After 6 months away, i have finally returned to the shores of mainland europe. I doubt many of you will breathe a sigh of relief at that, infact, there may even be a few frowns along the way but i am happy to be here. I am sure my regular caribbean antics sound like fun to you down trodden english workers but trust me, there is nothing fun about 35º heat, 27º water temperatures – after the fourth month, they pale into insignificance. The only refuge i could find was somewhere between 20 and 40 metres below the surface – needless to say, i spent a lot of time down there.
Before i get into what i feel will be an epic update, let me just say hello to a few people.
Lexa, all the way out there in South Africa a regular reader and frequent commenter (which gives me a hard on), one of the very few south africans that isn’t on my ‘cunt’ list at all. Hi Lex!
Max – over there in Leicestershire, had her 52nd birthday while i was at sea. I did send her a text just before we left the Açores but she chose to ignore me yet again. I know her phone is in good working order!
Susan – despite being friends for about 25 years, she has only just taken to reading my blog. Ok, i know it wasn’t around back then – BUT THATS NO EXCUSE!! Welcome susan, to the very exclusive club that is waynes blog.
Jake – yet another missed birthday, my apologies, i doubt forgivness is any closer. Happy belated birthday for the 13th !!
David H – yet another missed birthday, again my apologies. Happy belated Birthday for the 14th
There, that didnt take too long did it? Now onto the current stuff. We arrived in La Ciotat yesterday, South of France, just east of Marseille. I have never been here before so didnt know what to expect. I have to admit that my first impressions were grim. A huge modern boat yard designed for dealing with big stuff almost completely owned the view of the village behind. I hauled my gear off the boat (more about that further down the page) and moved into my hotel suite (yeah, that sounds far grander than it really is!). Opened up my email and FB to see what has been happening, revelled in the notion of having a full size bed, a full size shower and broad band internet to myself. I slept like a baby until 09.30 this morning.
I finally dragged myself out of my suite by 11am and went for a wander around the town, shopping for a few things. soon the café culture started to gnaw at my heels. It wasn’t long before i stopped and had what i guess you might refer to as a double expresso. Managed to remember enough french from school to deal with it too – i impressed myself. I carried on around the town, investigating the narrow streets with french/arabic fashion. The fashion here if you are a chick is very cool, lots of hippy stuff to wear. I like so much that i could easily find a woman here just to look at the clothes she is wearing – better still, to take her shopping for clothes.
A second coffee was on the cards and so was my urge to tug on a packet of reds. I managed the coffee and refrained from the reds and continued my march around town. It is hard to explain this away but something mainland europe begs for you to do is sit outside at a café drinking obscenely strong coffee from a midgets cup and pull hard on a red while you are doing so. I can’t explain it, the only way you can understand what i mean is to come here when the sun is out and see exactly what i mean.
Then of course, there are the sunshine sheilas. Ok, not quite naked yet, as to them 18º is still the end of winter but man, they are hot. Even the old munters are looking good but that may have something to do with being at sea for the last 3 weeks.
In the supermarket i found some coffee and filter papers and on my way to the till, i noticed some ‘Brut’ aftershave on the shelf. Retro shit i know, Henry Cooper – i saw your adverts in the 70’s and i couldnt resist 30 years on. I bought a bottle, and yes, if i see some ‘old spice’ i am gonna have that too!! As soon as i got home, i ‘splashed some all over’ as the saying used to go. Well not all over as they dont use those plastic bottles any more, and i am sure if i splashed it on my ball bag, i would be diving for the bathtub moments later. This stuff smells good i tell you – if i were a chick, my pants would be on the floor immediately after i smelled this stuff.
Anyway, i digress a little. Still wandering around the town, i felt the third urge for another café and just happened to stumble upon an aladins cafe of fresh coffee – a mecca to all coffee drinkers around the world. A tiny shop, with four chairs and two table out front, and at this time of day – in the sun! The choice inside was monsterous, i felt a little overwhelmed actually. I explained to the dude behind the counter that i didnt speak french but did speak spanish, english and portuguese. Of course he replied in french that obviously i had just spoken a little french to him and he only spoke a little english – so we continued in french – naturellement, bien sûr.
I ended up with a strong arabic blend of coffee for just 1.4€ and sitting in the street, basking in the sun. It was heaven. Of course the urge for a red was there too, helped along by a half full ash tray but i am pleased to say i held steadfast and strong. I am curious though, there are times when having a toke on a red seems a perfectly logical conclusion to an act. I am not talking about sex but there are times – like – sitting on the top of Praia do Armado at home, just out of the surf as the sun sinks into the sea, sitting on the bonnet of the car having just got out of my wetsuit. The one thing that keeps me focused is the ability to get 10 minutes more use out of a scuba tank by not smoking tabs. This will prove to be a summer of massive personal conflicts as i surf into the evening and scuba during the day – oh shit!!
So to summarise for those of you that don’t have a lot of time – I am glad to be home!
The boat has become a very strange place to be. Since quitting, the captain has gone from being ammicable to talk to, to his current state where he walks around looking as if his head might explode at any moment, this of course, makes me want to interact with him less and less. Hence he has flicked me off the boat as soon as we got in and into a hotel while he looks for my replacement. I have agreed though to stay on until he has a replacement and i can do a proper hand over so for me now, its a 9 to 5, no weekends and my own place to stay which is a massive contrast to where i have just spent the last year.
I did of course get blamed for everything, and even blatantly lied to but i decided to stand my ground and not roll over and take something i genuinely believe i am not at fault for. It will be an interesting few weeks coming up, i suspect i will be in france for another month before it is all over.
I have been offered work in Palma for the next few months but due to my comittment here, i can’t make it. There is also talk of a perfect job starting late summer. At the moment, it is just talk but man, i would like to get on that programme, i will keep you posted. I also have some training plans in the uk for a couple of weeks and may just go straight there when i leave here, all will be revealed in the coming weeks.
for now, all you have to do is add/update my phone number again – +33 6489 88636
I solemly promise not to have any new numbers for at least 1 month.