SV Laurin in The Netherlands

SV Laurin in The Netherlands

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Days 474 & 475: 12th and 13th October 2018 - Spanish Bank Holiday weekends not so different to English ones!

Friday 12th October 2018

We are completely out of routine now, fitting school around both fun and educational days out as well as doing the necessary jobs associated with our return to the UK. School took a long time this morning and tempers were pretty short, (particularly mine), so after lunch Patrick took the kids for a walk to give me a much needed break and a chance to catch up on the blog. I also took the time to chat to Mum on the phone which was lovely. 

It was a fairly nondescript day which ended with Thai Curry and an early night ready for a day out in Barcelona the next day.

Saturday 13th October 2018

There is no laundry here and the weather is quite changeable so keeping on top of washing is something of a mission. We have put our cockpit tent up and that allows us to hang a small amount of washing up and then go out for the day, not worrying about the weather too much so this morning I did a small load of hand washing which appeared to attract the attention of other liveaboards in the marina and we met a lovely English couple who were wintering her, as well as an English guy who keeps a boat here as a base for seeing his son who lives with his mother in the town. AJ and Esmé enjoyed playing with him on his skateboard until rain stopped play and they returned to tidying their bomb site of a cabin.

Once the washing was hung and the kids cabin was relatively tidy we headed off into town and up to Tibidabo. We were all keen to go on the VR rollercoaster again but unfortunately it was shut due to the rain. Seems Spanish bank holiday weekends aren't much different to ours! Not to be dissuaded though, we set about enjoying whatever Tibidabo could offer in the rain and started on the big wheel where we met some American kids and their Dads out for the day whilst the Mums were away on a girls' birthday weekend! The kids hit it off and we bumped into them on and off throughout the day. AJ was a bit more adventurous than the previous week, possibly because it was his second time there, but also buoyed on by his new friend. We all had a great day despite the rain and it was good to get out and have fun after a hard week of Patrick being ill. AJ even went on the "Red Rollercoaster"!

As the afternoon drew on we headed back down the mountain to the centre of Barcelona again to do some jobs and grab some food. First up was Decathlon for trainers for the kids. Both will need them for school but Esmé in particular was desperate for new footwear as she was living in her favourite flip flops which sadly died at the boat show. Next up was a small trek to another of my "cheap eats" finds on Tripadvisor, this time A Tu Bola which is a street food place selling all kinds of meatballs... and vegetarian offerings followed by chocolate balls for desert. Patrick and I were blown away by it but sadly the kids less so. I'm sure Patrick and I will return if we get chance when we come back to Barcelona to prepare Laurin for Transport.

Lastly was a trip to Carrefour as we were running low on groceries and there is no supermarket particularly nearby the marina. The one in Barcelona is about 10 minutes walk from the station which then drops us off only 25m from the boat so shopping here seemed like a good option until we saw the humongous queues. Fortunately though the queues moved quickly and we were soon on our way back, feet aching from a long day. It's funny though that however tired they are, the kids always have enough energy left for some fun, and so when they saw a street entertainer making bubbles in Catalunya square we took 10 minutes to let them enjoy! A lovely end to a lovely day!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Day 467 to 473: 5th to 11th October 2018 - Barcelona, SY Sarah and Happy 8th Birthday Esmé!

Friday 5th October - Bye Bye Porto Cristo

After a brief delay at the fuel pontoon we left Porto Cristo after our prolonged but very enjoyable stay. I have to say I was somewhat reluctant to leave, the swell forecast was still quite big and Patrick was keen to push on to Barcelona where as I was definitely not feeling the love and was anticipating a late evening arrival at Pollencia, our plan B. Either option was fine; at Pollenca  our friends on Spacegrazer would be waiting, and in Barcelona we could meet up with our friends on Sarah. As it became closer to decision making point Esmé pointed out that as we had managed to catch up with Spacegrazer the previous week, we should try and catch up with Sarah as it might be the last time we see them. With Esme's birthday looming we decided she should be able to choose who we spend it with so pressed on, although AJ and I were definitely not "in the zone" for the overnight passage to follow. Esmé however, was on cloud nine, particularly after seeing dolphins en route! As we reached the edge of mobile coverage I messaged Thomas on Sarah to say we were on our way and he said that he would arrange a berth for us.... and would we like to come over for a BBQ to celebrate Esme's birthday tomorrow. Great Plan! Unusually after the obligatory stew, I got my head down for an early evening nap before swapping with Patrick and heading on deck for my night watch. Esmé joined me and we watched ET together in the cockpit... perhaps not the best choice of film for a nearly 8 year old on a moonless night despite there being some light pollution from Barcelona visible even 80 miles away. Luckily AJ came to the rescue at bedtime and "checked the cabin for Aliens" before Esmé headed to her bunk. It reminded me of "No Plans'" story of watching Pirates of the Caribbean on a dark night at anchor and being scared witless when they spotted a pirate themed tripper boat out of the window. After a Pepsi and mars bar fuelled late evening I eventually gently woke Patrick with his now essential cup of tea and a Mars Bar. (More on that later.... that story needs a special post all of its own!)

Saturday 6th October 2018 - Meeting old friends on Sarah again

Sleep came easily until about 6am when I offered to swap with Patrick for an hour or so. After we had both got an extra hour or so sleep we were approaching Barcelona. Finally (much later than usual) we popped into mobile phone range and picked up a message from Thomas telling us our berth number. I messaged to let him know our ETA and he came to meet us at our berth. It was a little tight and I managed to catch our keel on the lazy line of the Hanse nearby however this was easily and quickly resolved and we were soon tied up. Thomas offered to take the kids for eggs whilst Patrick and I got sorted and joined them later on. Thomas has a great young lady on board to help out with kids. She made us a lovely omelette for breakfast and we talked about plans for the next couple of days. Thomas explained he had got some burgers and steaks for the BBQ.... only 3 steaks for 4 adults but he thought they'd be enough... they were 1kg each!!!!!! He offered me a lift to the supermarket later that afternoon which I gratefully accepted and then Patrick and I headed back to Laurin

To be honest the kids spent most of the day on Sarah, leaving Patrick and I to tidy up the carnage that seems to happen on Laurin every time we do an overnight passage as well as at least catch up on some rest despite not being able to actually sleep. I researched fun stuff to do for Esme's birthday and found Tibidabo Park which is a small theme park on a hill overlooking Barcelona. Not so big rides as some of the others a little further away but looked perfect for us. We then headed over to Sarah where Patrick was plonked in front of a can of beer while Thomas drove us to the supermarket. He had a massive list of cake ingredients to get as Kay is also a baker and had been talked into making birthday cakes by the kids. I stocked up on a few bits we needed on Laurin as well as taking the opportunity to get an additional last minute gift for Esmé, Thomas very kindly grabbed an enormous box of lego for her too!

Back to the Laurin to stow groceries, rest some more then over to Sarah for party time!

The steaks and cakes were fantastic and we all had a great time! What a wonderful first day in Barcelona.

Sunday 7th October 2018 - Tibidabo Park

After a somewhat lazy morning building Lego we met with Thomas, Steven and Sarah and headed off to Tibidabo. I had our passports with us as there is an annual pass for Tibidabo which is worthwhile even if you only go twice. It also gets you discounted guest tickets as well as free bus travel to and from the park.

The bus went up and up and up and once we had got off we all marvelled at the amazing views of the mountains!

On our arrival at Tibidabo I headed into the park to sort out our passes while Thomas and Patrick took the kids for some lunch. The queues made Gold Car of Palma look like fantastic customer service. It must have taken well over an hour to get to the front of the queue, with only 2 people serving it was somewhat frustrating when one of them walked off to sit behind the information desk which at that point had zero customers!!!! Eventually though, we had all the required tickets and we headed into the park.

First up was the "First ever flight simulator", an almost 100 year old ride that thankfully had been updated in 2017. It was modelled on the first aircraft to fly from Barcelona to Madrid and Patrick said it reminded him of the Dragon Rapide aircraft he flew in as part of his 50th Birthday Present.

Again, the views at this side of the park were spectacular however the wait for the plane ride was a little frustrating!

On to the bumper cars, swinging chairs, rollercoaster and other rides interspersed with candy floss and hot dogs! The park even had a beautiful church at the top which kind of looked far more authentic than a Disney Castle!

Finally, another queue to rival that for the Aeroplane.... they had modernised an old mine train rollercoaster by adding VR headsets to the riders! Interestingly AJ was up for this rollercoaster as he only likes ones where he can't see where he is going! This was THE BEST RIDE EVER!!! so cool! Kind of reminded us of Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris but better. The headset made it so we were first riding through a mine, following cartoon characters who were skating in front of us, eventually breaking out into open air and flying around Tibidabo park. It was so cool we all want to go back for multiple goes.

By this time it was time to return to the boats. Kay was due back and didn't have a key so we headed for the bus and made our way back. Exhausted I was thinking of an early night but this soon changed into a pot luck supper on Sarah followed by tastings of my Talisker Dark Storm, some strange 16 year old Norwegian potato whisky which had been matured by sitting in a boat crossing the equator two times, some really old Macallan, very good port and some Ben and Jerry's  which apparently must be accompanied by Moet!

Needless to say it wasn't an early night, or an early morning!

Monday 8th October 2018 - Patrick not well!

So, poor Patrick! I drank all the interesting stuff, he had a beer and half a glass of Moet, he was the one throwing up all day... must have been a bug he picked up, I'm not sure I have ever seen him look so ill! Luckily the kids played on Sarah all day and were fed there too!

Tuesday 9th October 2018 - Saying goodbye never gets any easier!

Patrick was still not good so the kids and I headed over to Sarah to say goodbye without him. This never gets any easier and the kids behaviour reflected this. Even so, I think it is important to wave our friends off and this we did.

Next up was some school interspersed by a start on the organisation needed to get us and Laurin back to the UK. We spoke with the shipping company about dates and booked our flights for the 22nd October, with the intention for Patrick and I to return a few days before Laurin's shipping date to remove masts and prepare her for transport. I made an appointment at the kids school and started to think about my plan to build up a tutoring business on my return, perhaps supplemented by some location independent income too.

Dinner was made up of leftover food from Sarah that they had donated and was very much appreciated!

Wednesday 10th October 2018 - Happy Birthday Esmé

A small pile of presents greeted Esmé when she woke which she was delighted with. We had managed to get cards from some family members hand carried out with my friends when they visited Mallorca which was a nice surprise for her. I love how she is absolutely delighted with her small haul of parcels, one of the positives of this life is Esmé growing up to be completely unmaterialistic!

Patrick was still feeling quite ill so I took both kids into Barcelona to the Science Museum, Esme's idea of heaven! As they enthusiastically ran around all the exhibits it was really hard to keep up with them exploring in all directions. In the end I sat down in the middle and asked them to come back periodically to show me something cool they had found. This worked really well as they were both free to explore but then came back to share their finds with me and we could discuss their learning.

 After a while we broke for lunch and then headed for the "Robot Room" where the kids were enthralled by "Charles" giving them a guided tour. We talked about the fire investigation robot and both kids sat down and wrote about what they felt the future of artificial intelligence may bring.

The museum also had a wonderful "flooded forest" which you could observe both from the inside and the outside.

We finished off with a movie in the Planetarium about "Dark Matter" and the beginning of the universe which may have been a little beyond us but was quite fun!

Back down into town we stopped for a birthday McDonalds before heading back to Laurin. (Esmé too interested in her chicken nugget to smile for a photo!)

Thursday 11th October 2018

As the London Boat Show is now no more we felt really lucky to be in Barcelona for the Barcelona Boat Show. Patrick was feeling a bit better so we set off as a family. Just as in London, kids were free, however despite the show being much bigger than London it soon became clear that it really was a trade show rather than the social, entertaining event we are used to in London. Even so, it was quite a pleasant day out, with AJ putting the older teenagers to shame on the paddleboard and having a gentle little sail in the marina, whilst both kids had a go on the Ninebot Mini PRO (I might have had a little try too!). The Ninebot Mini Pro was cool. I want one!

After a belated family birthday lunch at Subway we headed back through the stands and over to the other side of the show to try to find SY Sarah who was making a guest appearance. To the dismay of the kids she was gated off and they didn't get chance to go on board. (Not sure why they wanted to, they'd been playing on her for 2 full days earlier in the week!). The views were pretty good across the harbour though it was funny to see the scruffy old fishing vessel in amongst the superyachts... a bit how we feel sometimes!

We also spotted a half boat!

Soon we had exhausted our interest in the show and headed back to Laurin via Decathlon to pick up an extra large holdall to help us get all the stuff we will need in the short term back to the UK. Back on the boat we had an easy tea and Esmé enjoyed playing with her new game!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Days 462 to 468 : 28th September to 4th October 2018 - Girls weekend and the aftermath

Friday 28th September 

Friday we were pretty tired after our road trip to see Spacegrazer and Boag. We also needed to catch up on school as well as do yet more laundry and stock up on groceries whilst we had a car as our old faithful granny shopper finally bit the dust a couple of weeks ago. As I would be spending a big part of the weekend with my friends who had hired a Villa close by I needed to ensure the fridge was full of easy to prepare meals! The afternoon was completed by yet another trip to the lovely beach before dinner and an early night for me in preparation for the weekend's PARTY. It was lovely to see the Facebook posts showing my friends on their way to see us!

Saturday 29th September

It seemed to take a ridiculous amount of time to get organised but finally it was time for Patrick and the kids to deliver me to the Villa my "Mummy Friends" had rented for the weekend for Lynsey's 40th Birthday. After just one episode of pulling up at the wrong villa we finally found the right place and delighted in seeing old friends. The place was amazing and it was quite difficult to convince the kids to head back to the boat!

It was then time to relax. Drinks round the pool were the order of the day as I took the chance to catch up. It was really nice to have the opportunity for one to one chats with everybody individually, as all too often when out for a meal you only end up chatting with the people sitting close by. After a lovely lunch and inflatable unicorn races it was time to get dressed for dinner.

We (with some difficultly as the Villa was quite remote) negotiated taxis and headed into town for a meal at a restaurant. It was lovely to splash out on a lovely meal and good wine before heading back to the villa where we drank and talked until well into the early hours. Lizzy and I then opted to sleep outside on the comfortable sofas and enjoy the peaceful noises of the countryside, crickets, bells round the necks of sheep, wind rustling in the leaves... and then the marginally less peaceful crowing of the cockerel!

Sunday 30th September 2018

A somewhat slow start to the day but we did in fact make it into town in time to mooch round the market. I dropped my bag off on Laurin and picked Esme up for a little time with the girls. After a couple of purchases at the multitude of stalls we headed back to the boat for lunch while the girls kept shopping. After a while Lizzy and Janey joined us and grabbed some lunch too, although neither wanted to be on Laurin for long.... its easy to forget how the motion is not natural to others and can be a little uncomfortable after a heavy night, although I think Janey was more put off by the appalling untidiness of Laurin at the moment. It seems that as we come to the end of our journey we are finding it harder and harder to keep her tidy. Partly because she is a small boat and we have acquired  STUFF along the way, but also because we are tired and winding down, and it takes a lot of effort to put things away when it requires removing everything in a cupboard to put one thing back.

It was then beach time for some, whilst others went back to the Villa, and Patrick gave Mel and Ruth a lift to the airport. This worked out really well for us as they could navigate instead of me and the kids having to go (neither of us likes driving abroad without a navigator), thus saving us the bus fare back for 3 of us. The kids and I joined the girls at the beach and pumped up the paddleboard for them to try. It was a lovely afternoon, lazing in the sun and enjoying the sea before the girls headed back to the villa and I prepared tea for Patrick and the kids.

At about 7:30 my lift back to the Villa arrived and I enjoyed a second night in the company of these lovely ladies, with dancing displays and much discussion about performances for Tracy's wedding. We didn't quite make it to 3am this time but a good night was certainly had by all.

Monday 1st October 2018

After a lovely leisurely  breakfast the girls emptied half their fridge and all their remaining wine into bags to take back to Laurin and then gave me a lift back to town. It was back down to earth with a bump. Back into schooling the kids, laundry and watching the weather!

And then there was a lovely surprise. Patrick called me on deck to see what boat was coming in..... it was Alpha 1. The boat I had taken my yachtmaster exam on and shared many happy weekends with friends. Martin Whyte, the owner has long since moved his sailing school from the UK to Alcudia in Mallorca but it was still a lovely surprise to see the old boat, this time being chartered by a lovely German family. After helping them in we told them of her history and later AJ and Esme went snorkelling with Engle and his son Valentine.

Tuesday 2nd October 2018

School in the morning again and then after lunch Patrick took the kids out for a walk while I had a bit of kid free time to do some paperwork and continue with updating myself with GCSE maths ready for tutoring when we return to the UK. Our "Plan A" is for Patrick to find a reasonably paying job whilst I try to build up a flexible and location independent income so that I can be around for the kids whilst they settle in to their new life up north. I'm hoping for a mix of tutoring maths and online editing work, hopefully eventually transferring face to face tutoring to online.

Once they were back we hit the beach before showers and dinner and then heading over to Alpha 1 for drinks, although the kids soon decamped to Laurin and movies!

Wednesday 3rd October 2018

Yet more school... but this time interrupted by trying to use our gopro knock off to locate Valentines glasses that he dropped in the water between Alpha 1 and the quay. We also got talking to an English teacher who is out here for a job interview. He was really interested in our journey and very supportive, commenting on how well spoken the kids are. It was nice to chat about my hopes and concerns for the kids' return to school and be somewhat reassured that they would be fine. School has been a bit of a struggle this week so again, after lunch, Patrick took the kids for  a walk. I took the opportunity to sort out some online banking as well as yet more maths.... I'm finding it quite relaxing and looking forward to getting back into maths when I return.

After a brief visit to the beach the kids helped me to make soup for dinner and also to experiment with left over soft bananas, oats, and some other random ingredients to make "cookies" in the frying pan (our oven has never worked successfully!)

Dinner was in the cockpit followed by an early night as I wasn't feeling too great.... possibly an elongated hangover from the weekend!

Thursday 4th October - Our last night in Porto Cristo

So tomorrow is D-Day... we've been in Porto Cristo so long it almost feels like home. Already some boats are arriving to make this their winter home and I can see why. We are right in the centre of town with a lovely beach just a stone's throw from the beach. I'm kind of glad the girls' visit forced us to slow down here, it has been nice to enjoy some of our last days of this adventure just chilling out in a seaside town.

School went surprisingly well and then AJ and I headed out to do some grocery shopping, all the time looking out for birthday gifts for Esme. Patrick and Esme came to meet us at the end to help carry stuff back to the boat so we took the opportunity to grab lunch at the supermarket, introducing the kids to empanadas, although they were nothing like those we remembered from our honeymoon in South America. Our intention was to head to the caves in the afternoon but Patrick and I weren't feeling too great and the kids weren't really bothered. Add to that the fact that they would cost us 50 Euros to get us all in and the beach was right there waiting free of charge, and it was a bit of a no brainer. We put the shopping away, chilled out a while and then headed to the sea for a last swim in Porto Cristo.

So tomorrow we move onward. We're a little uncertain about the swell and if it will make our lives uncomfortable so for now we are heading for Barcelona aiming to arrive probably late Saturday afternoon, but with a very viable plan B of heading in to Pollenca at the end of tomorrow if it's a bit "too lumpy". Either way we'll be catching up with friends at the end of it!