Post 137. Speed Bonny Qingdao

Following on from celebrating JD’s departure, without him, at the Great Gatsby event (see blog post 133 dated 17th March 2022), we just had to mark his birthday. It was the day after local elections here in the UK so we also marked the takeover of Somerset council by the Lib Dems. We went to one of our favourite restaurants, Goodfellows in Wells, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. As a fish restaurant we could feel in touch with JD, who has been eating freshly caught tuna and suicidal squid on board. (The squid and flying fish seem to like throwing themselves on deck, especially into unsuspecting faces).

I’m not desperate for mental stimulation but I did find myself watching the Eurovision Song Contest! I’ve not seen it for years. As this year the UK came second after a very arid run of ‘nul points’, maybe I was the secret ingredient they were waiting for? After watching Eurovision, I found myself watching Perry Como on the TV. I’m turning into my mother! Or, somehow, I’ve travelled back to the 1950’s.

Deciding that maybe watching television is not my preferred entertainment, I’ve also been up to London for some culture. The London Philharmonic Orchestra held their end of season Gala Dinner in Lindley Hall, owned by the Royal Horticultural Society. It’s a very impressive hall with a vaulted ceiling and I could imagine things growing in it, but it wasn’t the best place for acoustics. When the orchestra played it was fine, but the speeches were a little fuzzy. Or am I losing my hearing? Eh, what’s that?

LPO table arrangement

Another night I went back to the Royal Festival Hall for yet more culture, in the form of Fascinating Aida. You might want to take issue with me referring to them in the same paragraph as the LPO but both give me great joy, if in different ways. FA are very scathing about our current leaders and the audience certainly agreed with them. I know I’ve given you links to some of their songs previously so if you want a laugh look them up again. We were told off for trying to clap along to Cheap Flights (and we stopped!). ‘Suddenly New Zealand’ had extra meaning with the recent (ongoing) pandemic. I can’t find any lyrics so here they are advertising this year’s tour. With no swear words that I heard!

Easter left me with a lot of odd leftovers, including about a dozen cheeses. I froze the ones I could and lived on cheese-on-toast for a while. It’s a good job I’m a turophile (cheese lover). So how many of you are making the Queen’s Trifle? I’m very tempted, next time I have a party (the official recipe serves 20 so I’ll be eating that on toast if I make one now). If you missed out on seeing it you are obviously not living in the UK or are a hermit. It involves lemon curd Swiss roll, St Clement’s jelly (oranges and lemons), lemon custard, amaretti biscuits, mandarin coulis and ‘jewelled chocolate bark’. All made from scratch, of course. I read that it took a newspaper reporter five hours. Maybe I’ll buy the individual ingredients and make a cheat’s version.

I now have a new cocktail challenge: drinks based on your name, after the success (?) of GEORGE (see previous Post for this recipe). If it’s your birthday soon, let me know and I’ll see what I can create. Luckily, I don’t think I know anyone called Xanthe or Queenie and most of you have nice short names. If you don’t, you will have after contacting me. No Elizabeth Isabelle’s to cater for.

Back in June 2020, I amazed you with my tomato growing skills. I didn’t get much of a crop, possibly due to lack of pollination. We now have a gardener who is a keen vegetable grower and may just have outdone my efforts! We’re making sure they are getting insect exposure so I might have a freezer full of tomato puree by the end of the year.

A few of the 2022 tomato plants

The Race 11 Ocean Sprint results are in. You might recall that Qingdao were included in this on elapsed time. Well, it worked out for them, three points for being the fastest, with GTB getting two points and PdE one.

Unfortunately, Qingdao are not having as good year, other than winning the Ocean Sprints. They were about ten days behind the rest of the fleet after their detour to Japan, leaving San Francisco on 10th May to try and meet up in Panama to start Race 13 on time. On 15th May they had to divert to the Mexico coast as one of the crew had an eye injury that needed hospital treatment.

The main part of the fleet is now passing through the various Mandatory Gates. You’ll remember from last time, if you were paying attention (sit up at the back there! Stop slouching!) that the Skipper has to record when they pass each of these as no-one knows when or where this particular race will finish, due to them going through The Doldrums once again (see Post 48 of 20th September 2019 for more technical details). According to Nigel Parry, Skipper on DTL, this race has never got as far as Gate 4.

Thus, every single Gate could be the end and they all have to race as though that were the case. Not forgetting that Qingdao is racing on elapsed time, so as well as not knowing when the race will end, they won’t even know whether they are on the podium until all have finished. I believe the prize giving will be in Bermuda so there won’t be a repetition of the situation in Airlie Beach, where GTB were presented with third only to have to hand it over to Unicef later (see Blog Post 68 dated 17th January 2020). I could give you the first three over each Gate, but as Qingdao is still about five days behind, it will only confuse our tiny brains. Well, mine anyway.

Stop! We have an update, May 23rd, that Gate 3 will be the finish line. All but three (Seattle, IYK and of course, Qingdao) are past Gate 3 and can start motoring into the marina at Panama. Looking at the speeds they are now showing, some already have. Allowing for the fact that Qingdao is on elapsed time and has to pass the gate to be in with a chance of a podium finish, at the moment it would appear that this race has been won by HLB, with PdE second and GTB third. I don’t have the times they ‘finished’ so I don’t know the deadline for Qingdao, who is still to get through Gate 2. I somehow suspect they’ll not be in time. If someone works it out I’ll let you know (if the official result isn’t in by the time I do my next missive).

Back to Skipper diaries, Nigel gives us a good look into what happens when they get to the Panama Canal.

Although we’ve not had a crew diary from JD yet, he has been mentioned as getting a lemon drizzle cake for his birthday and there’s a shot of him here relaxing on the deck.

Next time I write, I’m guessing they’ll be in the Atlantic and definitely on their way back. Here’s a hint of what I might cover then.