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From land to sea

Visiting a big city like Glasgow is always something of a culture shock for us. Earlier in the day we were staggering along the road to the bus stop in Carradale with our giant suitcases, greeting our neighbours with a friendly word here and there, explaining to those who didn’t already know that we would be away from a while, then before we know it we are stepping down from a bus meeting the noise and the rush of a big city full on. People are strangers here. Nobody stops for a chat and often will not even step aside to let us pass along the pavement, overburdened though we are. We feel like aliens, strangely uncomfortable with our fellow humans.

We spend the night at the Travelodge as we have business to conduct in the city and Glasgow has the nearest branch of our bank. After checking in at the hotel we rush off to arrive just before closing time and, business completed, then relax and celebrate a little, eating out at Dino’s in Sauchiehall Street. This is a little island of Italian-ness and once inside, seated before the red and white chequered plastic table cloth, we can pretend that we have just stepped off an Italian village street. We can even order our meal in Italian, if we dare. The Spaghetti Napoli is a delicious thing to behold and the owner exudes excessive Italian charm right through the meal – what more could you ask for.

Cities are noisy places at night (everywhere is noisy compared to Carradale)Kate on the bus to Plymouth but despite this we sleep well and by mid-afternoon the following day we are in Birmingham and setting off on the last leg of our long journey. Puffy white clouds float about aimlessly above us as the day warms up and the fine weather continues; we are travelling south, towards the sun, and at each stop we notice a slight increase in warmth, degree by degree, until finally we arrive at our destination, Millbrook in Cornwall. Road to MillbrookHere we have barely set off with our luggage to walk the last mile down the lane to the boatyard when the yard owners, Pip and Debbie, pass by and kindly stop their car to take our bags for us. We are expected and they have made us feel less like strangers here in this foreign land.

Millbrook Lake is actually a tidal inlet off of the River Tamar which itself forms the boundary between Devon and Cornwall. The word ‘lake’ does not do this place any justice at all because for most of the day the water is absent and a muddy desert shimmers in the heat, quietly leaking an ever ripening smell which drifts across the boatyard where we are working to bring Cirrus Cat alive again. Fortunately there is plenty to be done so we ignore our senses for the moment; launch day is a weekend away and the anti-fouling paint has to go on, sails bent on spars and the engine run up. Considering that she has been lying here since October last year, the air inside the boat is quite fresh (a tribute to the ventilation) and everything we need to live comfortably aboard is soon unpacked or re-fitted in its place. We begin stocking up with food, connecting the instruments and other electrical equipment and brushing away ten months of dust where this has accumulated, ready for the land to sea transformation that is about to take place.

The heat is now oppressive and by afternoon it is sapping our energy. Activity begins to slow down a little as, with so little breeze, the temperature inside the boat rises to 29 degrees Celsius in the shelter of the boatyard. The moment will soon arrive when there will be cooling water lapping against the hull making things rather more comfortable on board.

Sunday is the day our son Mike arrives for a visit, with Yeovil’s newest inhabitants, Kate’s brother Peter and his wife Liz, who are now living in our renovated house there. Cirrus launch1We spend a hot but enjoyable day with them trying to deal with Liz’s apparent fears about whales rising up from the depths of the sea and tipping over our catamaran with one toss of the head (surely not!) then finally they return home to leave us alone to spend what will be our last night on land for many months.

Launch day finally arrives and a specially adapted trailer is slid between our hulls which jacks Cirrus clear of the ground. A tractor is hitched up and our home from home slowly trundles across the boatyard towards the slipway which leads… to the muddy expanse of Millbrook Lake.Cirrus waiting for the tide at Millbrook

Here we are deposited, gently, and abandoned for the rest of the day, forgotten by the world until the tide brings Cirrus’ natural element, water, to us. And before we know it we are floating away on a new adventure.

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