Tinker and Scrappy go on an adventure

18 October 2017
28 September 2017 | Sade before the lumber test... With big pants
03 September 2017
03 September 2017
13 August 2017
07 August 2017
31 July 2017
09 July 2017 | Harbour at Cassis
05 July 2017
19 June 2017
19 June 2017
16 June 2017
18 May 2017 | Photo of San Simplicio
26 April 2017 | Ostia, Rome
26 April 2017 | Ostia, Rome
16 April 2017
08 March 2017 | Tropea, Italy
06 March 2017

Love and Kindness

18 October 2017
We are finally getting a little used to having our feet on dry land and are enjoying planning all the places we want to sail to once the next seven months are over and chemotherapy is done once more. We are still homeless, but will be back in our own home on the evening of the 4th November, after nine very long and agonising weeks. Treatment has been delayed and will start mid November, allowing us time to move back in and to get the house sorted and equipped with furniture. We received a solicitors letter stating that our tenants will only move out if they are not made to put right the long list of items we complied on our inspection, and if we do not take legal action regarding those things once they have moved out. If not the letter stated we would have to go to court to get possession of our own home, and it would take 6-9 months to go to court and to get bailiffs to evict. We agreed as it is not feasible to have treatment in the Midlands and live in Yorkshire. Nor is my oncologist happy for me to start treatment in a caravan with the risk of infection. So I am still waiting to start treatment, and am finding it very difficult as I would just like to get started now. I am sick of panicking when I get a headache or sore eyes. The delay also means I will be having round two of chemotherapy very close to Christmas, so I think Jules and the dogs will be feasting without me!!!

However, amidst all the heartache, fear and worry I have so much to be grateful for each and every day. Despite having a diagnosis of cancer, I am so well. I am jogging twice a day and walking long distances. I feel amazingly healthy, which is why having treatment is such a hard decision to take. I am also loving the autumnal colours and have missed them in the last four years. When I jog in a morning, the mist is lying on the fields, and spiders webs gently catch the rays of the sun. I have seen lots of wild deer in fields, and have had the odd barn owl majestically fly overhead. Tinker is beside herself with the smells of sheep and goats in the local fields, and I just love watching the red leaves fall to the ground. I try to visualise them as bad cells falling from my body once treatment starts.

However, it is to friends and family that I am most grateful to at the moment, and could not get through this tough period without so many wonderful people.

Jules
My hero, who has got a contracting job to tide us over financially before he receives his pension next year at the age of fifty. He has worn flip flops and shorts for the last few years, but has polished up beautifully in suit and charity shop shirts and looks rather sexy!!! He has a huge hotel room with a four poster bed as part of his work package, but drives back midweek (getting up at 4.30am to drive back to Worksop) just so we can be together. He is there beside me at every test and trip to the hospital, and supports me in any decision that I take. He is finding it so very hard living in a house and a conventional life and is missing the boat terribly. He looks as if he has aged ten years, but he never complains and is my rock. He is my best friend and my reason for living. We have this little dream that we will fall off to sleep rocking gently on the tide at anchor when we are 114, and I will not let him down!!!!

Tinker and Scrappy
They have been cleared of all wrong doing by the dog warden, and are just so adorable. On nights that Jules is away, Scrappy sees it as his job to keep me company in bed, (if he has not forsaken me for my sister as her bed is bigger). They are old and grey, but still behave like young pups. Their smiley faces and waggy tails still warm my heart, even at 6am when Tinker trots upstairs to warm her nose on my back!

Family
I am currently living with my little sister Ruthy,. We have had a great month - singing our favourite songs at the top of our voices in her car on the way back from the shops; going out on a very fast rib in Scarborough and eating chips and fresh crab sandwiches on the beach after paddling in the sea. She curled my hair and applied my make up before we paraded around Pickering in our 1940 outfits for the War Weekend. We had a brilliant time, trying on fur coats, listening to War time music, watching the parades and dancing In the street. We nervously attended Vespers at the local abbey, where there was something completely magical and comforting in watching the monks assemble in their hooded cassocks, even if she was 'making eyes' at the younger novices. We had the giggles at the harvest festival, which led to some terrible face pulling by Mom, which set us off even further. We bid on beetroot and cheese scones at the harvest auction and were delighted that our organic box of veg got the second highest bid. We have enjoyed visiting local pubs and have rated them on their roaring fires, choice of ciders and pork scratchings. We both have a love for a good curry, and have enjoyed visiting the local curry houses. Sadly, being sixteen years younger Ruthy did not have to take part in Domestic Science at school, hence her cooking, ironing and housework skills are none existent She is however, good at management skills and has delegated all these roles to me, along with marking all of her school books and assessments whilst she lies out on the settee watching TV and texting friends!!!!! Now I know what it feels like to be Dobby the house elf!!!

Mom lives in the next village has been wonderfully supportive in so many ways. She has driven me all over the Yorkshire Dales in hot pursuit of charity shop furniture for me to chalk paint. We have had a giggle at her near misses in the car - there was the incident where she just managed to swerve round a lorry at the roundabout, the near miss on Morrison's car park when she shot forward into a brick wall and there was the grass verge incident near the coast!!! Having survived that, we have had some wonderful days out - walking along the beach, driving through spectacular scenery, enjoying little tea rooms and sitting through an hour of aged nuns singing which gave us both the giggles. She has cooked the best Sunday roast and has treated me to some stunning bone china tea cups and soup dishes. We have rated the Yorkshire tea rooms and old manor houses and have become addicted to cinnamon toast and pots of loose tea. Mom treated me at the iconic 'Betties' in Harrogate and we enjoyed bagels and wine. We had a fantastic day out in Sheffield visiting my aunt and never stopped laughing. We had a superb lunch and the most wonderful trifle, and I was given a stunning bracelet with jade stones which promote longevity and good health.
Mom is married to Farmer Frank, and he too has been wonderfully kind in so many ways. I have enjoyed visiting his bulls and bullocks, and had to resist naming the cute looking ones with curly hair and ginger coats. He shares my love of wild Heather honey, and bid on some for me at the harvest auction. I think I am in his good books as I have encouraged mom to give up M&S shopping in favour of Lidl!!!!! His choir have also volunteered to do a charity event for Samos Refugees.

I have had cards and well wishes from so many other members of the family, some who are also dealing with their own diagnosis and treatment. I had a very, very kind gift from across the sea and have been blessed by Facebook pictures of autumnal colours in New England, a place we dream of sailing to. I am truly stunned, and lost for words over such kindness and help. It makes me feel so humbled and loved.


Friends
I am wowed continually by my all of my friends. Our dear friend Ross just turned his house over to us for a month in Bridgnorth whilst he was doing Charity work in Samos. Friends have offered houses for us to stay in for the duration of my treatment, whilst others have offered to turn part of their house over to us, or to move out of their home for seven months. These offers have been so generous and kind but I just want to have treatment in my own house. Several friends are having a tidy out of kitchen and household goods for me and others have gone out and bought gifts. We have had offers of cleaning and painting parties, and other friends have offered to keep me entertained and well fed when back in the Midlands whilst Jules is working away during the week. I have had inspirational gifts with kind words and beautiful butterflies. We have been bowled over by everyone's kindness and support and we are just so appreciative of everyone.

My oncologist and nurses
I am so very lucky that we have continued with my private health insurance, as the treatment I am receiving is just superb. Prem, my oncologist is an amazing person, and never complains about my long list of questions, refusal to have all the treatment on offer, or balancing conventional treatment with my holistic ways. We have decided to take the 3 day FCR chemotherapy every 3 days in a 28 day cycle for 6 months and chemotherapy into the spine once a month for six months. However, at this point in time we see no benefit in having the chemotherapy which will hospitalise me, but will keep it on the back burner in case I need it. It is never too much trouble for Prem to answer my emails, or to fit us in whenever we want to see her. As for my nurses, they are brilliant fun. Last time we had a complaint on the ward, that we were making too much noise giggling and laughing!!!


Total strangers
Those that know me well, know that I love to talk to anyone. After receiving the solicitors letter I was beside myself with anger, rage, upset and hurt. I was out in Harrogate and I noticed a tramp sitting on the pavement in the biting wind. I went over and gave him some money and a big hug, which was warmly received. I had a chat to him, and it put things in total prospective, I have nothing to complain about compared to him, he was cold, dirty and alone and I have a roof over my head, a full stomach and surrounded by the love of others.

Yesterday, my sister had a new gardener arrive, I had a chat and cup of tea with him and he was asking all about why I was staying with Ruthy. When he came in from mowing the lawn he asked me to google a luxury log cabin in an idyllic setting in the countryside. It looked beautiful, and he then told me that he owned it, and wanted me and Jules to have a night free of charge in it before I start my treatment and breakfast at the Manor House the next day.

There are some wonderful people in this world, and I am lucky enough to know so many of them. That love and kindness will carry both Jules and I through the next six months and it makes us realise we are truly blessed.


No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Quite a tough month

28 September 2017 | Sade before the lumber test... With big pants
A difficult month by Scrappy Doo.

The last month has probably been the worst in my life. I have discovered that I have the same problem as Auntie Ruthie... when someone strange is staying in our house we can be constipated for a week!!!! When Mom and Dad returned to the UK and left us in Spain a lovely Belgium couple looked after us on our boat. They cooked beautiful food and took us walks, but I could not go to the toilet. Then one night I exploded all over the carpet and settee, there was poop everywhere. From that moment onwards they locked me outside on the deck of Leslie Frank day and night and I knew what it felt like to be homeless. Mom and Dad arrived in the car to find me curled up on the back of the boat looking pitiful and feeling very sorry for myself.

We had a lovely trip back to the UK. I slept for 36 hours mostly on Mom or Dad's lap. I missed the Pyrenees, Southern France and the Eiffel Tower, but as long as I was getting cuddles I really did not mind. Dad was very scared at Calais when they struggled to find my micro chip, but finally it registered and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. Having driven over 3,000 miles in 48 hours Mom and Dad were shattered, so we found a dog friendly hotel near Dover and relaxed for the night. It was perfect, it was a family room, with enough beds that we could all have one !!!! Whilst Mom luxuriated in the bath I tried out all the beds and chose the one by the window where I could watch the squirrels. I have not seen one in four years, and had forgotten what fun chasing them could be.

Before we knew it, we were on the way to Yorkshire to stay with Mom's sister, Ruthy. We have been looked after really well, and fed like kings. Ruthy takes us walks before and after school and Grandma Jane and Farmer Frank come in during the day and bring toys, treats and custard creams ! We have been a bit bored during the day and have got into a bit of trouble. Firstly we played tug of war on Ruthy's bed, and before we knew it we had torn up her duvet, she came home to fluff everywhere. Then there was the episode when I knocked into a cupboard and a box fell on my head, so I demolished it. Auntie Ruthy has a child's piano and the only way I could stop Tinker from playing it, was by taking a bite out of it. One evening Auntie Ruthy had a bath, and wrapped a towel around her, whilst she shut the curtains. As she lent over we pulled the towel off her, giving a man in the street a naked surprise. And finally, there was the incident that involved the dog warden. Grandma Jane let me out of the front lawn, and a naughty dog came running up the drive. I head butted the fence, broke through and chased it down the road with Tinker hot on my heels. I gave him a bit of a nip before he ran away like a coward. Tinker and I then blocked the High Street and stopped the cars with people trying to catch us, it was such good fun!!!!! The dog warden was informed, and mom was beside herself with worry. Luckily, Grandma Jane dealt with the dog warden and convinced her that we are just missing our mom and we got a stay of execution. Apparently if we do it again we get an ASBO, something Mom says we should not be proud of getting. Today Mom and Dad have arrived, and we are delighted. We have been so well looked after, but nothing is like falling asleep with your head on your Mom's lap and crawling into bed when you feel cold.

Mom and Dad have had an extremely busy four weeks, they have loved staying at Uncle Ross's in Bridgnorth and now want to move there. I think it has something to do with the Railway Inn which serves a great beer and bags of scratchings. They have secured "Leslie Frank" as best they can in Spain, have bought a car and have spent a lot of time fetching us from Spain, driving up and down the motorway to Yorkshire and to various hospital appointments. Dad has got a contracting job and starts on Friday. It is not ideal as he will be based in Mansfield during the week and Mom and Dad hate being apart.... but it will keep us in custard creams! They have also been trying to sort out accommodation. Sadly it has meant a family fallout and a lot of swear words and screaming from Mom as Grandad Pauly and Auntie Abi could not move out of our house within a month and so Mom and Dad had to serve them their two month notice period. This means that we can not move back into our house until the 4th November which has really upset Mom as she wanted to move in and start treatment. Mom and Dad then spent days arranging a bridging loan to buy a property in Bridgnorth which would have allowed her Dad and sister to stay in our house. With the help of a very special person they secured the finances, and were 99.9% certain of the deal going ahead, and moving in within 3-4 weeks. However, on the off chance it did not happen Grandad Pauly and Auntie Abi wanted more time, so when Mom said no, they decided they will move after all. Without their rent coming in Mom and Dad can not pay the bridging loan interest, so are back to square one, waiting until the 4th November to go back into the Wallheath house.

Mom has been on a complete roller coaster with her diagnosis, and has had PET, CT and MRI scans. She has had various opthomology tests, was fitted with a mask to have radiotherapy and then the lumber puncture showed that the CLL (cancer) cells have crossed the blood/brain barrier. It is extremely rare, and in nearly thirty years her oncologist, Prem, has only seen two cases. Prem has offered various different versions of treatment, but obviously would like her to take the hard core stuff, involving periods of hospitalisation. It would involve nine months of treatment for an undetermined amount of time in remission, before the next batch of chemotherapy and perhaps stem cell transplantation. We are lucky to have such a lovely oncologist who has given Mom and Dad a few weeks to decide what course of action they wish to take, and it is so hard when Mom feels so well and her eye has completely healed, and the mass behind her eye did not show up on the PET scan. There is no data that actually shows the hard core treatment is better than other options, and Mom firmly believes that the body has the ability to heal itself. So Mom and Dad want to look holistically at what modern medicine to take which will go well with her alternative approaches. So we are all trying to chill at Auntie Ruthy's in Yorkshire for a few weeks before seeing Prem again on the 11th October.

Mom and Dad feel as if they have aged a lot in the last four weeks, but they are still smiling and laughing and making the most of every opportunity. They are disappointed they have seen very little of any friends, but are overwhelmed by their good wishes and offers of help and support. Mom and Dad simply can not believe the generosity and kindness of so many people, and it is that love that holds them up when they need it the most.

Many friends have asked how they can help. When Mom and Dad sailed away four years ago, they were so relieved that Mom was in remission that they wanted to give back and gave everything away to charity and so are starting all over. So, if anyone has anything they want to get rid of, it will be very gratefully accepted as they don't have a can opener for my tea, a kettle for a cuppa, let alone a settee for me to cuddle on. Also custard creams are always very welcome! They will be back in the Midlands in a few weeks, and hope to see you all soon.

Cancer Returns

03 September 2017
Life is so precious and sometimes something can happen overnight to change things. I feel so happy and well and full of life, but last week I had some serious problems with vision in my right eye and ended up being admitted to a Spanish hospital. After being discharged to fly, Jules and I left the dogs in the care of friends in the marina and got on the first flight back to the UK for tests. Apparently CLL cancer cells like to hide at the back of the eye, and my oncologist has put me through a whole series of tests and scans and has concluded that I have a cluster of those little blighters there.

I am writing this on a ferry bound for Cherbourg where Jules and I will take it in turns to drive the 1300 mile journey to pick up the dogs (as their babysitters can only stay until Sunday), in order to get back to the Midlands for the start of the next lot of tests on Thursday morning. The oncologist is checking that those blighters have not travelled elsewhere. I am looking down the barrel of radiotherapy and Chemotherapy once again. We have Option A which involves targeted radiotherapy to the eye and chemo injected between the spinal bones and Option B which I don't want to think about at this stage, as it means it has spread and become critical rather than chronic. We are simply hoping and praying that it has not spread and it is Option A. It will be a few weeks until we know that level of detail, but regardless the chemo will happen on the 14th September.

Life as you can imagine is a bit of a whirlwind, and we are begging and borrowing from many lovely people. We are still smiling and laughing. We have each other, two gorgeous dogs and the love of so many friends and family. Yet again, I have been blown away by the love we have been shown, and can never express my thanks to those who have offered or helped in so many ways.

Life is just fantastic, and this is another blip we have to face, and we will be even stronger at the end of it. Our motto is ' to be thorough and determined', and we are both determined I will overcome this battle, and thorough in the ways we can achieve that. But it is knowing that I am being held in love, prayer, healing and positive thoughts by so many of you that will get us through this with as much humour as we can.

' ...all will be well, and all will be well".


Cancer return

03 September 2017
Sadie
Life is so precious and sometimes something can happen overnight to change things. Only a month ago, my blood tests showed no change in my diagnosis. I feel so happy and well and full of life, but last week I had some serious problems with vision in my right eye and ended up being admitted to a Spanish hospital. After being discharged to fly, Jules and I left the dogs in the care of friends in the marina and got on the first flight back to the UK for tests. Apparently CLL cancer cells like to hide at the back of the eye, and my oncologist has put me through a whole series of tests and scans and has concluded that I have a cluster of those little blighters there.

I am writing this on a ferry bound for Cherbourg where Jules and I will take it in turns to drive the 1300 mile journey to pick up the dogs (as their babysitters can only stay until Sunday), in order to get back to the Midlands for the start of the next lot of tests on Thursday morning. The oncologist is checking that those blighters have not travelled elsewhere. I am looking down the barrel of radiotherapy and Chemotherapy once again. We have Option A which involves targeted radiotherapy to the eye and chemo injected between the spinal bones and Option B which I don't want to think about at this stage, as it means it has spread and become critical rather than chronic. We are simply hoping and praying that it has not spread and it is Option A. It will be a few weeks until we know that level of detail, but regardless the chemo will happen on the 14th September.

Life as you can imagine is a bit of a whirlwind, and we are begging and borrowing from many lovely people. We are still smiling and laughing. We have each other, two gorgeous dogs and the love of so many friends and family. Yet again, I have been blown away by the love we have been shown, and can never express my thanks to those who have offered or helped in so many ways.

Life is just fantastic, and this is another blip we have to face, and we will be even stronger at the end of it. Our motto is ' to be thorough and determined', and we are both determined I will overcome this battle, and thorough in the ways we can achieve that. But it is knowing that I am being held in love, prayer, healing and positive thoughts by so many of you that will get us through this with as much humour as we can.

' ...all will be well, and all will be well".

The Costas

13 August 2017

Mom always says that the joy of this life is that you can just move on if you don't like a place. Well, according to Mom, she got to spend her 23rd wedding Anniversary in the "Costa Del Shite". Scrappy and I think Mom is being rather harsh so we have decided to tell you about our highlights in the Costas.


1. Tacky Touristy Restaurants. They do like their "English" here, and we get to eat the leftovers that have fallen from the tables. Sausage, egg, bacon and chips - what dog would not be salivating at that tasty treat, and they even throw in a free pint at breakfast. Pizza crusts, fish fingers, bacon, hamburgers, pukka pies and kebab bits are also available if you know where to look along the pavement. Dog heaven! (Scrappy)

2. Fashion. Scrappy likes to keep his finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion, and often allows mom to paint his toenails, so he has been eyeing up the latest in beach wear. There are such brightly coloured bikinis here, but they do not necessarily fit the person wearing it. To move from beach to bar they throw over a sleeveless tee shirt which clings tightly to the wet bikini. Apparently this is meant to be a sexy look, but Dad is getting old and says it looks more like a lactating female...... now we know who has been watching too much "Call the Midwife" on DVD!!!! Dad ripped his shorts the other day, and was going to throw them away until we got here. Thank goodness he kept them as the height of fashion is exposing one's fat, sweaty cheeky bottoms. As for us, we have seen a lot of shaven things called Chinese Crested dogs. Although it looks very cooling, you can forget that, we have a reputation to keep. (Tinker).

3. Disability Friendly. They do like their mobility scooters here, and we have seen lots of dogs on their owners laps. Scrappy is particularly taken with this idea, and doesn't see why he should be made to walk. The beaches are 'scooter friendly' as they have wooden pathways to drive the scooters onto the beach. Sadly, one lady over did the acceleration this morning and ended up in the sand revving like crazy. Mom was bent over with a fit of giggles when the lady got off and walked away. They all seem to be able to get off their buggies and walk quite some distance to secure their spot on the beach, or to the cheapest bar. It must be all that sun that makes them so energised .(Tinker)

4. The Lidl supermarket. You can not beat a good Lidl. You know where you are with the quality and the sausages are always in the first aisle and are very tasty. Dad on the other hand loves the bread slicing machine and often comes back with an extra loaf". It is Grandma Janey's favourite shop. Mom did that thing where she raises her eyebrows when Dad suggested they had to go on their anniversary, as he needed milk. I think he should have managed with black coffee!!! (Scrappy)

5. Anchoring in company. The anchorages have kept us entertained with jet skis circling round the boat at a hundred miles an hour. I think it is great as we get a free roller coaster ride, and Dad clearly loves them as he shouts positive affirmations. They have the whole of the sea to enjoy, but it is so friendly that they prefer to play near us, and it saves Mom and Dad from exercising Tinker as she runs up and down the boat wagging her tail and barking. (Scrappy)

6. Pub quiz. Mom and Dad are always telling us, "if you don't use it, you lose it" and that is why Mom teaches me useless tricks like "sit and stay" or even worse "paw". So we were delighted that the loud speaker of one bar could be heard across the anchorage and Mom and Dad were able to participate in the English pub quiz which was particularly taxing on their brains as it went on until well after midnight. I don't think they did so well, as there was a lot of moaning and groaning. They were quite clearly jealous of Kevin, who must be very clever as the quiz master kept shouting, "Well done Kevin another point to you". (Tinker)

7. Karaoke nights. Dad loves a good sing song, and so we were particularly pleased to see the party boats. They swing into the anchorages and blare out loud music and karaoke. There were a lot of gyrating bodies on deck, drinking sangria and mojitos and participating in party games including the 'drink too much and vomit' game. It was good to see Mom and Dad having a go at gyrating on deck. They both thought it wildly hysterical but Mom declared it most unpleasant and told Dad that at 39 degrees he could keep his sweaty body to himself!!! (Tinker)

8. Positive body images. It is wonderful to see the expanse of beaches are covered with people who obviously feel at home in their bodies and like to share that with others. There are no size 8, 10, 12 or even 14 cat walk models here. Scrappy feels at home lying on the beach snoring away exposing his pot belly to the world. Mom has given us a biology lesson in how males can sometimes get breasts and huge nipples. We have been mesmerised, whilst Dad has done a lot of shaking of his head. According to Mom if you were to discover 'those breasts' on your wedding night it would traumatise you for ever !!! There is acre upon acre of raw, red flesh on display, baking nicely in the heat and no one bats an eye lid. Mom and Dad should be alright then!!!! (Tinker)

9. Espanol por favor. I have always tried to make myself understood in a different language. The Spanish dogs like to talk away at you in a fast and furious manner, and get louder and louder. Dad has found the same with humans, but he has managed superbly. There is not a gear box part he can not name in Spanish, and can hold a basic conversation. Mom on the other hand was going to be fluent by now, but she still has to write down te verde (green tea) on a note pad as they struggle with her pronunciation. Dad ordered a small glass of beer and a red wine in Spanish at a little bar where Friday night is curriokke, (curry, pint and free karaoke entertainment). The waiter turned to him and said in a very strong Liverpuddlian accent "sorry mate, can you say that again in English". Now you can not ask better than that, Dad got a night off from translating and got exactly what he ordered. (Scrappy)

10. Free Entertainment. This part of Spain is full of expats, and they do know how to party. Teddy was on saxophone and loved the attention of the ladies with bright orange hairdos, overly strong perfume and fake Prada handbags (mom has one of those and did have bright orange henna hair 23 years ago). A man dressed as Frankie, belted out "My way" and the ladies were swooning. At the next bar, the Liverpuddlian was shouting out quiz questions and in the far corner of the marina complex everyone was in awe of a couple performing dance routines which looked like something out of a school dance competition, rather than John Travolta. It did Mom and Dad the world of good, they came back positively glowing from the excitement of it all, and Mom still has the giggles when she thinks of those deep bends and gyrating hips!!! Dad is fifty next year, and we feel he is jealous of the men with their Elvis hairstyle or comb over!!! We might club together for a hair piece for him!!!!


Mom feels that the excitement is all a bit too much, and has asked to bypass the coast even if it means a few nights at sea. What a spoilsport! As we write this, we have been at sea for nearly 36 hours missing out our number one holiday hotspot - Benidorm!!!!!!

Fiesta

07 August 2017

The gear box is fixed! We are no longer trapped and can continue on our adventure! So why have we only sailed 37 miles south in nearly a week? We shall explain. But first a big thank you to the people who made everything possible. Through our blog we were contacted by James (many thanks) who we met last year. He has a mate called Fred, who put us in touch with Steff, who called Pere. Pere is the proprietor of the local Borg Warner dealers and he came to check the gear box. It just goes to prove that it's not what you know but who you know! Pere is over 80 years old and speaks very little English and I had to help him onto the boat, but the following day he was back with his son taking the box off the boat. He lifted it pretty easily considering it weighs about 80 kg. The list of parts which he told us we needed was a long one and the bill came to nearly 6000€. Thankfully we are lucky to have a brilliant insurance company, Pantaenius, and we have ended up only paying £1000 of the total. After it was all done, I asked Steff to get me some spare gearbox oil, just in case we had a problem in the future. To my surprise it was Pere who delivered it. He had to use google translate to tell me he was "deeply offended " and that we wouldn't need it as his work was the best!
So we set off south, and made it to the town of Vilanova which is just south of Barcelona.

Vilanova ila Geltru
We didn't intend to stay and so We anchored with another 5 boats behind the southern breakwaters. Within a few minutes a huge swell started rolling in. It is no exaggeration to say that at times you couldn't see the hulls of the others boats at the bottom of each trough. We contacted the marina to get a berth. "Our smallest place is for boats of 70 feet" the helpful lady said, "try the yacht club". This we did, and loved it.

The festival
Spanish towns have loads of festivals and we have been lucky to see quite a few, but we haven't seen one to rival this. It is called the Festa Mejor, literally the main festival and it celebrates the pledging of the people of the town to their patron saint, 'The Lady of the Snows'.The first day Sade was walking in town while I walked the dogs. She came back with a camera full of photos of stick dancers and Morris men! We hastened back in time to see a parade of 8 giant figures dancing through the town to the noise of horns and drums. It was brilliant. The evening was rounded off with a massive sausage BBQ in the church square.

Friday was the main day, and we planned our itinerary carefully. Breakfast and dog walking along on the beach, followed by lunch and a swim. Then to church to join the local people who give plates of grapes to a statue of the virgin, to ensure their harvests are protected. We were walking back when we heard English voices and met a group from the South Downs Morris team who were guests at the party. They were already dressed in mummers regalia and told us that although they hadn't got a clue what was happening, it was about to start soon. The carnival started with a team of men dressed as demons, dancing with sticks, on which were lighted fireworks. Each firework ended with a banger and the noise was enormous and ceaseless. They were followed by more demons, knights and then three dragons breathing fireworks over the crowd. The dragons were very ferocious and extremely popular. We were right at the front and were showered in sparks and smoke but no one seemed to care. Each team of dancers was accompanied by drummers, and the quantity of bangers they used seemed to grow as competition mounted. It is difficult to imagine such a festival in the UK. Whoever had to write the risk assessment forms would have needed to be pretty creative.


Then came dancing giants, girls dressed as hobby horses, girls with garlands, maypole dancers, stick dancers, bands and of course the English Morris men, who got a huge cheer. All were accompanied by bagpipes, horns, flutes, drums and trumpets. We were struck by the fact that many of the dancers could have been taking part in an English folk festival, especially the stick, garland and maypole dancers. Some other displays were very different. There was a fish fighting with a teapot (both gushing fireworks) and men carrying two enormous black wooden mules, which the locals wanted to kiss. Then there was a dance by people dressed up as odd characters with enormous plaster cast heads, and finally came two sets of human towers. This is a big thing in Catalunya and we were properly amazed. The first group formed a line. The front rank were big men on hands and knees, then people got on their shoulders, and then teenagers got on top of them, and finally three kids (about 5 years old) wearing crash helmets clambered up legs and bodies to the very top. The other group formed a base and then lifted up a massive bloke. He then carried another chap on his shoulders, who carried a third. Finally this tower was completed by another of these tiny kids who climbed up their bodies like I might climb stairs. I would have hated to see the report from the Health and Safety Executive on that one.

Our evening finished on the beach. We sat on our blankets with tea lights and a bottle of chilled wine, watching a most amazing firework display on the water. Then we joined the youths dancing to a band by the unlikely name of Dr Prat. They were ace, check it out on YouTube. At about 2 am we cooled off with a skinny dip with about 200 locals before calling it a night but they partied on until 7am. As soon as our heads hit the pillow we were asleep.

We are big fans of this place, and if you are planning to visit Barcelona next year, why not try to take in this festival at the same time. You won't regret it, but bring a portable air conditioner with you. It is very very hot!
Vessel Name: Leslie Frank of Bursledon
Vessel Make/Model: Moody Grenadier 134
Hailing Port: Southampton
Crew: Jules and Sadie , Tinker and Scrappy
About: KEY ROLES Jules .. skipper Tinker .. first mate Sade.. master and commander Scrappy .. ships boy
Extra: A continuing journey of exploration and adventure with our two adorable dogs
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