Christmas At The Taj

Not really for the general public but a few shots of our Christmas Day, which was spent at the Taj Palace Hotel, Wilingdon Island, Cochin.

Liz and I were joined by our friends Mike and Gabi, who were effectively on their honeymoon, and the usual suspects of Terry and Fiona of Roam II and Ants and Div of Divanty.

It is a real pleasure to be eating turkey, brussel sprouts and stuffing whilst supping on a nice glass of Chianti, in India where all of these things are hard to find!

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A Festive Message From The Esper Gang

Christmas is a’ coming and the nuns are out in force. Yep, you can tell it’s the festive season here in Cochin because the ladies in grey habits are running amok in the Christmas decoration shops. Clearly believing they have the blessing of The Lord Jesus Christ these little old ladies barge their way through the masses, desperate to purchase the most gaudy of decorations. There’s definitely some perverse pecking order going on in this predominantly Catholic part of India. Using their elbows as weapons these sinister old birds have complete disregard for the poor local children unfortunate enough to walk into their paths.

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Hanging Gardens of Mumbai

This week sees our first podcast from India! Mumbai is an incredible city and we were keen to explore as soon as we moored up. In this week’s podcast you’ll be pleased to know that Liz takes the helm and navigates around a wonderful little guided tour of just a small part of Mumbai. In the searing midday sun we begin at the Hanging Gardens…

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An Indian Welcome

Once again Jamie gets confused as to what day it is in this podcast, but a sharp knock by a fishing boat against Esper’s hull soon brings him back to the real world.
It seems we are not the only boat to suffer damage, however, as other vessels on the rally have their own problems. Still, let’s not let this mar the celebration of a wonderful crossing of the Arabian Sea. Eight days and 960 miles later Mumbai’s hazy skyline makes herself known to a tired but elated Vasco Da Gama Rally.

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A Bookworm’s Christmas Present – The Kindle

The problem with Liz is that she devours books. It’s a problem because a boat can only store so many paper-backs, which is compounded by the fact that many novels circulating within the book-swapping fraternity have a tendency to fall into the ‘holiday pulp-fiction’ category. Our Liz wants a bit more from her reading so a couple of months ago I bought her a Kindle. “That’s not one of those e-book readers, is it?”, she snorted when I suggested the idea to her. Up until this year my attitude towards these devices had been the same. Why would anyone want to move from the reassuring, tangible sensation of a page-turning paperback to an electronic screen? Well, I’ll give you ten reasons why this Kindle has Liz hooked. Thinking of buying an i-pad? Read this first…

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Spinnaker Sensation

In our penultimate Arabian Sea crossing podcast Jamie decides to erect something very big that scares Liz. Meanwhile back at Wynbury Delves Primary School the kids send the Esper gang a message. It feels great to know that we’ve done something good, especially after a day of no wind, sunburn and cursing.

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Cast Aside The Technology

Broken steering, hurting backs, sweaty cupboards and incessant chat on the VHF enough to drive the calmest person up the wall. Sometimes it’s best to just turn off the VHF, stop looking at the chart plotter and put to one side all the stuff that interferes with what sailing is really all about.

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Banana Port Control

Coinciding with the Chandler’s release from Somalia by pirates this week we return to the high seas, now entering the middle of the Arabian Sea. We are in the same area the Chandlers were two years ago.

What was a great sail is now turning into a bit of a nightmare with steering problems and no wind. And then there are the freaks on the VHF radio…

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Jamie Is Awarded LRPS Distinction

I am proud to announce that Jamie was awarded his Licentiateship at the Royal Photographic Society on Saturday and can now put the letters LRPS after his name. He is thrilled that all the hard work and studying he has put in over the last six months has paid off.

Encouraged by a win in the Times newspaper for best travel photograph earlier in the summer he hesitantly put his images onto the appraisal gallery of Amateur Photographer. Some of the senior members of the AP forum suggested he work towards membership of the RPS and it was their words of wisdom and constructive criticism that lead Jamie to assess his own work with a more informed eye.

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The Chandlers Are Free – So Where Does This Leave Us?

What fantastic news that the Chandlers have been freed after 388 days of captivity by pirates in Somalia. Our thoughts go out to their family and friends. The last year must have been very difficult so now it is time to celebrate their freedom and give them time to recuperate from what must have been a harrowing ordeal. But what now? Where does this leave the rest of us? Has paying the ransom actually made the situation worse?

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Royal Photographic Society’s Licentiateship Distinction

This weekend I was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Licentiateship distinction. It is the first of three distinctions that recognises the creative and technical skill of the photographer.

Ten images are displayed and must work individually as well as together to create a cohesive presentation. I concentrated on portraits of course! The images are designed to be hung in a certain order.

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Primary School Question Time Part 2

The second of our two-part podcast is here. This is the primary school project we’ve been working on with Nance Lake of Wybunbury Delves Primary School in Cheshire. The children are reading Kensuke’s Kingdom and wanted to learn about life at sea so they send us recordings of them asking us questions. This week we discuss the weather, getting lost and what the worst thing that’s ever happened to us.

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Beautiful Berkhamstead

Leaving Millie behind guarding the boat in India, I returned to England and enjoyed one of the most colourful autumns I have seen in a long time.

Here is a set of photos that covers Berkhampstead by the Grand Union Canal and Ashridge Estate, a National Trust property that boasts a look-out tower, ideal for those panoramic shots of a beautiful English countryside.

I’ve given some of these shots a ‘painterly’ feel, prompting a photographer friend to wryly observe that they make perfect sweet tin covers! He was taking the p!ss of course!

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Primary School Question Time – Part 1

This week’s podcast is a special project put together for primary school children. It started when Nancy Lake emailed us asking if we could answer some questions for her class at Wybunbury Delves Primary School. As their teacher Nancy is reading them ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ by Michael Morpurgo, a story of a boy who becomes ship-wrecked. To help put the story in context we have answered some of the children’s questions about what it is like to live at sea. We hope that you and your children (should you have any!) enjoy this week’s feature.

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Polaroid Pogo Printer: £20 & No Ink Required?

A colour printer for £20 that fits into your pocket and doesn’t require any ink? No, I didn’t believe it either but I have stumbled upon a palm-sized printer made by Polaroid that puts the fun back into digital photography. This product has been around for a couple of years now but the price has dropped so much it seems silly not to buy one. In this quick summary I take a look at the pros and the cons of this fun Christmas gadget. To give the review more gravitas we’ve introduced a new rating system and there’s also a quick video clip too!

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