Cakes and clarinets

I’ve written before (here and here)about the generosity of many of the people we meet along the way. We encounter such kind and thoughtful people whose generosity at the very least puts a huge smile on our faces, but often as not helps us as we continue on our travels.

DSCI0016Once again Jesus, who owns the boat across from us on the pontoon, has returned from a fishing trip to Alboran and given us six fresh red sea bream. As I de-scaled and gutted them on the pontoon, the girls helped out and we had an impromptu lesson in fish biology, looking at and discussing gills, fins, eyes, liver, guts, heart, muscles and skeleton. The offal that Lily threw in the water was soon snapped up by seagulls and mullet and led us to a conversation about predators and scavengers. The fish tasted good, fried up in the pan and drizzled with lemon, and served with a green salad.

A few days later Jesus came around again with a platter of cakes for ‘las niñas’. The platter was a left-over from a confirmation party and we were delighted to have this unexpected treat of an assortment of cakes for after dinner.

Our neighbour Ray is 80 years old. He’s gradually emptying his boat as he prepares to sell it. Almost daily he comes by with items for us to keep if we have a use for them, or to get rid of if we wish. Most of what he gives us is of great use indeed.

He has given us paper charts of the Mediterranean and of the southwest coast of England, as well as an electronic chart of the whole of the Mediterranean. The electronic chart is fifteen years old and incompatible with our computer, but Julian is putting his computer skills to use to figure out a way to upload them. He has also given us a Mediterranean almanac. It’s a few years old, but still of use to us, and sailing magazine articles he’s cut out and kept over the years relating to places that we may sail to this year or next.

But that’s not all. He’s given us a clarinet! After a few attempts to get any sound out of it at all, Julian’s now played a few tunes and I hope it will be played regularly. Added to our recorders, tin whistle, tambourine, maracas, castanets and triangle we’re a band in the making!

Ray has also given us a DVD player/viewer. What a godsend! With only our laptop, there are so many lost opportunities for writing and carrying out research when the girls quietly sit and watch movies every few days. But now we have the DVD player, the girls can watch Frozen or Box Trolls of The Sound of Music while Julian or I write or do sailing-related research. Hurray!

Such generosity. Another person might not even think to find new homes for their old stuff, instead just dumping it in the nearest skip. But Ray’s thoughtfulness has expanded our navigation and cruising potential and he’s given us opportunities for learning and fun (the clarinet) and solved the conundrum of only having one laptop on board. Thank you Ray!

But such thoughtfulness doesn’t come only from our recently-found friends in the marina. The girls and I returned from Ireland to find two parcels that had come all the way from Japan. They were from my old friend Takako. Since I left Japan in 1998, Takako has regularly sent me gifts – quite often non-perishable Japanese food. When she and her daughter, Mayu, came to visit us in Devon in early 2012, they brought two suitcases. The smaller of the two contained their clothes and belongings. The larger, and much heavier, suitcase was filled to bursting with food, and for the duration of their stay Takako did much of the cooking – Japanese breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a week. She re-taught me cooking techniques she had first taught me in the mid-1990s and she left us with so much food that I was still occasionally cooking with those ingredients at the start of this year!

The larger of the two parcels to arrive in Aguadulce a few weeks ago contained an assortment of noodles – ramen, udon, soba; instant meals that will be perfect for a mid-sail lunch or warming overnight watch meal in the coming months. The smaller parcel contained four packets of origami paper. I’ve become quite obsessed with origami since we were given an instruction kit a few months ago. The paper from Japan is so much more beautiful than any origami paper I’ve found in Europe. It’s delicate and patterned and multi-coloured and in a couple of different sizes. It is another wonderful and thoughtful gift that will keep the girls and I busy on long passages and during long winter evenings later in the year.

We are grateful for the generosity of these old and new friends. Their thoughtfulness enriches our lives and reminds us that most people you meet in life are downright good and nice and kind.

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