Saturday, October 27, 2018

Peggy's tea and cookies

Well, in Catalunya, I had a nap every day I possibly could, which was almost every day.  In Canada, with my work schedule, that isn't a choice.  Now on the boat, in northern chillier darkening climate, the nap is usually gone.  I get lots of sleep at night in general.  It's dark by 7 and not light till 8 or so, so I'm usually in bed by 10, and get up around 8.  What we have instituted is tea and cookies. Mmmmmmm.

Peggy used to have tea and a couple of cookies at 4 o'clock every day, and it is excellent. When we're not trying to rush madly onwards, we try to stop by 3, if not earlier.  So tea at 4 is very possible and very delightful.  It also means we can try the different cookies from different places.

Love you Peggy.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Crazy making wind

In some parts of the world it is reputed that you can use wind induced craziness as a mitigating factor for crimes of passion.  Certainly in Catalunya they talk about people from some really windy areas as a little bit nuts.

I never got that before I came to Denmark.

Good god, the wind here!  Granted we're on a boat in a harbour, so we're kind of front line, but it never stops.  I woke up this morning and down below, in the harbour, tied to the dock, it sounded like we were racing upwind.  Water sloshing, wind howling in the rigging, the works.

It does start to get to you.  If it would only be quiet for a minute or two. 

We walked the dog in the woods to get a break from it for a while.  It was soooooo nice.  We ended up in the lee of a hill and it was so still.


We had hoped to leave Denmark tomorrow, but the forecast has changed enough that it is looking very unlikely.  Maybe Monday.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Instant Mashed Potatoes

My much loved Great Aunt Peggy used to have us for lunch every weekend.  It was marvelous.  We'd go with the kids, have lunch, swim in her building's pool, have tea and cookies and go.  Peggy lived to 103, and moved herself into a home at 100 or so and was pretty British in her cooking.  She believed that a good meal is a roast, potatoes and two veg.  So, potatoes hit the menu pretty often.  As she got older, peeling all the potatoes and hauling the full pots around got to be too much, so she got instant mashed.  They were OK.

Now that we're living on a boat again and stove fuel is harder to come by, and it is often cold.... We got some instant mashed potatoes.  It's a little pricey but it is so easy and when we get into port, cold and hungry.... It's amazing. The swedish brand anyway.  We've got a package from Denmark now. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Beginning, middle, end

OK, this has been bugging me. 

It's also why I've been reading a lot of detective novels lately, but even there....sometimes, no right now pretty much all the time, I want to read a book that starts at the beginning, moves on to the middle of the story, and then the end.  Is that so hard?

A while ago it got fashionable to write  a novel with several apparently unassociated story lines, and you would switch from one story to the next on a chapter by chapter basis.  The first time I read this it was weird, but there was a certain excitement when the stories finally came together, but you know what?  There's always at least one story line that you don't want to read, so then you're tempted to skip those chapters, or at least skim them, and then final pull together?  It was kinda cool the first time, but then it wasn't.  It was just predictable and you still had to wade through the storylines you don't like.

Then there is the clumsy hinting about the past, and flashbacks to it.  I'm quitting reading one book that on a chapter by chapter basis, goes back and forth.  Chapter 1 in the present with heavy handed hints about mistakes that happened in the past, chapter 2, slow painful build up to the past error....continue throughout the book.

Honestly, why is this so hard?  Just tell a story. Introduce the story and characters, build some tension, resolution.  Beginning, middle, end.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Just hanging out

Oh my, I've finally achieved it.  I am not sure it is something that our culture values a lot, and I think in many ways we're mixed about it, but it is lovely to be able to just sit and not feel you have to do something.  To just sit and listen to the birds or look at a beautiful view.  I get caught up and start feeling that I should be making use of my time (how protestant is that!)  So if I - oddly - have nothing to do I should read, or paint or listen to a podcast...something!

And this is good, striving to improve is important, but it is also important to sometimes just be, to just hang out and not do much of anything, and we have finally gotten to a place where I can do that for a while.  There is nothing I have to strive for or organize, and it is lovely.

I've been making short audio files of what I am hearing and it is a marvelous way to just be. 

Here are links to three audio files, I hope this works.

Sounds below when we are sailing in calm water with a light wind

Gilleleje at 3am

The Church bells in Gilleleje with an echo.



I have struggled with this for a few years now, not in the sense of not personally feeling the emotion, I am happy the vast majority of the time.  But our culture views it as the key goal in life, which on one hand I agree with, and on the other a protestant austere anglo element feels like we should have more worthwhile goals.

I was reading a book the other day that said, “you can only be as happy as your saddest child.” and while there is truth in that we also need to not depend on others for our happiness, and as parents we have to try, at some level, to separate our emotions from our children’s.  It doesn’t serve them to do otherwise.  Which is not to say that you are never enraged by the poor treatment of your child by others - I look at my youngest child’s school right now which makes me so angry I cannot even write about it - but it cannot define your own level of enjoyment.

And then there is the question, what do we want for our children.  We tend to say that we want them to be happy, and of course we all do.  I think though, that I need to recognize and they need to do so as well (not my children specifically, but children in general) that when we say this a component of this happiness, indeed the necessary base for it is that they have a basic sense of competence in themselves, which leads to adequate levels of self-confidence, they need to have the capacity to make and keep friends who are truly friends and who have their best interests in mind, who are able to make enough money in order to get and keep a job, hopefully one that is not soul destroying, so that they are not dependent on others for their survival.  All of these are precursors to happiness.  But I am not sure that all kids growing up hear this when we say we want them to be happy.  Sometimes that gets interpreted as simply being happy, taking the easiest and simplest route to happiness. 

But I believe that happiness, really long term happiness lies in confidence in ourselves, friends and hopefully family who love and care for you, and an ability to have a reasonable level of control over your life and the financial resources to provide for yourself.  From there it springs.  This is of course assuming that good mental health is in place, because even if you have all of these elements in place, mental health problems can and will undermine the entire edifice.  That said, there are few among us who would wish poor mental health on anyone else.

So yes, I want my kids to be happy, but it also means that sometimes we all have to do things that do not make us happy to get to the conditions that allow for long term happiness.  It’s a balance, but an important one. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Still don't have a name for her, we'll have to work on that

We got an inflatable kayak to go with the boat.  We were scrambling around for what to do, cause we need a way to get to shore - well mostly to get Chuck to shore - for a week or so now, and then for a couple of weeks in the fall.  After that we’ll be in canals and mostly won’t need a dingy.  In a couple of years when we get out of the canals we’ll need a proper dingy, but why build/buy/carry one already.

First we thought about an optimist sailing dingy, but honestly, there a little too big and it was going to be a nightmare going to pick up the one we wanted. 

We looked at all sorts of options and then came across an inflatable kayak.  Not too expensive, not too heavy, it seats 2 adults and a child (or dog) and we can pack it away in a small space.

We ordered it and after considerable trouble with Sweden’s utterly useless UPS (really, those Swedes need to work hard on efficiency!) we got it.  Launched it and the man HATED it.  Really deeply hated it.

Fast forward to today, we had to launch it to get his chunkiness to shore to attend to his business, we pumped it up, this time pumping up the floor MUCH harder, and doing it first.  Well, that was a whole different boat!  Alright, it is not a dream kayak, but it is pretty stable, it’ll steer and paddle, though we could do with longer paddles, the boat is WIDE…..

And Chuck?  The first time we blew it up, not so enthusiastic.  Now that it’s his ticket to shore?  All about it. 



Ok, the Danish and the Swedish are well known for a sense of style, for goodness sake, most of us have more Swedish designed furniture in our houses than anything else (Ikea anyone), and the Danish have a lovely clean clear tidy elegant style, lots of open spaces and horizontal lines.  It is calm and light and delightful.

But they also have this weird thing about ceramic dogs in their windows.

Paired ceramic dogs

Big paired ceramic dogs

Big ugly paired ceramic dogs.

I am baffled.

Here’s a sample:

I have seen MANY houses with these.  What is that about?????

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Chuck was sick

Poor Chuck was sick…he had the runs.

Woke us up at 3am cause he needed to go.  Thankfully this didn’t involve getting in the crappy kayak!  We were at a dock at least.  The man, wonderfully, took him for a walk.  Then he woke us up again at 5.15 or so, I took this walk…it was pretty much full day at this point.  I took him off for about an hour and a half walk.  He then spent pretty much the entire day asleep.  Not scratching, not responding to noises around us, not eating breakfast, just sleeping.  Hard. This is why we stayed in place today, the next harbour we need to get to is at least a 5 hour sail away and with a dog that HAS to poo, that is a problem.

He went for a walk again around 4pm, and was doing better, kinda limp and uninterested and went to sleep, hard, while I was using wifi over by the harbour master’s office.  Came back and slept.

He did, however eat dinner, mostly rice with a little kibble mixed in and we went for a walk for over an hour and he was more interested in the world and fighting me to try and sniff things, he even ran a bit. 

Here’s hoping we have a quiet night and a nice sail tomorrow.  At least we're in a lovely place, and it was not too pricey.

Yoga mat, who'da thought

When you are packing up your life and sell off a bunch of it to make a big move, like onto a boat, sometimes you have to guess about what is going to be useful and what you can kind of do without.  I debated about bringing the yoga mat with me, thinking it would take up a lot of space and not be super useful…really how much yoga would I do?  I wanted to do a lot, it’s good for me, but I wasn’t sure I really would.

Well, I was right in some ways, I haven’t done any yet, though maybe today as we are having a rest day as Chuck has diarrhea and the next stop is a minimum 5 hour cruise….but the yoga mat has proved to be worth it’s weight in gold. 

It’s primary use has been to cover over the dog’s bed at night.  This started the first night when it was absolutely PERISHING on the boat and the dog would have been very cold, so I stretched it over the gap, lay a folded blanket on top and he had a cosy cave that was draft free, or mostly. 

See?  Kinda like this:

Then, the other day when we were sailing, well motor sailing into a fairly good sea, Chuck was fairly unhappy and was moving around like an fragile old man who finds the sidewalk he’s standing on covered in ice.  Pretty much exactly like that, so I laid out the yoga mat on the floor downstairs, it is designed to be non-slip, and Chuck was so much happier!!!!

So, it’s new second role in life, non-skid flooring for the cabin when we are underway in a sea.

You never know what’s going to prove useful.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Disappointment (mild)

I bought this:

Now, in a lot of Eastern Europe they make the most outstandingly delicious sour cherry juice, so when I saw it I got a little excited.  I poured out a glass and it was surprisingly light coloured and clear....and I tasted it...

bleaaaaaahhhhh, sooooo sweet, as in koolaid made by a 10 year old who doubled the sugar sweet. 


The Swedes seem to have a bit of a sweet tooth, super sweet juice, sweet mustard (?!?!? it is good)  the pickled beets were very sweet......even the muesli is sweetened.

Sailing finally

Well, sometimes things move slowly.  We had hoped to get the boat down near Amsterdam by now, but we are still in Sweden, indeed today is the first day we have managed to leave the harbour for more than an hour or so. 

It has, however, been lovely to get a sail in.  And to visit a new place and to see a bit of Sweden and Denmark before we head south.  We're going to be heading back to Canada in a couple of weeks for the summer and will be back here in September at which time we will have to sail rapidly south to get out of the storms in October! 

For now, it is all heat and relaxation. Getting to know the boat.  In many ways she is very familiar, being a sistership to our other boat, Oreneta, but still different in subtle ways.  I cannot say I love her the same was as I do Oreneta, but I am certain that will come with time. 

Some general comments about Sweden, the Ikea maze and restaurant?  In most stores.  Swedes stare like Catalans do. It is slightly infuriating.  Things go slowly here, but very honestly.  This is an example,

This is a fence post, just a normal fence post.  It is capped in copper.  Does anyone have any idea how expensive copper is?  REALLY expensive.  In Spain, this would last a day before it was stolen, and no. one. would use it.  They had it on a good 50 posts at least!  In Catalunya, it would have been, honestly, gone in a day.

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Well, we've been in a marina in Landskrona for a month now, and we are finally getting all the Is dotted and Ts crossed. 

When we arrived we had paid a down payment on the boat pending inspection of the hull and engine.  We waited a very long time to get hauled, the hull looked amazing, the engine was fine, and that was great.  We sat on the hard for a week for 1 day's work, and got launched again.  Finished paying for the boat, which took a while as my beloved (not) bank in Canada limited the amount I could send every day...then we had to get the paperwork back and forth.....

Then we contacted the insurance company we had arranged.  In the meantime, they had decided that Canadians could not be covered, so that was out. 

Yesterday we got insurance from a new company!!!  YEAH!!! Now we're waiting on the dingy.  An inflatable kayak...Denmark has a system of free mooring bouys all over the country, but we gotta get his Chuckiness ashore, hence the kayak....

anyway, so I am spending the day hanging out by the harbourmaster's office waiting for UPS, who was supposed to come tomorrow, but will probably come at 6pm today!!! 

Either way, once we get that, assuming it works, we're all set to go...YEAH!

Here's a couple of photos:

The boat is marvelous, we are very happy with it and that is pretty great too.  She is a slightly updated version of the boat we have in Canada, one great plus is a little more insulation, and a slightly higher cabin....slightly less storage too, but it's all good. 

We may be able to even go sailing some day!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Arran Island

Wow. What a wonderful place!!! The man and eldest came here last year and both said I would love it, so when I goth the chance, I came for a visit.  Yesterday was the f6day.  I got crazy lucky with the weather and I have a sunburn!!! As I am inclined to do, I walked alot.  Fortunately I missed the bus out of Brodick so I stare d walking from there and had a wonderful march along, first to Lamlash where I had a stupendous sausage roll(it was delicious, I've never like sausage rolls, but this was amazing)

They also had a pretty good raspberry and almond croissant.  I have to stop maligning British cooking.

I saw chunky pregnant sheep and some with babies

I saw amazing colours up on the tops and had a nap!!! I adore having a nap in the open, especially in the midst of a long walk.  Not a soul to be seen.  Didn't see anyone for hours today.

I climbed - really waded through Heather bog and moss-to the high point tin the area, Trig he'd.  It was a lovely view over much of the island, then started down.  Still wading.  Found waterfalls, stumbled through woods, ended up mid shin deep in mud, and found a road, which sped my passage.  There are some spectacular falls,to finish myself off, I slogged back up hill to the 'Giant's Graves'  Neolíticmulti-chamberwd burial constructions.  They don't look like much now without some information and imagination but the were very cool, especially with the evening light..

À marvelous day, ended with delicious mushroom soup in my room.  I wonder if the cook is Hungarian, the soup was like the delicious ones you get there and the lady at the front is Hungarian as well.

Friday, April 20, 2018

I am Canadian

This is an interesting aspect of moving onto a boat and going travelling.  I have dual nationality, British and Canadian.  Living here, I use the British passport as it means I can work, and I am also, and think of myself as, a Spanish resident.  And at a certain level, identify as Catalan, partially as so many of the Catalans do the same with me.  I have been confered this status.

As we move away from here, and our tax status changes, I am starting to feel more overtly Canadian. 

It is a light happy feeling in many ways and has caught me a bit by surprise.  It's not that I have ever not felt Canadian, but it was mixed into  a range of other identities.  Now it is coming down more to one.  Not entirely, my ties here are still strong.  I maintain my residency status, but there is a shift there and it is interesting.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The days just fly by

You know when you do so much in a day it feels like what you did that morning was about a week ago?  Yeah, that.

So, today, I went to work.  Fine.

Did some crap around the house to get ready to leave, friends came by and moved out all the plants and took the last of the books!  YEAH!!!  And stored our wood stove, and, being great friends, invited us to lunch!

Sold the stove, so no more cooking for us.  A student is going to lend us a camping stove and I'm going to reclaim my kettle from work, but food is going to be a bit cold for the next two weeks.

Went to lunch and that was fabulous.  My oh my.  While we were there, we sold 2 wooden armchairs.  That was good.  Really, youngest sold it as she was hanging out here with her new puppy Spit. 

Then took Chuck for a long walk, that was lovely....

We wandered pretty slowly, well I did, he was kinda racing around me.  He HATES puppies, and Spit gets up. in. his. face.  Literally.  So he was pretty happy to hit the hills.

We saw lovely wisteria. Smells gorgeous

And this magnificent enormous (for here) tree.  I should have got someone to stand there so you get some perspective.  It's BIG.

Now sitting by the last fire unless we get more wood.  Kinda sad now I think of that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Good writing

It is amazing how quality of writing can make such a huge difference to a book.  I am currently reading a book called Epic Measures, that should, ostensibly, be the MOST boring book.  It follows a nerdy, abrasive workaholic genius as he does statistical analysis on everyone in the globe to improve health care.  There is a lot of writing about graphs.

It is utterly compelling.

Good on you Jeremy Smith.

Then there is Andrea Wulf, who writes what should be the most utterly (to me) interesting books!  Titles like The Invention of Nature, writing about Humbolt,  Chasing Venus, astronomers travelling throughout the globe facing all manner of adventure and adversity to watch the transit of Venus, The Founding Gardners, looking at the Founding generation of the US impacted on the gardens and landscapes of the US.  All three of those I have tried, and given up.  I want to read the books, I think they would be fascinating, but MAN they are bone dry.  I have tried, and tried again, but I abandoned all three.

She has more amazing titles, that I would love to know about, but I think I won't bother, cause she. does. not. write. well.

I am staying up too late at night to read Epic Measures though.

Monday, April 9, 2018

letting go

The process of leaving this time round is a hard one.  I keep thinking about this and trying to figure out why.  The last time we left to go sailing the kids were little and it was a ton of work, but in my memory anyway, it was all go.  No looking back at all. 

Now, it's harder.  There are things I am going to very actively miss.

I think that there may be two reasons for this, one is that I have worked so very hard to integrate into the culture, learn the language, make friends, find my place, that it is hard to walk away from all of that.

The other is that Toronto is my home.  It will always be there for me.  I have tons of friends and I know the streets, and there is family there and work.  It will always be and has always been mine, and we go back every year.  I know we will go back every year. 

We can commit to coming back here every year, but will that happen?  The dentist and the dermatologist will be the ties that force us back.  Odd isn't it, the things you like so little about a place are what will bring you back.  That said, she's a great dentist and I adore my dermatologist despite his extremely awkward social manner. It's just that it is something that we h.a.v.e. to do. 

I hope we come back regularly.  There is so much I love here. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018


That's the size of the locker we're renting.  2m².  It's not very big.

We have a lot of stuff, fortunately I have always loved tetris (remind me to NEVER download it to my phone!)

The alleys between the lockers aren't very big, so I had trouble backing up enough to be able to see this properly, but here's what it kind of looks like...

 That's almost all books, the other bits and pieces are going in is in fact even fuller, but we have't loaded up the ceiling space yet!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

TIck, tick

Two big things ticked off the list....

We've got tenants in our house, contract signed, deposit paid!!!  YEAH!!!

We've signed the contract and gotten the keys for an apartment for youngest!!!!  YEAH!!!!

To do:
Move our stuff out and sell stuff
Move Youngest's stuff out
Rental insurace, us and youngest
Utilities for youngest's apt and get them to fix the toilet (Younest's work, but I'll be involved)
Youngest finishes school

Oh, and buy a boat so that the man, Chuck and I aren't homeless in 6 weeks.....

Once that's done:
Airline tickets,
Car rental
Cruising guides

And then there's work:
Report cards are the biggest looming issue...bring on Setmana Santa!!!

Everyone hope for warm Swedish weather!!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Goodness how I love the Olympics!  Such cool sports like Biathlon and speed skating!!

Plays merry hell with my reading and exercising, but it's only a couple of weeks every couple of years.....

Biathlon is such a cool sport.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

House is rented

Well, step by step, things are getting done!

The house is rented, we should be signing the contract next week, which is very good indeed.  The 28th is the final survey of the boat we hope to buy. Fingers crossed that all goes well.  We certainly hope it will.  The paperwork is in to rent the apartment for Youngest, fingers crossed that also goes well. 

In the meantime, to keep our spirits up as we find ourselves buried in paperwork and home repair and hassles, we've got a new book!  A listing of the navigation signs in the European Canal systems! Sounds dull, but will be incredibly important!  So we can start studying!!!!

And see what's inside?

Lots of fun for everyone

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Well, it's never dull

There's another boat we were looking at, in Sweden....but the owner wasn't willing to negotiate the price at all. So we went looking elsewhere.  However the Swedish boat is a better boat and the location is much better for us and what we want to when he got back in touch with us aiming to negotiate, well, we did.  And now we've got an agreement on buying the boat, just waiting to check the engine and hull.  Unfortunately the boat is currently frozen in (which does make me nervous) and we have to wait.

Not my favourite thing.

However, I trust the boat is in good shape and it's just a matter of waiting for the weather.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Buyin a boat, another boat. Another vega

Well, I'm in Glasgow right now seeing Eldest who just handed in their dissertation, and I came to look at a boat.  An Albin Vega.  It looks like we're going to buy it!

The man went up to Sweden to buy one, which I was pretty excited about honestly, the location was great, the boat looked really good, but the surveyor said that it needed a couple of thousand to repair the electrics, and we didn't get the engine tested and they didn't haul it.  So we wanted to get them to reduce the price because we'd have to pay for the electrical work, and there was a lot cause it was a really fancy boat, all tricked out, and to get anything like our money back, we'd have to keep that up. 

He wouldn't reduce the price, not even a little bit.  Ho hum.

So, we went and looked online at other boats. And there's this one, near Glasgow....and I came up on Sunday (bought the ticket on Saturday) and saw the boat on Monday and paid the deposit. 

The engine looks really really good, the hull looks sound (WAY too many thru-hulls - but that can be repaired) the rig looks fine.  The sails and cordage, not so much.  There's a CQR and chain.  A dingy we can sell and an outboard. 

We'll get a composting head I think and a heater.  Maybe a Dickson, I've always liked them.

It has a propane stove and oven, which we may well keep, but I have no idea where I will keep the pans if we do.  Have to think around that one too.  Might sell it as well.  We'll see. 

Now to get the house rented and youngest's apartment rented, then it's down to the details. 

Look at that tartan!