Post 135. At The Drop of A Hat

An interesting video I’ve just found of the Clipper “restart ready” publicity. There’s quite a bit of Unicef footage: if you look at the background around 45 seconds where Sandra and Danny are preparing food, you’ll see a very familiar face! If you watch right to the end, there’s a good graphic of the route home.

Here they are setting off for Race 10 to Seattle on March 24th, I’m not sure why some are heading in a different direction.

At the start of Race 10

And Commo’s blog, number 141 (he’s beating me. But he’s now at sea for 5 weeks or so, haha!) has a lovely photo of JD, if you’re interested. Commo started his blog in May 2018 so six months before me. I’ll catch him up. Not that I’m competitive.

Barely two days into Race 10, Unicef went into Stealth. Not for 24 hours, as in the first half of the race, but for 48 hours. I’m not sure if this will apply to all the races home, I guess we’ll find out in May when Race 11 goes. Meanwhile, purely out of loyalty, you understand, I also went into hiding. Not my choice I’m afraid. A few days before, I was one of the lucky people invited to Barry’s Birthday Bash at the Barrington Boar. A lovely evening in a lovely pub for nine of us. Unfortunately, the chap I sat next to throughout the meal developed Covid a couple of days later and I did the same a couple of days after that. Although England no longer insists we have to isolate I thought it sensible to protect other people, especially our decorators who were off on holiday at the end of the week. I don’t want to upset them.

Thankfully, before coming down with a communicable disease, I ordered a few items for home, including a Bluetooth-enabled side table! It came complete with everything needed to put it together, apart from the fact that the spanner supplied was too large. Luckily our house has every size of spanner (and screwdriver, screw, nail, lawnmower, ladder etc etc) known to man. If only I can find them.

Unicef win by a nose

But most importantly, the first points of the race have been awarded, for the Scoring Gate, and Unicef got there first! Three points, followed by two for GoToBermuda (GTB) and one for WTC Logistics. Unfortunately, the Joker doesn’t double these points, but nevertheless it’s a grand start. There’s now less than 3000 nm to go for Unicef, of the 6100 that they started with. (That’s Nautical Miles, not nanograms, as I automatically see). As they’ve taken two weeks to get this far, they need good winds to arrive in the expected window (14th to 19th April, now amended to 19th to 21st). As you know, I’m not off to Seattle due to other commitments, but you’ll be relieved to know that the banner is going! I’ve asked for a picture of it so hope that you’ll see it next time.

Not so grand is Qingdao. On 2nd April, just over a week after the race started, they had to head to Yokohama for an unscheduled stop to have repairs to their running backstay. I could try and explain what a running backstay is, but I’m not sure you’d be any the wiser. In exceedingly basic terms, I think it’s a rope that supports the mast and moves as the sail swings round. You use block and tackles to alter the shape of the sail to catch the best wind. I hope I’ve got that right. Corrections in the comments section please (in words of one syllable that I can understand). Here’s a real explanation:

Backstays to the Future

And if that’s not good enough, here are some diagrams:

Now that we’ve got that clear in our heads, back to Qingdao in Yokohama. They arrived on 5th April and hope to set off on 11th with a nice new running backstay. As they did not have the foresight to get Japanese visas before they joined the boat in Subic Bay, the crew were confined to the marina for the week so no sightseeing. I’m sure they managed to sample the local cuisine and beers though.

JD Christmas present

A few Posts back I mentioned Christmas but I’m not sure I showed you two presents we had that might make you smile. They are to be found somewhere in this Post.

More recently, I’ve been out and about doing various interesting (?) things. If you’re in the know, you’ll guess one of them from this photo (as well as the title of this blog post). You might think it’s irrelevant, but it’s not irrelevant, it’s …

A Hippopotamus!

We went to see a Flanders and Swann act at Crazy Coqs (well before I developed Covid). The two chaps doing it (Tim FitzHigham and Duncan Walsh Atkins) are very believable and well worth catching.

After the show we had a chat with them and Duncan practiced his Mandarin on Yangtze! They told us that there are certain songs they feel they can no longer perform. Have some Madeira M’Dear is, in essence, about an older man persuading a younger woman to drink up so he can have his wicked way with her. Even though, in the original act, Michael Flanders says that Donald Swann thinks it’s about cake (as does his eight-year-old nephew), we know otherwise. The other song, which surely no one can take seriously, is A Song of Patriotic Prejudice. It is satire! Yes, it is very rude about other nationalities but it was written in the mid 1950’s when we had no such thing as political correctness. I’ll not give you the links to these two in case it upsets you, but you can easily find them. Instead, how about this one, Tried By The Centre Court, I think it’s safe?

Following on from this erudite evening, I went to a local museum I’d never even heard of. You know I’m a sucker for odd museums (Garden, Fishermen’s, Shipwreck, Australian Powerhouse…) I now bring you (roll of drums please):

How many brushes can you count?

The Brush Museum, part of the Hillbrush factory in Mere, Wiltshire. It’s quite small but in the process of being revamped, with a good café, plus a gift shop with all the brushes you could wish for!

Other specialist museums I’ve enjoyed in the past were the Bakelite and Pencil Museums. The Bakelite one has had to move from the premises we visited, an old mill on the edge of Exmoor. If you know of any old premises that could suit this, in the South West, then please let them know. In the meantime, look at the gallery on their website and be prepared to be blown away by the amount of stuff they have.

The Pencil Museum is in the Lake District, in Derwent. I bet all of you of a certain age had Derwent pencils at school. If you’re like me, you can probably rootle around in your drawers and find some still. I’ve given you the link below, it will be interesting to know how many of you find that you need new pencils now that you look at what they have.

I’ve yet to try the lawnmower one (the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport). Oh no! I’ve made the mistake of looking it up and I’ve just found out that there’s a hat museum in Stockport. Somewhere I don’t think I’ve ever been so here’s my excuse, I could make a weekend of visiting both. Maybe I’ll work my way around the strange (specialist) ones in London first.

My Christmas present (Adie lookalike)

But let’s go back to boats to finish today. The 2019/20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race will actually be the 2019-2022 edition. This is not the slowest circumnavigation, as I mentioned in Blog Post 130 of December 23 last year. In 1885, the Canadian Joshua Slocum is recognised as being the first person to circumnavigate the globe, taking three years. Hmm, maybe this Clipper Race will beat his record. There’s an article about it, from 2002, which (of course) mentions our very own Sir Robin.

And another round the world race I don’t think I’ve come across. Actually, I’m not sure race is the right word as it seems less fraught than Clipper, with some destinations I’d not mind visiting, starting in Antigua. It’s fully supported by the Oyster after care team. The main drawback I can see is that we’d need to buy an Oyster Luxury Yacht first and then learn all about it and gain our Yachtmaster qualifications. Hang on, I might just know someone who did that last year… George, what do you plan to do now you’re qualified? There’s a trip in 2026 that might be worth taking a look at?

What, you want a cocktail as well? I’m not sure I should be doing them, now I’m on my own, as I said last time. Oh, all right, a bottle of fizz can last for a week or more in the ‘fridge. Here is one I made earlier. Take 25 ml gin, 25 ml honey syrup (dissolve honey in hot water 1:3), 15 ml Limoncello and 15 ml lemon juice then dilute to taste with fizz. The official name is Bohemian Gold. I did see another one in the Financial Times magazine a couple of weeks ago, for four people it suggested half a bottle of gin. Don’t think I’ll be making that one any time soon.

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