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Irene's Mystery Tour

September 1993 being our 10th wedding anniversary, I fancied that Irene would enjoy a surprise. We would take a ten days holiday somewhere.

A real surprise: I didn't tell her where we would be heading. "I'll take care of the packing" said I, and one day we found ourselves in a cab on the way to Milan's airport. It was fun to see her looking for any possible hint at the airlines check-in counter. There she guessed that the country we were flying to was England.

After a quick lunch above the Alps and some wandering about at Heathrow, we boarded another plane, so she realized that London wasn't our final destination: she got more and more pensive (maybe she'd dreamed of the tropical sun) until we reached Glasgow.

On the table of our little hotel's room, there was a mysterious, strictly personal letter to the name of Mr Daniele Ravenna: myself.

I looked at it gravely: I knew that it concealed the railway schedules to the Scottish little town of Oban.

By that time, Irene had set aside any will to put more questions, while I was still keeping the secret. I studied the train schedules and she dived into the thriller book which she'd wisely brought from home.

Half of the following day was spent on the slowest local train one can imagine: more and more hopeless looked Irene, who was still bound for the unknown. I had the feeling that her mood would soon turn into a Force 10 gale. The weather also grew more and more Scottish.

With dark clouds over the sea, the train arrived at Oban, that to us Italians reminds of the famous name of a whisky.

On the platform there was a man with a beard and a signpost in his hand, which read: "Eye of the Wind".

The man was Alan Campbell, the shipıs engineer, who kindly took hold of our luggage. The "Eye of the Wind"? To the stunned Irene there were no hotels in sight with that name. Where were we going? We followed the man with the beard.

"Hold on" I kept saying to myself., and at last, there, She was.

Irene stared at the Eye of the Wind's tall masts. You should have seen her eyes (Tiger and Deb and everybody else did). She cast a deeply worried glance, down below, towards the deck - the ship was moored, it was low tide.

Now it must be revealed that neither of us had ever been on a sail ship before. The sympathetic crew were already letting our bags down with the ropes.

It was drizzling. But there we were.

The big surprise was celebrated in good company at a local pub, where also Alan's nice sister, Carol, joined us.

The morning after we were already at sea, sailing towards the Scottish Islands and Dublin. A few days later Irene asked to climb up the rigging. She really liked it.

And neither of us knew yet, that it was just a start.

Two years later (1995) we were on the Eye again in the Grenadines. In 1997 we joined her for a 100 hundred days at sea, from Panama to Galapagos, Easter Island, Pitcairn, Marquesas and Tahiti. In 1999 from Cornwall to Brittany. In 2001 from Bermuda to Denmark.

Thanks Tiger, Deb, Emma and Crew.

Daniele Ravenna

Milano, October 2002

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