't tried before, so seeing it on the menu asked for tuna tartare. With the benefit of hindsight, I'd now conclude that tartar is, basically, expensive cat food. I have a flexible palate, so can't say I didn't exactly enjoy it, but it's not an experience I intend to repeat.

From Saplunara, the following day we motored across glassy seas to our penultimate destination of Šipanska Luka, a stop worth repeating for the comfort and hospitality of the beach bar that owns the mooring buoy there. 

That evening, predictably, the wind got back up, so when Nikki, Mark and I took the tender into town for supper, I got a little bit went in the bow of the dinghy acting as spray guard for the other two. Dad asked us to drop him off by the bar and elected to walk around along the flat, concrete waterside path.

We ate at a local restaurant away from the waterside, a cheerful friendly place with cheap wine and cheap food, then Mark, Nikki and I took the tender back to the boat, with me again taking a dousing from the wind-blown chop. Dad elected to walk back around.

Which led to the second mishap of our travels, as he got himself run over in the dark by a cyclist.

Bruised and grazed, but nothing broken. The cyclist was mortified and had stopped to help Dad back up; neither of them had any lights, which was a fooling oversight on our part. By the time I picked Dad back up from the shore by the beach bar, he was stiff and sore, but otherwise fine.

The following morning was Thursday 25th. We cast off early, needing to refuel and in the hope of getting that out of the way and finding some wind for the last leg of our trip, which would take us to Cavtat. Reaching Dubrovnik, we heading up the long, shallow inlet on the north side of the city to refuel at the marina, but heading back out found none of the wind that had been promised, so stopped on the south side of Lokrum island for a compensatory swim.

That evening we reached Cavtat, where we met up with Rob and Barb, Mark's friends and Amore's owners, who took our stern lines as we dropped anchor and reversed onto the town quay. Mark has been out on Amore since the spring, knows the boat backwards and has hundreds of miles and countless hours of experience handling her with both Rob and Barb aboard or his or their friends.

Mark's boat handing is superb. He can turn Amore on a penny, ahead or astern, and over the couple of weeks aboard her, I've watching him manoeuvre her through and out of some very tricky spots without scratch or mishap, hardly breaking a sweat as he did so. Picking up the leading line of the neighbouring boat on our keel in a nasty crosswind when leaving Stari Grad earlier in the week was one such example. He pivoted her around between submerged lines in less than a third of her boat length, unhooked our keel from the leeward line, and then reversed her out, to a round of applause from half a dozen of our erstwhile neighbours, who had come anxiously out onto the bows of their own vessels, fully expecting to have to fend us off. 

Reversing Amore back on her anchor to pass her stern lines to Rob and Barbara however, I could see he was actually nervous. It was kind of cute.

And, obviously, he executed the landing flawlessly.

We had supper in Cavtat with Rob and Barb and their daughters Thursday night, and on Friday left our bags on board whilst they and Mark took Amore out for the day, and Nik, Dad and I caught the bus in to Dubrovnik to explore the Old Town and do some "touristing".

The Old Town is beautiful. The crowds no so much, but everybody was friendly. Away from the sea however, I think Nikki and Dad found the heat a little oppressive, whereas I have to admit, I revelled in it.

This holiday wasn't really about sailing. Luckily, I managed to finesse it so that it involved the sea and a boat, and involving a boat and the sea, it was only natural that Dad accompanied us. But really, this was mainly about having a holiday, and, more to the point, making sure Nikki had a holiday.

As a kid I grew up something of a nomad, as comfortable in an airport lounge as I was in my boarding school's dormitory, a bedroom at my Gran's house for an exeat weekend or, occasionally, my own bedroom during the school holidays. Then we came home just ahead of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, stopped here and I met and married a local girl.

We met at a gig, and our first date was a coach trip late the next evening, taking a ferry across the Channel to one of those hypermarkets in Britany that used to be so popular with us Brits for cheap booze back in the early 90's. Nik didn't actually have a passport, so she spent the day before we left running around with the help of her cousin, who happened to be the then guitarist in my band, trying to arrange a temporary one. Such things were possible back then.

Until this month, she hadn't actually travelled aboard since. I've been abroad a few times with the band, but as a family, for various reasons, we've always holidayed in the UK. As a kid, Nik did have a family holiday once in Portugal, but she was very young and whilst she remembers the huge, delicious sardines, she couldn't remember the flight.

So whilst this recent trip was, in part about the chance to meet up with our good friend Mark and sail a gorgeous yacht in balmy seas, having finally bullied my wife into getting a passport, the most important thing was making sure Nikki had a great time and fell as in love with travel and "overseas" as I've always been.

Late on the evening of Friday 26th August, my dad, my wife and I landed back Bristol Airport, and my brother picked us up to take us home. Both Nik and Dad were definitely hobbling, but everybody was smiling, so I think that by any measure, the holiday was a grand success.

And Nikki has made it very clear that she wants to make more use of her new passport. But has specifically asked if we can go book a hotel next time. I'm not sure I get the idea of spending a week or two lounging around in a hotel, sunny foreign climes or no. But I'll try anything once.

Perhaps I can find one with a beach? And where there's a beach, I reckon there's probably a boat.