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Reflections by Kate

Friday, 02 May, 2008

Today I’m listening to Radio 4 about people held captive for 6 months in Chechnya. It is an amazing account. The woman is called Camilla Kerr, the man Jonathan James. The book is ‘The Sky is Always There’. They haven’t seen the sky for 6 months. They are allowed to see old letters from their families for 10 minutes. They are released but full of fears and uncertainties.
It makes me realise how lucky I am. We are a bit stuck at the moment, but it is, hopefully, just a matter of waiting for our freedom from London. How can I grumble when we are in luxury here? There are 10 months left, hopefully the flat will sell and we will just have six months to spend until we retire. The new life is so exciting. We know what it is like, being on the boat for extended periods of time. We will relish the freedom, I’m sure, finding ourselves so busy that we will wonder how we ever had time to work. We will have put in the time and loss of freedom and can reap the rewards of being able to go where and when we want. There will be people to see and things to do. Just enjoying being together.

Monday, 05 May, 2008
Today was amazing. I went to the library a couple of days ago and returned with some leaflets about things to do. One leaflet was things to do in Islington, near where we are living. This morning was the dawn chorus.

We set off at 2.45am, no really! We had planned a speedy exit on bikes and the weather was fine. It was dark and we cycled past the Arsenal Stadium, through to Gillespie Road to the Ecology Centre and a warm welcome from Richard, the co-ordinator of this event. He invited our bikes inside and we were offered tea and apologies for getting the time wrong. “We are about an hour early”, he said, “and the birds are not up yet”. We were first treated to a techie display of bird song, swiping a pen across a card to demonstrate the different calls, then eventually we all stepped outside into a fragrant and lovely environment. There were woodland walks and ponds, all in the gloom which gradually became dawn, a huge, unique experience. We really listened to each birdsong and loved it.

After toast and tea and a peep at a video cam of a bluetit on 8 eggs in her nesting box, we shot off home to crash out till about 10am.

Malcolm wanted to see the display of Banksy’s artwork in a tunnel near Waterloo. We walked to the Angel and caught the bus to Waterloo. The queues were long but it was again worth seeing; some amazing statements and artwork. We walked home via the pub where we shared a plate of nachos and had a drink.

Sunday, 11 May, 2008
Here we are on Cirrus and anchored in Pyefleet, near Clacton and West Mersea. The weather is gorgeous, very sunny but with a strong breeze keeping it bearable. We motored most of the way across, or should I say near, the Maplin Sands and my heart nearly stopped a few times with the lack of depth. I am rested and almost invigorated but it takes longer with Malcolm. He is still not quite able to shake off the bonds which drag his brain back to work.

Friday, 16 May, 2008

We have now been in Suffolk Yacht Harbour for two nights. We had a lovely sail up from Clacton, a sunny day but a strong northeasterly which meant we had to motor some of the way but the engine behaved impeccably.

We eventually managed to set sail up the coast to the Pye End Buoy, lovely and sunny and fascinating to watch the enormous ships coming and going to the container port which is Felixstowe. Sailing up to the Orwell means having a different perspective on the area.
Malcolm has different memories of this area. He was a windsurfer here, and this is where he and I first lived together, in Kirton, near Ipswich. I was still at university, trying to finish my degree with a toddler and a baby, Malcolm’s baby. He bought a lovely house in Kirton with a big vegetable garden and surrounded by farmland. His memories are of windsurfing and the companionship of the windsurfing club, of his brother and his mother who both lived here at the time. So much has changed. Our boys have grown up and are scattered through the country, living in Newcastle, Yeovil and Sheffield. Malcolm’s mum lives in East Sussex, widowed for the second time but now enjoying a new friendship.

Yesterday we walked to Trimley, a long walk through the Marshes Nature Reserve. It was very hot but with the stiff northeasterly to cool us, perfect walking weather really. We stopped at a bird hide and walked along the lane to Cordy’s Lane. The lane has not changed since the Trotts lived there. It was strange to be amongst so many memories of family life. Our small boys creating havoc with perfect gardens, egged on by the senior Trott brothers. (There is evidence in the form of photographs of the senior Trotts on stilts and roller skates.) Also memories of Ron who, I believe, was delighted to be a grandad. He had a magical bond with Michael who in turn adored his grandad. No words needed to be spoken when they met up. Michael would just slip his hand into Ron’s and away they would go on walks around Kirton and Trimley. The memories were there yesterday. Ron was lovely to Tony too. “Hello, Tony boy”, he would say and he was delighted with brand new Ben too. I will always remember the Christmas get-together when he wanted to hold Ben straight away.

Today we boarded a bus to Felixstowe. We have forgotten distances but the places have an eerie familiarity. We remember the names of roads but have forgotten their relationship to other roads. Where is the railway station?

I suppose this is why Malcolm remembers differently. I was a mum with three beautiful boys. We lived in a world where a caravan of cycles with child seats processed to the local primary school and back. We were members of the baby-sitting circle, visiting other young families and doing the rounds of playgroup and baby clinic.

We have had a great time here relaxing and planning for next year when we retire. Finally we leave the area to sail back south again.

The passage down, through the Swin Spitway was rough but quick. We arrived at the Columbine Buoy at about 1700 and sailed slowly up to Harty. We were chilled and wet and it was good to settle for the night with the stove on to warm us. We sailed then motored through the Swale behind the Isle of Sheppey, the Kingsferry bridge lifting to accommodate an enormous ship and us going in the other direction.

I made bread as we motored on to Sharfleet Creek, two mixes, ciabatta and ordinary white bread, and the results (after rising the dough in the engine compartment) were voluminous. We ate salad and bread and are settled for our final night of this holiday. Tomorrow we sail to Gillingham, on the midday high tide. We will leave Cirrus clean and neat and drive off to see Malcolm’s Mum in East Sussex.

On Monday I start my new job. Another chapter opens.

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