Clarke’s Opera Blog

Monday June 24th.

For those not interested in opera, the sailing will, hopefully, recommence after July 8th.

We have returned yet again to the UK to attend seven operas in the next two weeks.  We are eschewing the large Opera Houses such as Covent Garden and instead patronising small but enthusiastic and professional companies performing in theatres attached to country houses in the south of England.

P1010678Last night, Sunday, we were at Grange Park outside Winchester for Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, arguably the most popular Russian opera.  The performance in the 550 seat auditorium was superb with excellent playing by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the singing and acting by the principals was of international standard.  One of the other pleasures of this opera are the dance sequences, one in each of the three acts, which gives great opportunity for the costume designer and choreographer to excel, which they did.  This is a wonderful confection of an opera run through with great tunes but, in true Russian style, ends sadly.

P1010685Grange Park is not all about Opera however.  There is the interval when the audience takes their dinner.  Many bring picnics but a select proportion dine in the main house. From the outside it looks like a large country house and was originally owned by the banking family of Baring, amongst others.

However, on entering the main door, you discover that the inside is a completely dilapidated ruin, with bare brick walls, roof beams open to view and netting strung across the ceiling to stop plaster falling on the diners.

Note the netting suspended from the ceiling.

Note the netting suspended from the ceiling.

Here two hundred and fifty of the audience were served a full three course meal of very high quality by a huge team of young waiters.  The service was swift and immaculate and the food excellent.

With Terry's sister, Margaret

With Terry’s sister, Margaret

Our table was on a small landing half way up the main starcase on one side of which the treads were completely missing.

P1010689Sadly the English weather served us poorly, being chilly with a strong, very cold, breeze.  However this did not deter either ourselves or the full house of elegantly dressed enthusiasts.

The Survey

June 23rd, 2013


Exotica on the dock at Palma

Of course nothing is ever quite as straightforward as one would like.  It took two days to complete the survey since it required the simultaneous presence of the owner’s representative, the lugubrious Frank, the surveyor, Ian, ourselves and a convenient time for the boatyard to lift the boat out of the water on the crane for inspection of the hull.  Normally this organisation is all done by the broker, but sadly he is in England and the rest of us are in the Balearics.  We thought the surveyor was going to organise the lift and he thought we were, so there was significant miscommunication.

On the lift.

On the lift at Audax Boatyard

Frank is obviously unhappy that the boat is being sold and was less than helpful but nonetheless the survey was completed including a short equipment sea trial outside Palma Harbour which gave us a brief view of the sails and assurance that the motor was in good order. Frank’s reluctance to hoist full sails in a 20 knot breeze and comment that “we do not go out in these conditions”, gave us some cause for alarm.

                                                 At sea with Frank

and At sea with Frank

The written report which ran to 21 pages was very positive and revealed very few deficits, none of which are major.


The deck seen from the bow.

Nonetheless we do not propose to complete the deal until we have had a performance sea trial with the owner and broker so that some of the more recherché elements of the equipment, such as the water-maker and the plumbing of the generator have been explained.  All being well this should be on July 8th. when we return yet again to Mallorca.

We returned to a wet and windy England on Friday, for a long planned feast of opera. Seven operas including a Ring Cycle in the next two weeks.

Deposit Made

Tuesday 11th. June

P1010505Well I have just paid the deposit for the purchase of our Mediterranean home.  ‘Exotica’ is the last boat we saw in Mallorca and instantly fell for.  Although now eight years old the boat has been little used and hardly at all in the last year, however she has been scrupulously maintained by the aforementioned Frank and is in superb condition.  The decks are pristine with the teak beautifully kept and down below the woodwork is a rich, warm mahogany colour.

P1010499In addition she is also equipped with such luxuries as a generator, air conditioning, a water maker, a washing machine and satellite communications.

The brokers acting for the owner are in England and we felt it would be sensible to return to the UK to deal with them face to face.  In consequence we have been in the UK for a week negotiating the deal.  Although it is a bit like buying a house, (and not much different in price), the process for conveyancing boats is a lot less formal and is all over in fourteen days from acceptance of the offer, so we have to organise a survey and sea trial in short order.

We fly back to Mallorca tomorrow – Wednesday – to complete the deal before returning to the UK towards the end of the month for a feast of opera.