Christmas comes but once a year, except for 2020, when the presents just kept arriving! A warning for all of you. If you start a new hobby, do NOT tell people! I can usually expect to receive an interesting bottle of something as a present (see Blog Post 86 dated 7th April 2020 for examples). Not this (last) year, oh no! Not one bottle but LOTS of cocktail implements. Remember Blog Post 111 dated 22nd November, where JD was worried who’d make his cocktails if I went before him? He’s making sure I keep up the hard / good work. Scattered around this Blog Post are pictures of some of my Christmas presents, reflecting not just the cocktails but the other hobbies I have mentioned. One of the non-alcohol related presents was a BIG RED jigsaw, of the planet Mars. As most of our tables are dark wood, this is going to be a double challenge to complete.
Ah, the late Christmas presents (posted once we’d all been told we’d not be able to see each other) did include bottles! Christmas gin, clementine gin and honey-and-raspberry gin. We’ve only tried the first but all sound delicious.
Every year I buy new Christmas decorations for the tree. Luckily, I am a dab hand at breaking them, but we still have way too many. The dining room, where the piano resides, was decorated this year as the music room, if you can see the musical instruments on the light fitting above.
In 2019 I picked up some from Australia which had their first outing. I bought one for 2020. You might have seen all sorts: Santa or Rudolph with a face mask, packs of loo rolls, lots of NHS workers and quite a few with swear words which I cannot reproduce here. I decided that I had to commemorate the year but quietly. I can always ‘accidentally’ drop it if I feel we don’t need reminding in future years.
Over the years the number of Christmas cards received has reduced drastically. I didn’t count them but we did decide on the best, which you can see as the header today. It’s supporting the London Air Ambulance service, which are getting a lot of practice in London with the number of Covid cases rising rapidly.
Oops, there were two errors (at least) in Post 114, only one of which I was picked up on. The Jack Daniel barrels were not beer but whiskey barrels, silly me! Can I blame the fact that at the time we were drinking Wild Beer Dr Todd, aged in Islay whisky barrels? Wild Beer is a brewery (but no pub) staggering distance away from us who make very interesting beers. Not easy sipping but good with different foods. I think they were making a lot for different restaurants before Covid hit.
The second error was wishful thinking for all of us. I said I was listening to the radio on 30th January when obviously I mean 30th December. Not sure if I was going back in time or to the future. Not sure if it actually makes any difference, we are still surrounded by the Invisible Menace, although I hope we’re not still in lockdown at the end of 2021.
We are in our third (I think, lost count) lockdown in England. You’d think as a sovereign island nation we could be better in terms of tracking people coming into the country and ensuring they quarantine. Instead, we seem to rely on the ‘I say old boy, just use your common sense and don’t do anything silly, OK?’ school of thought. We can see how well that’s going, we now have more daily deaths than in the first wave when we didn’t know what had hit us. Other countries are available and seem to be doing better. If this blog reads as though it’s a work of fiction, you are possibly in Perth (Australia, not Scotland) or New Zealand.
In 1989 Francis Fukuyama wrote a book entitled “The End of History and the Last Man”. I’ve not read it but understand it posits that Western liberal democratisation is spreading across the world, thus freedom and peace are more likely and major historical events less likely. Roll on to now and we’ve had the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 followed by violence due to the USA Presidential election result at the beginning of 2021 with five deaths. Twitter and Facebook have locked Donald Trump’s accounts, although he used the account of one of his staff to continue posting. Tribune magazine on 25th March 2020 published an article about Coronavirus. I wonder what they’ll be saying a year on?
Back to the original purpose of this blog. Further boat races have been cancelled or postponed. The race to Alaska sounds like a fun event (second link below). Just to prove that I read things other than Scuttlebutt, the last one is a race I was really looking forward to in London last September as well as this. It sounded well worth hanging out for, both for the sheer numbers passing by the flat plus the outlandish costumes. Maybe next year if not this. It started in 1988 with 61 boats and was to have over 300 in 2020 from around the world.
If you’ve got time to spare (and who hasn’t these days) then a short film to raise your spirits about the World Land Sailing Speed Record set in 1999.
Another casualty of the Vendee Globe, Isabelle Joschke, had to abandon her race on Sunday 10th due to a failure of her keel canting system (whatever that is, helps the boat lean in the right way and not topple over?). As I’m not so au fait with sailing you’ll have to forgive me for missing out any key races and not getting the terminology right!
On 9th January (only two months later than normal) the Royal Ocean Racing Club Transatlantic Race set off, starting in Lanzarote and finishing in Grenada. The prize-giving takes place in the brand new 5 Star Silversands hotel, with 43 luxury rooms, a world-class spa and award-winning local cuisine. Sounds like my sort of sailing (well the start and finish at any rate). There were nine entries, as far as I can see, two British. One of which has already had to retire. Depending on the weather it can take two to three weeks so a sprint rather than a marathon.
More good (sailing) news to finish, the second entrant to the Jules Verne trophy (remember, fastest around the world), the 32-metre trimaran Edmond de Rothschild with six crew set sail also on 10th January. In order to win they need to return to France by 20th February. I’m planning to update you before then on life, the universe and anything else that’s happening.