Another Parker adventure

•Thursday, 2 September 2021 • 2 Comments

It had to happen. Shirley arrived Saturday night – so lovely to see her. After a leisurely breakfast, we set sail (so to speak … no wind so we were on the engine) to circumnavigate the island of Mallorca. First evening in Port Andraxt (south east if the island) – glorious. We’re starting to know the bars and restaurants there – is this a good or bad thing??

Monday we actually set sail for Soller on the west of the island doing a recce of Deia and Sa Foradada Bay en route – the location of a fab restaurant above the beach only accessible by sea. A really lovely sail but in gusty conditions so we steamed along at 8 knots on the Genoa sail alone.

Tuesday we met up with lovely friend Amanda and her mum Valerie … destination Sa Foradada. All went well until we dropped anchor in a beautiful little bay just below the restaurant … our anchor caught between 2 rocks and would not budge. An hour of pulling, diving, directing, swimming and we couldn’t move it. Captain Chris was a true gentleman – sent us all off for the most fabulous lunch whilst he stayed with the boat trying to get divers out to help.

Lunch was an experience to remember – stunning location and best paella ever! Meanwhile back at the boat … no divers. Later that evening (after a swim and G&T) Shirley and I dropped Amanda and Valerie off at a little beach under cover of darkness – felt like we were dropping smugglers off in the night. We then faced a night of rock & roll as the winds rose and the boat rocked in waves slapping at the nearby rock face. Divers arrived the next morning and by 11am we were free … what a lunch – another Parker adventure!

Jobs, jobs and more jobs …

•Saturday, 28 August 2021 • 4 Comments

For those of you who have followed my blog over time, you may well have been surprised that there has been no mention yet of work required on the boat. Fear not … there is plenty of it going on! In between social, we are cracking on – so much that we are learning every day! We have been lucky enough to find Mike – super knowledgeable and experienced project manager who is helping us to get the boat ready for our round the world travels. Sails are being serviced, tender repaired (new engine needed after our debacle last year when the tender got dropped into the water), bilges cleaned, vang repaired, servicing of the water maker (I took the precaution of taking a video of the engineer demonstrating how to use it properly!). My head has been in the bilges more often than I’d like … I keep reminding myself I am living the dream! Also of course … the cleaning goes on and on … discovering new products every day and sadly, getting excited about them. I spent 50 euros yesterday on 2 super cleaning cloths – Mistral will be immaculate but my OCD symptoms are getting steadily stronger. Happy days …

Sailing with the Nicol family … an adventure

•Thursday, 26 August 2021 • Leave a Comment

What a great week we have had – lots of fun with 3 gorgeous girls and their ever patient Mum & Dad – Ceri & Calum! Lots of snorkelling, swimming and exploring. We’ve been west and east of Palma. Last night madness in Port Andraxt – a very charming little fishing town with bars that make totally fabulous G&T’s!

Based in Palma!

•Tuesday, 17 August 2021 • 3 Comments

I have neglected my blog … too busy sailing and having fun! We took 5 days to get to Palma with our lovely friends to help – Bill, Sheila, Laura & Rory. Our sail from Barcelona across to Soller (on the north coast of Mallorca) was due to take 14 hours but with force 6 winds, gusting up to force 7, we stormed across in 12 hours. What a day’s sailing … 3 – 5 m waves (seemed v big) and a good old soaking every now and again … can’t help but feel this trip might have been some preparation for our Atlantic crossing next year?

We’ve now been in Mallorca for a week. Our base is Palma where we have a berth for 3 months. We’ve been joined by my lovely friend Laura (H) for a few days and managed a day with Tom & Ash who are in Mallorca on holiday. Oh so lovely! We have plenty of guests coming to see us and hoping to meet other friends who are holidaying here for day sailing, cocktails and dinner. Palma is charming – what a lovely place to be. We’ve scooted around the city and already discovered new bays for sailing and swimming. We will venture further around the coast as the summer continues. Truly living the dream!!

Travelling again aboard Yacht Mistral

•Saturday, 7 August 2021 • 1 Comment

After a fabulous 2 month trip back to the UK to see friends and family we are once more becoming intrepid explorers … a 6 hour drive from Seytroux to Gruissan (near Narbonne on the South coast of France near the Pyrenees) to see Yacht Mistral being put back in the water after 9 months out of it … and here we are heading toward Barcelona. There was a fair amount of faffing in torrential rain as we checked work that had been done through the winter, inevitably discovering some glitches that needed attention. A day’s delay ensued – after our experiences last year, we recognise that time has a different meaning when it comes to boat maintenance! We set sail 2 days ago with 4 friends to accompany us to the Balearics where we plan to spend the next 3 months. Our goals are to prepare the boat for our planned round the world trip – now beginning in 2022; and have a lovely time sailing with friends and family who can get to Palma to see us! So far so good!

Yacht Mistral

And we’re off!

•Tuesday, 8 June 2021 • 2 Comments

Finally … the day came. We packed our bags (mine had been packed for a week!) and started our journey back to the UK. With a stop over in Cambrai, we were at Eurotunnel in plenty of time … a good job too as the tunnel was closed indefinitely and we were re-directed to the ferry. What with french customs looking for an entry visa, English customs looking for test results and P&O re-doing all the paperwork to reflect the new mode of transport, we were lucky to get on the boat within 3 hours.

Anyway … enough of that. We are back in UK, we have quarantined for 5 days and now it’s time to ‘cry freedom’! SO fabulous to be actually seeing friends and family … we’ve spent time with sister + family, we’ve been to see Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs with my nephew playing No 15 (Tom playing has transformed my rugby viewing experience!), seen friends in Norfolk and we’re now babysitting our gorgeous grandsons. It doesn’t get any better than this – it’s a joy.

Coming out of a long winter …

•Wednesday, 26 May 2021 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a month … scary how time just flies by. We have been deluged by rain, with snow thrown in for good measure, throughout May – honestly surprised the chalet has not floated away! As a result, my french has improved (have been indoors reading, listening and chatting in french); I have been busy doing some upholstery for local friends, knitting (feeling desperate!) but not much else …

So saying, I have got out hiking when ever I have had the chance and hallelujah … lockdown is finally lifting a little so we have been able to have fabulous London friends to stay overnight and we have also managed to get to see Yacht Mistral – a trip south to check on the boat whilst staying with lovely friends near Montpellier. So good to travel again and be social. Yacht Mistral looked good – the boatyard is continuing with Chris’s very long list of jobs. Since it’s still against COVID regulations to sail in french waters we are leaving the boat where it is for the time being.

Finally, with the lifting of lockdown restrictions in UK, we are now planning a long awaited trip back home. After a year of no diary management, I am scheduling our 2 month trip to within an inch of its life! I am SO excited by the prospect of seeing friends and family – what a treat to be able to see everyone in person! We left the UK last January and although we went back briefly last summer … it’s been a long winter. Expect to see more regular blog updates as we start to travel once again.

In between times …

•Tuesday, 27 April 2021 • 1 Comment

We are definitely ‘in between’ the seasons here in Seytroux … still snow in the mountains but not good enough to ski and too much to hike up high; in the villages the sun is shining and it feels as though it’s time for gardening but the frost still comes at night and endangers any carefully planted spring flowers, herbs and veg! Having said that, I have had a couple of good hikes and have started to get out in the garden. A new tree planted, lettuces, tomatoes and herbs also refreshed and starting to grow.

First hike – needed snow shoes for much of the walk …
Hiking with girls I have toured with …

We are starting to think about the summer, coming back to the UK to see friends and family (I am SO looking forward to doing so!) and mulling over whether our round the world sailing trip is workable this year. We are still in lockdown in France although some restrictions are due to be lifted next week and restaurants can open outside sometime in May … I am dreaming about eating out!

Digging a hole for my new weeping pussy willow tree!

Ski touring extraordinaire!

•Tuesday, 30 March 2021 • 4 Comments

Absolute highlight of my last couple of weeks has been some awesome ski touring with the Women’s Mountain Club (Morzine & Chamonix). I have to keep a record of the breathtaking scenery, the fabulous snow, the great company and the scale of the personal challenge in touring up more than 2000m in 2 days – not to mention the skiing down a glacier in deep powder! Ali & Rachel – our lovely guides and teachers – their enduring enthusiasm, optimism about my capability, patience and unending support have kept me going through lockdown and enabled me to do some truly magical ski touring.

Just look at that smile!!

I can happily report on the last 2 fabulous tours … a day touring up the Col de Romme (above Cluses) where we climbed over 1000m. Stunning scenery and so much snow. Plenty of stops en route to take a breath, take a photo and admire the views.

And then the grande finale … a 2 day tour in Pralgonan-Les-Vanoises, hiking up 1300m, staying in a mountain refuge overnight, climbing up the glacier the following day (another 800m) and the most awesome ski all the way back down into the valley. I don’t think I have ever felt so depleted of energy after day 1 but a large beer, a beautiful sunset, a full moon rise and a decent night’s sleep in my very comfortable bunk gave me the energy to start again on Day 2! Getting to the summit at 3200m and surveying the awesome panorama was a moment to treasure. My off piste skiing is still inconsistent but in spite of that, we had all earned those turns in light, fresh virgin powder … phenomenal experience … on my way to being a true ski goddess!

Back now into the sunshine and onto the terrace. We are re-implementing our drinks on the drive with our lovely neighbours this weekend and the garden is calling! Luckily my chair is finished (I love it!) so I can move onto the next project … hoping I will soon be planning our next trip back to the UK to see much missed friends and family. I can’t wait!

Snow, snow, snow …

•Monday, 15 March 2021 • 3 Comments

Winter returned today! After 5 or 6 weeks of spring, the skies have opened up and it is dumping snow! Perfect for ski touring when it all stops …

Looking out over the balcony when we woke this morning!

In the meantime, much stays the same here in France. Curfew remains from 6pm to 6am. The resort stays closed although there do seem to be a few pop up bars opening at the bottom of ski tour routes – a huge bonus! Vaccinations for Covid are rolling very slowly – Astra Zeneca only for ‘young people’ – miraculously, I fall into this category so am hopeful I might get a vaccination in the next 2/3 weeks. Chris is too old to get into this category but too young to get the limited other vaccine supplies so his vaccination is still not in sight.

All my various projects continue … singing in a new choir (just about to record ‘rolling in the deep’); upholstery, working on my french, puzzles, ski touring etc etc. Chris is building space ships, killing baddies and doing some exercise through an adventure game – of course! We are both attending webinars to prepare ourselves for a possible trip around the world … decision time in June when we have a clearer idea as to whether the world will open up to sailors.

Ski touring continues to be a real highlight for me – my latest tour saw me climb up 826m! A great ski down but needed 2 days of rest to recover! I tour with lovely neighbours/ex-neighbours and the Women’s Mountain Club – the ski guides are fabulous and I have loved being part of their world. I have just committed to a 2 day tour, staying in a refuge on a glacier over night … SO exciting!