When Roz was rowing across the Atlantic, she occasionally allowed Monty the teddy bear to write a dispatch. It seems that I am being granted the same privilege. The picture shows Roz on an early expedition of exploration, with her first set of wheels Attempting to sample a dahlia bud she managed to tip the thing over into the flower border. Fortunately she survived, or she would not have been rowing the Atlantic earlier this year.
She still keeps me busy collecting press cuttings, helping to get her boat shipped to the USA, dealing with mail and loads of other things. The latest media coverage was in the Daily Telegraph this week, in the Sports section. You can see a copy of it in her Gallery available by clicking on Gallery (naturally) on her home page. Then look for UK articles.
I will in due course be adding more pictures to her gallery, once we have sorted out a couple of teething problems with the technology. It makes me feel a bit of a dummy. Sorry for the puns, I must have babies on my mind! Only in pictures, of course.
Many people ask me, or tell me, about being very proud of what Roz has achieved. Yes, indeed I do, but in many ways we were so closely involved in the whole project that I feel a bit guilty about admitting to pride. Many a time, though, when she was struggling with her epic row across the ocean, I could not help but think: "Whatever gave you the idea that you could do this?" A lot of other people had the same thoughts and are still amazed that she did it. It remains a remarkable feat. I enjoy talking to people about the row, and showing the DVD that she made for me of her talk here in Leeds last June. It is fascinating to see their reaction when they see the video clip of her crawling over the fore-cabin to cut the line to the sea anchor. They almost climb out of their seats to want to help her! Do look at the video clips also available on her website Gallery.
Today I went to meet the folks of the South End Rowing Club. These guys and gals are hardcore. They row and swim in the waters of the harbour. I was introduced to someone who had just swum the English Channel. I felt like a right wimp in comparison.
I was given a tour of their historic boathouse, right next to Fisherman's Wharf, a mere dolphin's spit away from the Golden Gate Bridge.
After a slap-up breakfast at a local Irish pub, I wandered down to the waterfront to contemplate the bridge. The fog was hanging low over the top of the pylons, and a strong onshore wind was stopping a skein of birds in their tracks. But the chill I felt wasn't just from the weather.
This time next year, this is where it will all start from. Knowing what I now know about how tough it can be out there, it's a daunting prospect. And it will be all the harder because of the great friends I will be leaving behind.
Not a lot of people know this, but if the world's discarded printer cartridges from one year were stacked end-to-end, they would circle the earth over 3 times.
Not a lot of people know this either - that a printer cartridge thrown into a landfull can take up to 450 years to decompose. To put that in context, 450 years ago Mary Tudor was Queen of England, before we'd even had Elizabeth I, let alone Elizabeth II. As for America, it had only just been discovered...
I became aware of these startling facts when I went to Cartridge World to replace my iP90 cartridge, and found to my delight that they offer a refill service, which is not only more environmentally friendly, but also financially friendly, costing about half the price of a new cartridge.
While they were topping up my ink, I popped over the road to Whole Foods Market for some environmentally friendly grocery shopping. (When I say 'popped' over the road, it took a while. The lights changed in favour of the cars about 100 times more often than in favour of pedestrians. The price you pay for a clear environmental conscience...)
So all in all, my environmental halo was shining. This is the delicious irony of California - there are so many planet-friendly options, while this state is also the most consumerist society in the world. The ultimate expression of free will.
I hadn't been to Haight-Ashbury since 1994, when I was here with my then-boyfriend, later husband, now ex-husband but still good friend.
In 1994 we stayed with a friend's cousin in an apartment just a few yards from the historic crossroads, an apartment where Janis Joplin used to live. The hoboes on the street claimed to remember where they'd left her stash. But surely, if you can remember the 60's, you weren't really there?
I went back there last Friday with Pireeni, a friend from my Oxford days, and now a successful poet living on Castro Street. I've been to see her a couple of times since I got here, and both times have arrived at her place a quivering wreck after negotiating the streets of San Francisco.
You're driving up a street so steep that all you can see is the car bonnet and blue sky, and you're just praying that the lights don't change to red. If they do... I haven't sweated a hill start so much since I passed my driving test 20 years ago.