Exhilarated. That’s the best word I can find to describe the boys when I collected them from Largs last Friday. There I’d been, worrying all week that they might be hating it. I should have known better.
We waved the others off in the minibus and then retired to Nardini’s – or the sad imitation of Nardini’s, all that remains of an institution that should surely have had campaigns to save it – for something to eat. With ice cream, of course, which can still be had. They could barely stop talking long enough to look at the menu, although a week of fresh air ensured that every last scrap of food was devoured and GP2 was even spotted eating peas. Once started GP2, who has a reputation for loquaciousness, didn’t stop talking for the next 24 hours. Impressive, even by his standards. Even his older brother, better known for monosyllables, had a good stab at very excited talking. They enjoyed themselves. They intend to go back and GP1 came away with an open invite to go back and crew as soon as he’s 16. Unfortunately that’s not until the autumn, so he’ll have to wait until next year.
I’d sent them off with what I felt was just enough clothes for a week, given that hygiene was unlikely to feature high on the list of priorities. GP1 dealt with the cold and damp by wearing everything at once, as far as I could make out. Take 4 t-shirts with you? Wear them all at once. Cold at night? Put clothes on to go to bed. Cold in the morning? Put more on on top. He arrived home wearing all his t-shirts with boxer shorts, pyjamas, jeans, sweatshirt and a woolly hat that I don’t think left his head all week. It did made packing to come home easy. GP2, on the other hand, clearly had some other strategy. This I know because he packed by careful layering of sopping wet things with clean dry things in his rucksac, as I discovered when I up-ended it in the kitchen. “Where’s that black bag I gave you for wet clothes?” Perfectly reasonable question, I thought. “Mmm… In the bottom of my rucksac?” Oh well. That’s what washing machines are for, after all.
They had sun and wind and did a mini tour of the Clyde – Largs, Brodick, Tarbert, Tighnabruaich, Kip, Largs – and they’ve arrived home with a whole new vocabulary. Sheets, halyards, mainsail, reaches, tacks. They’ve reefed sails, pulled up anchors, cooked dinner, cleaned the heads and made new friends. In fact, GP1 seems to have acquired yet another female fan club. It’s a good job this new one is unlikely to cross paths with the swimming club! Now they’re suddenly interested in their parents’ tales of climbing the mast on the Jean de la Lune*, anchor watch in Village Bay or night sails down through the Irish Sea. They may have missed out on the big boat experience that OYT offers but I have to say that the trip has been a huge success. And, of course, the wet towels are now back in their rightful place on the bathroom floor.
*In its earlier incarnation, not the square rigged version currently residing in Leith Docks. And, in case you’re in any doubt, I took that photo from the top of the mast. If you look carefully, you can just see the wicked group of people who were running from side to side across the deck to make the boat rock.