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      Sailing spectator Scottish style

      31st May 

      I'm exhausted.  I'm physically and mentally shattered and yet I have hardly left my chair. Why?  My
      Third night at sea
      husband has been involved in the most challenging sailing and fell running race. He began on Friday at noon, did not stop and finished on the Monday afternoon.  What's it all about and why am I shattered? 

      I began writing this whilst they were mid race and started by writing the post thus: 

      Grab a coffee and help me stay awake, if I disappear for a moment every 30 minutes or so, do excuse as I am trying to see where his latest position is, let me explain...

      But I was not able to concentrate on blog writing whilst also trying to keep track of them so here is their race in Scotland now that they have thank goodness successfully completed it.

      Race briefing
      Normally our boat Brimble is kept in the south of England but for the past three years she has made her way with help from us! to Arctic Norway and now is currently on her homeward journey via Scotland and Ireland.  Whilst in Scotland we thought  John thought it would be a great idea to compete in the Scottish Islands Peak Race.  Not really knowing what is was other than a bit of sailing and running, both of which he does regularly I told him to go for it.  Umm, had I realised I wonder if I would have been so keen or encouraged him as much...

      Fast and furious sailing to begin
      The race takes place over several days non stop and involves difficult sailing navigation and strong tides, passing by the third largest whirlpool, Corryvreckan in the world and sailing close to the Mull of Kintyre made famous by the Rod Stewart song but known to have strong currents and dangerous outfalls for boats.  On top of that the race involved climbing Ben More, the highest mountain on the inner Hebrides, the Paps of Jura and Goatfell on Arran.  All this takes place non stop and as the organisers of this race were heard to say on BBC radio Scotland,  the category called 'all rounders' generally consisted of nutters as the crew on board have to do everything both sail, run  and try and get some sleep in-between.  Other classes in the race had sailors for the sailing and runners for the running, but not my husband and team, oh no, they were one of 5 boats who chose to enter the all rounders' class.

      This year the organisers insisted that all boats had trackers on them and that runner could if they so wished use the tracker whilst running also.  Not all boats decided to carry the tracker on their hill runs but after the first run and sail when Brimble, the smallest and oldest boat in the race were in a time frame of their own and so ended up running all the mountains mostly in the dark, the organisers insisted that a tracker be carried at all times.  For me as the armchair spectator it meant that I could see where Brimble and her  crew were 24 hours a day.  The yellow brick tracker as it was called was refreshed every half an hour and so consequently I refreshed the computer page so I could follow them in almost real time.  Below is a speeded up version of the yellow brick tracker.  Boats that you see are stationary are some that have had to retire for various reasons.

      On returning home my husband began to explain how they started to climb Goatfell at about 4am, I know I responded, I was there with you refreshing the page... this is why I am shattered and the house looks like a bomb site...

      Injuries in this race are not uncommon and many boats have to retire.  Of the 38 that began only 29 completed the race.  One poor chap fell on Mull in difficult wet and dark conditions and had to be helicopted to the mainland and under went surgery.  I'm surprised more were not injured.

      Second race was on Mull and conditions were 'horrendous'
      according to the tweets that were flying around. 

      Visibility on Mull became like pea soup

      One boat retired after the run on Mull which by all accounts seems to have been hellish.  They write as their reason for retiring from the race as, we can see we are only a few miles from the distillery at Tobermoray so are going to make our way there after this hellish run.

      The odd run was conducted in daylight

      Having climbed one large mountain/hill, there was time for
      a quick stop to look at the next climb!

      Scotland at it's best

      The bluebells were still out

      Having spent much longer on some of the runs than anticipated mainly due to the bad weather and night time running it meant that Brimble and crew were having to sail against the tide, they had missed the tidal gate and made for slow painful sailing progress, it could be said they were pushed backwards for a while.  At this point another boat retired as they couldn't be bothered to battle the tidal gate and turned round and sailed home.

      Light house in the Sound of Luing, here the boat missed
      the tidal gate and almost moved backwards for several hours
      No engines allowed in this race.  Runners rowing
      to shore to begin their running leg

      After strong winds and rain, being pushed backwards by missing the tidal gate having completed three of the four runs, the wind died down and there was not a whisper to be had.  Out came the newly purchased wooden oars and the crew had to row as no engines are allowed.  By this time everyone was almost exhausted.  Another boat retired at this point stating being becalmed with so many more miles to sail meant they had had enough.

      Becalmed at night and so it was time to bring out the
      3m long oars and row the 28 foot sail boat

      With strong winds and rain battering down, one boats mainsail ripped and so they had to retire from the race also.  Small but steady Brimble soldiered on.

      The weather was often not kind

      Having completed running up and down the
      3 Paps of Jura, it was time for the sail to Arran
      Light house on Mull of Kintyre, the sea was rough and 
      outfalls  difficult & yes they did play the
      Rod Stewart song as they sailed past

      Another boat retired at this point as they needed to push on and get in so as to be able to allow crew members to get back to work as the race had taken longer than anticipated.  Their engine fired up, they motor sailed to the finish.

      Being the smallest boat in the race, there was not actually
      enough sleeping bunks for all.  It was a tight squeeze

      All sorts of weather was experienced

      Whilst sailing the easiest food to eat is that which can be cooked
      quickly, fits into a bowl and can be eaten with only a fork

      Another night time approaches

      Steep hill climbs with loose rocks everywhere, dangerous
      running, especially when conducted mostly at night

      Stunning scenery but can you spot our runner?

      In the anchorage of Jura one boat had to retire as they were quoted as being a 'bit too friendly with some rocks'. What they meant by that was that the sailing navigation of this race is difficult and they hit underwater rocks and their keel fell off!

      Oh yes, all three need to be climbed

      By this last race John said everyone was utterly exhausted.  Little sleep had been had by any of them and they had all been pushed to their limits.  They completed the run and sailed to the finish line at Troon, south  west of Glasgow.  Celebratory beers and dinner was had with one crew member falling asleep before the main arrived and awoke to the pudding!

      Top of Goatfell on Arran, half way through the last climb

      All throughout the race twitter was alive with the arm chair spectators like me fascinated by the yellow brick tracking system and cheering on all the boats.  Camaraderie was strong and supportive and even though I was not racing was made to feel part of the group.  The penultimate tweet from the organisers on cheering the last boat home, Brimble read:

      SIPR @SIPeaksRace May 23
      It's Brimble! With a finishing time of 15:13:28. Hooray!

      Would John do it again?  Indeed if Brimble were to find herself in Scotland at the right time of year, the answer was a resounding yes.  Despite having had terrible weather at times and little sleep, John felt the race was extremely well organised and he loved it in a challenging sadistic way.  Me?  I'll stick to arm chair spectating and engaging in the social media whirr that took place unbeknown to sailors and runners alike. 

And so it continues...

27th May

Life continues no matter what.  Sometimes momentous news hits us and we wonder why the world does not just stand still and stop but it doesn't and it can't.  At other times I feel the world spins so fast that I'm running at a fast jogging pace just to try and keep up, those difficult moments when you wish you could fast forward a bit in your life and then finally there are those times in life when all seems to go swimmingly well...  Do you find the same?  Where are you in your life?  In our household we are all in different phases of the above and makes for a very interesting time let me tell you!

Exam fervour continues here with the youngest joining in this week and sitting his GCSE maths a year early, could be an interesting result, as is our tradition we had waffles before breakfast to wish him well and his older sister who had to sit two exams that day...

My mad as a hatter husband partook of a challenging and enduring sailing and fell running race that was non stop from noon last Friday until Monday evening of this week.  Even the organisers of the race were quoted on BBC radio,  which took place in Scotland, called the class that he entered as the 'nutters' who partake!  It was dangerous and I am tired from being able to track them on line.  A tracking device that was on the boat and then had to be on the runners as they ran through the night up and down Scottish highland mountains was refreshed every half an hour and so consequently I refreshed every hour even during the night, I may not have been in the race but I sure am tired!  More on this race later in the week with stunning Scottish scenery.

Brimble with many in the fleet ahead and some behind

We have a wonderful flower show here in the UK every May called the RHS Chelsea flower
show and as often as I can I attend.  I have very dear friends who have a stand there every year and this year they won Best Trade stand in the show, so proud of  David Harber    But did you spot and see the knitted and crocheted poppies?  It was hard to miss if you live in the UK or indeed in the Antipodes.  I have been a liker of the Facebook page  5000Poppies for a while and have watched in fascination as a group of people have from the small beginnings of 120 handmade poppies created in memory for respect and remembrance have now had makers from all around the world produce over 300 000 poppies which have lined and carpeted the flower show.  What an amazing and glorious sight and a genius way to keep the stories of war alive.  I've been quite emotional about it all.

RHS Chelsea Flower show

As always in my week there has been my own making and the coming together of ideas with the talented Phil from http://thetwistedyarn.com/  Do you know her, do you follow her blog?  Her writing is second to none, she has a way with words that make me titter and sometimes even guffaw out loud, she really is rather talented and she's not bad at knitting and crochet either, hee hee. 

Crochet: An idea begins to come to fruition

And finally there has been much comfort food in our house this week and as requested by my daughter we had Toad in the Hole one night.  Oh yes real toads, take a look... ;)

Toad in the hole, can you spot any?

Joining in, sharing my five photos of the week,  as always with Amy,
pop along and see what others are sharing today.
♥  Wishing you all nothing but good times  ♥

Eclectic ramblings

Bunad purse and silver
20th May


17th May saw National Constitutional Day in Norway and I was not to be left out, there may not have been a National Holiday here in the UK, but I baked my cake and wore my bunad (national costume).  Outside of Norway the largest parade for 17 May takes place every year in London and despite the fact that I could not attend this year, I streamed live both to the London and Oslo parades.  A girl wants to feel part of the party after all! 

To see more about this day and how to make kransekake pop along to my previous post... here

Traditional Norwegian celebration cake: kransekake

Exams begin with tradition

As with many other households across the UK we are at the beginning of exam fervour.  A tradition has been set up and whoa betide us if we now do not follow it, so in true eclectic home style we had waffles for breakfast as a good luck feast before heading off into the hall in silence, with a see through pencil case, you know what I'm talking about right...

Breakfast waffles

 Sewing for the first time this year
The Great British Sewing Bee began this week and as in previous years I sat glued to the TV, not being a great TV watcher, this is somewhat unusual for me to actually even know when a programme is starting, but I was there in front of the goggle box with a few seconds to spare.  AND it got me to thinking when did I last dust off the old sewing machine and make something?  The following day out it came and from my chaotic craft cupboard, that everything falls out of when you open it because it is crammed full of 'this might come in handy' random stuff, I found very suitable material and a funky chunky red zip.  I had the beginnings of a skirt... 

No pattern, so I had to wing it...

Really happy with the material and red combo

It's so hard to photograph yourself!

I'm not entirely happy with it as the waistband is a little large, so really I need to un pick it and trim it all in but I was running out of time and now I wonder if I will ever get round to it *sigh*

Teaching & Learning

My day job hours are always reduced in mid May every year and this is my frantic time to make, bake, craft, learn and teach.  It began in earnest this year.  Crochet class number 3 began, (actually the first  course of this year)  Still being a tad nervous at teaching crochet I try and dot my 'i's' and cross my 't's' so to speak for days before checking I know exactly what to do and how to go about it.  I think the first class went well, it was on National Day, so the ladies were treated to kransekake, that seemed to wash down well with the refreshments, what to bake for next week?  Any suggestions?  I like to bake something new for each class...

Beginning to set out for the course

And this is week 5 of the Scheepjes CAL, I'm loving it and learning new crochet tit bits all the time.  Ester's videos are totally brilliant, just love it.  To find out more, see this post here

Watching Ester on the video, although with
 the crib sheet and crocheting at the same
time, multi tasking indeed and loving it
Hard to see in the photograph, but this
week we made seagull prints on the sand!
You have to look very closely...


What weather!!! you would think we were in April still.  What is right to wear, I seem to get it wrong every day.  I'm either freezing cold or too hot.  Here's what it looks like in my village and garden right now...

Clematis montana in beautiful sunshine. 
Can you spot an animal shape?

Then came the rain.  Leaf of honeysuckle

The wild flowers are literally having a
 field day with the rain and sun

Buttercups in the centre of our village

Such cheery wildflowers

Everyone's wisteria is in full bloom, ours every
 year is behind by a few weeks, odd!

Simply stunning

Sharing with you my five moments from my week and joining in with  Amy
  Have a glorious week end 

Massive apologies and I have been trying to remember to say this for some weeks, but for some inexplicable reason I cannot leave comments on WordPress.  I write them, click on publish and vamoosh, they disappear, gone into thin air.  I then often try again but to no avail, after now having tried again on two different WordPress blogs I know not what to do to rectify this solution. 
Anyone, can you help?

Celebrations Norwegian style

Traditional celebration cake for Constitutional Day
in Norway today
17 mai ~ 17th May

Hip hip hurrah for i dag er det 17 mai!

Today is Norwegian Constitutional Day, the day Norway became independent and began with their own royal family in 1814.

It's a national holiday and parades through out each town and village across the whole country takes place today.  From early morning brass bands march and celebrational breakfasts are eaten.  Norwegians party all day long with friends and family.

Gathering all the decorations the night before is
somewhat of a late night tradition in our household
One of the 'must' have on the food list is the celebration cake known as kransekake, I have written about it several times before but it is so special, I thought you would not mind indulging me again this year.

You will need:
500g almonds with skin on , you can bought ready ground
500g icing sugar
3-4 egg whites
butter for melting
semolina or fine breadcrumbs
icing sugar for decoration

Grind the almonds

Mix with the icing sugar and add egg whites
one at a time, do not make the
dough overly sticky, be careful

It should be a consistency between
crumbly and slightly sticky

Melt butter and brush over rings, add
semolina or breadcrumbs, this helps
 to avoid dough sticking to the rings

Pipe or hand roll (to about a finger width)
mixture to fill the rings

Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes
at 180 degrees Celsius

Gently remove from rings, this can be quite
precarious and build up into a tower stack

You can either pipe icing sugar on individual rings
before completing the stack or you can drizzle
icing sugar over the tower once formed

Decorating the tower really brings it alive

Decorate with celebratory paraphernalia

I must confess to not creating the perfect kransekake this year, I was too impatient this morning, having meant to make it last night but was not feeling well.  I awoke early this morning to make it.  Taking it out of the oven too early and stacking it before it had cooled properly it began to collapse with the weight of the top rings once I had turned my back on it.  So how to save the day... I simply removed the lower rings, iced them as normal and just laid them around the edge of the now much shorter kransekake.  Do you think anyone will notice?

All ready to party

After having baked the kransekake, I tuned in on live streaming and watched a little of the children's parade in Oslo and saw the royal family waving from their palace balcony, I may not be in Norway but I can still join, the wonders of the internet.

Norwegian royal family watching the parades in Oslo today

Each area of Norway has it's own traditional dress and you can place people by the costume they wear, mine comes from Vest Telemark, where I hail from, I love it and am very proud of it.  It is hand embroidered and was made to measure for me in 1988.  When bought for a young girl it is made with excess material to accommodate the ever changing shape of a woman... (thank goodness)

The hemline of the dress is 3 meters, think of all
that embroidery, it took 6 months to make


The accompanying purse which hangs from the hand woven belt
 has the date of make embroidered on it.  Here you also
 see some of the silver jewellery that belongs to such an outfit.

   Gratulerer med dagen til dere alle