Thursday 29th July

Rose's blog

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Thursday 29th July

Post by Rose »

I think its time to write about Brighton before it becomes a distant memory. On June 20th we set off from Littlehampton before dawn even had a chance to think about cracking. On Jeff's watch he fished and on mine I raced a German yacht. I am not sure the German's knew they were in a race but the speed demons still managed to beat us. I was really not looking forward to Brighton. Jeff had given most of the south coast a scathing review and in my head Brighton was going to be a little like a cross between Grimsby, Hull and Scarborough but with even less charm. How wrong I was! I love Brighton! I actually love it! The marina itself was fairly average I guess. The surrounding pubs and eateries pleasant but perhaps a little mass produced. The town itself however was just full of an eclectic mix of old and new, seaside and culture, boutiques and fun fairs. We stayed for longer than intended to soak it all up. I found an amazing cupcake bakery which really brought out the little girl in me. We ate sushi outside the theatre, we purchased attire for our trip up north for a friends wedding and we sat on by the seaside sipping wine and eating fresh shell fish. The sun shone down on us every day. Perfect! I even managed to sneak a cocktail in! Hard life isn't it?

Reluctantly after six nights we waved Brighton goodbye with a tear in our eyes and headed off for Eastbourne. Another departure at an ungodly hour and a nine hour passage later we found ourself rammed, quite literally into the lock. Jeff had to pull off a tricky manoeuvre to move from one side of the lock to the other so that they could shove even more boats into the confined space. Once in Jeff wasted no time in inviting his nieces dad over for a visit and it was nice to have such an enthusiastic guest to show around our little home. Jeff took him and a friend out for a sail and I stayed on land as I needed to do some shopping. I think that's the first time since moving aboard that Jeff had taken the boat out without me and it was a little disconcerting on my return from the shops when it suddenly occurred to me that my living room wasn't where I had left it!

After the weekend in Eastbourne we moved on to Dover. Once again, on my watch, I found myself in a race with a German yacht. Again I am not sure the Germans where aware of this but that still didn't stop them from winning in the end. Dover. Well what can you say? What is that saying about if you haven't got anything nice to say? Ok its not all bad. The WW2 tunnels were impressive and the castle was stunning but essentialy Dover was simply a convenient place for us to leave Isabella whilst we hired a car and drove up to our friends' wedding. A particularly awesomely perfect wedding it was too. Sunny, beautiful, happy, fun and relaxed. The bride looked stunning and radiant. Was lovely to be able to see old friends again. I think I may have ended up just a teeny bit tipsy (YES ROSE, YOU DID!, by JEFF). That might be an understatement I really can't say. You will have to ask Jeff as my memory seems to be a little fuzzy. I do know that good times were had by all and I am pretty sure some dancing was involved as the next morning my calves were aching and there are some pictures lurking somewhere on Facebook that appear to confirm this. We also managed to find time to visit Jeff's sister who has opened a new restaurant and hotel in Middleton-in-Teesdale. If you find yourself in the area check it out. It's called the Forresters and I am not being biased when I say the food was delicious!

Some more wedding related news. On the way up I got an email from the lovely lady who runs the bridal shop in Tadcaster to tell me that my dress had arrived! Perfect timing. My Matron of Honour (odd title and one that I think makes her sound older than she is) came with me to try it on. I was overly excited and I think I loved it but I keep having wobbles. As soon as I take it off and leave the shop I keep panicking that is wrong or even forgetting what it looks like. I hope once its all fitted on the day I will be ok.

So back to Dover. Bomb scare mention in last post and then our longest distance passage so far to the river Swale. Took us about 8 hours in the end so not too shabby but we were ready for refreshment at the Pub on the Isle of Sheppy by the time we arrived. What should have been a pleasant evening soon deteriorated as when we got ashore Lunar scampered off. Now this isn't unusual so we didn't think much of it or keep too close an eye on her. When we started to walk up the hill and call her name however it didn't take long before we knew something was amiss. Next followed the longest hour or so of searching for our lost dog and facing the growing reality that we had lost our dog forever, especially once we were told the local farmers wouldn't hesitate to shoot dogs on their land. The customers of the pub and their children all helped with the search and eventually a boy from another boat found her and brought her too me. Cue me crying and shaking on my knees in front of the entire pub garden with Lunar in my arms covered head to toe in stinking mud and spewing water out of her bottom! Who knows where she had been but we think she was trapped somewhere. She must have drunk a sea full of water. We had an early night.

After a couple of nights at anchor and after an explore and a re-stock at Faversham we headed for Queenborough. Don't bother. Really. Ok bit harsh, I think I was tired and the weather had made a turn for the worse, perhaps to prepare me for things to come. We moved on to perhaps the bleakest anchorage we have ever found, surrounded by industry, the only landing spot turns out to be bird nesting site which Lunar soon discovered as she quickly became the target for vomiting gulls. That night the winds increased and worried of anchor drag Jeff put out another one. This didn't stop the anchor drag alarm going off as we were buffeted by the wind in the night and so Jeff got up early to keep an eye on things. Despite our idyllic surroundings we decided to leave the beauty spot behind. We checked weather and although strong winds were forecast it didn't paint too scary a picture and we had little choice as staying put would have been ill advised. We headed out and up the Thames. A bit of chop and a bit of wind certainly but nothing we couldn't handle. Until we turned the corner to head west that is, timing our course change with an increase in wind which saw consistent speeds of near 50knt and with 4m breaking waves. I wasn't strong enough to hold onto the tiller at times so I shouted out the pilotage whilst Jeff took the brunt of the storm. The only other vessels to be seen were mammoth dredgers and transporters in search of calmer waters in which to shelter. With relief and totally spent we picked up a buoy off Gravesend YC and battened down the hatches just as the sun came out.

Next morning the winds had dropped somewhat though the weather was still grey and blustery. Tired but eager we set off on the last leg to St Katherine Docks. Lunar had her picture taken passing the Dome and by Tower Bridge and as we waited on the pick up buoy for the lock to open. Perhaps even more so after the last two days of excitement the whole think seemed totally surreal. We had just enough energy once berthed in the marina for the short walk to Waitrose in order to purchase some celebratory bubbles. Sipping them on deck I really felt we had earned them! Here we have been for nearly two weeks and we have done so much. Apart from the odd thundery shower the weather has been warm and sunny and so we have picnicked in Hyde Park, visited speakers corner, bought my wedding ring from Hatton Garden, been entertained in Covent Garden, seen two stand up comedy nights, had a bbq with friends, eaten sushi, drunk champagne with our newly married friends, met Jeff's school friend for coffee in the city, eaten a lot of frozen yoghurt, visited the British Museum, had my dad and uncle round for tea and biscuits, walked for miles and miles and miles along the river to tire out the dog, taken Lunar on the tube, been wedding shoe shopping, watched street entertainers, sampled the local food market (we tried Peruvian!) and Turkishfest and so much more. We have a full weekend booked ahead of us; Indian with our newly weds tonight, Turkish with our friends from home tomorrow. Meeting friends on Saturday and others on Sunday. A friend from up north heading down on Saturday to join us for two night and then Jeff's parents will be aboard from Thursday until we lock out. Somewhere in all that I am hoping find time to see a show! I may need a holiday to recover. Norfolk is quiet isn't it?

Well our life certainly isn't boring right now and I find it's amazing how quickly you get used to such a lack of routine. In a weeks time we will be setting off again as we make the final push up to Whitby. I can't quite believe how fast it's all is approaching now. I had my first wedding nightmare the other day! I wonder if wintering in one place will take some getting used to after all this?

Right off to walk Stuart (Lunar) so we can dine out with a little less guilt.

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