Keira starts her studies in The Netherlands.

At the end of January, after almost two months working at the wonderful  Fountaine Inn, Linton, in The Yorkshire Dales National Park (where food is served all day, every day!), Keira set off to Leiden University in The Netherlands to do an MA in Literary Studies.  She has a flat share in The Hague and can commute by bicycle and train to and from Leiden with relative ease.

Happily, I was able to tag along with her for a few days to help her settle in but mainly in order to build her flat pack wardrobe and desk!!!

The sluicegate house – with a slight drunken lean.

We were able to spend a lovely day sightseeing in Amsterdam.  It was a great day despite rather wet weather.

 

 

The main square in Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

We walked absolutely miles and, in a particularly torrential downpour, found ourselves in a Cheese Museum

where we  must have eaten a kilo of cheese from their tasting board.  Who knew that Gouda could have so many variations?  My favourite was a mature cheese flavoured with roasted cumin seeds.

After a sobering visit to the Anne Frank Museum we returned to Den Hague, eating some delicious fast food falafel en route.

 

On the Tuesday, Keira attended her orientation in Leiden whilst I completed the flat pack job.  I joined her in the afternoon for the Mayor’s welcome speech to all four hundred plus international students starting at the half way stage of the academic year.  He was very amusing.  The student body seems very well organised.  There were lots of offers of support and assistance, discounts and social events that made me wish I was starting my studies again.

A pretty windmill and bridge with the reflection of the moon in the water.

We were taken on a tour of Leiden which is just so pretty;  with its arching bridges over the many canal cuttings criss-crossing the town and its beautiful windmills slicing the sky and making wonderful silouettes.

On my last evening, we tried out a well known Surinamese restaurant in the centre of The Hague.  The food was an interesting mix of Asian and Indonesian, Caribbean and European.  There were some items that we had never tasted like casava chips; we had a veritable feast for a few Euros.

I returned to the UK in time to take over from Erin who had come up North to look after Ian post hernia operation.  He is recovering nicely thanks to her ministrations.  Keira is enjoying her course and life in The Netherlands.

Our Dutch girl

Next:  Sarah heads back to India after a gap of 35 years.

 

Two months in ‘The Shire’. –

After winterising Linea (Bavaria 430 Lagoon) and leaving her safely tucked up in the Porto Turistico di Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, for a second safe winter; we set off for Longridge and caught up with June, Ian’s mum, and the rest of his family, which was lovely.

We arrived back in Linton, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a few days later, excited to see Keira freshly returned from a job in France; and already living and working at the Fountaine Inn, Linton.   We were soon to see Erin, too, as she was to travel up from London the following week.

We hit the ground running with a spate of socials and sessions.

 

Bryn and Jill fro ‘Fly the Coop’ who we managed to meet up with.

Soon, like everyone else, we were in full swing for Christmas.  Inevitably this involved more trips to the Fountaine Inn, Linton; and eating lots of food.

 

 

We did manage to fit in a good few walks when the weather was bright (and sometimes when it wasn’t!)  It was just lovely to be back in the Dale and experiencing village life again.

 

 

 

 

 

Erin had very little time off from her new job as Assistant Manager of the Miller and Carter Steakhouse in Worcester Park London, so she drove up north after her late shift had finished on Christmas Eve and arrived at 0200hrs in the morning!  A flying visit as she had to head back down south on Boxing Day morning.

We had a wonderful day on Christmas day culminating in an evening of hilarity at the Vyvyan’s.

We enjoyed a hearty walk and refreshments with the Heanes, Hodgsons and Plumbs in between Christmas and New Year but I was unable to muster the strength (due to being proper poorly) to join them all for the annual Inn at Whitewell walk from Chipping.

As predicted, time was flying on and we still had so much to do and so many people to see.

Happily, we were able to do a little farm, dog and house sitting which made a nice change.  Also, Ian was able to catch up and support his beloved Wharfedale Rugby Club.

I enjoyed going to the gym occasionally in a vague attempt to lose some of the weight I had piled on after a summer on the boat eating far too much feta cheese!

All in all, it was the most marvellous visit home, with added poignancy, since we haven’t been back for any length of time for almost two years.  We miss ‘The Shire’, our family and friends very much.

Remember, we would LOVE to welcome you to the boat during the summer if you fancy a bit of camping on water!  Please just ask and we will try to coordinate.

Next Time:  Keira heads off to Holland!

 

 

 

 

Back in ‘The Shire’.

An Aerial shot of the Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa.

We pulled into our winter berth in the

Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, without a hitch and were pleased to see friends and neighbours from last year.  Our arrival coincided with one of the twice weekly happy hours at the Stella Marina Bar so we met old and new friends that night.

 

ALl Italy Laser Championships in Marina di Ragusa

Some days later, the Porto Turistico hosted the All-Italy Laser Championships.   The first challenge was negotiating out from between the pontoons, heading for open sea.

Scrubbing the bottom of the tender clean; one of the many jobs to do.

Since arriving back, we have been full-on busy with boat jobs; fixing, replacing, renewing, cleaning, servicing, removing, repairing and storing.

 

 

We have had visits from Alice, Ian and Jon.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to sail anywhere (even if the weather had been suitable) because the sails had already gone off to be repaired.

Ian, me and Jon above the stunning Ragusa Ibla.

However, we were able to explore more of Sicily.  Touring around to Syracuse, Modica, Scicli, Palazzallo Acredie and Ragusa Ibla – beautiful cities with stunning baroque churches and buildings.

A temple and huge bronze statue at Agrigento.

 

 

 

 

We also drove out to Agrigento to the Valley of Temples and were suitably impressed by the stunning Greek Temples there, which are some of the best preserved in the Med.

Visiting Agrigento – The Valley of Temples with Alice and Ian in our little Fiat 500!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caltagirone National Park (Ancient Oak Forest) with the Kalura Walking group.

We joined a walking group and enjoyed a couple of noisy walks in the surrounding area with forty chattering Sicilians.

 

 

I also went olive picking again and have my own bottle of freshly pressed oil from my olives, ready to open in the spring.

Steve and Laura busy picking some of the 200kg we picked that day.

 

Kangaroo Sky above Pallazzallo Acredie

Ian welcomed back his road bike with open arms (thanks once again to Nick and Paul) and has been out on it a few times.  He reports that it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier each time.

Ian and Sheena. (Love how ancient columns are incorporated into newer buildings.)

We also enjoyed a few days in Rome, with my old friend Sheena and her family.  We walked all round Rome and saw all the main sights and some little hidden gems with our super guide Sheena, who has lived in Rome for 30 years.

Then, it was back to the boat for a few last minute preparations before heading back to the UK for a couple of months where,  for the first time in a while, all four of us Mouldings are to be in the same country at Christmas.

So, yes, we are going to be living back in Yorkshire.  Staying in a cottage – 26 Linton Falls until the 12th February 2018.

We hope to catch up with as many friends and family as we can.  Do pop in if you’re passing.

In the meantime, we wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy new year.

 

 

2017 – The Stats

Total nautical Miles 2488

Sailed miles 1212 –  49%;  Engine miles 1276   – 51%

Engine Hours 319;  Total nights at sea – 6                                                              Nights anchored – 92;  Nights on a town quay or in a marina – 72

Nights in the boat yard – 9

Our final crew, David and Michael.
Most frequent flyers!

Number of guests – 21 – Bill, David, Ang, Lizzie, Alice, Ian, Sam, Rory, Bryn, Jill, Louis, (plus the rest of the family for dinner and drinks,) Jane, Alice, Ian, Erin, Josh, Keira, David, Michael, Alice, Ian

 

Litres of wine consumed – Gallons!

Yacht A – 340million Euros to build. The masts are 90m tall.

Number of Super Yachts seen – 1 – to beat all

Days of sunshine – 168  Days of rain – 12

Deepest water  – 3600m;  Highest waves – 4m;   Strongest wind – 38kn

Hottest temp – 36;  Lowest temp – 24

Fish caught – NONE;  Dolphins seen – Lots;  Turtles seen – 2;  Star fish seen – 1

Pitta Gyros consumed – Far too many!!

Times up the mast – Ian Masta-Climbing;  me pulling!  11

Genaker out – 15

Number of boat mechanics met – 10 plus the crane driver

Our Yorkshire Flag after a season in the windy Cyclades!

Number of flags and pennants shredded – FOUR –  Greek flag, Cruising Association Pennant, British Ensign, Yorkshire Flag.

A memorable year!

 

 

 

 

Heading West to Marina di Ragusa, Siciliy

We were delighted to be contacted by fellow MdR cruisers who suggested that we sail together back around the Peleponese.  The weather window to get round the southern tips was not huge so we had to make a bit of a dash for it.  No time to stop in Monemvasia which was disappointing.  However, we had a good sail round to FInikas, a return to the port of our nightmare four weeks ago!  This time we had an uneventful night and a fabulous sail south to Milos where we met up with Nigel and Lawrence on Cormoran

Ian, Nigel, Lawrence and me on the arched bridge across the moat to the Venetian fort on Methoni.

and were pleased to see Wayne and Barbie on Hope again and have a quick catch up with them before they head for Kos.

Next day, we set of early for a long sail to Ormos Sapienza an amazing anchorage just south of Methoni.  In fact, there was NO wind so the engine had a good work out of 14 hours continuous motoring.  Next morning, we settled in the bay in Methoni and prepared for the next 48 hours of very strong north westerly winds which were due to pipe up in the afternoon.  We enjoyed a walk around the impressive Venetian Fort on the headland.  It was certainly a different experience (and a comforting one) to watch the waves crashing onto the shoal waters around the headland from the perspective of land rather than from a boat!

Ian doing his Altas impression again with a huge and heavy stone ball that was just lying there.

Ian found a huge stone ball and couldn’t resist doing his Altas impression again!

The sailing yacht ‘Unique’ glides through the gap in the stacks off Pilos bay

After a bit of provisioning in the lovely resort town of Methoni we set off up to Pilos.  We enjoyed a walk around the villas and squares of the town which has a French feel about it.  The cemetery and the old castle walls are very impressive.  There are some stacks to the west of the mouth of the bay which we once impressive caves – sailing through the gaps between them was an amazing way to leave the shelter of the beautiful bay.

 

 

 

Me and the lady who makes these wicker baskets.

Next stop, Kiparissia where I bought some fabulous vegetable baskets from this lovely lady.

The new VHS aerial cable emerges from the base of the mast!

Then to Zakinthos where we picked up  are Michael and David who are going to assist with the crossing to Sicily and or Malta.  Whilst parked up here Ian was delighted to be able to tick off ‘replace the radio aerial and cable’ from his long list of ‘to do’ jobs!

David and Michael arrived bang on time to nip into town for a quick farewell pitta gyros gastronomic delight – the last for a while –  and then we were good to go.  We set off at 1030 on Friday morning expecting to arrive in Malta by Monday evening.  After rounding the south coast of Zante the wind was strong on the bow and beam the whole night.   We surfed through the swell and arrived in Porto Pallo, Sicily after 50 hours at an average speed of 7 knots.  Not much sleep was achieved because the swell made it very uncomfortable but it was a fabulous crossing, in record time, without incident and the last few hours were even calm enough for much needed bacon butties!

We do have a slight issue with the autopilot though which has worked so hard during the crossing. Ian will look at that tomorrow.

Still debating a boat name change….any suggestions gratefully received!  But can I just mention that, ‘Boaty McBoatface’ has already been registered!!!

The boating adventures of a Yorkshire couple