Tag Archives: Virgin Atlantic

Sailing

A little while ago I wrote some fiction regarding a conversation I had with Mr. Death. You can read it here.

It is a work of fiction but, as with many things, it had elements of true life in it – some of my real life experiences. One of the true items in that story is my desire to learn a new language – French (probably) and to learn how to sail.

Recently, we went on holiday. We went to Antigua. It was bloody brilliant. We flew out via Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (the posh class!) That was an eye opener. I’m not sure how PIL managed it. I think she got the geeks at work to hack into Virgin Atlantic and get us an up grade. Or it might have been her using the gazillion air miles we had accumulated over the years. We arrived at Gatwick, checked in and went to the Virgin lounge. We were offered champagne! It was 6am! Of course we accepted – it was free! We had all kinds of nibbles offered. More champagne was consumed. Our flight was announced and, slightly the worse for wear we staggered off and got on the plane. The leg room! Unfuckingbelievable!

We arrived in Antigua after a wonderful flight, being waited on hand and foot, totally refreshed and ready to go.

It was lovely. Smashing sandy beaches. Plentiful bars and restaurants. Pools dotted around. Absolute bliss. I noted a number of small sailing boats. Catamarans. I thought to myself, I can get started here. A problem arose though. We are a family that goes on holiday and we SLOB! We lie in the sun. We eat. We drink and that was the problem. Greg and I crept off to the gym at 6.30 each morning. We got back, we all showered and went for breakfast. By 9am we were sprawled out by the pool. At 10, when the bars opened we were getting a bit hot so we’d go get a drink. The intention was always to get a soft drink, 10am being a bit too early to hit the hard stuff but the bar man would point out;

“It’s midday somewhere man.”

So we had rum as well. And with no concept of portion control, they were heavy on the alcohol. After a hearty lunch I was probably too pissed to go sailing, let alone learn anything so I didn’t go.

As a great believer in not doing things by half, I decided my first experience of learning to sail would not be on board an eight foot dinghy but on a proper 50 foot sailing yacht! And that’s what we did. We chartered a yacht for the day. It was called Jabberwocky and it was owned by Nick and Kaye, who are two of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

We got a cab from the resort to where Jabberwocky was parked at a place called Jolly Harbour. Antigua is full of places with lovely names like that. We set sail. We had a choice. Snorkelling or beach. We’re slobs so we chose beach and we headed off to a place called Deep Bay. It was on our way here that I carried out my first ever sailing task:

I set the genoa!

I have no idea what that is or what I was doing except it involved some hard physical labour and I think I set the sail in front of the mast. I felt inordinately pleased with myself.

We arrived. The anchor was dropped and we took the little RIB to shore. It was just as you would imagine a desert island to be. Warm seas lapping on a soft sandy beach. There were a couple of other people there but it was heavenly. There was a small fort, Fort Barrington, on the hillside. Greg, CJ and I went off for a wander while PIL and Ed sat on the beach and swam in the sea.

The beach at Deep Bay with Jabberwocky in the background

Time for lunch back on Jabberwocky. PIL, Greg and CJ took the RIB back. Ed and I swam back. I decided on back stroke but because I’m useless, without noticing, I started to swim back to shore. The others found this immensely funny. I just got tired!

Jabberwocky at anchor in Deep Bay

Lunch was lovely. Afterwards, we set sail again heading back to Jolly Harbour.

Jabberwocky setting sail back to Jolly Harbour

Once we got out of Deep Bay, I set the genoa again and joy of joy, I took the helm and steered the yacht on it’s way back to its home port.

Me at the helm of Jabberwocky

I was in heaven. It’s a lot harder that it seems and I’m sure my course was more than a bit ziggy zaggy but I was having a great time. The rest of the family were up at the pointy bit at the front and then they started to sing!

Having an absolutely brilliant time.

 

Over the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails I couldn’t make out the words but the tune was just about audible. One of them them was singing “Sailing”, the Rod Stewart song. Despite my surprise at one of my children actually knowing this song, I felt a huge sense of well being and happiness well up inside me. We were having a great time. My family up at the front burst in to laughter and they all started singing. As they did, the wind carried the words to my position at the helm. This is what they sang:

All together now.

We are sinking

We are sinking

To the bottom

Of the sea

Dad was steering

Hit an island

Didn’t see it

Blind old git

 

Hit the island

Of Antigua

How did Daddy

Manage that?

We have sunk now

And we’re swimming

All because our

Dad’s a prat!

Charming!

Despite this, I will learn to sail and soon I will be visiting a local sailing club and begin lessons. I may just stick to smaller dinghies or catamarans but, who knows, I may go onto larger boats. We shall see and I will keep you informed about my progress.

Of course, let’s not forget that I also want to learn a new language but since trying my hand at sailing, that will now be TWO new languages to learn. The reasons why will follow soon.

Have a lovely day.

More Dick soon.

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Holiday Report

 

Saturday:

We left home at stupid o’clock to get to Gatwick Airport in plenty of time to clear security (and yes, once again I lit up the metal detectors and had to have a proper check). We got on board a Virgin Atlantic 747 and I have to say we had a lovely flight over to Orlando International.

virginatlantic747

The stewardesses were brilliant. They fixed the speaker hole thingy on my seat and I was so impressed that I almost proposed but the thought of getting down on one knee persuaded me otherwise as I’d never ¬†have got back up again. Even clearing border security in Orlando was a breeze. Car hire was quickly sorted and we had sat nav to guide us to the house we were renting. We have been to Orlando on several occasions and without fail we get lost. This time, courtesy of Mr Garmin we arrived at our house without any problems. We opened the front door and entered the alarm code into the keypad. Alarm duly went off. Wrong code. By Christ it was a bloody noisy alarm. PIL eventually figured it out. A knock at the door. Polk County Sheriffs Deputy checking to see if we were robbers. We’ve been here less than ten minutes and already the cops have come knocking on the door!

Ooops. What must the neighbours think?

Ooops. What must the neighbours think?

She was very nice. Thought about proposing again as nothing quite like a woman in uniform. Decided not to as knees still knackered but more importantly, she was packing a pistol! Sorted out bedrooms, distribute bags, went to the nearby Publix supermarket and stocked up with essential items – beer and donuts plus some other bits and pieces that PIL insisted we got. Went to bed ‘cos we is all knackered!

Sunday:

Where we are staying is a golf resort so once breakfast was eaten, Ed and Greg were going for a round. The rest of us joined them, scooting around on the buggies. This is the first time I had actually seen my sons playing golf and I have to say I was very impressed with how bloody awful they both were. We allowed CJ to drive one of the buggies until she took out a big bush and was heading towards someones house  before managing to stop just in time.

Greg (R) and Ed (L) before setting off to ruin a good walk

Greg (L) and Ed (R) before setting off to ruin a good walk

PIL and CJ shortly before taking out some of the undergrowth

PIL and CJ shortly before taking out some of the undergrowth

Ed putting for par. He probably missed.

Ed putting for par. He probably missed.

Greg attempting a sand wedgie while bunkered. He spent a lot of time in bunkers and grew very fond of them.

Greg attempting a sand wedgie while bunkered. He spent a lot of time in bunkers and grew very fond of them.

After golf, we jumped in the huge vehicle and went off to indulge in some retail therapy at one of the many outlet centres dotted all over Orlando. It’s been five years since we were last here and it has to be said that things ain’t as cheap as they were back then. However, clothes shopping can still be a lot cheaper than back in the UK. For example, I bought a pair of asics trainers, two pairs of shorts and two tee shirts from American Eagle plus a Nike running vest for a total of 120 bucks! Thats probably over 200 quids worth back in Blighty. Then we decided it was time to eat and we found the most incredible place in all the known Universe. The food came in such large portions that, for the sake of the health and well being of everyone else on the planet and particularly those of you back in the UK who will overload the NHS with your obesity, I have decided to keep The Cheesecake Factory a closely guarded secret and not reveal its name. If I were to tell you about The Cheesecake Factory, you would all descend upon it and end up as a fat bastard just like me.

Heaven

Heaven

The tribe at an unnamed, secret location called The Cheesecake Factory. The fat bastard on the right, just about to pass out from overeating, is me.

The tribe at an unnamed, secret location called The Cheesecake Factory. The fat bastard on the right, just about to pass out from overeating, is me.

Despite our massive vehicle being overloaded with fat bastards we managed to get home without totally destroying the suspension. After storing the doggy bags safely in the fridge to scoff another day, we waddled off to bed.giant-retro-space-hopper-481x481

Monday:

Our first visit to a theme park and we trundled off to Universal Studios. Our advise: Get “Express” passes. They cost a bit more but they save you huge amounts of time. You still have to queue but for nowhere near as long as the poor plebs without them. They don’t apply to the Harry Potter rides but they do on everything else so get them unless of course you enjoy queueing, in which case you are barking and probably won’t be allowed to enter the USA in the first place. We all had an absolute blast. PIL isn’t too fond of roller coasters but there are plenty of rides that she went on and enjoyed: MIB, The Simpsons, Despicable Me and The Mummy. In fact she enjoyed MIB and The Simpsons so much, we’re going back on wednesday when we do the other part of the Universal park – Islands of Adventure. There was one curious thing about the Universal Studios theme park. I thought it was illegal but perhaps the law doesn’t apply here. There are signs up all over the park that I am sure will be of particular interest to at least one regular reader of my blog:child swap After walking many, many miles and with sore legs and feet we made our way home and went to bed again. Carrying all that extra weight certainly doesn’t help.

Tuesday:

Greg has recently passed his driving test. He has still to decide what car he wants. Actually, he has decided what car he wants. PIL and I have just said “No”. Greg has decided, especially as he has seen a number over here, that he wants a Mustang. Not just any Mustang but a Roush Mustang. For the non petrol heads let me explain. A Mustang is an American “muscle” car. The sort of car that Bruce Springsteen sings about. However, as with all things like this, there are “tuned” versions. Mercedes have AMG. BMW have “M” Sport. Mustang is usually tuned by Shelby which is great in a straight line but if you want it to go round corners as well, you pay a bit more and get one from Roush.roushmustang2 roushmustang3

Yes. I would have one despite being happy with the size of my penis

Yes. I would have one despite being happy with the size of my penis

Roush. I am your father

Roush. I am your father

As we were still cream crackered from our visit to Universal, we decided today would be a rest day. So we slobbed around the pool, played around with the “GoPro” camera and then we shot off to another shopping outlet centre for yet more retail therapy. I need to get a hat if for no other reason than to stop the top of my bloody head from burning. Could I find the one I wanted in my size? NO. So not only have I got to contend with having a big arse and a big gut, I also have to contend with having a big head! Having said that, we did have a jolly nice time wandering around all the shops, poking about, trying stuff on, getting in other peoples way, buying stuff and getting bargains. We’d spotted PIL looking in the Michael Kores handbag shop when we first arrived but she didn’t go in. So the kids, bless ’em, dragged her in there before we left. She was handed a 40% off voucher when we walked in as it was 4th July Sale Week . She got herself a really nice bag that we all know has plenty of space for her to lose her keys, phone, laptop and all the other useless crap she, like all other women, carries about in her bag. We have now returned home. We have eaten. The boys and I have drunk beer. We have downloaded our many hundreds of photos. We have made our plans for tomorrow. I have written this. And now, a very happy tribe of people are staggering off to bed, getting some zzzzzzzeds and resting before a nice early start to the next day of our holiday.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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