Alex decided recently that we shouldn't use the word 'plan' to describe what we hope to do next, as it always changes. Instead, we should use the term 'idea' in order to convey the fact that it may not happen. I think he may be onto something there, as already our idea for how 2017 might pan out has changed dramatically.
|Beth''s first Christmas was spent in Normandy with the Mitchells, |
in an Airbnb as opposed to on our boat.
2016 came to an end with us not completing the rudder in time to cross the Channel, so we left the partially constructed frame in Somerset and hopped on a ferry to Dieppe. We enjoyed a much needed Christmas break, staying in various Airbnbs around Normandy with Alex's family and friends, before returning to Bursledon in the New Year. After a couple of days back home on the cold, damp boat, we were feeling pretty deflated, to say the least. It was such a depressing feeling, because we have always loved living on boats, and every previous boat has really felt like home and been perfectly habitable, even during winter. Neither of us liked the fact that we now dreaded coming back home, as the living conditions were so dismal.
|We spent three nights in this little caravan insulated with straw bales, |
which was perfect for us. A nice small space with no leaks!
We planned to go back to Somerset mid-January to complete the rudder, and in the meantime tried to gather the motivation to get some work done on the boat. It took me all of two days to formulate a new idea, which was very well received by Alex, and we set about putting this new idea in motion. The idea was based upon the fact that our aim in life is to enjoy ourselves, and we were definitely not doing so in our current situation. I put it to Alex that we might as well cover the boat up and leave her for a few months, heading to London to work and earn some much-needed cash. This way, we would be able to avoid spending the rest of winter aboard our unfinished vessel and, instead, could return to her later in the year, when the days would be longer, the weather warmer and our bank accounts replenished. The new idea was a big hit, and so we got to work making the boat weathertight, before packing up and getting out of there as fast as possible!
|New Year's was spent with a load of Alex's friends, in a big old farmhouse with an open fire. |
We ate like kings and had a wonderful time, which made returning to the boat even harder.
We stuck to our plan to head to Somerset, as Alex was looking forward to continuing work on the rudder and we were also looking forward to seeing my parents. Sadly, my Nan passed away unexpectedly just a few days before we arrived, peacefully at the good old age of 93, but it was still a reminder that you never know when your time is up, which is why it's important to make the most of life. We were glad to be with my parents at this difficult time, supporting them as much as possible and, of course, having Beth around was a welcome distraction. We also celebrated "Fake Christmas" whilst in Somerset, having not seen my parents over the real Christmas period. Having committed to a plant-based diet as our New Year's resolution, Alex and I made a delicious nut roast for Fake Christmas lunch, which everyone enjoyed.
|"Fake Christmas" lunch with the Shepherds and my Aunt Susan. |
I hope Beth doesn't start to think that Christmas is a monthly occurrence...
Following the festivities, Alex got cracking with the rudder and did a sterling job of finishing the stainless steel frame. Sadly, we weren't able to progress to the next stage of gluing and fibreglassing the rudder, due to the weather. With temperatures hovering around zero, and a minimum working temperature of 5°C for the epoxy resin, we weren't keen to repeat our experiences from the aft cabin work. Working with cold epoxy seems to be much more difficult due to its decreased viscosity, which results in larger quantities being used and lots of stress when trying to get a good finish. We decided that, given we wouldn't be fitting the rudder again until at least May, we might as well wait another couple of months and finish the construction when the weather is warmer.
|Alex with the finished rudder frame. Now we just need to cover the |
metal 'tangs' in marine ply, fibreglass and paint it.
The day after my Nan's funeral, we drove to London via the boat, to collect our living essentials ready for the few months we'd be away. I find it quite frustrating that we can easily get by with so few belongings that we can fit in a Fiat 500 hire car, yet for some reason we own enough to fill a 45 foot boat. I wonder if it's due to our consumerist society that we feel the need to fill the space we live in, or whether it's just human nature. Did our ancestors fill their caves with a plethora of rocks, bones, sticks and stones or anything else they found that might be visually appealing or potentiality useful, or did they enjoy a clutter-free existence, knowing that they would have to lug a load of replaceable crap to the next cave if they needed to move on?
|My nan and Beth. She would not be pleased to see this photo that Alex |
secretly took of her in December, as she had a phobia of being photographed.
Still, I think she looks pretty great for 93 and I'm so glad to have this picture.
Now, back in London, we have started preparing for the job hunt. LinkedIn profiles and CVs updated, we have decided that whoever gets the best contract can work and the other will stay at home and look after Beth. To be perfectly honest, I'd be happy doing either. I love writing code and would relish the chance to get back at it in a full time role, but I'm equally happy spending time with this fascinating little person we've created, who is changing so much day by day. Thankfully, Alex feels exactly the same and so it's really nice to know that, for the next few months, we will both be enjoying ourselves whichever way it goes. The plan has changed, as usual, but the aim is the same: enjoy life and be happy.
|Back in London with the Mitchells...|
Uh oh, watch out Bertie - there's a new beast in town!