Sorry!

Sorry, no proper post today. Having been very busy publishing ‘Simply Elfje’ before taking a break to go sailing I am now spending all my time compiling the magazine that I edit twice a year for a sailing association we belong to. The Spring/Summer issue should be out around now, so I’m having to prioritize – I must get the magazine done. Then maybe I can concentrate on issuing the e-book version of ‘Simply Elfje’ – I promise you it will be worth the wait!

Company

Galloping
white horses
riding the waves,
keeping our little yacht
company.

In Their Element

Riding
the wind,
silently soaring, swooping
effortlessly, in their element.
Seagulls.

The Best Laid Plans…

Barbican 33 yachtMy regular readers will know that I have been away for a couple of weeks. The plan was that we would take our sailing boat, a Barbican 33 called ‘Red Dawn IV’ (a 33ft family cruising yacht pictured) across to Calais, where we would get the mast removed and stowed along the cabin top before entering the French canals. We were intending to leave the boat in Lille until after our return from our forthcoming classic road race bike rally in Spain next month. Then we would return to the yacht, take it through the Belgian canals into Holland where we planned to leave it over the coming winter.

So we went, via Ramsgate and Dover, to Calais. As we went through the swing bridge into the marina we passed two boats coming out on their way to the canal entrance. One was a motorboat from Ramsgate, the other was a yacht crewed by a group of young Australians, who had also had their mast removed. We booked our mast removal and began the preparations for doing this. We took the sails off the boat and I hoisted my husband up the mast so he could remove the Radar dome and some of the ‘yachting string’ ready for the mast to be lifted off the next day. That night the two boats we had passed returned to Calais.

They had paid for their inland waterways licences and as mentioned the Australian foursome had paid to have their mast removed. They had been allowed to lock through into the canal and travelled a couple of miles up the canal to the first bridge where they came to a standstill. After some time and several phone calls they discovered that the canal bridges were all closed and they could not proceed down the canal. Nowhere had this been explained or the information displayed. The Australians had paid – a lot of money I might add – for a month on the canals, to get to the south of France where they planned to sell the boat before returning home to Australia. They had also done thorough research about their trip and nowhere had this closure come up. It was not mentioned on the French inland waterways website.

After many phone calls over several hours the girl in the marina office in Calais was eventually able to confirm that this was in fact the case and the canal would not open for another 10 or 11 days. The motorboat couple had only paid for a week (and that was expensive enough!) so there was no way they could get into the canals. They decided to return to the UK and try to get their money back since they had been sold a useless licence.

We considered our options but at the end of the day decided that we hadn’t got sufficient time to wait and then get to our chosen destination. So it was up the mast again for my husband to replace all the detached components and on with the sails once more – we too would return home. Meanwhile the Australians had little option but to try to continue. They chose to motor up to Dunkirk and enter the canal system there. With no mast and sails and a fairly rough sea they had a lumpy journey but last we heard they had made it safely and were in the canals. We wish them good luck for their onward journey.

We were annoyed and disappointed but at least we hadn’t removed our mast and paid for our licence. We crossed back to Dover and then on to Ramsgate where we met up with the aforementioned motor-boaters to lick our wounds. Here strong winds blowing in the wrong direction kept us in harbour for several days before we could finally make our return to our home port of Bradwell in Essex, where we had cancelled our marina berth. We had to phone ahead to see if we could have a berth for the season after all and fortunately they were able to oblige (we have been there many years and they know us well). We then had to wait a couple of days until our son could come to pick us up as we had no car there – we weren’t intending to return! It’s a good thing we had the folding bikes so we could at least get out and about while we waited.

It seems that the French left hand doesn’t know what its right-hand is doing. Why on earth did they sell people canal licences and let them into a canal that wasn’t open? As I say, at least we had not involved ourselves in this wasted expense, but I wonder what real hope the couple on the motorboat have of getting their money back. Our plans for later in the summer are now completely upset and we shall have to do a lot of re-thinking. To be fair though, we did have a couple of lovely, relaxing weeks away on the boat, even if the WIFI was frequently unreliable, but then it is good to have time away from that too!

It’s Here!

Latest news:

Simply Elfje

Final cover version ‘Simply Elfje’ final cover.

Good News! My ‘Simply Elfje’ book of the blog is now available to purchase from Amazon. I have tweaked the colour of the cover a little and here is the revised version.

To buy a copy from Amazon UK please click here. It is also available from Amazon.com and in Europe.

There will eventually be an e-book version for Kindle, however I will be away now for a couple of weeks and have run out of time to do the conversion. I will do it on my return and hopefully it will be available in early May – watch this space.

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Narrow Boats

Narrow boats
on the canal
underneath the fresh
green weeping willows.

Panic Time

From time to time I post about my cycling activities. Just lately however I don’t seem to have had a great deal of time for cycling – either too busy with other things or the weather just hasn’t been inviting (I’m a bit of a fair weather rider). Occasional rides out on wet roads have needed major bike washing sessions on my return.

Revised Book CoverOne of my main excuses recently has been my latest book ‘Simply Elfje’ which is now nearing completion. The picture shows my revised (final) version of the cover. I have given myself an Easter deadline to get it done and that is fast approaching. The reason for this particular deadline is that I have so much coming up during the lead up to and after Easter that if I don’t get it done by then it will end up not getting done until July or August. So far I am on track. Fingers crossed.

Working on the book though, as I said, has made it difficult to get out on the bike very often and this is my reason for panic. At the end of April we are hoping to do a 45 mile charity ride in aid of our local hospice and then at the end of May we are already booked for a 40K Classic Road Race Bike rally in Spain.

I have mentioned these events before but I’m panicking because I haven’t done much training and now I’m really getting a bit worried that I won’t make the distance. On top of that we will soon be away for at least a couple of weeks as we are taking our yacht over to France. While on the boat I won’t be doing much cycling. Yes, we do have folding bikes on the boat but these are not good for serious cycling over long distances. They are a boon for going shopping or local sight-seeing, but a long ride? Forget it! We’ve tried it – jolly uncomfortable!

I have been getting out on the bike more over the last few days and today would be a good day for a ride too but I had to stay in this morning waiting for a builder to come and look at a little problem with a leak in a corner of our conservatory and also I’m so far behind with the boring things like house work that I do desperately need to give the house a blitz. On top of that I still have work to do on the book (final proof read!) and I’m expecting a visitor later, but maybe I’ll fit in a short ride after that. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are out, so is Thursday afternoon – I have other engagements, but with a bit of luck I might fit something round those. I’m just going to have to make the effort. I’m loving my modern Raleigh road bike but I do need to get out on the classic bike soon too and once more get used to fact that I haven’t got as many gears to play with – those hills will get tougher!

Nearing Completion

A book nearing completion
is exciting and frightening.
I keep checking and checking.
When is enough enough?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The files for my new ‘Simply Elfje’ book are almost ready to submit for printing. I keep checking them and still find the odd problem. The latest? – ‘is’ instead of ‘in’, a simple thing so easy to miss and it makes me wonder how many others I have missed, so I check again!

I try to take comfort from the fact that even in main stream published books I often find mistakes, but it seems to me that in self-published books people are too ready to sneer and say it is obviously amateur whereas in a ‘professional’ book they are happy to overlook the fault. Then I remember an old friend once had a T-shirt that stated ‘Pobody’s Nerfect’! Eventually I have to accept I have done my best.

Roadside Daffodils

Roadside daffodils
deliberately snapped and scattered.
I gather them, fill my vases, so I at least
can enjoy their fleeting beauty.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We have some wonderful grassy areas on the corner of our road, in front of our house. At the moment these are full of daffodils. But some low-life yobs seem to take great pleasure in breaking off the flower heads, some just buds, and scattering them. I can’t bear to see them lying on the ground unable to fulfil their potential so I pick them up and put them in vases. Fortunately there are still plenty growing, but everyday more have been scattered.

Cover Draft

I posted a preview of my cover draft on Simply Elfje today.

Simply Elfje

Simply Elfje Book Cover Draft

So here it is at last – the draft cover for my Simply Elfje book, I hope you like it. It is not fully finalised yet and I may play with the colour scheme a bit – my aim is to reflect the theme of the blog and now I see it here this is a bit too blue at the top!

The book itself is also progressing well and will soon be somewhere near ready to submit for printing. As I mentioned before, this is a whole new learning process as I have never used CreateSpace before. There have been a few glitches along the way but I am getting to grips with it now so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly from here on. It won’t be long now!

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