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Turning out to be quite a year!

When starting to write this blog nearly five years ago we had only a vague purpose in mind and even vaguer ideas on what we would write and who we expected to read it. Our primary thinking was that whilst travelling about on our boat it would be a means by which family and friends could keep track of our progress without us having to send out loads of postcards. Over the years it has gradually taken on a life of its own, has acquired some unexpected followers, and has also become a place we can ourselves look back on to recall earlier moments in our lives. But we have always been conscious that by using a public webpage as a medium we are exposing our lives for anyone to see and that this raises some important issues, the main one being to what extent we are willing to expose to the world events in our lives that are unpleasant or make us unhappy, the less desirable things. This year, as it seems to be turning out, we are getting a good sprinkling of these.

When our son Mike joined us here in Carradale some months ago it took him no time at all to integrate and find work for himself, which surprised and delighted us all. He admits that the work he found, mowing people’s lawns and doing other gardening work, was physically demanding at first but he enjoyed the freedom of being outdoors after his previous deskbound existence. Village life here suits him well and there is little he misses from his earlier life, so things were looking good for him. What none of us expected was a serious health problem to arise for him, and coming after Kate’s diagnosis this is a double blow to us. Mike’s medical care and subsequent treatment is being managed from Glasgow, our closest specialist care location, and our normal lives are on hold for the time being.

The journey by road to Glasgow from Carradale takes around three and a half hours, on a good day. Mike on the planeFortunately the Scottish Health Service takes a pragmatic view on providing treatment for those in remoter areas of the country and puts patients on the plane that flies from Campbeltown airport, a thirty minute hop to Glasgow. This is a service that would barely survive without the business the Health Service provides and it is just part of the way of life for us, living so far from specialist medical care as we do. So Mike and I were not unduly surprised to find ourselves bouncing around in the sky over Arran on a windy day in a small twin-prop aeroplane heading towards Glasgow. It may not have been a pleasure flight for us but nevertheless we still took delight in from seeing Arran from above, looking at places we know from a different angle… except that this time we flew in thick cloud all the way and the rain streamed across the windows all the way.

Despite this health setback Mike is remaining his usual cheerful self as we all prepare for this new phase of our lives. Ducky, our newly acquired motor caravan, may well have a support role to play and as autumn closes in we realise that we need a heater which can run independently of the engine, an alteration which will give us the freedom to camp anywhere, at any time of year. New top cupboardOur new gas-powered heater is a splendid thing, enclosed within a large red box, but as this takes away some of our internal storage space we have had a new high-level cupboard installed to compensate. We are now firmly stamping our own individual mark on the vehicle.

Again, thinking through what might be needed for camping ‘off-piste’, so to speak, we have had a roof-mounted solar panel fitted which will keep the caravan battery topped up all year, we hope. And for those cynics who might think that at fifty-five and a half degrees north and with an annual rainfall of some two metres we don’t have enough sunlight to justify such an extravagance I would point out that when the sun does shine here, which it frequently does, it shines through air so clear and free from pollution that our solar panel just pumps out the volts. So there!

Whilst we are basking in the sun here in Scotland, of course, the news from America is alarming. Our friends Kyle and Maryanne, fellow catamaran mariners who we met in Oban a couple of years back, are spending this winter living aboard their newest acquisition, Begonia, in a marina in the centre of New York City. We were greatly relieved to hear that against all the odds and with destruction all around them they and their boat have come through Super-Storm Sandy unscathed. Nice one, guys!
Oh, and there has been an election over there too.

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