Thursday, 29 April 2010

Night passage to Ipswich

The motley crew of Stratos 6 sits and munches sandwiches in the twilight. The wind has died away completely and it looks as if our night passage will need to be under power rather than sail. We are not allowed to set off until the Wrabness Point north cardinal starts flashing. We watch silently as men quietly dig in the mud away to the east of us. Presumably he's after bait.
To the north, we speculate which building is Griff Rhys-Jones' house and which is the Hospital School. Not an easy guess.
To the west, low cloud, brightly lit over a mirror-like Stour at Mistley.

"it's lit" someone says, and immediately we finish off our coffees and teas and turn to the task if getting under way. We slip the mooring just as the tide starts to turn and we depart on the first fo the flood towards the floodlights and noise of Parkeston Quay.
We look ahead for the next buoy and plot our course carefully, solemnly ticking off each waypoint.
The orange and brilliant white lights are passed slowly as is the hulk of Radio Caroline, and we are approaching Shotley Point. A massive, floodlit dredger is also on the move and we are hopeful he has seen us. We cannot turn past Shotley Horse because of our draught and need to keep close to the main channel, which is now being excavated in a flurry of pumps, pistons and sprays. Up close, it's a real mechanical monster.

We are able to turn - at last - and scoot away from the big ships and find the quiet of the Orwell much more relaxing. We quickly pass the home base of Levington and continue up river towards Pin Mill. We are surprised by the number of craft out at night, but hope to avoid any departing commercial vessels as the channel narrows dramatically below the Orwell bridge.

A few missed buoys cause some concern, but soon enough we are under the great concrete bridge and approaching the old port of Ipswich. Ahead we see the lock and a quick call is all it needs for the gates to open and allow us in to the inner harbour.
Another successful exercise completed. We hope to celebrate, but Ipswich seems to close early so we settle for a beer or two onboard.

The blind leading the blind

We leave Titchmarsh Marina with the last of the flood, but Peter's task today is to navigate us blind, down from the Marina to Pye End. He is sat at the chart table and is allowed only charts - no GPS - and the curtains are pulled tightly closed so he is relying on us. We are only allowed to "see" 50 meters ahead from the topsides.
All is very tense as there is a very real risk of going aground - albeit on mud and with still a few inches of flood tide - but Peter is an experienced sailor and feedsback precise instructions as we return observations on what we see from the top.
It is relatively easy to navigate down the narrower channel, because the echo-sounder can be used to judge the channel but out in the bay we are more exposed and the channel is less distinctive and more shallow!

Peter guides us admirably to within 10 metres of the Pye End buoy and we are all impressed.

For the rest of the day, we practice a variety of manouevres around the bay, but also watch with some amusement as a brand new Oyster yacht twists a spinnaker badly and ends up with what - from a distance - appears to be a huge red bra. Large numbers of staff wrestle with a snuffer and the spinnaker itself while we tut-tut in disapproval.

We spend several hours repeatedly rescuing our danbuoy, enjoying the warm sunshine. All too soon we head in to join the ferries and dredgers and trawlers and container ships in Harwich harbour and pass them to moor up off Wrabness Point. Tonight will be our test night passage, from Wrabness to Ipswich. Keith and I will be making the pilotage plan and in charge of the voyage.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

To the Secret Water

It's our turn today. Keith and I are to skipper Stratos 6 back south again.

I am to take us as far as the Landguard beacon - off the southern tip of Felixstowe - and then Keith will take us up into the Walton Backwaters - Arthur Ransome's Secret Water - to Titchmarsh marina on The Twizzle.

The wind has veered slightly to southerly, requiring long tacks today and it will be a slower journey than yesterday. It makes passage planning tricky because I am not sure what speed we will be making. I estimate a 20% increase in distance and a 10% lower speed. After our first hour, it seems the estimates aren't far out. I want to avoid messy tacking around Sizewell Bank and the Whiting Bank further south, so plot a course out to sea. We head out on 130 degrees then south-west directly towards Sizewell. We pass several inbound vessels and keep a careful listen on the Lowestoft Port Control frequency. They get very wound up by an arriving Dutch vessel who has not waited for permission to enter the harbour. Anger in official situations is characterised by extreme politeness and explanations that would be patronisingly clear to a three-year old. Wonderful to listen in on these Dutch scoundrels being torn to pieces with dripping sarcasm in clipped Oxford English. Further out we see trawlers, some of whom are not using their AIS - very naughty. Further still, tankers lie at anchor and small container ships sail purposefully in towards the Hollesley Channel. Keith uses binoculars to tell us the details of the trawling gear being used. Once a Fisheries Protection Officer, always a Fisheries Protection Officer. Keith is clear rather sad that he cannot now legally board any of them.

My initial concerns about depth under the keel inshore are put in context as we watch a German coastal container ship ploughing through those waters.

We tack back onto 130 degrees and I look set to win a bet that we will hit my artifical waypoint set in the GPS earlier. However, we have tacked a little late and it requires some effort by the helm to sail unnecessarily off route, adding maybe half-an-hour to the journey.

Eight hours into the journey and the wind has backed a little, creating an easier passage to Cutler and then to the Platter Sands. A huge container ship has been looming behind us for a while and it's touch and go as to whether we will make the crossing point before him. We could make it but decide to gybe round to pass behind. If anything happened to us while passing in front, they would have absolutely no time (or depth) to respond, so we err on the side of caution. As the leviathan passes by, its stern is already being dragged to the south by a tug, while a second tug prepares to pull the bow to starboard as it turns past Landguard Point. Just to make it all that much more complex, a smaller container ship is preparing to pass it by the Navyard.

We turn back to cross the deepwater channel and head for the Pye End safe-water beacon, the first and most critical reporting point for the approach to the Walton Backwaters. I hand over to Keith with a sense of immense satisfaction at completing the task.

Keith is a study in earnest concentration as we slowly pick our way across the bay, passing Dovercourt to starboard and lining up the various buoys. We are cutting it fairly fine now and we are monitoring the echosounder and the clock to ensure we have time to cross the bar at the marina. We will be able to moor in The Twizzle but it will not be a comfortable berth overnight and we will not be able to get off the boat until high tide.

The shallowest parts are, surprisingly, way out in the bay, where we see less than a metre under the keel but as we turn into the narrower channels, banks just feet away, the water deepens. The sun, low in the sky to starboard, creates a soft and warm light as we look out over the marshes and estuaries. We twist and turn up the inlet, passing rows of moored boats before finally reaching Titchmarsh Marina. Instructor Keith suggests holding on "just in case" - and we later discover that the low-tide weight of a fuel barge moored in the marina entrance has reduced the depth over the bar more than charted. We drift slowly into the marina with 10 minutes to spare and moor up on a visitor pontoon.

We have made it to the Secret Water.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

North to Lowestoft

We rise early, and I am suffering from the cold. Dan and I am sharing the cramped forecabin and even with the hatch open, the condensation is excessive, covering the walls with drops of water. None of us are keen to use the terribly cramped shower in the heads and so there is a steady procession to the excellent showers.

Another cooked breakfast sets us up for the day and we prepare the boat. I am surprised how quickly we are working as a team and the work is done in just a few minutes. Hatches and latches, engine, exhaust, galley and heads, lines, sails, GPS and charts; course to steer. We are ready to leave. With a quick call to the lock-keeper the lock is being prepared for us.

The weather has turned even better, with the sun shining and a Force 4 southeasterly blowing. We clear the harbour quickly and turn across the deepwater channel at Inner Ridge, and run north. I keep the log - my role today- and enjoy it, working with the charts and the chart-plotter.

As we run the coast, our easiest sail setting suggests going up the inside of the Whiting Bank although we had originally planned to go up outside it. It's often worth compromising in the interests of time and effort.

We watch as we pass the entrance to the Deben and then the Ore, using the time to practice taking bearings and fixes. We are just four kilometres offshore so the various masts and Martello towers are all visible. Helming quickly becomes the least interesting activity, not least because the Jenneau sails steadily and powerfully with very little input. I must admit I prefer the feel of a tiller as there is instant and recognisable feedback from the boat whereas a wheel often needs some thought.

We exchange stories about our lives as we sail northeast, the entrance to the Ore, the Orfordness lighthouse and then the deserted former research buildings all providing plenty of topics from shoals, currents, beaches and World War II conspiracies.

We joke about Aldeburgh, or Chipping-Norton-by-the-Sea as we call it, and its galleries, tea-shoppes and the excellent fish and chips. Where else will people queue for an hour outside a chipshop?

As Aldeburgh slips over the horizon, the boxes and domes of Sizewell appear, so framing our next discussion about nuclear power.

The final approach into Lowestoft is laboured as we need to pick up the East Barnard east cardinal marker then a succession of bouys to keep us off the sands. Lowestoft needs an approach from the northeast and there can be a strong swell across the entrance, especially with wind against tide as it is as we get nearer. We pick up the Newcome Sand buoy but keep well out from the South Holm buoy to get into the Stanford Channel with depth to spare, watching the echosounder. It gets alarmingly shallow - and still Lowestoft is some distance away - then suddenly the depth increases and we turn southwest for the entrance to the harbour.

A rig is being refurbished alongside the entrance, creating the perfect aiming point as the swells try to push us away. We radio in and get permission to enter. Lowestoft is a busy place with an unhealthy mix between yachts and commercial vessels.

We pass the little light white beacons, the swell vanishes and we are in the calm. Seconds later Stratos 6 is turning sharply in to the sheltered inner harbour of the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club.

Monday, 26 April 2010

A night at Shotley

Shotley Marina sits opposite two of Britain's busiest ports - Felixstowe and Harwich. High-intensity sodium lighting casts a ghostly glow over the whole area and a constant hum with the occasional clunk is a reminder of the loading and unloading activity round the clock. Shotley Marina though, manages to feel a little remote from it all.

Shotley is well-known in navy circles as the home of HMS Ganges, a major cadet training centre right up until 1976. From 1899 until 1905, the actual wooden sailing vessel HMS Ganges was moored off Shotley Point, but the establishment moved ashore just six years later.

By coincidence, the father-in-law of Keith - my fellow trainee Day Skipper - was a Captain of HMS Ganges and told us many stories about the place. After HMS Ganges transferred to Cornwall in 1976 it became a Police Training Centre but now lies empty and somewhat forlorn, awaiting some new role.

Shotley sits just hundreds of metres from both Harwich and Felixstowe but is more than 40km by road from the former and 32km from the latter. It takes the best part of an hour to get to Harwich by car.

Despite the glow and the hum, we enjoy our dinner in peace, enjoy a couple of pints in the Marina bar and then sleep soundly.

Up the Orwell then out to Cork Sands and beyond

The morning is spent understanding every square inch of the boat, and especially the safety equipment. Exercises on getting the boat away from the pontoons remind me how much more careful one needs to be with carbonfibre yachts compared to the steel hull of a narrowboat. There also seems to be much more protocol involved with yachts. It really is not done to push off with hands, feet or poles; it's also a lot more dangerous. It becomes clear that understanding and using all kinds of springs and lines is crucial.

Instructor Keith's elegant boat is moored alongside, so a pinpoint manoeuvre is necessary: a bit of propwalk, plenty of propwash and we are sprung away, motoring around the marina and out into the fresh breezes of the Orwell. Peter takes us up river where all four of us practice serious Man Overboard tactics: no beam reaches, tacks and figures-of-eight but simple engine on, sails down, tight turns and Mayday. Going overboard in May in the North Sea is a Mayday affair foremost. If all goes well, you can always cancel the call but the odds are that hypothermia and rapid action by the coastguard and RNLI will be involved. Each of us gets two attempts. Surprisingly all efforts are successful, and Keith seems impressed.

We turn, raise the sails and turn towards Harwich, closehauled with a fresh southeasterly initially on the starboard bow. The boat is a Jenneau Sun Odysssey so sits well and feels solid through the water.

We head out of the main channel as we near Fagbury. Felixstowe has huge ships and we need to stay clear. We approach the Stour but a long shallow spit stretches unfeasibly far across the bay here and we need some quick calculations to decide how close we can sail to Shotley Horse beacon and so cut the corner into the Stour. Our estimates suggest we will be fine, but it is a reminder that we have a deep draught - 2.2 metres - for a yacht regularly using east coast rivers! This boat has a fin keel so no mistakes are tolerated: muck up the calculations and we could lose the boat. A 2.2 metre fin keel doesn't sit on the mud!

We follow the Stour to the ferry terminal at Parkeston Quay and anchor alongside the moorings opposite. One bulky, boxy ship, the Stena Transfer, lies idly by the wharf. Whatever happened to the naming of ships? They used to have attractive names or at least meaningful in some way. Did someone really say "I know, let's call this the Transfer?"

I draw the short straw and prepare lunch. There are very large quantities of tinned food and some fresh vegetables. We have fresh rolls but the filling is a little challenging. We have tuna and eggs but no mayonaise, and tuna salad cream sandwiches doesn't have the same ring to it. We manage with soup though.

A hundred metres away, oystercatchers, common gulls and what looks like sanderlings. Far too late for sanderlings though. The tide is still ebbing so more of the shoreline becomes available to the birds. The south shore is scarred, not by the ferry terminal or the facilities but by the constant use of corrugated sheeting - the bane of modern day aesthetics. The Victorian railway station is attractive but masked by the shabbiness of the boxes and blank sheeting. There's no need for anywhere to look like a badger's arse with a hat on, but they usually do these days.

The wind has backed to eastsoutheast making it a trickier departure from the estuary, but it makes for an interest beat back up past Shotley, across the main channel then out past the Harwich shoals known as The Shelf. We keep the port hand buoys to port, but keep the Shelf east cardinal to starboard, even though the yacht channel is inside it. These are deceptively shallow waters off the Navyard even though we are more than half wasy across the estuary and close to the Felixstowe side. Our turn south allows speed to pick up and we are all scurrying below to put on hats and coats.

We pass Cliff Foot buoy and the North Sea opens up to us: big container ships and a fat, ugly dredger bear down on us from the east. A tug is at the stern of the container ship helping swivel the bow northwards as it turns on the Beach End buoy. Off our starboard bow, the rise of The Naze fringes the horizon and we see the Pye End safe-water mark. A Force 3 suggests a good afternoon sailing and we practice many routines. Peter gets the first go, taking us off to The Well, a well-known 'hole' in an area of otherwise quite shallow water. His test is to get over the deepest part. Several tacks get us very close.

Keith, a former Navy officer with the Fisheries Protection fleet, gets the next challenge and we are heading out towards the Northeast Gunfleet east cardinal buoy and on up to the Rough Tower, a curious offshore former gun emplacement atop two concrete legs and now a private residence. At this point I am to take over and guide us back in to Harwich. It is fairly straightforward, with a direct line for the Cork Sands yacht beacon followed by a run in alongside the deepwater channel port hand markers. The wind dies as we approach Cork Sands and the engine is needed to take us back into the flurry of activity in the harbour.

We lock into Shotley Marina and moor up. It's been a long, hard day but one with exceptional interest for all the senses.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Getting practical - the Day Skipper beckons

The sun sets over the Shotley peninsula as I drive in to the marina at Levington in Suffolk. I'm nervous, not least because I am several hours late. I am the last to arrive aboard Strata 6, a 36' Jenneau Sun Odyssey. I have taken advantage of a cancelled trip to China to take the practical Day Skipper RYA course. No meetings now, so an unusual window of opportunity. East Anglian Sea School have a place available and now I am aboard the boat with fellow students Peter, Keith, Dan and our instructor Keith.

Keith and I are working for our Day Skipper qualification, Peter is a budding Coastal Skipper and Dan is just starting out and looking to earn his Competent Crew badge. It's a good mix, although as the boat has only three cabins and the saloon, I will need to share the forecabin with Dan - and there really is not much space.

The first few hours are spent discussing safety on the boat, especially gas and fire, the two biggest enemies on any boat. We have extinguishers, blankets and alarms on board.

We are all a little awkward with each other: polite but somewhat forced conversation.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Ashes to ashes - a blast from the past

In 1979, I spent part of the summer in the Eyjafjöll district of southern Iceland, on a school expedition. Despite having subsequently lived all around the world, I have always had a soft spot for this quiet, rugged pastoral landscape and the friendly local people.
Within hours of arriving and setting up camp near the village of Skógar on the grassy bank of the river below the majestic Skógafoss waterfall, storm force winds whipping off the Atlantic flattened our tents. The village opened up the community hall for us, where we stayed for a few days until moving on to the Sólheimajökull, a glacier we were to study. Skógar was still the nearest inhabited place and for the durationof our stay, we were back and forth, different groups studying the coastal geomorphology, the glaciers, the local topography, the human geography and - the volcanic heritage of the area.

Skógar, you see, sits in the shadow of one of Europe's most unpredictable and dangerous volcanoes, Katla. And Katla lies grumpy and smouldering in anger below an icecap, Mýrdalsjökull. Three major glaciers stream down from the icecap, one being Sólheimajökull, and all three glaciers have been prone to jökulhlaups - or massive glacial flooding. Until just 40 years ago, it was considered just too dangerous to cross the wide gravelly plains that spread out beyond these glaciers.

With Katla and Mýrdalsjökull to the north-east, locals looked upon the lower, smaller icecap to the north-west as the benign, friendlier, picturesque backdrop to their red-roofed farms and grazing cattle and sheep. This was Eyjafjallajökull, best known for the waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss and Dölufoss and the recently restored Seljavellir swimming pool at the head of the valley. Walking or riding up the Skóga valley, a narrow path leads up to the 1093m high Fimmvörðuháls pass and then down to the Thorsmörk Nature Reserve in the remote but beautiful valleys beyond.

Then, after a swarm of earthquakes under the pass, on March 20th, two volcanic eruptions took place in adjacent gullies, Hrunagil and Hvannárgil, and the world changed for Skógar and the people of the plains below the icecaps. While barely recovering breath from the first eruptions in the pass above their farms, on April 14th, Eyjafjöll woke. The world focused in on the volcano belching out light brown ash, pumping steam and rock out into the atmosphere. The airspace over much of Europe closed down, bringing silence to the skies for the first time in 70 years. Europe slowed down, paralysed, stranded and uncertain. Airliners sat idly at airports, people queued at ports and at railway stations and Europe watched for spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Not content to wait for tourists to come to Iceland, instead Iceland came to Europe.

The people of Skógar are safe for now, with evacuation and contingency plans humming into action quickly, the Icelandic civil defence scurrying around breaching dammed up road embankments, moving people and livestock.

Ash continues to fall locally, burying the bright green mosses and grasses and the black shards and pebbles of earlier eruptions in a cloak of brown-grey powdery ash. A rugged landscape for rugged people becomes a moonscape, waiting for rain to wash the slush away. I worry for the future of the friendly people of this beautiful, quiet little corner.

For now - just for now - Katla sleeps nearby. I hope that Jon Krukkur's predictions in the Krukkspá were right and that Katla now lives in the sea and over the horizon.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Kitchen counters, windows and lollipop ladies

We are having new kitchen counters on North Star. Because they are essential for boating. One of the more famous arguments between Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman was over whether the fledgling IWA should campaign for granite worktops.
They weigh a ton and fill the entire eastern end of the Volvo, and are justification finally for driving a car the size of Rhode Island. In the event of an accident on the A14, our kitchen counters will be instantly protected by 46 air bags.

But now I'm also worrying about how I'm going to tow a GP14 with a trailer missing the mast support. I'll need to strap it to the roof and even a V70 looks like a Soviet-era nuclear-missile launcher or an automotive pole-vaulter with 25 feet of mast lashed up there.

I have these visions of not being able to make it round corners without spearing road signs and impaling lollipop ladies.

I arrive in Braunston to discover that North Star has sprouted windows - three of them - so losing her stylish tug looks. I can't get in because I'm in a hurry to get to Molineux, where the visit of Stoke almost guarantees an exciting game of stylish, memorable football. Or maybe not. Stoke are playing Bolton next week. They are having to close Machester Airport for the afternoon.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Back afloat by May

Although nothing has been done in the last week, it seems it's full speed ahead now and we expect to have North Star back for the May Bank Holiday weekend.

First cruise is planned to be up to Welford and back, funnily enough, and then back to Wharf House for painting and a solar power installation. It's like standing in the wind tearing up £50 notes.

Goal in the 98th minute. So close, but so far...

First time at the Emirates, and gutted to be hit by a goal deep into Fergie-time.
The (far) better side won but held out for 98 minutes and were within a few breaths of the final whistle.
Arsenal scored more against Barcelona. Trouble is these stats don't count for much.

Continuous sex? Cruisers in Bedford

I was rather startled to read this week that continuous cruisers are the preventing the opening of a riverboat restaurant in Bedford. In The Metro on Tuesday, a headline screeched "Riverboat restaurant proposals could 'interfere with crusing site'". It was enough for me to put the latte down and read on.

It seems that the riverside area is a popular spot for dogging and cruising. Yes? And? But it appears that neither activities are quite what they seem to the uneducated. In fact, it is fairly critical to understand the difference between dogging and dog-walking and between cruising and ....errr... cruising. Far be it for me to start a blogging dictionary, but I suggest Googling them and - this being the key part - remembering the difference. Phoning up your kids to explain that "we've been cruising for two weeks now and if it wasn't for his dodgy knee, your father would be out dogging every night" would, of course, need to be rephrased. Or maybe not.
Furthermore, continuous cruisers would be advised to wipe that smile off their faces.

It would appear also that Northamptonshire Police are concerned about the possible clash between locals and cruisers but will not object to the planning application. I should point out, that the application is for the boat not the use of the riverside area by people to have sex in the bushes, which seems to be possible with no rezoning or monitoring by the planners.

I suspect that the British knack for diplomacy will result in a mutually beneficial ending with the cruisers keeping their speed down and the boat having a small ads noticeboard in the window and only charging a few quid extra for a table by the window.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Welford, Naseby and the Northants Alps

I did enjoy Welford last weekend, and was extremely disappointed that there is no space in the marina for North Star. I left my details but there's at least a two year wait. We were pointed towards Yelvertoft, but there's something about this little corner near the source of the Avon.

We drove around Welford and liked the village, as much as we like nearby Naseby and the much smaller Elkington. We gravitated towards the Warwickshire-Leicestershire-Northants border area as it is the centre of the canal network, with routes radiating out in all directions. However, in recent months we have discovered that there is so much more to this quiet, unknown part of England: villages of golden brown stone and blood-red brick, muddy lanes, dripping copses and woods, long views from the raw heights, hidden history. It has been wonderful to watch as pheasants wander arrogantly across paths, ducks and geese taking off from lakes, red kites soaring at speed, even a pair of puzzled cormorants miles from any water.

It has been attractive enough for us to start turning to rightmove to look at houses. One particular one - a converted barn north of Willoughby - got the pulse racing but it is just a little too remote.

We are always muttering that once we get on the boat our horizon gets restricted to a world about 100m from the towpath, and we need to get away from the Cut more. At Welford, the presence of the great battlefield of Naseby is an obvious attraction and we have been making plans to walk the area using the excellent audio tour from the Naseby Battlefield Project. This can be combined with a hunt for the source of the Avon which is considered to be at one of several spots in or around Naseby or Cold Ashby. Sadly with DIY, sailing, a need to get to Aldeburgh and thrashing Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow, I can't see the time this weekend. Maybe the May Bank Holiday.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Oxford Canal to be filled in for high-speed railway

The Department of Transport have finally decided that the new high-speed railway from London to the Midlands and Scotland will run over the current course of the southern Oxford Canal between Aynho and Wormleighton, so effectively truncating the canal.

Transport minister Lord Adonis, who was speaking at a presentation on CrossRail at the Guildhall in London, was apologetic about the effect that the railway would have on the canal but gave us little hope that there was any way to change this.

"We recognise that the canals in Britain create hundreds of jobs and each year many barges - perhaps one hundred - are used on Britain's canals but sadly progress is progress. Constructing a high speed rail link is a priority both in terms of the economic boost for British manufacturing and the many jobs it will create."

When pressed, Lord Adonis suggested that it may be possible to keep small stretches of the canal in water, notably through the centre of Banbury, it was inevitable that the course of the canal would be obliterated.

"Sadly yes, at least 28km will disappear completely. However, the rich heritage of the canal will not be entirely lost as the new railway station at Fenny Compton will be named Fenny Compton Simcock International Parkway."

The Guardian has, unsurprisingly, been the most vocal critic of the plan, and their article today pulls no punches. The Banbury Observer, meanwhile, is chiefly concerned about the impact the development will have on the town's Grade II-listed bus station.

Only in Britain could we allow our waterways heritage to dissolve bit by bit like this. I just don't know whether to laugh or cry. Actually, maybe I do.