January 31, 2006 GMT
Spinnaker Trousers

My father used to wear what my big brother and I called Spinnaker Trousers.

We'd got to Brighton for the afternoon after Dad had finished at the bank on Sauturday, and it would usually be cold and windy. We'd walk along the prom and Dad's trousers would be flapping in the wind like sails. We children tried to disown him.

I wear the Spinnaker Trousers in this family now (especially as I'm one of the grown-ups). The Patagonian wind is blowing a houllie. I could barely walk to the plane at Punta Arenas yesterday afternoon, and I swear it took off in a hundred yards; landing was interesting. And this pair of trousers is three sizes too big for me now.

Despite that, and because I've not much better to do except stare at orange walls in the rather dreary hotel, I'm going back to Punta Arenas (literally Sandy Point) on Thursday to get what I hope is a bit of a giggle from the Queen Mary 2 docking at about 8 the next morning. Should be quite a sight, actually - the largest liner in the world sailing up the Magellan Strait.

Punta Arenas is an historic place for many reasons. For instance, the hotel I stayed in is next door to the post office where Captain Scott posted 400 letters back to England to say he'd returned safely from his first expedition.

Back in Porvenir I've realised it's probably about as near the arse-end of the universe as I've ever been. The hotel food is more or less edible (and sawing at it with my knife at least provides some physio), there's no gin, I've no idea when (or if) the bike parts will arrive, I'm thankful the new pills seem to be working, and I have several cunning plans for escaping, some of which involve riding the bike out and some of which don't. There are two TV channels, one of which majors on the Chilean version of Big Brother (and is just as tedious in Spanish as it is in English). I've run out of books to read and all I could find in Punta Arenas were travel guides and wildlife books - you know, the sort which arrange everything by species and assume you know what you're looking at so you can look it up, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I may be reduced to going out for walks with my bins hanging round my neck. At least the BMW Antarctic Suit is earning its keep in dealing with the cold, rain and wind.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at January 31, 2006 04:14 PM GMT
 
 

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