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Around the World with Catherine Nurrsaw

August 21, 2005

Hi there folks! And let us all take a moment to admire my condescension in greeting you all now that I am officially a star. Yes, ever since I have got to Glasgow I have become used to being followed around by interviewers and camera crews and my ego has expanded to such a size that it now generates its own gravitational field. Admittedly, the rest of the Clipper crews are being treated in just the same way, but my ego isn't going to let a little thing like that make any difference.

Glasgow is one of the sponsor cities and they have treated us amazingly well since we got here. On Thursday evening we moored in a tiny place called Larg - I was on "mother watch" (ie cooking etc) that day so the crew were braced for an unnerving experience, but when we came into harbour, representatives from Glasgow Council presented us with goodies bags and told us that they had laid on coaches to take us to a hotel for a meal and entertainment. The meal was traditional "haggis, neaps and tatties" (so I personally might even have preferred my own cooking), but those who like haggis tell me that it was an excellent one, and the entertainment was wonderful - a group called the Braveheart Band in traditonal regalia - 2 pipers, 2 male drummers and 2 women who danced and drummed, and it was amazingly fierce and fun and exciting. After that - and the whisky tasting - there was some Scottish dancing, which was less like dancing and more like free-for-all mugging to music. I believe there were some near fatalities in the Strip the Willow, and I myself nearly had both arms dislocated by an eccentric character from one of the other boats called the Major, who seemed to believe that when twirling your partner it is necessary to use a manouver more commonly used by American police in subduing violent suspects....

Some of our crew had, perhaps, indulged a little more at the whicky tasting than was entirely wise. There was certainly a great deal of snoring, and one gentleman (who would remain nameless if it didn't take a lot longer to type "the nameless man" than it does to type Tom) managed to fall out of his bunk 3 times. On the third occasion he wandered off to the the heads (ie the loo) and then found himself entirely at a loss when it came to finding his way back to his bunk in the dark. He managed to find Rob's bunk and - apparently under the impression that Rob was a sail that had somehow got into his own bunk - attempted to fold him up and pack him away. Getting tired of this treatment, Rob asked rather tersely what he wanted. Clearly disturbed by this talking sail, Tom took about five minutes to think about this before wailing sadly: " I neeeed a LIIIIIGHT!"

Anyway, the next day the whole Clipper fleet motored up the Clyde in formation, with people waving at us enthusiastically from the banks (it was at about this point that my ego started to expand to dangerous proportions). There was one wonderful moment when our boat, the Durban, which seems to be slightly more relaxed in matters of dress and protocol than some of the others, was just about to have lunch. We'd got bowls of chili and bags of crips all over the deck, and people were lounging around in the sun in whatever they felt like wearing, when suddenly our skipper realised that the bridge just up ahead was where the film crew were waiting to film the fleet passing beneath them. In about 30 seconds we'd flung all the food and clutter downstairs (oops, below decks - must get in the habit of using the right nautical terms!) and passed up all the red crew jackets so that we could all look smart and shipshape while we were being filmed - then spent the next half hour or so trying to work out who'd got who's jacket and where all the food had got to.

Once in Glasgow, we were whisked off to a restaurant/club called Tiger Tiger for dinner and dancing (oh lordy lordy - the dancing.....oh, the shame....). The next day I went with a few others of the Clipper crews on what was billed as a guided tour of the city, but actually was more of an opportunity for the camera crew to film us looking at a few shops and so on in the city centre, and walking along behind the presenter as she talked to camera. Still, we got a very good free lunch out of it and people in the street clearly assumed that we were famous and would peer at us desperately trying to work out who on earth we were (it was at this point that small objects started to get pulled in by the gravitational field of my ego).

After that it has really just been free time to relax and have a look around Glasgow, which is a lovely city. New crew will be joining us tomorrow and we'll be working on the boat before heading off on Tuesday for next week's sailing.

It occurs to me that I have written about the first week of sail training without ever once mentioning actual sailing, but this e-mail has already gone on far too long. I'll just say that it has - touch wood - gone very well so far. Our skipper, Craig, is excellent, the crew are a good crowd, and we were very lucky with the weather in the first week (one day was so hot and sunny that I have been forced to rethink what I will need for the warmer legs of the race, as I was baking in the Bristol Channel. The forecast for next week is for it to be wetter and with a bit more wind, so we'll get some practice in less balmy conditions too.

All the best, and I'll be in touch when next I can.

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