Shortly before the day when we remember 100 years since the end of WW1, we passed through the valley of the Somme on our way to Normandy. In the news there was controversy over President Macron who is apparently keen to downplay any triumphalism tone and instead be respectful of the millions who died in the conflict. My grandfather was one of the fortunate ones, he served in France during WW1 in the cavalry and returned safely home.
Juno beach, where we were staying, peaceful and beautiful now, but it is impossible to walk along those sands without reflecting on the events of June 1944.
Northern France has been witness to the ravages of both world wars during the 20th century, the appreciation and respect for those who fought and died is very present in the grave yards, memorials, towns and villages.
To all those who have fought to defend us, in whatever field, we remember you and we thank you.
With spring tides and settled weather the conditions must have been good for local prawn and shrimp fishermen. Every afternoon at low water there would be maybe 20 or so fishermen out in the shallows with their push nets.
It didn't seem to be an especially commercial activity, more people going out to fish for supper. At high water the shrimpers were gone but there were more than a few casting rods from the beach.
We've been away for a few days to Normandy and enjoyed some mixed but unseasonably good weather which allowed us to enjoy the fabulous beaches at their best.
With the car loaded up with top box, luggage, bikes and even a sewing machine (Mrs BB likes to take her hobbies on holiday) there was no room for the kayaks which would have been perfect, I think that an inflatable one of these is in prospect, easy to transport and get out on the water.
It was a perfect settled day for sea kayaking - note to self, I want to do much more of this next year.
Who needs a spa treatment? Early morning run along the beach at first light, it doesn't get any better. We did loads of cycling, walking and running and felt thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated after what has been a manic few months. It it weren't for a few too many cakes we might even have lost some weight, but it was a holiday not a punishment :O)
There's been a Kestrel 22 in the harbour at Hill Head for several years so this may or may not be the same one, but it's certainly a nice and well kept example.
The Kestrel One Design Class dates from 1955 to a design by J Francis Jones, a former pupil of the famous naval architect Kim Holman. Jones, from Woodbridge, Suffolk was inspired by shoal-draught sailing on the East Coast and incorporated strong clinker (lap-strake) construction with a lifting keel.
Following the Flying Marrow,we spotted this beast in Hamble, looking very much like a Lotus 7 (or Caterham 7).
Apologies is you can't see from the picture but that inlet manifold sticking out through the hole in the bonnet says 3.9, presumably a large capacity version of the all aluminium Buick/Rover V8 engine and which by the look of things is attached to a turbocharger.
No windscreen just a couple of carbon fly screens to divert the airflow, think I might want to drive this wearing a crash helmet.
Drifting past more due to tide than light winds I noticed that our local MOD70 trimaran has changed names. Formerly Concise 10 it's apparently been bought by PowerPlay Racing and being prepped for the Rolex Middle Sea Race, followed by the RORC Transatlantic Race after which a racing programme will continue in the Caribbean and United States for 2019, so looks like we won't be seeing her in the river for a while.
With these mega expensive racers someone asked if the Nordhaven was the support boat, could be.
We were passing Dolphin Quay as the tide was ebbing when we noticed this unfortunate situation.
It was just after neaps so not an especially big tide at HW so we wondered if they'd approached the moorings and got stuck and then unable to get off before the falling tide, especially so as the white yacht seems a long way out from the quay.
Returning from our walk later, with the tide well on the way to low water things looked even more precarious, the stanchions on the starboard side were not visible but clearly taking a lot of load so it would be surprising if they weren't bent or broken. The fore stay of the blue Southerly was taking a lot of weight and looked like the roller reefing foil was bent.
Hopefully they got off without too much damage or injury.
Despite living a few miles away for over 20 years this is the first time I've walked the two miles of river and canal which link the village of Titchfield to the sea at nearby Hillhead.
Actually we did try to walk it about 10 years ago in mid winter but muddy paths and flooding made it impassable. Apparently the man made waterway runs parallel to the river Meon and there is some debate as to whether it was ever navigable but strong evidence that it was used to provide irrigation to the surrounding water meadows.
The river is diverted and runs to what looks like a more natural course through the now Titchfield Haven wildlife preserve. The canal like section continues a very straight course toward the sea but as can be seen is very still and covered with growth.
The river now exits into the harbour at Hillhead where there's a cafe which is a welcome break or slightly further along the foreshore is the Osborne View pub.
All in all a very nice walk, with lots of wildlife, we even saw a couple of birds of pray and what might have been a kingfisher.
For a Sunday meander and with winds gusting up to about 20 knots, Joseph and I decided to sail the dinghy up river where things were not quite so brisk. We stopped off at a midstream pontoon to eat our picnic lunch where this classic Nicholson 55 is moored.
The Nic 55's were built in small numbers (around 26) from 1970, the first was built as Lutine for the Lloyds of London YC. The Joint Services Association (Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force) owned 7 which were sailed around the world primarily by service men and women during adventurous training events, the boats being ideal for a large and tough crew.
I recall they were sold off probably 15 or so years ago.
Lord Portal has apparently circumnavigated the world 3 times, not sure if she was a JSA yacht but seems likely.
That cockpit and open dog house is fantastic, you can imagine watch keeping, safe and sheltered with a cup of tea on a cold night.
Twenty years ago I took a picture of Erica when we visited the falls near Roseau on the island of Dominica, she's the one in the middle with the good tan.
This summer not a waterfall but the source of a small river, the Saint-Pons as is bursts forth from the rock cliffs. It was clear and fresh, but very cold. Despite that we all managed a paddle around to cool down.
Joseph was typically first in last out, maybe we've all got the gene that attracts us to water?
All the signs that the summer is over and that autumn is coming on are starting to show, we picked a huge crop of blackberries, half of which with some of grandma and granddad's apples went into making 16 jars of jam, the rest are in the freezer waiting to be made into pie fillings. The horse chestnut trees are already shedding their leaves and these fungi made an appearance over night.
No idea what they are or if they are edible or not, but they look really nice.
It was a busy Saturday, I got up early to finish some foundations for a new garden wall, then having committed to safety boat duties I missed sailing in Bursledon regatta, but managed to watch the start and get some pictures of the stage. The Hamble food festival was in full swing by the time we got to the sailing club, so after setting up the boats and getting the kids afloat it was nice to get out on the water and away from the crowds.
With the wind gusting SE15/16 knots and a fleet of mixed experience we decided to head up river.
After a short pause for a few laps around the buoys at "shipwreck cove" we pressed on upriver. There were a few capsizes, one youngster literally just fell off the boat, but was quickly recovered by his companion. There was a bit of a nasty moment when one of the youngsters got a stray fishing hook caught in his hand. But all in all it was an adventure sail and a really good day out on the water.