The Banana Voyage – 1st March

I have spent the day doing follow ups to enquiries, typing up contact lists and working on ideas for the new web site and drinking coffee. The excellent news is there is now a new website. Naturally you know this because you are reading this on the new website; but it felt good typing that.

I can now see all the countries that use the website and loads of interesting statistics which is additive reading. Already loads of countries in Europe have had a look, I include the UK in this because as I write they are still in Europe. Monaco (also in Europe) is there and today’s surprise is someone from Costa Rica also is interested. Actually thinking about it the unfortunate person was probably looking for a real banana company, still it cheered me some.

All this magic and technological wizardry is due to one person…without whom the old site would still be up and running; and getting the project a bad name. People have on occasion asked why I am doing this project. Esther is a major part of the answer. The Banana voyage is about meeting people whilst going on an extraordinary voyage.

The unusual thing is I have not met Esther; yet she has taken over the construction of this site and set everything up so that it actually works…hover your mouse over the facebook link and it lights up, ready to transport you directly to Facebook. Click on nearly anything on this site and whoosh, you are off elsewhere onto another page. I am astounded by her contribution which should really be called dedication to the project. But more than the physical contribution she has made (and is still making) is the encouragement she has brought to me personally.  She has confirmed my hopes for the success of the voyage.

The Banana voyage depends on the help and kindness of complete strangers. People who will encounter me, the banana and the mad idea of towing, dragging or piggybacking the 5.5m banana to Bulgaria from the North Sea, might just think this will be a fun thing to do, and hey, go on then, tie up your floating fruit and off we go. Even with huge streak of unreasonable optimism I have, there is always a doubt in my mind that no one will give me a second look, refuse to tow or go with me and I will end up on a river bank just outside Rotterdam harbour watching the ships go by.

Esther has convinced me more than anyone else that there are still people in this world who will put themselves out, (a lot) just to help someone do something completely daft. So I take this opportunity to say publicly; thank you Esther, for all your hard work, and for pushing the boat out when it comes to making this happen.

Not all has been plain sailing. The neighbours where I live are probably wondering what I shout at for no apparent reason. I have to admit a total lack of patience for things that should work; but just don’t. I have amazing patience with people. If someone on the road cuts across me and I have to slam on the brakes, I give a cheery wave and compliment myself on my good driving. Carelessly drop one of my treasures and I feel bad because you are upset and embarrassed at breaking a valuable of mine; drive my car into the back of a lorry and the first thing I ask is are you ok?

If I tell a machine to do something and it doesn’t then it is condemned to become hi tech dust. If a car won’t start on a cold and frosty morning (even if I know the battery is old enough for a pension) then the solution is to set in on fire and push it out to sea. When I download a programme and it won’t open, I need to fit windscreen wipers to the monitor as I shout at it at close quarters. There is only one thing that makes me lose my temper more quickly than things that don’t work: banging my head; something that happens too often on a building site. So, another reason to explain why I am going on this voyage; I won’t have to go to work on Monday.

I must say this has been a frustrating time for me as I have ventured into the world of things that I am told are easy but actually don’t work at all. I have bought video equipment; you can see the result of the first attempt to record something and edit it to perfection on journal page. Three days of reading and yelling at the tiny stubborn beast has achieved 1 minute and 18 seconds of un-edited video.

Why is it not edited? The program, when finally downloaded does everything is should except make any changes to anything I try to do to the video I have dragged into the editing suite. I know I will work it out, but it may take a few years. I don’t have the time to mess about with things that don’t work; I have to use them now. I think this is a good recipe for stress. Having to do something urgently that you can’t, simply because it won’t do what it is made to do. Pressing the buttons on the video resulted in the symbols and words on the tiny screen turn upside down and I was tempted to bang my head on the wall, which considering the effect that has on me would really not have been a good idea.

Over all there has been good progress this week and some signs of progress in the general preparing for the voyage. Bratislava will be welcoming the Banana to its Danube quay side and have offered a guide to help me film around the city with free use of public transport, I have made a good contact with the Black Sea port of Constantza (correct spelling) and the Port of Rotterdam has given permission to use their photos of the port on my route map page. The City Marina in Rotterdam have been very helpful and are allowing a press conference on the quay side and an official launch party which they will attend to assist in drinking a glass of bubbly with the assembled group

There have been invites from friends and family to have meals and visits before I go off, but there simply is not the time to get around to everyone so the best solution is to have a going away party. Those who know me will be aware I don’t need much excuse to have a fling; so I have a hangover to look forward to soon.

Several newspapers have picked up on the story too, which will hopefully lead to some local television media coverage. The new website will certainly help in convincing all that this is really going to happen. I will be setting off on the 1st of April, a date chosen as I thought it funny, but has made many people doubt that this is real and not an elaborate April fool’s joke. In a way it’s a pity it isn’t a joke because if it was, it would be a good one!