89. Life In The Time Of Covid-19 (2)

Good morning class, today we have a special day on home economics, so sit up straight, settle down and don’t fidget. Before we start assembly, we have a couple of announcements. First, to Ed, we didn’t mean to bring back those horrible childhood nightmares of SP (we cannot bring ourselves to put it in full). We hope no other ill effects were seen from the last blog post. Second, a huge well done to JT, who correctly spotted the Dalek ice cube! Have a piece of cake as a reward next time we meet! (We shall ignore the other suggestion made by JT, which should mean five minutes’ detention under other circumstances). The other ice cube was of K-9: there is also a Tardis one but it wouldn’t fit in the glass. This was not actually that difficult a quiz question if you’ve seen my freezer. (I’m not sure if it’s featured in an early post so here it is again if so).

My freezer

Let us acknowledge the patron saint of us all, Sir David Attenborough at the beginning of this long period. He exhorts us to lay aside our foolish ways and save the planet by not wasting anything. Today, in homage, we are therefore going to address how to reduce waste and as a by-product, save money (Possibly, although you may just be driven to drink).

Our first stop is the kitchen. As we are now into week 4 of the lock-down, we have all sorted our spices and herbs into alphabetical order, tidied the wine rack and defrosted the freezer and listed all contents of this and the fridge. What’s that at the back, your wine rack is already empty? You’ve drunk it all in the first month? In these straitened times we all have to apply discipline and exhibit strong morale. Stick to buying one case a week and you can’t go wrong. As a case is only six bottles, you can decide before opening it which day will be purgatory sorry your day of rest.

Full marks if you played the “Chocolate sauce or gravy?” game instead of throwing away the unidentifiable items! We have been able to use up some packets that we found lurking at the back of our cupboards: first some gnocchi from 2013 which made two very nice meals, then a jar of miso paste that went very nicely with some aubergines and finally, top marks to JD for using the jar of butterscotch sauce which we bought in 2004: he combined it with rum to make an extremely nice sauce for some pineapple. Next up, a hardly aged tin of condensed milk (from 2009) from which I shall be making kulfi. Additionally we finished the family pack size of Weetabix that our house sitters kindly left for us. Other food to finish: on his way home at the beginning of this month JD could not find digestives and as an alternative bought Hobnobs. Can anyone explain the attraction of these? I have been forcing myself to have one a day, it’s like having sawdust in your mouth. But we’re not wasting them!


Also in the kitchen, try not to waste other things. I decided we are using way too much clingfilm and bought some reusable covers. They are very good but still made of plastic (the beeswax ones seem to be sold out) and resemble nothing so much as shower caps: next time you’re staying in a hotel, remember a shower cap can serve other purposes!

Alternative shower caps

Out of the kitchen, let us go to laundry and sewing. When we iron items, it is SO useful to enable us to go through our wardrobe and highlight those items that could do with a little tender care. I managed to dispose (tenderly) of four tea towels at the weekend when I spotted the holes in them. (These were caused either by extreme age or the mouse that Polly brought into the kitchen and set free some time ago). We are now down to our last 50 (tea towels, not mice), including the one featured in Post 47 way back in September 2019.

Last of all, having done all the ironing and much as we hate to tidy (yes, I’m talking to you), remember all those items you bought and kept the box in case they were faulty and you had to send them back? Now is the time to go up into the loft and find them all and bring them downstairs and throw them out! It is a wonderfully satisfying feeling. Here are (some of) ours. The newest is a mere two years old and the oldest was bought in 2012. All well out of warranty, with some thrown away as unable to be repaired.

Empty boxes from the loft

Now that we have all finished our tasks for the day, how about a little fun before bedtime? Our other patron saint, Sir Robin, has had long experience of self-isolation and has given us handy insights here: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/insights-from-sir-robin-a-person-who-chose-extreme-isolation. You can have hours of fun learning all the necessary nautical knots before you set off with Clipper next time. https://www.firstclasssailing.com/sailing-knots is a useful starting place but there are plenty of other sites.

And for our final prayer before bedtime, we shall recite “Little Lamb who made thee” by William Blake. On second thoughts, maybe we should leave biology lessons for tomorrow.

51. Leg 1 Race 2 (c)

First, I’ll try not to post any more shots of Gloomy London, I realise I finished Posts 49 AND 50 with similar views. If there’s snow later in the year I may change this decision (but snow isn’t gloomy). The header is of the view I had when I woke up yesterday.

I forgot to tell you that John won the Equator sweepstake on Unicef. It sounds like he may not have won in everyone’s opinion, due to the application of ship time and/or UTC. When I next see him I’ll find out what he won, probably an extra Haribo or something! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day17-team48

I also forgot to detail my cinematic experiences. At home, we often plan to go and see a film but usually by the time we get around to it the film has moved on. Since Portimao, I have been to see The Farewell (a film well worth seeing, even if the synopsis sounds depressing, a Chinese family getting together for a fake wedding when they hear that Grandma has only a few weeks to live. Based on an actual lie it says). Then Downton Abbey. It possibly helps to have watched the TV series so you know who is who. I mentioned Netflix in an earlier post, well to make up for never having seen Downton Abbey I’ve binge watched the first two series of The Crown. I think I still prefer Matt Smith as Dr Who. I’m now binge watching Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, not Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing!).

In John’s crew diary of 27th September he mentioned needing to buy a bird book in Punta to enable him to identify the birds that are flying around. In Ian’s Skipper report of 4th October he says they have one, ‘Seabirds of Southern Africa and the World’, by Gerald Tuck of the Royal Navy Ornithological Society. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day19-team48

I don’t know how old that book is, but I managed to find a different one for John with photos. As it’s over 300 pages I’m not sure how easy it will be to ID a bird flying past at speed though. THE book on ocean birds was, apparently, Peter Harrison’s 1983 “Seabirds: An Identification Guide” but this new one builds on that with the use of DNA and subsequent reclassification.

Reading Nick’s Zhuhai log of 3rd October, I think maybe I should have bought the book for George instead. Nick says that Qingdao seem to think all the birds they see are some sort of gannet. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/zhuhai/race2-day18-team45 . Another skipper seemingly preoccupied with birds is Mike on Imagine Your Korea. I’ve bought him a little present but you’ll have to wait until I hand it over to see it.

As well as managing to see films that otherwise pass me by, and eating foods that have not yet hit rural England, I walk to the shops most days with my little carrier bag to buy food (no filling up the boot once a week or less). This does mean I look more at what I’m buying, and imagine my glee when I found this, a combination of my favourite cocktail (espresso martini) and my favourite brand of yogurt (The Collective).

I needed it before I tried to squeeze the warm sleeping bag layer John wants me to take to Punta or Cape Town into the compression straps I had to order. On its own it takes up my whole suitcase. I was assured by John that the straps would make it small enough that I could pack my clothes (and his) as well… Really? Just take a look and tell me what you think.

Saturday morning the results of the Ocean Sprint were announced by Clipper. Unfortunately neither of our two boats were fast enough. Our arch-nemesis, Punta del Este, came first, gained three points and and so have leapfrogged Qingdao (17 points to 14). Grrr. Ha Long Bay were second so have a total of nine points and Visit Sanya scraped the third place, one point, to give them 10 points overall. Dare to Lead were in fourth place (nul points) only one second slower than Sanya. You have to feel sorry for them.

Skipper Mark of WTC Logistics says in his log of 5th October that they came sixth only nine minutes behind Sanya. He also comments on the fact that the fleet of matched boats but with all amateur crews can be so close. Read the full account from the link below (then click onto the other skipper reports as they are all interesting and you’ve got nothing else to do today, right!). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/wtc-logistics/race2-day20-team40

This weekend I had two pals visiting, Victoria up from Somerset and Rene. Well, I guess I had three as Clint came too. Victoria and I went to Tate Britain to see the William Blake (again, for me, but I still missed bits of information). First we went to the Members’ Room for some lunch. I’d not been there and it takes some finding. Up the spiral staircase and up and up. It’s pretty much in the dome that you see on top of the Tate. According to my clever phone I climbed three floors. It felt more like six, both of us needing to take a breath when we arrived before I was able to show my membership card. I don’t think it’s as impressive as the V&A Members’ Room, and more of a canteen as it’s self-service, but sitting up in the light-filled dome was an experience. I have said if I do it on a daily basis my fitness will improve, with the incentive of a coffee when I arrive, but I’ve yet to repeat the trip. Knowing what faces me should make it easier. Extinction Rebellion are out in force so I’m not sure I’m brave enough to wander near Parliament.

Lambeth Bridge, MIllbank Tower, Tate Britain

On Sunday morning all three of us (with Clint observing) had another go with the compression straps. I don’t know exactly how it was managed, but here we are with a better packed layer. It now doesn’t quite take up all of my case although I still don’t have room for everything I need. I’ve been advised it’s not necessary for the next race so I’ll take it to Cape Town, when I’m not having to change planes.

The other interesting thing that happened this week (if you’re a Clipper Addict) is the appearance of two posters depicting two of the Crew Members, as the recruitment for the next race (2021/22) jumps up a gear. One of these Crew Members you’ve already come across, you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you it’s Donna. I went to see Victoria off on Sunday, then onto Arthur Beale to collect the head torches I’d ordered (see previous Post) and look who was smiling down on us!

I’ll remind you, Donna is a 48-year-old British chiropractor going around the world on Qingdao. We met her before we knew she was on the same boat as George and she’s doing the same job as John on board of Medical Assistant. Just to be fair, I’ll give you the shot of the other Crew Member, Mark Pollard. He’s a 30-year-old engineer from Australia and he’s sailing Legs 1 and 3 on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

Now I have a new game, seeing how many I can spot and hoping that Clipper will add others for us to hunt down. A bit like Pokemon Go! Although less interactive.

Not to be outdone, you can see John to the left of the last picture on this Clipper news article about the Ocean Sprint. It doesn’t look as though he shaved his head. We’ve not seen George for a while, I wonder if he has? https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/closely-fought-dell-latitude-rugged-ocean-sprint-sees-just-one-second-between-two-teams

Sanya have gone into Stealth mode, 06.10 UTC Monday morning, so we won’t know where they are until Tuesday morning. Meantime, Qingdao are effectively in the lead. Go Qingdao! The weather for the next few days has very deep lows developing, little wind and wind gusting and veering in different directions, so it’s all to play for. Are Sanya trying to get closer to the shore and benefit from the offshore winds that played such a crucial part at the end of race 1?

And on that cliffhanger, I’ll leave you with another picture of London Today.

50. Leg 1 Race 2 (b)

I promised some more photos of Portimao, there are some dotted around this Post. Also, before you sailors get too excited, despite the title, this is about life during Race 2, both theirs and mine, so it’s a pretty long post. Grab a cup of tea and sit down.

Sardine sculpture

A correction to Post 49, it was not Cyclone Garry but Jerry. This was replaced by Karen then Lorenzo. Some of the boats in the fleet were hoping to hang onto the tail coats of Lorenzo and get a faster push into the Doldrums, but this didn’t happen. A good feel for this is given by Jody on Qingdao in the crew diaries. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/278

Portimao dome

The first two to start motoring in the Doldrums Corridor were Qingdao and Unicef. In addition, Qingdao had a problem with their generator so were burning fuel too quickly. Ha Long Bay and Sanya were diverted to perform a boat-to-boat transfer to them. They practiced this during training weeks: at that time I gather a tin of baked beans went from one boat to the other. Josh (skipper on Ha Long Bay) said he was going to ask for jam, peanut butter and Nutella in exchange for the diesel. What he actually received was some jam and a few Smarties! (Sanya had the promise of beers in Punta del Este when they arrive). Unicef are a bit more upmarket in the snacks they want us to bring out.

Back on Unicef, there’s a crew diary entry from John dated 27th September (day 12 of Race 2). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/294

Eventually every boat motored for a spell, the last one being Seattle. As they can only motor for a limited period, there isn’t necessarily an advantage to starting at the beginning of the Doldrums Corridor and getting ahead of the rest if you then get stuck at the end and wave to the latecomers motoring past.

Bridge in Portimao!

And while they’ve been battling the elements I’ve been enjoying London. Ironic really when you consider that John was the one wanting to live here and savour the sights. I’ve been to the V&A to see the Mary Quant exhibition, a bit of a disappointment after the Dior, but of its time. At Tate Britain the William Blake has just started so I went to that, the surprising thing is that his illustrations were so small as they were intended in the main for books. The development of his art was interesting as was the involvement of his wife and patrons. Imagine commissioning an artist to paint you 200 works of art these days! Although not commissioned, I did receive a personal journal made for me by my pal Sue (who also made me the amazing push-me-pull-you hat you saw in Post 44). This picture shows you the construction of the hat. You can see how it’s either Unicef or Qingdao depending how I fold it up.

Talking of which, in addition to the dual beanies knitted for the three Fs I now have two unique tee shirts supporting Qingcef and Unidao.

Well, the way the scissors cut it’s Qinef and Unicgdao but that’s too difficult to say. Look out for me at the start and finish of the races!

By Monday morning 30th September the first three ships (Sanya, Qingdao and Ha Long Bay) crossed the Equator and presumably held their ceremonies. I hope to hear about it in Punta del Este and let you know more, although some details are on the Clipper website in the Skipper reports or crew diaries. A lot of visits from King Neptune and sins recounted with baked beans and flying fish featuring in the punishments. There is a suggestion that some on Unicef had their head shaved. Will we recognise them?

Unicef supporters tried to have a glass of bubbly as Unicef crossed the Equator, we weren’t quite sure of the correct time so I think we started on Friday and continued until Tuesday, just to be on the safe side. My toast was during Sunday lunch with some other Unicef supporters at The White Hart, a pub about two minutes stroll from Waterloo station.

The rest of my weekend consisted of brunch at Bill’s in Victoria (I think my next brunch will be at Browns, as they offer Lobster Benedict), followed by a doggy birthday party which ended up in Mazar, a Lebanese restaurant in Battersea. The host of the party was Milo, a three year old Golden Retriever who is best pals with Clint, who you saw in Post 39. The owner of Milo, O M Faure, has recently published some books and very kindly gave me three. I started the first one on Sunday and have been reading the series in every spare moment, including on the Tube. The first is called “Chosen” and you can find it on her website, https://www.omfaure.com/.

This Monday morning I received a communication (my first) from JD on CV31! “Thinking of you, can you buy me a head torch (exact type specified, an Exposure RAW Pro) and a water bottle to attach to my life jacket (Spinlock)”. I’d already sorted out the head torch, Exposure suggested I go to Arthur Beale, an amazing chandlers close to Covent Garden on Shaftesbury Avenue. They had to order one so I said make it two as John has already gone through two and it’s only one month into the journey. Should I place an order for another 18? They don’t stock Spinlock and I couldn’t find said water bottle on the internet.

On the way to Arthur Beale I was waylaid by a cosmetic shop selling lovely hand and body lotions. I bought some for myself and an appropriately named hand cream, Ocean, to take to Punta for the workers. On the way back to the Tube I called into Brigit’s Bakery in Chandos Place for brunch. Wonderful looking cakes but I avoided them (this time!).

Sam’s travel Journal

I mentioned the travel journal above, I’m sticking little mementos in it as I go along to remind me of the events, both abroad and in the UK. I’m sure it will appear a number of times over the months, here it is from the outside. It’s created from the book “Global Challenge”, a 1997 business management book based on the BT Global Challenge round the world race. The bookmark you can see poking out at the top is from Volume 1 of the Admiralty Navigation Manual 1938. It is the most incredible work of art.

Back at the race, the first three boats (Sanya, Qingdao and Ha Long Bay) are through the Ocean Sprint (Thursday morning 3rd October). As this part of the race is not first-past-the-post but the fastest passage, the points are not allocated until the last yacht is through, which may not be until Monday 7th October by current estimates. Imagine Your Korea has just entered the “course” and they could still win if the wind picks up for them. I gather that Unicef have squalls which are not helping their speed.

We are lucky enough to have thoughtful people back at home. Jane-the-gardener sent us some shots of John’s greenhouse. Look back at Post 36 in August to see a photo of the plants John put in before heading off to the wide wild blue yonder. These are from last week. Thanks Jane, a wonderful reminder of what we’ll be coming back to next summer.

burgundy palm
Variegated palm

It’s looking as though Sanya and Qingdao will be first and second into Punta, but we’ve been here at the end of the first race. We were wondering why Qingdao seemed to be so much slower than Sanya for much of the time, Captain’s Log Star Date 2nd October gives us a glimpse of what happened:


I’ll be in the air whilst the last part of the race is being run so I may not be able to tell you who won until I’m in Punta. The next dispatch from your own correspondent should be from sunnier climes than London, let’s hope it’s not another saga like the trip to Portimao! If anything exciting happens in the meantime, such as the Ocean Sprint Results, you may have an earlier post.

London October 1st