Double Celebration Day

Flag of St GeorgeToday is St George’s Day. St. George is the patron saint of England – we share him with many other regions, towns and countries around the world as well, including Catalonia (Spain) Georgia, Greece, Lithuania and Russia to name but a few!

Despite being our saint’s day today is not a Bank Holiday, oh no, that would be too patriotic and here in England we are not allowed to be patriotic in case it upsets those amongst us who are not ethnically English; it’s not ‘PC’ to be patriotic about England.

St. Patrick’s Day (for Ireland) is a Bank Holiday, so is St. Andrew’s Day (for Scotland) and we are allowed to celebrate special days with those whose ethnic roots are not here in the UK, such as Diwali or West Indian Carnival amongst others and we have St. Patrick’s Day parades in English cities, but nothing for St George.

Actually that is not strictly true, we do have St. Georges Day Parades. Many towns up and down the country have Church Parades for the uniformed organisations such as Guides, Scouts and armed forces Cadets, led by a band and members of the British Legion. This is usually a simple march up a short length of road, carrying their banners, into Church for a service on the nearest Sunday to the day (this year that was yesterday) and does not inspire a great deal of celebration amongst the population at large, no major public show of unity, purpose and celebration – I repeat, that would be too patriotic. I can’t help feeling that there are large numbers of our population who not aware that today is St. George’s Day, or possibly even that he is our patron saint.

The second cause for celebration today is that it is also the birthday of the bard – William Shakespeare. Unfortunately I also fear that there are many who are equally unaware of this and probably don’t care anyway – despite the fact that they quite unknowingly quote (or misquote) from his works in their ordinary everyday speech. If I start listing all the words, phrases and expressions he introduced into our language I will be here all day and beyond!

So in honour of our Double Celebration Day today I wish you all a Happy St. George’s Day and leave you with a quote from the bard:

“The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry! England and Saint George.'”

Henry V Act III Scene I

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Delicate Beauty

Magnolia Blossom

 

Magnificent
delicate beauty
yet so bold,
palest pink, purple tinged.
Magnolia.

Weather Forecasters

While weather forecasters think to hone
their skill by pouring over images
from satellites and charts,
or study their computer programmes
believing it a science not an art,
while Mother Nature yet delights
in unpredictability and shams,
I think I could likely do as well
with a piece of seaweed or a fir cone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When I wrote this earlier today it looked as if the forecasts were wrong again, having promised sunshine it had clouded over and looked like rain but no, the cloud dispersed and the sun came out. It’s a lovely day!

Unbowed

Blue
grape hyacinths
joyfully point skywards,
unbowed by the constant
rain.

Bread

Domesticity
beckons on a dismal day —
smell of baking bread.

Unexpected Day

Today, an unexpected day.
I thought it would be wet
but no, despite a cloudy sky,
the cold edge of Winter’s breath,
it’s dry and an unassuming sun
placidly holds sway.

Battle of the Seasons

Cold and wet — dry and sunny,
back and forth — push and shove,
Winter and Spring — arms akimbo.
Who will win?

Easter

Easter
arrives early
this year, yet
Winter’s grip does not
relent.

Spring

“No matter how long the Winter,
Spring is sure to follow.”

Proverb in various traditions.

The Last Sail

Red Dawn IV

Red Dawn IV

I have mentioned before that we are selling our yacht ‘Red Dawn IV’, a Barbican 33. We have both been sailing for more years than we care to remember – my husband first sailed when he was in short trousers and I learned to sail dinghies in my teens. We have owned boats off and on all our married life, but all things must come to an end and my husband has decided to ‘swallow the anchor’ before we are too old and decrepit to maintain the boat properly, especially as it is a four-hour drive from home to the marina.

We have owned this particular boat for about 12 years and kept her all that time at Bradwell Waterside in Essex on the River Blackwater – not convenient for home but very convenient for sailing across the Channel to Europe as we have done many times. Having placed her on brokerage at Burnham on the River Crouch in Essex we decided to give up our marina berth in Bradwell and move her to the brokers yard. Our contract with the marina ends it the end of March so we needed to move her before then or risk having to pay a daily rate for our berth – expensive!

Frozen snow in the cockpit

Frozen snow in the cockpit

Last weekend we needed to go down to Essex for an important meeting so we decided it was a good opportunity to go on down to the boat and sail her round to Burnham. However, the weather was awful as the second instalment of ‘the beast from the east’ struck the UK. When we arrived at the boat late on Saturday afternoon it was bitterly cold, windy, and the boat was covered in frozen snow, as you can see from the picture of the cockpit. We hibernated in our cosy cabin – electric fire and our Taylors Paraffin Stove on full blast for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday while the weather slowly improved, but we were concerned that we would not get the job done before we needed to go home on Thursday and that we would have to return another time.

Wednesday, however, turned out to be milder with sunny spells and the wind had dropped so we decided to go. We left Bradwell at 10.45am, motoring with the mainsail up. It was still chilly but dressed in two of everything we were just about warm enough! After about an hour we were at the mouth of the Blackwater, drinking coffee and eating energy bars, sailing past the lovely little chapel of St Peter on the Wall (one of my Special Places) and on out to sea, noticeably cooler and several white horses in evidence.

There are two routes round the coast to the River Crouch, a long route which takes you out beyond the shallows and then back in again, or the shorter route across the shallows through the Ray Sand Channel. We opted for the short route so that we weren’t out in the cold too long and the later start fitted in better with the tide for getting out of the marina. This route, however, is something of a challenge. You have to get the tides right, arriving at the start in time to have enough water and yet to go through on a rising tide as it does get VERY shallow.

I remember the first time we went through, in our very first cruising yacht, an old clinker-built Dauntless called ‘Noom Zor Noom’. We had two of our three children with us then, a toddler and a small baby. We kept the boat on the River Roach, a tributary of the Crouch, and had been up the coast for a holiday. It was one of those situations where we had to get back for work but the weather wasn’t good. We chose the Ray Sand Channel route (probably a mistake in retrospect) for speed. We probably got the tide slightly wrong and in those days we had no modern gizmos – no Radio to call up with, no GPS, no mobile phones, no Chart Plotter, only a speed log and echo sounder. The wind and tide were pushing us off course and out of the channel – it was getting very shallow and you don’t really know which way to go to find the deeper water! It was also a bit rough, tossing us about. I was not a happy bunny, in fact I was scared (hubby now admits he was too!) and rather worried about how I was to get a small child and a baby safely off the boat if we came a cropper! It was with some relief that we made it safely through and into the river.

Red Dawn IV at Burnham

Red Dawn IV at Burnham

This time we arrived at the start of the channel at just the right time (12.45) for the tide, plus it was spring tides so we would have plenty of water, with also the benefit of the Chart Plotter to help keep us on course. It was a bit sloppy in the mouth of the Crouch due to wind against the tide, the wind also got up a bit and keeled us over badly a couple of times but I was able to make lunch as we went along. We took down the mainsail as we reached the entrance to the River Roach and motored on to Burnham Yacht Harbour in good time, arriving around 3.00pm. We then were able to tidy up, remove the sails ready for her to be hauled out onto the broker’s yard and drive home on Thursday – a horrendous trip, but that’s another story! The yard was not able to haul out this week so we will need another trip down when that happens. Then we have three months free storage at the yard while they try to sell her for us.

It was with mixed feelings that we left the boat; an enjoyable 4-hour trip round, despite motor-sailing all the way in order to keep up the speed, but tinged with sadness that this would be our last sail, unless she doesn’t get sold, in which case we will have to think again!

 

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