OK, so I cheated a little. A friend from London came to stay on the boat for the weekend, and I invited a friend from Exeter to join us for dinner, making a nice dinner party of four adults and two children. But I hadn’t yet tried out the oven and until I move my own favourite pots and pans aboard, those currently in the galley are not to my liking. So I made dinner in the flat the day before and transported it to Plymouth in a freezer bag. An easy peazy bolognaise sauce and three of my very garlicy garlic breads. Yum…if I do say so myself. And for dessert? Well, as I was emptying the kitchen presses (cupboards to those non-Irish amongst you) for transfer to the boat what did I find only a Christmas pudding made by my very own Mammy, not one but two Christmases ago. Looked good, smelled wonderful, so I boiled it up and brought it to the boat the next day, and for dessert my guests enjoyed sliced pudding fried in Kerrygold butter, served with a little stewed rhubarb and Devon clotted cream. I don’t know what anyone else thought, but I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!
It was two weeks since we were last aboard, thanks to a week-long hiatus in Lanzarote with my mother and mother-in-law. A pleasant week was had by all. Lily loved the paddling pool, and we finally convinced her back into the swimming pool. After a great start with swimming from the age of six months and being a complete water nymph, she suddenly took a dislike to swimming about a year ago, so getting her happy and relaxed in the water again was a coup. Julian and I took advantage of having the grandmothers around to go diving twice – our first time in over four years. It felt great to be back in the water again, but with the combination of expense and small children, who knows when we’ll get to dive again.
So back aboard Carina this weekend, with my two friends. Saturday night was much colder than our previous night aboard, and the girls woke up repeatedly and would only sleep when snuggled close against Julian and I. Yesterday morning we decided to take her out for a little trip around Plymouth Sound. We still don’t have any sails up – the rigging needs a little tweaking here and there – so we had to motor. But it was lovely. Although I have to admit I was somewhat anxious. Usually we can rely on the wise counsel of Julian’s dad, but we were on our own for the first time ever – in our own boat; more than that, in fact – in our own home. And the girls had to be looked after. My friend from Exeter had brought a bag of giant chocolate buttons, and they came out. A woman I met this morning referred to them as ‘manoeurving chocolate’ – perfect to keep the kids quiet and distracted while manoeuvring the boat.
We spent a couple of hours out tootling about the Sound, the girls loved it, except Lily threw a tantrum when she wasn’t allowed to helm on her own!! That’s my girl!! It all went off without a hitch, and Julian was ‘euphoric’ afterwards (his word). I think my visiting friend enjoyed it too – she was certainly a great help with lines and fenders. Thank God for fast learners!
We’ve suspected that there are a couple of live-aboard families at the marina, and this morning we met a woman and her two almost-teenage children. Her words were reassuring: ‘It’ll get easier, I promise’. She should know – she’s been sailing with her children since they were tiny. My girls have been great, and they’ve taken to the boat quite well. But as with all things in life, small children make everything just a little more complicated, everything takes more time, more consideration, more planning. It’s always reassuring to meet people who have already come out the other side with a smile on their faces and, more importantly, smiles on their children’s faces.
I’ve learned a few things this weekend – chief among them the strategic importance of chocolate and how intolerable life can be without a lid for the toddler’s cup. Roll on next weekend.