Thursday, March 28, 2019

My foxy Brexit dinner party

With Brexit political talk about to come to a happy conclusion – at least, so I thought! – I felt an urge to splash out on a dinner party.
But who to invite in such short notice? I decided to host it for the fox family that has visited the
garden for almost as long as I've been a resident.
It could be a treat for them to celebrate the end of this momentous treat in, well, sameness.
It's possible that we'll never forget the ennui of the endless sameness of political argument over whether we stay in, or leave.

An overall sameness

Then we'll be able to relive the excitement of yesteryear's wonderful surliness of Europe's customs men.
I confess I don’t really know how many of the fox family I support daily at the main meal time.
It's night when they come to the table – a garden bench – and after all, there is an overall sameness, rather like seems to be the case with many of our politicians. However, they are mostly a happy if vocal bunch and a magical reminder of the English countryside.
At precisely 2100 hours every day, I serve a variety of dried fox food – fortunately, they don’t see the cat and dog illustrations on the packets.
To spare any confusion over who it's for, the food is always served on the same plates.
The foxes often show their appreciation - after they have stolen out of the shadows - by carrying off and often burying the treats, followed by a healthy urinating on the plates.
Happily, this isn’t the custom at human dinner parties. Beeb experts consider it as a sort-of foxy thank you card.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Unkown Joey and his famous memorial

If you'd like to be remembered long after your death, forget our modern notions of ashes from the mortuary or a smart grave somewhere.
At least, that's the impression I get from the memorial to a local lad who died on London's southern
A3 boundary.
Joey Evans was just 22 driving a pick-up truck when he was caught in a pileup with two HGV lorries and a van.
A home-made memorial is mounted beside the A3, presumably near the scene of the fatal crash.
Each time I cycle to or from New Malden I see the memorial and wonder about its details. Currently, a board covered in simulated grass hosts a plaque that shows Joey's portrait and brief details.
It tells passersby that Joey was killed back in December 2004. Presumably, the memorial has been there more or less ever since.


The astounding point is that it is constantly refreshed, and at least each time I pass by bunches of flowers on it are fresh - or nearly so.
Who is this fellow, this stranger to most of us, who is remembered for so long afterwards, and comparing the time, very much longer than most road accidents victims seem to be mourned, at least in public?
A look online produced a report from the Surrey Comet, dated 31st December 2004.
Joey, it reveals, gained fame as a boxing champ at school. He worked as a roofer, lived at Swallow Park travellers' site in Hook Rise North.

1,200 Mourners

The newspaper reported, 'A glass hearse, pulled by four white horses, led a procession of more than 20 black limousines and trucks, from Tolworth to the church where over 1,200 mourners gathered.’
Joey has me paying respects every few months, but doubtlessly every day thousands of thoughts are aimed his way from cars and lorries. The daily number is likely to be in the tens of thousands, and all through each night as well.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Lucky, plucky solo sailor Jeanne, 76

How can it be, asks a reader from Italy, that our solo Brit round-the-world sailor, Jeanne Socrates, aged 76, avoids serious problems.
She never falls overboard, doesn't play chicken involuntarily with ships, doesn't get rammed, isn't phased by ocean monsters, like killer whales and tiger sharks, notes Michael from Pisa.
'Think of the stories of Bernard Moitessier, Vito Dumas, Rose, and Chichester,' Michael writes. 'This lady must have God riding shotgun.
'Didn't you come to grief in the Southern Ocean? Weren't there times when you were really afraid?'

Had my share

Michael's reminder does make it seem wonderful that Jeanne, who appeared on this page last night, has been spared really serious situations that hit many round-the-worlders.
I have to admit having had my share - rolled over, a seriously damaged foremast, a very close call or two with ships that didn't seem to have anyone on watch.
And a luxury yacht sunk after running into a submerged obstruction. Eight drama-filled days followed in a liferaft harrassed by sharks.
Michael asks about experiencing real fear, but usually serious mishaps require immediate attention and that in itself doesn't leave time for the luxury of realising how scared you are.
Perhaps the most worrying experience happened a little north of the Roaring Forties. I was trying to establish a record for the longest open boat voyage when a huge wave threw the little sailing boat upside down … Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at

Monday, March 25, 2019

Three cheers for a very determined lady

You've got to hand it to the girl: solo yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates is doing amazingly well on her 173rd day away from humans, on her own.
Jeanne is down in the Roaring Forties, almost-roaring herself in her smart yacht Nereida, towards
Australia, south of Australia, and the notoriously stormy Great Australian Bight.
Look to the South, to where the sun is at noon, and very far that way plus a little to the left, there she is a few Southern Ocean swells (plus 7,100 miles) away.
It's easy to report that she has been at sea, on her own, for 173 days which is almost 25 weeks.

Rude awakenings

But then I think of all I have been doing in those 173 days, and invite you to weigh up much of what has monopolised your life since 3rd October last year.
Shopping, driving, walking, Christmas, New Years, being with friends, sleeping soundly without fear of a rude awakening - at least, most of the time, hopefully. Able to go to the doctor if necessary, with a hospital emergency ward usually nearby.
And for we in the Northern Hemisphere, that time includes Autumn, winter, really cold nights and freezing winds. Then, almost suddenly, the sun is back in our hemisphere, and signs of spring are springing up all around - daffs, poppies, blossoms, lawns reinvigorated, favourite shows in television, probably, perhaps even a film show.
However, for Jeanne, what has she seen in all that time? Only her smart yacht, and the sea, and the sky and day and night, and the occasional ocean dweller, feathered or scaled.
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at