A Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Tetley’s Tea from the English Aisle..

Whether you live in Barcelona, Binissalem, Palma or Puerto Banús and whether you’re a Brit a Kiwi or a Clog chances are if you’re reading this you’re what the Spanish call a ‘quiri’. As I’m sure you already know this is not a derogatory term it just means you came here for the sparkly blue bay and the sunshine. Like I did, almost two years ago.. Now, there are quite a few things I’ve caught myself doing since I made the move and I’ll admit maybe they’re just me, but I do have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone on some of these quirks.. So have a look at the following list as maybe you’ll recognise a thing or three and if not you’re very welcome to frown -God knows I’ve become used to baffling people on a daily basis by mixing words, muddling tenses or making stuff up by sticking an O at the end..

IMG_0190Although I’ll be using the royal ‘we’ we all know who I’m talking about here. Me.

1) When prowling around Carrefour Planet you have a trolley full of Seville Oranges, sobrassada sausage and enough local wine to sink a ship (Two for one!!) but when you all of a sudden ‘happen’ to find yourself in the English aisle you can’t help but squeal: ‘Minstrels’!! And feel the need to stock up.. just in case.. (what?) You never ate them at ‘home’ and now you have 16 family packs. Why?

2) You can’t help but feel smug while complaining about the heat, a smirk plays around on your face while you try and compete in a ‘my house is hotter than yours in summer competition’. It’s not just that you’ve escaped from the dark and drizzle to a place which boasts 300 sunny days a year – it’s even accepted to complain about it. Double whammy or what?! You’ve made your beach and are oh so happy to lie on it and bitch about it 😉 On the other side when you speak to friends that still live ‘over there’ you try desperately to play it down. “Yeah it’s ok. We had a day that was part cloudy a few weeks ago so you know the weather’s not perfect all the time”

3) You’re first in there with the eye rolling and tongue clicking when it comes to those red faced tourists. There are too many of them, they stop in the middle of the street to look at a map, they’re too loud, they order beer in English/ German/ Gibberish and wear pastel coloured shorts. We sigh ‘cos we’re so not like them and never have been, we’re special.

IMG_00214) Just like some like to lie about their age or the price of their shoes we lie about the amount of time we’ve lived here. Well I do, I halve it. And then I gleam with delight when told my Spanish is pretty good for someone that moved here only a few months ago. “Muchas gracias” I then humbly mumble sometimes even complemented with a “Estudio mucho, si”. Oooh, yes! Shame on me!

5) Which brings me to my next one: the big, manic smiles on entering a shop / bank / hairdresser when you have a question or query which you know you’re going to struggle to explain. Subconsciously you’re thinking the banana-sized, bare toothed grin and over animated ‘HOLLLAAAAA! ¿Qué tal?’ is going to make up for the fact that there’s bound to be a lot of “Lo siento no comprendo’s”, more than a few “Más lento’s” with some helpless hand gestures thrown in the mix as well. ‘At home’ I rarely used to walk into a shop smiling like a moron, here it’s part of my cunning plan of masking my Spanglish with a cheeriness bordering on the crazy side. ‘She’s loopy but happy, let’s help her and get her the hell out of the shop’.

6) You just love showing off to visiting friends. You take them to those bars where you can only hear a local dialect and choose from dishes no-one’s ever heard of before even though you’re usually to be found in ‘Hogan’s Burger Bar’. You’ll miss no chances of really rolling out those only few sentences that have had plenty of practice like: “Una-copa-de-vino-blanco-por-favor”. You say it with such speed even the waiter struggles to catch it. You throw in words like’”Venga” and “Vale” while keeping a straight face and your friends almost fall of their chair in astonishment as they were right there with you fifteen years ago when you couldn’t get a c for foreign languages even if your life had depended on it. But look at you now! In Spain speaking Spanish, and hanging out with your ‘amigos’! Such a showoff.

IMG_12687) You get all labrador-like when you meet someone from the same region as you even though hearing that accent when back home makes you break out in a sweat.. Without hesitation the tail-wagging is reciprocated and you both feel compelled to talk about the school you went to / the bakery you used to get your bread/ the postbox you used etc after which you launch into a full five minute session of ‘You knows’ : You know Barry? No? You don’t know Barry? He’s from Hastings/ Hilversum/ Hamburg. Sara then? You know Sara? Oh you must know Sara! And so on..

My Spanish teacher says that ‘we’ all know each other I thinks she imagines us all meeting up to drink the wrong coffee at the wrong time to talk about the weather and where to buy Tetley’s. Do we?? I then asked my Spanish friends whether there were things they thought only us expats do. What followed was a lot of elbowing, glance exchanging and sniggering. Which ones in particular was their answer? The Scandinavian ones, Los Ingleses? Los Alemanes? Apparently we all have different quirks depending on which testing climate we left behind. Oh, ok let’s say the English then. More glancing. Then silence!? So maybe we’ll keep that for another blog. Or you know what? Maybe we’ll just leave that one altogether 😉 …

Only me all at Sea

With the VOR having kicked off leg one recently I’ve been thinking about the different kind of sailors I know. ..Rock star racing sailors, coastal cruisers, casual sailors, day sailors, dinghy sailors, dead serious sailors, drunken sailors, solo sailors, multihull and maverick sailors.

And then there’s me, the world’s worst sailor who for some strange reason has happened to spend many years on all sorts of sail boats. From classics to carbon fibre racing machines I’ve confounded many crew by making all kinds of boating blunder’s and sailing snafu’s. Only last week I tried to silence a B&G alarm by setting off the fire alarm, the week before I managed to get myself and a fender stuck between the spokes of the helm while trying to get the thing from starboard to port. “Fabulous fending Dani!” I’m happy enough chewing the fat on the rail, slurping gatorade and eating mini mars bars but don’t ask me to tie a bowline or fetch a boat hook from the fore peak ‘cos you’ll get both the blank look and the big eyes. (He wants what?) I don’t like hearing raised voices either. It frightens me and I think we’re about to sink.

All of you that have ever spent even one second on a yacht with me I can see you nod and I can hear you snigger. Seriously, all the way from Australia, so stop.

In any case it comes as no surprise that the world of ocean racing and solo sailors completely eludes though totally fascinates me. Like a homebody who gets Michael Palin to bring the world to their living room I regularly get 50 knot Southern Ocean swells right here on my Santa Catalina sofa by re reading Naomi James’ ‘Alone around the world’ and Moitessier’s ‘The long way’ and all while snuggled up in a thick fleece with frequent breaks not to have to adjust sails but to pad back and forth from the couch to the kettle in slippered feet.

Anyhow with this blog I’d like to give a shout out to my four favourite sailors and take my proverbial south western hat off to them by listing some of the super human and incredibly daunting things they’ve done while I was watching dvd’s and eating chocolate biscuits.

Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker

1) Let’s start with Dutch Laura Dekker who at an age where my main concerns were how to get out of P.E. and why my hair wasn’t straight started her 27,000 nautical mile voyage around the world. She was 16 when she finished her 518 day trip which made her the youngest person to have ever sailed solo around the globe. Laura Dekker was born aboard a yacht off the coast of New Zealand and first sailed solo at six years old, (six!) and at ten began dreaming about crossing the planet.. I love that during her trip she found a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather!

2) Another female pioneer is seasickness suffer-ess Naomi James who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by herself. She completed her voyage on the 8th of June 1978 after having spent 272 days at sea. During the cruise, 16m ‘Express Crusader’, endured a few minor distresses like losing her mast, capsizing and having no radio for a couple of weeks, so small stuff really 😉 Actually Naomi James was not the sole soul aboard – she had a cat named Boris, which unfortunately fell over board off the coast of Africa.

Moitessier Voyage

Moitessier Voyage

3) One of my favourite Frenchies is long-distance sailor Bernard Moitessier who christened his 12m ketch Joshua in honour of Slocum. It was on this boat that Moitessier competed in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race (predecessor of the Vendee Globe), making fantastic time, only to abandon the race near the end, blowing off the chance to win the first non-stop singlehanded round-the-world race. What? Yup, he kept on sailing halfway around the world again to Tahiti to “save his soul.” Without breaks and mostly in the roaring forties this voyage resulted in Moitessier setting the record for the longest nonstop passage, sailing a total of 37,455 nautical miles in 10 months.

Jean le Cam

Jean le Cam

4) Then there’s the colourful Jean Le Cam, he broke an Atlantic record in 1982, won the Transat in 1994, the 1,000 miles of Calais and is three times winner of the Figaro, so boasts a pretty serious sailing CV. He brought big smiles to everyone’s faces during the 2013 Vendee when we saw his dark curls go wilder everyday and met his set of soft animals who did the journey with him. We watched on webcam how they regularly fell over and how Le Cam would put them back in place while talking us through his days at the office. His gang of furry fluffies all made it up to the stage with him as well on arrival in Sables-d’Olonne. Gold.

Of course these amazing people and what they’ve done has helped shape what sailing and racing is today and although they couldn’t be more different to whom I am and what I can do I’d just like to finish of with mentioning that if you need someone to coil a line the wrong way around the winch, to speak on VHF without pushing the button or to repeatedly throw an increasingly heavy line not on the dock but in the water, look no further, I’m your woman. And while I tuck into a slice of hot pizza and crack open a smooth Rioja, the VOR guys and girls are gearing up for short sleeps, freeze dried food and wet and windy weather. I might take this vino out to the terrace but if it gets too nippy I’ll just slip back into my house, the one that never moves, moans, heels, slides or shudders.. Thank god.

Good luck all you VOR people, I admire you, you’re amazing!