Tuesday, 26 March 2019

My boat is launched!

Monday 25th
My nautical life has not been very distinguished! I have owned 3 boats in total. The first two were crazy and I wrote about number 2 in my "life blog". The first.... let us draw a veil over that! It was called a Mini-sail and I used to tow it down to the south coast (the UK, that is!) and float around Poole Harbour and various estuaries. Basically, it was a glorified surf-board with a sail. On account of not having a jib, I could never get close to the wind and often ended up "in irons" with the tiller pulled up hard against my chest. As I said, let's not talk about the Mini-sail, I wanted to tell you about my latest attempt at walking and floating to Medinyà.
While the plans for my bridge are being finalised (I wish that was true, it is still a fantasy), I decided that I would cross the mighty River Ter by water, so I bought an inflatable boat from Amazon for €35 and I also bought a life-jacket because I reckoned that maybe I would be alone in the event of needing a rescue. The life-jacket was about the same price as the boat!
Yesterday, I went to church at Madremanya, tonight I have my regular meeting with the PSC, the political group which I mentioned previously. And tomorrow and Wednesday, I want to watch the Volta Catalunya which comes through Celrà on Wednesday. That left a convenient window of opportunity to try out my boat! So I packed everything onto the smaller of my two sack-trolleys and headed off to the river. 

The weather has been more like summer during the past few days and today was sunny with a clear blue sky.
When I reached the river at the end of a long drive-way (you can see it in the second of the 2 photos above), I stopped and chatted with three guys who were clearing trees which were encroaching on power cables crossing the river. The river was barely flowing at all, the scene was balmy. I had joked earlier with a friend that maybe I should have launched it with a bottle of Cava (taking care not to break the bottle!) But it was 11am so a little too early for alcohol!
Two of the men came down to the river edge and helped me launch the boat and I jumped in! It is not a very stable form of transport but as soon as I remembered that I had to face the opposite direction (!), I started to row. This was chaotic! Every missed stroke caused the boat to swivel violently in that direction, it had no momentum of its own. I nearly lost one of the oars because it was screwed in the centre and that was coming loose. Maybe that explained why sometimes the oar was not catching the water.
I made it across to the river to a convenient little beach about 50m up-stream but that was not where I wanted to be. Because I had already been in the woods on the opposite side, I knew that the ideal landing spot was directly across the river but the bank was too steep to land. From the beach, I headed up through the undergrowth but it was thick with nettles and I was wearing plastic waterproof shoes and shorts. I grabbed a large stick and set about making a path up to the top of the incline, hoping that, at the top, I would break out into the path which I knew was there. It was not to be. As soon as I reached the top, I could see a further 5m of undergrowth and, in any case, this was not something I felt that I should clear. I headed back down to my boat and paddled across the river. It was idyllic! I will go further next time, this was just a trial run.
The shame is that, on the Medinyà side, there is no access to the river, so in the longer term, maybe I can talk to the Town Hall. The obvious place to cross is by the power pylons because the undergrowth is kept clear all the time and there is easy access to the path, but the bank on the Medinyà side is too steep to land.
The last photo shows where I dream of having a bridge, I have to go out now but tomorrow, I will draw the bridge in Photoshop and also add a Spanish commentary.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dangerous (Peligroso - version español abajo)

This is a pedestrian crossing by the railway station in Girona. It crosses Carretera de Barcelona which is a long, straight road with two lanes of fast traffic in each direction. It is potentially dangerous because, when the traffic is stopped in one direction, it continues to flow in the other direction (from right to left in the photo) in order to let traffic turn left. This fools some people who, seeing the traffic waiting despite the little man being red, think it is OK to cross. This is not wise. The traffic is rapid. I will come back to the crossing in a moment....

This morning I went to Decathlon which is at the far end of Carretera de Barcelona in the south of the city, together with Bauhaus and MediaMarkt. I was looking for an inflatable dinghy with which to cross the Rio Ter (where ultimately my bridge will be built.... I hope!) The current flow is very slow at the moment so it would be an easy crossing and a typical dinghy is only about 4kg in weight. I have already seen many example in Amamzon.es but I thought I would find one in Decathlon. Unfortunately all they had was an inflatable canoe, much too big and heavy for me. What I had in mind was something like a coracle!

Right next to Decathlon is a McDonald's Cafe and I had a coffee and cookie there. I read a free copy of La Vanguardia and then headed back towards the centre of Girona. I was following the buses on my phone, which shows estimated arrival times so I arrived at the bus-stop in plenty of time.

At the bus-stop was a woman with a small wheelie suitcase in a state of panic. I think she had someone else with her, I'm not sure. The other person headed up the road, apparently looking for a bus stop. The woman was Brazilian and she asked in great anxiety about the bus, was it number 2? Yes, the bus-stop said number 2. I told her it was due to arrive in 4 minutes but it soon became apparent why she was panicking. She said she had to catch a train to Sevilla at 12.55 and I could see that time would be very short. I kept on reassuring her about the bus until it finally arrived... and passed directly by on the roundabout. It did not pass the bus-stop. Shock! She headed off down Carretera de Barcelona in panic in the same direction as the bus.

At this point I saw next to the bus times in the kiosk, a small map saying that, because the road was closed (not evident from where I was), the bus-stop had been moved and it showed the modified position 200m in the direction away from the city centre. I could see that the next bus was due in about 10 minutes, so I went and found the new bus-stop. Three kilometres into the city, we met up with my friend who was running frantically to catch the bus... "my" bus. I asked the driver to wait.

I could see by now that she had no chance of catching the train. She said it was to Barcelona but I thought, to get to Sevilla, one had to go to Madrid. She was in quite a state and I could see what was coming next. As we got off at the bus-stop for the station (to the left of the photo and on the other side of the road), I tried to get close to her to restrain her but she was too quick for me. She dashed up the road, crossed one carriageway diagonally, stopped in the middle with traffic passing in both directions and ran across to the other side. I was very shocked, that was so dangerous. Better to miss a train and not lose your life. Anyway, she was already too late.

I guess it took me about 2 hours to recover. I was shaking, as if I had just had a violent argument with someone. I spilt Coke on the table while having my lunch. I would have liked something stronger to calm my nerves but I have a meeting later today. 

I just sent this painting to my friend Marta in Ukraine!

On the subject of dangerous roads, this is my quickest route by road to the other side of the River Ter. Otherwise I have to go almost into Girona at Saría de Ter. Will I be riding down there? Nooo! In one direction, much of the traffic has just come off the autoroute. There is no escape and the shadows would obscure me. I didn't even start to think about going there, don't worry!

Esto es la ruta mas corta desde Celrà y otro lado del rio. Pero mucho demasiado peligroso para ir por la bici.

I just bought a boat! €35 including oars and the pump. So I can cross the river now, before my bridge is built. Because I will be on my own, I bought a life-jacket too. It was about the same price as the boat! It is very light and small when deflated, about 4kg, so it will be very easy to transport to the river.

Ahora en español

En la foto es un paso de peatones cerca de la estación de tren de Girona. Atraviesa la Carretera de Barcelona, ​​que es una carretera larga y recta con dos carriles de tráfico rápido en cada dirección. Es potencialmente peligroso porque, cuando el tráfico se detiene en una dirección, continúa fluyendo en la otra dirección (de derecha a izquierda en la foto) para permitir que el tráfico gire a la izquierda. Esto engaña a algunas personas que, al ver el tráfico esperando a pesar de que el hombrecito es rojo, piensan que está bien cruzar. Esto no es sabio. El tráfico es rápido. Regresaré al cruce en un momento ....

Esta mañana fui a Decathlon, que está al final de la Carretera de Barcelona, ​​junto con Bauhaus y MediaMarkt. Estaba buscando un barca inflable para cruzar el río Ter (donde finalmente se construirá mi puente ... ¡Espero!) El flujo de corriente es muy lento en este momento, por lo que sería un cruce fácil y una barca típico solo se trata de 4kg de peso. Ya he visto muchos ejemplos en Amamzon.es pero pensé que vería uno en Decathlon. Desafortunadamente, todo lo que tenían era una canoa inflable, demasiado grande y pesada para mí.

Justo al lado de Decathlon hay un McDonald's Café y yo tomé un café y una galleta allí. Leí una copia gratuita de La Vanguardia y luego volví hacia el centro de Girona. Estaba siguiendo los autobuses en mi teléfono, que muestra los tiempos de llegada estimados, así que llegué a la parada del autobús con suficiente antelación.

En la parada del autobús había una mujer con una pequeña maleta con ruedas en estado de pánico. Creo que ella tenía a alguien más con ella, no estoy seguro. La otra persona se dirigió a la calle, aparentemente buscando una parada de autobús. La mujer era brasileña y preguntó con gran ansiedad sobre el autobús, ¿era el número 2? Sí, la parada de autobús dijo el número 2. Le dije que debía llegar en 4 minutos, pero pronto se hizo evidente por qué estaba entrando en pánico. Ella dijo que tenía que tomar un tren a Sevilla a las 12.55 y pude ver que el tiempo sería muy corto. Seguí tranquilizándola sobre el autobús hasta que finalmente llegó ... y pasé directamente por la rotonda. No pasó la parada del autobús. ¡Choque! Ella bajó en pánico por la Carratera de Barcelona en la misma dirección que el autobús.

En este momento, vi junto a los horarios de los autobuses en el quiosco, un pequeño mapa que decía que, debido a que la carretera estaba cerrada (
No es evidente desde donde estaba), la parada de autobús se había movido y mostraba la posición modificada a 200m del centro de la ciudad. Pude ver que el próximo autobús saldría en unos 10 minutos, así que fui y encontré la nueva parada de autobús. A tres kilómetros de la ciudad, nos encontramos con mi amigo que corría frenéticamente para tomar el autobús ... "mi" autobús. Yo pedí al conductor que esperara.

Ya podía ver que ella no tenía oportunidad de tomar el tren. Dijo que era a Barcelona, ​​pero pensé que para llegar a Sevilla había que ir a Madrid. Estaba en mal estado y pude ver lo que venía a pasar cuando ella salio del bus. Cuando nos bajamos en la parada de autobús de la estación (a la izquierda de la foto y al otro lado de la carretera), traté de acercarme a ella para detenerla, pero ella fue demasiado rápida para mí. Corrió por la carretera, cruzó una calzada en diagonal, se detuvo en el medio con el tráfico pasando en ambas direcciones y corrió hacia el otro lado. Yo estaba en choque, era muy muy peligroso. Mejor perder un tren y no perder la vida. De todos modos, ella ya era demasiado tarde por su tren.

Faltaba unas 2 horas para recuperarme. Estaba temblando, como si acabara de tener una discusión violenta con alguien. Derramé mi bebida Cola sobre la mesa mientras almorzaba. Queria cerveza para calmarme per tengo un reunion mas tarde.