Diary 2006

 Home Up Cruising 2006  

And suddenly it was Christmas.  (And yes we understand that strictly this belongs in 2005, but it works better here - trust us.)

This started off on the dock at 1200 with drinks and nibbles and was followed by dinner on Godspeed, an American boat owned by Bob & Cindy.  We were also joined by Oreon, Anne, Samantha & Mike from Scott Free.  Everyone contributed to the dinner which was quite impressive - different courses were brought when needed and seamlessly taken away - and there was enough for leftovers on Boxing Day when we were feeling a little 'jaded'. 

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We had already arranged to meet up with some Spanish people in the New Year so we could practice Spanish and they can practice English - another description that comes to mind is voluntary torture....we try and construct intelligent sentences and the listener endeavours to understand what we are trying to say.  Our first victim was Cristina, from Columbia, who speaks English, Swedish, a little French and her native South American Spanish.  She is a beautiful, warm, intelligent lady who helped us in many ways and she is now our friend.  Carlos & Cristina also helped us - they own an ice-cream parlour/business south of Barcelona and spend the winter months travelling and improving their language skills.  We spent many many hours with them over lunches and dinners. 

We also signed up for additional Spanish Lessons.  This time with Barcelona Metropol, only 1Ż hours a day for 4 days a weeks (boat jobs were looming large on the horizon!) and much, much cheaper - though we discovered pretty quickly that "you get what you pay for".  Not that BCN-M was bad, but absolutely everything had been pared down to the absolute minimum in order to keep the price down.  And that includes the heating!

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The next major event was a trip to Madrid to meet up with Rob & Kate our friends from Rota.  We'd been trying to find a way of getting together for the last two years without success - you know how diaries are.  They would actually be in Barcelona, a week later, which would have been perfect except we were flying to the UK that week for Lindy's mum's 80th birthday (more on that below), so we met up in Madrid instead.

Madrid has a very different feel to Barcelona.  It's hard to define, but almost the moment you step down from the train, you know you are in a capital city.

We were booked into a hostel just off Puerta del Sol (which is where all the roads in Spain number from),  it had been turned up by one of Rob's friends and was fantastically cheap given its location.  Well "you get what you pay for" - The carpet in our room had clearly once been part of a biological warfare experiment and had now been stuck to the floor to stop it going out for walks on its own at night, the hot water system only belched out about a cupful of scalding water before becoming one of those machines that they use to spray the ski slopes when it doesn't snow, and best of all it was directly above the bar where the Arsenal fans had chosen to have all their fights after their match against Madrid.  Well we're sailors, this was our sort of place, so we immediately booked in for an additional 4 nights!

It was a great week in Madrid and a great weekend with Rob & Kate.  We just seemed to pick up where we'd left off as if we'd seen them a couple of weeks ago rather than a couple of years.  A side benefit is that Rob has natural tour guide ability and given fluent Spanish together with having lived in Madrid, we could just relax and let somebody else make the decisions - excellent.

Then the long weekend was over and we had to start looking after ourselves again.  The problem was what to do with the early evenings.  Our feet ached from sight seeing and our livers from overindulgence with Rob and Kate.  We just wanted to sit down.  Obviously the hotel wasn't an option and we didn't want to end up in another bar quite yet, so we headed for the cinema.  The only place we could think of where we could sit in comfort and not drink!  Actually we became regulars.

Nearly didn't make it the first time we went though.  Our eyes had been caught by a very "interesting" underwear shop (of the leather harnesses and spiky collar variety).  As we were trying to work out how to get into, or out of, some of the outfits we were joined window shopping by a Madrile˝o couple and struck up a sort of underwear conversation (actually Lindy struck up the conversation, I was completely innocent) and that was it, we were off with them to the nearest bar.  Actually, after a very loud compulsory Spanish lesson from our hosts, to the fascination of the other drinkers, our hosts were off, having presumably decided that we weren't quite as "interesting" as we had at first seemed.

Whilst in Madrid we also took the opportunity to visit the old city of Toledo.  Lovely, but bloody cold and when it started to rain we dashed back to the station to try and get an early train back to Madrid. We might even be in time for another visit to the cinema - hurrah!  Unfortunately we were not the only people to decide that Toledo's charms are better experienced in sunshine and the early train was now full - all of the high speed Spanish train seats (AVE) are pre-booked and you can't even get on the train without a reservation.  Eventually, the train manager took pity on us and the handful of other cold and sodden tourists and allowed us onto the train to stand at the bar in the buffet car.  So fate conspired again to increase our alcohol intake.

On the day that we were to return to Barcelona, by one of those happy coincidences we were able to meet up with Sue Deeks, an old friend from Tunbridge Wells, now living in Madrid, who had returned from a trip to the UK the previous day.  The last time we met was in 2004 in Ronda, near the famous bridge where the fascists met their maker.  We managed lunch before she took us to the airport in an unexpected blizzard of snow.!

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So back to Barša and then the following day off to Leeds.  As we mentioned above, Audrey, Lindy's mum would be celebrating her eightieth birthday and then we would be bringing her back to stay with us on Samarang.  First time on a boat at the age of eighty!

Acting as hosts and tour guides was a great opportunity for us to a.) stop working for a while and b.) visit some of those places in Barcelona that we'd been meaning to see but had always been just too busy.  

Pedralbes, Guell Park, and of course the Fountains at Plaša D'Espa˝a  (lit and synchronised to music).

But finally we were on our own again and it really was time to start on the long list of jobs that we needed to finish before we left for the summer.  

We did though manage to intersperse the jobs with dock parties, socialising, a little (but not enough) Spanish practice, and Flamenco - Tomatito, Jose Merce, Vicente Amigo, Enrique Morente - all at the remarkable Palau de Musica, another beautiful Barcelona building.

It's probably because of all the enjoying ourselves that we ended up having to stay for an extra month to (nearly) complete the job list.  Ending up with what is, if you are living on board, the somewhat logistically exacting task of varnishing the cabin sole.  This involves varnishing backwards towards the aft cabin, climbing out of the hatch and going out for the day.  Then coming back to the boat, climbing in through the hatch onto and into the bed, sleeping in a haze of thinners and then getting up in the morning (without breakfast of course) and repeating the whole procedure.

But finally, finally it was time to go sailing again...........

 

 

Up Cruising 2006

 

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