Medway Regatta 2019

The Medway Regatta is a big weekend of racing for all classes of keelboat. There are races for Sonatas, Squibs, Dragons, Cruisers and even Thames Barges! The past few years I’ve focused my time underwater rather than on the water but not too many years back I used to spend time sailing dinghies on the Medway in the cadet class. This year I had the pleasure of joining my father and brother-in-law aboard Astral to participate in the Medway Challenge Race.

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The Challenge Race was a single held on the Sunday which allowed participants to take part in the regatta without needing to race for three full days. The course that morning was identical to that of other competitors also racing cruisers and sonatas for the full weekend but the start time was staggered and a different pennant was used to differentiate vessels. We started in to the wind in Gillingham reach and we got off the line well, with only one or two other boats around us and headed up river and out in to the estuary with about 15 knots of wind behind us. We passed a dragon which while waiting to start had collied with another and dismasted - not a good sight!

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It was a relaxed sail out into the estuary with the wind gradually picking up as we began to make our way past the Montgomery. We turned back towards Medway and taking advantage of the now stronger 22 knot wind had managed to keep at least one boat behind us. We were tacking down river against the tide which we had hoped would have changed before we passed sheerness point. In shallower waters we opted to reef the sails to maintain control of what was becoming a reasonably windy race.

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Back into Gillingham and the stronger winds and changing tide played into the hands of our immediate competitor who had a better line and cleaner wind across the line. A fantastic Sunday on the river and no shame in losing to a bigger boat! After the race we attended the Regatta Dinner at the clubhouse which was a great little opportunity to get dressed up and have a little too much wine!

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A Very Special Birthday

Birthdays are always a bit special for us since we share the same day. Every year since Victoria and I have been together we have done something special on our birthday to celebrate. It seems like the level of birthday extravagance increases year on year, last year we went spent a weekend in Singapore, in 2015 we flew in a Helicopter over London and in 2013 we went to the top of the newly-opened Shard.

This year was a little different; it was the most extravagant thing and the best birthday present we could have ever imagined: We got married! ...and it was absolutely perfect.

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We held our reception and ceremony at the beautiful Commissioner's House in Chatham's Historic Dockyard. The venue was fantastic, we were on the banks of the River Medway and a stone's throw from home and where we first met over ten years earlier. The weather gods were with us for the day and we spent time in the gardens around the house taking photographs with all of our wonderful guests.

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Everyone thought I was crazy, but there was only one way I was getting to our wedding and that was on a boat. The Medway is a constant in my life, though growing up, sailing, spending time with grandparents and of course meeting Victoria. We arranged for Bellis of Medway Yacht Club take us on the 10 minute journey to Thunderbolt Peir just outside Commissioner's House. Thankfully the river wasn't too choppy and we all arrived safetly, although I did wear my wellies just encase!

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We held our ceremony on the first floor of Commissioner's house in a gorgeous room with floor to ceiling glass doors. All of our guests were here on time, a group of people that I've never seen together before which was really quite overwhelming! Seeing Victoria in her dress for the first time was more overwhelming, she was absolutely stunning. While we were messing around on the boat she and her bridesmaids had been busy getting ready in the room next door. Victoria's dress was absolutely goregous, looking her in the eye on that Friday is a moment that I'll never forget.

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We had the opportunity to take some fantastic photographs around the dockyard. We were able to visit No.3 slip, built in 1838 whcih is an absolutely incredible space, we were very lucky to have it all to ourselves. We also visited the Tarred Yarn Store, adjacent to the Ropery, it's a bit of a secret and famously used in a Kanye West music video. Best of all, we were able to visit the biggest collection of RNLI lifeboats which happens (totally coincidentally) to be located at the dockyard - more on that in another post.

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A special day doesn't quite give it justice, absolutely the best day of our lives. We couldn't have asked for anything more, we had each other, our friends, our family, a perfect part of the world, fresh Cornish beer and an amazing time.

Thank you, 2018

Readers of the blog will know that 2018 was The Year of Smart, my first attempt at utilising the concept of a yearly theme to help maintain direction and focus on productivity. The good news is it went well..! The theme worked as intended and helped provide overarching guidance and had many good benefits over using a simple list of annual goals as I have done in the past. The theme really helped in providing the space to adjust course and make good decisions as the year progressed; whenever there was a key activity or action the year of smart was always on my mind to provide steer. I even remember Victoria asking me in the car showroom is the new car was in compliance with the year of smart (it was, as far as I was concerned!). There are a number of things that I'm planning on adjusting in 2019 but the good news is the a theme will remain - more on that in another post.

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

Back to 2018 and having thought about this a little it’s actually quite difficult to list the outputs, the theme touched on many things, almost providing input behind the scene. Below are some of the more significant areas that the theme had an impact on throughout the year.

  • We made the decision to focus on improving our financial stability. We now have clear budgeting, minimal credit, rainy day money and all our banking in one system. This is big! It certainly took some work to get it to where it is and I'm very happy with how everything sits. The subreddit r/UKPersonalFinance has been a fantastic resource on making improvements, there is a wealth of good UK-Specific advice on finances here.
  • We both made the decision to accept new jobs. Massive! For me it's been a challenging few months acclimatising to a new organisation but since joining I have managed to reduce my levels of stress and no longer feel like work is consuming my existence. I have a great opportunity with plenty of work in the pipeline at Colliers and am looking forward to making change, you can read about my new job here. Victoria also found a new opportunity in her field of work and it settling in well, I'm very excited and incredibly proud of her.
  • A bit if a splurge, but the decision to buy a new car has allowed us to travel to and from Cornwall more efficiently and safely than before. Our trek to the West Country is no longer the arduous journey that it once was and writing this I still can’t quite believe how much of an improvement this has made. Yes, the car is a bit of a shiny toy that goes scary fast but it has a proper purpose (and four doors).
  • Lastly and most importantly, wedding planning took front and centre in 2018 and as I write this post there are only 99 days to go - exciting! Victoria has done an unbelievably good job at organising everything from table decorations to the DJ, she even excelled in managing to find what I can only describe as the most adorable place to stay in all of Medway (which I’ll reveal later in 2019!). She has done such a good job that I have demoted myself to the role of Chairman, only weighing in and approving when necessary... That's not completely true, I have done a little bit of helping, booking the Honeymoon (which was surprisingly difficult) and organising the Singapore Fling Weekend and associated engagement photographs among other duties.

All in all a great and very exciting year. below are some of my un-blogged highlights below..

Network at the National Theatre

Network at The National Theatre

Network at The National Theatre

Our first taste of theatre at The National, this was absolutely incredible. It was a bit of a treat because it wasn't the cheapest of things but Victoria and I enjoyed every moment, so much so that we saw another three productions later in the year (Julie, The Lehman Trilogy and Home, I'm Darling).

Our Singapore Fling

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Singapore Botanical Gardens

This was a bit of a treat... We went to Singapore for a long weekend, stayed again at the beautiful Marina Bay Sands and spent some time enjoying the city. The main purpose of the trip was to get some photographs for our engagement since we were too excited at the time to take any (apart from one photo taken by an oblivious russian tourist). The photos were taken by Alvin and Michelle at Awesome Memories, we absolutely love the pictures and they don't show how INCREDIBLY hot it was at the time!

Lomas’ Stag do in Bournemouth

Bournemouth (this was the only blog-safe photograph)

Bournemouth (this was the only blog-safe photograph)

This was my first proper stag do and having never been to bournemouth before it felt like we had landed in the UK equivalent of Prague - There were stag parties EVERYWHERE. Being a bit of an outsider to the group I soon earned rapport since I was the only person on the bus that bought cold beer, I further excelled by walking head first into a lamp post while trying to be funny. Not a weekend I or any of the others will forget any time soon, I'll save the rest of the details for another time.

James’ Stag do in Nottingham

BrewDog Nottingham

BrewDog Nottingham

Nottingham is a pretty fun city, we visited and drank a lot the year prior ahead of our first Tough Mudder. A weekend of Gin, Golf, Gaming, Gambling, Girls (in hooters) and of course... Gay Pride! We all had a great time and the even got some BrewDog hours in too! The gin caves were a personal highlight.

Fireworks at Medway Yacht Club

Medway Yacht Club

Medway Yacht Club

Not a huge event but it was nice to just be at home and with good company. We had some drinks, food and watched the bonfire and fireworks from the comfort of a bench on the Yacht Club patio. The fireworks were a little more crazy than usual with a few stray ones which added to the excitement!

Christmas in Cornwall

Boscastle, Cornwall

Boscastle, Cornwall

What more do I need to say? We love being in Cornwall, love seeing our family in Cornwall and generally just love everything to do with Cornwall. We had a great time in Charlestown and Harrowbarrow and even got the chance to visit the beautiful Boscastle.

Tower Lifeboat Station

Without a doubt one of the more unique RNLI stations, this branch was set-up in 2002 following a request from the government. It has grown to become the busiest station in the UK, manned 24/7. Because of the unique city location the boats moor on a dedicated floating pier, known as Lifeboat Pier. The station officially has three Class E inshore vessels, but in practice craft is shared between the up-river Chiswick station (which also has it's own dedicated craft). tower1With the Chiswick, Tower, Gravesend, Sheerness and Southend stations the RNLI can provide very quick response times to all of the Thames and it's Estuary. The Sheerness vessels often attend incidents on The River Medway, although no dedicated ILB services are stationed on the river.