101. Life in an alternative universe

In a parallel reality:

Here we are in Derry / Londonderry at the Derry City Hotel https://www.guestreservations.com/the-city-hotel-derry/booking?msclkid=48ecf35c46f2116bed32ac7c0f24ba68. I flew from Southend, where I started so long ago, bringing the year almost to its finish and completing the circle. I arrived on Wednesday 22nd July, the day before the arrival window for the fleet, having waved them off from Bermuda on 9th July, feeling thankful that this was the last long-haul flight and that they would soon be in home waters. What a great time we had in Hamilton: sun, sea and blue skies, not to mention the cocktails and barbeques. A bit pricy though. Will my tan (and Vitamin D) last the winter to my next trip abroad in summer 2021?

Out of my room window I can see the marina where the boats will be moored, https://www.foyleport.com/book-a-berth. All of John’s immediate family (except one nephew who moved to NZ with his family a couple of years ago) are here, plus two of George’s Godparents, Keith and Fiona, who joined us in Cape Town (see Blog Posts 57 to 59, November 2019). They were also in Seattle this April, with lots of other friends, for OBB’s birthdays, but oddly enough I don’t have any records (or memories) of that trip. Val, George’s other Godmother, who was in Airlie Beach with me (see Blog Posts 66 and 67 from January 2020), is at a big family wedding.

I’ve been frantically stockpiling wristbands and knitting beanies these last six months so that everyone has one to wear (or wave, depending on the weather) as Qingdao and Unicef sail into harbour. This is the link Clipper posted from 2018 to whet our appetites, so we knew what to look forward to. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/100-days-until-foyle-maritime-festival.

And here the 28 of us are, are on the headland watching the red Chinese dragon (Qingdao) and the big blue boat (Unicef) battle it out for first place. What do you mean, there’s no headland? In my universe there is. I’ve redrawn the map! There’s a great atmosphere as the Foyle Maritime Festival is on, so many things to see and do https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF3PCI67n3s. The next generation down, John’s seven grandchildren and their cousins, are learning all about boats and sailing. They’ve been on both Qingdao and Unicef with their crew members and had a go at winding the winches and other technical stuff.

At prize giving on Tuesday 28th July we were all there in our red and blue outfits cheering OBB to the rooftops. At the finish it was Unicef first, Qingdao seconds behind in second place and IYK third a couple of hours later. We’ll send them off to the Royal Albert Dock on Sunday 2nd August, the day before JD and I would celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. I’m flying back to Southend, then waiting a week for the finale.

On Thursday night (30th) we had a fantastic (literally) family barbecue at the Beech Hill Country House Hotel. https://www.beech-hill.com/. I found all the organising very easy, thanks to JD’s nephew Nick and his wife Sue, who run a company called Meeting and Events, thoroughly recommended for an easy way of organising your next event. https://www.meetingsandevents.co.uk/.

Even though this is the penultimate stop before London on August 8, the last Race (2017-18) was not decided at this stage, with three possible contenders vying for the trophy. Where are we in this iteration of the Race? We can only use the results to race 9 (of 15 in total) so I’m extrapolating these, and maybe using a little of my own discretion in awarding points. See Post 61 dated 26th November 2019 where Punta del Este were awarded nine points redress for being crashed into, but Unicef had no redress for diverting to Durban and saving a life (yes, it still rankles). Applying the same rules, I calculate that Unicef should have had eight points instead of the three they actually were awarded. However, even with this adjustment, they are still lying fifth at the end of race 9, with 63 points (see Blog Post 82 dated 23rd March 2020 for the real results), nine points ahead of IYK.

Now for the exciting part: awarding points for the missing races. I’ve decided we’re having no more Scoring Gates or Ocean Sprints as I’ve not got the patience to work these out for each race. To start, only the top three have played their Joker in the first nine races. Qingdao came first, HLB second and PdE 6th in their Joker races. Now, everyone has played their Joker and everyone has had at least one podium finish. I’ve tried to let everyone achieve the positions they were showing: some were improving and some were languishing. Using some very dubious maths, and bearing in mind there are only six races left for eight Jokers to be played, I have allocated the following total points at this prize giving: Qingdao still in the (unassailable) lead with 140 points. Unicef second with 119 points. HLB third with 117 points. IYK fourth with 108 points. Sanya fifth with 106 points. PdE sixth with 98 points. DTL seventh with 86 points. GTB eight with 77 points. WTC ninth with 72 points. Seattle tenth with 68 points. Zhuhai eleventh with 66 points. With one race left before the Trophy is lifted, it has to be Qingdao up there, but who will be second? Only HLB can stop Unicef being second, and that’s assuming Unicef come last, HLB come first then there’s a tie between them. No, OBB will be first and second in London on 8th August. I’m looking forward to the celebrations already.

Meanwhile, in our universe:

There was no Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony on 24 July. We are not enthralled by obscure sports most of us only see once every four years (artistic swimming, fencing, canoe slalom etc). We now have the wearing of masks in UK shops and everywhere else where you might meet strangers. The BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, which I make a point of listening to if I’ve not managed to get a ticket, are broadcasting old concerts. https://www.bbc.co.uk/proms. They are hoping to have a few live concerts towards the end, but most likely with no audience.

Going back to Post 100, I have a new pretty “champagne” top, from Hattingley Valley vineyard in Hampshire. https://hattingleyvalley.com/

Last week I had a bit of a disaster. I’d bought a lovely neon Cocktail sign to hang in the bar when it was open. I took it out of the box to show people and gauge the response (how tasteless and tacky was it really?). As, apparently, is my habit, I left it on the edge of the worktop. Blind Captain Catt jumped up, caught it and brought it crashing to the ground. Ah well, I’ve found another and it’s on order.

I’ve not routinely been showing the jigsaws I’ve finished as I don’t think I have any Jigsaw Appreciation Society followers: shout if I’m depriving you and I’ll do a special blog post just on my jigsaws. (There’s a threat). https://www.jigsaw-puzzle-club.co.uk/ We did eat our First (Cherry) Tomato this week though! I was so greedy I forgot to photograph this epic moment.

Neglected mint

If you’ve read my Blog Post 97 dated 28th June (2020) you will realise that my gardening style (? insert a more suitable word if you think style is overdoing it) is of the “Take no prisoners” / Red Queen’s “off with their heads” variety. Today I’ve given a severe haircut to the mint that was hiding a little path and also killing the lawn underneath.

Trimmed (?) mint

Tonight, we’re due to go to a restaurant: with the reports of Covid-19 increasing and further restrictions, it may be our last for a while. In case you’re wondering what the random pictures are in this Post, I couldn’t bear to use old Clipper photos in my imaginary world, you’ll surely have worked out these are of the sculptures I saw last week at Sculpture by the Lakes.

Pre ingestion