I left Solva at just after five yesterday morning. For about an hour during the night the wind was howling. It wasn’t forecast to do that and as I lay there I tried to put it out of my mind whilst thinking that perhaps I wouldn’t be leaving Solva after all. However, the wind stopped and when I took Max ashore at 4.30am there was evidence of the unforecasted blow through with things lying all over the place. I left as planned in a gentle breeze and a beautiful sunrise. Other than needing to make progress northwards I had no inclination to leave. Solva is simply lovely. A little unspoilt pocket of delight where I had a great little mooring that dried to hard sand three hours either side of high water which meant I was able to either walk ashore or take the dinghy depending on the state of the tide. The pace of life is, well I’m not sure how to put it really, let’s say civilised!
I am pleased to say that Millwall FC didn’t bulk buy all the unleaded but there certainly was a bit of revelry! Owing to very sporadic mobile phone signal Russ and I communicated our plan by text and I left Stillaventgotacluemate anchorage at about 7pm last Wednesday evening. Russ was busy trying to single handedly launch Iris (formally Billybob) into a slowly rising tide that was as laid back as the locals.
Russ and I formed a plan across a desk in EC3 well over 6 months ago that he would meet me outside Solva Harbour, flags, banners and bunting flying and guide me in. As I approached Solva, in keeping with what I have now become used to, I couldn’t make out the entrance at all. I knew it was there and I could see the massive rock outside the entrance and I was willing the tide to allow Russ to get Iris in the water and appear before me. Just as I was thinking that I would have to find my own way in I saw a boat that looked like it had been shot out of a cannon emerge from the line of steep cliffs and rocks! It was one of those moments when you think about all the talking, planning, hoping and dreaming that has gone on for this little moment in time and all of a sudden it’s happening right in front of you!
So, in we went and as we did I thought of all the boats that would have headed in there seeking refuge from a storm. The relief of getting to the harbour entrance would have been dampened by the last act of squeezing in past the monstrous rocks on either side with white water at their base. I say ‘squeezed’ but it’s not really a squeeze it’s just that there is something known as ‘sea room’. Sea room in itself is an undefined amount wriggle room but an amount that just feels comfortable. Coming in somewhere with rocks towering above you doesn’t equate to this feeling of comfort, not when as a cruiser, you spend you life trying to keep well clear of such things. Our entrance wasn’t dramatic at all as it was nice and calm but nevertheless, the feeling and challenge of entering a harbour like this in rough weather was not lost on me. We tied up and salvation lay within the Ship Inn. We grasped the opportunity to talk absolute bollocks over a few pints until closing time. We then checked in to chateau Alexander after making the long and arduous 20 yard journey from the Ship!
Sorry Russ, you are going to have to remind me why you chose this place!!
At about 1am there was a knock at the door and I thought ‘Russ you are a star!!! You obviously appreciate how it feels to have been at sea for a while and have sorted me right out’. I was about to take all my clothes off but thankfully I wasn’t quick enough. It wasn’t Solva’s answer to Creampie Cathy, it was Graeme Ivory and Will Chapman! I tried to get Cathy out of my mind and I don’t think I poked anyone during the man hugs. By way of an intro for anyone who doesn’t know them, Will and Graeme didn’t get caught googling Creampie Cathy on their work computers and still have their jobs in the City skilfully transacting insurance. (Please – no one google her). Both Will and Graeme are incredibly laid back true gents and it was great to see them.
The next day we were all up quite early despite only a few hours sleep. We got both boats ready and headed out of Solva and into a beautiful anchorage about a mile East where I chucked my anchor over the front and Russ moored up alongside me.
We had lunch and spoke more bollocks before heading back into Solva before the tide left it dry. We returned to the Ship for a debrief, sat in the glorious sunshine and awaited the arrival of a certain individual who I have had the pleasure of knowing for about 10 years now. Daren Joyce is also a disciple of insurance and is to be found plying his trade in and (more likely) around Lloyds. By way of an intro for anyone who doesn’t know Joycey, he is a tall ginger prick who can’t actually do anything worthy of mention yet is loved by all who meet him! It remains a mystery how this is so but maybe it’s because whenever he is around you are either laughing at him or with him. Whichever way it is Joycey, it’s always an absolute pleasure.
We spent the rest of the day supporting local businesses and enjoying the sunshine. Max came to the pub with us, made friends with everyone and made me proud for not having a turn out in Russ’s new cottage when we went out to dinner. Well done Max, first time for everything..
It was now Saturday and at about 10am the final member of the party arrived having driven pretty much coast to coast from Ipswich. Hello Mr Conway! By way of an intro, Iain is another one of insurance’s finest. A very intelligent man who knows his languages and after a couple of beers becomes fluent in Jellyfish, Dolphin, C3p0, Yoda and Pigeon. He is also the man that I spent my 40th birthday with dressed in leather. I know that sounds strange but it’s also true.
By the time Iain arrived we had lost Will and Graeme who had made the journey back home on Friday. We carried on the tried and tested formula of eating, drinking, boating and talking bollocks. Just how much of that can you do in one weekend? Quite a lot actually.
Oh, did I mention the weather? Solva delivered perfect hot sunshine throughout our entire stay. My over exposure to the elements this year means that I’m pretty good at putting sunscreen on but I would describe all the others as typical English men who don’t really feel the need to slap it on. Personally I was worried about the consequences of this on the basis that Iain possibly has slightly less on top than he used to have, as far as I know Russ was born bald and stayed bald and the tall ginger prick would get burnt by the moon if he ever stayed up late enough to see it. Despite a little pinkness all round (ok, a lot Will) we survived but in the blink of an eye after a fantastic four days it was time for everyone to go home. Some people have work to do!
We retrieved Iris from her temporary berth in the harbour, cleaned and exorcised the cottage, packed our bags and then it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss insurance and I don’t miss the city but I do miss the people so thank you all for coming for a visit and reminding me that insurance isn’t really about insurance, it’s about the people.
Finally, thank you very much Russ for putting us all up in your lovely new place.
p.s – I’m sure Max left a present somewhere. Maybe the first holiday let people will find it…..……
My escort in
Chilling out at anchor, who’s that in the boat and f*ck me Will, how did you get in or out of there???
Play time for Russ
It’s all a load of Pollocks
Gone fishing on Iris
Potential America’s cup team, Solva Harbour and views along the coast
Pink Will’s new best mate
Joycey, can you help me for a second? Oh, sorry – you’re busy