Happy New Year

Starting with the rest of Christmas day, having put the Smurf flags up and moved Maid round to a new berth it was already time to head to the beach and join the beach party. Despite only knowing Dave and Taryna the group was pretty easy to spot, the cricket pitch being a bit of a giveaway. Good weather for lounging next to it in the sunshine, and then for a refreshing swim before a Gents v.s Ladies cricket match.

It has to be said, bowling, and consequently batting, on a surface of soft sand is quite difficult. The Ladies team scored a respectable total of 11 with some impressive hitting from Sarah. With some quick scoring at the start we were feeling confident of our reply but then slowed down a bit towards the end. I came in with us one behind and a couple more batsmen behind me. I hit the first ball…into the sand about a metre away from the bowler. But I was able to level things up with one run from the next ball, and then get a rest from a no ball. The next one I hit, and ran, and back again – victory for the men : ) and time for the spirited debate on scoring to begin, though it didn’t achieve the controversy of the potato and spoon race later on.

The next event in the festive sporting calendar was kayak racing – though Chris and Caroline’s inflatable was back in England the combined resources meant that three kayaks were available for competition. This didn’t work out as a good number for Marilyn and I in the first race, with us getting somewhat sandwiched before Dave (on the left) powered to victory.

I teamed up with Caroline (no, another one) in the second race and we learnt the lesson of the first one – roaring away at the start we could take it rather easier on the way back from the green buoy while our rivals got in each others’ way.

Later on it was time for Christmas dinner with Dave (no, another one, yes, there are too many to keep track of, there’ll be another one along in a few paragraphs) and Taryna – Taryna cooked a lovely roast and I provided the Christmas pudding and brandy butter – before skyping Mum and then drinks with everyone else back on their boat.

Taryna and Dave

All in all a very nice day, and well worth the sail from Fuerteventura.

The Spanish generally seem to love fireworks, so we were expecting a good display to welcome in 2011. We hoped to have a barbecue on the outer wall of the marina but weren’t allowed, so people kept disappearing and reappearing with food. We certainly weren’t disappointed in the fireworks – there were a couple of displays pretty close and around 20 others visible in other parts of the city.

Bang

At some point during the evening I got talking to Dave and Scott, who turned out to be have left Gran Tarajal an hour or so after me before Christmas and rapidly disappeared off into the distance. I did in fact beat them in to Las Palmas by a few hours, but then they had spent the night tied up in Morro Jable rather than sailing…. keeps the cost down though : ) We enjoyed quite a few meals together on Maid or Dave’s boat.

Other than social things, one job it was very helpful to have assistance for was taking the outboard engine on and off – though it was surprisingly easy with a line taken from the mast to the other side of the pontoon to support a vertical rope holding the engine. Much easier than predicting when the man would arrive to collect or return it, or indeed find him in the first place – that day involved a lot of walking around Las Palmas, as the address on their website led me to a shut office. A committee of men in the frozen food place next door said they reckoned it was one way, but redeemed themselves when I’d ruled that out (half an hour later..) by deciding it must be in the opposite direction and even insisting on printing me out a map.

I was surprised to find that the 25th wasn’t the focal point of the Christmas celebrations here. Santa Claus has in fact only been delivering to the Canary Islands for the last 15 years or so, and he often only brings token presents, deferring to los tres Reyes magos – the three Kings or Magi. Their presents are opened on the public holiday for Epiphany, after a big carnival parade on the evening of the 5th.

There are times when I wonder about my tendency to want to sample local ‘delicacies’, and I think it is probably exacerbated by writing a blog, fun though it is. I also had the example set by Caroline – my partner in the second canoe race – declaring that she had something good to put on the blog while being given a birthday dunking in the sea – to think of. And I was feeling hungry. So I decided to try the, erm, pressed squid, sliced into strips and roasted on hot coals – you can see one hanging up in the top left and the result in the foreground. It was probably quite similar to pork scratchings, tough and quite salty, but edible. It doesn’t really compare to Pan de Higo (fig bread) though….

The parade itself was spectacular, and incredibly loud, I was glad I was stood at a junction rather than in between rows of buildings. My favourite entry was probably the fish, ‘swimming’ from side to side across the street on tricycles, though think the Spanish kids enjoyed the myriad cartoon characters hurling sweets at them, and the Magi themselves were magnificently dressed.

So, a belated happy New Year to everyone reading the blog, and a big thank you to Caroline for accumulating all those readers over a year and a half of very fine blogging : )

P.S.
I have a new mobile number now while I’m in Spain – probably expensive to call but I’d hopefully be able to Skype back fairly soon afterwards – let me know if you want it.

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