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Showing posts from February, 2012


I have been to a land of joined up houses and multifarious rooftops, I have been whisked over the flat lands and the wet lands on an upstairs train, and deposited gently by the great black door of the Hotel Navarra. I push open the heavy door and walk into the cool calm foyer, which coincidentally is just how I feel after my journey, no mussy head from flying no aching limbs from sitting too long. I have arrived in Bruges from Newcastle by train, I had coffee en - route, I enjoyed very much a light lunch at Carluccio's St. Pancras and whiled away the afternoon watching the subtly changing world from my train window, I have not been rushed, hassled or jostled I have eased myself into West Flanders.

After settling into our room my companions and I walked into the crisp cold night, the Navarra Hotel is very central and only a few metres from the Grote Markt, this was a lovely surprise, on two sides of the square cosy looking restaurants and bars sat, log fires glowed and flickered, v…


Random photos to give
a little flavour of Bruges


Yet another drab morning, the rain slants over the windows and my mood is grim,  fibromyalgia  has invaded my body and attached itself to my hips with grappling hooks. Last night I struggled as I walked down for fish and chips and a quick drink in the pub, I feel like someone has taken me apart and been slapdash with my reconstruction, nothing works properly, my movements are stiff and jerky. I walk like and old drunk my posture and steps considered too much as I try to move smoothly down the street, between each step I am concentrating  to relax myself  to see through the movement as I place my feet, this helps a lot but it is a slow toil and sharp pains keep jabbing down my legs. This happens from time to time and usually subdues after a few minutes of walking, it did yesterday but I lagged behind quite a lot and I felt so decrepit.

Time is ticking by and with zero interest in the house my positive mood  is besieged with doubt, if we aren't successful in any of our ventures we w…


We have arrived in Campbeltown, it has taken all of me to get here, every spare space in my head and every bit of tension in my muscles,  I am knackered, I would have fallen into bed if such a thing was possible but as it was I clambered awkwardly into my bunk and slept instantly. When I woke it was warm and still, voices and sunlight filtered down through the hatch and sky light, I climbed on deck to find Chris in lively conversation.

 This turned out to be a continuing roll of conversations that began on arrival and did not finish until mid evening, making it even a little difficult to eat, I remember this because I was so hungry! Among our visitors was an older man who had worked on Shemaron in his youth, although invited on board most people declined, but not so this sprightly gent who boarded easily and disappeared into the foc'sle with a jaunty step, where he sat for a few minutes reminiscing. He remembered sitting on the very same seat playing cards and ludo to pass time wh…


We went in search of blue skies, and actually found some during our favourite winter pastime, walking down to the sea at Howick, a thin strip floating free from cloud over the North sea. A little promise during this morose month of February, this was probably our last visit this year, the snowdrop walks have begun and the gardens are once again open to the public, maybe we will return during the long summer evenings preferring always to enjoy the more peaceful times. I love the hustle of the city but I like to be alone when I'm in the countryside. We are very alone when we are on the sea.

Today I think I will be tied to the house mostly, it is the week when  a more than comfortable amount of drivers are on holiday. Ali is as usual well organised but we are down to our bones, if things go awry I will need to cover the phones.

The house closes round me like a prison, it is very convenient working from home and I am reminded of the early years when the girls were babes and I was inca…


Running ribbons of rust and gold, Lilting waves on failing larch, Planks scoured clean of tar and okum, Open now to hold and foc'sle. Etched with barnacles, Below your waterline has fallen foul, Settled on the silted shore, Sifting currents not considered, Your bilges burning in the dark. And sacrifice no longer needed to chase away decay.

Shemaron leaving Gigha on way to Campbletown June 2011


I am out on the sea in a waking world, the sun hangs cool in the eastern sky, it is clear and cold and grey. I am far from the margins and the sheltered shore, above me the sun reaches out for the day, I can see nothing below. I am on deck all the while the sun lays claim to the morning, there is a pall hanging over the Mull, there are no boats. there are no birds, I am nervous, it is a lonely place to be.

 At some point I put on my life jacket an instinctive response to my surroundings, I check and re check calculations, I am satisfied all is correct but I don't know, I can't be sure, there is no comfort zone here. How much is knowledge, how much is experience, how much is chance?

We draw closer, so small on the waves under the sheer cliffs of Kintyre an inconsequential trifle on the watery waste, the sea around us changes it looses the faithful roll of the waves, it has patterns, I see them forming on the surface, we must push over them, I take the wheel.

 Great rings and ci…


Back in the Crinan basin the day had dawned bright and fine and we sat in sunshine most of the morning while beautiful gorgeous yachts tied against us waiting to go through the sea lock, a good vantage point to view their lovely sleek lines and polished decks. They were taking part in a race as part of the festival but we were keen to be on our way. At last it was our turn, the basin had emptied nicely making it easier for us to manoeuvre around, a little feather fluttered in my stomach as we inched towards the gates. Around the lock onlookers watched clicking away with their cameras as we began to descend between the brick lined walls, the small feather turning to small bubbles of excitement as we were carried  lower. Eventually the gate opened and we moved out into the Sound of Jura, the ocean proper, the wide blue yonder. It was a special moment, a moment of depth, clarity and culmination, it expanded and deepened before it settled around me like a cloak keeping safe the memory dee…


It is such a grey miserly day, with all the weather warnings for ice and freezing rain I'm glad my day started after rush hour, I have been at the hospital with Ali talking about some of this new work, rush hour was over but a few blue lights rushed by us having to deal with myriads of road accidents and injuries.
 I feel as though I'm in the midst of meetings, hopefully they will result in the furtherance of our business, ease our path a little through the tendering process. We have employed the help of someone to translate our business protocol, so we will become ISO literate, we are performing correctly but we now need to prove the fact, we will be packaged, and boxed appropriately, we will have forms and manuals, rules and regulations for ease of auditing, we will be laminated and stapled on one side and restricted financially a little more, these things come at a continuing cost. It is a sign of the times and will protect us to a degree in this world of greed and blame, w…


As we slipped effortlessly into the leafy overhangs of the canal I went to prepare breakfast in the foc'sle, cheese scones warmed on the stove, we ate as we flowed sedately through the tree lined confines and straight stretched edges. In places growth was so dense branches almost touched the boat as she moved languorously over the silty course, a peaty aroma hung in our wake testament of our passage. We made fairly good time to Cairnbaan where we had to wait in a queue, this was pretty much the order of the day from then on, many boats were making their way to the festival and it was slow going.

We had left the crowded vegetation behind and were waiting in a more open part of the canal. Near by the iron age Dunadd sat high at the head of the marshy glen where it would have ruled over the Scottish kingdom of  Dalraidia. Before it the great Moine Mhor stretches to the sea, the ancient moss, holder of treasure and secret, receiver of offering, preserver of relic. Neither land or sea,…


Last summer we took Shemaron to the Crinan boat festival, during the weeks running up to this highlight of the year, her rigging had been completed and arranged in the iconic way of the west coast herring fleets with the crossed masts. We arrived late one summer evening to find her freshly painted for the occasion, this lovely gesture was a last minute surprise, the paint was not quite dry as we clambered on board, but she looked "braw!" It is always hard arriving at the boat at night after the long drive, fortunately it doesn't take long to settle in, and sleep comes easily.

We rose sharpish the next morning, to get an early start, it was sure to be a long day travelling through the Crinan Canal. Sandy joined us before we left Tarbert, he owned Shemaron when she last worked as a trawler, and knowing he was on board made for a much relaxed trip. We made our way up Loch Fyne, it was a warm morning even so early on, not long into our journey we noticed the tail and dorsal…