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Well, it’s been fine weather for ducks but not for those living on the south coast or by a river – and definitely not if the Somerset Levels is your chosen abode! Neither has it been good weather for sailing – sundry gales and horizontal rain has marred any chance of a winter outing. Gladly my boat Aurial has been tucked up safe in the ‘hurricane hole’ of Neyland Marina in Pembrokeshire, and is looking forwards to our visit this weekend to recommission the engine and put the sails back on. The daffodils are out and Spring has taken its first tentative step – here’s hoping that there won’t be a step back into snowy conditions.

I’m delighted to report that the AGM attendance was excellent, and numbers for the Ceilidh were up to over 80 again. I’m sure the main reason for this is the magnetic appeal of the new Commodore, but mild weather might have contributed. We heard about the successful cruises from 2013, and were tempted by the forthcoming offerings for 2014 – mostly booked by this time of year, but always worth a punt by contacting the relevant organiser if you wish to see if there is still a vacancy. The details and forms for the three cruises are on the website. Follow the link to Cruises 2014

The Easter Scotland Cruise is the first as usual, from the 19th to the 24th of April from Isle of Skye Yachts. The Lofoten Islands come next – hugely popular again, and, I believe, fully subscribed for both weeks (31st May and 14th June) – all the details are in Ian’s description. The final cruise is our ‘School Holiday Special’ – again to Scotland, but from Alba Yachts at Dunstaffnage to sail the southern Inner Hebrides area.

Thank you to all those who have responded to the direct debit change, as well as to all those who have elected to stay with standing orders or cheque. Jane Fanshawe has done a huge amount of phoning – the comforting drone of her ‘busy bee’ activities wafts across the road to me. I suspect she will end by having telephoned all Penguins in the club, and probably those who dwell in Antarctica as well, though I gather mobile phone reception is a bit patchy there. She tells me that over 30% of members have moved to DD, but a large huddle of Penguins have not yet responded to the November 2013 membership package which requested contact by sending in the form found here 2014 AGM Return and Info Update Form (obviously the bits about the AGM no longer apply). If this matter remains on your conscience, do please contact her by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 01684 540596 – she will be delighted to hear from you.

I am sad to report the loss of a leading member of our Penguin community – Andrew Stuart passed away peacefully on January 27th aged 85. He had the epithet of ‘The man who took on – and beat – the French in the ‘Coconut War’ on Vanuatu in the South Pacific’ whilst in post as Colonial Administrator there. He was later appointed British Ambassador to Finland until, retiring from the Diplomatic service in 1983, he took on the role of Principal of the United World College of the Altantic in Wales until 1990. He is survived by his second wife Susan, who tells us that a memorial service will be held at the Holy Trinity Church, Brompton at 2 o'clock on Friday 30th May.

And now, as I look out of my window at the host of waving daffodils sunning themselves, it is time to reflect that the dark days of winter are shrinking away; the clocks change at the end of the month, and those warm sunny evenings becon. We shall soon be relaxing afloat with a gin and tonic lovingly clasped in hand whilst watching the sun going down as the cook slaves below preparing a delicious repast – or will that be the other way round?

Best Wishes and fair winds