Tag Archives: gap year

Start of Season Four 2019

One of the many boat preparation jobs. Re-greasing the winches.
Ian, June and me chatting to Erin on What’s App.

After our long and busy winter season in the Alps, we were happy to be returning to the UK to stay with Ian’s mum, June, for a while.  Especially as she had given us a bit of a fright the week before, having been admitted to hospital!  Now, she certainly seems to be on the mend and back to her normal routine…so that was a big relief.   Whilst there with June, we had a lovely video chat with Erin in Australia, the ease of which June marveled over.   It was good to see Erin and to hear that she has been making progress on the job front and is enjoying life in Melbourne.

Alice astride the Essex policeman’s motorbike on Tour de Yorkshire Day.

We squeezed in a couple of wonderful days in ‘The Shire’, watching the Tour De Yorkshire fly past and enjoying one of Mr Brennan’s fine pizzas cooked to perfection in his new pizza oven, in only 50 seconds!  Now that is a HOT oven!  On the Bank Holiday Monday we had a lovely day at Alice and Ian Daggett’s with lots of friends from around the Dale.  It was such a wrench to be leaving so soon.

Our return coincided with June’s birthday, so we were able to have a lovely evening out with most of the family to celebrate.

On the 8th May we woke at ridiculous o’clock to catch our flight back to Catania, Sicily and then to the boat which has been in Marina Di Ragusa all winter.

She had survived well, although she was covered in a sprinkling of fine orange dust which had blown up from the Sahara. 

We began the process of rebuilding her ready to sail away.  Re-threading the lines and halyards; putting on the sails (freshly laundered…I kid you not…they smell lovely); cleaning and polishing everything; greasing the winches; replacing the spray hood and bimini; (that word again, Michelle Firth!!).  Busy, busy, work, work!

Ian’s chipped tooth.

We had a minor accident in those first few days, whilst Ian was trying to retrieve some batons from the boom.  Keira and I lent a hand and pushed the recalcitrant baton down the boom towards Ian.  Unfortunately, his front tooth was in the way and the result was that he lost a chunk off the corner of his tooth.

Like new.
Water feature.

A quick trip into Ragusa (and a chance for Keira and I to nip to see the old part of town) to dentist Dr. Aldo Miano and half an hour later it was all rebuilt! Cash job only.

The Cathedral of San Giovani.
Outside the P.O.
The first view of Ragusa Ibla.
Then a quick detour to the wine merchant; Fratelli Mazza for a few supplies.

During this jobs week, Keira cracked on with her studies for her Day Skipper Qualification.

It was lovely to catch up with friends who had been in the marina all winter. We also enjoyed a Fiat Cinque Centi rally. The weather was very unsettled during this time and we had cold, very windy and cloudy days with little sunshine.  Most unusual for Sicily!

Just a few Cinque Centi!!

The Heanes arrived on Sunday the 12th May.  There were still jobs to do (thanks to David for cleaning the fenders…they are like new!) and, since the weather was unpleasant, we decided to stay put in the safety of the marina for a bit longer.  

Delicious meal at Marisco
Bonus Whist Results.

There was a great deal of Bonus Whist to be played. And the delay in MdR meant that we could sample a spectacular fish meal at the Marisco restaurant and one or two of Burger Art’s delicious burgers. Almost as good as a pitta gyros! Eventually, it was time to leave and start the 2019 adventure………off to Croatia.

The Reality

blue-bird-and-setting-sun
Vapour trail over the setting sun illuminating the frosty tree tops.

Having followed our ten steps to skiing off into the white yonder, we are already four weeks in and Christmas and New Year are behind us.  What an incredibly busy and ever so slightly chaotic time it has been.

On our arrival we completed the three and a half days’ training prior to the start of our paid contract – no messing, straight off the overnight bus from London! It was fun to meet all our colleagues and to find out more about what was to be expected from us over the course of the season.

We have been ensconced in a fab little bedsit just ten minutes walk from the town centre, a bit worn and tired in decor but perfectly adequate for us and, once we had sorted out the water heating problem, fully equipped with plenty of piping hot water.  After a summer on the boat, the space and litres of plentiful hot water were indeed special luxuries.

In the first instance, we were anxious to get into our beautiful and amazing chalet (five bedrooms, five bathrooms, six loos, hot tub and sauna).  We wanted to get it up to standard rapidly, as our first guests were due on the 10th December and we had not yet been given any linen or had an opportunity to shop for food.

However, on Friday, the day before their arrival, I got to go down the valley and proceeded to enjoy a ten hour marathon shopping adventure in Bourg St Maurice (in a huge supermarket – you don’t know where anything is or which products are the best to buy and you are about to feed ten people for a week!)

After filling three HUGE trolleys, I was pretty much passed it.  I came back to the chalet virtually catatonic with weariness and Ian and I put everything away and staggered back to our little apartment to fall into exhausted sleep.

On the Saturday we had a few hours to finalise the bed making, cleaning, food prep, etc., before our guests arrived.  Our first guests were a delight, we enjoyed hosting them and they were very magnanimous in the face of being our Guinea pigs, to all intents and purposes, this week being the first time we had delivered the menu plan in full.

The first few days flew by in a whirl of cooking, cleaning and collapsing into bed knackered.  Until Wednesday 14th December when finally, our ski passes were ready and we had a few wonderful hours skiing despite feeling absolutely exhausted.

After a day on the slopes and a little apres ski with Erin, we prepared a slap up chicken dinner and spent the evening preparing ourselves mentally and physically for the next six days’ work.

So far, we have lost weight from the simple expedients of not having time to eat regularly, not feeling like eating when we’ve been cooking all day, and using up incredible levels of energy; a) walking to our chalet in the mornings and evenings b) walking up and down four flights of stairs in the chalet to either collect stores form the ground floor or move between rooms. c) using a Hoover, cleaning showers and baths daily, and sweeping pine needles and or snow from the balconies and outside areas.

Full on calorie burning exercise!

We are definitely getting fitter and stronger.  Who needs yoga?

We are enjoying the fresh air and amazing views all around.  So far the weather has been clear and bright most days.  It is a truly magical place and we are enjoying it despite the physical and organisational challenges presented in these first few weeks.