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Blog of Jack and Jude
explorers, authors, photographers & videographers
Golden Anniversary Edition
Jude came from the north country of England where she lived a pretty wonderful youth in the open spaces of the North Sea Coast experiencing a perfect straight-line youth that is comfortable and pleasant to recall, while my youth was definitely more topsy-turvy. Never did I expect, with my explosive nature and propensity for trouble, that I would remain married to the same lady for fifty years. But later next week on the 19th, Jude and I will celebrate our Golden Anniversary. We’re both kind of chuffed about that.
Now most folks reaching this impressive achievement would be inviting relatives and friends over to share in the glorious event, and there’d be good food and copious amounts of drink on hand, maybe even a live band and dance floor under a marquee like events we’ve hosted before that were a lot of fun. But it’s not going to happen that way for this milestone.
Because our lives of late have been mostly spent in remote places, we have pretty much since our children left, celebrated every year of our union surrounded by Earth in its Natural state, just the two of us, reflecting on how fortunate we’ve been and reminiscing on how we met and the life we built together.
I must have been at that sweet age of twenty two, traipsing around Europe on my first time out of America and had been without female companionship for most of those six months. So when I wandered into that Frankfurt bar and spotted two blond vivacious ladies laughing uproariously, I made my move that resulted in the three of us hitchhiking to Paris the very next day. They were English nurses heading home for their final exams and so Paris seemed a good next destination. Upon meeting up in Paris, we rocked up to the Eiffel Tower where with big swooning eyes I asked Beth, the one with mischief in her eyes, if she’d like to accompany me to the top.
“Oh No-o-o-o. Couldn’t do that. I’m afraid of heights!” she admitted. And suddenly deflated, I heard a small voice from behind Beth offer, “I’ll go up with you.” Judith being the quieter of the two and Beth being so out going, I hadn’t taken much notice of her until that moment.
I grew up in Hollywood, where big time hustlers abound, and where you’re either a movie star or gonna be one, so I was pretty used to hearing big whoppers. But you know, Jude was just the opposite. Atop the great tower with all of Paris at our feet, she talked softly and every word impressed me as the truth without the stretching I’d come to expect. Alone with the blustery wind and occasional wet, I told her my story, and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel the need to stretch it one little bit. It was just so comfortable to speak uninhibited, to admit my failings and talk about my dream of travelling the world experiencing the wild places.
Paris flashed past in a blur of good times and the girls went back to the UK, and I followed them, lobbing up at their flat just in the midst of their final exams. Like a third thumb, I was really in the way, but I met Jude’s mum and dad, and liked them immensely. Both were direct and easy to be with and they still lived in the same house where Judith was born. Later that same night Jude and I went for a walk down to the Whitley Bay Beach where we lay on the sand just in front of Spanish City all lit up with gala lights. Accompanied by mild surf keeping beat with the band playing behind us, we talked for hours, and somewhere during that, a revelation hit me. Here was a straight forward simple lady, so vastly different to those I’d dated back in LA. She loved the great outdoors, and wasn’t fussed over fine clothes nor did she need lots of makeup. I’d never given much thought to marriage, not me. My own folks had made a mess of theirs and so getting hitched had always seemed unattractive, then came an explosion when I knew Judith would make a wonderful lifelong partner, and so without too much more thinking, with a hot flush I blurted out a proposal.
Once out, I knew it was the right thing, but maybe a bit fast for Judith, and so I toddled off the next day, eager to try and forget my impulsiveness.
Back home, working again on a drawing board, I dreamt of Judith, how easy it felt with her, and I made up graphic art proclaiming my love that I posted to her and spent huge amounts on overseas phone calls just hear her voice. I kept dreaming of travelling to faraway lands with her, and so after a year of saving every penny, and selling my first ever new car, I was able to offer to fly her to America and sponsor her working visa.
The world moves in strange ways and with Judith’s father passing leaving a great void, with her mother’s blessing, she agreed to my proposal.
The day I picked her up at the airport, we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge, to a grassy park overlooking San Francisco Bay with views under the bridge to the far horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Steamers were heading out past the haunting rock island of Alcatraz. Right there with the world at our feet, I pulled out a huge Michelin map of Africa and laying it open on the bonnet of my Hillman Minx, traced an ink line I’d drawn from Tangiers through the Sahara, Central Africa and through the Congo, then asked Judith if she’d like to accompany me to South Africa.
She had just flown halfway around the world and landed in a land strangely different to her’s, to join a man she’d only known from few encounters and a dozen phone calls, who was then explaining how they’d buy a VW kombi in Europe, fit it out, and then ended by saying the trip would probably take a year.
The moment Jack opened up his map of Africa, everything I’d ever learnt from my parents about honesty, loyalty and hard work, important ingredients to a successful life, became reality. Instantly I knew I’d follow this man to the end of my days.
After a few moments studying the map, the radiant flush of youth rising in her cheeks, Jude turned with a cute pert smile and nodded. The bond was made in that instant, the bond that we’ve honoured for more than fifty years. The bond that has seen us successfully raise two fine sons, build a boat, sail the world, and explore a hundred countries. It’s been a bond that has not always been easy to keep intact, but one where the future has always been kept in sight. A future that would see our physical strength weaken, where our hormones would lose some of their fire, and companionship become even more welcome.
To those wanting to achieve this goal, we’ll not tell you how to do it. Instead this is how it worked for us. We learnt to let little irritants pass right over our heads and work towards our goals together and honour our partner. For as the years have passed, as our physical beauty has faded, our achievements have taken their place. And like on a ship, there needs to be a crew sharing the tasks, consultative when making decisions. A team of two is far more powerful than one and one. This became more evident as the years passed, as did the realisation that not any of us is perfect. We struggle most without a dream to pursue. And we have discovered that it’s best to resolve any and all problems by open and frank dialogue rather than let them fester. Good luck to you all. We encourage you to work towards this Golden Goal, because every bump along the way doesn’t matter when you reach the destination.
Other news is limited to our preparations. We bought a second hand kayak. Worked on Mini B, the Compass Careel, and fitted some off road beauties to our Suzuki.
Watch this space for photos of the event….
SEC allows Musk to resume plotting end of fossil fuel era
“It is important we accelerate the transition to sustainable energy,” Musk said. “We are playing a crazy game with the atmosphere and the oceans.”
He plans to do that by using renewables, and particularly solar, to power the world, balanced and stored in batteries, like his Tesla Powerwalls and the Tesla big battery in South Australia, along with other forms of storage, and electric vehicles replacing the internal combustion engine for cars, buses and trucks.
Photos sent in by dear friend Suzie, ex skipper of Chimere, who we travelled with through Africa and the Seychelles. Our time with them will be a chapter in our next book.
Suzi recently wrote: Jim Madge was a remarkable character, whom I met at the Changi yacht club in Singapore in 1982. He had just sold his small sailboat for a larger 46 foot Taiwan ketch “Chimere” and was in need of a captain. Jim wanted his boat moved to the Gulf area of Abu Dhabi as he worked in the oil industry. In Singapore he was in charge of building 3 dynamic drill ships for Sedco, of Texas. Jim was very intelligent and taught classes in regards to things you need to know about operating drill ships, that drilled the deepest underwater wells. Unfortunately one day while on the construction site of one of the drill ships a stray minuscule piece of metal that was being cut hit the side of Jim’s face and entered into his ear. He was not aware of this. The piece of metal worked its way into Jim’s ear, putting pressure on his brain. Jim woke up as if he was a child, he knew nothing and spoke gibberish. A friend recognized something was wrong with him. He was operated on to remove the metal, however Jim was never the same. One minute he was incredibly intelligent and the next like a baby who could not read or write. This is when I met Jim. When he invited me to his house there were hundred dollar bills laying on the floor, when I mentioned this, he asked what they were. He did not know.
Jim hired me as his captain and kept me on my toes. He would want to clean out the bilge of the engine room and open a thru hole fitting to get water into the bilge, then go to get a tool or something and forget about the open sea cock. I would go below and find the floorboards floating! Jim!
It was in Kenya that we met Banyandah and the 4 J’s. They were great friends and helped me a lot on things a lady captain did not know, I was learning as we went!
For Christmas, we were in the Seychelles on Praslin island, where the famous coco de mer grows. These were protected and each was tagged. Jim decided to pick one for me, not knowing it was highly illegal.
I wrote back: Hey Suzi saying; Jim was a man you’d never forget. His lopsided smile and buffoon guffaw didn’t gel with his highly intelligent remarks. But Suzi, Praslin Island was where we celebrated Christmas, then afterwards are two boats moved around the corner to the much smaller Curieuse. Only a ranger’s house there, and the coco de mer were also there, the only other island where those monsters grow. The first day we invited the ranger on board Banyandah for lunch and he reciprocated by inviting the Four J’s to his place for lunch the next day, and during this lovely event he asked if we wanted a souvenir nut and told us where to find a few fallen ones on a beach. We invited the Chimere crew along and while walking across the island, Jim went missing, so we simply sat down for morning snack. During which Jim reappeared coming over a grassy rise, and in his hands he was carrying an enormous nut and wearing the biggest silly grin any man could have. Walking straight to you, he said something like, “For you Suzie, Merry Christmas.”
Next day Jude and I went back to the ranger’s house to thank him for his kindness, and he asked, “Did you see Ol’ Joe? Biggest nut ever grown on the island.”
I’m thinking you’ll have to read our next book, Around the World in Ever Increasing Circles, to hear how that turned out.