Adjusting to life on land
|12/08/2010||Filled under Cornwall, Cycling, England, family, Yeovil|
Our Round Britain is complete and suddenly we are rocketed into a new world, one that is not continuously moving. We are so used to the movement – tiny shifts in stability in response to small, wind-blown ripples across the sea or occasionally significant lurches to one side then the other as Cirrus is lifted, first one hull then the other – that even after several days on dry land our legs are still responding to phantoms, muscle-memories of movements. We stagger about the streets. For those experiencing this the effect is quite bizarre but when it happens it is important to appreciate that those close by will not be experiencing the same phenomenon. To them, the floor is not bobbing up and down, randomly, and it is no use discussing the experience with them; sympathy will be lacking.
With Cirrus on her mooring we set off on heavily loaded bikes to catch the Cremyll ferry across the River Tamar to Plymouth and turn our heads to look back at her, our proud home since April this year, as she floats serenely in Millbrook Lake, an area of shallow water perfectly suited to catamarans and similar craft. As the tide ebbs away it will lower her hulls gently onto soft mud where she will sit upright waiting for our return. We have a complex journey to undertake now, one involving trains, bicycles and a boat which ends at the door of our new home in Yeovil. We are conscious that what we have achieved sailing-wise during 2009 and 2010 is something most people would not understand, let alone attempt. To sail our own boat around Britain’s shoreline, unaided and for most of the time alone, is something we are now realising we can feel proud of. It is something we might never do again ourselves but nevertheless we know we could, if we so desired. We surmounted the challenges and lived through them. Timely it is, therefore, to thank all those who have encouraged and supported us on our travels by reading this blog and sailing with us in spirit.
It is dusk when we open the front door to our new home and roll the bikes inside. We can expect that these machines will be worked hard in the weeks ahead as we get to know our way around, popping into shops or just visiting our sons who live on the opposite side of town, for bikes are our sole means of private transport at the moment (discounting our legs, of course). We are soon to discover that Yeovil has a surprising secret. The route by road into the town centre or across town to our son Mike’s apartment is heavily trafficked and an unpleasant ride on a bicycle. There are hills and potholes to negotiate and unforgiving drivers who care not for the lone cyclist. Our discovery of a traffic-free route, specifically constructed for pedestrians and cyclists who can use it to navigate along the River Yeo thus avoiding hills, cars and lorries alike has brought a whole new dimension to our lives. The route is only lightly used by cyclists, I suspect largely because it does not appear on any town or street maps. Yet it provides us with a pleasant ride which gives us access to the central shopping area as well as the larger out of town stores. More importantly to us at the moment, the route passes close by Yeovil’s B&Q hardware store which is a Mecca for collecting ideas and getting many of the essential bits for our home refurbishment project.
Simple, clean designs like this attract us so we stop and squint… yes, this might be fine for our proposed combined kitchen/living room, the room, I might add, that we have yet to create by demolishing an internal dividing wall. Having now started the ‘destruction’ phase of the renovation plan – stripping wallpaper, ripping apart cupboards and panelling – next comes the knocking down walls phase for which we shall need professional help. We expect that there is a long period of living with the untidiness, the dust and the dirt yet to come before the re-construction phase starts, the new flooring, the painting and decorating. Until then we find ourselves living in less comfort than that which we are used to from being on board Cirrus. The fridge and washing machine arrived yesterday yet we still have only a few basic pieces of furniture. What we do have is lots of plans to change almost everything we see around us, we are warm and dry, enjoying another challenge and getting to know the place which is to be our home for the foreseeable future.
Whilst living in Italy during last winter we did most of our shopping at a Ventimiglia supermarket which goes under the name of Lidl, this being conveniently close, the cheapest option around and it was also the shop which stocked items which were least ‘foreign’ to our tastes. Now it has to be admitted that Lidl is not everybody’s cup of tea but over the months we gradually became ‘Lidl-ised’ and used to some of their more strange offerings, not least because reasonable Italian wine could be purchased at 90 cents a bottle, something around 80 British pence at the time. Finding a Lidl store within walking distance of our new home, therefore, was a strangely exotic experience. Of course once we had explored the place and familiarised ourselves with the loaves of German black bread, the side-sleeper pillow and the jars of preserved cherries it began to feel quite homely to us. As a source of fresh produce it just cannot be beaten locally although sadly the duty imposed on wine in this country means that we cannot return to the drinking habits we acquired in Italy without bankrupting ourselves.
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