Gone Sailing

Last week, on the River Tagus, or as the locals call it, the rio Tejo, off Lisbon in Portugal.

It was sunny, thirty degrees and serene on the river. The engine had been turned off; we were under sail only. Young Friend of the Elephants was steering a yacht of 12 metres (she seems to have developed a knack to get respectable captains handing her the wheel), and managed to avoid container ships, the timetabled ferry and the pillars of the bridge. Mr Anglo-Saxonist asked our amiable captain if he thought the Mediterranean would be fine for amateur sailors. He didn’t. (I’ve been saying so for years but you can’t get an Englishman to respect the Mediterranean. It’s not big enough for them.)

But I digress. We’re on the Tagus, off Lisbon.

Enjoy. (As usual, click to open the gallery.)

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Francis Drake and the North-West Passage

Franklin’s Lost Expedition

A few years ago, in one of the galleries of the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich there was exhibited a life-size model of a boat trapped in pack ice, with a suitably gruesome frozen hand protruding from under frozen canvas: a striking illustration of the fate of Captain Sir John Franklin and his crew for the younger visitors. Franklin’s expedition set out in 1845 with 129 men on board of two ships to search for the North-West Passage – a route from the Atlantic into the Pacific through the islands of Northern Canada – and was never heard of again. Despite repeated search missions in the following years and decades, the exact fate of the lost expedition remained unknown until 2014 when a Canadian research team finally located one of Franklin’s ships, the HMS Erebus.

On Monday morning, when I started to write this post, of course I couldn’t have imagined the news that broke in the media that same afternoon: that Franklin’s second ship, HMS Terror, has now also been found – the last piece of the puzzle falling into place? But although Franklin’s expedition is without doubt the most famous among all the attempts to navigate the North-West Passage, I wanted to write about another sailor who searched for the passage nearly three hundred years earlier and from the opposite direction: Francis Drake on the Golden Hind in 1579.

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They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships

A fit of September blues, accompanied by September skies. (That means grey; where I come from September skies are famous for their particularly beautiful deep blue colour.) My September blues, however, are not merely due to the fact that summer is over; my plans for rowing up the Thames à la Three Men in a Boat are over too. For reasons I don’t want to discuss here not only we didn’t succeed in following the Three Men upriver this summer, we didn’t even have a holiday. Maybe better luck next year?

So – for a while at least – this is the last post in the Upriver series. And what better way to wind up and lighten the September blues at the same time than to immerse ourselves into some books set on boats (and envy the people who get to sail on them)?

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Malta in Black & White

Today’s miscellany is in the manner of my Venice in Black & White at the end of May (which was easily one of my most popular photo posts) and it doubles as response to Cee’s Compose Yourself photo challenge on the theme of Black & White: The Basics.

I took these photos when I was still under the impression that photography’s only purpose was to faithfully re-create the colourful, aromatic, tactile reality of the 3-D world around me, less than a year ago, during our holiday on Malta. Only one of the photos was taken with an actual camera, the rest were captured on phone.

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Sea, Sailing, Sunset…

Okay, so it was a very hard week at work, in the evenings I was both tired & busy and I’ve done almost no blogging at all (although I did make some progress on a bilingual post with my first ever author interview)…

…I think it’s time to chill.

So that’s Malta over there on the starboard, people – taken from a sailing ship last autumn. If you consider this poor fare for a Sunday, more Malta stuff here, including a good book on Maltese history. 🙂 Happy Sunday!

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Downriver

Continued from: Upriver: Jerome K. Jerome Comes Out of the Woodwork

Sometime in January, I suggested to my family that we should go rowing up the Thames. À la Jerome K. Jerome. They didn’t take me seriously but I didn’t see why that should stop me. So a few weeks later, I was back on topic…

“We will need to get fit,” I said. It was a Saturday night and my husband and I were alone in the living room with a bottle of red. “We’ll need to practise.”

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Sailing Into History

There are authors who captivate you. With their choice of words, their temperament, their ideas, their life story, their way of looking at the world, their… spirit. It’s been a long time since I last had been so captivated as I’ve been this winter; and it’s a good thing that my husband doesn’t read this blog for I’m positively in love. (With a man who’s been dead for some thirty years. Ouch!)

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The Sound of the Pleasant Place

Day 4 Assignment: Bliss

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“For me… the sound of the pleasant place is in the waves of the sea. And the smell of it is damp cordage and wood, on a fair morning when the off-shore breeze just carries the scent off the land. And the sight of it is a dolphin breaking clean and shining out of a foam crest –  or the curve of a wind-washed sail, at evening, when the sea’s line shines.”
(The Journeying Moon: Sailing into History by Ernle Bradford)

I Must Go Down to the Seas Again…

Day 3 Assignment: Water & Orientation

On this assignment we’ve got water for theme, our relationship to water, what it reminds us of, etc. I love water so ideas come easily here from how precious drinking water is to the way rain water trickles down a window, from how all rivers lead to the sea to how you never step into the same river twice…

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Following Ulysses with Ernle Bradford

Recently I wrote about how a young Royal Navy sailor in 1941 sauntered into a Greek bar in Alexandria and came out with his head full of the Odyssey. Well, those of you who haven’t read that piece, go and read it now, but I’m willing to remind the rest who have merely forgotten who this sailor was: Ernle Bradford.

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