Last week was full of encounters and unforgettable moments.
Alex welcomed me aboard the Sheppey Queen, where I have been cuddled for three nights by the tides and delighted by the colours of memories of this glorious ferry.
This is Alex’s kingdom and, beside enjoying the sunsets over Faversham Creek (and the wonderful people living here), she is also a master chef, her kitchen being a van where she prepares great food that’s reinvigorating me. Her catering must be truly “angelic”: don’t miss it.
The food is abundant and, to say it with Feuerbach’s words: “You are what you eat”. Take a look to Alex’s website, www.angelicfeast.com, and call her for a healing and tasty banquet.
Last Friday Alex gave me a lift to London. We leave at 4 o’clock in the morning aboard her van, equipped with professional kitchen and Tibetan Prayer Flags waving along the motorway. We’re in London in a blink of an eye, although wandering in a nasty suburb.
Alex needs to move some equipment to another vehicle: distracted by this job, she nearly leaves me there alone. Thanksfully I jump aboard a van driven by Andy, a wise chef that, predicting for me a short future in this awkward area, moves me to safer quarters.
I quickly find a coffee shop: Here I find many angels with no wings and no future. Angels with bags under their eyes caused by sleepless nights in the streets.
I fall asleep under the faint lights and I get lost into my nomadic world. A faltering light, finding its way through dull windows, wakes me up.
I look for a London Tube Station and I quickly find myself in the Thames 21 headquarter, where I meet Rita Serra. Thames 21 is an organization taking care of cleaning the Thames riverside and other London areas by over 15 years, and Rita is one of its manager. She kindly takes me for a brief tour of the offices, where I drink an excellent tea, then we move to an area close to the sacred Lea river, a Thames feeder that we’ll clean up today.
In a Mediterranean London (reaching 26 Celsius, about 79 Fahrenheit), we start working along with six other voluntaries, to remove invasive vegetation from this nice area.
Rita is very capable: She gets everyone going with clear information and distributing rubber boots (called Wellies in the UK, from Wellington’s boots), gloves and lots of solidarity. It’s useless to say that Rita works harder than anyone.
What’s notable about Thames 21 is that they never give up. It’s not like in many other places (Italy at first) where there is a big launching event and then oblivion for months or even years.
At Thames 21 they carry on cleaning the river every week, since 15 years: A model to be followed to make things happen.
My week gently gets by, sailing and rowing along the Creek with many new friends aboard, such as Simon, a Master Shipwright from the Standard Quay, Moray, Hobie and Maxi Yacht Sailor, and Russell, a liveaboard Scotsman very well known in the Iron Wharf. They all pay me compliments for the virtues of Clodia.
Of course, I have to share them with Roland and Silvio for the hull, Nicolò and Diana for the masts, Ombra and Daniela for the sails and with all the people that, much more than me, are worthy of praises for Clodia.
An old Thames Barge was found, buried under the mud for over 15 years: There are plans for restoration, assuming to find the money needed. Anyway, it was a very exciting and somehow touching moment.
Last Saturday, me and my mate Clodia, went very close to sink Orinoco, a Thames Barge built in 1895, long over 30 metres and weighing 70 tons.
My Viking DNA brought me to risk a bold manoeuvre that, helped by a nasty wind (quite possibly from Norway too) and too little mud (very useful as natural brake), led Clodia to hit the black side of Orinoco at full speed.
This accident brought a couple of immediate consequences: A large hole in the Thames Barge and a sleepless night for me, thinking about the months that I should have worked to repay the damage.
Thanksfully, the generosity of Frog, Orinoco’s owner and captain, saved me from stopping Man on the River due to hard labour. Frog lives aboard this wonderful boat and is restoring it himself: Another Faversham angel, thanks Frog!
Fine and Bruno are here already. On Friday the Royal Wedding. On Sunday we should be set sails. Busy Week!
Unfortunately the weather forecast is not very good. Rain is coming from North-East. I remember last year, nearly two months waiting for better conditions: Rain, wind, cold and mould under the back! Any memory, Jacopo?
We hope to find the right window to cross the Channel swiftly. I’m writing from Creek Creative, where I’m given a friendly hospitality, thanks to them.
A big hug to all of you.