Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Westeros Cup: the Iron Cup

Tommen Barartheon was alone in the Great Hall with the body of his grandfather, Lord Tywin Lannister.

Alone, but not free.

He had the power to order the courtiers out, that was new. He no longer feared the random cruelties of his brother, Joffrey. His mother might control everything but Margaery was opening his eyes.

But not free, never that.

He turned his back on the body and walked down the hall towards the great Iron Cup. Forged from the anchors of a thousand yachts, it was said, melted by the fire of the great dragon Balerion, hundreds of years ago.

His grandfather might be dead but his voice echoed in Tommen's head. "It is our Cup, it is ours by right, never to be lost."

Nothing was forbidden when it came to the Cup. "You race or you drown", so mother said.

He sighed and raised a hand to touch its surface. The harsh iron sucked the heat from his hand, ice cold that only dragon fire could warm.

He would never be free of the Iron Cup.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Westeros America's Cup: The After Party

"A little more red? Ser? Your grace?"

Arya Stark circulated the party, the perfect serving boy. It was a risk, she knew, someone might recognise her, though it was a risk worth taking. Jon Snow might be here! She longed to see her half-brother. So many tales to tell, so long since Winterfell. And he'd won his race, the first in the Westeros America's Cup!

She knew what to do, having been taught by none other than Lord Tywin Lannister. Be invisible but watchful, which suited her, so she could listen in and hear of news of the Starks.

"Yes, the race committee is to meet: there has been a protest."

She spotted a well filled purse on the belt of one guest and was tempted: she hadn't eaten for several days now.

"L plus R equals J" said a monk, face hidden in the shadow of his cape. "Now where did you hear that?"

Suddenly one guest gasped, choking. Green foam formed around his mouth, eyes went red then tears of blood were streaming down his face. Hands grasped at neck, nails attempting to dig inwards. Then the body collapsed on the ground and began to twitch, shudders that grew and then slackened, easing into death.

There was a scream, several screams, then dozens and the guests were falling like cattle on feast night.

Ayra tried to pull back, in case it was contagious, but then she realised: the wine! It had been poisoned!


A voice was triumphant.

"Ha ha ha ha ha! That will teach you, scum, worthless sons and daughters of swine!"

Ayra turned to recognise Lord Walder Frey, Lord of the Crossing, addressing the corpses.

"So! You think you can change the Westeros America's Cup class and not receive justice! Many years I worked on monohulls and hah! you think you can change them to multi-hulls just like that! No, no no! It will no be! You will not treat me like that!"

She had to escape: there would be questions. But first that purse.

Tonight she would eat the finest roast meats.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Westeros America's Cup: Round 1

There were two crows on the ridge over looking Kings Landing and the rotting carcass of a sheep. One crow dug at the sheep's eyeball, loosening it, cawing in triumph. The other watched, as if waiting. Then a figure clambered from beyond, a giant, dragging a boy on a sled.

"Hurry" the boy said. "They might have started!"

The giant looked out over the city towards the sea, then started, pointing at the glistening waters.

"Hodor!" he said. "Hodor!!"

"So! It has begun" said Bran. "The Westeros America's Cup has begun. May the seven gods save us all!"

Out at sea two trimarans raced towards the mark. In one were grim men, lost, far from their home, their Wall.

"We are are starboard tack" said Jon Snow. "They must give way to us."

"You know nothing, Jon Snow" said a beautiful red haired woman. "Do you think the Wildlings will play by the rules? Are you such a fool?"

As if in answer there was a crash and over the hull's edge poured a flood of warriors, yelling screaming. The Black Watch battled hard and valiantly but were doomed, outnumbered. The foredeck team were beheaded, blood splattering across the number 1 genoa as torsos collapsed tangled in the sheets. The trimmers had time to get swords up but their enemies had spears, one of which was already jammed through a black coated chest, protruding out the back, glistening bright red in the sunshine.

But then there were trumpets and gleams of light as on either side rescuers arrived on racing skiffs, cutting down like grass the Wildlings, their limbs scattered like straw into the ship's wake. Two figures jumped onto the Black Watch's afterdeck, Stannis Baratheon of Dragonstone and Davos Seaworth.

"This is done" said Stannis. "Finnish it!"

And so the first race was won.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Boat Races Working Boats

Three boats, the RNLI, PLA and the Thames police, but a single thought: it's not a bad day to be on duty when its the Boat Races and the sun is out.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Women's Boat Race Photos

So here are a couple of photos of the Women's Boat Race, two of each boat.

Alas Oxford were already so much ahead it was hard to get both in the same frame, though you can see their wake in the Cambridge boat's pictures.
So Cambridge were literally left in the wake of Oxford :(

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Men's Boat Race Photos

These are from the men's race which was close enough to get both boats in the same frame. Alas the women's wasn't but I'll post some of those tomorrow.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Boat Races Blues

This year the Boat Races became plural as both the women and men of Cambridge and Oxford competed their rowing eights along the tidal Thames.

It is so obvious that this is the right and fair thing to do that it seems strange it didn't happen until 2015.

Anyway the result was less obviously right as I ended up shaking my head going "oh dear, oh dear, oh dear" not once but twice.

Above is the Oxford women's boat pulling away from Cambridge at Hammersmith Bridge.

Anyhow, rowing isn't really my thing.

Go Ben Ainslie!!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Great exploration yacht

I've been pretty busy recently so haven't had much time for blogging but was very impressed by this expedition yacht, just right for high latitude (or even lower latitude) sailing.

All I need are money, time and crew... so alas must remain a dream.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Review: The Sea and the Jungle by H.M. Tomlinson

This is meant to be a classic travelogue from 1909 / 1910, telling of a tramp steamer's voyage from Swansea into the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. I must admit I was disappointed.

Partly it was because its attitudes to race have aged badly. Unlike the vastly better The Surgeon's Log, there was no awaking of a more open attitude as the voyage continued.

Then there was the language. If you have read "Cold Comfort Farm" you will remember there are purple passages clearly signposted with stars. Here its just text.

Take this description of dawn at sea:

"It was still virgin, bearing a vestal light. It had not been soiled yet by any suspicion of this trampled planet, this muddy star, which its innocent and tenuous rays had discovered in the region of night... Its light was tremulous, as if with joy and eagerness. .. The world was miraculously renewed. It rose, and received the new-born of Aurora in its arms. There was cloud of pearl above hills of chrysoprase."

So no Hemingway then.

The biggest problem is it goes on and on for over 350 pages and not much happens. Yes, they trundle across the Atlantic to the mouth of the Amazon and still have over a thousand NM to go. But they do eventually get to Porto Vello up the Madeira river with their supplies for a railway being built there, after much discussion of mosquitoes and butterflies.

There is a short diversion though the jungle while unloading the ship, which gets that most damming of comparisons:

"The forest was nothing like the paradise a tropical wild is supposed to be. It was as uniformly dingy as the old stones of a  London street on a November evening."

It did indeed remind me of the heart of darkness, but without the ride of the Valkyries and smell of napalm in the morning (ok, ok, that is Apocolapse Now, but same story base).

Characters are thin, described as the Skipper, Chief and Doctor; the later is left in Brazil without even a goodbye.

There's too much of the little Englander well outside his comfort zone and it really could be edited down a lot.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lost paddle

Spotted in the Thames today.

Alas it seems broken, but it does suggest someone has been paddling in a creak without a paddle.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Eclipse on a grey day

Today there was a partial eclipse across the UK, and the weather didn't really help with cloud blanketing most of the country.

However last night the forecast was for there to be a patch of clear sky about an hour's train journey north of London so I took a chance on a train to Leicester.

Partial eclipses aren't that spectacular as it just gets a bit dim and you really mustn't look at the sun so all the action involves projecting images. I had a very ad-hoc arrangement of camera resting on a pair of binoculars, both pointing at a piece of white paper.

I arrived on time, to find the sun out enough to cast a shadow and in a near empty park took the above.

The one to look out for is in 2017 when a total eclipses crosses continental USA though probably the best observing sites and hotel rooms have already been snapped up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sassi sails on Shade of Grays - part 4

Hi Guys!

So me and... Kevin... headed back to shore. The Thames estuary looked like I felt - a bit flat.

After we did the ropes thing again he said he had a favour to ask. At this point I felt like a massive G&T and a hot bath but said sure, 'cos, like, why not?

Apparently in the summer he'd lost his expensive prescription sun glasses in the lazarette and as I'm a "wee thing" (his words, not mine) it should be a "piece of cake" (ditto). So down I climbed.....

In the dungeon there were not just ropes but chains.....

OMG!! There really were piles of ropes and a muddy chain down there! And it smelled .... of diesel and damp. I slipped and got all wet.... yuck... yuck... yuck!!

"Any sign?"

The hatch slammed shut and I was trapped in the the dark, alone....

"No, can't see them - I'm coming out!!"

Then it was back to London so I can write this up for JP. But, hey, it was a thrilling gothic adventure - or at least it will be the way I tell it next time I'm out on the raz!

Even if the only shades of grey were between Kevin with his hair (geddit!!) and the Thames mud (ditto!!).

Just don't use the word claustrophobic, ok.

Luv yah!

Sassi xxx

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sassi sails on Shade of Grays - part 3

Hi guys!

Huh. So this Shades of Grey sailing trip wasn't quite going to plan. While eating a beef pasty (cheese is so fattening) in body I was in the Thames estuary listening to Kevin's stories of the successes of his children but in spirit I was far away...

It was on the super yacht BILLIONAIRE TOO that she discovered she had a power. Her intuition could sense his crystal waters blue eyes locked onto her even when her back was turned. The on-board wardrobe was vast and she used it to fascinate. Sensual sheers floated over bikinis, revealing her, prompting grazing touches that promised more....

"... but enough about Steve and Crossrail" said Kevin. "How about a drink?"

Now we're talking!!

"Oooh, ta! A nice chilled glass of Chard. or Pinot' or Sauvigi' Blanc or something bubbly but not red as it gives me a head ache".

Me and red wine - don't ask!!

"We have tea or coffee" said Kevin, heading below.

Humph. Now where was I....

They would anchor in remote coral islands untouched since the dawn of time. Here his instruments were natural: coconut fibres to bind as her skin felt the heat of fire and ice, before being led, blindfolded, to be bathed by his hands, warm water embracing her body....

Yuck! That Thames water was cold! Why is it yachts make such a fuss going towards the wind?

Fortunately the day was almost over as I was freeezing! Southend is NOT like the south sea islands!!

Laterz guys!

Sassi xxx

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sassi sails on Shade of Grays - part 2

Hi Guys,

So this Shades of Grey boat trip wasn't quite going as hoped, but you know Sassi, hunt the silver lining!!

We headed out of Thurrock (which for some reason Kevin called Grays - WTF?) which IMHO had a yucky-mud smell and raised the sail. Steering was fab.

Together we sailed the super-yacht BILLIONAIRE TOO between the islands of the southern Pacific. Below in a master cabin filled with the finest lace and Egyptian cotton he was masterful (geddit!!!) but on deck we were a team, united, hearts beating as one...

"Look out!" cried Kevin.

We might have crash gybed or something, but who cares! Time for lunch!!

The cavernous galley brought forth an ever flowing series of culinary delights. Champagne and oysters, rare beef and aged wines, er.... caviare on .... toast.... er stuff like that. I was blind-folded and made to sample his creations, blissful mouthfuls of pleasure....

"I didn't know what you'd like so got pasties from Greggs. There's cheese or steak?"

Huh. Anyhow not hungry and need the loo.... what's the word? Fronts?

It was this weird box, a bit like the portaloos in Glastonbury, but no light.... so maybe...

There were no electric lights on-board, instead there were candles everywhere. Their shimmering flames flattering her curves during those long sultry nights and there was the wax....

"Oops, sorry, forgot to switch the head's power on the control board" shouted Kevin.



"Maybe its time to head back?" I asked.


Sassi xxx

p.s. JP, will this do? I got the picture from here.