Holiday With The Jubilee Sailing Trust

Niobe clematis 9.12

Today was a beautiful autumn day.  At last we are reaching the stage in The Firs garden where we can spend as much time in sitting and enjoying the display as in ’tilling and sowing’.  This was just as well today, because I had left my camera battery charger at home in Morden, so we went to Jessops to buy another.  It will be useful to have one in each abode.  The shop was unable to supply a specific charger for my Canon camera.  They could sell me a universal charger which seems to be magic.  It charges mobile phones, AA and AAA batteries, cameras; and even has a lead with an adapter for the car.  Unfortunately when we got it home, not one of the three of us was able to pass the intelligence test required to make it work.  After an hour or so’s trial and error, the emphasis being on error, we had to go back to the shop where the assistant acknowledged the paucity of the instructions, and showed me how to turn a couple of wheels and position the battery without closing the back of the gadget.  It looked rather precarious to me, but seems to have worked.

The shape of the new bed is now established.  All that remains is to compost it tomorrow.  Planting continues apace.  Yesterday, Jackie finished her work on the bay tree.  A few months ago this large specimen was surrounded by suckers, so that it looked more like a shrub.  She began by removing these, to give it more shape.  This being a very stony garden, she began to place stones around the base of the plant.  Finally she gave the stones a framework of hexagonally shaped tiles.  Like much of what is happening here this was incremental.  If I wanted to misquote Topsy of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, I would say it ‘just growed’.  Topsy explained her arrival in that phrase, not, as is generally assumed, her manner of gradually developing.  This living supply of an essential cooking ingredient now has the appearance of a lurcher practicing deportment.

Danni joined us for lunch.  Capitalising on the success of my coastal walk yesterday, she tried her hand at persuading me to join the crew of one of the tall ships of the Jubilee Sailing Trust.  My post of 3rd. June featured Tenacious, one of their two sailing vessels providing holidays on tall ships crewed by people of all physical abilities working alongside each other as equals.  Apparently they are in need of two septuagenarians, slightly younger being acceptable, wishing to join a week-long holiday group.  As it is not actually my scene, I declined.  But if you fit the bill and would like to join, visit or telephone 023 8044 9108.

The main course of our evening meal was the same as yesterday.  To follow, Jackie had made blackberry and apple pie, using blackberries from the garden.  These were completely worm free.  You can tell that by soaking them in water.  If no grubs come up spluttering, there aren’t any in there.  Elizabeth and I drank Carta Roja Reserva 2005, whilst Jackie consumed La Gioiosa Pino Grigio 2011.  If anyone is wondering, there is a purpose in our having roast chicken two nights running.  This is so that I will have enough left-over meat to curry, and enough bones to make stock, for tomorrow night when Danni is joining us.  I will produce Jalfrezi, which Indians would serve dry, but we English like our gravy.  This is perhaps why chicken tikka masala is now, in the view of many, our national dish.  Personally, as you know, I love my curries, but for English food, give me steak and kidney pie any day.


The rain kept off and we had a very pleasant day.  I was able to dig more of the shrubbery bed and do some pruning before visitors began to arrive.  These comprised my niece Danni and her partner Andy; Chris and Frances’ daughter ( my niece) Fiona, her husband Paul and their six month old son, James; and my mother.  As was mentioned, James, the delightful latest member of the clan, had three greats in the gathering, Elizabeth and me as great aunt and uncle and my mother as great grandmother.  We spanned practically ninety years.

Taking a break to watch the Jubilee flotilla on the Thames we Shared Danni’s excitement at the appearance on screen of ‘Tenacious’ and two of the Pilgrim brothers.  Danni works part-time at the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a registered charity which manages two tall ships, one of which is the ‘Tenacious’.  These offer sailing holidays all over the world.  Their two ships are the only ones designed to enable people of all levels of physical ability to sail together as equals.  One of the brothers interviewed was able bodied; the other severely disabled by meningitis in earlier life.  Danni was particularly pleased that two representatives of the Pilgrim family had been chosen for interview.

The waterborne theme continued when Fiona asked me for advice about fundraising for particular physical feats.  She has a friend who is wanting to climb Kilimanjaro in memory of another whose ambition to do the same has recently been cut short by an early death.  She needs to raise money for the trip.  The reason I was asked was because of Sam’s ocean rowing achievement.  He had formed his own charitable company to raise funds for his row.  Anyone who has read my post of 28th. May will realise that I wasn’t the most successful fundraiser.  Nevertheless I was able to give her some ideas. My approach to Samsonite to suggest they might like their logo on Samson Knight’s boat was quite fruitless.  Given that he won the race, I think that was rather short-sighted of them.  Fiona and her parents had made the trip to Barbados to welcome Sam’s arrival there after 59 days at sea.

Comparing James’ electronic musical toys with the wartime toys available to his grandfather and me led us into the perennial discussion we have when we all get together about the rapid technological progress which has taken place in our lifetimes, let alone Mum’s.  Mum and I reminisced about an Intercity train trip we had taken about twenty years ago from Newark to York.  She had been absolutely amazed at the modern 125.  She had not been on a train for fifty years.  Then many still ran on steam, and carriages were designed to consist of several compartments each with their own separate doors.  Those were the days of the named locomotives and there was no ‘leaves on the line’ problem.  I am told railwaymen say that this is because the stoker’s embers burned off the leaves from overhanging trees.  Steam trains ran past the maisonette in Raynes Park in which we grew up.  They were splendid specimens often hauling most ornate Pullman carriages.  We all got excited when they puffed past and we could check their names.  Each one bore a different name and we ‘collected’ them.  Mum reminded me today that that up to the minute train to York had also carried the passengers from a broken down one bound for Durham.  She had been wondering whether perhaps it would be easier for her to travel by train than by car from Southampton to Newark.  That particular element of our journey had put her off the idea.

For the evening meal Danni and Andy produced a very tasty chicken casserole which we enjoyed with various assorted wines.  Danni told the assembled company about a misunderstanding that had arisen between her and me earlier on.  She and Andy had been driving out and I had stopped them to find out whether they were coming back.  ‘I’m only going to my Dad’s to collect something.  We’ll be back later.’  she’d said.  ‘Buy him some mudguards’  I had replied.  ‘Really?’ said Danni, quizzically.  ‘Yes’, said I, ‘I don’t have a problem with him’.  She drove away looking puzzled.  Some way down the road she realised that what I had actually said had been ‘give him my regards’.