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Visitors and Visiting

February 24, 2013

Well it is time to update on what we have been up to since the end of January and looking back over our journal, the above title for this blog seemed appropriate.

The generator designed for wind or water.  (Note the new self-inflating life ring next to it - which replaces the old horseshoe style which took up so much space on the pushpit.)

The generator designed for wind or water. (Note the new self-inflating life ring next to it – which replaces the old horseshoe style which took up so much space on the pushpit.)

Despite visits and visitors, we have however continued to work away at the Winter Jobs List. Duncan has been fitting an Aquaire generator – an ingenious device which will enable us to generate electricity either using water power when we are on the move, or using the wind when we are stationary. He has also finished fitting a light sensitive LED switch to the anchor light at the top of the mast which involved a fair amount of work, added stanchions and a rope handrail to our plank, (mainly for the benefit of visitors) and this week he has fitted a new (to us) radio and sorted out the chaotic wiring behind the control panel – a job he vowed to do this winter as he has cursed the cat’s cradle of wires on board, ever since we first bought “Rampage”. Possibly Duncan will wish to go into more detail about the above for those of you preparing to or currently living aboard, but he is currently in UK helping his brother move a narrowboat from the Midlands to Cheshire so I will leave any further information for him to provide at a later date if he sees fit.

Plank with stanchions and handrail, although the result is a rather narrow plank so brackets to one side will replace those shown.

Plank with stanchions and handrail, although the result is a rather narrow plank so brackets to one side will replace those shown.

For myself, sewing has once again dominated my days. Having finished the cockpit cushions I was determined to complete the dinghy cover but this was only possible when it wasn’t too windy as it involved constantly fitting and refitting the thing. It became more and more difficult to manage as first all the individual pieces were attached to one another and then elastic bungee cord was threaded right the way round the outside. It is fair to say it is no object of beauty but I am thankful to say that my part in its construction is now complete and hopefully it will help to protect the dinghy from UV during the summer.

Other minor tasks have been making and fitting supports for the flaps of the cockpit table – which gave D a great photo opportunity – and painting the hatch surrounds. They are made of plastic covered by a very thin layer of chrome but over the years they have become very scratched and corroded so we decided to paint them as new ones come in at £70-80 and we have 8 of the things! This sort of expenditure cannot be justified for something which is purely cosmetic. Anyway we’ve had quite a lot of fun and games because the first enamel paint I tried was too thick and left brush marks so we tried spray paint. It seemed ok at first but second and subsequent coats blistered so we are now trying another brand of paint. Will keep you posted on this exciting topic!

J attaching the new support brackets to the cockpit table.  (Needless to say this was not the caption the Skipper wanted to use!)

J attaching the new support brackets to the cockpit table. (Needless to say this was not the caption the Skipper wanted to use!)

One day while chaos reigned we were suddenly visited by Kevin and Rita with whom D had been communicating via the live-aboard forum. They are future “live-aboarders” who were interested to come and chat and see the boat. They, like Greta and Jon who stopped to talk to us for the same reason, back the summer in Port Vendres (see Encore en France) saw the boat at almost it’s very worst. Maybe this is a good thing and will deter all but the most determined from taking up the cruising life! Anyway, in the case of both couples we wish you well and life isn’t usually quite a squalid as when you saw us!

I was more prepared for our next lot of visitors; Clive and Jane stayed for a couple of nights earlier this month, en route to visit friends in France. Regular readers may recall that we stayed with them on their boat, “Jane G” in Almerimar on the south coast of Spain last autumn before visiting the Alhambra in Granada. The starboard aft cabin was duly cleared out in their honour and the cockpit which had started to resemble a cross between a workshop and a rubbish tip, was made sufficiently respectable to be able to sit up there, at least temporarily.

Shortly after their arrival, our friend Peter popped round to say that he’d heard from a local policeman that there were to be jolly festivities in town that evening to mark the beginning of Lent that coming week. We all agreed to go and investigate so we duly gathered at about 9pm and walked up into town but there was little to see. We stopped at a café bar where we met the local chandler whom we know fairly well and he explained that most of the excitements had taken place that afternoon, although there would be some celebrations at about 11.30pm. Since by this time poor Jane and Clive were ready to drop, we decided not to bother. This all goes to prove that you should never trust a policeman!

Flamingoes in flight over the Ebro Delta

Flamingoes in flight over the Ebro Delta

Next day, however we gathered up Sheila, (she too knows Clive and Jane well, since we all spent last winter together in Messolonghi) and headed off onto the Ebro Delta to admire flamingos. We decided to pause at a small café/restaurant for lunch and Jane and I both chose gambitas from the tapas menu, expecting some sort of prawns since gambas are prawns in Spanish. Well these were NOT prawns, more some sort of crayfish, beautifully presented – 2 large plates of them – but at the risk of offending any Catalan readers, probably one of the most unpleasant things I have ever tried to eat. Even Duncan who will eat most things, thought they were pretty foul and certainly not worth the effort of getting into them which was a formidable task in itself. Our Spanish friends Vitoria and Tomas both laughed heartily when they heard about it later and explained that really only the Catalans eat these things.

Clive and Jane with Duncan and Jane at Casa de Fusta investigate gambitas.

Clive and Jane with Duncan and Jane at Casa de Fusta investigate gambitas.

Thankfully the roast chicken on board “Rampage” that evening was rather more palatable and Sheila’s lemon pudding was totally devoured – Jane and I practically licked the plate! Next day Jane and Clive set off for France and D and I went back to our winter jobs but by the end of the week we were cleaning and tidying again in preparation for our next guest, my friend from schooldays and our most loyal visitor aboard “Rampage”, Maggie. On the Friday D & I took the train to Barcelona where he had booked us into an “hotel” for the night. The hotel proved to be a hostal more suited for students and backpackers. The walls of the room were apple green and the shower curtain was bright orange which was quite a startling combination although Duncan failed to notice it! I know he’s colour blind but that was quite impressively unobservant on his part! Anyway it was great to be back in Barcelona, drinking coffee at Café Zurich on Plaça Catalunya and people-watching in the sunshine. That evening we made our way back to Plaça d’Espanya to watch the music and light show that takes place every Friday and Saturday evening at the fountains of Montjuic.

The music and light show at the Montjuic Fountains - worth seeing if you are ever in Barcelona over a weekend.

The Montjuic fountains – worth a visit if you are ever in Barcelona over a weekend.

Next day we took the train out to the airport to meet Maggie and pick up a rental car. We stopped off in Sitges for lunch on the way back but I have to say that bocadillo (baguette sandwich) con tortilla (potato omelette) was not a great choice on my part being incredibly stodgy and very bland! That evening Jane and Clive were due back from France and since Mags would be staying on “Rampage” Sheila and I had arranged for them to stay aboard “Shecat” and the plan was for us all to go out for a meal together in Sant Carles. Suffice to say that this meal was also unremarkable so poor Jane and Clive will have returned to Andalucía with a less than favourable impression of Catalan food.

Mags, having found a geocache on the delta

Mags, having found a geocache on the delta

Mags leads an incredibly life and had specifically asked for some relaxation plus a bit of exercise so we aimed to achieve this for her. We took a couple of walks, found geocaches and admired the variety of water birds on the delta, relaxed heavily much of the time and on the Tuesday, she and I won the marina quiz night – thanks Maggie!

Peniscola

Peniscola

Earlier that day we had driven down the coast to visit Peniscola, a charming little town with little winding streets, very reminiscent of pretty Greek villages, although somewhat marred by the hinterland of hotels and holiday apartments. Mags and I had a lovely potter round although we unable to visit the castle built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century, as neither of us happened to have any money on us which was a rather a shame. Interestingly, in the 15th century, the castle at Peniscola was home to Pope Benedict Xlll, one of three popes at the time due to a schism in the Roman Catholic Church resulting from the resignation of Pope Gregory Xll in 1415.

The castle at Peniscola

The castle at Peniscola

Mags’ visit was over all too quickly and on Thursday she and Duncan both flew back to UK. Next day Sheila and I were taken by our friend Tomas to eat erotic onions – but more of this in the next blog to follow shortly!

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One comment

  1. I had a wonderful time on The Rampage, as I always do, and returned to work really rested. Thank you so much both. xxxxxx



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