Saturday morning started slightly cloudy, but it was supposed to be a sunny day.  Good.  I did not want to have memories of my last few days on dry land being wet.  Although the weather forecast for tomorrow is not good.  I think “Get used to it” comes to mind!

We still don’t have our official “uniform”.  Apart from the orange hat that is.  I have a suspicious feeling that this uniform is going to somewhat emulate the reaction to Susan’s new village shop tabards in the Archers.  If you don’t listen to the Archers you don’t know what you are missing!!  There was a rumour going around yesterday that they had turned up some time ago, but Clipper had sent them back as they were inferior quality and wouldn’t last the first leg let alone a whole circumnavigation.  Not sure how true that is – but we may be waving goodbye to Tower Bridge as the only team not to be in corporate apparel.  I think that will be OK though – it will make us stand out from the crowd.

Paul had arrived into London last night – the pressures of looking after Travel Stop meant he couldn’t come any earlier!  Or was it that he wanted a quick preview week of what it was going to be like without me at home?  We had a Clipper Party to go to, where everyone was going to be there.  We had had a crew party at a Brazilian Restaurant the night before, but I hadn’t actually got there.  I was still having to do fresh food orders and write out galley rules, so when I finished at 10.30pm I really couldn’t face going out at that time.  Not ideal, but I think I will be getting enough “late nights” in the next few months so didn’t wanted to start tired.  Everyone had a great time – I am sure I wasn’t even missed.

Our boat was open boat today, so we had to be on duty from 12 noon to 7pm to show people around.  There was a constant stream of people – starting with Susan from ABTA.  What a lovely surprise!  After she had gone, Izzie from ABTA Lifeline arrived with Stephen and three others.  It was really lovely to show people around that I knew – and Leo the Lifeline Lion had his photo taken on a winch.  By the end of the day, Paul was due to arrive so I took my leave of absence.

So, we went to the party at the Grand Connaught Rooms, and Paul got to meet everyone that I had ever trained with.  It was like one big reunion – except that he didn’t know anyone.  He did by the time we left.  These people are such a lovely bunch!  And Wendy had a ball – I think we have a real party animal for a skipper.

Over the past couple of days everyone had been busy working on the boat, but there is always so much more to do.  Izzie had helped me negotiate a fresh vegetable order with Turnips Distributing from Borough Market – our crew only get the best!  I agreed to pay for a list of fruit and veg that I wanted in return for him giving me everything he hadn’t sold at the end of business on Saturday.  It turned up when I had nipped off the boat – and when I looked the boxes only contained the items that I had ordered.  Bit disappointed with that!  After half an hour or so, I decided to phone the guy on his mobile, just to say thanks for delivering the goods.  It turns out that there were three boxes on the van that were still on the van!  Nice guy Charles says that he will put them in a taxi straight away.  Glad I phoned and checked.

Lucinda from Scenic Tours phoned to say that she was on Tower Bridge with her daughter and boyfriend, so I went to meet them and gave them a tour of the boat.  Lovely to see another friendly face!  And then we had a message that the uniform has arrived – oh goody!  Bright orange tee shirts, and a blue fleece that looks amazingly like one Paul has, that I hate.  Hopefully the weather will always be good enough not to need a fleece.  At least you will see us coming in that colour.  And it isn’t as bad as Susan’s tabards!!

To cut a long story short, we had a Leg One Briefing at a venue fifteen minutes walk away at 3.30pm.  I had a Tesco order due to be delivered between 2pm and 3pm, and at 2.15pm I needed to find the taxi with the veg in.  I spied a trolley thing that would come in handy, and took it over to the road and waited.  And waited.  I went over the other side of the bridge, and it promptly went up and I got stuck there.  I got a call from the taxi people, went back over the bridge when it went down (leaving my trolley there, as I was trying to find the taxi) found the taxi – but then someone had pinched my trolley!  Couldn’t lift all the veg (I did have Jenny, the wife of a “new” round the worlder – who signed up for one leg before flying over to finish his level four training, and ended up signing up for the whole lot so his wife is having to fly home on her own!) but we couldn’t manage it all.  I got another couple over to help lift it back, and then the Tesco driver phoned.  What a plonker!!  He was parked miles away, wouldn’t move, and was not particularly happy.  He unloaded all the trays, so felt that if I shot off he would have no option but to follow.  I was far enough out of earshot to hear any grumbling!!

It was now 3.20pm, and I was late.  We were parked over the other side of the marina so we had quite a way to go – plus there was a constant stream of people coming the other way going to the briefing.  Not good!  Then he said he wasn’t “allowed” to come down the ramp onto the pontoon.  I smiled through gritted teeth!!  After several ups and downs with all the shopping I was the only one left that wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  Paul was downstairs on the boat wiring up the fans (another long story!!) so I just left it and ran.  Wasn’t too late – I think they started a bit late.

We went through what was going to happen tomorrow for the procession down the Thames, and then all the way to Rio.  Yay – I am almost there.  We had a message read out from Ben Ainslie, and Sir Robin gave a little good luck talk.  All seems to be getting real now……

We then had a Team DaNang Crew Meeting with Wendy – we all have to be on the boat at 8am tomorrow morning to finish off all the little jobs and pack the rest of the food away!  Australian David (there are three on this leg, could get confusing!) said he had a fortune cookie yesterday that said he wouldn’t be getting any parking tickets for the next twelve months – that’s a pretty safe bet then!

Just as I was getting off Amy wanted another interview.  Not sure what it is with me at the minute – I have been doing interview after interview.  Probably think that I am about the nuttiest person doing this, looking like I do!  I have been on ITV News, BBC, RYA and Clipper’s own media stream.  Getting to be a bit of a pro!  She said she would be interested in speaking to Paul tomorrow, as he is holding my fort!  Not sure how that will go!!

It was 7pm, and Paul had been in the Executive Lounge since 6pm.  I think he probably won’t even notice I’m not there with all that free wine!  The canapés that I’ve had in there every day have done for dinner most nights – they are lovely and very substantial.  They seemed to have done Paul for dinner as well!  The Ladies in there have been brilliant – I have used it rather a lot as the coffee is good, there are always snacks (and the odd wine!) and it is so handy.  I have brought several people up there with me, and have never been told off!  This was a superb hotel to have chosen to stay.

We staggered back to the room (what adventurous people we have been on our last night together for a few months!) to find that the Ladies from the Lounge had left a lovely good luck note and a bottle of wine in the room.  Perfect!  Tomorrow will be a slightly different day I feel…………………..