Thursday, 31 May 2007

Singular Sentimental Short Story - Simon Short's Son Samuel

Shrewd Simon Short sewed shoes. Seventeen summers, speeding storms, spreading sunshine successfully, saw Simon's small, shabby shop, still standing staunch, saw Simon's self-same squeaking sign still swinging silently specifying: Simon Short, Smithfield's sole surviving shoemaker. Shoes sewed soled surperfinely.

Simon's spry, sedulous spouse, Sally Short, sewed skirts, stitched sheets, stuffed Sofas. Simon's six stout sons - Seth, Samuel, Stephen, Saul, Silas, Shadrach – sold sundries. Sober Seth sold sugar, spices; simple Sam sold saddles, stirrups, screws; sagacious Stephen sold silks, satins, shawls; sceptical Saul sold silver salvers; selfish Shadrach sold salves, shoe strings, soap, saws, skates; slack Silas sold Sally Short's stuffed sofas.

Some seven summers since, Simon's second son Samuel saw Sophia Sophronia Spriggs somewhere. Sweet, smart, sensible Sophia Sophronia Spriggs. Sam soon showed strong symptoms. Sam seldom stayed storing, selling saddles. Sam sighed sorrowfully, sought Sophia Sophronia's society, sung several serenades, slyly. Simon stormed, scolded severely; said Sam seemed so silly singing such shameful, senseless songs. 'Strange Sam should slight such splendid sales!' Strutting spendthrift! Scattered-brained simpleton.' 'Softly, softly, sire,' said Sally. - 'Sam's smitten; Sam’s spied some sweetheart.' 'Sentimental schoolboy!' snarled Simon. 'Smitten! Stop such stuff.' Simon sent Sally's snuffbox spinning, seized Sally's scissors, smashed Sally's spectacles, scattering several spools. 'Sneaking scoundrel! Sam's shocking silliness shall surcease!'

Scowling, Simon stopped speaking, started swiftly shopward. Sally sighed sadly. Summoning Sam, she spoke sweet sympathy. 'Sam,' said she, 'sire seems singularly snappy; so, solicit, sue, secure Sophronia speedily, Sam.' ‘so soon? So soon?' said Sam, standing stock-still. 'So soon, surely,' said Sally smilingly, 'specially since sire shows such spirits.' So Sam somewhat scared, sauntered slowly, shaking stupendously. Sam Soliloquises: 'Sophia Sophronia Spriggs, Spriggs - Short - Sophia Sophronia Short - Samuel Short's spouse - sounds splendid! Suppose she should say - she shan't - she shan't!'

Soon Sam spied Sophia starching shirts, singing softly. Seeing Sam she stopped Starching, saluting Sam smilingly. Sam stammered shockingly. 'Spl-spl-splendid summer season, Sophia.'
'Selling saddles still, Sam?' 'Sar-sar-tin,' said Sam, starting suddenly. 'Season's somewhat sudorific,' said Sam, steadily, staunching streaming sweat, shaking sensibly. 'Sartin,' said Sophia, smiling significantly. 'Sip some sweet sherbet, Sam.' (Silence sixty seconds.)

'Sire shot sixty shelldrakes, Saturday,' said Sophia. 'Sixty? Sho!' said Sam. (Silence seventy-seven seconds.) 'See sister Susan's sunflowers,' said Sophia socially, silencing such stiff silence. Sophia's sprightly sauciness stimulated Sam strangely; so Sam suddenly spoke
sentimentally; 'Sophia, Susan's sunflowers seem saying Samuel Short, Sophia Sophronia Spriggs, stroll serenely, seek some sequestered spot, some sylvan Shade.

Sparkling springs shall sing soul-stirring strains; sweet songsters shall silence secret sightings; super-angelic sylphs shall' - Sophia snickered; so Sam stopped. 'Sophia,' said Sam solemnly. 'Sam,' said Sophia. 'Sophia, stop smiling; Sam Short's sincere. Sam's seeking some sweet spouse, Sophia.' Sophia stood silent. 'Speak Sophia, speak; such suspense speculates sorrow.'

'Seek sire, Sam, seek sire.' So Sam sought sire Spriggs; sire Spriggs said 'Sartin.'. . .


Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Great Escape!

.......just something that made me smile this morning!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

To be serious for a moment......

Humour me for a minute?

I'm reading this really interesting book at the moment - its called 'The World is Flat' by Thomas L Friedman.

Friedman believes the world is flat in the sense that the competitive playing fields between industrial and emerging market countries are leveling: he talks about companies in India and China becoming part of large global complex supply that extend across the world through a process called outsourcing, providing everything from service representatives and interpretation of Xrays to component manufacturing.

Friedman lists ten "flatteners" that he believes have levelled the global playing field:

  • #1: Collapse of the Berlin Wall 11/9: Friedman attributes the collapse of the Berlin Wall as the starting point for leveling the global playing field. The event not only symbolized the end of the Cold War, it allowed people from other side of the wall to join the economic mainstream.

    Oh and yes, isn't that date a scary co-incidence?
  • #2: Netscape: Netscape and the Web broadened the audience for the Internet from its roots as a communications medium used primarily by scientists
  • #3: Workflow software: The ability of machines to talk to other machines with no humans involved.
  • #4: Open Sourcing: Communities uploading and collaborating on online projects; examples include open source software, blogs, and Wikipedia.
  • #5: Outsourcing: Friedman argues that outsourcing has allowed companies to split service and manufacturing activities into components, with each component performed in most efficient, cost-effective way.
  • #6: Offshoring: Offshoring, the manufacturing equivalent of outsourcing.
  • #7: Supply Chaining: Friedman compares the modern retail supply chain to a river, and points to Wall-Mart as the best example of a company using technology to streamline item sales, distribution, and shipping.
  • #8: Insourcing: Friedman uses UPS as a prime example for insourcing, in which the company's employees perform services--beyond shipping--on behalf of another company. For example, UPS itself repairs Toshiba computers on behalf of Toshiba;the work is done at the UPS hub, by UPS employees.
  • #9: In-forming: Google and other search engines are the prime example. "Never before in the history of the planet have so many people on-their-own had the ability to find so much information about so many things and about so many other people", he says.
  • #10: "The Steroids": Personal digital equipment like mobile phones, iPods, personal digital assistants, instant messaging, and VOIP

Friedman also acknowledges there are some 3 billion people in places like rural India, rural China, and Africa who still live in an "unflat world", unaffected by the technologies and socioeconomic changes of outlined in the book, and addresses what is needed to extend the "flat world" beyond its current borders.

It's a fascinating and very challenging insight into what's going on RIGHT NOW all around us - I recommend a read!

Turkey - second week

Sunday 20th May - Orhaniye

Hallelujah! When we all awoke in the morning the wind had all but gone and the normal tranquillity of the Dirsek returned. Chas and I had breakfast in the restaurant while the girls ate on-board.

We received a phone call from the Sunsail guys to say that we should all stay put as they were coming over - they arrived in Dirsek at around 11am.

It was decided to sail around to Orhaniye to the Sunsail base there - one of the German guys had fallen down the steps onboard ‘Miss Lead’ and had badly hurt his back and needed to see a Doctor. Also Pierre on ‘Dolomite’ was very concerned about a battery problem and the Sunsail guys had organised for an Engineer to look at this as well as examine a problem we had on ‘Opus’ with lack of power when manoeuvring.

We had a nice sail around to Orhaniye with both the Genoa and mainsail up - and arrived at around 3pm; I managed to successfully reverse and moor up stern-to for the 3rd time!

The Turkish Sunsail engineer came onboard and tried out the engine - he suggested there might be something wrong with the propeller and said he would try to fix this before we left the next day.

Monday 21st May – Paradise Bay

We enjoyed a quiet and casual breakfast on-board this morning as we didn’t fancy the restaurant – the meal last night was definitely very ‘average’!!

The engineer arrived around 9.30am with another guy fully kitted out with wetsuit and scuba gear who dived under the boat to change the propeller with only a few deep breaths and a snorkel!

We left Orhaniye at around 1030am and headed around into Selimiye - a lovely big bay with a nice quiet town nestling in the far corner; we moored up at a convenient jetty and had a few beers before lunching on board.

We left around 3.30pm and headed towards Paradise Bay, near to Dirsek, for a rendezvous with the others, arriving at 6pm. We had to motor most of the way as the wind was on our nose (yet AGAIN!) and the ‘new’ propeller didn’t really seem to make any difference!

Paradise Bay is a nice quiet inlet with a small family run restaurant and nothing else! It’s just a short walk across the headland to Dirsek where we weathered out the storm a few days ago.

We enjoyed probably one of the best meals since we arrived in Turkey – it’s a family-run business and they were most hospitable and the food was excellent and very well presented!

Afterwards, the Sunsail crew put on a fun evening, firstly a 'Kill-the-Engineer' competition where we were all invited to prepare a 'special' drink laced with whatever nasty liquids we could find – mostly these contained Raki, an awful Turkish anise-flavored aperitif drink similar to French Pastis and Greek Oozo which goes a milky colour when water is added, and to me at least tastes absolutely ghastly! Points were awarded for presentation, alcohol content, originality of name and drink-ability! Needless to say Steve had to throw-up afterwards – thankfully in the relative privacy of the loo! If he has to do this every 2 weeks, goodness knows what he’ll be like after the end of the sailing ‘season’ in October!

Then the crew then put on a short play of a typical day in the life of a Sunsail skipper - with lots of props, water, alcohol, shaving foam and all! It was great fun and everyone agreed it was the best Sunsail show they’d ever seen!! Well done the team!

Tuesday 22nd May - Datca

We woke to a very tranquil and peaceful (and very aptly named) Paradise Bay and enjoyed a super omelette and strong Turkish coffee along with freshly baked bread in the restaurant - the taste of bread fresh from the open oven was simply indescribable! At around 10.30am we headed off – our next destination was Datca, just across the Hisaronu Korfesi and westwards.

At first the wind was light and the sea state completely flat - we motored around trying to find some wind and then thankfully it picked up.

After heading northwest we tacked southwest and towards the Greek Island of Simi, eventually reaching a midway point around 2 miles from Simi which we decided was about close enough as sailing a Turkish flag, we couldn’t sail in Greek waters and wanted to avoid any International incident!.

We tacked northwest again and found more wind as we sailed close hauled towards the town of Datca arriving there on the Town Quayside at around 4pm.

Chas and I headed off into the town to find a barbers shop as we both fancied a Turkish Shave – you have to believe this! It is THE most wonderful experience for a guy! Something you do every day which takes you around a minute at most suddenly becomes a most relaxing and enjoyable thing, taking perhaps 20 minutes and including a massage too! And it only cost 5 Turkish Lire!

We decided to eat-in for a change and Shirley cooked a nice pasta dish which was a welcome relief from the Turkish food we'd been eating for the last week or so! Afterwards we crossed the quayside (all of 8 steps!) to the Bolero bar where we stayed drinking and chatting until after midnight!

Wednesday 23rd May – Hayit Buku or Ova Buku

Up at 8am and headed for the Bolero Bar again - this time for breakfast! I remarked to the barman that he seemed to work long hours having only closed the bar at 3am!! He nodded and smiled as only Turkish barman do!

I enjoyed a nice hot and powerful shower at the Harbour facilities - which cost an exorbitant 10 Turkish Lire but it was worth it! The girls did dome last minute grocery shopping and we headed off out of the Harbour around 1030am, aiming for a nice lunch stop at a bay just west of Datca which Pete and Nikki had recommended.

The bay turned out to be absolutely wonderful - a couple of Gulets had anchored off the beach and there were maybe four other yachts at anchor too. After a couple of goes we managed to drop the anchor safely and Shirley and I swam before having lunch - Pete and Nikki arrived too and managed to anchor up nearby so we invited them on-board for some food and a drink.

At around 2.30pm we winched up the anchor and headed out of the bay, turning westwards again - the wind was ok so we hoisted the sails and rounded a corner of the peninsula before heading due west again. The wind was quite strong gusting to around 15 knots so we managed to sail quite fast reaching almost 7 knots which was the fastest we'd sailed! We even managed to out-sail Pete and Nikki who tried their hardest to catch us - but failed!

The entrance to the pretty inlet of Hayit Buku (Ova Buku) was hard to see from seaward but closer in there were two very high cliffs and a watch-tower guarding the entrance to a nice small bay with a wooden jetty by Ogun's Restaurant which has a very good reputation so we were looking forward to it!

Wow, what a super and original menu of food! Ogun himself is a character too but he sure has created a super place to eat and rest up! I had Wild Boar for main course! We even watched the final of the Champions League between AC Milan and Liverpool which sadly for us Brits in general (and ‘Scouser Hostie’ Emily in particular!), AC Milan won 1-0!

Thursday 24th May - Knidos

Um, we think we maybe ran aground overnight - the place we'd moored up by the jetty was shallow and somehow the bay had lost some water overnight! At least that’s what we’re telling everyone!

As we attempted to cast off we skewed sideways and it took some nifty handling by 10 people to move us - we even lightened the boat leaving just Chas on board at the helm and eventually with help from ‘Barcel√≥’ who we were lashed to, we floated free! Yippee!

We left Hayit Buku at 1045 - Chas invited me to take over as Skipper for the day, making decisions about route passage and sailing direction etc. Great fun! AND we are still here living to tell the tale!

There was no real wind to speak of so I decided we'd motor out 3 miles and then take a course westwards roughly parallel along the Datca Peninsula towards our next destination, ancient Knidos, lying at the far western end of the peninsula in a dramatic and isolated position; there is a lonely restaurant, a T shaped jetty and nothing else apart from the mostly unexcavated ruins of an ancient City!

Just as we entered the harbour we spotted a Dolphin off our stern - the first we'd seen in Turkey! The harbour entrance was tricky with a submerged old jetty to avoid on our starboard side so we couldn't concentrate on Dolphins too much at this point!

We arrived safely at the entrance to the harbour to the southeast of Knidos carefully avoiding the sunken breakwater and moored up alongside the jetty.

After lunch on board we just chilled out and Chas, Pam and Shirley headed off to take a look at the ancient ruins while I had a nice siesta (or whatever the Turks call it!)

Amazingly, this place was once home to a community of around 70,000 people - the ruins are virtually unexcavated. The town was once famous as a centre of trade and learning - among the ruins are temples, two theatres and a sundial and a pedestal on which once stood the famed 4th Century BC statue of Aphrodite; apparently it captivated all who saw her!

Dinner at Aphrodite Restaurant was great - an idyllic setting overlooking the tranquil bay at sunset! Chas and I enjoyed grilled Snapper washed down with two bottles of red wine - of course!

Friday 25th May - Turgutreis

Up early this morning - 7am! We met for a final day briefing, had breakfast, bought some fresh Turkish bread and set sail around 9am - but not before a slight drama as we hit the bottom again leaving the jetty! Yet another poor set of instructions from a so-called Harbour Master with our keel being deeper than the water! Anyway we managed to reverse off with no damage - we think!

We rounded the end of the peninsula with the Greek Island of Kos on our port side as we headed due north – sadly, even though the setting was beautiful and serene, there was little or no wind so no sailing!

We set a course change, keeping 2 miles distant from Kos and any Greek gunboats! The sea was dead flat and windless as we motored on and between Kos and the Turkish mainland on our starboard beam.

We arrived off the Marina at Turgutreis - avoiding the submerged rock and isolated danger mark to the south east. Turgutreis is a small town with a large Marina to the west of the main town of Bodrum. As it was early and we still had no wind we decided to motor out to the small island of Catalada about a mile or so offshore where we anchored with a few other yachts.

We stayed until around 4pm when we headed in to the Marina fuel berth to top up before proceeding to the Sunsail berths at the northern end of the Marina.

Oh bliss! A HOT and very POWERFUL shower at the Marina!! I'd quite forgotten how much a REAL shower can do to spice up how you feel after 2 weeks afloat - it's indescribable!

We finished off some of the remaining bottles of wine, nuts, olives etc - assisted by Pete and Nikki who were berthed alongside.

The final evening ‘group’ meal took place in the Yacht Club following which there was the traditional ‘prize-giving’ – an excuse for the Sunsail crew to highlight any unusual things they’d seen us do during the fortnight; like for us ‘mislaying’ the dinghy and Chas inadvertently once saying the dreaded words ‘Over and Out’ at the end of a VHF call. For anyone used to sailing etiquette, this is absolutely a no-no and everyone hoots with laughter when someone says it!! It’s worse than most ‘mistakes’ you make because everyone has their VHF radios on too so everyone hears it!! But Chas got his own back by mentioning occasions when the Lead crew had messed up mooring – and they thought no-one had noticed!!

Saturday 26th May - Turgutreis

Our last day – we packed up and cleaned the boat, leaving some odd provisions we’d not consumed for the Sunsail crew. Boring stuff like milk, shampoo and tins of stuff but also more interesting things like Brandy and wine!

We left and said farewell to Opus, which had been our ‘home’ for the past couple of weeks at around 9am and walked up to the Yacht Club to dump our bags and have a leisurely breakfast. We had most of the day to kill so Chas and Pam bussed into Bodrum for some sightseeing and shopping while Shirley and I chilled out by the pool at the Club.

After they’d returned Chas and Pam joined us for lunch at a nice caf√© just outside the Marina where we stayed until around 4pm – the bus for the airport at Bodrum arrived at 5pm and we were on our way!

We’ve enjoyed another great sailing holiday and new experiences too! We’ll be back!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Turkey - first week

Saturday 12th May - Marmaris

After a good 4 hour flight from Gatwick to Dalaman, we transferred by minibus to the Turkish Port of Marmaris where we arrived at around 10pm and went to Pineapple Restaurant on the Marina for dinner – the service initially appeared quick but we waited for the meal which didn’t arrive until after midnight! But meantime we set a cracking pace with the Turkish red wine!

We enjoyed a good first-nights sleep on the boat apart from Shirley who had severe cramp in middle of night! Ouch!

Sunday 13th May – Kumlu Buku

We were up early for first Flotilla briefing at Pineapple Restaurant followed by breakfast – and on the way down the jetty surprise, surprise and with great excitement, we bumped into Pete and Nikki Mahy from Sheffield who we'd met 2 years ago in Croatia!

There was a problem with our allocated boat which we found full of cockroaches (yuk!) so we had a last minute shuffle to another Sun Odyssey 373, named Opus – it was a real pain moving everything but at least we got a clean boat!

The Flotilla comprised 6 yachts plus the Lead Boat, Daiquiri with the Sunsail crew:

Daiquiri: - Steve (the Skipper), Emily (the 'Hostie') and Stephen (the Engineer)

Dolomite: Pierre, Glenn and Joey (from South Africa)

Opus: Chas, Pam, Shirley and me

Marilyn: Pete and Nikki

Vif Dor: Christina and Peter (From Frankfurt, Germany)

Miss Lead: Hans-Christoph, Michael, Jochen and Wolfgang (from Berlin, Germany)

Bercelo: Chris and Gilly

We set off at 3pm for the short sail to the resort of Kumlu Buku where, very proudly, I successfully managed my first stern-to mooring of the holiday! We used the facilities of the K Yacht Club during our stay which were ‘ok’ – but the 'stall' type unisex showers we'd used on a previous flotilla here were still rather ‘modestly challenging’ for anyone with a short body or legs!

There was the usual first evening Punch Party with the other yachts so a good opportunity to meet and chat with everyone.

Monday 14th May – Ekincek Limani

We set sail at 11am eastwards to Ekincek Limani - the wind was initially light but it picked up and we switched to autopilot – carefully avoiding the charted ‘prohibited’ military area on route! The wind dropped again so we motor-sailed most of the way passing a Turkish Naval gunboat towing floating targets which they’d been using for bombing practice!

After about 17 miles and over 5 hours sailing, we entered the picturesque bay of Ekincek to the west of the Dalyan River Estuary and moored up at 4.30pm.

The wooden jetty had been improved since we last visited here 4 years ago and we remembered the stiff climb up to the excellent restaurant where we enjoyed a candlelit dinner.

Tuesday 15th May – Ciftlik Buku

Up and awake early today – I walked up the hill to the restaurant for a shower and to collect some freshly baked Turkish bread.

As we’d done the organised trip to the ancient tombs and mud baths before, we decided to head back to the west on our own and stay the night at Ciftlik Buku, just south of Kumlu Buku; this plan shortens our sailing passage on Wednesday when we need to rendezvous with the flotilla at Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma) further south.

After our first real breakfast on board we left at 10am and headed out south and then westwards when the wind direction and strength changed in our favour. We sailed on a track due west with the wind strength at a nice 10 to 12 knots (Force 4) although the wind was cold and we all felt chilled!

We arrived off the nice beach at the resort of Ciftlik Buku around 4pm and anchored stern to a rather wobbly jetty off Mehmet’s Place – the man himself Mehmet welcomed us like old friends; a lovely polite and very friendly Turk!

We enjoyed an excellent meal at Mehmet's – a mixed grill washed down with copious amounts of Red wine.

Wednesday 16th May – Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma)

We woke to a lovely sunny morning in quiet and tranquil bay and enjoyed an on-board breakfast after a very cold and bracing shower behind Mehmet’s restaurant!

About 2 miles after setting off I happened to notice something was missing! Oh no, where’s the dinghy!

We backtracked and stumbled on Pete & Nikki in 'Marilyn' who relayed a message via the VHF radio that the dinghy was safe with Peter and Christina on Vif Dor who luckily had moored up on the same jetty at Mehmet’s! To make matters worse, we'd also not switched our VHF radio to the right channel so no-one could contact us! Tch, tch!! Bad mistake!

Anyway, we retrieved the dinghy and set off again – the wind was straight on our nose southwest towards Bozuk Buku (Ancient Loryma) so we motor-sailed most of the way until after the island of Kizilada where we changed our bearing and thankfully found some wind further out so we put the sails up and headed towards the Greek Island of Rhodes 12 miles or so away in the distance.

We tacked again and headed back towards the Turkish mainland just below the small island of Catal Adalari which we rounded before entering the small and delightful inlet to Bozuk Buku or Ancient Loryma as it is also known which was once a military port and used as a fleet assembly point for attacks on Rhodes, most notably in 395BC. There is a stunning view of Rhodes from the Citadel at the entrance to the bay.

There was a very 'rustic' jetty and restaurant but the service and meal was good and plenty of it too – the rolled lamb was particularly tasty!

Thursday 17th May – Yesilova or Bozburun

Strangely we were up later than usual this morning – all with sore heads from the wine and gin ‘n tonics of the previous evening! But a strong black coffee and the stunning scenery all around seemed to sort that out! The water was crystal clear but still too cold at only 56F to tempt me in for an early morning dip!

We had a Turkish breakfast at the restaurant - thick coffee, omelette plus goat’s cheese, tomato, cucumber, black olives - and honey! We purchased half a slab of some freshly baked 'village bread' for lunch.

We set off around 1015 – the first yacht out - and headed southwest to a point off the Bozburun Peninsula situated just off the lovely Greek Island of Simi. The wind was light and variable but increased a little later, so we had good sail until we turned east into the approach to Yesilova where we anchored up alone in a small deserted and very deep inlet for lunch.

After lunch and with little or no wind, we sailed on towards the town of Yesilova, mooring up on the Town Quayside which we remember from our visit 4 years ago – the local Mosque is close by and we hear the Imam chanting a frequent call to prayer during the day, starting at 5am!

Yesilova or Bozburun as it is sometimes known is a small sleepy little town which was once a thriving sponge fishing centre but now better known for its boatyard which builds the popular wooden Turkish Gulets - the yard is situated to the west of the village.

We had nice and very welcome hot showers in Aquarium Restaurant and we re-provisioned with some essentials, gin, beer etc! After dinner we managed to attract a crowd from the other boats and a party ensued! Some things never change, do they?!

Friday 18th May – Yesilova or Bozburun

I woke with a sore head (again!) around 8.15am, which is quite late for us, but being on the quayside in the middle of the town, the sound of cars and people moving about outside only slightly disturbed us. I had another stone-cold shower at the restaurant as the sun hadn't yet heated the solar panels!

Today was a 'cultural' excursion to see a Mosque, a waterfall and visit a carpet factory - which we'd done before; so we decided not to go, chilling out in the town instead.

The weather this morning was slightly overcast and after breakfast we heard that the wind was likely to increase in strength to between Force 5 and Force 7 with rain at times; so we decided to stay put!

Another two boats headed off for their free sailing day, leaving us in Yesilova with both 'German' boats - the Lead Boat left us and set off for the town of Orhaniye on the other side of the peninsular where there is another Sunsail base.

We just chilled out for the afternoon and - I snoozed for a couple of hours while the others went for a walk to see the Gulet boatyard along the road out of town. In the evening we enjoyed a nice meal with Peter and Christina at a 'smart' restaurant on the waterfront - both the service and the food were excellent and we had an interesting discussion with the waiter about Islam and the importance of tolerance between religions.

There was some rain overnight with a gusty wind.

Saturday 19th May - Dirsek

We woke 'late' again at around 8.15am - although I did hear in the ‘distance’ and half-sleep the Imam calling everyone to prayer at the Mosque nearby at 5am!

We had a nice breakfast on-board and after the girls had finished some shopping, we prepared to leave. The wind had picked up so it was a tricky manoeuvre away from the quayside, assisted by some advice from a friendly local guy who happened to be passing by! Successfully leaving the small harbour we put out the jib sail and reefed down.

At this point the wind continued to increase in strength as we headed out to the open sea in a northwest direction, past the isolated hazard (a submerged Atabol Rock which lays ‘invitingly’ half a metre below the surface!) off the point of the Bozburun Peninsula where we turned northeast towards the small inlet at Dirsek.

On entering the bay we tried to anchor up but the wind was strong and the anchor dragged so we motored around waiting for the lead boat to call in or arrive to assist us. At this point the wind speed suddenly increased to around a steady 30 knots (Force 7) so manoeuvring in the bay became quite tricky so we decided to motor out and head out back into open water - the wind strength continued to grow to over 40 knots (Force 8) so after maybe 30 minutes we headed back into the relative shelter of the bay.

A VHF message got relayed to us that the Lead Boat 'Daiquiri' was now itself sheltering from the storm in Selimiye nearby and would not be arriving so some guys from the restaurant came out to assist us moor up – the wind was very strong and very gusty! After maybe 4 attempts we managed to pick up the lazy line and lay the anchor! This was for sure the trickiest mooring up we've ever had to deal with!

The yacht 'Dolomite' was first in and then we followed; then 'Marilyn' and finally 'Miss Lead' were secured. The yacht 'Vif Dor' stayed put in Bozburun and the yacht 'Bercelo' rode out the storm with 'Daiquiri' and the Sunsail guys in Selimiye. So everyone was accounted for, moored up and safe!

And then I wrote: But here in Dirsek at 5pm - in what is usually a tranquil and sheltered bay - the wind strength continues to grow! We're all lashed together, anchored and ready for whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw at us tonight! Everything is just creaking and groaning as the wind whistles around us! The wind strength at its height shows almost 50 knots – that’s a very severe Storm Force 10!

Despite the awful weather and conditions all around us in this remote place (no road access here!), we enjoyed what I thought was the best meal since we arrived in Turkey! We had excellent food and super service too – we recall Dirsek from our visit here 4 years ago and remember it as one of our favourite stops. The restaurant guys even told us that they had just watched the FA Cup Final on their generator-driven TV with Chelsea winning by a single goal in extra time!

The storm continued into the night with gusts of around 50 knots (still Force 10) - we're pleased we're on the jetty and lashed down with anchors too and not ‘just’ anchored in the bay like 6 or 7 other yachts! And then sometime in the early hours the rain came and the wind continued to howl outside while we tried to sleep - and pray!

Home safe!

Well we arrived back from our sailing holiday in Turkey late last night - somewhat tired and looking foward to a nice comfortable bed, proper toilet and shower facilities and oh bliss - continuous hot water!

I've kept a 'shortish' journal of the 2 weeks which I've decided to break down into two separate weeks - hopefully this will be easier on the eye for everyone (or anyone!) interested!

We've had fun as I hope you'll be able to see - plus I'll upload some photos to the album too as soon as I get time.

But it's good to be back!

Friday, 11 May 2007

…from the pen of a 98 year old lady

Some days you wake up and see something that really uplifts you, if you know what I mean?

Clare sent me the following; its apparently a letter which a 98 year old lady wrote to her bank which appeared subsequently in The Times - read on.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your Bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/ her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1-- To make an appointment to see me.
2-- To query a missing payment.
3-- To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4-- To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5-- To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6-- To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7-- To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8-- To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 8
9-- To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated Answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

..............................................OH YESSSS!!

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Now just FEEL the sun here...

......don't we live on a wonderful planet?!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Petition to keep Paris Hilton locked up!!

Now even by today's standards in this wacky world, this news rather stunned me - I had to read it twice:

JAIL-BOUND socialite Paris Hilton has urged fans to sign a petition to pardon her "mistake" because she "provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives".

Hilton was ordered by a Los Angeles judge on Friday to report to a county jail by June 5 to serve a 45-day sentence for violating the terms of her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

I have a better idea; how about supporting a Petition to KEEP her locked up!!

I think that would do us all a favour, don't you?

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Good news!!

Now here's a piece of very good news for the World......... and especially Jon Price!

There really IS some common sense and justice left!

Friday, 4 May 2007

We are sailing, we are sailing...................!

Just recalling the strains of that wonderful old Rod Stewart song, gets my sailing juices flowing!

I thought I'd just give everyone interested a flavour of where we'll be for couple of weeks from 12th May!

There's a map below which shows the sailing area we'll be covering - basically we leave Marmaris on the far right of the map and wiggle around the coast of Turkey and end up at the Sunsail base at Turgutreis which is marked on the map by the small Sunsail logo to the west of Bodrum; if you click on the map you'll get a closer view of the whole sailing area.

Generally hugging the coastline, our route will take us southwest from Marmaris and after the end of the peninsular, you'll see the lovely Greek island of Simi which we have to give a wide berth to - you'll remember the Greeks and Turks just don't get on and there is usually a Greek gunboat posted midway between the (Turkish) mainland and Simi to warn off anyone displaying a Turkish flag from entering their waters! And they're not playing either!

We then sail east towards Dirsek and then westwards again to Datca past Ova Buku and then due north past the Greek Island of Kos before finishing at the Sunsail base of Turgutreis.

We're actually doing what Sunsail call a 'delivery flotilla' which basically means that we're taking the yachts from their winter berth at Marmaris, out to
the 'local' base of Turgutreis for the upcoming summer season - the advantage for us being that it's a one-way flotilla where we get to see different places all the time and don't double back on ourselves as we would do with a conventional flotilla. The slight logistical complication is that we arrive at Dalaman airport near Marmaris and depart 2 weeks later from Bodrum airport assuming that we don't sink somewhere in between!

Our boat is a Sun Odyssey 37, which means it's over 11 metres long with a 4 metre beam; it draws just less than 2 metres so depthwise we should be ok in most places we visit. It's a 3-cabin, 6-berth vessel so we should have enough room for the four of us with some to spare but having sailed together many times before we're familiar with the set-up and co-existing in 'close-quarters' in most ways you can imagine! Most times we'll moor up 'stern-to' which is the usual system in Turkey so we'll have to master the often tricky manouvre of reversing an 11 metre yacht fairly quickly!

Also, as we've been around this area before a couple of times I expect that we'll be in fairly remote areas mostly without any contact by phone or internet although in an emergency, Sunsail will be able to reach us through their local bases. I'm hoping to take my pda with me however so that I can at least type out a short draft daily Blog which I'll summarise and bore everyone with when I get back.

Gettin' organised!

The best laid plans of mice and men…………………………..!

Well, I guess the only excuse I have for my ‘non-appearance’ here for a while is getting myself back into some sort of routine following our return ‘home’ – its amazing really the jetlag itself wasn’t any problem for me (unusually it WAS for Shirley this time!) but trying to get daily motivational juices going has been a bit of a struggle!

But we’ve not just been lying around idle of course!

A few days after returning we spent a day at the Passport Office in London getting Shirley’s Passport renewed in time for our sailing flotilla in Turkey next week – she didn’t have the required 6 months left on it so we had to get it renewed ‘fast-track’; all is now well!

We enjoyed the annual Ladies Festival of my Masonic Lodge a week ago today and took a party of 8 which was fun – even if the live band wasn’t as ‘alive’ as we usually like them!

On Sunday Shirley was hankering for some ‘open space’ as she was missing our almost daily trip to Warriewood Beach so we headed down to the Thames by Hambledon Lock and sat by the river with a picnic and a bottle of beer each – it was sunny but with a cool-ish breeze off the water, we didn’t linger there more than an hour or so. But it was nice to watch the boats and wildlife passing by! I've since bought myself a new fishing rod on eBay!

The weather since we returned has been unseasonably mild with warm sunny days and we definitely got our timing right this year, unlike 2006 when we came back in early March to frost and snow! We haven’t yet seen any rain here either although the forecast for the upcoming bank holiday weekend says it’s going to change by Monday! I have no doubt that the Water authorities will reinstate the drought restrictions they lifted only a few months ago, which means hosepipe bans etc!

This weekend we’ll be heading up to Yorkshire to see Clare, John and the boys – we’ll be staying over so hopefully will get some quality time with them before they resume their busy working lives next week! The journey will be a good test for my new Satellite Navigation system too!!

We’ve already started packing for the sailing flotilla in Turkey – we leave here next Saturday 12th May, coincidentally my birthday! We’ve already had a couple of planning sessions with Chas and Pam and sorted out an online grocery order which hopefully will be on the boat when we arrive in Marmaris late on Saturday. I’m sure they’ll be time for the girls to pick up fresh bread and last minute stuff we’ve maybe forgotten while Chas and I attend the passage planning meeting Sunday morning before we head off for our first day’s sailing. We’re very much looking forward to it!

Meanwhile I have a sick wife! We had friends around for dinner last night and Shirley felt a little off-colour afterwards; she’s been up most of the night and this morning stayed in bed after being continually sick. We think it was a ‘bad’ prawn which was the problem and it sure did have a violent reaction! Hopefully with some tlc from Dr David, she’ll be well enough to get in the car tomorrow for the 4-hour journey to Keighley!

Oh and I forgot to mention; our friend Jo who is in Florida at the moment apparently fell and broke her foot somewhere and is now in plaster and on crutches – deja vue?