Done. Ish.

It's this time next week, and I actually get to post about what I said I would... I actually finished the first draft of an episode of a TV show. And built the Lego V Saturn Rocket. So I was actually referring to the episode, the Rocket, the bottle of Pinot, but not the laundry. I'm only 37, I still haven't mastered the art of actually hanging up the clothes...

Now, I'm not going to admit the order I actually accomplished these events, because that's none of your business. And I'm not sharing the script like I sometimes do, because this time it's not just something I'm writing, but a collaboration. You'll just have to wait and watch it when it gets made. But if you'd like, I can post pictures of the rocket??

It's funny how motivation works, tho. Maybe working with someone lit a fire under my arse, and got me to finish the script almost a week earlier than I had to. Maybe I'll have to do that for all the other things that are languishing on my hard drive, or in the dark recesses of my mind, although finding a writing partner or collaborator for some of them might be a bit dodgy. 

For now, though, the TV show. Still have an episode breakdown to do, and depending on the feedback maybe a re-write. I have to get it done by this time next week, when I fly back to the UK again (again). And maybe a little holiday somewhere while I'm in that part of the world...

Me again

Remember me? I'm that guy who writes about how much I've been writing, or haven't been writing, or I'm planning on writing. But I only write very periodically, so you may have forgotten.

Who am I kidding, I don't shut up about it. Except for on this blog, apparently. So here's a quick update. I'm currently not working, taking time between jobs to write. And with all the free time I have, I've done a lot of driving, been back home (to Freiburg), back home (to Salisbury), and back home (to Vegas). I also spent some time in Eugene, but despite it being where my parents and siblings live, it's just never really felt like home. 

And I've done a little bit of writing. Not as much as I probably should, but here's my attempt into shaming myself into writing. I've actually got a solid project to work on, something that involves someone else so it's not just my arse left hanging in the breeze if I don't get it done. First draft WILL be finished this week and sent off, episode breakdown done the following week, and then you know what? I'm just going to go home (Salisbury) again for a little bit. And Iceland, because, you know, I just don't go to enough foreign countries. 

So. Hopefully, this time next week I'll get to post another blog, and confirm that I did indeed stop distracting myself, and finish the episode. Also, I'm not letting myself build the Lego Saturn V rocket I bought until it's done, and I really really want to do it! It comes in 12 bags!

Kay, peace out, just gotta put some laundry on then I'm actually going to write.

One Year On

A year ago, CV 20 motored down the Thames into the heart of London, and back to our starting point 11 months earlier. The race had finished the evening before, and our boat had carried us more than forty thousand miles round the globe, through every conceivable condition (and some we hadn't conceived until we actually went through them). 

Excitement and relief were the two main emotions on board. Excitement to see home, and loved ones. Relief that the race was over, that we'd made it, and that we'd be able to shower, or cook, or grocery shop, or go online, whenever we wanted. No more waiting for scheds, seeing where we were in the fleet. No more poring over weather forecasts, wondering what the next six hours would bring. No more going to our bunks, hoping that there would be no 'all hands' call. 

But also, no more sundowners. No more dolphins swimming alongside the boat, day or night. No more phosphorescence, no more hating the person waking you up for your shift and loving that person when they replaced you on deck. No more exhilaration as the boat surfs down a wave, going faster than anything that size has a right to go under the power of the wind, one eye for the kite and any sign of collapse and one eye for Campbell's cheeky grin on the helm, while Ross's commentary continues ever onward. 

Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been a year. It's been a pretty busy year, for me, until the last month or so. All the time I thought I'd have on the race, well, I have it now. Did I get what I want out of the race? Some. Probably more than I realise. I'd reckon I'm a bit more easy going now, tend to sweat the small stuff less, appreciate what I have more. I learned about endurance, mine and my teammates and the people at home who followed along with us, living vicariously through our blogs and emails and stories and Skype sessions. 

Would I do it again? No. Not the whole thing. There's no point. But I'm glad I did it, I'm happy I was on the boat I was, with the skipper and crew, I'm sorry for putting my friends and family at home through it (and maybe a little my skipper and crew too), and maybe one day I'll be able to wrap my head around what we did out there.

Friends

Sometimes, life plays cruel tricks on you. Sometimes, you're the one who plays cruel tricks on yourself regardless of any other external.... shit, I don't know, thing that makes you feel and think and want something other than what is good and right and necessary for you. My point is, I think that it's partly me and partly life right now that's playing cruel tricks on me to get me where I currently am.

Partly, I guess the way I feel is I re-read my last blog. And what a difference a day makes. 

Okay, that's a song. "What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours." It's in Run Lola Run, right after she gets accidentally shot. Or her boyfriend. Anyway, someone's shot, and dying, and it's all in slo-mo, and that son starts playing.

Turns out, home is not currently what I'd planned, or hoped, for. I'm back in a city I never wanted to come back to, for a reason I always said was a stupid reason, and turns out the reason isn't even a real reason. Not blaming anyone, because blame is easy, but it's really hard to find yourself back somewhere you don't want to be, when the reason you're back doesn't recognise the irony when the might have to spend time there.

But maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it's the best thing. Self-Adjudication is not necessarily the worst thing. And holy shit, has there been adjudication going on the past month. Every little thing, I've looked at, wondered 'is that it?,' 'should I have said that,' 'did she really say I was that?'. 

Nah. Self-adjudication is fine up to a point, but the problem with it is it can only go so far. You can judge yourself all you want, you can re-hash the scenarios in your memory and your mind, but at some point you need an outside voice. Sometimes, depending on your situation, that voice may be assembled its the full authority of the legal system and twelve impartial representative of your peers. And sometimes, it might be twelve of your partial peers cos they're the only buggers sad enough to read your wholly irregular blog.

Gods I hope it doesn't come to that. Instead I'll rely on the friends here; the friends I missed but couldn't justifying coming to visit because, shit, Vegas is just a pain to get to (it isn't) and it's always ridiculously hot (it isn't) and the people are shitty and fake (they.... ugh. Okay, sometimes they are, and sometimes they're one but not the other, and sometimes they're both but still delightful, and all the time they're people worth keeping in touch with because you never know if they're the one you need to get you through a shitty breakup, or just the people you need in your life regardless of whether you think you want or need, or even the cautionary tale that cheerfully tells you about all the things they've gotten up to and you resolve yourself to not be like them, and then late night swimming pools happen. 

Shit. Lost the track. I guess my point is make plans. Hope for things. Work to those ends. And if and when they don't work out, talk to your friends. They might give you advice. They will give you a shoulder to cry on, or an anecdote to distract or disgust you, or affirmation, or another drink way past you need another. Regardless all that, enjoy them. Take advantage of them. Call them-- not today, they're busy, but just remind them they're awesome, and have helped get you through some shitty times, and are also the reason you're still awake at 4am. Because they're bastards, even f they are your friends.

Leaving home for home... for home...

And I was doing so well. Three blogs in as many weeks. But then things did get a little crazy. I finished my job and became unemployed. I left my home in Baku, went home to the UK for a week and change, then flew home to Vegas via New York and a dear friend's wedding.

So here I am again. Las Vegas. It's 34 degrees here with winds of 34kph. Ideal sailing weather, except it's Las Vegas and I have no boat. I have a pile of boxes I need to flatten and put in the garage, clothes to put away without enough coat hangers, and a food dehydrator that is begging to be used. I've got a security system to install, and a housewarming with tacos to go to tonight. 

And tomorrow, I'm off again. Driving myself, via Lake Havasu city, to Phoenix. Because I'm home, in a sense, but it won't be home properly until Amy gets here, so I have to go see her. It's about time I took a turn; she's been to Cape Town, Sydney, Seattle, New Jersey, Salisbury, Sheffield, and Baku to see me so far. In my defence, boat. 

Going to Phoenix has a certain kind of poetry to it. It's funny that it should be there I go to see her, because that's where we started dating, two and a bit years and thousands of miles ago. We were planning a hot air balloon ride back then, but it was cancelled on us as we drove out there around 6am. This time of year, the start time is 445am. That's not the sort of thing you surprise someone with.....

What I'm trying to say is, I haven't started writing properly yet. Been doing things, and got things to do. Going to Phoenix is an excuse, but as excuses go, she's a pretty damned good one. And after that, she's my excuse to write. She's my excuse to get back here, finish putting the house in order, then parking my arse in front of my laptop for extended periods of time... and actually accomplishing things. The elections are over. I can stop reading all the stupidity that makes up the politicians we (barely) choose to (barely) represent us. The internet will become a tool for research and blogging about how much writing I've been doing. 

But in the meantime, I should pack for Phoenix.

Hotels

I started writing this blog by trying to list all the places I've been in the last three and a half years. But as the list grew, it started to sound a bit like bragging, and that's not the point of this entry. So instead, I worked out the number of hotel rooms I've stayed in over that time period. To the best of my memory, 94. 

94 hotel rooms. I've stayed in rooms where the bed hits three of the four walls, and apartment hotel rooms with two showers and a jacuzzi tub. Shit, 95, sorry. There's been two jacuzzi tubs. But. But not the point. The point is it's tiring, and getting to the point where I don't even appreciate it any more. I don't appreciate having the possibility of letting someone come in and provide clean sheets and towels. I don't appreciate that I'm not worried about the electricity or water bill. 

And most of all I don't appreciate that every hotel room means somewhere to explore. Sometimes a new city, sometimes not, but always something new to see. I realised it a few days ago when I was lucky enough to go to Tbilisi, Georgia. I got in early, watched the people gathering for the Sunday service at the St. Trinity Cathedral, then checked in to my hotel room. A quick nap, then I wandered round the city, grumbling about tourists blocking the view while they took photos, then doing the same because of course my photos count more (I sincerely believe they do; everyone else is taking 20 selfies whereas I'm just getting a picture of the bloody place, thank you so very much).

Then I went back to my room, and watched a couple hours of netflix. Because meh, I'd wandered, I'd took photos. 

Out for dinner later, then back to the room, and a bit more netflix. 

The following day, I didn't even think about moving til 11 am. I actually moved about 1230, when hunger rather than a pressing need to go see all the cool things I'd researched drove me out. A shawarma and more wondering and pictures and a ride on a funicular, and I rounded off the night with, this time, video on youtube catching up on all the current events I'm going to have to be a part of in a couple weeks.

And so here it is. I've been on the road too long. I'm not appreciating it any more. Some of it has been for myself, to go see new places, and some of it has been for work, and regardless a hotel room for me now is just another place to leave some stuff and get my head down for a few hours and watch netflix. That's not what a hotel room should be for. It should be an adventure, a holiday, a much more rare occurrence than what those of us who live on the road make it. 

I'm looking forward to the end of it for a little while. I've got four more hotel rooms in the next four weeks, and then that's it for a while. It's going to be good. I'm looking forward to washing my own sheets and towels. I'm looking forward to being able to reset my own router when there's an issue with it. 

And most of all, I'm looking forward to trips being events. To going somewhere for the sake of going, and at the end of the day processing all the things I'm lucky enough to go out and see and do. It'll be two months between this last batch of rooms and the next, and I'm going to take the time to learn how to use a couch again.

Bugger. 96, forgot about St. Petersburg. Sorry. 

Is healthcare a right?

Let me bring in to question my liberal, progressive, lefty, socialist, snowflake bona fides for a moment: I'm not sure I think health care is a right. 

Now, this has nothing to do with the constitution. Health, and the maintenance of good health, is something that is universal. Hell, it's not something that just affects us, but we worry about our pets and our livestock health too. Those of us on the left also worry about the health of rivers, forests, oceans, fields, jungles, etc. 

But you know what is a right? The country we live in, that we pay taxes to, that we help elect officials to govern, well, it's my right for that government to protect me. That's literally the only thing I expect it to do. I expect it to protect me from crazy regimes in other countries. I expect it to protect me from shitty people who think setting off bombs and driving cars into crowds and planes into buildings is a good way to get your point across. 

And you know what else I expect it to protect me from? Shitty people who think that making a profit to the detriment of other people is a right. I want them to protect the water I have to drink from toxins, and I want them to make sure the food I'm eating doesn't have noxious chemicals or poo in it. And I want them to make sure that any industry doesn't have players that collude with each other to drive prices up beyond the level of inflation, putting services out of reach of the majority of citizens. I believe that this should be prevented as far as cell phone carriers, cable, electric, food, and transport industries are concerned, and I sure as shit think it should be prevented as far as the health industry is concerned.

When one party is more interested in profits for companies, tax cuts for the wealthy, to the detriment of the majority of citizens, THEN my rights are being shat on. So is it a right that I have health care? No. But it IS a right that the government protect me from the companies making it impossible to afford. It's a right that the government protect me from the arseholes venture capitalists who see nothing wrong in buying a patent on a drug and jacking the price a thousand percent. It's a right that government protect me from a company that cares more about delivering dividends than providing palliative care. 

I don't want the government to fix all my problems. But I want them to provide the environment in which I have a fair shot at fixing my own problems. I want them to protect me from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and right now in the US, the biggest enemies we face are the shareholders of the companies that clamour for their lower tax rate return on investment, and the politicians than enable a culture of greed. 

Lazy, or unmotivated?

Figured it was time for another blog. Actually, it was time about five months ago, but with work and travel and being lazy and unmotivated, I kept putting it off until yesterday I got my domain renewal notice through. 

Actually, I got my domain expiration through. Between new phones and passwords being forgotten and emails just never really checked, I'd missed the most recent reminders it was about to expire. 

So the question was, why bother renewing it? I don't write as much on here as I used to, and when I do it just seems to be making excuses for not writing. 

I mean, what to write about? Of course, for a while I had a countdown to the boat race here. I'd write about what I was feeling in the buildup, what I was buying (all the merino wool) and doing to get fit (absolutely nothing) for the race. Then the race came, and I blogged for my team, and got others on board to do so too, and just... I don't know. Didn't feel like blogging much after. 

Because how to make it different? How to talk about the same old same old in a new, different, interesting way? I burned out a little on the race, thinking about all the different ways to talk about something that is, fundamentally, the same from day to day and watch to watch.  I thought it might be different once I got to land. I would have so much more going on in my life to blab about. I'd be finished with this epic, life-changing event that had taken up so much of my life over the four years leading up to it, there would be months of self-reflection, sorting my ideas and feelings out, and putting them out there for the (minuscule part of the) world to read (that actually reads this).

And the life happened. I got a job (something I wasn't planning on). And then another. Write about the work? The jobs, the people, the things that are involved going on tour through foreign countries, or building and programming and operating a system for two one-off events? Well, between NDA's and the desire to keep earning a paycheque, there's honestly not a lot that's interesting to talk about. Well, there's the travel I suppose, but at what point does talking about all the different places you've been become more like bragging?

Politics? What can I talk about that hasn't already been said? Relationship? That's between myself and Amy. Money? I have some, but not enough or too much to say anything about. Life? still figuring that one out. Technology? I replaced the SSD drive in my laptop, but so? 

And yet I renewed. I renewed, because I like owning the url. It's been my online identity (as a website, fb, email, or what have you) for as long as I realised that one should have such a thing. And because, ultimately, whether I feel the motivation to or not, I need to do this more often. And some days, there's a tonne of people might read what I post (tonnes being an old, imperial measurement in this context, subject to change and the feeling of the person measuring, and being about 45 in this particular case), and that'll be an affirmation. Other days, barely anyone will read. But I need to keep doing it, because the act of writing, typing, putting thoughts down, whether it's fiction, opinion, fact, or a string of words that technically work together but don't appear to have any relationship to each other, well, it's what I'm setting myself up for. 

Three weeks today, I'll probably be drunk. Unemployed and drunk. To talk about Relationships, Money, Life, Jobs, and Technology briefly (after I said I wouldn't), I'll be heading back to Las Vegas to see about making this continent-spanning, time zone-juggling, day-counting thing have an actual shot in a normal scenario. I'll have a chunk of money in the bank. And I'm going to see about changing careers by being unemployed for a bit, and taking the time to actually be a writer instead of talking about being one. Using my laptop. 

So here it is. My oft-repeated, never delivered, promise to blog more often. Once a week. About something. Mostly writing. Hopefully about writing. About how much I have, or haven't done, what's easy, what's hard, what's working for me, and what makes me want to throw my laptop across the room. And if it's not writing, then sod it, it'll be politics, or money, or life, or travel. But not the relationship, because seriously, that's ours to enjoy. 

Politics as (sports as) usual.

I’ve never been a huge sports fan. I’ll watch some of the national stuff, support my country and all (when I can decide which one that is), but I’ve never understood the rabid support that people give to a group of athletes who really couldn’t give a shit about them. When people say ‘we didn’t do so well this weekend,’ or ‘our prospects are looking good,’ who is this ‘we’ they’re talking about? You’re not contributing to their prospects, you’re not helping them get to the championship or face relegation. You’re certainly not getting paid by them; if anything, you’re giving them money in ticket or merchandise sales, you’re paying them for the honour of claiming the mighty ‘we.’

But watching politics, I think I get it now. There’s definitely a culture of ‘us v.s them’ in political discourse. There’s a team mentality that I can feel the allure of. It’s nice to have someone to root for, and like-minded people to share your ups and downs with. And if you’ve read more than one post by me, you probably know which side we- sorry, I- support.

One thing I refuse to do, however, is insult the opposition. If I post about politics, which I promised to do a month ago (and the several unfinished, unposted blogs languishing in the nether will attest to), I won’t call them repuglicans. Or any of the other monikers I’ve seen used time and time again by people I otherwise respect. Likewise, if someone posts something using the phrase ‘libtard,’ then they can fuck off. Coming from either side of the political spectrum, if you’re going to resort to name calling then you’re not interested in having a conversation, you want to win the argument by any means, even if it’s just shouting louder than the others.

And what I think people have forgotten is that politics isn’t about your side winning. It is absolutely not the same as supporting a sports team, regardless of how good that feels. Surely the ultimate goal of politics is to make everyone a winner, not one side over another. A country is strong when all its citizens are represented, looked after, and prosper. While we may differ on the best approach to elevate everyone, past examples prove that neither extreme is going to accomplish that, and that’s why it’s so vital to have our politicians, and our population, work together. 

Or maybe I’m naive. I don’t know. I know I’d be saying the same thing if my team had ‘won’ the last election, because I don’t like what Democrats turn in to after a won election (talking about the elected, not the voters). Sod it, back to the screenplay, where no one runs for election or anything.

I give up

This is a good thing, I promise. 

I've got a bunch of draft blogs that I've written, thinking about posting them and trying to maintain the one a week post schedule I claimed I was going to do. 

But they're never good enough, or I don't finish them in time, or I'm ready to post them at a time that I know most of you buggers are asleep and the links might get lost in your FB feeds and my small audience would shrink to none. Slightly arrogant, I know, but I think there's a certain arrogance that goes along with putting your thoughts out there and thinking other people might want to know what's going on, or what you're thinking. 

Anyway, the whole giving up thing. I'm giving up not writing about politics, or the things that are going on in my life. I thought I could maybe keep things light and fluffy for a while, especially with the shit-show that it turns out modern politics has become. And while the politics is shite, my life's actually going pretty decently I reckon, and the reason I did't want to waffle on about that is I didn't want to come across as bragging too much.

Take away those two things, though, and I've got nothing to write about. I can't even write about writing. I'm plodding along at the snails pace of about a page a week right now, which means the whole series should be done in four and a half years, double the length of time that the series is supposed to cover. 

So politics and personal. And I'd love to have a conversation, especially from other points of view. 

Boning

Why are blog posts so hard?

Okay, so they aren’t, not really. To get one done every week, all I’d have to do is get drunk one night after work and open up my web page. Apparently I can waffle on for hours when I drink (who knew?). But the problem with that is sometimes I’m not appropriate when I drink (but only then), sometimes I can just go on and on about things that are quite unimportant/uninteresting.

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote. I almost wrote something about the election last week, but to tell you the truth while I lap up all the news about it (that isn’t made up by Breitbart), I can’t wait until the damed thing is over. The perpetual daily cycle of bullshit that is generated by all involved in politics AND the media has gone on too long and is really giving me less and less faith in humanity. 

So not that. I could have written about London, and how awesome it was to spend a decent amount of time there, even if work gets a little in the way of enjoying myself there as I’d like. But I’d be inclined to mention that if I was going to live in a big city, it would be London rather New York, much to the chagrin of my friends living there who keep trying to convince me of the awesomeness of the Big Apple, and I’m still not biting. 

Instead, I’m going to talk about death. We’re in Paris this week, and having been here before and not overly fond of the place, I was resolved to do no sightseeing. The things I’d seen before I didn’t care to see again, and the things I hadn’t seen didn’t motivate me enough to leave my room… until someone mentioned the catacombs. It’s something everyone says you should do when you come to Paris, and I hadn’t done them before, so why not?

Steps. That’s the reason to not do the catacombs. There’s a lot of steps. But you go down a spiral staircase, along a couple of longish hallways, and then walk under a message carved into a doorway lintel. “Arrete! C’est ici l’empire de la mort.” “Stop! Here is the empire of death.” 

And there is a lot of death through that portal. Or the remains of death. Or the remains of life, and the evidence of death. A metric shit tonne of bones, okay? Lots of bones. The skulls look out at you, some grinning as if they finally get the joke in death, those without their lower jawbone much more solemn. Maybe some of them are nestled together with their own femurs, but there are too many femurs for the number of skulls, we’d have to be some kind of arachnid to have that many leg bones…

Behind each one of them is a life, a story, long forgotten. Maybe they’re the ancestors of some of the people who have been down there and wandered among the bones. Maybe they were friends, lovers, neighbours, enemies. Maybe they never knew one another in life, but now in death they are more intimate than ever. What it would be to know their stories, what they got up to when vital, and what led them to rest as a pile of bones in one of the largest graves in the world. 

I’d hate to get stuck down there in a power outage…

Travel

By now you may have heard that I spent the last year travelling.....

Still doing it, only this time it's for work, so I get paid rather than getting paid. And it tends to be a bit dryer and calmer getting from place to place. But despite going to some new and amazing places last year, Turns out there's some pretty great places closer to home. 

We're in Nottingham right now. Never been before. Never thought about coming here before, but it's actually a pretty decent place. There's a bunch of decent places to eat, it's easily walkable, and some good local brews and places to try them. 

London next week, then Paris, Oslo, Malmo, Stockholm, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Zagreb, Milan, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Sheffield, and Manchester. Some exotic, some maybe not so much, but funnily enough of all the places I've been, I've never been to any of the stops in England save London. Travelled round the world, but managed to skip Nottingham, Manchester, as so on. 

It was a bit like that when we left the UK and moved to the US. It took coming back to study in Salzburg to actually do any significant travel around Europe. But then it took deciding to leave the US to go on tour and travel around a significant part of it. I guess my point to all this is that if I end up back in Vegas for a couple years, I won't take it so much for granted, or ignore all those places nearby that might be worth a trip- Zion, Death Valley, Pahrump, and so on. Because next time definitely won't be for the better part of a decade, and moving back there a third time might be a bit too much....

Also, this blog is mostly about ignoring the fact that I haven't done much in the way of writing. Editing, some, but it's exhausting when you get a sixth of the way through something, and then start to have doubts. Should I change this part? Do I take that out? Why is that character such a prat? And then the audience, should it be for someone else, or a different format or market, and pretty soon you're spinning your wheels and finding any excuse to not do it. 

Still going to, because I said I would. Still managing a blog a week, despite all the tourism and work, so it's not going to be much more to get the writing done. pst might have to do a couple of different options with it. Bloody facts.

One Year/One Month

A year ago today, twelve boats slipped lines at St. Katherine's Docks in London, went under Tower Bridge a couple times, then pointed downriver on the Thames, and headed away from their families and friends. 

Well, families maybe, but not their friends in entirety. In the past year, some of the people on my boat, Garmin, and some of the people on the other boats, definitely grew to be the latter. Going in to the race, looking around at the crew, some of whom you might know from training, some of whom you might ave never met, I remember that was one of the thoughts in the back of my mind. Which of these people are going to piss me off? Which are going to become good friends? And how will we feel coming back into London in 11 months, the same people but how different?

A year ago I didn't know what we were in for. I didn't know who would make it and who would leave, who would be a part of the team and who would be a passenger, or what I would get out of the race. There's the worry that everyone's going to piss you off, cos being stuck in close quarters for extended periods of time with no privacy in stressful situations isn't the most conducive environment for getting on with everyone. But funnily enough, while we did piss each other off at times, it's exactly going through those situations that enables the friendship. Sometimes on the boat, you want nothing more than to get away from everyone, have a break, and now we've been back a month, well, I kinda miss the buggers. 

I'm lucky in that the work that presented itself has kept me in the UK for a bit. I'll be in London in two weeks, and while they won't all be there, not by any stretch, I get to see some of my teammates. What will it be like now that we've gone our separate ways, moved on with our lives? Will we sit around and reminisce about the things that happened on the race, or trade stories about being back in civilian life, or just sit around awkwardly and have nothing to say to each other? I somehow doubt the last, look forward to the first, and think that the middle will probably highlight how different we all are, and how lucky we are to have had something bring us together from all backgrounds and walks of life, throw us into situations where we bonded as a team and accomplished some pretty incredible things. 

The sad part about it is not everyone will be there. The people who live further afield, well, I reckon six weeks is a little too soon for any sort of extensive reunion. But as soon as the day after the race, there might have been talk between a few of us about getting together in a couple years, maybe around next race end or the following one's beginning, talk about that one time we all decided to spend an inordinate amount of time cold/wet/tired/hot/nervous/exhilarated/tense/shitting at an angle.....

3 Weeks...

...and 3 blogs!

Not that I have a whole lot to write about this week. Well, that's not true. There's always something to write about, I just don't feel like talking about some of it, and the rest I'm contractually obliged not to mention. 

That's right, I started working again. Finished my first week back after fourteen months of not working and not getting paid. Haven't been paid yet, but it's going to be nice to see a bank account balance go up instead of down. 

But it's funny, I took a year off, finished my career, wanted to move on to other things, and I find myself doing the same things on the same show, and nothing's really changed. Not even me, at least as far as the job is concerned. Fourteen months, and it's like we loaded out one city last week and loaded in to a new on this week. Sure, there's new faces, but there were always new faces last time around. The show is the same, the cues are the same, and the things that have a tendency to cause problems are still the same. Rectifier faults are awesome. 

This time around, I still have a definite end date, but it's what comes after that is new. Sort of. I'll be finishing out another contract, but this time I don't have any structure. I don't have trainings to finish up, and a boat to race. This time, I have to motivate myself to do this whole writing thing. Chances are, I'm going to be doing that in Las Vegas, because it's the easiest place to go back to and have the sort of lifestyle that will encourage it. And in the meantime, I get to go to a couple more places I've never been. Currently in Nottingham, we head to London, Paris, Oslo, Malmo, Stockholm, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Zagreb, Milan, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Sheffield, and Manchester. And funnily enough, while I've been to Zagreb, Milan, and Barcelona, I've never been to Nottingham, Sheffield, or Manchester. It's similar to the yer I spent living in Salzburg, where I had to leave the area (Europe then, the UK this time) in order to travel around it. 

And next week, I promise I'm going to start writing writing, and my blog will be all about those trials and tribulations. Probably. 

Barely

Tomorrow would have been the end of the week, and no blog from me. Went to Rome. Y'know, as you do. 

I'd been to Rome before, as part of my study abroad year in Salzburg, and it was just as good as I remember it being. It's a pleasure to wander down the streets, sometimes squeezing past the tables out front of the cafes, sometimes randomly discovering an ornate building that you weren't even looking for. The feeling of age I get when I wander round there is so much more pronounced than when I walk around London, or Salisbury, and maybe that's familiarity with the latter? Or maybe it's because in general the stuff you see in Rome is older than most everything that remains in Salisbury or London. You be the judge. But it definitely deserves the moniker 'The eternal city.' 

And one thing that will probably never change is the people selling you crap on the streets. I remember them from last time, selling souvenirs, cheap plastic trinkets, and all manner of shit nobody needs. One difference, however, is the guys selling selfie sticks. Those didn't exist last time I was in Rome. Selfies weren't a thing, last time I was in Rome, and I kinda wish they still weren't a thing. Sightseeing is a much more tedious affair now that people have a simple and easy way to record their narcissism. Simple and easy, but not quick. It's a bloody selfie, it's going to look at the very least mildly crap no matter how you angle it or pose, so don't obscure the thing you're trying to show you stood in front of, and especially don't take ten shots of you, then four of your friend, then another five of the two of you when other people are trying to take a look at whatever ancient bloody artefact is being obscured by your head.

Rant over. I'm sure I was annoying at some points with my camera, but you know what I don't need? A selfie stick for the DSLR that is held in my hand, thank you very much Mr. street briq-a-brac seller....

So much for the cons of digital photography. I wish I'd have had a digital camera all those years ago on my first trip through Italy. We took a day trip down to Pompeii as well, and while I was there one of the thoughts I had about the place is that it's one of the clearest memories I have of Greg while we were over there. (I wrote about Greg March 2012). And part of the memory is one of the few undamaged photos I have of my time over there is of him, stood hands in his jacket pockets, looking into the camera wit some columns behind him. At least I think it is. Because the nice thing about digital, is that once the photos are taken and saved on your computer (and backed up somewhere), they can't get scratched or torn. And you don't have to go through a stack of pictures that are wrapped in a paper bag inside a plastic container somewhere at your parents house while you work out where you're going to set up your life next. 

So this time around I took the photos, and at some point I'll go through them, and in the back of my mind are the memories of the last time I was there, and thoughts of the people I was there with, most of whom I don't see nearly as often enough as I'd like, and I'm glad I went back to a place, and was able to go with someone special.

Even if she does take bloody selfies with me in them.....

New Beginnings

Is there anything as intimidating as a blank page?

When you’re young, a blank page is something to be filled. And blank pages can be found in the unlikeliest of places; your own skin, the clean shirt your mum dressed you in that morning, and on one occasion, the wall going up the stairs.

But you get older, and the bollockings maybe sink in, and you refine your medium. If I’d have picked any of the others, I’d have been a tattooist, fashion designer, or interior decorator maybe. But I went with a literal blank page, and now I sit here on a computer, a virtual literal blank page in front of me, and I have to start filling it. 

At this point, I’ve been saying I’m going to be a writer for years. Actually done a fair bit of writing (a novel and 3/4 of the sequel, 2 complete (but unfinished) screenplays, several shorts, three tv episodes, two pantomimes, short stories, blog posts, and thousands of Facebook statuses (those count, right?). But it’s all been dabbling. There’s always been an excuse. I’m too busy at work, I’m enjoying a new relationship, I’m sad because the relationship didn’t work out, my laptop got stolen, I’m just not feeling it, I’m sailing round the world. 

That last one has been a pretty decent excuse, to tell the truth. That and the laptop getting stolen are really the only reasons that are valid. The laptop, because, well, nothing to write on, and the sailing, it does tend to get in the way of sitting down and putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. And that’s not to say I haven’t been writing while experiencing the wet bits of the world. I’ve written more than eighteen thousand words for the team blog since leaving London last August. It just hasn’t been mine, not really. It’s been a brilliant exercise in discipline, subtlety, and self restraint, but hasn’t necessarily been what I would have written for this site. Not being allowed to use the words ‘shit’ or ‘twat’ definitely limits my vocabulary, and also cuts down on the number of words I could have written by a couple of thousand.

But the race is over; I’ve sailed round the world, forty five thousand miles plus under the keel, and I have my laptop. So while it might take a little while to adjust to being back on land and a somewhat functioning member of society again, and while I’ll actually be starting a job before the end of the month (instead of taking time off to only write, as was the original plan), no more excuses. A blog (of my own) a week, a bit of spit and polish on the completed (but unfinished) screenplays, and come next year, when the tour is done I’ll be comfortably in the swing of this whole writing malarkey that I’ll be able to seamlessly transition into being an unemployed twat with a laptop. 

And use it to maybe write shit that people might find worth reading.

Rio

Today we leave Rio, and begin Race, and Leg, 2. We got here on September 27th, after taking 28 days and a couple of hours to sail from the east coast of the UK. At some point, I'll post the crew blogs I wrote during the crossing on here, but not just yet.

Rio has been an amazing stopover. From the first, catching sight of sugarloaf mountain-- and then catching sight of the real one, because there's a mountain that kinda looks similar when you sail in form the north-- it's surpassed my expectations. Truth be told, I didn't really know what to expect. I know some people from Brazil, but none of them come from Rio and it's only really been on my radar because the race came here. And the touristy things were great, from Jesus with his head in the clouds, to the real Sugarloaf mountain, to the meat... oh the meat! So much meat, and so good too.

But the highlights have been the Samba School, and catching up with a friend from tour. The Samba School was about an hour outside of Rio, in a large building where one of the Samba crews were practicing for Carnaval. They're still in the process of picking dancers and songs and costumes, but it was incredible to see the life and movement and enjoyment even at this early stage. I'm definitely going to have to come back to see Carnaval if that's the rehearsal. 

And then a few nights later, I found out Johnny, one of the blokes I met on Marvel, happened to be in town. He left the show back in December and is usually based in Tennessee, but just so happened to be here and having a grill with his wife's family, and none of them hesitated to make me welcome and feed me beer and meat and tequila. It's amazing to be so welcomed even when language is a barrier and no one really knows what anyone else is saying. I'm definitely going to have to come back.

The hardest part of Rio has been saying goodbye to the crew that are leaving the boat after Leg 1. You spend 28 days in quite close quarters with people, you get close to them. Even having a day off and not seeing anyone from the boat, has been strange. Today we sail away, and those that are still left will watch us leave, other people in their places, and I can't imagine having to do that. I know I'll spend the next few days thinking about them, even as we bond with the new leggers, and get on with the job of sailing as fast and safe to Cape Town, where I get to see my parents and Amy. I can't wait! Just the small matter of the southern Atlantic Ocean to cross...

 

None

It's here. Today's the day.

Three-plus years on, and it's here. We slip ropes just after 1400, and start our race by passing under one of the most iconic landmarks in London, not to see it again for 11 months and after travelling more than 40000 miles of the world's oceans.

Boat prep is done, both Gosport and London editions. I wrote a London edition blog, but didn't get it posted because time just slipped away. Time filled with so many little things. Hank pulls on foresails. AISs fitted to lifejackets. Leaks hunted down and patched. Bunk assigments, lockers packed, water tanks filled, gear in zip lock bags in dry bags in dry bags.  

Foulies hung up, boots labelled, batteries charged, toilet paper stowed, and all the apples, oranges, and bananas you could want to eat squirreled away. 

Crew brief and Team Garmin brief and crew party. Emergency procedures gone through. The days schedule, and the race schedule, looked at. Racing rules.  

I'm sure there's a thousand things I've forgotten, and a hundred things o haven't said, and tens of things I've packed that I don't need.  

And for all of you been following along with me, thank you. I know in some cases it's been a long bloody time coming, but now it's here. And this time next year it'll all be over, and you won't have to hear about the boat race any more. At least, the prep. You'll just have to put up with the stories. 

You can follow the race at clippers website, clipperroundtheworld.com. Read team Garmin's blog, also on the website. And see you in Rio.

Ten

I chose not to deliver the boat to London. I wanted to go through things one last time, the bag I've got ready of replacement stuff that my folks will hopefully get out to CapeTown, the other bag of stuff that I'm not going to see for a year, and maybe enjoy one last definite sleep in a bed, decent Internet connection, and scalding, needle - jetted shower. 

Instead, I took photos as the boats left Gosport. They've been such a familiar sight in and around the Silent for the last few months, but seeing them all lined up, mains hoisted, was something different. Team Garmin isn't the only boat, and the people I've started building relationships with are not the only people. There's 690 of us. 

But she's my boat, and they're my people. She's pretty to me; I suppose in much the same way that no parent finds their own baby ugly (and there are ugly babies out there), but her lines, her colours, even the crew I suppose....

Wednesday, a day of rest. Last one for the foreseeable future. And just as well, from about noon onwards it rained. Real rain, not the typical wet sky that England spends about a third of the time afflicted by. Netflix was watched, and bags were packed. 

Took the train up from Gosport this morning. It's a journey I've become so used to in the past three years, to the point that I didn't even glance up as we passed battersea power station. And now I'm sitting in St. Katherine's docks, starting point for the fleet. There's flags up, and bunting, and info points and a tent. A stage is going up behind me. And there's berths for twelve yachts, currently empty, soon to be filled, and to quote my favourite line from Braveheart (please read out loud in your best Scots accent): "Sure as shite we didnae get dressed up for nothin'".

Prep Week Gosport Edition

How do you get ready to sail a 70’ boat around the world?

Organised chaos.

To be more precise, how do you get a 70’ boat ready to sail round the world?

Answer’s still the same. There’s ropes to replace, fittings to check, winches to service, more ropes to replace, leaks to patch, fans to fit, sail ties to make out of the old ropes you’ve replaced, sails to bring aboard, things to clean, heads to fix, computers to update, and a hundred other little jobs.

And the food. Oh, the food. Food enough for 21 people, burning on average 5000 calories a day, for 28-35 days. All parcelled up in bags within bags within dry bags. Once it’s packed, it’s got to go somewhere. Under the floorboards, in cubby holes, and all with a plan as to what you’re going to use which days, and where it is so you can actually get to it.

Don't forget, if you're taking that much food, you need a certain other supply that's almost as important. And they take up room. Along with kitchen towels, and cleaning supplies, and medical supplies, and spare parts for the boat, we probably sit several inches lower in the water than we did at the beginning of the week. 

But she's ours now. Getting to know her like that, fixing and maintaining and replacing and cleaning, and you start to have a connection to the boat, CV 20, Team Garmin, that will only get stronger in the coming year as we sail her, and she takes us, forty thousand miles round the world.