Blog Archive

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The Himalayas are over the horizon

It is three years since we were sitting in the foyer of a Kathmandu hotel when the whole city shook violently as the valley dropped a metre during the 7.9  Nepal earthquake. We had been on an Expedition to the Manaslu region with a wonderful team of Nepalese staff recruited from the Langtang and Hellambu Valleys. Within a few short minutes the homes of our staff had been flattened by the shakes and by the land slips. Lives were lost and livelihoods destroyed.

A couple of days later our staff somehow got us on a plane home and only then did they turn their attention to rebuilding their homes, villages and their lives. As we flew out of a country in chaos we resolved to return and spend tourist dollars in the regions most damaged by those moment when the earth shook and when mountainsides collapsed onto unsuspecting villages.

Three years on and the countdown to the MEDEX Langtang 2018 trip has begun. As tradition decrees that meant a weekend meeting at Hyssington to talk about all things trekking and to limber up on some mid Wales giants! Yesterday Corndon was topped and today Roundton was the site for our summit pose. In a few short weeks we will be sweating and shivering our way through the Himalayan foothills towards the mighty peaks of Langtang and Hellambu.  We don’t have any summit plans this time and, instead, we will be content to wander past the shrines and gompas and to drink in the mountain scenery. 

Most importantly it will be great to be back in Nepal and see how the country has rebuilt itself. 

This trip is with old friends many of whom have been with us on our various expeditions multiple times. It was great to welcome them all to the Pinfold on a fine autumnal weekend and to share fine food and good company around the log burner and the Aga.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Autumn Gales

Storm Callum is ripping through the Pinfold today and news filters through of boats being sunk on their moorings in the Menai Straits.

The newly pruned birch in the garden are now steady and safe as they are lashed by the warm, wet wind from the south. 

We wander around the garden and find it just as lovely on a wild autumn day as it is in the the early tranquility of early summer. Autumn colours are everywhere. Berries and flowers are bejewelled with raindrops and savage gusts of wind tear away the russet foliage.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Back home

For the time being our wanderings have halted and we are back home and enjoying the mundanity of work, of weekends with friends and of strolling in mid Wales’ autumnal countryside.

On Monday the tree surgeons came to prune some birch trees and make them less vulnerable to the winter winds that scream around our elevated home. A Christmas tree spruce had grown to 50’ so it came down in order to let a little more light into the garden. I was inspired by the aerial antics of the tree surgeons and, after the professionals had gone, took up my own chainsaw and created a pile of logs that will keep is warm on a future wintery weekend.

Sailing friends Bill and Laurie Balme  came as weekend guests. Sally fed them royally and we walked it off with an ascent of Corndon. 

Then Maddy (Sally’s Australian niece) turned up in her mighty Bongo (a venerable 4x4 Mazda camper van). She is a modern digital nomad able to work wherever her Bongo and her laptop happen to be. What better way  to explore the world and earn a living along the way? It’s great to have her here and fascinating to hear how she has been hired by a UK university to research maritime migration to Australia 65,000 years ago! For now the Pinfold is at the centre of aboriginal archeological research. Such are the wonders of the digital age!

Gorgeous autumn colours,  the smell of woodsmoke  and garden fires form the backdrop to our lives whilst the days shorten and we plan our next adventures.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Back to Traighuaine

We left St John’s in thick mist and drizzle. We flew back to Glasgow in thick mist and drizzle but soon it cleared and a stiff breeze struck up. The view form Traighuaine sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine and showers.

It being early autumn Sally disappeared into the loft and under the floor on her mouse extermination patrol.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

A surprise

When I posted my wind vane steering system for sale on this Blogsite I never seriously expected to sell it. Imagine my surprise then when I got an emailed enquiry this morning. I answered and, sure enough, I soon got a call from a lovely Australian fitting out an HR345 in Freemantle. We can’t complete the deal until June when we are next aboard but the deal is done. 

Such is the power of the internet!

Wrapped up

With everything securely wrapped up for the winter we pointed the Dodge Grand Caravan at St John’s and pressed the gas pedal for 4 hours. Ted and Karen had graciously invited us to stay with them for a couple of nights and we rolled up there at 8.30pm. Once again they were great and welcoming hosts.

Rain was forecast so we headed early to Signal Hill for a walk around the cliffs and battlements before the deluge. The deluge didn’t arrive but we had a lunch date with Steve (our yacht surveyor) at his wife’s cafe on Stavanger Drive. Second Cup is a great cafe and we spent a couple of hours chatting about boats, people and coffee. We are hoping Steve will join us for some sailing next summer.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Forty years a welder

Lloyd is forty years a welder and he dropped by to work his magic on our Achilles heel. The skeg rudder bearing that we broke in Greenland got crudely welded up in Aasiaat but that fix did not survive the Davis Strait. A robustly engineered solution was called for so welderman Lloyd was summonsed.

His day job was welding stainless pipes on the giant hydroelectric schemes in Labrador so a dodgy rudder bearing presented few probems for him. The parts of the bracket he could take to his workshop he welded from both sides using top of the range ‘all position stainless steel rods. He finished it off in situ ensuring that the weld penetrated between plate and bearing. Finally he welded a transverse plate across the back of the bearing.

The result looks a lot better and he now assured me it’s the ‘strongest part of the ship’. At least I think that is what he said given that the whole operation was narrated in Newfie with a smattering of rust belt thrown in.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Lovely Lewisporte Yacht Club

To stay in the lovely Lewisporte Marina for a year we had to join the Lewisporte Yacht Club. We are not complaining though as $50 (Canadian) gives us unrestricted access to the Club House with it’s laundry, showers, lounge overlooking the harbour, BBQ facilities and hostel sized kitchen. It is always warm and toasty and the sofas are perfect to relax in after a hard day of bottom painting! 

It is not only Canada’s most northerly marina but it must be the friendliest too. Ever since we got here we have been astounded by the universal warm and generous welcome. Unsurprisingly, having struggled to get  here, nobody is in a hurry leave - us included.

Yesterday we picked up Dick and Ginger (of Alchemy fame)  from Gander Airport and took them ‘home’ to the Clubhouse for a Greco’s Pizza and Moose Joose with the Club’s elder statesmen Peter and Carolyn Watkins. A delightful evening in a delightful place with delightful people.

Today we pulled on the boat cover and attended to a few, long positioned, boat jobs. A bit of gel coat filling, measuring up for a replacement Aquadrive and disassembling the skeg rudder bearing ready for a visit by a welder tomorrow morning. The rudder bearing damage was only partially fixed in Greenland and I am determined to effect an over-engineered solution if at all possible. The other job to be delegated to the professionals is the removal and replacement of the cutlass bearing which also defeated the Greenland shipyard last spring. Fortunately for us Ivan is on hand to take over when I have reached the limits of my engineering skills!

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Moose Joose

The Vikings named this land “Vinland” which conjours up images of acre upon acre of neatly pruned grape vines spanning the land. When the modern European settlers got here they named it “Newfoundland” and, in this new land, there was no trace of a grape or of vine. Just thousands of square miles of forest. Black spruce, birch, maple and juniper grow everywhere out the peat bogs. In the clearings and beneath the canopy grow the berries that feed the moose, the birds and the bears. Blueberries, partridge berries, cloud berries to name but a few.

At Twillingate today we ate a late lunch at the cafe next to the “Vinery” which made us wonder, “had those Vikings been right all along?”

Fascinated we bought a bottle of Moose Joose which is sold as, “a delicious local wine”. But, unfortunately for the Vikings, it is made of blueberries and partridge berries not the product of the vine. Whether it is any good or not we will find out tomorrow when we test it out on friends.

Saturday, 22 September 2018


With winds gusting to 45 knots we left the boat to take care of itself on it’s jackstays and drove up to Twillingate to visit the Boat Building Museum there. We even bought a $5 raffle ticket to win one of their boat building projects. Not sure how we will get it home if we win!