144. Over and done with

Did you notice that someone stole the last three and a half months? One minute it’s the end of July and I’m eagerly awaiting the return of the grizzled Jack Tar, the next it’s mid-November. Some people have certainly noticed, I’m getting lots of unsolicited emails offering to improve my blog / website.

I was planning to show you shots of Unicef being presented with their first (and only) First pennant but I was at the back of the crowd and it was all one ceremony for the last race and the overall results so very rushed. I know some of you watched it live on Facebook and saw JD expertly opening the bottle of champagne: one skill not lost during sailing! Here’s the best I could do, you can actually see the champagne being sprayed over the crew. One advantage of holding the bottle, you stay dry.

So here we are in late autumn with dull skies and cooler, darker evenings and a new Prime Minister or two since I last wrote, as well as a change in the monarchy. Good job I’m not writing for a weekly journal, I’d have been sacked by now. I can (and do) blame our internet provider who is STILL causing us intermittent problems, but also, I now know how peaceful my life was and how much spare time I had, when living on my own. It’s non-stop action now. If I ever get more time, I’ll have lots to tell you, although it will probably all be historic.

Seriously, where did autumn go? The first week we spent in London allowing JD to decompress. That didn’t quite work as planned as there were a number of get-togethers with shipmates. The day after getting off the boat we (JD) cooked Sunday lunch for eleven family members who’d come to wave him in. No chickpeas or dehydrated chicken, I’m pleased to say.

At the end of that week, we drove up to Lancashire to catch up with some pals we’ve not seen for a while, who were having a combined birthday, wedding anniversary and house warming party. We stayed in Kirkby Lonsdale, a lovely little town. There were three main attractions (to me, possibly only one official one). A book shop, a jigsaw shop (I’ve never seen one dedicated to jigsaws before) and a view. Not just any old view but Ruskin’s view, the best in the world I think he said. Unfortunately, the path to the view was closed. As I didn’t go into the two shops, we need to return anyway so with luck I’ll get the view then, plus find out what Radical Steps are.

But, I need to wrap up Clipper before it’s (even more) too late. (I noticed this week that Clipper Ventures is for sale, RKJ finally retiring at 83?). All the sailing kit has been packed away. I’d sell your Musto shares before the mountain of second hand, one careful owner, clothing hits the market. The fleet DIDN’T sail into Derry on 11/ 12th July, as I mentioned in Post 142, but I didn’t say why. If you know your history, you’ll have heard of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland but might not know much more than that. On 12th July 1690, King William of Orange was victorious over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, securing a Protestant line of succession to the British Crown. Ever since then there have been the Orange Marches, where Protestants march through a number of Northern Ireland cities and towns. As the general population consists of Catholics as well, you can see that this can lead to conflict, and Derry is maybe one of the most famous. I might give you a potted history another time, but look at this photo and you’ll see the kerbs painted in the Union colours of red white and blue, and a certain contentious hoarding.

But in cheerier news, there was the Maritime Festival, with lots happening and a Neptune effigy (bearing a slight resemblance to a certain Clipper Skipper?).

There are things I do so you don’t have to. Or, if you do, you’ll know what to expect. The reason I didn’t go to Bermuda, nor New York, follows. If you were concerned that JD and I no longer saw eye-to-eye, fear not. (I’m not sure we ever did, thinking about it, and we’re still here!).

Back in Post 135 dated 9th April, I told you I’d had Covid. I thought that was that, been there, got the badge, no need to worry any more. I booked my flights to Bermuda: no need for the hotel reservation, JD had already booked that. Then just as the fleet were re-fuelling at Costa Rica (see Post 138 dated 29th May) I ended up calling 999 and asking for an emergency ambulance. I’d been having odd chest pains on odd nights, waking me up about 2.30 am but going very quickly. Then one day, I had a pain on standing up to go to bed, one at around 2.30 and one at 5 am that didn’t go. I didn’t want our cleaner or decorators to come in and find me dead on the bed. The paramedics were lovely and as there was a trainee, I was getting a good explanation of what they were doing. Taking the ECG proved a little difficult as Polly suddenly decided to comfort me by jumping on my lap and purring loudly. Everything was going well (I thought) until the main man asked which hospital I’d like to be taken to. Umm, do I have to go? Yes. I’ll spare you the rant against the speed with which the NHS works (I had an appointment at the rapid response cardiac unit a mere two weeks later). I was fitted with a Holter monitor (privately): no, not a Haltie, that’s what you put on your dog to stop it pulling. This monitors your heart over a period of time (in my case, six days before it came unstuck). Eventually, I was told I’d had post-Covid pericarditis and there’s a lot of it going round. Nothing to worry about. I guess they’re right as I’m fine now.

I wish I had gone to Bermuda (see the header today for a JD’s eye view), if only to see the odd porcelain they have in their washrooms.

The special Bermuda trousers (see Post 139 dated 13th June) had another outing. Here I am at the Silverstone Grand Prix with Yangtze. Silverstone: great day but the next time I go we’re either camping or using a helicopter. When leaving, we had an hour’s walk to the car then a further three and a quarter hours to get out of the car park. Actually, cancel the camping as even that was a good 40 minute walk to the tents, and what if it had been raining?

Back to the wrap-up. Even though George and Yangtze were not on Qingdao when it arrived in London, they were allowed to take part in the parade as part of the 2019-20 (!) crew. Here they are proudly holding the Trophy. One of the Qingdao supporters found a novel (to me) way of wearing the pin badges that were being given away.

Now I’m back in the mood you might be getting these on a more regular basis, so sign off now if you’ve had enough. Cocktails and events will be the main emphasis I think.

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