Patch and Bert go travelling

04 August 2022
16 July 2022
29 June 2022
30 May 2022
19 May 2022 | Treguier
28 April 2022
18 April 2022
07 April 2022 | Guernsey
06 February 2022
06 February 2022
01 January 2022
22 December 2021
14 December 2021
23 November 2021

To be a Pilgrim

04 August 2022
Sadie Windmill
The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, is an ancient pilgrimage trail. It is made up of a vast network of roads and paths by which pilgrims travel to arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

This week we have been privileged to walk short parts of the trail, firstly for a whole day and then a half day walking into the city and to the cathedral. As always I like to know the background info and here is a very shortened version with my thoughts in brackets!

1. According to tradition, Saint Peter cast lots with the Apostles to determine where each Apostle would visit to make converts. Spain fell to James the Greater. It is thought that he didn’t manage to convert many people but was called back to Jerusalem in a vision by the Virgin Mary. (This turned out to be a bad mistake).

2. After arriving back in the Holy Land, James incurred the wrath of the Jews and was beheaded and his body thrown to dogs. (Now our dogs love a bone, so I do wonder how they managed to wrestle his bones back from a pack of wild dogs).

3. Tradition has it that some bones and the detached head were recovered by two of James’s disciples who took them in a boat which, although having no rudder, oars, sails or even sailors, miraculously carried its precious cargo against all prevailing winds and currents along the Mediterranean, through the Straits of Gibraltar and up along the violently windy coast of modern Portugal to Galicia. (At the moment we are being warned by the coastguard to look out for a pod of killer whales that have left the Straits of Gibraltar and are attacking small yachts up the Spanish coast. Thank goodness they didn’t encounter these or the daily strong winds that would have driven the boat onto the rocks).

4. After seven days travelling, the boat landed in North West Spain. Here, according to one legend, St. James’s body suddenly soared into the air and flew east, pursued by his disciples, until it landed in the kingdom of Queen Lupa, a pagan ruler. Lupa set tests for the disciples to see if she would allow them to bury the apostle in her territory. They had to vanquish a ferocious dragon and pacify two wild bulls. They were so successful that Lupa converted to Christianity and bequeathed her palace as a burial place for James’s body. (‘Don’t mock but have faith Sadie’, I hear my mom and Grandad saying).

5. We next pick up the story around 818AD when a bishop was led by shining lights to the tomb containing St. James’s relics. The settlement that followed this discovery came to be known as Santiago. At this time St James was mainly portrayed in armour, riding a white horse and having a sword in his hand. This is Saint James the Moor slayer- the soldier, victor, oppressor and killer. He is a hero who rides in and smites whoever needs to be smitten in the name of Spain and the Church. (To me it is more than coincidence that at the time the Catholic Church ‘found his bones’ northern Spain was calling Christians to kill their enemy- the Muslims of the South. What better way than rally behind the bones of an Apostle).

For me, none of the above really matters. The area feels some how untouched, despite the amount of people who walk here and part of its charm is the many myths and legends that surround it. Pre-Christian communities worshipped the sun and believed it was here, in the most Westerly point of Europe, where the sun was swallowed each night by the ocean, that the worlds of the dead and the living became closest. You can almost connect to the ancient people who have walked and worshipped before and shared joys and sorrows just like we do today.

We walked through villages, farmlands and unspoiled countryside to the sea cliffs and the craggy coastline of Atlantic Galicia to the fishing village of Muxia. We walked to the church of Nosa Senora da Barca and watched mass take place in a crowded church. I love the smell of the candles and incense and hearing the swish of robes and click click of the ladies with fans. Here the ocean has carved the stones into weird shapes and for centuries locals have attributed magical and curative powers to them. Sadly there wasn’t a rock to cure cancer, but if you walked under one of the rocks nine times, it apparently cures all back pain for life!!! The rocks have been used as stone altars for those worshipping the sun gods, and later legend said they were part of a stone boat that bought the Virgin Mary to Spain. The rocks were indeed magical and as the waves crashed on them, you were left with a feeling of awe and wonder. We rounded off our busy day with fresh sardines cooked over an open BBQ surrounded by pilgrims on their way home.


Walking into Santiago itself, on a very hot day was pretty special. It is a beautiful old city with cobbled streets, little bars and restaurants. We had a superb seafood lunch watching the pelligrinos (pilgrims) make their way to the cathedral. Most had swopped their boots for flip flops and the look on their faces was one of relief and joy. There was a big party of young nuns who looked radiant that they had finished. The cathedral is vast and as it is a Holy Year, we were allowed to enter by a special entrance called the ‘Holy Door’ on the east side of the Cathedral. Apparently if you visit the shrine in a Holy Year, you are granted a plenary indulgence….. in short a quicker way to wash the sins away! The cathedral smells fantastic, it has the world’s largest incense burner inside, which takes about 8 men to hold on ropes.

The legends, myths and beauty of this place causes me to be captivated by the Camino way, and by Fisterra (literally the end of the earth) and the Costa da Morte (coast of death). Despite being one of the most dangerous stretches of coast on our journey it has some of the most stunning beaches, mesmerizing sunsets, gorgeous seafood, wonderful waterfalls, rolling hills and beautifully smelling eucalyptus trees. Last week, whilst navigating these difficult waters our engine starter motor broke. Jules still does not understand how, but he managed to get it started to get us safely back to port….. maybe there is something in it being a place of miracles after all.

The highs and lows of Spain by Bertie.

24 July 2022
Sadie Windmill
We have been in Spain just over a week and there are some things we love, and others we hate. Firstly I am not a fan of Spanish dogs. They are sexual predators. The other night we were sat outside a little bar when two huge Great Danes decided to have sex in front of us all. The owner of the dog tried to pull him away, but the dog knocked him off his feet and went on to have a jolly good time. I had a terrible experience with what can only be described as a 'troll'. She had bulgy eyes, bad breath and big teeth that would have kept an orthodontist in a job for life. She tried it on with me, thinking a sailor boy would be up for anything. I ended up on mom's lap, quivering all over in fear and only calmed down when a scarf was placed over my eyes and I couldn't see her bulging eyes waiting for me. I have been waking up with nightmares ever since! I am glad to report that no serious disease was passed on, but she did give me a nasty case of fleas!!!

In Galicia, lots of people use laundrettes, there are at least two in every town. Mom loves a good laundrette, especially if it is near a cafe. In Viverio the cafe was next door. They offered free churros with morning coffee. It is best described as a long thin crispy donut, which is delicious dunked into a warm drink. Imagine mom's delight when she discovered a doggy laundrette. Mom placed two euros in the machine and got an apron, a disposable dog towel and access to a machine which gave us a wash and blow dry. It was truly awful, but it did wash away the fleas and made mom very happy.

More dolphins must live in Spain than anywhere else, as we have seen them every day we have sailed. Patch and I love them and lie in wait at the bow, ready to bark. Patch has to be tied on as he nearly falls in, he gets so excited. We have had baby dolphins and big, whopping daddy ones. Sometimes they play at the bow, showing us their white tummies and at other times they flip and jump high out of the water. Whilst the UK has been engulfed in a heat wave, we have had morning fog rolling over the hills and cooling sea breezes in the afternoon. Although it has made sailing challenging, Mom and Dad have enjoyed it, as it has kept the temperatures that little bit cooler. We tend to get a morning walk when it is cool and an evening walk to a little bar. In Northern Spain, small portions of food are given out with a drink. Mom and Dad rate the place according to the free tapas, so far they have had olives, tortilla, padron peppers, peas and chorizo, anchovies on toast, meatballs and goose neck barnacles (which were their very favourite).

Mom does alot of 'wondering' when she has a drink.... The latest is why a large glass of Rioja would cost about £7.50 in a pub in England,and yet it costs £1.50 with tapas in Spain. She loves the way the waitress just brings the bottle and pours it straight into the glass without measuring! It is also served cold from the fridge, which she says is the only way to drink red wine in the heat. Whilst she was on her 'wondering' phase she told Dad about a recent article she had read, about how British cafe owners are bemoaning the price of coffee beans and feel that the customers are going to have to accept a 10p increase. She wonders why, when she gets a beautiful cup here, with churros, or homemade Madeira cake for £1, in idilic settings! Even we have started to get tapas! One evening the waitress bought us a doggy bowl of love heart biscuits. She couldn't win me over, but she had Patch in raptures, sitting to attention waiting for a little red love heart. Mom thought the e-numbers might make him hyper, but he slept soundly, dreaming of his Spanish waitress!!!

We really like the Spanish food. They sell 'woodies' - sausages with a blob of cheese running through the middle. We won't go back to dog food after this! Mom and Dad are also addicted to Spanish food, particularly the octopus. She made Dad laugh when she said that even fascist leaders have their good points - General Franco passed a law to say that every Spanish worker should be entitled to a mid day three course meal with wine and coffee at a minimal cost. It is still enforced today and costs around 10€. You can see workers piling into restaurants around 1pm. Mom and Dad joined them. Mom had a seafood salad, followed by a clam pasta whilst Dad went for tripe and chickpeas and then steak and chips. The house wine was plonked on the table, along with two bottles of water and desert was crème Catalan or cold rice pudding.

We are now in A Coruna and have discovered the joy of ham restaurants. Hundreds of cured hams are hung on the ceiling with little drip trays to catch the fat. We have found a superb little restaurant where we sit outside under the vines whilst Mom and Dad share a small portion of ham and cheese. The waitress loves us and bought us a doggy bowl of the fatty pieces. There has been a festival on for the last three days, and we have been out on the town until 2am watching the magic of a Spanish fiesta. There have been people on stilts walking through the streets, people dressed up as monsters and jesters, fireworks going off in all directions, loud bands and bagpipes. It has been mad,but great fun.

So although I am missing the sophisticated, well groomed French ladies, Spain is a bit of alright!

Crossing Biscay

16 July 2022
Sadie Windmill
Day 1
We left Pornichet at 7am after giving the dogs a walk. The weather was hot and we sailed in shorts with a following sea, (the wind is from behind you) and Leslie Frank rolled slightly from side to side which I find very relaxing. Jules set the cruising chute and we settled down to read, sew, doze and eat! When we are doing a sea passage it is amazing how eating manages to fill a lot of your thoughts! Pre diagnosis I used to buy packets and packets of chocolates, biscuits and cake… now it is homemade lemon polenta cake and ripe Mediterranean fruit. We had lunch of a tabulah salad and freshly caught mackerel. We have a long line with feathers that we troll off the back of the boat. Tinker used to quiver with excitement as soon as she saw the line and would bark if she saw movement. Scrappy would wait until Jules was gutting a mackerel to pinch one from the bucket. Bertie and Patch don’t seem in the slightest bit interested, but they do like mackerel and pasta for their tea! We lost mobile phone reception a couple of hours in, no more weather forecasts, we just have to hope that nothing changes!

At 7pm we had a glass of wine together and a few nibbles at the cockpit table as it was so very calm, followed by a Jamie Oliver Pasta dish. Jules went to get his head down and I did the 8pm - 1.30am shift. We wear life jackets and lines and I listened to music and watched the stars, hoping for a shooting one. Patch never left my side, he sat with his head on my lap, (wearing his little life jacket) whilst Bertie was sound out in bed!

It was during my shift that we reached the continental shelf. This is what makes the Bay so dangerous. One minute we are sailing in 140m of water, and the next in 4000m. In a storm all that water has to go somewhere, and it kicks up a terribly violent sea. Our insurance company will only allow us to make the crossing between May and September. I wish I could describe night sailing in conditions as warm and calm as this. The sunset over the water is phenomenal as the night sky changes from crimsons and oranges, to purples and pinks. You look out at the vast ocean with the moon shimmering and the stars lighting up the night sky and it makes you realise how small a cog you are in the vastness of the universe. Time and time again, it brings me back to the belief in a Greater Power who designed this amazing place.

Day 2
Jules relieved me at 1.30am. Patch and I got our heads down until 6.30am when we were back on watch. We were just in time to see the sun rise and it was warm enough already to put shorts on. I am doing a redwork quilt for Christmas, so sat sewing “12 drummers, drumming” which seemed a bit crazy in the heat. We both slept alot during the day to catch up on lost sleep so I love our evening ritual of a glass of wine and pot of olives at sundown to chat. My brother and I had already discussed how taking 3-4 days to do a 350 mile journey seemed madness, and if he won the lottery he would have a great big engine on the back of his boat!!! I have to say I rather agreed with him, but now we are out here with nothing but dolphins for company it makes me realise how much of our short time on earth, we waste not being present in the moment but looking for something better around the corner.

On the lunchtime menu today I made Nigella’s roasted tomato soup and a simple shepherds pie and green beans for tea. We were disappointed not to catch any fish today, but have high hopes for tomorrow! Jules was tucked up in bed at 8am, whilst Patch and I welcomed in another perfect night.

Day 3
Patch and I were relieved of our watch at 1.30am and we slept very soundly until 6am when it was our turn again. Bertie is the only member of the crew that does not understand shift systems, and seems to have slept throughout the whole trip. We were rewarded with a pod of 100 dolphins which surrounded us. They were feeding and so were moving through the water with great speed. About 10 stopped to play at the bow of the boat and a mother and baby gave us a spectacular show. Lunch was a simple ricotta and spinach pasta dish and tea was a salad and fresh fish cooked in a lemon butter sauce. Today we both read and before we knew it, I was on my evening shift. At 9pm we had even more dolphins, who stayed about an hour, playing and taunting the dogs. Patch had to be clipped on, as we both feared he would fall in with over-excitement. They came back about midnight and played at the back of the boat where we were sitting. In the moonlight we could see their outlines as well as hearing their movement in the water. It made staying on watch until 2.30pm worthwhile.

Day 4
Jules woke me at 6am. I had done a longer shift as we were closing into shore and we wanted Jules to be wide awake to take us into Viviero, Spain. We had not expected thick fog! We anchored the boat off the beach, judging it to be too unsafe to take the boat up to the marina. The smell of eucalyptus drifting off the shore was something I will remember for along time. We got glimpses of the magnificent trees as the fog lifted for a minute or two! It took a few hours for it to lift, and we motored to our mooring.After taking the dogs for a walk, we got our heads down and had an afternoon sleep. Spain doesn’t really come to life until after 9pm, so we forced ourselves up and went into the old quarter. We had a glass of Rioja and some free tapas at a bar in the square, and then found a pulpeteria - octopus restaurant. We sat out in the little alleyway at midnight with a very nice wine, superb octopus and raised a glass to a wonderful sail and to life!


Leisure
W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?-
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Sailing and how to avoid it!

10 July 2022
Sadie Windmill
Two weeks ago we were planning on leaving France and heading for Northern Spain. It is a 3 or 4 day sail across the Bay of Biscay and so we wanted to get the wind just right, as it can get dangerous and rough. The weather had looked perfect. I spent the day before cooking lots of meals for the fridge and we set off only to be utterly becalmed! So we put into the beautiful island of Houet.

Houet has a big bay where we anchored for 4 nights. A steep street leads to the village from the harbour, but our anchorage was on the other side of the island, where you had to time the dinghy landing to coincide with the breaking waves on the shore. The narrow streets in the heart of the island are lined with whitewashed houses with blue shutters. We walked the length of the tiny island and found empty bays and long sandy beaches ideal for a picnic lunch and skinny dipping. I am not sure that Bertie approves, but Patch loves swimming with us. My friend Jo bought me a penknife a few years ago for my foraging trips, and it is ideal to cut into a ripe tomato or juicy melon. Each evening we would walk to the little bar on the island and watch the boats moving about in the harbour. The island really did feel like a tonic for the soul, it is extremely beautiful and very rustic. On the first three nights there were just a handful of boats at anchor, but on Saturday afternoon the French motored over to the island from the mainland and we counted 226 masts! In true French fashion they anchored everywhere and we knew it was time to move on, but not before our dramatic sea rescue. We were going back to the boat in our dinghy when the dogs started going mad. They had spotted two youths who had tried to swim back to their boat. They were too tired to keep swimming and too much of a dead weight to haul them into the boat. We also risked capsizing, so they held on to the side whilst we motored them to safety. They were lucky. There was nothing wrong with them except for fear and exhaustion, but we left feeling like film stars having done our good deed.

We then had the most fantastic sail, but not in the direction of Spain. Jules caught mackerel and a massive gar fish which were our first catch of the season. There is nothing nicer than fresh mackerel straight from the sea, and we had them for tea with a big salad. The forecast was now for the wind to be too strong on the Spanish side of Biscay, so we put into Pornichet in France. It is a beautiful seaside town which has a very Mediterranean feel. Pornichet is located on the sunny Atlantic coast in the Pays de la Loire region and is our first port south of Brittany. There are great walks, cycle paths and amazing old villas once you are away from the high rise buildings on the seafront. It was home to the rich and famous at the turn of 20th century and each building has a little plaque about who used to live there. The man who invented crepe paper had four mansions built, three to rent out and one to live in. Who would have thought crepe paper could make so much money! The twice weekly market is held here on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. It is very colourful with a wide range of produce and an amazing indoor fish market, which is open daily. I have bought a couple of summer dresses as I love seeing the French women dressed up for an evening promenade, and it is so hot that a simple cotton dress is by far the coolest thing to wear. One of our highlights was having a glass of muscadet with half a dozen oysters and a dozen king prawns, sitting in the sun watching the French in their Sunday best go into the market to buy their lunch.

We have stayed here a week. The wind has been good for the last few days to make the crossing, but we have simply enjoyed the place too much to move on. In the last three days we have cycled nearly 150km. We have been to the medieval town of Guerande which is still accessed through the fortified gateways in the medieval defensive walls. Inside the walls there are cobbled streets and ancient buildings. It is also home to my favourite crockery shop. Ness and John already have a car full of crockery from Vannes to take home for me, and I managed to fit some matching serving bowls in my bike panniers!!!

Another highlight was cycling round the patchwork of salt marshes which were glimmering white in the mid-day sun. The little white pyramids of salt are shaped by the paludiers (salt workers) whose job hasn’t changed for centuries. From June to September, they harvest the salt from 7,000 salt ponds using a rake called a cimauge. Fleur de sel is supposed to be the very best and is gathered by very gently scraping the top surface of the salt ponds with the cimauge. We found a guy doing just this and he was happy to sell us some. The smell was very strong as we cycled along but it was amazing to see such an ancient skill still being used today. We take salt so much for granted, that we forget that it was such an important commodity that Roman soldiers were paid in it. Jules has yet to sprinkle some fleur de sel over his dippy eggs to see if he can taste the difference!!!

We also had a superb day cycling to the Brière National Park. The Grande Brière marsh is a vast expanse of water dotted with islands, water meadows and reedbeds. With numerous canals, we became tourists for the day and explored by a guided flat bottom boat and then came back by horse and cart. The guide book says that the boat will ‘glide between canals in absolute silence, there is no better way to discreetly watch the many birds which have made this their natural habitat’. The truth was that the guide never shut up, he talked so much he scared all birds away. We were left spotting a heron and an inquisitive goat!!! And it was so hot on the horse and cart ride and we were both still so full from lunch that we both nodded off!!! It was cycling through the countryside with over 3000 thatched cottages that was the highlight, not the tourist tour, and it was in one of these little villages that we had stopped for lunch. We sat under a large oak tree and ordered the menu of the day. I had crab pate, followed by a Turkey steak cooked with sautéed peppers in basil and garlic. Sometime later the owner bought us a huge cheese platter and left it with us to have as much as we wanted, before the dessert. We had water and a superb carafe of wine, and paid 12€ each!!! Thank goodness for electric bikes!!!!

Tomorrow we move on to Spain (but we have been saying that for a fortnight). France has really got under our skin again and we have fallen back in love with the country, it’s food and it’s people. Tomorrow I also celebrate ten years of being alive since my first cancer diagnosis. Little did we realise that we would still be dealing with it…… but without it, I would now be a disenchanted teacher waiting for the summer holidays to start. Instead I am in France enjoying every moment of every day.

Now and Then

29 June 2022
Sadie Windmill
It is strange to be repeating the same journey that we did eight years ago, and at exactly the same time of year. We are staying longer in the ports we really loved, missing out those we didn’t and trying a few different ones. Eight years ago Jules had been made redundant, I had just given up work following chemotherapy and we set out to enjoy life on the open sea. I wonder, if we had known then that my cancer diagnosis would have come back twice, whether we would have set off at all. I am so glad we did and even more delighted that we have the opportunity to go again.

The journey has made us both reflect upon how things have changed over those years.

The French nation have a reputation in Britain for being a bit stand-offish, but we have always found them to be extremely friendly and polite. Everyone says hello and wishes you a ‘Bonne journey’ ( nice day). We have noticed when trying to rush the dogs up a yacht pontoon to allow others to pass we are always told to slow down and take our time. Handshaking rather than kissing on each cheek seems to be becoming more popular, whether this is a trend or as a result of Covid we don’t know. What has surprised us the most is how the French have started to queue, eight years ago they were typically European where getting on a bus was like a rugby tackle, but now they are more restrained and even queue in the market at the food stalls. Again, we are wondering how much Covid has influenced these changes as there are clear places to stand and one way systems still in place, but it does make shopping and getting on a bus a lot easier!!

The exchange rate is so much worse and with inflation we have far less to spend each day, even though Jules is now picking up an early pension. A euro now costs 85p whereas it was about 65p. Marine diesel was 50 centimes a litre and now it is over €2. A nice bottle of wine cost a couple of euros and now the wine prices are not far off those in Britain. However it is really easy to see which the locals drink, as there is always a gap on the shelves, so we can still get a decent drink for around €4. An organic chicken in a French supermarket now costs in excess of 20€ for something the size of a blackbird!

We said that immersing ourselves in the culture of a place was important when we set off, and it still is. We are privileged to spend months in a country rather than weeks and try to participate in cultural activities. Eating out still seems to be a big French pastime, although we have noticed more burgers and pizzas on the menu and more fast food cafes including ethnic ones from places like Lebanon and Syria. It is still extremely good value to eat out at lunchtime and, unlike Britain, seasonal food is served, rather than imported stuff. They still do menu of the day, which always comprises of a starter then a fish or meat dish (whatever is in season) and a desert of the region. Shops and workplaces still have an extended lunch and you always end up sitting with the locals rather than with tourists, who prefer to pay a lot more to have an evening meal out. This week I had a wonderful meal in Vannes of ‘sardines from the oven’ lightly cooked in oil and garlic and served with grilled tomatoes and salad. Sardines are in every fish mongers at the moment, and today we bought a dozen for tea. Mussels ‘ete arrive’ ( have just arrived). They are served between June and September in Brittany in mussel buckets. Eight years ago a kind French man showed us how to eat mussels like the locals. You have to dispense with cutlery, find an empty shell and then use it like a pincer to grab mussels out of all other shells. There is no mucking about, we now dive straight in like pros, and of course if you eat with the locals there is no choice of anything other than a glass of cold muscadat to drink with it. We found a very rustic restaurant on the Ile d’ Arz which was only open at lunchtime. You could have mussels and muscadet or muscadat and mussels. That was the menu. We enjoyed sitting in the sun on the terrace which was packed. There was one cook and one waitress and the place was packed. Patch was rather glad that there was only white wine as the waitress tripped over someone’s bag and he ended up covered from head to toe, and smelt like an old brewery for the rest of the day.

French markets are still as wonderful as ever, but the feel of them has changed. You used to get real bargains, but now they have become very artisan. The cheeses are no longer overripe and slightly out of date for a euro. Now you select which artisan maker you want to go to and you get to know how old or young the cheese is, how long to keep them, what they should be paired with etc etc. We had a wonderful day in Vannes going round the market, and bought a whole array of things - mussels, oysters, fruit, cheeses, vegetables, sausage, honey soap from Marseille, honey and real wax candles and cider from the farm! Most French women still take a big basket with them and so naturally I now have a big colourful wicker basket of my own. Patch will be pleased to know that he can fit in it, so we can dispense with the Aldi carrier bag! What hasn’t changed is Jules inability to go round a market twice or even three times, so after the first round where I have merely eyed up the stalls I would like to revisit, he grabs a coffee and I continue to buy!

Strangely marina prices seem to have remained stable. We wonder if that is due to Brexit, as we are seeing far fewer British boats. We are guessing most English people won’t bother with the hassle and expense of getting a French visa, so are limited to 90 days at a time in Europe. We are no longer free to roam as we once were, we have to go to ports of entry to sign in and exit, which makes planning more difficult, but at least we get stamps in the passport!

My cooking has changed so much in eight years. I think nothing of asking for fish carcasses to make fish soup. I am very good at gutting a sardine and Jules is a dab hand at cooking mussels. We now have an outdoor cooker to cook seafood whilst avoiding the smell downstairs. I can also make a decent jam. On the hottest day of the year in over forty degree heat I made apricot and fig jam and cherry compote as I had gone mad at the fruit market. Our bread making skills are still not as good as they should be. The other day was more like a flat bread than a risen loaf. However, it didn’t really matter, we wrapped it in a tea towel and took it in the dinghy in my new wicker basket. We had supper on a remote beach that could only be accessed from the sea. The dogs played a game of stick whilst we sat on a washed up tree trunk and ate bread, cheese and olives served with a nice glass of red as the sun set over the island and our boat in the anchorage.

Of course we now sail with two different dogs. We will always miss Tinker and Scrappy, and there is hardly a port we go in, without remembering something naughty they did to embarrass us! Patch and Bertie are developing their own characters and although they look so sweet, they can also be very naughty at times. Patch decided to jump out of the dinghy last night and swim back to the shore to fetch his stick and that was after we had spent twenty minutes running after Bertie who was having the time of his life chasing rabbits.

We now have solar panels on the boat, and three types of generators. I am eternally grateful for these, as Jules used to be the battery gestapo - always following me around, making sure I turned everything off in case the batteries went flat. I no longer get an hourly update on the state of the batteries, although he does regularly tell me we need to budget for new ones!

Eight years ago keeping in contact with friends and family was so difficult. Very few people used watts app, big data packages did not exist, nor did the concept of roaming. We used to have to get a SIM card in each country. If we were lucky we could use the WiFi at a cafe to do emails. We used to find numbers that my Nan could call to ring us for 1p a minute. She often didn’t do it right and ended up with collossal phone bills. Now it is so easy. This week we have been able to keep in touch with friends in the area and meet up in Vannes. It was great to see Ness and John and take them out for a sail (well more of a motor, with their being no wind).

When we first set off I promised myself I would be fluent in at least one foreign language by now. It simply hasn’t happened, but I do my best to get by, whilst Jules just picks it up naturally. It was a good job no one heard Ness and me in the crockery shop when neither of us knew the word for dishwasher safe!

Most importantly our joy of life has not faded. We both realise how very lucky I am to be alive, and despite living with a diagnosis of cancer, I am incredibly healthy. Each day is a gift, and we make the most of it. People talk about “living our best days” and “making memories” (I can not bear these new expressions, no one sets out to live an average day and what happens on days you are not making memories)? Instead we are simple living in the present moment, enjoying being alive, having fun, meeting new people, learning new things and enjoying living in such a wonderful world.

Thrills and spills in south Brittany by Patch.

19 June 2022
Patchy
“Patch, let’s sail along the Atlantic coast of France, it will be fun!” they said. Well it was fun last week when we saw dolphins. It was a small pod with their babies who played by the bow wave, diving and dancing to our delight. Mom was worried I was going to fall in as I hung over the side, but I wanted to know how they swim so fast. It continued to be fun until we got buzzed by a boat with a flashing blue siren. Mom thought it was a customs vessel, but it turned out to be the French Navy. We had to change course immediately as a mine had washed up in the sea, only half a mile from our position. Every yacht was diverted and 40 minutes later the Navy did a countdown over the radio. We heard a huge boom as it was blown up, and a little while later we were allowed to turn back on course, but staying away from the site of the explosion. Mom didn’t seem to mind at all, in fact she loved the man in uniform who told her he was with the Navy. She seems to think French men speaking English sound very sexy. Sometimes she asks Dad to speak with a French accent! She was even more enamoured a few hours later when they were taking their diving kit off in port and she saw their very tanned chests. Poor old Dad! His grey haired chest just can’t compete these days. Even Bertie thought they were very handsome! We got into the port of Haliguen and enjoyed lovely coastal walks, cycling and lots of sunshine as well as the wonderful Saturday market. They have lots of stalls where you can taste the sausage and cheese. Mom doesn’t eat from bowls other people have put their hands in since Covid, but she takes a piece for us to try. We got out of the Saturday afternoon cycle as it was far too hot for us, but apparently they stopped for a swim and an ice cream, which was a bit unfair on us. Mom had to go into the supermarket and buy a packet of six cornettos. She made some strangers very happy by offering them the spare ice creams, but I don’t see why she couldn’t have bought them back for me.

The day before the dolphins we had a rough sail to Belle Isle, a pretty little island with buoys outside the shallow harbour. The seas were huge and lumpy and I vomited up my crossiant before we left port! Mom stuck her ear phones in, and hogged the helm, most of the way as she loved it. Bertie and I have two soft cushions, and we sit under the cockpit canopy staying dry and hanging on for dear life as the boat gets tossed around. Dad was delighted to find a free buoy in calm water of the bay. The wind had dropped and was due to die away to nothing in the evening. We had a lovely walk and a drink ashore and went back to the boat for tea, enjoying the calm and tranquility. By nightfall a nasty swell came into the anchorage and we never slept a wink. We all tried to sleep on the settee berths in the middle of the boat, but we were rocked so hard we fell off! The other boats must have thought the same thing, and we were all off very early the next morning. The most annoying thing, according to mom, was the little man who came around in his boat to collect the harbour dues….she says he should have paid her for such a rough nights sleep!

This week has been calm and relaxed at anchor in the Morbihan. Getting into the Morbihan on a big spring tide was very exciting. The tide was forcing itself through the small entrance and we shot through like a cork out of a bottle. We have anchored off two islands, Ile de Moines and Ile d’Arz. We tried to pick up a mooring buoy but the tide was racing so hard it ripped the boat hook clean out of Dad’s hands as he hooked it through the buoy’s ring. We thought it was lost forever as it disappeared out of sight with the tide. A very nice couple in a power boat retrieved it for us, and mom told us it was a nice pay back for giving out the ice creams.

The islands are incredibly quiet and very beautiful, with lots of flowers, pretty little cottages, coastal walks, golden beaches and standing stones. Mom says the stones are what gives the islands their ‘special’ feel, and we just nod along with Dad! We have spent our days walking round the island until the heat gets too much and have done lots of swimming. I am a champion swimmer and love swimming out to my ball, whilst Bertie lies in the shallows and wallows like a hippo. Today I only got stones thrown for me, and my ball was hidden. I still enjoyed it and mom said it had the advantage that I kept my mouth shut and did not swallow gallons of seawater trying to retrieve my ball. Let’s just say sea water has the same effect as an Epsom salt flush on me and there have been some messy moments! Mom and Dad have enjoyed kayaking and swimming off the boat and are feeling very relaxed and happy. They look like total boat bums with flip flops and crusty sea salt shorts from getting in and out of the dinghy. They have taken to using their solar shower when they get out of the sea. Mom isn’t averse to showing her bottom off to anyone! Dad has also become a pretty good bread maker, as there isn’t even a bakery on the islands. There is however a very good creperie and mom has enjoyed galettes served with a green salad with roasted sesame seeds (galettes are savoury pancakes made from buckwheat flour and filled with savoury fillings). Mom said when Jesus said ‘man can not live on bread alone’ he had never tried a galette! She is totally addicted, and says it goes very well with a cup of cider.
Vessel Name: Leslie Frank of Bursledon
Vessel Make/Model: Moody Grenadier 134
Hailing Port: Southampton - now from Yorkshire
Crew: Jules and Sadie , Tinker and Scrappy
About: KEY ROLES Jules .. skipper and breakfast chef Patch -first mate and duck scarer Sade.. master and commander Bert .. ships boy (and dustbin thief)
Extra: A continuing journey of exploration and adventure with our two adorable dogs
Leslie Frank of Bursledon's Photos - Main
No Photos
Created 22 June 2022
106 Photos
Created 22 June 2022
Enjoying walks around the island
152 Photos
Created 25 June 2021
69 Photos
Created 10 June 2021
Stopped from sailing but not from walking
64 Photos
Created 22 March 2020
A small little fishing harbour, quaint and beautiful
15 Photos
Created 25 August 2019
121 Photos
Created 20 August 2019
Denmark 2019
58 Photos
Created 20 August 2019
Copenhagen, including visit by Ruthy
20 Photos
Created 20 August 2019
21 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
30 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
18 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
One of our favourite places.
40 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
Laboe in Germany
23 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
23 Photos
Created 18 July 2019
48 Photos
Created 18 July 2019
University town, in Holland. Really beautiful place to sit out some bad weather
43 Photos
Created 18 July 2019
German Frisian isle, just loved it.
40 Photos
Created 18 July 2019
Sandbanks, sea bats, cranberry pie, raw herring, seals, submarines, spoonbills and wildflowers. We just love these islands
124 Photos
Created 26 June 2019
11 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
18 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
10 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
A Fresian Isle with great cycling and beautiful scenery
28 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
A beautiful day cycling out to the National Park and then hiring kayaks
13 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
A privilege to go round her house, she saved hundreds of Jews and resistance workers during the war.
8 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
We loved it here
32 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
Beautiful houses
18 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
A beautiful old town
38 Photos
Created 20 June 2019
Over four days all the children of various clubs and societies walk between 5-15 km a night. On the fourth night the adults line the street and tie presents round their necks in celebration.
8 Photos
Created 7 June 2019
A great day out
33 Photos
Created 7 June 2019
The UNESCO world heritage site for windmills
3 Photos
Created 7 June 2019
9 Photos
Created 1 June 2019
11 Photos
Created 1 June 2019
Town on the coast
9 Photos
Created 1 June 2019
41 Photos
Created 1 June 2019
Loving the canal system, beautiful towns and tea and cake
33 Photos
Created 1 June 2019
Enjoying Belgium
29 Photos
Created 19 May 2019
A great place to be, especially the midnight crypt visit
16 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
9 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
Guernsey April 2019
44 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
My little boy
12 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
French food and Belgium Drinks May 2019
18 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
Tinker enjoying all the fun
11 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
May 2019
29 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
May 2019
20 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
Cherbourg, Le Harve, Dieppe and Boulogne
36 Photos
Created 16 May 2019
5 Photos
Created 20 March 2018
57 Photos
Created 13 August 2017
July 2017
72 Photos
Created 31 July 2017
28 Photos
Created 19 June 2017
12 Photos
Created 6 June 2017
Spring 2017
44 Photos
Created 18 May 2017
63 Photos
Created 26 April 2017
March and April 2017
19 Photos
Created 2 April 2017
32 Photos
Created 8 November 2016
88 Photos
Created 4 October 2016
78 Photos
Created 24 September 2016
35 Photos
Created 14 August 2016
June 2016
186 Photos
Created 28 June 2016
2016
136 Photos
Created 2 April 2016
59 Photos
Created 30 January 2016
2 Photos
Created 24 September 2015
51 Photos
Created 11 April 2015
37 Photos
Created 23 January 2014
120 Photos
Created 14 August 2013
70 Photos
Created 11 June 2013
17 Photos
Created 7 May 2013
48 Photos
Created 1 April 2013
Two small black dogs turn pirate. Click the photo of the van to see more photos
9 Photos
Created 10 March 2013
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