88. California Dreaming

That’s as near as we’ll get, dreaming about it. I should, in normal life, now be on my way to Seattle. A crowd of us were due to fly early on 18th April to wave the boats in. Instead, we’re not waving at anyone unless it’s at a neighbour across the road. To quote the song, “All the leaves are brown”: no they’re not, it’s Spring. “And the sky is grey”: well yes it is. We’re having rain for the first time since I got home, quite enjoyable except that the temperature has plummeted about ten degrees. OK, maybe plummeted is an exaggeration but I’ve had to get out my jumpers.

Who you looking at?

Before we get any further, I think I should warn you that there will be no cocktails in this Post. I haven’t made any since last weekend (but I probably will tonight) so next time I’ll let you know the next mystery ingredient. (If you squint at the photo in Blog Post 86 from earlier this month you might just be able to make it out). There may not be flowers either. However, there is (look away now) a scary picture of me channelling my inner Struwwelpeter or shock-headed Peter (thankfully not the finger nails). I’m ahead of the curve in terms of letting my hair revert to its natural colouring, but I may need to give myself a buzz cut if this lockdown goes on for much longer, or ask John to do it for me. I used to say I wanted to do this and have it dyed green like a billiard table (odd child) so maybe now is my chance?

Yet another bad selfie

What am I going to talk about, you ask. What I did with my week? I could tell you about Strewwelpeter. He is the protagonist of a children’s book written in 1845 by a German author, Heinrich Hoffman and served as a warning to children who misbehaved. He was the inspiration for Edward Scissorhands. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/original-struwwelpeter-illustrations-childrens-moral-lesson-book

A cocktail (Corpse reviver no 9)

Now that I look back at my diary, we did have one more cocktail on Sunday night, not long after I finished the last update. Here’s a picture to prove it. Despite my disdain for off-putting names last time, this is called Corpse Reviver No 9, with Sambuca, Aquavit, Cointreau, Vermouth and lime juice. Possibly required after looking at my early morning selfie above. You wash the glass with the Sambuca then throw it away. Or drink it. Then add 30ml each of the other ingredients. I have some special ice cubes which I used here, see if you can work out what they relate to.

What do these ice cubes look like?

Am I going to have to find the previous eight for you? Time will tell. The second ingredient along the bar was thus Akavit, from Sweden (yes, I am so anal that they are in alphabetic order, to help you work out the next one). There are lots of aquavits / akavits available, the name can be translated as “water of life” and others are eau de vie and whisk(e)y.

On Easter Monday we got up and poor Adie was being sick. Later, we found John’s little bag of salted caramel Easter eggs was missing. I had bought these some time ago and given them to him to have on Unicef when Easter Sunday arrived. George says Qingdao ate theirs the day after they sailed. JD kept his and of course Easter on board never happened. We had a few but Adie had more. She somehow managed to leave a stream of silver foil wrappers in the garden, which was a bit of a give away (unless JD did this and tried to blame the dog?). As she was throwing up and the chocolates were not dark chocolate, probably not much chocolate at all once you’d taken the caramel and salt into consideration (and boy were they salty), there was no point taking her to the vet (who would make her throw up or pump her stomach).

I started to knit, not flowers as threatened in Post 87, but a jumper. I bought the yarn (alpaca) over a year ago and the pattern I had decided on at the time I now decided against, so that meant hours on the computer trying to find a pattern I like this year. You may get to see it one day. I also made a chocolate coffee cheesecake which you can see, decorated with redcurrants from the freezer.

Cheesecake

Talking of currants, John decided to rearrange the flagstones in the fruit cage so he could move the currants (black, red and white) and stop them growing into the mesh every year. This is a demanding task and is taking place over a number of days. Here it is part way through. The cage is not to stop the birds (in fact, two bull finches were flying around inside it yesterday) but to stop Greta eating the raspberries as she then starts scratching. She also eats most of the alpine strawberries growing around the garden before I get the chance to pick them.

Black, red and white currant bushes

Two days after eating the chocolate eggs, Adie blotted her copy book once more. This time it was a few Macushield capsules and she gave herself away again, not by throwing up but by having bright yellow paws and muzzle. At least she should have good eyesight!

Me? Steal food?

The most exciting part of the week is about to be discussed. John wandered around to see what other jobs needed doing and came back to let me know that Kate’s three pregnant ewes had produced seven lambs. There is one set of triplets. They are a cross between Ryeland (mum) and Herdwick (dad) so we are excited to see what their fleece looks like (easily excited here). Ryelands are the very fluffy sheep (“teddy bears”) you get when you ask a child to draw a sheep, with a fine fleece that was used for clothing. Herdwick are the grey hardy sheep with white faces and quite a coarse fleece, often used for carpets. Herdwyck means sheep pasture in old Norse. https://www.herdy.co.uk/the-farming-year/all-about-herdwicks/ and Beatrix Potter kept a flock, as they are native to the Lake District and she was keen to preserve their heritage.

I cannot decide which photos of the lambs I like best so there are a few scattered about this Post, I hope they brighten your weekend. (As I don’t eat lamb, there are no roast dinners)! I’ll try to get them as they grow up and leap into the air as only young lambs seem to do. These are all within 24 hours of them being born.

And now I’m off to make that cocktail I mentioned. I have sixteen recipes to choose from, I’ve not looked at all the ingredients to see how many I can actually make (or adapt). Ciao! (That’s a clue).

29. Rhapsody in Blue

Now to John’s boat. Before I start though, I thought you might be interested in a book John was given for his birthday, not by me!

No comment!

This is a gripping book, addressing the original voyage that Sir Robin took. Although it was not intended as a race, it became known as the Golden Globe Race and nine men set off in various types of boats with varying degrees of experience. One man continued beyond the start as he would not consider racing and ended up living in Tahiti. One was Donald Crowhurst, who faked his position and looked as though he were winning until he disappeared. (There were two films made about him in 2017). I’ll not tell you the rest, it’s well worth a read.

John is on the Unicef boat, commonly referred to as the Big Blue Boat. They came sixth last year with 108 points. The Unicef boat is the official charity of Clipper and is the only one that does not have a sponsor. I may have said this previously, but I hadn’t realised that Unicef relies entirely on donations. This is the third time they’ve been the Clipper charity and are hoping to get above £1 million this time. As the last race raised over £374,000 and all three raised a total of more than £700,000 this sounds achievable. As well as John raising funds I’ve now joined in with my Clipper Supporter Unicef hats. That’ll add a few more pounds! I’ll not bore you with another picture, just go back to my last post. I have now knitted two decent ones. OK, here’s the proof. The next time you see them it should be at the race start on Supporter heads.

The Big Blue Hat

On the Unicef boat there are 63 crew listed, 42 male and 21 female, aged from 18 to 70 years old. John is not the only 70 year old so may not even been the oldest on this boat (and on George’s there’s a 72 year old). He may be the oldest Round-The-Worlder though, I need to research the other boats before being able to say this with confidence (see a future post?). On the Unicef boat there are eight circumnavigators. Fourteen nationalities are reported to be sailing, so far I’ve found eleven: British, Australian, Canadian, American, Irish, Swedish, South African, Swiss, Spanish, Norwegian and Italian.

The Skipper is Ian Wiggin, a 30 year old Brit who has been working towards skippering a Clipper boat for the last ten years. The AQP is Mike Miller, a 50 year old Brit who was a crew circumnavigator last time on Sanya, the winning boat. I’m sure he’ll want to keep that position! I have a photo of Ian, courtesy of the Clipper website. (I couldn’t get the others to download for some reason. Need more skills).

“Wiggy” on his boat

As I said last time, the RTW’ers are given a specific job, and John will be the Medical Assistant. This should not be too demanding as there are at least five doctors on board as well as a renal nurse, but not all going for the whole trip. The Skipper is responsible for medical care on the boat but John will be responsible for keeping the medical kit and log safe and up-to-date. We’ve been told by a crew member from a previous trip that everyone will have an injury at some stage, the vast majority being minor, so sticking plasters at the ready! He’ll be going on a two day course in July for all the Medical Assistants and we have both signed up for a four day course in August to learn about first aid on board. You never know when you’ll need it. You know the official colour by now, BLUE!

Every boat has a kitty which the crew can decide to spend on a luxury or two. George’s crew are busy discussing whether to have a freezer. Whilst they think of their stomachs, the Unicef team are much more cerebral. All John’s correspondence (?) on WhatsApp seems to have been about the Team Song. Even though there are only 63 crew it felt that about 150 songs were suggested. I have spent many a happy hour listening to them. Last weekend there was a vote (a bit like Eurovision but not so camp. I think). One crew member one vote. I won’t tell you which one John voted for but the winner with 17 votes was Here We Go by Wild. They are from Los Angeles so maybe they’ll come and cheer us into Seattle? The runner up had 6 votes and I’m Happy to say that no-one went home with nul points. If you don’t know the winning song here’s the YouTube link to it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08beVMVWfnI&feature=youtu.be

The words are up there so no excuse, I expect you all to be singing along on 1st September. Rather apt, in view of the fact that on the Golden Globe Sir Robin was considered to be lost, are the words “We’ll get lost until we’re found”. Let’s hope not. (He insisted he wasn’t lost as he knew exactly where he was, it was just that the communications had failed).

One last item of interest. John is sailing this week (level 1 helping the newbies) and next (level 4 on His boat). He sent me a picture of a proper BOB, not to be confused with the HOB we had in post 27. Personally I think it looks like one of the Dr Who monsters but that’s just me. Isn’t it?

A Cyberman in disguise?

Next time, for a bit of light relief from all this sailing stuff, I’ll let you know how my preparations are coming along.

28. China In Your Hand

George is on the Qingdao boat. Here they are coming into Liverpool last year, when they were placed third overall with 135 points (the winner, Sanya Serenity Coast, had 143).

Liverpool 2018

I have to start with George as he signed up before John, so I’m not showing favouritism. George was also the fourth name to be called out on Crew Allocation Day so he’s first there too. Do we already have competition? I know his boat would like to improve on their podium position of last time so there’s only one way John’s Unicef boat can beat them!

George is on one of the three Chinese boats (Qingdao, Zhihai and Sanya, more on the other two and on the destinations in future posts). Hence the comment about learning Mandarin last time. See post 05, we’ve already got two Mandarin phrase books so I need to start too. The crew of each of these three boats will include 16 Chinese members, chosen by the host ports after their training weeks. Qingdao has been involved with Clipper for 16 years and Zhuhai is making its debut this year. The current Clipper yachts were all built at Qingdao.

I am a bit concerned that George may do a Jeremy Hunt as he (George) is holidaying in Japan at the moment.

Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen bullet train

For those of you who’ve not heard of him, Jeremy Hunt is a British politician who is currently one of the 12 people (at time of typing) hoping to be the next UK Prime Minister. In 2018, when Foreign Secretary, when visiting Beijing, he said his wife was Japanese. She’s actually Chinese! His excuse was that he’d been speaking Japanese at the time. See the BBC link if you’re really interested: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-45004765

On the Qingdao boat there are 63 crew listed, 45 male and 18 female, aged from 23 to 72 years old. There are nine circumnavigators. They represent ten nations but I can only find British, Australian, Canadian, American, Irish (our George), Swedish and of course Chinese. They flew over for the Crew Allocation Day and are spending four weeks over here doing their Clipper training back-to-back. George tells me that not all will be sailing (this time) as there aren’t enough places on the yacht. Here some of them they are on May 11th at the end of allocation.

Qingdao hopeful crew members

The skipper on Qingdao is Chris Brooks, a 33 year old Brit with 26 years’ experience racing yachts. He’s been sailing since he was seven years old. The AQP (First Mate) is Rhiannon Massey, a 23 year old Brit who also started sailing when she was seven and has represented GB at the International Olympic class level. Doesn’t sound like it will be too competitive a boat then!

The RTW’ers all have a job to do and George seems to have picked up the Social Secretary role. As well as organising the Team Building weekend in July this seems to entail making sure everyone is entertained when they are in port. I’m looking forward to trying beers from every country we visit. Or wine, as I think nearly all the places are wine-producing regions. Good planning by someone at Clipper.

Their official colours are red and gold, as you can see from the first picture above. As it’s not too clear in the picture, here’s another one of the lovely looking dragon on the hull. Or is it meant to be looking very fierce and frightening the opposition?

Qingdao 2019-20

I’m busy knitting hats for the Unicef supporters at the moment so I hope at least one supporter for the Qingdao boat is a keen knitter, or else you’ll get no more updates from me for a while. When I started it was a bit like Goldilocks, the first hat was too dull, the second one too green and the third just right!

Too dull, too green, just right?

However, it may be apparent from the photo that the bright blue one is rather small. I made a mistake on the length so it was only the fourth one that was suitable for the supporters.

The plan is that we have matching hats so that we can recognise each other at each port, and also the crew coming in can see us and feel cheered that someone has come to see them arrive! So we all need the same colour more-or-less. On last year’s Qingdao a different type of hat altogether was worn, as you can see on the right-hand-side here.

I’m not knitting one of those!

If you want more in-depth details of the Qingdao crew then here’s the link to the Clipper website page. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/team/qingdao/race-skipper If you do check the website, you’ll see a red line at the bottom which is counting down the days, hours, minutes and SECONDS to the race start. Only just over 93 days to go!

Next time, John’s crew mates. And maybe more hats!!