Monday 26 February 2024

happily inconsequential

A good weekend. Took Lottie out for a walk around the park as usual after work Friday but with no other plans for the evening, had a lazy night. Saturday morning had the usual hour of karate, didn't hurt anybody, didn't get hurt. Saturday afternoon took Nik and Lottie out to lunch at one of our favourite pubs.

Saturday evening had a gig, our third of the year and what actually felt like our first in a while. 50th birthday party, went down a storm with an absolutely lovely, mad crowd. Funny how we seem to have grown into our demographic. Only took thirty years.

During training earlier that morning, I distinctly remember thinking whilst warming up with the usual stretches how lovely it was that nothing currently hurt. Back good, shoulders good, knees good, elbows good, ankles good, hips good. These days it feels like a happy bonus to get all six in a row.

About half an hour before we were about to go on Saturday evening, my lower back began to hurt. It got progressively worse through the evening. Nothing crippling, just slowing and annoyingly inconvenient. The band were very kind in looking after me and carrying out all the heavy stuff at the end of the evening.

Sunday morning I got up early and headed to the lake to meet Amanda. We cracked ice off the covers and rigged the Albacore to race. A fleet of ten boats, two races, we sailed a total of 7.5nm around the cans over the next couple of hours.

First race, a pursuit, was a bit grim. We finished an ignominious second from last. The wind was a fresh 10 knots from the south east, building across the course of the race. By the start of the second race, a general handicap, it was blowing 13 knots with some tasty gusts blowing through; we clocked our highest speed at 9.8 knots.

The wind direction forced a reaching start, with the wind blowing down the start line, as at this time of year all the racing is run from the committee hut ashore. With the sacrifice of fine control and the inevitable confusion over rights, such always makes for some amusement. 

We intentionally started at the leeward end of the line, clear of everybody else, relying on our faster boat speed to push out and past the rest of the fleet, who were bunched up on each other to the windward end of the line. It paid off, and we made it first to the windward mark, just on the inside of the single Solo that had managed to keep us company, the rest of the fleet coming up on the mark rounding in a single, chaotic lump.

The good start paid dividend, and we redeemed the disgrace of our first race result with a clear win in the second. 

The sailing done, and my back loosening up nicely, I headed home to pick up a guitar and then out to Cheltenham with Dad and Nikki for an open mic at the Cotswold. Caught up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, played a few songs with a few friends, new and old. Drank a few too many beers and generally had a lovely evening. 

It was an early start, so a relatively early finish to the evening, so Nik and I were home again in time to order a Chinese for supper, and finished the day with me unintentionally falling asleep in my chair watching Spooks.

So, all in all, a happy sequence of inconsequential events; a good weekend.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

a quality of light

One of the (dubious) advantages of the short days around this time of the year is that by the time I finish work and get a chance to take Lottie over the park, it's dusk. One of my favourite times of the day at any time of the year, for the quality of the light, and every once in a while we're graced by a pretty sunset. 

Such as was the other evening.

Went down to Plymouth after work on Friday evening to spend the night aboard Petrella with Nikki and Lottie. Couldn't really sail anywhere as had to be at Heathrow for 0700 Sunday morning to pick up my brother from the airport. £12.50 to take my car into the London low emissions zone, that has crept out now to include the airport. £5.00 to the airport for the privilege of driving into their drop-off zone to grab my brother from where he was waiting on the pavement outside the terminal.

It's nice to have Jamie back, and I owe him more than one airport run, but forgive me if I feel a little robbed. Both of these tolls had to be paid online as well, so as well as robbed, inconvenienced, by having to track down the appropriate sites online where I could pay the relevant levies and having to remember to do it.

Our first gig in what feels like an age is next Saturday. Racing at on the lake with Amanda Sunday, which will be a nice change as I haven't made it to the sailing club since early December. Two gigs the following Friday and Saturday, and then I plan to head down to Plymouth again on the Sunday to check on Petrella. Whether that will be a chance to sail, or just more odd jobs and maintenance, I don't know.

Our next planned trip is, hopefully, an overnight out and back to Fowey in mid-March, the weekend following Cheltenham Race Week.

Conscious I've been relying on friends to assist on all the occasions I've so far taken her out, and friends are always welcome, but really I think we need get over that and Dad and I take her out ourselves at some point. It won't get easier unless we actually do it.

This last weekend a friend wrote

To life.  

And pushing as hard as you can as long as you can and being grateful for whatever moments of peace you find.

A sentiment I adore, so I'm quoting it here for no other reason than that. Thank you, Webb.

Monday 12 February 2024


I'd be lying if I said I didn't have fun Saturday. 

If I resented the weekend's commitments interfering with my ambitions to go sailing, I was able to salve said resentment by shooting the kids with a bow and very padded arrows in a game they called "dodge-ball archery", and barging them off their feet whilst wearing an inflatable rubber sphere in a game apparently called "bubble football".

I've never been very good at football, but of (semi) contact sport I have had some small experience over the last decade or two. And in bubble football, it seems the trick is very definitely to play the man, and not the ball.

I even scored a goal.

Thursday 8 February 2024

ebb tide

I had planned to sail weekend of the 16th. I can't this coming weekend due to family commitments; eldest boy is getting married end of March and what used to be a stag night for him or a hen night for her is now an entire damned weekend. Entitled yoof, is all I have to say to that.

But I am expected to attend. In Ben's defence, his stag (it can, for reasons above, no longer be accurately called a stag night these days) is only the Saturday, albeit the whole day and night that follows. However, I still need to provide transport for my wife and daughter to wherever the bride-to-be is having her hen. A barn in Chew Magna somewhere apparently. For the whole weekend.

So no sailing for me this weekend. If I sound bitter, I'm not really. The kids are only going to get married the once. Or so we hope, anyway. And Ben being Ben, they've been mostly self contained about it, so it's had minimal impact on me so far.

So I had thought to take the following weekend out with the boat. Head over to Fowey and back for the weekend, weather permitting. I've missed Fowey.

However, my brother's recent holiday to visit his wife's family in Indonesia was unexpectedly extended, as poor Arya's mum was taken very poorly whilst they were out there, and remains so. So Jamie arrives home on the morning of Sunday 18th, and will need somebody to pick him up from the airport. Dad wants to do it, but wants some help with the driving.

So no sailing away to Cornwall for me that weekend, either.

If I sound bitter, I'm really, really not. Transport to and from airports is something that's more than in the gift of a brother to ask and expect, and he'd do it, and has done it, for me in a shot. I'll be glad to have him home, and really feel for his wife Arya, her poor mum and all their extended family. I'm not sure if Arya's coming back with him on the 18th or not.

So it's a small thing set against the greater trials of life and pressures of family.

But I am really missing the sea. I want to sail, but it feels at the moment like every chance to do so is vexed.

Lottie and I went for a walk on Brean Sands last weekend. We did see the sea, but only in brief. The tide was on the ebb, and in the Bristol Channel, that makes for a fast retreat.