91. Let Us Remember

Yesterday was VE Day, 75 years after the end of the Second World War in Europe. What we are going through at the moment may feel like we are suffering by being stuck at home but it’s nothing in comparison. We will get through this and our homes, the cities and all other places will look the same. When I first started working in the early 1970s, there were still bombsites around that had not been rebuilt, used for the most part as car parks. That is unimaginable now.

Without planning to, we spent yesterday planting a couple of oaks that John’s father had grown from acorns and given to us, along with a load of other oak and horse chestnut seedlings, a number of years ago. How these two were not planted out I’m not sure, but they have been growing in pots at the front of the house for the last few years. With hindsight it’s appropriate that two English oaks, nurtured by a Second World War Navy rating, should be planted on VE Day. We have two corners for the other oaks and horse chestnuts but these two have gone to fill gaps in the hedges. In years to come, they will just be part of the countryside. Looking further back, English oaks were used for the keels of ships in Elizabethan times. We can be thankful that we do not have to face the thought of all our trees being chopped down for such purposes.

But you don’t come to my blog to read history or serious subjects. What about the cocktails? All in good time. All the jobs we were doing we’re still doing, everything seems to take an age when there’s no urgency. I did try a remote piano lesson on Zoom but we were getting some strange feedback. Possibly my (very untuned) piano, possibly my playing, let’s be charitable and say it’s a problem we can solve. It does concentrate the mind when you know someone else is listening. I might have an appreciative audience outside but maybe these partridge are deaf to my music.

Not spotted by Polly

JD had his birthday in the middle of last week so I tried a cocktail out in advance. This week’s ingredient is Aperol, an Italian aperitif. For those of you who have never come across it, this is the bright orange stuff that people in the UK “discovered” a few years back and made into Aperol spritz (Aperol with prosecco and soda water) to drink in the long hot summer evenings. Well, I could be boring and stick with that but I thought I’d be a bit more adventurous. The Aperol website says the colour is due to a blend of sweet and bitter oranges, accompanied by a secret mix of herbs and roots. The recipe was perfected in 1919. https://www.aperol.com/en-gb

Polly relaxing

Go back to Blog Post 87 of 12th April and you’ll see that I’ve already used it in Rimbaud’s Right Hand. Can’t do that again. I came up with ten new recipes, some still with absinthe. I guess both were around in about the same era. There’s one called Scotch Bonnet which includes Tabasco. I don’t know if the Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper is used in Tabasco but it’s not my idea of a refreshing cocktail. An Aperol Royal is similar to the Spritz, with champagne. I decided upon a slightly more festive one for John’s birthday, called Bois de Rose. Mix 20 ml elderflower liqueur, 7 ml Aperol, 30 ml gin, 7 ml lemon juice and top up with pink sparkling wine. Very enjoyable.

Despite my cake making, we had a professionally made one for the actual birthday. I have also been making desserts, mostly of the mousse variety so I can prepare a batch to freeze, otherwise we’ll be eating the same thing for a week. I was allowed to cook for JD’s birthday (I usually eat what has been prepared for me) so we had smoked salmon with pink grapefruit, grouse and lavender & maple syrup bavarois, which is a mousse to you and me (well, certainly to me. You can decide what you’d prefer to call it). As we couldn’t have a proper get-together, there were a lot of parcels delivered from the family for JD to unwrap on the day. Mostly food and wine so we’ll be OK for the next few months in lock-down.

And there I think I’ll call it a day as the cocktail hour beckons once again. The sun is shining so we can drink al fresco and call it a sun-downer.

15. All Kinds of Everything

This is just a catch up for things I’ve alluded to previously and answering some questions I have received.

  1. John and George have not yet left. The start date is not known but will be August / September. John has lots of projects to finish and we have lots of people to see before he goes so life is pretty busy. I realise I’ve not updated this blog at all this month so far. I do now have over 100 followers, you’ll all be wondering what’s happened to me.

2. If you want to read about the actual sailing then find another blog. There are a few, type in Clipper round the world and you’ll find them. I will be giving some details once the yachts set off but it’s never going to be a “what I did on my sailing holiday” blog.

3. Post 3: I now have the newspaper on my phone so one less thing to sort. I didn’t get a tablet in the end. The jigsaw has not been touched so will be a challenge for the house / dog / cat sitters. We may have someone willing to come here, more on that when it’s confirmed. In preparation I had Greta spayed. Unfortunately she had to go back to the vet a fortnight later with a sore neck. She had CLIPPER RASH! Getting into the spirit of things.

4. Post 6: The things I called wet cards are more properly wet notes. John has not done much revising or knot tying but I suspect that may change soon. The fitness training is going well, so much so that his weight is getting very close to mine. I must stop eating or increase my exercise too.

Doing my push-ups!

5. Post 7: We are sorting out a proper safe so everything can all be in one place. The house log book has been started in that I’ve a list of headings. I realised it really is needed when the lights upstairs blew and it was a fuse box I didn’t know about in a cupboard in George’s bedroom. I am unsubscribing from stuff as it comes in.

6. Post 10: The book I could not remember is called The Fulcrum Files by Mark Chisnell. It’s set during the Second World War. The synopsis doesn’t mention sailing but it was recommended in a boating magazine so we’ll find out when we read it.

7. Post 12: I have found out that those people who have not crossed the Equator (at sea) have the charming name of pollywogs. I knew this as a dialect word for tadpoles in my youth growing up in a fishing port.


8. Post 13: A pal has mentioned two other naval superstitions that her dad (a Captain in the RN and Master Mariner) had. L for ladders, I’m not sure how many of them are on a boat but I guess if it’s a big one there may be a few. J for Jonah, an unlucky person or crew member. He also said that the Crossing the Line ceremony is to appease Neptune.

I hope I’m not a Jonah!

9. Last month we had a taste of what it will be like for John, trapped with people and no way out. When the snow came, we had four friends visiting for Thursday night. We did warn them that snow had been forecast but as we had plenty of food and a full oil tank they risked it. This is what Friday morning looked like, a lovely sunny day.

January brings the snow

It looks like the cars got out but a bit further on we realised the track out of our house was blocked. John finally managed to free us on Monday. By then our pals had walked in the other direction over two fields to be picked up and taken to the station. How did he cope with being cooped up? Well, he had the tractor out all over the weekend trying to clear the snow away! The cars were picked up a week later.

Makes our feet and fingers glow!

Next time, maybe a bit about trianing.