Monday, 7 July 2008


Many would argue that I already live an enviable life of luxury but, the older I get the more convinced I am that I was born to enjoy serious, filthy, dripping in diamonds, extravagance. Take last Sunday for instance. Hubby, the children and I were invited to Princess Yachts in Plymouth for their charity day. It was a great day out and the kids enjoyed the usual variety of events that are part of any British fete like experience. Every penny raised was devoted to charity, it was very well organised, there was a good turn out and the rain stayed away.
Hubby and the older two children enjoyed seeing the various stages of boat building and having the opportunity to clamber on board one that was almost finished. These yachts are without any shadow of doubt truly splendid, sumptuous toys made for the truly sumptuous, splendid rich.
The highlight of the day though was the boat ride. We had tickets for two people. Hubby and I had already drawn straws and whilst Hubby had won I questioned his prerogative.
“But it’s not fair”, I sulked, “You get to go to sea every day. Going on a boat is no big deal for you.” He gave in, although not without first mumbling, “So much for democracy” under his breath. My son wasn’t too bothered about the trip having managed to endure a family outing and by late afternoon was happy to go home to his computer. The youngest girls were too young anyway which left my big girl and me to enjoy the experience.
Now, I was under the naive misconception that a Princess yacht is at its best moored in a marina somewhere on the Costa of the Med; that it is a staid if luxurious craft where one can kick off one’s mules, open the bar, pour a G&T and watch the poor people on the board walk as they look up and gawp at one’s hedonism. This belief was further reinforced as we gently pulled out of Millbay Marina. The interior was plush and lavish with leather and suede upholstery, more lavatories than your average four bed-roomed house, a modern state of the art kitchen, bar and sundeck. As I waved to Pete Goss pottering around on his lovely wooden boat and myriad exhausting sails I thought, “Ah yes this is the life”.
After a good look around and fantasising of featuring in a five page spread in Hello! Magazine, my daughter and I climbed the stairs to the outer deck and sat jauntily on the leather banquette, watching the very handsome young skipper take charge. There were only a handful of other punters on board, so it really did feel quite exclusive and as we sailed past Plymouth Hoe, I genuinely felt to the manor born.
“Do you think it’ll go much faster?” asked my daughter.
“I shouldn’t have thought so darling”, I replied knowledgably, “They’re like me, not built for speed. Built just to be looked at and swan from one marina to another.” Why don’t I just keep my trap shut? Actually I don’t think the skipper heard me - only the devil because suddenly we reached the other side of the Breakwater and I’m sure I saw a demonic look in the skipper’s eye as he shouted into the wind, “Shall we see what she can do?”
An unanimous roar went into the air and before you could say, “There she blows”, we were flying along on the crest of a wave. That’s not entirely true. Most of the waves in fact seemed to be cresting on me and within seconds I was soaked. The damp lifejackets we were given should have been an indication of what was to come but I hadn’t given that a second thought.
By God we were going fast, so fast that it was impossible to speak, my jowls were in fact wobbling like James Bond’s in that G-Force scene. Standing up the skipper then turned the boat into the spray as if astride a jet-ski not a 67 foot motor yacht. It was impressive if terrifying and at one point as we turned, the boat seemed at such a slant that I thought we would topple over but the skipper had a reassuring air of confidence. Nonetheless, with one arm I clung to the guard rail for dear life, with the other I gripped my daughter. She however, along with the other passengers was having the time of her life. “Yee-ha!”, they all called out. They say there are no atheists in the trenches. Neither let me tell you are there in a very high powered motor yacht, where the skipper is hell bent on showing off his boat’s impressive seafaring skills. I prayed and prayed that none of us would be catapulted into the sea and my hand and arm ached as my grip was loosened by the salt water on the rail. Eventually he slowed down and made for the Breakwater but it was only a lull in a very fleeting sense of security and no sooner had I thanked God than once again we were hurtling towards France and I was hurtling towards a certain, watery death.
After 40 minutes of action thriller, movie stunts I was amazed to find myself disappointed that we were returning to the marina. My confidence in the boat and my skipper had grown and as we disembarked we all agreed that we were terribly impressed by the stunning youthful performance of something that looked as though it could only cruise, albeit very grandly. As I cast aside my wet lifejacket I felt hard done by. What a job to work for Princess but what job enables you to buy such a fabulous toy and then to maintain it? Why couldn’t I have one? And when is the next Euro Millions Lottery rollover? I’m going to buy at least a fiver’s worth.


Mary Alice said...

That sounds positively thrilling.

Anonymous said...

What fun ... you get some wonderful experiences!


Eloise said...

Loved your post! You are such a talented writer - I felt as if I were right there with you on the waves, reveling in the good life and prepping for my spread in Hello. So glad you and your daughter had such a fun opportunity. I definitely think you were made for that lifestyle. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a ride!

Pardon me while I go wash the salt out of my hair...

Alice Band said...

Kcinnova - My God you should have seen my hair! Three attemtps with conditioner and I still couldn't get a brush through it. I'd love to post photos but I'm supposed to be anonymous!

enidd said...

wow, alice, how many smackers did that little boat cost? why didn't you steal her?

Hen said...

Sounds invigorating - I'm hoping our boat stays in the yard this summer - with any luck the mice will have feasted on the sails, and I will love them for it....the thought of donning the dreaded wetsuit!.....As you would say..."Not a good look!"

Alice Band said...

enidd - There you are! About £2 million!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hen said...

Dear Mrs Band,

You have won a prize!

Sadly, it isn't a trip to the bahamas
A Norland Nanny for the holiday
A Princess Gin Palace

....just like all those real world 'You have won a prize' announcements then!

It's over at mine.