Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bike Rally Weekend

The Gadgets are packing for a weekend away on an island to the south, and have to use bags that can be strapped onto the bike & trike with a spiders web of bungie straps.

There's a biker fetish fancy dress evening to plan for too. I try on my outfit.

"Very horny." Says Gadgetman.

"I'll have to wear my bike boots though." I say. "The field would chew up my heels."

"No-one will be looking at your feet." Says Gadgetman.

"Shall I take the aftersun?" Asks Gadgetgirlie helpfully.

"I don't want to go." Says Gadgeteen sulkily.

"How much do you need for a weekend away?" says Gadgetman.

"I want the top bunk." Says Gadgetgirlie.

"I'll have the bottom one." Says Gadgeteen the goldfish.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Late breeze

Taken last summer whilst off Saltspring Island, one of the hundreds of islands off Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada.

First time I’ve ever been responsible for what happens on a boat of this size, (27’), always been crew before, and I’m buzzing with exhilaration. There are in fact three of us on board today, but Gadgetman is behaving like a moody teenager and is sulking in the cockpit, and Gadgeteen has a pre-arranged task he is determined to complete and anyway neither are sailors and have no prior experience.

My brother is on his 43’ boat a few hundred yards or so away having an equally fun time with the wind and the camera, and we have walkie-talkies if I come across a problem, though at the moment we keep “Yahooing” with glee across the airwaves.

I’m having a fantastic time and soak up the feel of the boat beneath me, how she responds to each touch on the tiller held between my inner thighs and I lean and sway to adjust to the heel of the boat, whilst keeping a watchful eye out for gusts and hazards. I buzz with being the one to decide our course and heading on each tack or when to go about. I am the one that knows to look up past that damn marquee thing over the cockpit, (I didn’t like it, it made me feel like I was in a car with the windows down!), to check for the slightest luff of the sails, or to keep a vigilant watch on all the other many boats out taking advantage of the weather. I really am in my element and euphoric to have this perfect evening breeze to take us to our anchorage, a couple of hours sail away, before it gets dark and without having to motor.

“Mummm, keep the boat level!” calls Gadgeteen. I laugh as I glance below into the cabin. He is trying to peel potatoes for the evening meal, and the saucepan keeps sliding from one side of the floor to the other with each slight variation in wind strength and subsequent levelling or heeling of the boat.

“Gust coming,” I call, and he hangs on to the saucepan yet again.

He soon gives up and comes on deck, carrying said saucepan. Despite my warning, he chooses to sit on the windward side and tries to peel potatoes. Naturally all the peelings keep flying back at him instead of into the saucepan.

He gives up for a while.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Marina memories

Living on a boat in a marina in Grenada was always gonna be more interesting to me as a kid than being out at anchor, quite apart from the fact that I could come and go as I pleased.

There was always something going on to watch whilst I was aboard on deck at the dock, like boats coming and going on the pontoons around me. I knew most of the charter boats by name and crew because we’d been around Grenada for so long. I’d notice cruising boats easily, by the rusty bikes, self steering vanes, wind generators, strapped on jerry cans, a dinghy on the coach roof, the yellow ‘Q’ flag flying from the crosstrees, and tanned & weathered families. These were often the most obvious clues. Cruising boats usually anchored though. It was free back then.

Others, I just knew were bareboat charterers, crewing and skippering unfamiliar boats in unfamiliar waters. I could identify all the boats used for bareboat chartering because there were so many of the exact same design and length of boat, and I could tell which Island the boat had come from by the same method. I can’t remember them now though.

These bareboats were sometimes quite entertaining to watch, as the crew hung fenders too high or low, or even dropped them overboard, as they untied the dinghy painter to reposition it for coming alongside, then let go of the painter, casting the dinghy adrift, as they hung lines for mooring and forgot to allow for the pulpit, hawse pipe, or to cleat one end. I watched as ‘astern’ and ‘ahead’ seemed to only mean at full speed, sending them powering into other boats and the dock, as anchors were dropped over the top of those of other boats that were stern-on and caused mayhem as the other boats dragged their anchors and were sent drifting into us or neighbours. There was usually lots of fevered activity and shouting of orders, and crew scurrying around the decks trying to figure out where they should be. Then the crew of the drifting boats would appear from below in their own boats to sort the mess out, and we would all catch or haul in mooring lines to draw the boats back together.

When we were alongside, which was even less often than when we were stern-to because it was so much more expensive, than I would often talk to those that passed along the dock, and always said hello.

There were downsides to being alongside or stern on too. Cockroaches. And I’m talking big ones here, 2” long ones. They loved moving aboard and eating anything left out, or anything that they could chew through to get at food, and they loved multiplying faster than rabbits, and worst of all they came out at night and were easily trodden on whilst on the dock as they scurried around. Yuck. I once had one crawl up my trouser leg and when I realised what it was, it panicked as much as I did. Trousers never came off faster. Rats and mice were frequent one-way residents on board too, but dad would set traps and we would hear a squeak as the traps snapped on a victim during the night.

Another downside to being alongside meant that anyone on the dock could lean over the deck and peer down our hatches and companionway, and the gall of peoples curiosity astounded us sometimes, as a head that we’d never seen before would appear down the hatch as we were eating dinner below, in the privacy of our own home. It’s sort of an unwritten code isn’t it, knock on the door and await a response, in our case, knock on the deck and call Kims’ name out. Some people didn’t seem to think that it was the same as someone crossing their garden to peer in a window of their house into their dining room.

I often struck up conversations with interested tourists staying on the Island, who had wandered along to look at the boats and were fascinated by our lifestyle, and often, our boat ‘KIM’ too. She drew a lot of attention because of her sleek 50s’ American racing lines, 52’ of wooden yawl, (white), (and for those that don’t know, a yawls’ mizzen mast, (small one at the back), is aft of the rudder post and usually there is a larger height variance between the two masts than with a ketch).

Our daily jobs attracted attention too. Preparing, sanding, varnishing and painting woodwork, (my favourite job was varnishing the beautiful wooden (steering) wheel, with its curvaceous spokes), of which there was lots, filling, sanding and painting the topsides, scrubbing the teak decks, filling water tanks, and washing clothes, were some of the jobs I remember having during our time on Kim.

Seeing bronzed blonde kids doing these jobs seemed to fascinate some of the passers-by and tourist kids would stare.

As a kid I used to wonder what it was like, to be a landlubber kid. I used to wonder what it would be like to walk along a dock and not to be going home to a boat. I used to wonder what it would be like to have a holiday in a luxury hotel from which I would return to a house in another country where there was snow in winter and hot baths.

This was the only lifestyle I knew for as long back as I could remember, and it seemed normal to me because everyone around us lived the life too.

So now I’m a landlubber, no snow in winter really, but plenty of hot baths, however I still feel an inbuilt sense of belonging as I walk along marina docks as a ‘tourist’, memories of a past life flit through my mind, but no boat to call home now.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

South with a mate

Devils Dyke view today

Met up with my mate for a day out on the bikes today, but I had to lead, he said. Took him along the route I rode last week, with lots of windy country roads through small villages and a stop at the top of Devils Dyke. Had a hairy left handed 'u' turn into a small road on the way up, that to me, meant that the only safe way was to keep moving slowly, and use the other side of the road to turn into it. Both lanes were on a steep hill upwards. There was a Range Rover approaching that was slowing for the junction anyway and was fortunately nice enough to let me complete my manoeuvre with plenty of space, and just to top it all a steep camber added to the hairiness of it all. Don't want to scratch/damage my bike by dropping it anywhere and that was the place today to be extra careful.

The sun was out and the tide was in down on the beach at Brighton

We sat with our helmets, watching life on the beach. A couple of kids were brave enough to strip down to undies and actually get wet! I have got my jacket on for a reason, despite the sunshine.

The waters off the beach buzzed with boats

I watched this little fella sail in from beyond the pier. I'd only noticed him because he appeared to be learning how to trim his sails because the genny was losing wind all the way in. Then he tried to tack and didn't get her round fast enough so the sails backed and he had to build up speed again before having another go. Even in this photo I reckon the main needs to come in a ways, genny is better now though. I hope he wasn't trying to get anywhere fast!

Matey rang his girlfriend 6 times today, just to report his progress.

Me? I was just out for the ride and didn't need to report to anyone.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Laptop Blues

“So can you leave it with my neighbour then?”
“No, we need you to sign for it.”
“But I’m at work all day every day. Can’t I authorise you to leave it with my elderly neighbour who is in all day tomorrow and happy to receive it for me?”
“No, madam.”
“Why not?”
“It’s Dell policy, madam.”
“Well, can you deliver to my work then?”
“No madam, it must be delivered to the customers address and be signed for by the customer.”
“So where is the nearest depot then?”
“Feltham, madam, but I would have to authorise the depot to release it to you if you are going to collect it.”
“So how can I get it then?”
“I will have to speak to my manager to get authorisation to authorise an exception, and will phone you with the decision this evening.”

The delivery van tried to deliver it again this afternoon, just when Gadgetgirlie needs collecting from school.

So now it’s late o’clock and no phone call from ‘Rohini’ at Dell.

And they don’t deliver on Saturdays……

So much for the ‘free delivery worth £60’ then.

What a mare!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Viewpoints with tongues

Remembered to take the camera with me today

The views from Newlands Corner

The usual mix of bikes

and the usual mix of hikers & bikers

No more words today, the family is back.

Gadgetgirlie needs a bath badly.

Gadgeteen tells me he had a snog, with tongues.

Gadgetman is now busy rewiring the trike.

Lakes in my boots

Despite the greyness to the day the opportunity to ride beckoned and I took a gamble with the weather. Dampness hung in the air as I left but the roads were dry and only the volume of traffic hindered my progress. On the way a teenage lad decided that it would be fun to run out into the open road in front of me. Fuck knows why. I swerved and braked and he ran back, laughing. My heart went pitter-patter muy rapido and I shouted at him. What a prat to play with traffic like that.

It was a grey day in Chislehurst too, and the track to the rally site was peppered with muddy pot holes. The site was slippery too, evidenced by the number of bikes parked in the car park.

The Gadgets were here to help run the rally, well Gadgetman was anyway. Gadgetgirlie appeared out of the woods with her new gang of friends, mucky from top to toe and enjoying the freedom of the site to roam and play at will. Gadgeteen was reunited with his friend from last year. She is 2 yrs older than him, has piercings in her lip, tongue, eyebrow and belly button, not to mention the ears, red streaks in her hair and 2 huge personalities. He didn't leave her side during the several hours that I was there. He was not in the least bit interested to see me. Too distracted. He mumbled a 'hello mum' and later a 'bye mum' and I watched them cross the field in the drizzle, nattering away and oblivious to the weather and anyone around them. Hmmmm. Wonder what he'll remember from this weekend? Gadgetman was the only one of the three pleased to see me. Chuffed that I'd made the effort to come over despite preferring to stay at home and do my own thing for the weekend. (I did also have some work stuff that needed doing in peace and quiet).

I wandered round the campsite to check out the bikes and found this.

The sign reads: 'I wish I could fly, up to the sky, but I can't'.

on this eccentric looking trike.

and lots of tents and some of these playing on rope swings near the evenings camp fire

I got well and truly soaked before I even got to the M25 for the 50 mile return journey. I had lakes in my boots by the time I got home, (and before you ask, no I didn't have my waterproofs. They don't fit over the bike jacket and it's on my 'to do' list to sort out). I stuffed them with newspaper last night and have refilled them with dry paper twice since then, and put all the wet stuff in the airing cupboard, and it's all still damp now.

Won't stop me going out though.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Blonde does Brighton

Yesterday afternoon the rain went with the wind to Norway or somewhere and I went to Brighton with the Harley. I opted for the scenic route and somehow ended up approaching the south coast town from a new direction, over Devils Dyke and down, down streets that point towards the waterfront like in 'The streets of San Francisco', (in miniature). I'd printed off a map of where this recommended pub is but couldn't easily to stop to see if I was nearby, (on a steep hill?- a bad move), so glanced up at the street signs as I neared the sea ahead. This definitely wasn't the touristy part of town, these were narrow streets with four and five storey apartment blocks. Well, what d'ya know, there it was. 'The Lion and Lobster', Not obvious or anything. I wonder what the history is behind that name.

I popped in for a coffee to warm my insides and sat at the bar near the door. I figured I blended in as a girlie biker in leathers as easily as the pub fitted in the white-lined street. It was a busy time of day and the many bank holiday patrons kept staff busy pulling pints and serving spirits, not a good time to ask about the history and character of the place. Photos, paintings, maps and allsorts adorned the walls and on a quieter day I'd have wandered around to have a closer look. Two huge tv screens up high on both sides of the pub attracted footie fans to the days match and music played to others. Posters advertising live musicians soon to play here dotted the doors behind me and I could see from the variety of attractions, why this place is so popular with locals.

I didn't stay long, had to make the most of the daylight left. The town centre was busy too and not for the likes of me. I preferred to park in Marina Drive, stagger clumsily down the pebbled beach and toss a pebble in the sea for the next tide to wash back up.

I watched the tide recede as seagulls squawked above and kids squealed happily on the wet sand below the pebble line.

I felt happy to just sit people watching with my curious eyes and blonde thoughts. There was barely a puff of wind and the evening sun kept me warm, and I appreciated how peaceful and theraputic this was for me.

Then in the fading late sunshine I blasted up the M23 at a steady (just a wee bit faster than the speed limit), and was home to put the Harley to bed before dark o'clock.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Harley TLC

“So will I notice the difference between the 883 and the 1200 then?” I asked with blonde enthusiasm and style. I felt really stupid as soon as I closed my mouth again.
The guys around grinned and looked at each other with amusement at my dumb question. “Oh yes,” replied the service guy nodding and smiling, “mega difference.”

I am even happier with my choice of bike now, the 883 was gutless and pants in comparison, and they can keep those pipes with blankets stuffed up them. I like to hear the sound of the engine as I ride, and feel reassured that other people hear me coming too, they frequently even move over to let me pass. The 883 was so quiet that no one even knew I was approaching. I am grateful for the courtesy loan though, I’d borrowed another mum to have Gadgetgirlie for the drop off, and will do the same this afternoon for the collection.

So when I pick mine up again later on today, she’ll have had her 5000-mile service and should be roaring with delight, fit and ready for a good few miles on the road this weekend……

If anyone hears of a 04 or later 2nd hand workshop manual for sale for the 1200, then do let me know please, (I have been looking on ebay & HDRCGB), I could save myself a lot of money if I did my own servicing, but for the first one I’m prepared to pay the price. Gulp!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


A moon illuminated the night sky but there was little wind to fill our sails.
I was on the bow, looking out for signs of land anywhere around us in the distance. Seeing some lights sparkling faintly on the horizon would have been a clue but nothing caught the eye.
I looked down to one of my favourite views from the bow, down to where the bow met the waterline and forced a path through the water. What were those changes to light in the dark colour of the sea I was looking at? Light to dark, to light again in an irregular pattern as we poodled along.
Oh my God. I knew what that was.

“I can see the bottom.” I shouted back from my vantage point on the pulpit. My brother was at the mast, also looking for some sign of land, and clambered quickly across the unsteady deck to join me.
“And it’s not very deep either.” He shouted back to Skip.
Skip let the sails fly free and turned the tiller hard over. We drifted around in circles whilst we decided what to do.
Skip didn’t have a clue where we were, the charts didn’t help him either because he just did not know where we were, only where we were meant to be…….

We were supposed to have arrived in English Harbour on the south coast of Antigua at dawn two days earlier, just in time to enjoy the end of Antigua Race Week before catching a lift on a boat heading south to Grenada. What on earth were we doing in the middle of god knows where?
Our unbelievable voyage had started in Grenada, several Islands south of wherever we were. ‘Skip’ needed crew help to deliver a 32’ sloop to Antigua in time for a bare-boat charter. It would mean a non-stop sail for a few days, depending on the wind. My brother and I were approached to help him. I was 15 and my brother was 14. He had sailed up through the Islands a few times before as crew on charter boats and knew the waters well. I was just useful as another pair of hands. Skip did all the provisioning and preparation of the boat.
The first few days passed without incident, then Skip decided to stop in a bay on the North end of Guadeloupe, have some dinner, then leave at midnight so that we would arrive at English Harbour at dawn. At the midnight hour we left Guadeloupe and headed off on the course for our destination.
“ We need to allow for the current that sweeps eastward when setting our course, I think we need to alter course a bit,” said my brother helpfully.
“No,” said Skip “ There isn’t a current here.”

So off we headed, into the night, sleeping in shifts and looking forward to our arrival. My brother was concerned though, but Skip wouldn’t hear of it.

At daybreak we spotted the shadow of land as expected, but not where it should be, it was to our west, and a long way away on the horizon, and only just discernable from the clouds.

“Aha,” said Skip. “If we head on this new course, then we’ll get to English Harbour.”

During that day on our new heading my brother and I could see that the land got further away, not closer, and commented on this to Skip but he would not be budged from his convictions. Eventually we couldn’t see land at all, just mile upon mile of empty sea around us as far as the eye could see. We didn’t have any more food aboard either. Skip only brought enough for the anticipated journey because he didn’t want to leave any aboard, so we had to rely on the never-ending supply of freshly caught boiled tuna, (not even a bit of oil to fry it in), with tomato ketchup as flavouring. We had water, dry biscuits, chicken noodle soup, and beer for Skip, but no other soft drinks left. Seems daft now but there we were.

That night our course changed several times as Skip decided on a new one and my brother and I were unable to have a voice, anyway we wouldn’t have known where to head by this point. Skip was the man in charge.

By dawn the next day we were completely lost and this was before the days of GPS. There wasn’t a sextant on board either. We were completely alone with about 25 miles visibility and nothing at all in sight, not even another sail.

All through that long day we sailed, hoping for sight of land but none appeared. Then darkness fell again and so did our hopes…….

So what were we to do with this all darkness around us, and the bottom in view below us?

Anchoring seemed the best option, so we dropped the hook and settled down for a restless night on a rolling boat.

The next morning revealed the extent of our predicament. We were surrounded on three sides by a breaking reef, how we hadn’t seen or heard the waves breaking over it the previous night I just don’t know, but there we were in the middle of a horse shoe shaped reef, anchored in what at any other time would have been a beautiful turquoise sea, and a reef ripe for snorkelling and spear fishing. Skip puzzled over the chart of Antigua. He couldn’t find anything that matched up with what was around us, and the very low-lying land ahead of us didn’t tie in with the hills of Antigua either. There were no other boats around us and the binoculars revealed no buildings in sight on the Island ahead.
Then a small fishing boat powered by an outboard zoomed towards us from the island, which looked miles away because it was so low but in fact was only about a mile away.

“We’d better find out where we are, we’ll have to ask them.” Skip wasn’t keen at all but what choice did we have? We waved the boat over and two black arms waved in response as the boat drew nearer.
“Whereabouts on Antigua is this?” I shouted to the fishermen as the boat stopped beside us.
They laughed and one of them called back, “Antigua? Antigua 26 mile dat way, Dis Barbuda.” One of them pointed southwards. “Ya’ll aright?”
We were embarrassed but fine, thank you very much. They sped off shaking their heads and laughing at our dumb question.
No wonder the island was so low, Barbuda is the lowest lying of all the islands and we were very lucky not to have had a worse fate.
Now all we had to do was get beyond the reef and head south as quicklty as possible. Our path was clear to open sea and within a few miles Antigua came into view. This time we did not lose sight of it and eventually arrived in English Harbour after dark, following a long afternoon sail down the west coast with Tuna as sustenance.

We missed Antigua Race week altogether and a few people were a bit worried about our whereabouts. My brother and I decided then that we would not sail with 'Skip' again. That was a close one that was.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Coffee for two

Yesterday a friend of mine picked up his new bike, (Jap bike – a Fazer), so I just had to go out in the afternoon and join him for a ride and a coffee. I led the way to Boxhill and we stopped there briefly.

As we sat there warming our hands on our coffee cups and I looked out towards all the bikes parked, I saw the back end of a trike and thought, “Hmmm, we used to have an alloy box like that on the back of ours, and roll bars like those, and mega rear wheels like they are.” Then I saw the reg plate and recognised the number, and it slowly dawned on my blonde brain that it was indeed our old trike. A 2L Ford Pinto engined trike, bought when Gadgeteen was 4 so that we could continue our biker lifestyle with him along too. (It is painted differently now-a gloss black all over). I was reminded of all the bike rallies we’d gone to as a family, just the three of us, with all the camping stuff bungied on around us. It only had 3 seats so when gadgetgirlie arrived on the scene we had to think again, and Gadgetman bought a V8 trike with room for 4. Now of course I’ll be on my own bike again, but the V8 stays.

We headed off around the A25 to Newlands Corner in the afternoon sun. We were out to play and the roads were dry for a change so the previously muddy road surface on the hill up to Newlands was just dry dust. At least there was no need to wash the bike off on my return home.

My friend was as impressed with the view as I am, and had a photo phone thingy, so snapped a couple off with the teatime sunlight brightening some of the trees and green grass in the valley below. I hope to attach these when he sends them to me.

I am so much more comfortable on her now and am beginning to throw her around a bit, well, in the Harley sort of way anyway. I do love the sound of the Harley engine with the slightly illegal pipes with no baffles, and she feels so weightless when I’m on the go. I love changing up a gear and blipping the throttle to match the gear, then accelerating and feeling the power beneath me, as I said, in Harley terms that is. I actually am very comfortable with the way she handles, I can throw her around corners as far as I want to go anyway, and feel as if I blend into one with the bike, flowing where she goes.

Many would pooh-pooh me as not being a proper biker, cos real bikers have Jap sports bikes and really throw them around, but I’ve been there and the Harley will do just fine for me.

She turns me on so I’ll keep the nickname once given to me of ‘Roughty-toughty-bad-arse-girlie-biker’, and just add ‘-with-a-Harley-attitude’.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Interrupted thinking

Oh hells, bells and buckets of blood!

I am going crazy with frustration.

There is now limited time before I buy a wireless laptop.

This is the only cure apart from ceasing to write/type/blog. Even my mother wonders why I haven’t got one, and she’s really frugal so that means that I must need one.

She is reminded of when we were young and she was the one trying to write, and laughed with empathy at my woes of interrupted thinking. (Actually she thinks it’s payback time). I also can remember her going off to find a quiet spot, her bunk on Kim in the aft cabin was a favourite, clutching her diary and pen and hoping for uninterrupted thinking and writing time. She managed to write several articles and a book so I guess we left her to it sufficiently. Mind you, she did go off and ‘boat sit’ at every opportunity. Goodness knows how she managed to write during the earlier Atlantic crossing, with 3 kids under 7 to tend to, in 32’ x 8’ x 5’ of space for 31 days.

That would be a cheaper option though.

A notebook and pen up on my bed.

But then again this is 2006 not 1976.

I could strap the laptop to the bike and go off to sit somewhere quiet for a while.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Beans in my Leathers

There are now 9 tins of baked beans less of me then a month ago.

My bike leathers are much more comfortable without them.

Only a bag of potatoes and 4 tins of tomato soup left.

T’was a day for riding to work on the Harley.

The feel good factor lasted all day.

No more time to write tonight.

Going to my book now.

Janet Evanovich

7 up.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Scrabbling around

This was the family game and went everywhere with us over the years.

My parents even still, have an old travel version, (complete with a home made letter bag, made from left over cushion material from the settee on one of boats), a visual reminder of our previous life style.

Mum & I would often be seen in the shade under the awning on the coachroof of Kim, squeezing in a game between her jobs, and trying unsuccessfully to avoid the unbearable heat and humidity and afternoon sun.

She’d take ages with some turns though, aiming for the 7-letter word and furiously shuffling her tiles around, and meanwhile I’d be easily entertained by all sorts of life going on around me, dinghies chugging or rowing past, waves from familiar faces, yachts gliding by under sail, or cruise and freight ships manoeuvring at the docks.

Of course back then she always beat me, confounding me with words that I’d never heard of, but I kept persevering and kept playing, with a frustrated, fiercely competitive determination. She would never bow to letting me win, preferring instead to show me how I could improve my game, by always doing her best to win. She did compromise over the rules though, allowing changing the blank back as part of a turn, using a dictionary, and referring to our 2-letter word list as needed. (Written out laboriously by going through the dictionary page by page).

I can’t remember when I started winning, but I did eventually, and achieving the erstwhile unattainable 7-letter words, another milestone in my development as an enthusiast and I felt a sense of huge accomplishment

We’ve played on boats and beaches, in campers at dusk, on tables at airports, in the Winnibago on Vancouver Island, and in settings far more significant than the game ever could be.

After leaving the nest I bought my own set, seeking out other like-minded souls to play with. In the eighties I was married to a man of many words, and we played hundreds of times in unusual places, in campers, on boats, trains and planes. I’ve even kept a few old scoring books, in which each game is dated and with our location at the time.

Now I play with gadgeteen occasionally, and see his concentration, competitive frustration and enthusiasm as my own was.

I play to win like my mum did.

And one day he’ll win fair and square and feel the same sense of achievement that I did.