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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Paris!
10/08/2009


The doc told Sarah not to fly until 4 weeks after the op, which was a good additional incentive to take the train. And to make it easier, we decided to stop a night in Paris. Pip had never been there before, except for the Metro between the Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyons. Sarah lived there for a while - 30 years ago! (How did that happen, then?) But she'd not been back much, so this was an adventure for both of us.
At that time, Sarah had stayed a short while at the famous Shakespeare & Co bookshop, just opposite Notre Dame , and it was her only postal address for most of her stay in Paris. It's famous for being the home of the Anglophone literary scene in Paris since the 1920's, particularly for Americans. It hasn't changed a lot - it's still heaped with books from the last 100 years of American, British and Irish literature. It's got more touristy (or it seems that way) and it's still staffed by enthusiastic youngsters who in some important way do not get the complexity, longevity and pluralism of Europe. Sarah found a useful book though - that's still the same.
We stayed to listen to the historian Gregor Dallas talk about Abelard and Heloise. What might have been very interesting actually became incredibly dull, as he stretched out the story beyond belief. His main point seemed to be that Heloise had objected strongly to being made to become a nun, and that it was Abelard who had made her do it. But it took him over an hour to get to this position. After about 75 minutes, we slipped away.
We'd missed the boat trip we planned to take, so Pip headed us back to a bar in the Latin Quarter that had caught her eye on an earlier wander past. The chandeliers were hung with bra's. And there were women there. Lots of women. So we ventured in and ordered fancy cocktails. They came with sparklers. And sparkly it was: we had ventured into a male strip joint! Pip was facing the video screen and came over all fluffy. We drank our cocktails and returned to the street.
Paris is full of lesbian bars: Sarah had offered to find one. But this was a spontaneous discovery with a twist.

Places and people
Visiting Cardiff
05/08/2009

We visited Sarah's mother in Norfolk, and made an important trip to Cardiff. Our dear friend Polly is still unresponsive, and it is not clear whether she will ever improve beyond her current state. It was a shattering experience to see her. Her sister Jenny and partner Lizzie are working so hard to protect and represent her, while remaining realistic about future choices, and staying in their own jobs.
The picture above is Polly at Rye, in Sussex, taken somewhere during our convoluted trip delivering Roaring Girl from Ipswich to Brighton six and half years ago.

Places and people
Bathroom done
26/07/2009

And here it is completed (or very nearly). Pip has done a huge amount of work, painting nearly every wall in the house, organising plumbers, electricians, carpeting and generally running herself ragged. Sarah finished the contract in Merton, had a few days grace and then went into hospital for surgery. Which went very well, and adds an impressive four new scars to her already criss-crossed stomach.

Places and people
Property plutocrats?
26/07/2009

Well! We succumbed to the collapse of the property market and bought a house. The aim is to let it out rather than live in it, though in fact we will be there over this winter, and let it afterwards.
Depending on the market and our own finances, we might even buy another one in the autumn - it beats putting into a bank to do nothing!
This house needs of quite a bit of work. Above is the bathroom before Pip stripped it out ...

Places and people
Easter at Home
12/04/2009, Toulon

Home for Easter! A long overdue week off, loving life afloat, sorting out various jobs and getting that shower working again.
We are hauling RG out of the water on Tuesday. It's getting expensive to be afloat now, so rather than keep her in the water for a possible long weekend in May, we're heading across the Petit Rade to a boatyard where she can be in (relatively) cheaper dry dock for the three remaining months we expect to be earning.
Today we went up Mount Faron, one of the several hills surrounding Toulon. We walked to the bottom of the cable car, to be honest. Then we had a nice ramble around the heavily managed park/classified site at the top, enjoying what we could see. As you can tell, it's been a pretty murky, rainy sort of Easter even here in Provence. (Good Friday was magnificent and it may get better tomorrow).
This is the view across the Petit Rade. The straight line breakwater to your left marks the barrier from the Grand Rade, which is then open to the sea. You can access the Petit Rade at either end. The maze of docks directly below us is only a small part of the wharfage; another huge area is out of shot to the right, all of it belonging to the Navy as well as half of what you can see.
It's not at all surprising that Toulon is the second biggest naval base in France. It is very defensible (as both the French and English have found out at various times) from sea and land, with good fresh water. Its hinterland is arid scrub, however, which makes it less safe under siege than Portsmouth or even Cartegena.
One way or another we'll have spent quite a bit of time here (though not as much as Roaring Girl herself!) But because it's been very bitty we haven't really made friends or got a lot of connections with the town, which is a shame


Places and people
Very sad news
30/03/2009, Wales

Our dear friend Polly Kitzinger was badly injured in a car crash, not far from her home in Brecon, on 30 March. At the time of writing (12 April) she is still in a deep coma but her condition is stable. If any readers who know Polly want to keep up with her news, you can find out more on www.welove.polly.org. That's also the place to send any messages of support, photos and memories.
Polly sailed with us for a long time, particularly introducing Sarah to many adventures in the early days with Hushwing. Most recently, she sailed across Biscay with us in July 2006 - her third time across, but the first for us. The picture shows the four Roaring Girl crew (including Fiona who was with us too) at our excited arrival in A Coruna.
Getting there was made more interesting than it might have been by our lack of an engine. The propeller headed for the seabed about 120 miles from Spain. When we got to the Coruna entrance, Polly helmed magnificently as we picked our way through to safety. That champagne was well deserved.
We hope for the very best for Polly and remember her company, skill and humour with such love and respect. Our thoughts and love are with her partner Lizzie, her sister Jenny and many other friends and family.


Places and people
And the lion!
01/02/2009, London

She was followed by this lion - the two men jumped from pole to pole, stood on it's hind legs and performed amazing acrobatics for about 10 minutes.
We spent Xmas in Toulon, at home on Roaring Girl. We did take pix, but due to various lash-ups, haven't got them now. Mother Xmas abseiled off the town hall and distributed chocolates to the crowds watching tumblers and buskers around the Navigator's statue on the waterfront.
Much of the time, we have been based in London, with a long-running contract with one borough and several other pieces of work going on. This is keeping us shore-based far longer than usual, but it makes sense to earn the money while we can in these difficult times. Since last September, when we started work again, the job of a regeneration consultant has changed dramatically!
We expect to continue working to July, then take off for the west coast of Italy and associated islands. We won't get long, as Sarah has to have some medical treatment in October. So we'll get back to the UK, base ourselves in Ipswich and work through the duller months, but we're set on a March start to cruising in 2010.


Places and people
New Year in central London
01/02/2009, London

Well, it's been a while. This is written in April but starts on 1 February, when we celebrated Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square. This dragon was stunning.


Places and people
Aliens!
13/09/2008, Southampton Boat Show

For Pip's birthday, we went to the Boat Show. This entry is actually written on 1 November, back in Toulon, and looking back at SIBS feels like a different world; the economy looked rough then, and the euro very strong. Now, of course, everything is in meltdown. We are very glad we are not in debt anywhere, and lucky enough to be able to find work. Last summer was excellent practice for living very cheaply even when everything around us was astronomically expensive - a skill we will all need to hone over the coming years.
In the meantime, some things we needed were cheaper bought at the Boat Show, in sterling. Spare oil filters, new anode, some flat fenders. And some great rope for replacing our spinnaker halyards.
A Kiwi company was using these aliens to promote their product. We can't remember what they're selling , but they have a map of NZ on the back. They were everywhere, adding a certain peculiar frisson to the event!

Places and people
A rather larger vessel
19/08/2008, Passage to St Raphael

We all took the 1230 ferry across to St Raphael. This is very simple: it leaves from the quay outside the 'new port' (the marina for ordinary sized boats), and you pay on board. (?'?13 one way, ?'?22 return). It wasn't particularly crowded, although the jetty itself is rather a scrum.
In St Raphael, you get a bus to Nice airport. The maps of the town, including the one displayed outside the TIC, show the Gare Routiere (bus station) outside the Gare SNCF. Hah! That's been demolished and is still being rebuilt. The bus station is back down at the Vieux Port, on the opposite side from the ferry.
Even with that diversion Fiona and Melanie caught the 1400 airport express with ease, and we got a text confirming their safe arrival in London. They managed to collect the full set: boat (x3), bus, plane, train (DLR) and tube.
We caught the ferry back, brought a few provisions in the local little supermarket and treated ourselves to drinks in the Hotel Sube. The first floor bar is bang in the middle of the Vieux Port quayside, but remarkably quiet, and has fabulous yacht photos all around the walls. Definitely the best place for a drink in the tawdry vulgarity that marks most of the town.
Our plan now is to wait out the south-westerly (blowing as we write this on Wednesday afternoon), which would give us a beat to the Lies adhere. If the forecasts are right, we will head back to Port Man tomorrow for a last weekend at anchor. From there, on Monday we will sidle round to Plage de la Courtade, where we will ring the port in Toulon to see if our high hopes of a berth there are confirmed. If they are, we will tie up next week in our winter berth, before returning to the UK for Sarah to start her temporary job in South London on 2 September. That will mark the end of 18 months in which we have spent all but three travelling, and allow us to replenish our depleted coffers.

Places and people
The high life
19/08/2008, St Tropez

We finally found a spot in this busy anchorage, about a kilometre east of the entrance to the port of St Tropez. The anchorage is full of super yachts, and quite deep. So far it's been very comfortable, save for wash, though it is quite open to the north east.
Fiona and Melanie invited us out for dinner, to celebrate Sarah's birthday. We went to a good Provencal restaurant called Table du Marche in Rue Georges Clemenceau, and can thoroughly recommend it! We were very full, as well as enjoying cocktails and two excellent bottles of wine. Unaccustomed luxury: thanks to the two of them.
We also discovered that there is a water taxi in St Tropez (not mentioned in the Pilot book, possibly because it's ?'?40 every trip, though the boat can take about 8 people.) Ring on 06 12 40 28 05. Pretty good English spoken. This took the worry out of a potential trip home in Bridget in the dark, and gave us unaccustomed rides in very fast ribs, which were great fun.
On Tuesday morning, there were candles in the fresh baguettes to accompany a very nice bottle of champagne - a great way to start the day!

Places and people
Eruptions in Haute Provence?
16/08/2008, Antibes

From Nice we had a pleasant sail west, back to the Anse de la Salis off Antibes. Down went the new Rocna. The first time we don't think we gave it enough time, but it certainly bit the second time. Fiona and Sarah went swimming; the water was cooler than last time we were there, but still had that silkiness peculiar to this bay.
That night we had this amazing sunset over the hills, followed by firework spectaculars in both Antibes and St Laurent.

Places and people

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