Posted by: lucylastic | October 9, 2012

I seem to have run out of things to say!!!

Taking a break for a while while I find some inspiration……………………………take care!!!  Lucylastic

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The title shows words from one of my favourite songs – Oh Danny Boy, (though some versions say ‘flowers’ rather than roses), but the point is the same………….without anything to really look back on and say ‘that was summer’, my rose petals have almost all fallen, along with various other flowers and leaves.  My tomatoes are still struggling to come into flower, (I don’t have the benefit of a greenhouse) and I have a lone pepper waiting to be picked.  My cabbages are a slug fest and only the lettuce seems to have escaped unscathed………………and very tasty it is, but it’s limited in its uses!  Thanks a lot Mr Rainfall.

Luckily, my new lawn, (pictured above) is still looking good – I am thrilled that my investment in an ‘atificial lawn’, (it’s NOT Astroturf by the way – that was a trade mark from long ago), is looking lush and green – and it’s had many admirers.  I have always ‘fessed up so far, but am thinking of taking any future compliments for myself.  My very lovely, but also very sceptical husband has professed himself ‘quite surprised’ by how good it looks……………….and I must give credit to ‘Curious Girl’…………….she started it!!! Check hers out at http://chat1960vintage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/spot-difference.html  The funniest thing is watching the birds – who are thoroughly confused by it – they strut around it – pecking away – and then they look confused.  I never would have believed that a bird could look confused – but it’s true.  Confusion is then followed by several angry flaps of the wings, a bit more pecking and then flying to a neaby vantage point, where they are clearly pondering just what is going on.  Priceless.

I hope you’re all having a better, funner (sic) more action packed summer than I am!!!  Toodlepip!

Posted by: lucylastic | July 17, 2012

And so, I am 50 – how on earth did that happen?

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Almost 2 weeks ago, I was 50……………I know I’m not the first and I won’t be the last…………….but it was a wonderful day and my friends made it all worthwhile.

We had afternoon tea with sandwiches, (thanks lovely sister and best friend and best friend’s Mum and hubby), we had savoury tarts, (thanks to another lovely friend, L), we had scones with clotted cream and jam – assembled by youngest son and lovely Godson; we had fairy cakes – hand-made by yet another fabulous friend, J – who also took charge of the curry later on – what a star!  We had birthday cake – not just one, but two – made by the talented V – dreams of chocolate, one while and one dark.  Yummy scrummy.

There were lots and lots of people who entered into the Indian theme, my two sons, their partners, my LH, my parents, lots and lots and lots of friends…………….if any more of you have photos, please do send them to me!!!  And chck them out on Faceback – good friend G has kindly put her album there.

Then there was curry.  And music – georgeous Bev, the very talented Ray & Sian, (aka the Black Feathers – www.sianchandler.co.uk); J’s wonderful hubby who was generous enough to let me sing, (if you’d ever heard me, you’d know why it doesn’t happen often).  There were fireworks, there were fairy lights, there was a wonderful Indian Marquee; there was a very lovely lady doing henna tattoos…………..there was a bit of English bubbly, lots of Pimms and more than a few cups of tea – maybe not all in that order.  Thank you everyone who made it wonderful for me.  I really do love you all!

Posted by: lucylastic | June 29, 2012

Days 3-10, all together as it’s too long ago!

 

So it’s now the end of June – we’ve been back from our sailing adventure for a month and I haven’t got past Day 2!  So, here’s the potted version:

Day 3 Dartmouth to Salcombe – lovely!  Pretty little harbour, sailed past Plymouth, weather improving daily.  Lovely little pub, spent afternoon sipping sparkly and generally relaxing.  Bought myself a nautical sweatshirt – everyone else had one on!

Day 4 Salcome to Yealm – even better, sun shining, boat bobbing, LH well and happy.  Yealm so beautiful I will go back there one day (and they have nice, clean, warm showers at the Yacht Club)!

Day 5 Yealm to Fowey – Sea is blue, sailing is so QUIET when the wind is right – no engine, just the sails flapping occasionally, (flapping is NOT a good thing in sails) and the wood creaking gently.  These little seaside towns are starting to look very much alike!

Day 6 Fowey to St Mawes – More blue sky and sunshine, shiny red faces, lovely little pub serving excellent food, beer and local cider.

Day 7 St Mawes to Falmouth Boathouse – Pick up 4 more crew – things are getting serious.  So far, we’ve just been pootling along, enjoying ourselves.  Tomorrow, we’re entering a race.  I want to win, but we still don’t really know our topsail halyard from the Bosun’s Locker.  We go out to practice for the race but there is hardly a breath of wind – the weather is stunning, just not for sailing.  Work on the tan though…………. Spent a glorious evening with 12 other Pilot Cutters – all of whom have gathered for tomorrow’s racing and the Annual Pilot Cutter Review – they are truly lovely boats with fabulous lines, (most of the pics above are from this evening).  The man who actually made our boat and 4 or 5 of the others that are here, (Luke Powell) is catching up on the news and taking gentle stick about colour choices, design finishes and so on.  It’s all very friendly, but tomorrow we’ll see a different side to people – everyone knows everyone else, there is passion for sailing in abundance.  We have been invited to tie up close to the most wonderful Boathouse – owned by one of the Pilot Cutter owners and there’s cheese and bread and apples in the garden and lots of beer from Tribute Ales who are sponsoring tomorrow’s race.  We feel we are part of something very special.

Day 8 Falmouth Harbour to St Mawes – the sun is shining, but something has changed – the wind has moved and there’s even talk of cancelling the race because of it.  It’s hard to believe, it feels so calm, sitting around in the harbour.  The race goes ahead and we somehow manage to be first away, (very skillful Skippering from Nick and Mating from Steve) we hold first position almost to the end.  We have to jib, (that’s change direction to you and me) and we don’t do it well – our inexperience hinders the team and at one point, the whole crew is just clinging on as the starboard egde of the boat is 2 feet under the water – it’s fun, it’s not really scary, (well, OK, just a tad), it’s meant to be like that, we just weren’t meant to slow down so much.  2 other boats go past us :-(  But we rally and actually finish 2nd because of the handicapping system.  One of the boats is not so lucky – in a similarly botched jib, their topsail snaps off at the end – around £3000 of damage we learn later…………..just one of those things that can happen in high wind, but it makes us stop and think.  It’s a night for celebration – our first ever boat race and we come 2nd – hurrah!!!  A party is arranged.  After the gentility of last night at the Boathouse, it’s all a bit more raucous.  It’s at the St Mawes Social Club – drinks are cheap and ‘bakewell tart shots’ are 3 for £5, (it would be rude not to, surely)?  Oh dear.  By the time we’re due to go back to the boat, it’s blowing up quite choppily and we are provided with life jackes for the dinghy ride back to the boat.  Just as well.  We reach the boat and LH scrambles up the bucking sides with no problem – it’s about 10 feet up to the top.  Somehow, I end up with one leg on one boat and one on another.  It’s a bit like a cartoon in slow motion.  I get wet.  Very wet.

Day 9 – Sat – St Mawes Racing – except it wasn’t.  It’s still too windy to race and they decide to postpone the morning races to see if it settles.  Then they change the sail routes – this would have been OK, except LH and I were planning on skipping off early the next day, (a Sunday) for a final night of R&R in comfort at The Gurnard’s Head Inn – http://www.gurnardshead.co.uk/  But for this, we need access to a railway line – the change in destination means we’ll be miles away from anywhere and no chance to get off the boat again until late on Sunday – too late.  We decide that discretion is the better part of valour and opt to hop off before the racing starts.  Luckily, there’s a spare room at the lovely Victory Inn in St Mawes http://www.victory-inn.co.uk/ and we make the most of it.  We ate at the waterside Idle Rocks hotel, (how can rocks be idle?  I puzzled over that for hours) http://www.idlerocks.co.uk/ and could see from our vantage point in the window that not only was the wind blowing more strongly, but many of the Pilot Cutters had decided not to go out racing at all……….And it was Eurovison night – so early (ish) to bed to cacth up on how Engelbert was doing – we shouldn’t have bothered.

Day 10 – St Mawes to Gurnards Head via Falmouth – the morning dawned sunny and less windy again and we went down to the harbour to catch the ferry across to Falmouth and from there by train towards Gurnards Head.  All the Pilot Cutters were getting ready to race again – in full sail and looking splendid.  A couple of hours and we were in a different world.  The Gurnards Head Inn is one of those places where everyone is laid back and you can do whatever you like – lounge on the sofas with Sundat papers – check; sit in the garden with views of the ruggesd south west coast – check; curl up by a roaring fire in the snug – check; we decided on all of the above – plus some wonderful food and drink……….

Day 11 – Homeward bound!  We had treated ourselves to First Class returns and it helped, but it’s a tedious journey from the end of the country back to the middle again.  A little over 5 hours, very slow at times and not comfortable enough to doze off for any length of time.  I never thought I’d be pleased to pull in to Swindon Station.  But I was.

If you want to experience the joys of sailing, I can’t speak highly enough of the Amelie Rose and her crew – lovely people, lovelier boat – try it out!

 

Posted by: lucylastic | June 12, 2012

Day 2, all at sea…………..

So, we emerge from the foc’sle bunks extremely early on Day 2.  Captain Nick and Mate Steve are still asleep, but I decide to press ahead with tea making – it looks quite bright outside – the weather is changing for the better and things are looking up.

Tea and rough ablutions over, (the ‘head’ has a loo mounted high up to accommodate the curve of the ship’s frame and a tiny basin) we make some decisions…………a long sail – heading for Dartmouth – which will take us right past Weymouth, Portland Bill and other notoriously rough bits of sea.  The goal – get the difficult stuff out of the way so we can enjoy short hops from pretty harbour town to pretty harbour town at our leisure.

Having spent time in Dartmouth last September, (check it out on https://lucylastic.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/a-late-summer-weekend-in-devon-just-what-the-doctor-ordered/) , I was looking forward to seeing it from the water this time.

So, off we sail into a fresh morning breeze……….LH is struggling to find his sea legs and despite several prior nautical experiences, succumbs to ‘mal de mer’ by early afternoon.  In our optimistic, (and possibly short-sighted) packing, I have failed to purchase any anti-sickness tablets and there are none on board.  LH disappears down below and I assume goes to sleep.  A few hours go by, we haven’t gone that far, this sailing is not a speedy endeavour, but chatting away to Nick and Steve is entertaining and enjoyable – we swap Hungry Sailor stories and talk about the food, the suppliers, the challenges and the programme.  I get a chance to take the helm and get a feel for the boat – it’s VERY HEAVY to steer, much more than I expected and using the steering rope necessitates learning the feel all over again.

Nick makes a casual enquiry……………….do you think you ought to check on your husband, he’s been in the head a very long time.  Oops, I thought you were asleep dear, honest!  I shan’t linger on this bit of the trip as it wasn’t pleasurable – certainly not for my LH at any rate.  It was almost 10pm when we pulled alongside the Dartmouth ferry berth – Nick has requested a ‘hard landing’ – being able to tie-up alongside as opposed to on a mooring buoy mid-stream – so that LH can get ashore and re-discover his land legs.  It’s too late for any shops or other sellers of tablets to be open, but the lovely people on the Dartmouth Princess River Boat hear that one of our number isn’t too well and pull alongside with a stock of tablets – so kind and thoughtful and we were very much moved by their gesture.  There had been a bit of a worry that sailing might be ‘stuck up’, but it’s not, it’s full of lovely people who are passionate about what they do.  As proved again by our visit to the Dartmouth Yacht Club – where the lady obligingly offered to open up specially the next morning, (a Sunday) to let us use the showers – as we have to be off the ferry berth well before 9am.  Thanks to you all.  And so to bed.  The sailing, the fresh air, the whole laid back nature of it makes one incredibly tired………………..

More next time – I am drowning in work at the moment!!!! 🙂

Posted by: lucylastic | May 30, 2012

All aboard the Amelie Rose – Day 1

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What did you do last winter?  Dream of sunnier climes?  Me too!!!  Back in the dark, gloomy days of February 2012, and finding myself unexpectedly unemployed, I did what any food-loving, boat-loving woman would do – I hunkered down in front of the telly with a glass of wine, wondering if 4pm was a bit early to be drinking, but rationalising that there was no doubt that the sun was more than over the yard arm, it was actually out of sight!!

And what caught my eye on the magic box in the corner?  Well, the ‘Hungry Sailors’ caught my eye – I am an avid Masterchef viewer and knew who Dick Strawbridge was/is, (former MC ‘celebrity’ finalist) – big man, strange accent, pretty good cook, off-putting moustache……….if it means nothing to you, check it out at http://www.itv.com/food/programmes/hungry-sailors  So, I hunkered down.

Those who know me, know that I will watch virtually anything about cookery and food, (sorry, LH), but reader, I have to admit, the food element of the Hungry Sailors soon paled into insignificance, (in fact, I think I’d be hard pressed to recall a single recipe made in the series).

Instead, I fell in love with Amelie Rose – a replica Scilly Isles Pilot Cutter, built in 2009, (by a man called Luke Powell who we met, but more of that in a future post) to a plan conceived in the Victorian era when she was sailed only by a skipper plus a ‘boy’ – frantically racing to reach the big ships looking for safe harbour and grabbing the ‘please pilot me in between your vicious rocks’ contract before any other cutters made it ahead of them – speed and manoeverability.  In snug TV land, I warmed to Nick the Skipper and Steve the ‘boy’, (sorry Steve) far more than I did to the hirsute Dick and his somewhat fey son James…………..though I’m told they’re jolly nice chaps in real life.  It was the boat that was shouting to me with a siren call, not the food!

I watched every day, I recorded it so LH and I could watch it together at a decent hour, when wine was a more acceptable drink and I even watched some episodes twice………….I got to the end and thought – ‘I’ll bet that boat’s for hire somewhere’.  I was right – a couple of quick Googles later and I landed at http://www.topsail-adventures.co.uk/  home of the Amelie Rose.

I did what any self-respecting boat lover did, I booked a trip, in fact, I booked 2 – back to back.  A ‘Hungry Sailors’ tour that promised the opportunity to re-visit some of the stunning locations featured in the series, plus the recipes, plus a ‘go’ at some of the ‘tasks’ that James & Dick featured each day.  I was hooked.  Then the promise of 4 days sailing in the ‘annual Pilot Cutter Review’ in and out of Fowey & St Mawes, with a couple of truly breath-taking bits of scenery en route.  If you’ve never visited Yealm, (pictured below), you shoud.  I’d never even heard of it, never mind visited it before, put it on your list………………

Anyway, I promised you Day 1, and I haven’t even left the house yet!!!!  OK then, Day 1, Lake Yard, Poole – after sampling the best of what First Great Western had to offer, (Swindon to Reading; Reading to Basingstoke; Basingstoke to Poole – 3 hours – we probably could have walked more quickly, but the bags were heavy) we finally arrived in a drizzly Poole.  Grey and gloomy.  I had realised on the way down that I had failed to pack a sheet, but delight of delight, in Poole town centre there’s a sheet shop.  Problem solved.  Then there was a Wetherspoons, (sorry, just couldn’t see another pub for at least, oh, 20 yards) as we had a bit of time to kill.  Enough time to compalin about how awful Bombay Sapphire Gin tastes when you add cheap, own label tonic to it – but hey – £7.50 for 2 large ones – stop moaning.

Finally, we arrive in Lake Yard – Nick texts me, (that’s TV star, Nick Beck texting me) I feel a rush of excitement – they’re still on the boat, out in the bay somewhere – we’re told to go into the Yacht Club and use his number for ordering drinks at ‘member’s prices’ – in contrast to Wetherspoons, it’s £13.50 for 2 G&T’s here, I knew I shouldn’t have moaned!!!!  And that’s ‘member’s prices’, heaven knows what they would have charged ordinary punters.  (Cynically, LH says a tenner)!!

Then, it’s weird, I text Nick, a man I’ve never met and tell him where we’re sitting.  Shortly afterwards, he walks in, followed by Steve and for me, it’s like meeting old friends – I feel I know them well, coz I’ve seen them on the telly – they are just like they are on the TV, smiling, friendly, patient and full of tales, so many tales…………..but I can sense them eyeing us up and down – they want to know how much we’ve sailed, (a little bit and not really, for me and LH respectively).  Nick says he’s never met anyone who’s ‘not really’ sailed before and presses for details………..’OK’, LH admits, ‘have sat on a sailing boat, crewed by other poeple in the world’s warmest bath-tub, the Caribbean’.  Hmmmm.

So, finally, it’s time to board the Amelie Rose………………a little ferry takes us out onto the water, we have also learnt that the other (not known to us) people who were meant to be aboard have had to change their plans – so it’s just us and them!  I am reminded that these boats used to be sailed by a Skipper and his ‘boy’ and feel reassured.

On board, it’s ‘compact and bijou’ to coin an estate agency phrase.  I have previously agreed with Nick that LH and I will share a double berth and have packed a duvet and (new) sheet accordingly.  It’s a big bunk, but the entrance to it is small and involves a scramble across the fridge and a strange sort of double shimmy at the top to reverse in backwards.  It’s looking a lot more athletic than either of us had bargained on.  We’re offered the ‘foc’scle’, (pronounced ‘foke-sole’ apparently and a shortened version of ‘forecastle’), which is roomier, (in boat terms) but means separate bunks and sharing out bedding – I get the duvet, LH gets lots of blankets and the new sheet.  There’s another blanket dangling between us and the rest of the cabin, but I fear it won’t drown out our snoring.  In a desperate attempt not to keep the rest of the boat awake, LH and I have invested £30 of our hard-earned cash EACH – yes, £60 in total – in ‘anti-snoring acupressure rings’ – the blurb carries many endoresements – the one we like best is ‘it worked so well, my wife thought I’d died’, said Mr RC.  Sadly, I can’t say the same was true for my husband.  Far from dying, he was loud and echoey.  I tried to convince myself the snoring wasn’t as bad as usual, but I think I was being optimistic.  The ring makers promise a a full money back guarantee if you wear it correctly and it doesn’t work after 21 days.  So far, so good – shame is that I only got round to buying it the day before we left, so it’s not exactly tried and tested.  The Skipper and his ‘boy’ assure us that they can sleep through anything, not only that, they have ear plugs to boot.  I am reassured, again.  And, I know I snore too, I just never hear it!

We have a drink, (nice cup of tea), chat some more and head for bed circa 10pm.  Yes, really.  Never in my life have I gone to bed so early, so often, or drank so little and especially not on my holidays.  But more of that to come…………………

Next installment soon I hope – Days 2-6, The Hungry Sailor’s revealed, (or, as much of them as we know) ;-)

Posted by: lucylastic | May 18, 2012

Hooray, Hooray, it’s a holi, holiday!!!!

Dear Reader, Just a quickie to say we are off on our ‘summer’ hols – bravely battling the coast of Southern England from Poole to Falmouth on a beautiful sailing ship……………. the Amelie Rose – check her out on http://www.topsail-adventures.co.uk/

I had anticipated balmy waters, beautiful sunshine and bracing sea breezes to blow us along – today’s shipping forecast says ‘no’!!!  In fact, it says:

Portland

  • Wind Cyclonic becoming southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6 at first.
  • Sea State Moderate.
  • Weather Rain or showers, fog patches.
  • Visibility Moderate or good, occasionally very poor.

Plymouth

  • Wind Cyclonic becoming southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6 at first.
  • Sea State Moderate, occasionally rough at first.
  • Weather Rain or showers, fog patches.
  • Visibility Moderate or good, occasionally very poor.

I don’t like the sound of ‘cyclonic’ very much.  Do you have any scary sailing stories?  When we were boating in Ireland about 15 years ago, my younger son, E fell overboard and we didn’t realise he had gone for quite some time.  Luckily, (and very blessedly) he was wearing his lifejacket and no great harm done – very scary at the time though.  I shall, naturally be wearing my lifejacket at all times too.

Back in a couple of weeks!!!!

Posted by: lucylastic | May 9, 2012

Ageing Britain Faces Arthritis ‘Tsunami’*

First of all, I have to acknowledge Sky News* as the source of my info – check out the story on http://uk.news.yahoo.com/ageing-britain-faces-arthritis-tsunami-044316946.html

I was interested in this article as I have just made an appointment with the doctor about the terrible joint swelling and pain in my hands.  Yes, dear reader, I truly fear I may have arthritis or rheumatism, (not sure I could explain the difference if pushed) or a combination of both – and it’s hell.  Some of my finger joints are very swollen and tender and I get deep, stabbing pains in my hands at random times.  There is no history of this affliction in my family and at 49, I feel WAY TOO YOUNG to be a sufferer.  But something isn’t right and I need to do something about it…………………..

Could it be a working lifetime of daily, prolonged computer keyboard use?  Too much scrubbing when young perhaps?  An overload of housework?  Hot and cold water immersion?  Too much cooking, kneading, mixing and stirring?  Whatever it is, our hands are in use almost all the time – even when talking mine tend to fly around with minds of their own.  I hate the thought of losing the use of them………….but already I’m dropping things for no reason, my grip is weaker and I no longer offer to open stubborn jars or bottles.  Woe is me.

For anyone who follows Chinese astrology and years, 1962 was a year of the Tiger.  I’ve always quite liked being a Tiger, so much better than a Pig or Rat and somehow glamorous and slinky.  Not that I am remotely glamorous or slinky, but I don’t think I’m very rat-like either.  What I am at the moment is slightly surprised that 50 years have gone rushing by since my first appearance back in the summer of ’62.

Ex school-friend M was the first of the gang to hit the milestone back on the Ides of March, (in March, December, June and May, the Ides are on the 15th day), just in case you had forgotten when the Ides were, (13th in other months by the way). And now bestest friend A is about to reach it too.  We all shunned our 40th birthdays to some degree – feeling not quite as happy with ourselves and with the world as we should have done, but it seems that the big ‘five oh’ is finding us in better fettle.

So, celebrations here we come…………………A lives in sunny Spain and a few days of sea, sand and sangria are just what I need – full of cold and feeling sorry for myself is not conducive to merry-making – and the fact that we’re on the 06.05 ex Bristol means that we need to be up at 3am – so there’s still a little hurdle to jump – but after that, it’s Cava, Cava all the way.  Above is a pic of lovely A at my wedding a few years ago……………………

Maybe even a little glass of something en route – just to be sociable🙂

What are you doing to celebrate your big birthday?

Birthday cake

A reminder of my impending birthday!!!  Yes, dear reader, the big 50 looms – and on top of juggling plans for opening Tia Lucia Cookery School to the public, growing my Jamie business and doing a decent job for some freelance work I have been lucky enough to pick up, I have no time……………the invitations are printed, they are just waiting for me to find the time to write them out and post them.  Soon, I mean it!

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