Rob and I are back in the UK for 4 weeks, haven’t had a single day free so far and we go back to Trinidad next week!
We have stayed with family and friends, old and new, all over England and Wales, attended to admin for my company, my father’s solicitors and stockbrokers and had appointments with the hairdresser, dentist and optician. We spent a day at the Southampton Boat Show, collecting pre-ordered spare parts for the boat and almost stuck to our list, bar 3 items. One was a waterproof backpack for taking the laptop ashore in the dinghy, one was a fuel siphoning tube which you don’t have to suck to get it started and the other was a waterproof camera for snorkelling. We also met our friend there, another Rhian, who sold us Beyzano in 2008 and who was on the Beneteau stand. We looked at the new Oceanis 48 but weren’t impressed with the chart table nor square lines in the saloon. It just didn’t feel as substantial as our 473 so we wouldn’t swop her – not that we can afford to 🙂 The boat show seemed quieter than in past years and sadly some of the usual suppliers weren’t there, so we wondered if their businesses had gone under.
Meeting up with 10 other ARC sailors for a BBQ was a happy reunion and we shared stories about the crossing again but we differ from them in that they are either back in the UK for good, or spend just a few months in the Caribbean. 2 are returning to Trinidad before Christmas, so we promised to meet up then. We received an email from the World Cruising Club asking for volunteers for the 2012 ARC finish line, so will be in St Lucia for all of December, to join them in welcoming this year’s sailors into Rodney Bay after their atlantic adventure.
For 4 days we stayed with my cousins in their stunning 15th Century home near Hay on Wye and it didn’t rain for 1 of the days, giving us the chance to walk along the river with their dog, Dixie. One of the local girls, Josie Pearson, won a gold medal in the ParaOlympics so the town letterbox has been painted gold to celebrate.
We also drove to Llansantffraid to see more of our cousins and put names to faces on old photographs my dad had. A final trip was to the old family farm, Sunnybank, which has been completely updated and extended by the new owners. A beautiful part of the country and where dad wanted to be laid to rest.
London was the next stop, to spend the weekend with our 3 sons. An Edinburgh fringe play in Soho, wander around Harrods which has started to get the Christmas goods on display, a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum to view the ballgown exhibition, walk through Muswell Hill and a birthday meal for Claudia and the weekend was gone. It didn’t seem long enough, given that we shouldn’t be back again until next July. Leaving people seems to be the story of our lives now, either in the UK or in different Caribbean anchorages. We also found it more difficult to be back this trip, more like visitors everywhere we went and without a firm base. I guess we have got to the stage where home is very much where Beyzano is. We were invited to a wonderful lunch by a couple we hadn’t met before, Steve and Helen, who had emailed us as they also have a 473. Lunch lasted until after 6pm, the hours flew by but hopefully we gave them some useful tips about life living aboard. Hoping to catch up with them again in the future and hearing how their plans have worked out.
We brought back our cracked corian freezer lid from Trinidad and this was dropped off in Southampton to Ken Fitzgerald of Specialist Building & Interiors (sp-i.co.uk), who did a fantastic job repairing the 2 long cracks which had spread out from 2 of the screws in the handle, strengthening the underlying lid so it shouldn’t happen again and invisibly mending the cracks. It was all done quickly and cheaply, so the galley will be back to new again. Corian is such an amazing material and made a huge difference to the boat! Another cheap change which updated the galley was the purchase of the grey metal discs for the gas burners, taking years off the hob.
Our final week will be spent buying some food we can’t get, such as red thai curry paste and cheap filter coffee, a few more social and admin meetings and then packing up for the BA flight to Trinidad via St Lucia. Fortunately we are still using air miles, so have an allowance of 6 bags of 32 kgs each, mostly taken up with M&S tins of steak and chicken in white wine! We also found out we could transfer all the BMI air miles to BA so have 650,000 air miles still left. It is very expensive to get back from the Caribbean and BA have just stopped the Wednesday flight from Grenada, leaving just the Sunday one and increasing the price by hundreds of pounds. It is something to budget for if you need to return home often. We have 4 unmarried ‘children’, 1 graduating next summer and have already attended 2 funerals, so travel costs can be very high. Persuading all the ‘children’ to get married in the same month might help!
It was impossible to see everyone we hoped to see, so perhaps next time it would be better to arrange a gathering on a single day, somewhere central, so we can see more of our family and friends. We send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave us a bed for the night and to those who entertained or travelled to see us during the month. Hope to reciprocate in the Caribbean whenever you can plan a trip to see us.