71. The Best Laid Schemes

Well, I’m neither man nor mouse but my plans are ganging aft agley. I’ll be missing out on the promised joy but hope not to have the grief and pain promised in Rabbie Burns’ poem To A Mouse. I had been ambivalent about this trip across the three Chinese ports (Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao) with Subic Bay thrown in. As well as a seven week trip and all the preparation that entails, I would be going from temperatures of mid-30s in Subic Bay to just above zero in Qingdao. A normal trip to one zone has required two large bags, what would I need for this?

New (smaller) cabin bag

In preparation I bought a Kindle while flying home as a lot of my weight is books. The day after I arrived home I went to have my fingerprints taken at the Chinese Visa Centre. I found the phrase books I had. I bought a smaller cabin bag so I wouldn’t have to struggle so much (it fits on top of the big case without falling off everywhere). I bought some cotton dresses and trousers that were larger than I needed so that I’d feel cool in the heat of Sanya, having felt way too hot in Australia. I downloaded a VPN and the WeChat app for use in China: for the latter I needed someone who had been using it for over a month to “sponsor” me, luckily I have a Chinese pal who did this. Items that George had ordered arrived so I packed them ready to take. I bought some earrings to compliment my birthday necklace. I ordered Sealskinz socks and a Spinlock bag and Musto gloves that John had asked me to get for him. I received two birthday cards from families for crew members on other boats to take out to Sanya. An email from John and another Unicef crew member asked me to buy more socks so I did that.

Christmas present for John, yet to be seen!

My passport had not come back by the promised date (I paid extra for it to be fast-tracked) so I chased the agents. It was delayed due to Chinese New Year but would be with me the next day. They called me back the next day and said I had been issued with the wrong visa, valid for only 30 days, so I’d need to go back and have my fingerprints taken again. This was arranged for 31st January, still plenty of time before my flight on 7th February.

My birthday necklace plus earrings from London

Then on 28th January the FCO issued advice about travelling to Wuhan and the Hubei province in China. That was OK, I wasn’t going anywhere near the areas highlighted. The following day I woke to the news that BA had suspended flights to China, shortly followed by the FCO saying travel to anywhere in mainland China was not recommended. This was becoming serious. Even if we could get there, would we get out again? I spoke with Sue, who was meant to be travelling with me, and we decided to cancel the whole trip.

I have kept the hotel in Subic Bay for the moment, if the boats land there OBB may need the rooms, even if I don’t manage to get there. We don’t yet know what’s happening with the fleet, they are still on the way to Sanya. With luck by the time I do my next update I’ll be able to tell you. If they don’t go to China, Clipper need to find a port that can take eleven large (ish) yachts at short notice, when cruise ships and other shipping are also trying to divert. They need a port that has sufficient shops to allow the crews to buy enough groceries to take them to Seattle. Zhuhai (close to Hong Kong) is the end of this Leg, so there will be crew members needing to get off and go home, and other crew members wanting to join their boat. If the Hong Kong flights are cancelled then they’ll need an airport that is open and close to wherever the fleet ends up.

If only Unicef had seen this route to Durban!

Meanwhile I’m using the time to empty my in-tray, complete my to-do list and practice the piano. And the Chinese visa? Well, because my passport isn’t British, the visa wouldn’t last for two years so I’ll reapply when I need one. By then I might need to apply for one to live here as well, today is BREXIT DAY! Happy New World everyone and BYE until the next time!

21. We Don’t Need No Education

Before I start on this, I have been reprimanded about my last post. I have to apologise to George, who read my comment “they didn’t sail for the whole week” as meaning they did not sail at all. What I meant to say was they they did not sail every day of the week, but he assures me they did sail on the days that they were meant to. Who’d have children! Dogs are much easier, they don’t pull holes in my English (although they do a wonderful reproachful look as if they’ve not been fed for weeks). As an apology, here he is on Week 3 with some more of the crew.

The title of this post has changed three times as I change what I am going to write about. I started looking for suitable photos, which slowed it down, then I got diverted. Not by Pink Floyd nor education but petitions! I’ve become addicted to watching the numbers go up on the petition that is in the public eye: Revoke Art. 50 and remain in the EU. When I started this morning the numbers were 5,676,423. See below for the update. I’ve looked to see if we the public have lots of options to choose from, like the MPs. I found five others, all along the lines of hear us shout.

I think we are all a little tired of the shenanigans in Parliament at the moment. I liken it to offering the family breakfast. They have all agreed they don’t want no breakfast but they can’t agree what they do want: waffles, croissants, Full English, muesli, porridge, it goes on and on. Meanwhile I’ve prepared the barbie for the Independence Day party we’re having later this afternoon.

Too much choice?

Are all politicians the same now? I don’t know where I’d choose to live if I had to move, most countries “all around the world” (TM Nicholas Parsons, Just A Minute on Radio 4) seem to have problems of one sort or another. I’m beginning to think they have been taken over by those monsters who were running the country in Doctor Who some time ago. From memory they were lizards, but when I checked back they are actually more like maggots. ENOUGH!

This was meant to be a light-hearted escapist blog, free from Brexit and all the woes of the world. I’m off to make a coffee with whipped cream and marshmallows with a sticky cake on the side and calm down. I refuse to sully my intended post with such a rant. At least the pictures should cheer you up. Here’s one from this morning, my orchid is getting on with looking good and not trying to decide what sort of plant it wants to be.

First flower of 2019

Next topic, honest: What those of us not sailing will be doing when the yachts arrive in port and what the sailors will be doing once they arrive before they set sail again. Imagine us waiting, “silent, upon a peak in Darien” looking out across the wild ocean for first sight of the fleet. Before I go, numbers are now 5,685,480. Over 9,000 added in the last half hour.