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Ship to shore

Malcolm: Cirrus Cat’s new home is surrounded by a rolling, wooded landscape, calm waters rippled by the breeze only for part of the day when the tide is full. For she is now in ‘cat country’, a place where only shallow draft craft can navigate and she is alone with her kind, catamarans, trimarans and other more bizarre craft. When we visited her there we had only a brief time while she floated to unload all we needed. There are the shells and special stones we picked up on faraway places, things we plan to display in our new home, and even the mattress Kate and I have slept on came home with us till next year.

Kate: The change of environment from the boat to a house after fifteen months of retirement on a boat was remarkable. We haven’t had much time to think or sort our belongings. We unloaded tools, bedding, books and other items such as clothes we had collected during our period of life as liveaboards. The weather had been kind and the rain held off until we were on our way back to Yeovil.

There is major work to be done in the house. We have to fit a new kitchen, new bathroom and refurbish everywhere. We’ve stripped wallpaper, today Malcolm took out the toilet, yesterday the cistern for the cloakroom and we are waiting for Andrew and Geoff to come and knock the living room/kitchen wall down after building consent has been given by the inspector. They will install the downstairs toilet, Malcolm will fit the sink, tile the walls and floor and a million other things. Today he also fixed a bed together which had been put in the garden shed. The bolts were missing but we managed to get them from a supplier of fixings and attachments near here.

We are blessed with all sorts of large diy stores and specialist shops close by. Living on the boat in Scotland, Wales and parts of the English coast we have sometimes found it hard to find shops, although there is usually a Co-op store for food. This embarrassment of riches is alien to us but ideal for our purposes. The joy of going to Screwfix, for example, is that we can benefit from our son Mike’s discount as an employee of the place. His knowledge of their stock is encyclopaedic and he can teach his Dad a thing or two about tools and fixings.

Malcolm: One thing we have brought along with us from the boat is our fine gallery of beach pictures, a collection which started many years ago but the circumnavigation gave us the opportunity to add new exhibits as we moved around the country. On the left is one from Vatersay, a sister island to Barra in the Hebrides and since 1991 connected by a short causeway and a tarmac road. Each picture has its own character and each is different. In fact no two beaches are ever identical.

On the right here we have the broken shell beach at Eoligarry on the northern tip of Barra, a beach which is used as a runway for scheduled aeroplane flights from the Scottish mainland.

Kate: We are learning to slow down a little but are both driven to get well on with the renovation project. We feel much satisfaction at the results of our hard work. The physical aspect of it compared with our mentally challenging last few years of paid work brings visible rewards. Although the house is a bit of a wreck, we know that we have made it cleaner and can envisage a great improvement when our work draws to a close and we head off for a sailing holiday again.

Malcolm: Another thing we are having to come to terms with is that we are living in the former home of a certain Mr William Botchit. Will, who fancied himself as something of an electrical DIY-er, clearly knew absolutely nothing about amps and watts and probably thought that all electricity was the same flavour and so long as sparks come out of the end of the wire. Although there is nothing wrong with the house as such, which was built properly, strongly and correctly about 40 years ago, I have rapidly become adept at picking up clues that tell me where the electrical botches are to be found so that I can make things safe.

But at least Will went to the trouble of fitting a rather nice burglar alarm control panel in a cupboard upstairs. Full marks here mate. Pity you didn’t actually connect it to anything else, like the doors or the windows, for instance. But the alarm itself works. It starts howling whenever I inadvertently switch it off for more than twenty minutes. Now where did I jot down that reset code?

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