One Men’s Obsession


“Obsession is a young man’s game, and my only excuse is that I never grew old”. This is Michael Caine’s well-known quote that would perfectly describe why men can get so easily obsessed with something. From sex, women to themselves, a list of men’s obsessions can go beyond one’s imagination. What drive men to keep up with their never-ending obsessions? What’s this a substitute for?

While some men may fiddle with cars, football or cheesy blogging on the Web, Iain Tolhurst is an exception. He is one of the pioneering organic growers in this country that runs a local farm in the Thames valley near Reading, where he has built a 36ft sailing boat in the back garden of his home. Whilst working 70 hours a week on the farm, Tolly managed to build the Pinky Ketch yacht made entirely from supplies of local sustainable and indigenous timber. All except deck planking that is from trees that he has harvested and dried himself from the woods on the estate in South Oxfordshire, where he runs another organic farm. It only took him 22,000 hours, all his spare time and all his money.

“I have had a passion for wood and boats all my life; this has had to fit in around my farming activities, as an occasional hobby. The hurricanes of 1987 and 1990 offered the opportunity of bountiful supplies of local timber, and the dream to build an ocean going yacht became a reality in 1999, when I started building Naida” said emotional Tolly with a smile on his face remembering the good old times in his workshop.

The oak, cedar and pine he used was local and reclaimed as was the 4.5 tones of lead he used for the keel, which saved him the costs of around £60,000 that he would have never afforded. When stepping into Tolhurst’ s workshop its easy to understand the excitement of his work. White sails and studdingsail, mast, yards, tack, ropes, all these details around drag you into the mystical world of sailing. His atelier is considerably bigger than his wooden house, both being under the same roof and in the middle of the forest, creating the perfect background for working on your lifetime dream. Looking at the boat shaken by the waves of the Thames, you understand that this work of art, ready to be popped inside a giant bottle before being shipped off to a museum, is a real thing. It is modeled on a 19-th century New England fishing boat and is called the Naida – after the ship on which his first wife was born off the Isles of Scilly in 1954.

 “Building a boat is the nearest a man can get to having a baby,” says the captain, ready for the first sail to London by Thames.

For Tolly and his family, Naida is a legend and every part of it has interesting stories to tell. It is a hybrid of traditional and modern methods, based on the Pinky Ketches model originating from the East coast of USA in the early part of the nineteenth century. These were safe and navigable designs that would have been originally brought by the early pioneers from Norway and were used for offshore fishing. The rig is gaff ketch, offering great performance especially with the wind on the beam and it’s easily handed by the captain and its small crew. The Pinky Ketch is quiet unique and has been drawn up particularly for Tolhurst by Wiltshire shipwright Paul Fisher of Selway Fisher Design in 1992.

“I’m no expert but I can do metal work, and mechanical engineering,” he says. “But I underestimated the scale of the job. I thought it would take me only four or five years, not decades.”

Building the boat for twelve years meant more than an emotional attachment not only for Tolly and but for many other people from the local community whose lives seemed to have been touched by Naida and to a certain extent continues to do so. It has 103 small doors inside that have these people’s names engraved on them as a sign of gratitude for their help. His current wife, Tamara, has been very supportive all the way through.

“The moment I saw they are taking Naida away, I couldn’t refrain from tears… It’s like a child that leaves home”, confesses she.

Originally coming from Bristol, Tolly admits to have inherited his skills from his father, a rep for an electrical company whose passion for woodworking ultimately led to a small boat-building business and family sailing trips of the river Avon. Sadly he didn’t get to see the finalized boat, but for sure he would have loved it.

Mr Tolhurst admits that it took a while for him to recover from not having Naida around, but sailing her has been compensating a little. Ironically, spending so much time on building the yacht, the 58-year-old hasn’t been sailing himself for long years and now plans to head up for a voyage around the world. “It is,” he says, “the start of a new journey.”The motif of men, sons and boats has been an old concept deep rooted into ancient mythology and classic literature. From Christopher Columbus to the Pirates of the Caribbean we have learnt about sailors, sea and black legends that have brought up the symbolic connection between men and boats. Having said that, it’s easy to bridge the gap between the passion men get for boats and their determination to accomplish their obsessions.

During my stay at home this winter holiday, I met for a coffee an interesting man with a great story behind that shared the same thoughts on boats and sailing. His name is Stephen Moroz and he is the first master of this kind in the small land of Moldova, Eastern Europe. Master Stephen designs and simulates wooden souvenir sailboats of all times. He got his talent as being a professional painter and creates his own works of art by making smaller models of the most popular boats in the world. It can take him up to one year to build a sailboat that has more than 10.000 details. Looking through his sketchbook, it’s amazing to see how much he cares about his creations and for each of them he has a different tale to tell.

“At the time you start building a boat, you need to know everything about its history and its heroes. If you are not completely dragged into the story, it’s not going to work”. With a smile on his face, he remembers the first model he has ever done.

“When I was a kid, I was astonished with the discovery of the new land of America by Columbus. I built the exact simulation of Santa Maria de la Inmaculada Conception ship, the 1492 model that Columbus sailed in his first voyage.”

With a lighted up cigarette and a coffee, Stephen nostalgically confesses that he was twice married and has a 23-yeard-old son. Now he lives alone and spends most of his time in his workshop, working on new models. The 52-year-old says that because he is so dedicated to his occupation that absorbs so much time he is not able to have a family. The master got his obsessive passion for the sea and boats back in his young years by the time he was a sailor in Lithuania. Because of the fall of the Soviet Union, he was forced to return to Moldova, but his thoughts stayed on the waves of the Baltic Sea and his dream is to build a real boat one day and sail the sea for the rest of his life. Anyone that has been messing around with boats knows that those cunning curves, endless seams, and rooting wood hold more than practical challenges. All boats have histories, some more sentimental than others, but they inherit certain meanings. Reflecting on Tolhurst’s or Stephen’s story, we’ve seen more than an obsession, we’ve seen a lifelong dream achievement and total dedication to work. Some men compare the feeling of being in love with what they do with the one of being in love with a woman. They feel younger, they feel more empowered and it feeds their need of self- fulfillment. Being stereotyped as hunters, it’s vital for men to focus on something that underpins a meaning, an impact that will also give them a great sense of accomplishment.

“Even if I’m gonna sell hot-dogs, those will be hot-dogs with vitamins and probably will cure cancer” says 23-year-old student Terrence Carp.

These are the kind of challenges that make us evolve and break the boundaries. It is said that each one of us should have an obsession. In medical terms, obsession is defined as the way to madness. Yet, others define it as being really passionate about something or having your heart in everything you do and this is what successful examples above unfolded. Why men? Because they do it better.

2012, are you ready?

Everyone knows about the 2012 end of the world scenario: the prophecies, the natural catastrophes and the few days left on Earth. As we are getting closer to the “doomsday” people have invaded the online platforms with pessimistic predictions. There are those who started it all with the Mayan Calendar story and assured us that “something” is going to happen on the 21st of December 2012. Others say that we are supposed to be hit by an obscure Planet X on the same day. Einstein himself contributed a bit to the speculations with the bees theory and Nostradamus predicted a “Great King Terror from the skydeciphered as a comet that somehow relates to 2012. Yet the point of the whole panic is that we should take our time to prepare for the Survival. Although the theories may sound more out-of-this-world than end-of-the-world, hundreds of books and websites promoting the apocalyptic subject are proliferating as much as the hope for survival. Everyone thinks should be one that deserves to live, the one that apparently received a free ticket for the Survival spaceship seen in the controversial 2012 movie, that by the way had $769 million worldwide theatrical revenue. Remember! The rocket has limited seats and only the rich ones get the tickets, so go to end of the queue. But if it ‘s not going to happen, don’t worry, you won’t get a refund either. At the end of the day you would benefit from it anyway, right? Because you survived.

Then there are the others, fewer of course, that claim that 2012 is going to be an amazing year, the so-called Year of the Dragon. In the Chinese Zodiac the dragon is the mightiest sign, symbolizing dominance and ambition. Chinese people don’t see the dragon as a threatening evil being as we do in the West, but rather a symbol of power, superiority and rule. According to them, we will be more powerful, wiser and richer. A person born this year is unafraid, willing to take risks and usually successful. Sounds like a perfect year, without any sings of the coming of the Armageddon. What it interesting about it is that the same Chinese astrology points out that the dragon is the only animal of the Chinese zodiac year that is not real. Now, what’s that supposed to mean? First theories scoring more points?

Keeping up with exploring these myths and trying to find a link between the unreal Dragon, Planet X or Great King Terror, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the end of the world would be a better option for us. With baby Seven Billion recently being brought into this world, how are we going to deal with the billions yet to come? Neither is the “real” future scenario more optimistic. Overpopulation, prolonged recession, collapse of governments, hence even deeper recession. And maybe a few more wars down the road to keep alive the economies involved. End of the world is definitely better. So has the countdown begun?


Amour Magazine

Hello. This year we had an interesting, huge project called Amour Magazine. It’s a quarterly magazine about art, fashion, travel and culture featuring all beautiful things we love to share. My main story was a fashion feature with a Central Saint Martins undergraduate student, Oleg Moscal. My second piece was a travel story of a guy that has travelled across the desert in Jordan, Amir Al Fakeeh. My third article is a think piece on 2012. Hope you enjoy it.

Yardsale ‘Carnaval’

Yardsale. Pentru prima dată am avut ocazia să particip și eu la acest proaspăt eveniment la noi in Chișinau. Am fost foarte entuziasmată de email-ul care mi-a autorizat aplicația ca vânzator. Am vândut haine pentru copii si cosmetică, de branduri engleze ca: Marks&Spencer, Primark, Girl2Girl, L’Oreal, Maybelline etc. și inca mai am, așa că adresați-vă. Și am vândut foarte bine, cred ca cel mai bine 🙂 Nu m-am așteptat că o sa fie atâta lume, și mai ales oameni de vârsta medie. Mi-au placut foarte mult toate floricele, cercelușii in forma de tort, harbuz, banane, capșunele, Mcdonalds :D, cupcakes împachetate f frumos, si toate alte chestioare mici si nemaipomenite. Muzica, bere, hotdogs, si o atmosferă incredibilă sâmbată la Orfeus, unde a avut loc Yardsale-ul. Pentru mici si mamici, tineri, profesoare, prieteni, rude , pentru toata lumea. Recomand cu voce tare si din tot sufletul acest unic eveniment, care le oferă acestor talentate fete ocazia să-și vanda creațiile. Urmariți pozele de mai jos si vă aștept la urmatorul Yardsale, daca îl mai prind:

Aquarelle Fm ‘Interpretul Zilei’

Salutare. Back to my blog, cum s-ar zice, m-am întors acasă, m-am întors la treabă şi iata o prima dovadă. Recent, mi-am început  stagierea la postul meu de radio preferat Aquarelle Fm, unde găsești muzică pe toate gusturile şi unde buna dispoziţie nu lipsește. Prinde fericirea în fiecare zi doar pe 90.7fm. Michael Jackson este invitatul meu de astăzi la Interpretul zilei şi haideţi să ne amintim cu zîmbetul pe buze de Regele muzicii pop. Rock this party !!!

Michael Jackson

Anastasia Lazariuc

Sofia Rotaru

Nelly Ciobanu

Nadejda Cepraga

Ion si Doina Aldea-Teodorovici

Ion Suruceanu




Prînzul în Aer cu Nata Albot la Aquarelle FM

Hehey. Sa stiti ca am avut parte de o supriza frumoasa azi dimineata. Asa cum doarmeam eu linistita si visam ceva frumos, pe la orele 7 primesc un telefon. Ma suna Nata Albot si imi propunem sa facem un interviu prin skype pentru Aquarelle FM. Zis si facut. Astazi am avut onoare sa fiu invitata ‘virtuala’ a Natei, si va puteti sa auziti interviul cu mine si  multe alte, doar la Aquarelle FM.

Royal Wedding Documentary

Desi au trecut deja 3 zile de la acest mare eveniment, eu tot inca am ramas sub impresii. Nunta regala a fost pentru mine ceva special pentru ca am facut partea din ea, pentru ca o sa pot sa le povestesc la copiii mei care vor invata despre Printul William si Printesa Ecaterina la orele de engleza. Mi-a facut o placere enorma sa fac acest documentar si tin la el foarte mult. Trebuia sa fie difuzat in cadrul emisiunii “Sare si Piper” de la JurnalTV dar din pacate, din cauza vacantei mici si a tuturor bank holidays pe care le-am avut, subiectul s-a cam epuizat. Trezirea la 3 dimineata, asteptarea de 6 ore in picioare la Buckingham, cearta cu tot security-ul pe care il avem in universitate pentru ca sa-mi deschida studio-urile de redactare la care nu am access, curajul de a filma in HD si de a scoate informatia de pe caseta mini dv, si apoi redactarea de 2,5 zile nu conteaza.  Faptul ca am fost acolo si m-am ales si cu o amintire frumoasa e tot ce conteaza !!! Va las sa vizionati primul meu documentar de 11 minute, aveti rabdare sa va uitati pyna la capat pentru ca sfyrshitul e cel mai frumos !!!

ENGLISH: Royal wedding documentary. I will summarise my impressions in a few words: amazing, exciting and beautiful. Amazing because I was there, I was part of history and I will remember that for my whole life and tell my kids about it. Exciting because I was a super duper huge event, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep properly and that is why I left for Buckingham Palace at 3 AM. I am not as crazy as are those people that stayed there for 2-3 days. Thanks to my camera I could get a place in the first raw. Beautiful because I have never never in my life witnessed e a royal event, and this was a first for me. Beautiful tradition, beautiful couple and very beautiful bride. I loved the atmosphere they’ve created, I loved them, I still love them !!! From now on, I am oficially a super royal fan. Enjoy my documentary of 11 minutes. It is partly in romanian, partly in english, but the images are fantastic. It took me a hell of a lot of effort but it was worth it. Just enjoy and have patience to watch it until the end, because the end crowns the work. A shorter version of the original one. Enjoy !!!