Sunday 5 January 2020

New Year, New Decade!

4 January 2020

Happy new year to everyone who reads our blog. We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a new year to remember as we start a new decade.

At this time of year I tend to reflect on the year gone by and wow, what a year it has been. We sailed to lots of new and exciting places, connected with the Spanish family that I never knew I had, strengthened our bond with Estepona and the friends that we have made here, shared our life and home with family and friends who came to visit and built this whole experience together with love, Mark and me. 

Excited bunnies!
There were so many stand out moments that it's hard to pin down which one would define 2019, but if I had to pick one it would be bringing two of our three grandchildren to Spain for a weeks holiday. The joy and excitement on their faces when the aeroplane took off from Stansted will stay with me forever.  We had such a great time when they were with us and we really missed them when they returned home. 

Since arriving in Estepona in October we have been busy with working on Offbeat as well as travelling and visiting family and friends in England.

Highlights from our Ceuta trip
In October we joined our good friends Edita and Richard for the annual Real Club Nautico de Estepona sailing rally to Ceuta in North Africa. Unfortunately it was light winds, but at least that means calm seas. Our return journey through the Straits of Gibraltar  (one of the busiest shipping lanes in Europe) was in thick fog! But we managed to dodge the ships and later, when the sun burnt the fog away, our endurance was rewarded by a visit from dolphins.

Anma and Grandad day care in
Rendlesham Forest
Later in October we headed back to England for a week. It was wonderful seeing everyone again and catching up on family life.

We took the grandchildren to Rendlesham forest for the day where we played on the zipline, explored the forest and looked for deer but found hundreds of mushrooms instead.  Oh and built a den out of fallen branches.

Family in Tolox
In November we met my brother Glen and his wife Claire in Malaga and together we visited our family in Tolox. We met new members of the family and the welcome and love we received made me realise why my Dad always yearned to return to his village and whilst he never made it, I can ensure his memory continues to live on with our new family.

Mystical Sierra Bermeja
December and we had two trips into the Sierra Bermeja - the mountains just to the north of Estepona. First was with our friends Edita and Richard to Venta el Refugio which is a beautiful rustic restaurant at the top of the Sierra Bermeja, 1800 metres above sea level. Climbing the mountain in the car, we were treated to spectacular views but the higher we travelled the more we ascended into the clouds. Set at the top of the mountain, the restaurant is very rustic. There is no electricity, lighting is by candle and lamps, heating is by a roaring open fire and food is cooked in the kitchen by portable gas. It was a truly wonderful restaurant with the most delicious home grown and home cooked food we had tasted in a long time. We will certainly be visiting again.  After lunch (nearly 3 hours!) we walked along the mountain path, just as the cloud lifted and we saw the spectacular coastline of Costa del Sol. A truly perfect day!

The hills surrounding Estepona 
Our second trip was more challenging.  Our friend Edita drove us up an increasingly narrow and precarious road to an old forest guard compound from which we walked uphill to the waterfalls at Fuentes de Saucillo. The views along the way were spectacular and we certainly burnt off a few calories. The waterfalls were pretty, with pools trickling into pools for a hundred metres or more.  A place to return to in Spring when the mountains of Sierra Bermeja have absorbed the rainfall and moisture and is setting it free once again into the cascades that Edita described to us.

The Dream Team!
Flights booked for our Christmas return. I flew back on the 18th December and Mark flew back on the 23rd so that he could take part in the December regatta with the Estepona sailing club.  He crewed on our friend Isaac's boat. In strong winds gusting at 30 to 35 knots Mark, Isaac, Richard and Richie (Richard's son) had a blast, sailing Polaris to her limit and overtaking much bigger boats. Mark was still ecstatic when he arrived in England on the Monday and, three weeks later, Spanish aquaintances are still talking about the English crew forcing Isaac to have too much sail up. And Mark has learned a new Spanish word 'temerario' which means daredevil. Or reckless. Or foolhardy. Mark prefers the former.

We spent Christmas with family and friends. Christmas is such a magical time for me, I absolutely love it. I love meeting up with family and friends, eating and drinking too much, playing games and laughing until my face aches and mostly being with our children and grandchildren and watching the Christmas magic consume them.

I cannot believe how fast the grandchildren are growing and know it will only be a matter of time before the mystery of Christmas will be no more, so we need to savour and treasure these moments as much as we can.

Special day out with the Grandchildren 

Pre Christmas treats
Family Forever!

Growing up too quickly
Boxing day fun

It started so well!

We came back to Estepona to end 2019 and celebrate the new year and new decade in Spanish style with our Swedish friends Elizabeth and Tim. Oh my, what a night that was! 

As you can see by the photos, we started out sensible and then partied hard until the early hours.  We were the first to arrive and last to leave!

It was such a beautiful night we walked home and didn't see daylight until the afternoon! 

And so to 2020. What are our plans, hopes and dreams for this year? Well, truth be told, we haven't got a firm plan yet. Plan A is to finish off sailing round the Balearics then on to Sardinia and Corsica and Plan B is sailing along north Africa over to Malta and then Sicily. All we do know at the moment is that we plan to leave Estepona sometime at the end of March or beginning of April and return in September to celebrate Mark's mum's 80th birthday out here in Spain.

Work work work!
We have been working on a number of projects since arriving in Estepona,  and we still have a worryingly long to-do list before we set off on our summer cruise.  Things we have worked on include: improving the engine exhaust system, lots of work on the sails and rigging, insulating the fore peak roof against the summer heat and varnishing the outside woodwork. 

Cockpit mayhem
Often I will come back from a walk or shopping to be greeted by this sight as I step into the cockpit.  Good job I love him so much.
(Good job I love you so much, Mrs P,  that I want to make our boat strong enough to give you adventures on the high seas for years to come!)

As if this wasn't enough, Mark has also been helping his friend Isaac fibre glass holes and refit windows on Polaris. It's a peculiar vice he has, continually fixing things. And people are continually amazed at how many tools and spare parts are stashed away in Offbeat. 

As we move forward and maximise our remaining time in Estepona, Mr P has drawn upon his project management training and experience, created prioritised lists of jobs to be done and a time schedule of what and when we'll do them, a carefully calculated and, oh, whatever. Manana.

Offbeat 2020
Luckily at Christmas Mark was gifted by our granddaughter Millie a technical drawing of how Offbeat should look before we set sail in the Spring,  so we are working towards this goal. 

We think that an inflatable unicorn floating behind us might compliment the look as well. Oh, we now have one of those too. Thanks Jo!

On a final note for this blog, I'm not one for new year resolutions anymore. I can't be doing with beating myself up when I don't stick to them. So, this year I'm calling them aspirations. Firstly to try and keep on top of my blog 🤔, secondly to achieve my goal of doing a 5km run 🙄 and thirdly, to continue enjoying life to the max!


  1. Hi to both of you, and Happy New Year! I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog and following your adventures in Offbeat! I must admit to getting rather concerned by the silence since your last entry though! I know you write when you can. (I tried to keep a diary when we took Offbeat to the Baltic but found it too much of a chore in the end).
    Happy sailing in 2020. Christine and Trevor.

  2. Hello and thanks for the comment. Yes, its a bit of a chore keeping up the blog but its very encouraging when people tell us that they read it 😁
    We are planning our summer cruise at the moment. But firstly a shakedown cruise to Morrocco, we think. I love that a weekend trip to North Africa is equivalent to the Harwich-Ramsgate weekenders that I used to do!
    I've been thinking recently about Offbeat's history. Would you remind me how far into the Baltic you took her. And where else did you cruise to? Its lovely to know that Offi had many thousands of miles under her keel and had seen many sights before we met her.

  3. Hi Teresa and Mark. I managed to find your blog address and have now read and caught up with your news. What an adventure tho lockdown is a pain and delaying your plans for the summer. Anyway stay well. Leanne x