I think we’ve been promised the sunlit uplands this year. As we’re on the side of a hill and the sun often shines (for the UK, that is), we’ve possibly already arrived. Gosh, that was quick. Oh, wait, Coronavirus intervened. Boris Johnson first promised the uplands to us in 2016 when we all voted to become independent and leave Europe (somehow sail off into the sunset?). He’s not the only one though:
Meanwhile, welcome to a new reader, unless one of you has moved to Israel? As they (Israel) are leading the world in vaccinating the population, maybe we should all see if we can move there. We are getting on with it in the UK, JD has had the call and should be jabbed next week.
It’s been quite a medical week. As well as JD’s good news, I had a dental hygienist’s appointment. I’d been warned that it’s horrid, going back to the old-fashioned scraping, no high-speed thing that sprays water everywhere that they used before Covid. I’m obviously just an old-fashioned girl at heart (as sung by Eartha Kitt), I preferred this to the usual treatment of being drowned. I discovered that you can’t use the spittoon either so no pink water to swill around and spit out. Instead I had a plastic cup of blue water that I had to either swallow or spit back into the cup. You’re not getting me swallow any blue stuff! Not unless it’s Blue Curacao, of course. Didn’t taste like it so back into the cup it went.
I’ve also read that people are having cosmetic surgery whilst we’re not allowed out, so they can hide while their bodies heal and you won’t see their black eyes. I’ve not gone that far. Nothing major but I had a mole that itched and was growing so I thought I’d get it looked at. In less than a fortnight I’ve been under the knife. I guess cosmetic surgeons aren’t getting much business at the moment. You’ll be glad you can’t visit as I’m not allowed a bath or shower for three weeks.
But before all these exciting things happened, we had New Year to celebrate. No fireworks like last year in Sydney but I was with MBB (My Brave Boys) so that was good, and of course this time we were joined by Yangzi. We decided to go the full fig so here we are, all glam. Standards must be kept up, after all, old thing. Never buy a sequined dress though, you’ll be picking up discarded sequins for weeks, they fall off and get everywhere!
I’ve not been very good at keeping you up to date on our cocktails, once again. What kind of a blog is this anyway? We seem to be concentrating more on English fizz (can’t call it Champagne but it has no generic name). This is one we found very more-ish, made with Pinot Gris instead of the usual Champagne grapes, but when I went onto their website they’d sold out. It was disappointing in a different way, the metal cap on top of the cork had no embellishment. The first three we drank this year were much more impressive, although I’m not sure the taste of the contents was any better.
In 2021 so far I have used two official (alphabetically speaking) ingredients, orange bitters and peach schnapps, as well as finishing off some (50 ml, tiny) bottles of Sloe gin from the Advent calendar (see Blog Post 113 dated 7th December to remind yourselves about it).
You’ve heard about Bitters in Blog Post 92 dated 15th May 2020 so I’ll cut straight to the chase. Admiral’s Punch: 90 ml spiced rum, 30 ml lime juice, a dash of orange bitters, sparkling water and sugar. We weren’t bowled over by this and I’m not sure why it’s called punch as it would not fill the flowing bowl. Unless I should have used centilitres not millilitres? Hmm, not sure it was good enough to re-try. We then had an Alaska: 40 ml gin, 20 ml yellow chartreuse, again a dash of orange bitters. As the orange bitters bottle is not tiny, it could end up as the last bottle in the bar, notwithstanding the myriad bottles of gin we have.
Onto the next item. I’m not sure how we ended up with a bottle of Archer’s Peach Schnapps, so beloved of teenagers trying to persuade their parents they’re not drinking, but there it was. We tried a Georgia Peach: 45 ml vodka, 15 ml peach schnapps, a dash of grenadine, topped up with lemonade. Definitely sounds like something a teenager would be drinking when they don’t like the taste of alcohol. It was quite refreshing but not very grown up, unlike the next, Futurity. Take 30 ml sloe gin, add 30 ml sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters (I’m slowly getting rid of them). We had two bottles of different sloe gins so we did a compare-and-contrast. Interestingly, with one the vermouth dominated while the other one was more sloe gin tasting.
Back to my Penguins: last time I showed you the print I was given for Christmas, which is now hung in the Library with the Penguin books. I can’t get a shot of them all together as they’re on different sides of the room, but you can tell where this is by the background Penguin colour! In Post 36 dated 11th August 2019 (where did last year go?), I threatened to go and raid Penguin Random House in Vauxhall Bridge Road for my missing 14 of the first 1000 Penguins. That would be useless, as recently I discovered the Archive is not there but in Rushden in Northamptonshire. It could be worse, in 2004 the archive was transferred from Harmondsworth (Penguin HQ, close to Heathrow airport and my first proper job at Sandoz in Feltham) to Rugby. So close all those years ago! I’ve found a new website that might be able to help, The Penguin Chap, selling first edition penguins. No, he’s not got any that I don’t already have.
I guess I should mention sailing whilst I’m here.
The Three Bridge Fiasco takes place every year in San Francisco Bay (the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges). It usually has double-handed boats but this year, to comply with Covid restrictions, the 2021 Three Bridge Fiasco on January 30 will be Singlehanded boats only. Entries opened on January 10th and sold out quickly. The same speed applied to the booking for the Rolex Fastnet Race which will start on August 8th. There’s been quite a hoo-ha about it, as this year for the first time ever it will finish in Cherbourg, France. It was first run in 1925 with seven boats and in 2019 had 388 starters. It used to go from Cowes (on the Isle of Wight) to Plymouth around the Fastnet Rock (most Southerly point of Ireland). In 1979 there was a tragedy when a sudden storm blew up and 15 crew died, together with three rescuers. Of the 303 yachts that started out, 85 managed to finish the race, five sank and 24 were abandoned by the crew.
If you feel technical, there’s an explanation of the storm here:
Another race, much closer to our experience last year, the Rolex China Sea Race from Hong Kong to Subic Bay has also been cancelled this year.
In Post 114 of 31st December 2020, I mentioned the America’s Cup and the fact that the UK INEOS entry was proving to be useless, not winning one race in the trials before Christmas. Well, hold onto your hats. Before they can challenge New Zealand for the America’s Cup, the three entrants from Italy (Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli), USA (American Magic) and UK have to compete for the Prada Cup. It’s all a bit confusing to explain but there are two round robins of six races each, each team against the other two. So far there have been six races and INEOS has won all four of theirs! You can’t watch them live unless you have SKY TV (I think, as they are racing at around 3 am UK time I’m not that interested). However, watch it on YouTube and you’ll see some fascinating races. I’d not like to be in one of the spectator boats, they look as though they could be run over at any moment.
In the last race of last weekend, Italy and the US were racing against each other when American Magic had a disaster. I fully understand how it happened (ha!), I too capsized a yacht one of the first times I was out, by hanging on and not releasing the sail: I was worried I’d fall in if I let go of the rope. They were well in the lead. I’ve watched this I don’t know how many times and still my heart is in my mouth.
They won’t be racing this weekend, which would have been the second round robin to decide who faces NZ. If INEOS win the first race, the second race result will be redundant as INEOS would be first in the round robin. If, however, Italy win the next two races (four all), they will be the victors as they will have won the final race. In order to comply with the Regulations, Italy and the UK will also have to start a “ghost race” vs American Magic, which will be stopped a few minutes after the start.
Confused? I am.
Back at the Vendée Globe, Sébastien Destremau had to retire on 16th January due to a series of problems, culminating in his autopilot and steering systems failing. The race is closing to an exciting finish with only a few days left, and any of nine contenders being able to win. After sailing around the world single-handed, it’s amazing to think they are all so close together still, especially when you think of some of the Clipper races and the different times they took to do a fraction of the globe. Just look at the tracker.
Finally, onto the Jules Verne. Sadness of a different type here. Benjamin de Rothschild, who set up the racing team Gitana (the trimeran competing to win the Jules Verne trophy), has died of a heart attack at the age of 57.
The team were hoping to beat the current record and win in his memory, but on checking their progress I’ve discovered that they’ve had to abandon the race due to serious damage to the starboard float rudder.
Amid all this gloom I’ll end with a picture of snowdrops and the promise of Spring.