Here again. It feels very much like our third home at moment. Home obviously being 1st, Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club at Pennington Flash being a high 2nd. Premier Inns are blurring into the same room as are Premier breakfasts… And we’re only in February. Time to jump ship now if we should have commitment issues I would’ve thought.
First laser Worlds/European Qualifiers of the year. First of the 3 Spring events.
Rigged & ready. Small but heated discussion regarding suitable layering, it’s still February despite the mild weather. But what do I know…
Off they go.
This is our 2nd visit to Weymouth so far this year & the weather has been really very good! Brilliant blue skies, warm winds, well not so much wind actually what with all boats being towed back after racing finishes at the setting of the sun. Quite dramatic to watch & most definitely not the time to forget how to be towed. Bets with other parents who’s youf would be last off the water. I’m not being smug or anything.
Good days sailing, huge numbers of Black flags though crossing the line early, only 2 races done. New kit holding up well, not so much smelly kit to dry in the Dri Buddi which was nice. Now a Dri Buddi is a sailors best friend according to some. It’s the difference between cold wet miserable layers & wet suite to wear the next day or the delights of putting on dry, warm kit (if you’ve timed it right), which is quite the attractive thing I’m sure. Others would say not, could shorten the life the kit. Having invested in one, think we’ll stick with it, if nothing else, it’s great for heating the garage.
Feeling distinctly disinclined to have another Premier Breakfast, still feeling full from the Pizza the night before (health kick starts Monday). As far as hotel breakfasts are concerned they’re not bad really. Plenty of things on offer & on the whole consistent, although the best bacon was at the one in South Shields. Iplenty of pancakes & chocolate spread which apparently makes the world go round. I don’t think we’ve come near to eating a pennies worth yet though even with childer who eat for free, next visit we’ll be seeing if filling a food thermos with beans to take on the water is fair game or not. I’ll keep you posted!
Here we are then, 2017 has arrived, it’s cold, the wind has blown away, & there’s no snow yet but the next 48 hours could be critical. So far this year I’ve up racked 5 days on Sailing Mum duty, & that’s just the start. I’ve earned at least a million brownie points already I’m sure. I really do need to find out the exchange rate, I’ve got my eye on some lovely new dr martens.
The planning & plotting for the year ahead has begun & I admit I’m finding it quite daunting & kind of consuming. There’s talk of passports… I’ve also got to March & I’m still looking for a free weekend! What are we doing!!!!?!!!!
Well in layman’s terms, what we’re doing is providing a logistics & catering division to the sailor in the family. Aswell as the usual counselling service, arbitration, editor of travelling notes, laundry manager (damp smelly kit, I might’ve mentione that before)), locator of lost stuff (including but exclusively hot socks, towels, boots, cars, ipods, food, coats, gloves, people, marbles & hotels)… snack manager (including controller & distributor of winegums), negotiator, networker, information gather, part time rigger, even more part time de rigger & Much more I’m sure…
This week, I’ve been doing some of the logistics management, ie nominated driver. It’s not a task I usually do but as always needs must. Thankfully no towing was involved which really is just as well when there was a sudden smell of burnt treacle which was quite alarming, I’m sure it’s nothing… Something about coolant. Made it home safe, yeah it’s probably nothing…
As for the driving…
Is it just me who finds driving at best a chore, at worst a nightmare? Is it just me finds the roads a greasing quagmire of impatience & intolerance, not to mention total & utter stupidity?? Just to clarify this is not me, I am of course an exemplary driver but I’d say at least 60% of other drivers? Oh ok, I’ve no real idea exactly how many but it’s ALOT!!!
I have a number of favourite idiots road users. There’s the ‘Blinders’ – travel round at tonight with their main beam on with regardless of where they are. Behind you (I think the most annoying), on the other side of a central reservation (I can still see you, you monstrous buffoon!), the ones who have politely turned them off when you’ve come into view but whack them back in just as they go past…. Idiots… All idiots….
Then there are the Tail-Gaters. Needs no real explanation do they? We’ve all seen them, driving so close they could apply make up the rear view mirror in the car in front. I just don’t understand why they do it, maybe it’s a love thing, an attraction to the driver infront, they simply must be as close as possible. Maybe they have separation anxiety, who knows, either way they really learn that size is everything – leave some room for goodness sake!!!!
My current absolute favourites are ‘Roundabout Jackers’. There are two types, both are to found causing mayhem on double lane roundabouts, oblivious of they’re lack of judgement & stupidity. actually now I think about there are more…. What is with roundabouts!!!!
Time has passed, more days racked up, more trips ups the M6, snow has fallen – falling, it’s chuffing freezing, and I’m sat inside the club house with a hot cup of tea. All thoughts of imbisillic drivers have been purged from my thoughts, self preservation & all that. And if I don’t finish this sometimes soon it will never get finished.
Currently in awe all the none ‘fair weather sailors’ freezing their various bits off, out in sub zero temperatures & slow wind conditions, they all deserve medals. Obviously when the childer returns, full of cold limbs & extremties & harsh words, I will expect a medal for keeping oneself calm & composed despite the torrent & barage heading my way. In the meantime, I shall enjoy my cuppa for one more race, watching the boats drift by, checking the detailed plan for our next big adventure, & how many layers I can get away with before I look like a flump. The joys of a Sailors Mum….
On the whole I find making lists to be an essential part of life. Now I’m not saying I stick to these lists all the time, I like to think them more as guidance more than anything but the best lists have the most ticks & tend to be a little bit on the organic, go with flow type. There should always be at least one in tandem, the first being
1: ‘remember to write list’,
2: ‘remember to use list’
3: ‘Remember to take list with you’
My current list is going to get us to National Laser Championships in Weymouth, in 2 days time… Currently still on No 1 which is I think pushing it slightly. I do have a nifty trick up my sleeve though, or rather a book. Every time we go away to an event, all the planning, postcodes, gate access numbers, things to take etc lists on lists, go in this book & after the event, all the ‘should’ve done’ go in there too, which is getting smaller. The idea being we can learn from each trip & eventually all things will be perfect which is why I’m currently flapping about, not knowing what I’m doing!!
I’ve also been trying to sort out a grocery delivery – who knew you could get Sainsbury’s & Tesco & the like to not only deliver to your caravan whilst you’re away but even to your tent! My good friend (& sailing Mum extraordinaire) let in me on that particular tip! Saves room in what is always a highly packed car, you don’t have to juggle bananas & milk, which lets face it, smells awful once its ground into upholstery.
Lists sorted, packing going well, missed the cutoff time for Sainsbury’s, so now minus half the food, which wasn’t in the plan… no time or space now – soldier on – they have supermarkets in Weymouth. Not panicking… Not yet..
Pack car, check lists, counter lists & sub lists, remember to pack The Book, remember the soap. I don’t know about you but it’s the one thing I consistently forget, both to pack & then bring home, don’t know why this happens, well I do, I forget, obviously! Need to devise some sort of soap reminder – expand the ‘Soap on a Remembering Rope’ or something, but this time remembered. Phew.
Leave – late. On our way – remembered everything left to remember – even the boat, always a bonus, get to Congleton a mere 9ish miles & grind to a holt…
Sometimes being in ‘Traffic’ is alright. You get to nosy at the view, people’s houses, gardens, shops, sometimes fields & general lovely scenery & that’s fine I would say for about 5-10 minutes (although 10 minutes if pushing anyone’s tolerance) & then you start to wonder as to why you’re not moving, thinking about the road ahead & if you’re familiar, what could possibly causing this grid lock & why now. More minutes pass, you move a few feet, forced to let someone in or out a turning, not wanting the cars behind to think you’re a meany. More minutes, WHAT’S GOING ON!!!! Open wine gums.
At this point (2.5 minutes later) the map gets requested, ‘lets turn round!’ (whilst towing a boat..?.) ‘is there another way?!’, ‘we could go that way!’ WHAT’S GOING ON!! Er don’t know, lets just wait a few minutes. More wine gums, some sort of pensive calm resumes, move a few feet. Repeat.
An hour later, a broken down car & random road works behind us, & finally on the M6 & it’s moving! Thank flip for that!!!
And then a mixture of road works, the M5, ‘Are we there yet?’, quick break at Michaelwood Services, wine gums, Bristol & traffic, dropping off boat, for the next 7 hours, made all the more wonderful by still broken aircon, which combined with glorious, glorious sunshine, making the car more saunamobile than automobile…
Although one good thing of being is slow moving or stationary ‘Traffic’, you can open the windows wide & gets some breeze without your ears exploding, it is the small things.
Miss registration at Weymouth by an hour & a half…
Sweat our way to caravan… Stop…Stop… Brew. A brew with a view… relax….
And then after a not so good night sleep (this is apparently due to our Primal Flight Instinct or so I read somewhere – first night somewhere new your brain switches it on… Wish it wouldn’t..) & a fab English breakfast, back to the fabulous Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy or WPNSA for short. Home of the British Sailing Team & where the London Olympics 2012 Sailing event took place!
We’ve been here quite a lot since January mostly for training & the odd Qualifier event. It does feel very familiar now. Given we gauge how good a place is by the facilities & food – is up near the top, which is convenient.
Unpack boat, & help rig, have the usual grizzly arguments, walk away, go get a brew, register.
Events like this one are sponsored by relevant companies from chandlerys, to insurance companies & sometimes you get a little free something or sometimes you get a lot. In this case the free something was a free zip folder – with a sticker…. Even the registration staff tried to get excited, they tried very hard… Oh well, somewhere dry & zipped to put race details. And it’s got a sticker on.
Perfect sailing conditions, bit of cloud cover & they’re ready for launch.
The very first national event we went to was at Weymouth. It was very cold, windy & the first time racing out on the sea & from my perspective utterly terrifying. I did sob quite a large amount when he first launched on the sea, best not to dwell on the thoughts whirling around my head, the potential catastrophes. I don’t even blink now!
So that’s enough I think for Part 1, onwards with the rest of the adventure & the wallabies of course!
Our first trip to Coniston this week took so long, I’m sure you could easily have flown to Greece, had a tasty mezze, bought some olives & come back without breaking a sweat. Ok maybe not that long but longer than should be allowed in a car with busted air con definitely breaking a sweat, cobs of the stuff! Wendol mostly got us there one piece, with only one minor slip up where the map won (& therefore me) & minimal shouting. We did look cool though towing the little orange rib behind us, ready for an adventure!
It took that long we ended up having to stop off at the services for food… Joyous places aren’t they. I’d gotten all excited thinking we’d be able to go to Teabay, not realising we’d be coming off the M6 before then. Huge disappointment! Ended up in Costa coffee with a tepid panini & tea in those ridiculously fat rimmed cups. Not wanting to sound like my Mother or my Gran for that matter but tea shouldn’t be in fat rimmed cups. It’s a fundamental wrongness.
Coniston Water is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in the world, well the world I have seen at any rate, but I don’t think there’s many who’d argue with me. The light was rather stunning adding an ethereal edge to this beautiful, beautiful place when we finally arrived. I’ve already checked out where to live on Rightmove, & found us a er small little place, with its own boat shed on the lake & er one or 2 bedrooms… Ok 11… You know for when people come & stay & I’ve got a big family & one or two friends, oh well, one can dream. It’s also rather wonderful to think that this very house & some of its previous inhabitants were the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons, a favourite book for longer than I can remember.
Coniston Hall Campsite looked lovely, very close to the shore, very quiet, well quiet at that precise moment, possibly a little louder once a whole scout pack arrives. I imagined they’ve had a stupidly fabulous amount of fun, I feel a little envious if I’m honest, especially as I’ve been sorting & clearing & removing bags of, er, well stuff.
Bedrooms are to be decorated, that’s the idea, not necessarily how I envisioned my child free week but needs must. None of which is helped by the constant distraction of long-lost things, random photos, wondrous fabrics to add to my impressive stash (a crafter must always have a stash of fabric, it’s another fundamental law of the universe, without it – you are NOT a crafter…)
All dropped off, quick pint of cider, for a timely & unremarkable journey home except for an exceptionally close shave with a very big coach, we’re talking centimetres here people, very small centimetres!
I’ve always thought it shows you’ve have had lots of fun when you finish an adventure looking tired, but happy & slightly grubby. I’m guessing that’s exactly what occurred given the state the scouts & explorers were in when we got there. And then when you hear the stories of those adventures & curious tales & a certain reluctance to return home you know, despite the sometimes inclement weather, it’s been an amazing camp & already there’s a looking forward to next year. Job done I’d say!
Boat hitched, leaving the wonderful landscape behind, with its monumental mountains & greener than green fields, quirky little buildings nestled between the trees, gorgeous little sheep, islands of high adventure, & secret tracks leading to secret beautiful places… We will be back… Soon I hope, very soon…
And then, half way home the jockey wheel decided it wanted to join in with the wheeling fun, & dropped – how very rude! Luckily no damage & only 3 minutes of utter stress, & some rib envy at yet another motorway services, so not bad really.
And, I’m pleased to say, despite my fears, not so much of the smelly, smelly things can you believe, well apart from sailing kit, it’s always smelly! Mouth wash to the rescue!
(Ps. I know some of these photos aren’t brill, I know! But when you literally arrive, hitch a boat, leave, there’s not much time to take anything decent – you should see the other ones taken in the car, dirty windscreen or blurring green!)
Not so long ago we didn’t own a boat, club boats were tried out, used & days were spent idly watching them go by at the most delightful little lake, a hidden Cheshire gem don’t you know, tucked away & out of sight, the very lovely Redesmere Lake. I say tucked away, it’s know far & wide for it’s opportunities to feed t’ducks & have an icecream or two but it also has a lovely sailing club too.
We’d turn up, drop off, pick up, stay & watch, do one’s tax return, freeze & sweat cobs so the boy could train, race & fart about, all on the same water & then whoosh, would you believe it, Father Christmas only went & delivered him a boat…
Since then we’ve seen a number of different watery views, tasted lots of different teas & coffees, become very opinionated about venue catering, very important I’ll have you know, talked the hind legs of several parents, become very conversant with the working of the odd Premier Inn or ten & learnt that mouth wash is an excellent cheap option for cleaning wet suits – who knew that one!!
And that’s all before I mention the bloody satnav Wendol… I dislike her hugely & her fondness for single track roads, & 90 degree tight bends. She’s on her last life line at the moment, I’m planning her demise with sinister glee!
So that’s a very brief summary, just to get us started, we’re off to Coniston tomorrow to deliver one teenager & tow a safety boat to the annual Scout Summer camp, an exciting prospect for some of us, no doubt pictures will be taken of said safety boat to immortalise the moment, to add to the ‘wheels’ collection, along with the lawn mover… I’ve made gingerbread to take, as a treat for them all, survival fodder, & just a little bit of a sugar rush to have with their hot chocolate.
Lets hope Wendol gets us there without any ridiculous detours, spilt milk or sweary outbursts, (note to self – remember the atlas, & AA rout planner- just to be on the safe side). In the meantime here’s a photo of a very cold Queen Mary Reservoir, the most amazingly steep sided reservoir I have ever seen… A slippery slope indeed… Pip pip!