Bookmark and Share
Matilda - Waltzing Round the Med
10/09/2014, Palma

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front recently as we have had a stream of visitors. Mallorca is the UK's Bali as it's one of the nearest places with guaranteed sunshine Tthere are many flights from all of the UK's regional airports so we arranged to see a few family and friends while we were here.

Thousands of Britain's youth flock to Mallorca every summer, particularly to the resorts of Magaluf (known as Shagaluf for some reason) and Palma Nova to drink cheap alcohol and party and other resorts cater more for families. Because of this, it sells British beer, serves fish and chips and mushy peas, as well as sangria and paella, and has lots of British products on the supermarket shelves. I'm a travel snob but even I couldn't help squealing with excitement when I saw a plentiful supply of Tetley tea bags and HP sauce!

The capital Palma is delight. If I'd known this when I lived in the UK when it was just a quick hop away, I would have come over regularly. It's got a stunning cathedral, a13c Islamic fort which was converted into the King's palace, churches, windmills and the friendliest locals probably in Europe. A hundred meters from La Lonja marina, where we picked up our guests, is Sa Llotja, a fabulous area with lots of cobbled streets full of restaurants, tapas bars and art galleries. We seem to have spent many hours over there drinking large Gin and Tonics and eating tapas watching the world go by.

A short walk away is the market. I stumbled on it accidentally when we were looking for a supermarket. It is fantastic! For those of you with a Coles or Tesco down the road, you won't appreciate what it's like to see stall after stall of every vegetable you can think of, as well as all the meat, chorizo, jamon, quesa olives, fish you could ever wish for. It even has fresh chillies and coriander! Believe me, I nearly collapsed with excitement!

Interspersed with the food stalls are little tapas bars where the locals gather for a glass of something and a little bit of patatas brava, croquetas or fried pimientos from early in the morning. We sat in one drinking a San Miguel looking at the menu and couldn't work out what the others were eating. Prawns, sardines, mackerel, mussels, none of which were on the menu. Eventually one of the locals explained that we could go and buy what we wanted at the stalls and bring it back for them to cook. They grilled our kalamari and langoustines to perfection and served it with aioli and rustic bread. Muy bien!

| | More
Blessing Counting
01/09/2014, Santa Ponsa

In the middle of all this hedonism, something has to crop up just to make you review your life and confirm that you are doing the right thing giving up your job and gadding about the world on a boat. We had a bit of that this week.

For the last few weeks, Andy has been complaining off and on about a bit of abdominal pain which I, as the good nurse I am, ignored. Last week, however, it had been getting a bit worse and, as we are in Palma, with top notch medical facilities, we thought we would see a doctor. The English one that we initially tried was on holiday in Scotland strangely but gave us the name of a German doctor whose very posh offices we found tucked in with the German and US consulates. Dr S was a very cool, tanned Internal Medicine specialist dressed in tight white jeans and a polo shirt with an impressive gold Rolex and little trendy glasses. I'm not sure what I expected him to do, probably tell us it was muscular, prescribe analgesia and I could go back to my usual non-caring self, but he prodded Andy's abdomen, did an ultrasound scan and told him that he might have a blockage in his colon and to come back next week for a colonoscopy.

That gave us a week to fret. As many of you will know, I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010 and ended up having an anterior resection so we were pretty convinced this was serious and he would have the same. Luckily for us, but possibly not for them, the family arrived for a week so we had lots of diversions but it didn't stop us waking up in the middle of the night planning what we would have to do if the worst came to the worst. Where could we berth Matilda for the winter? Mallorca is extortionate so maybe Cartagena would be best. Would we need some help to get there? Who would be able to come? Maybe my brother? Should we go back to UK or Australia? Can we still get treatment in UK?

Blood results came back earlier showing no abnormalities which cheered us up but Andy still had the pain. Wednesday arrived and the family made themselves scarce while Andy did the dreaded colonoscopy prep. For those of you who have not done this, it's character building!

I sat in the Waiting Room on the next day while he had his procedure doing what you always do in times of trouble. Praying to whoever or whatever that you will be a nicer person, give more to charity, do voluntary work if only this comes out OK. Cool Dr S comes out. "No worries" he says "Nothing major. Just a bit of diverticulosis. Drink more water. Eat more fibre. Lose a bit of weight". We love you, Dr S.

So we did do the right thing selling up and buying a boat. We will be nicer people. We will try and give something back along the way. We will try and remember to appreciate what we're doing now before we have to stop. We will eat more fibre!

| | More
The Sand Police
29/08/2014, Las Illetas

I hate sand. I hate it on the boat. I hate it in the cockpit. I hate getting it on my feet and then going to bed and getting sand in the bed. It drives me mad. (I think I was the Princess with the Pea in a previous life). So, when we have visitors, I am a right pain in the a***! "Have you washed your feet off??" "Take those thongs off before you get on please!" "You will rinse your cozzie off wont you?"

The week we have had the family on board with us including the highly-gifted grandson, Dali aged 11 and the immensely talented granddaughter, Matilda 3 ¾. We spent a few days in Santa Ponsa which involved a lot of visiting the beach and then (thank God) anchored at Las Illetas where, thanks to the beach resort being exclusive and off-limits to the likes of us, the kids had to jump off the back of the boat. By the end of the week, they are automatically washing the sand off on the sugar scoop and I have (I think) stopped being such a tyrant and got over it. Mostly!

Dali and Matilda as seen from the starboard escape hatch.The main photo is Team Matilda's special green and gold Loon Bands as made by Dali (and me)

I hope they had a good week. We've had good mix of tourist resort, gentle anchorage and the delights of Palma, a cracking little city by the way. Dali has mastered diving off the front from a height that I wouldn't consider. Matilda has gone from not actually wanting to go in the water at all to hurling herself off the back with her rubber ring on and setting off across the anchorage with us trying to keep up. I have learnt most of the words to all the songs from 'Frozen" and, as a family, we have pretty much perfected "Love is an open door" with all the actions and backing vocals.

They left yesterday. I have spent the morning returning the boat to its previous sand-free state. Andy has spent the morning looking a bit sad and, if truth be told, slightly moist-eyed. We are again anchored in a quiet, little bay. No sand, no muddle, no arguing about whose turn it is on the iPad, no shrieking as they plunge off the back, no giggling. A bit too quiet actually.

Loved having you here Barb, Dan, Dali and Matilda and look forward to the next time you visit us somewhere beautiful.... as long as you wash your feet off!!

| | More
16/08/2014, Palma

Another overnighter took us to Palma in Mallorca where we arrived at 0700 hours in rain and grey skies, the first real rain we've seen for a couple of years, and it all looked very uninspiring. We anchored outside in the bay and luckily the day improved and we could finally see the cathedral through the mist.

The first day and night were OK but on the second, the wind came up and the sea started playing up making the boat move around uncomfortably until we both felt a bit sea sick! On the third morning, the Port officials came by and told us we weren't allowed to anchor there anyway! Wondered why we were all on our own!

We moved into La Lonja Marina and were expecting to pay an extortionate amount of money as they had quoted us €162 on a web site. It turned out to be €82 per night so we splashed out on 2 nights and gave Matilda a good clean before the family arrived.

We are berthed just below the cathedral too. Not a bad spot is it?!

| | More
14/08/2014, Mahon

We haven't done a 'long' crossing since 2009, only a few overnights last summer and two this year so were quite keen to get one 'under our belt' and see how we, and Matilda, handled it. In the event, the 4-day crossing to Mahon was very easy albeit with a lot of motor sailing. We were lucky enough to have a full or nearly full-moon every night which always makes the night go better, and the most glorious sunsets and sunrises.

We are now anchored in Cala Teulera just inside the entrance to Mahon. The pilot book says there are moorings that can be picked up but, in fact, they have been removed and boats are 'encouraged' to go into one of the expensive marinas. We were approached in the anchorage by the Ballierics Port Authority who said it was forbidden to anchor unless all the marinas were full. And the marinas charge upwards of 100 euros per night. Quite disappointing and, needless to say, made us decide not to stay here. Maybe they have enough rich people, they don't need the rest of us!

Andy and I are had our first holiday together here in Menorca three weeks after we'd met! Neither of us can quite remember it so, when we went ashore to get a Spanish sim card, we treated ourselves to a celebratory lunch of Spanish Fish Stew and a couple of San Miguel's.

Off to Mallorca tomorrow which should take about 16 hours. Really looking forward to a few weeks there catching up with family and friends.

| | More

Older ]