Sunday, 31 May 2009

Today was a bad day on the water. I disagree with the T shirt and would rather have been in the office. Having spent a week in Portugal sailing in a lagoon with consistent winds and sunshine, with a fantastic instructor on a stable catermaran, we decided that I should put my skills to good use and get out on the Topper. Now, I am still bobbing up and down inside. It is small, driven by only one person and has a daggerboard and bobs from side to side in a manner which is impossible for a boat with two hulls. It also has a very responsive rudder, which resulted in me going round in circles. I totally panicked and froze and was crying and could not think what to do to get myself going again in any direction. It was awful. R was trying really hard to explain ( first from alongside in another boat, then he decided to sit on my boat and help me) but the wind kept changing direction and the boat felt really unstable and I was miserable.

The week previous had been great days on the water! I felt myself moving from unconscious incompetence through conscious incompetence to conscious competence, so you can imagine how depressing it was today to step back into entirely consciousl incompetence. Jackie had faithfull taught me to sail the RNR way, ie by repeating all instructions 3 times and using the proper sailing lingo, like chocks away, tally ho, and so on. R tends to use everyday words like 'turn left' where Jackie, and other proper sailing people, would say 'starboard tack ready about lee ho' or some such drivel. We were staying in Portugal with R's dad and Jackie, his partner, who luckily for us is a good sailor and worked really hard carting us about in her car and shopping and cooking for us hungry sailors. The sailing school was a 15 min drive from their house, and we spent every day there, H had a lesson each day in an Optimist, and on the last day went out on her own and did really well before needing to be rescued when she banged her knee and couldn't sail back in to the school. I know how she felt! A went on the Cat with R, and another little girl we met took a couple of rides with them too. The girls had a go in a canoe with the lovely family we met down there.

Apart from sailing, we weeded the boules pitch and did a few runs to keep limbered up for next events. The girls had some borrowed bikes and the house has a long drive, so that and the weeding kept them amused. It was fun to do so much together, and I really enjoyed the time I took R on the cat to show off my new found helming skills, but shame they didn't translate into Southampton Water. The weather, however, was very Portuguese today, temperatures over 25 all day.

In the garden, we have been eating the fruit of my labours in the way of lettuces, which are something I seem to do very well ( too well, got sick of them last year). Its all looking good, and I am back on the radio in a couple of weeks to tell the listeners of BBCRadio Solent how to garden. Also ate a home grown strawberry. Only 4 ready, and they the size of peas. I can not believe they don't have anyone in the whole of the Solent area better qualified than me to talk gardening.

We flew out with TAP, who come highly recommended, serving child friendly food before they served the adults. No veggie option though. We flew back with Easy Jet, who did board the families first, so we could sit together, and who managed to get the plane from A to B, with a very smooth landing, so not bad. However, Stavros or whatever his name is has clearly upset someone at Gatwick, as we landed on the Tesco car park in Brighton, or it felt like it from the length of bus journey to get to the terminal. I think we did 2 laps of the perimeter fence. It was a late night, but here we are, courtesy of Easy Jet and my bro who picked us up and delivered us to our car on his road before midnight. No flights booked for any more holidays - I know, you are used to us being the jet set in your life! next trip is to Yorkshire to stay in a train.

At Lisbon airport I noticed an older lady with a T shirt with the following slogan:

Was there just an earthquake or did I rock your world?

She was not a svelte lady. It reminded me of a cook in the Camp we did in Croatia with the Bosnian church back in 1998. The food was essentially bread and jam for breakfast and tea, and bread and stew for lunch. Once in 3 weeks I had an egg, and there were sightings of pate. Anyhow, you get the picture with regard to the monotony of the diet. Her T shirt, clearly something she had got from an Aid package sent from UK during the recent war, had the English slogan:

Same shit, different day.

Which we UK volunteers thought funny, and she did too when one of the Bosnians translated it for her. The US volunteers might have found it funny were they not busy with their heads up their own ... sorry, where was I? Croatia. We did not hit it off with the team from Vineyard church somewhere or other, Atlanta maybe, although I have since then met some fantastic Amercian Christians. They didn't really 'get' R's sense of humour, which not many of us do, its a bit dry to say the least, so lost somewhere in the Atlantic.

I was sad to miss the week of Britain's Got Talent, but made it home in time for the final, where I was delighted to see the people I would have voted for if I had managed to find my mobile, won! Isn't is sad or ironic or something that more people voted on BGT than are likely to vote in the European election on Thursday? I mention it to scare you into voting, as in my world people would get their fingers chopped off if they didn't exercise their democratic rights. Which is probably not very democratic, is it? Poor Amanda got the wrong side of my tongue with her 'I don't believe in voting' comment at tea tonight, one of those throwaway comments which brings me out with all my guns blazing ready for a fight. So don't even go there with me, ok? Just vote, spoil your paper if you want to, but don't tell me you can't be bothered. There's some famous saying about bad men winning when good men stand by and do nothing, and frankly, that is where its at, so vote, for anyone you like the sound of. I will wheel out every suffragette and prisoner of conscience in my argument, so just do it, OK? I love going and voting and feel proud to live in a country where I can. Back to BGT, wasn't it interesting to see the diversity of people represented on the programme. I mean, someone from Wales, someone from Scotland, someone from Cyprus pretending to be from Ireland, I was impressed with the diversity, as well as with Diversity! Haha. I think the Queen will like them, more than she would the other lot. Aidan was great, wasn't he, but I was glad it was a troupe who won, as Queenie probably had her fill of dancing solo boys with George last year. I did observe that the finalists only included 3 females, and about 30 or so males, not sure what that says, but an observation I put out there for your own analysis.

In the village in Portugal which we ran through there was a pink house, with a shrine of Mary behind a window, with flowers all around her. In an act of profound cosideration, the window had a blind which was pulled down to avoid the sun shining in the Blessed Virgin's eyes. How nice is that? The houses were a tribute to Ballamorey, with some fab shades of this season's yellows and pinks, oranges and greens, the Portuguese are clearly a fashion following lot, even using their houses to accessorise their outfits. The general feel of the country was something slightly like Bosnia and Cyprus, both of which were very run down and messy in my opinion. Maybe its the whole of southern Europe, where there are no fences, no gutters, no pavements, no anything much but I guess who cares when the sun is shining? The council tax (rates) are about a tenth of what they are in UK, for a house double the size, so there can't be much money around to bother with potholes.

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