It’s been too long since I wrote the last blog and a lot has happened in between and I’m not sure where to start. Start I must otherwise it’s going to turn into an incoherent mass of jumbled tales (just like normal I hear you say)…. And I must get this done before we have the European referendum, which could potentially alter the course of history. I keep singing the Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go now?” It’s the line, “If I stay there will be trouble….. if I go there will be double…..” which for me says it all.
So I need to cover most of May and half of June.
We’ve had a rethink on our sailing plans, ever fluid of course, and our current thinking is until Clive’s parent’s estates are settled with probate etc, our movement is restricted. So we aim to bring Distant Drum back to Essex and stop still for a year (ie not too far from UK shores), and build our resources which will be much easier if we’re stopped in one place. As ever, plans are for changing.
Our old friend Chris has been really poorly this year and recently took a turn for the worse. His non Hodgkins Lymphoma which he’s managed well for the past few years, one nodule has turned into full on Hodgkins Lymphoma and he’s spent most of the last couple of months in Harlow Hospital. He’s at home now and after a particularly bad few days where he thought his number was up, he is making good steady progress. With his family close by and his sister Kirsty visiting from Oz, together with his second cycle of chemotherapy, he finally feels he’s got a new lease of life. A great relief for Libby (we’ve been friends since we were four years old) and all their family, and their friends I hasten to add.
Fergus the pooch had a stroke – what’s wrong with that? I hear you say, all dogs get stroked, patted etc. This was a real live medical emergency. Poor Eliza and her family were worried sick. She got him to the vet the following morning as soon as it opened and the vet had to help her carry Fergus from the car. Eliza was so upset she was reaching for the reams of blue paper towels in the surgery whilst the vet tried to reassure her that dogs can recover remarkably well from strokes. A big steroid injection and an eight day course of steroid tablets were prescribed, and Fergus limped and wobbled out through the waiting room, whereupon he spied a cat in a basket – grrrrrrrruffff ruff ruff he went as he lunged towards the terrified feline, before he gathered his wobbling limbs together and limped and lurched out of the clinic.
Eliza phoned me when she got home, and with deep trepidation told me what had happened. I burst into tears and so did Clive. We set off to go and see him, just in case all went horribly wrong. En route we called in to see Chris in Harlow Hospital and he was in such a sorry state too, we realised just how ill he was. I gathered myself together and started channelling Reiki energy to him, and then to Fergus too. At least it made me feel I could do something to help. Fergus has been getting better daily, phew and is coming for a holiday in Harwich from July 4th for a couple of weeks.
Talking of Reiki, I’ve joined the Complementary Therapy team at St Helena’s Hospice in Colchester, where a range of therapies including Reiki are offered to patients, their families and carers. I am also getting a few clients locally in Harwich so building up slowly, which stopping in one place for a while is perfect for.
Clive decided he will get a job and applied for four positions locally, had three interviews and has been offered two posts and has started one. What a result! These are delivery driving for a supermarket in Ipswich, a grind of a commute and a very disorganised way of appointing him to the post, and the second as a Ranger for Hamford Waters Nature Reserve, a 1500 ha reserve on the Essex coast, which Clive would love to do however like the supermarket post, is only part-time and he has yet to receive any material relating to terms and conditions for both jobs, let alone contracts. If it’s this hard for a mature adult to get this information, what ever is it like for young people starting out in the world of work.
I had a couple of weeks travelling to see my parents and helping them get to hospital appointments in Cheltenham. Alas I ended up myself in Cheltenham A&E when I was supposed to be fetching my father from having two melanomas cut from his head. My left eye, the one with the cataract, suddenly seemed to have bursts of black blotches in my vision and I felt like a curtain was coming down over my eye. Years ago I lived next door to a lady whose retinas detached when she went in to hospital for a caesarean section – which resulted in her never seeing her daughter as by the time a registrar got round to see her, it was too late to reattach them. When the burst of blotches and blurriness happened I was overwhelmed with fear that a similar thing might be happening, so I calmly drove mum home to Broadway and went to see their optician who told me to get to A&E straight away. I am very glad to report that it was not an emergency, it is myocular degradation which, like hair loss and body parts migrating, comes with age, though only in 0.4% of people in their 50s, sigh. As it turned out, I am very glad I went as it got worse before it seems to have settled down, or I’ve got used to it.
At the start of June I accompanied my friend Jo on a Hempcrete course which took place close to Brighton on the south coast, building new and renovating old buildings using a mixture of hemp shiv, lime, citrus powder and water which makes the most brilliant, breathable, well insulated walls and wall cavities, excellent for repairing ancient buildings and building new ones alike. Wow, I was hooked from the word go. Great teaching and a very practical course too. We built frames, shuttering, etc, mixed and poured, plastered with lime plaster top coat, how to use it for framing windows, repairing old lath & plaster walls using hazel stakes within the framework. There were fourteen of us altogether including an architecture student from Scotland, two Swedish brothers who build houses in Stockholm, a father and son team who want to build a granny annex, a Latvian and an Australian, both apprentice builders, who were so on the ball with everything they learnt, plus three young students from Clacton just down the road, who wanted to learn something different, and a couple of other great chaps who worked for environmental organisations. Jo wants to renovate her house and some old farm buildings she has and the idea is, if her planning permission comes through, to use Hempcrete as one of the main building materials. I can now help her.
Last weekend the forecast looked good for bringing Distant Drum anticlockwise from Dartmouth home to Essex. We drove down via Glastonbury to pick up Martin Leett, an old friend of Clive’s, who offered to help Clive with the start of the journey. We had another farewell evening with our new friends Marianne and Nigel who live aboard Treshnish in the River Dart, and on Tuesday morning the boys cast off and turned left to cross Torbay, reversing our journey of last year. The first night they reached Weymouth at around 11pm after a 12 hour sail, whilst I drove home stopping for coffee with Vicky in Ottery St Mary and lunch with JenJen & Wendy in Charmouth. I cracked on for Harwich as I had a last minute booking for Airbnb in the cottage for Thursday, so last Wednesday was spent on cottage cleaning and clearing blitz. I’d just finished at 7pm when I has news from Clive that they were cracking on for Portsmouth. I was on duty to drive our friend and experienced sailor Howard down to meet Distant Drum there and relieve Martin, who by this time had had enough with two long day’s sailing. We reached Gunwharf Quay at about 11.30pm, managed to get the code for the marina gate from some punters who were just leaving, and were just in time to see Distant Drum’s navigation lights coming across the river – easy to spot because the port light wasn’t working! We tied them up at midnight and the boys were not surprisingly knackered. Sailing in the dark is a hard task, particularly in a heavy shipping lane and with the Isle of Wight Ferries flying through.
We all collapsed aboard, waking up at about 7am. I cooked us all breakfast while Martin packed his bags and the chaps sorted out their sailing route. They planned to leave Portsmouth mid morning to minimise having to punch the tide. After getting diesel, which was an adventure in itself, Clive and Howard finally got going about 12 noon and they still ended up punching the tide for at least three hours. They kept going, taking it in turns to get sleep during the night, on past Eastbourne and Brighton, Dungeness and by the following morning had rounded Dover in thick fog and pouring rain. They motor-sailed across the Thames Estuary and on through Fulgers Gat, after which they gave the engine a rest and had two cracking hours with the sails up. 31 hours after leaving Portsmouth, they sailed into Harwich at 7pm on Friday. Sue & I cooked dinner aboard while the boys collapsed with welcome beers in hand.
More photos to follow.
Next blog post referendum…..