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12th May, 2013


Mahon harbour

Little had changed in the twelve days since we had last anchored in Mahon, except perhaps the weather, it was noticeably cooler, and it was a Sunday. There was very little sign of life ashore as we proceeded up the narrow channel towards the anchorage, but by the time both bow and stern anchors had been placed our agent had appeared in the very yellow shore tender that had been hired to assist our operation. Quite unfairly it had been re-christened as the ‘Yellow Peril’ even before being made fast alongside our pontoon.

In fact it was most beneficial because it was registered to carry 150 passengers, consequently all our tour passengers were off before nine and there were no delays for our independents who were also keen to get ashore quite promptly, no doubt because we were due to leave again by 2.00 pm. When human traffic was light I commandeered an empty tender to take us over to the nearest quay close to the yacht harbour, and then took the steps up onto the higher ground. There was a splendid view back over the waters towards the 18th century isolation hospital on the island just behind our anchorage, and further in the distance lay the now sadly forlorn military arsenal.

Cyclists in Mahon

We walked around the headland towards Mahon itself, looking down over tiled roofs into the harbour, empty of large vessels, just more yachts and our own tenders lying at the base of the grand steps that lead up into the city. As we approached the cathedral there was a noticeable change to the Sunday quiet, and as we rounded the corner there were hundreds of cyclists all kitted out in Lycra and plastic helmets, standing around and chatting. No doubt a rally of sorts and there was every indication that it was about to commence. From a speaker above a nearby building a Pink Floyd number was adding to the mood of minor excitement. We waited near the start line, indicated by an inflatable arch, where dozens of children, all similarly kitted out and with their ‘kiddie’ bikes, were waiting to lead the foray.

Cyclists in Mahon

A dozen or so police, including a couple suitably attired on cycles, stood poised and then a Spanish voice came over a megaphone and they were off. There seemed some degree of unwarranted haste as the elders attempted to get around the children. A chap on a Penny Farthing was soon away, but one child’s stabilisers didn’t prevent a tumble as he attempted a right hand turn on shiny cobbles. I could visualise tangled wreckage, up turned spinning wheels and plenty of tears. Time to make a discreet exit and leave the professionals to pick up the pieces.

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