42. Party like it’s 1539

I think there will be (at least) two posts in the next 24 hours, or maybe one very long one. I can’t start on the race before telling you about the week before. You may surmise from the title of this post that it was busy. John and I returned from our first aid course (details in a future blog?) on Bank Holiday Monday 26th. From then on, he was reporting to his boat Unicef every day but returning back at night. George was mostly on the Qingdao boat but we saw him occasionally. On Wednesday all crew had to go and register and hand over their passports (no changing your minds!) and I too had an exciting event, my Yamaha electric piano was delivered. I’ve not had a real chance to take up my lessons but I’m hoping this week things will calm down.

That evening was the Qingdao party to which their supporters were invited so of course I went along. George (as social secretary) had organised it at the Medieval Banquet in SKD. You have to get into the spirit of these things and our party of 31 certainly did that, including Skipper Chris.

More of our party

The next day John’s brother and mother arrived for a few days to see OBB off and that afternoon John’s two daughters and some of their offspring came over. A lot of energy was expended and presents exchanged: I have a lovely Pandora bracelet with a globe and J on it, with plans to add relevant charms as I go around the world so I have a permanent reminder. OBB were given St Christopher medals to keep them safe: they’ll not wear them due to the risk of getting caught up in the rigging so they will be stored in the bags. They were also given waterproof monoculars with a range finder and compass to help them on their voyages. And finally I was able to hand over some of the hats!

George and the 3 F’s

This is the unique range of two-tone beanies as they weren’t sure whether to support Grandad or Uncle George. They have already been spotted and recognised around the fanzone (now dismantled for Portimao) and were interviewed on the Spectator Boat on 1st September. Fame at such a young age! The Qingdao team have really taken the beanies to heart, and many of them are unique as Rhiannon (the AQP) commissioned them from her grandmother, who is much more inventive than me. I’m hoping to get a team picture of them all.

Friday was the official Clipper party and John’s other son joined us there, so we’ve had the whole family come to see us. This was a drinks party for all crew and supporters, the loud band made chatting difficult but we did manage to make a lot of new friends that we’ll be seeing over the next year. Some people got into the swing of this too, I’m only sorry that Steve below was not assigned to GoToBermuda (not Go Bermuda as I’ve been saying, sorry) as he seems dressed appropriately.

Flamingo Pink shorts suit

Saturday morning we had our own personal Supporters party, a more sober affair, at the Moretown Belle just behind SKD. Ruth (Charles) gave us some information about the start day: the order in which they’d be leaving SKD (Punte del Este then Qingdao with Unicef last). If we were on a spectator boat we had to make sure we were the correct side of the bridge or we’d miss them. Southend Pier would be a great place to see the actual race start as that would be the start line. The Musto supporters kit should be available soon (but they’ve missed a great opportunity, so many people wanted to support their team at SKD that unofficial kits were made available by team members on most of the boats. George bought me a Qingdao tee-shirt which I’m sure will appear sometime soon in the blog).

Then Saturday night John’s son came over for supper to see his gran and we didn’t get to bed till midnight. I found out later that one of our visitors has left a fetching pink baseball hat: if it’s not reclaimed it may go around the different ports and feature in future blog posts. You’ll notice that I found time to get my hair cut as well, in SKD as I was wandering around. The lass who cut my hair lives five minutes from our flat so I could have asked her to do it on her way to work and saved myself a journey!

Sunday 1st September and the start of the journey: that’s the next blog post.

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