A plan comes together.
After a positive report at my appointment at the Oncologist Clinic, in the middle of August 2019, I decided to take a further leap of faith and go back to The Broads to sneak in another week. My thoughts are to take my son with us this time, I try to treat my 2 children equally without favour, so I do not expect him to contribute towards the cost either. Discussions are started in earnest with Sharon and Michael to find out about their holiday entitlements, both have to give a months notice so it is just about doable if there is a yacht available to hire. It is, by now, the start of September. I look on the boatyard's website there is only the one yacht still available, the one I originally booked for the previous May. Tornado had been repaired but too late to get fully booked up. There was just the one week available, 12th - 19th October. I phoned them the next day and Tornado was booked and paid for.
Michael had only just bought his very first car, a 2 year old Peugeot 208, so it should make the 220 odd mile trip each way without breaking down, as well as having a "proper" spare wheel rather than one of those silly temporary narrow ones. A big bonus of having a 65 mpg fuel consumption, which later proved to actually be 70 mpg on that long run.
All our sailing equipment, wet weather gear, mains power inverter, extra length of rope, sailing gloves, caps, torches, transistor radio etc. had all been put away. Getting it all back out and packed again only served to ramp up the excitement. The weather decided to take a turn for the worse too, with an awful lot of rain and with low pressure in the North Sea coupled with Spring Tides produced a small tidal surge through Great Yarmouth harbour and up the Norfolk Rivers.
Disaster struck on the Tuesday before we we due to leave, the following Saturday . I was extremely short of breath and in pain, the paramedics found my o2 sats were down to 68% and was rushed to hospital via ambulance with "blues and two's" through the morning rush hour and given 20 ml of Oromorph, not that I remember too much about it. My medical bracelet came into good use though and the paramedics obtained all my medical details from it, a good job because I could not talk and Sharon was beside herself, her mind agitated with worry. On arrival I was immediatly given nebulised Ipratropium and oxygen.
After an x-ray, and a blood test it was confirmed I had not only pneumonia but also the start of septicemia, which made sense as I was also coughing up some bright red blood, and sweating really profusely. I was told that I was going to be admitted. I had a canula inserted and started on IV antibiotics, steroids and a saline drip. Although I had a case prepacked ready for an inevitable admission at some point, Sharon had left it at home in the panic, so she returned home to retreive it, whilst I was dozing in a semi conscious state. To cut a long, boring, story short, I was given the good news that my tumour was still behaving itself, but bad news that I should not go on the holiday. I was eventually discharged on the Thursday evening at 9 pm along with 6 days of two different anibiotics and steroids and Simvastatin 40 mg.
Back home we are all a little deflated and disappointed, although relieved. I decide to get a good night's undisturbed sleep in my own bed first, before thinking about anything else.
So Friday arrives, and I think very hard about how to proceed. I feel not too bad at all, although I am aware that I have the "superman syndrome" from the Prednisolone. I have a digital thermometer, a pulse oxymeter and portable blood pressure unit, I can monitor my vitals. My son can be skipper, the yacht has gas fired hot air central heating. I could go along just for the ride down below, so it would not really be that much different than sitting at home. As long as I monitor my vitals closely and at the first sign of any worsening of my condition to seek medical attention I should be fine. I bite the bullet, we are going to go on the holiday the next day. I phone my son and let him know. Sharon goes of shopping for the few items to take with us. That night it was hard to get to off to sleep, with a lot of "what ifs"on my mind, I forgot to set the alarm.
Day One, Saturday 12th October.
I wake up late it is 6 am, I wanted to be up at 5 am. I ring my son, he is late getting up too. He had already packed his stuff and fishing gear the night before as well as filling the car's tank. He arrives at 6:30am and carries our bags down the stairs and stowed it in the car. My small carrier bag full of my meds is to sit alongside me plus a comprehensive first aid kit although one is supplied on board too. We are then on our way, it is raining yet again. I slept for a lot of the journey, until we hit London! Michael had entered no motorways on his SatNav but not to avoid London. Too late, if I had not fallen asleep I would have realised and taken him another route, I have the ability to have a mental map in my head and to "follow my nose" even though I do not drive. A quick look on my Air Quality App shows that the air quality is actually good in London that day. We start to head North towards Cambridge. Sharon needs the loo and we have yet to have "brunch", we get to Duxford where there is a MacDonalds, still serving their breakfast menu, it is still raining cats and dogs. Ablutions done, fed and watered we continue on and then hit heavy traffic round the Norwich bypass, free of the bypass we head off towards Acle and then Upton. We arrive at the boatyard dead on 2 pm, our planned arrival time.
The rain had stopped, so we could transfer our bags onto Tornado without getting them wet. With a quick run through the refit changes made to the yacht, we were actually very familiar with her as we have taken out her sister yacht, "Hurricane" many time before, in fact we learnt to sail with her. With life jackets sorted out for each of us, the handover paperwork was signed and we were officially in charge of her. Time to stow away some belongings, like wet weather gear and to sort out the electrics, plugging in the inverter into the cigarette lighter socket along with a multi socket extension to take all our phone chargers. Tornado is a 4 berth so the spare single bunk took our bags. Time for the kettle to go on and sit back with a huge sigh of relief for an hour. Michael takes Sharon into the village to the small community shop, to get a few forgotten items, whilst I book a table for our evening meal at the village pub which is next door. The plan is like last time is to stay at the boatyard for the night before leaving early on Sunday morning.
Back in May, we walked to the pub, this time we used Michael's car, mindfull not to overdo things and it might rain again. I am resigned to having to drink tonic and OJ because of taking antibiotics, but only a small price to pay. Michael and I have the steak and ale pie, mash and mushy peas, the mammoth sized pies that reminded me of Desperate Dan's cow pies. Sharon had fish and chips, the cod hanging over each side of the large oval plate, and chips. For me, a huge meal and the most I had eaten in total for the whole of the previous week. Michael is one of those "human dustbins" and eats his with ease.
Back to the yacht put the heating on whilst we sorted out the sleeping arrangements. The double bunk is a bit like with a touring caravan the dining table slots down between the bench seats and the backs of the seats fit on the tabletop it is also quite narrow for a double bunk. Not the best of night's sleep, with the water slopping against the hull and owls hooting to one another all night, the rain occasionally beating down on the deck above and having to let Sharon get out of the bunk to go to the loo 3/4 times, to much beer that night? We were in fact too hot that night, as we were supplied with winter quilts. The boatyard is very good and look after their customers extremely well.
Day Two, Saturday 12th October.
We are wake at 6am. First job is to put the kettle on, of course, one of those that sit on the gas stove, complete with a whistle. Next to get dressed, not an easy task in a narrow, confined companionway, I put on a lot of layers. Then, as Michael is to do the grunting, he converts the double bunk back into the dinette. I start to go through the morning ritual of taking tablets and inhalers. Also checking my vitals and all is surprisingly pretty good. Sharon cooks up bacon and egg sandwiches, Whilst Michael makes preperations to cast off, lifting the boom a little so the hood can be lowered and untying the bows from the next yacht, all the bows get tied up to each other at the yard to keep them from drifting apart. All done under my, unnecessary, watchful eye. It is not raining.Breakfast and coffee consumed along with pills required to be taken with food. It is time to start the engine and cast off the stern ropes.
The first thing we notice, as we proceed at a sedate 3 mph down the narrow Upton Dyke, is the height of the water, it is actually over the tops of the banks where a lot of private boats and yachts are moored. We have to go as slowly as we can yet still maintain steerage. We enter the River Bure and steer to port (left), going up stream and Michael opens up the throttle, he has the helm. I retreat back down below into the warmth. We are making our way to Horning, I want to show Michael the stainless steel sculpture of Henry, who he remembers so well because of his tameness. At the mouth of the River Thurne Michael steers to port, he is starting to remember his way about by now. There are a few motor cruisers about but we do not see any other yachts on the journey to Horning. We pass one of the electric powered Broads Ranger launches going the opposite way.
As we get to The Ferry Inn at Horning I go up to the cockpit and take the helm, Michael has to get ashore with the bow rope when we moor up. This is quite a daunting task with the water levels so high, it is a fair way down to get onto the the staithe with it's slippery wooden edges. I bring Tornado alongside without so much as a small bump at all, Michael steps off with a little jump down, ties off the bow as I swing the tiller over and gently bring in the stern and hand Michael the stern rope, he remembers how to wrap around the post and tie off with 2 half hitches. The high water with a 3 foot drop to get ashore and climb back aboard is a feature of the whole week and it does cause problems for Sharon who is not really that agile .
The forecast is for rain that afternoon and with the nights drawing in, dark at 6 pm, decide that is it for the day traveling wise. There is time to go into Horning village to visit the butcher and get some more bacon, not just ordinary bacon but beer soaked bacon, a specialty of that particular butcher, as well as some lamb chops and tinned veg. Michael takes a photo of the sinking cottage, viewed from the road. It is then time to grab a little lunch at the pub. Sharon and Michael had a very large baguette each, whilst I was content with a child' meal of sausage beans and mash after the previous night's cow pie! Back to the yacht, with the palaver of Sharon getting back up into the cockpit, although to be fair I did not find it that easy myself either, with normal water levels it would only be about 18". A lazy afternoon listening to the radio and I had a little doze, Michael, well he was fishing from the moorings, he actually caught one from the flooded murky river. I check my vitals, again they are all ticket-boo, which is very encouraging, I have not made a huge mistake by going on this holiday. I have a chat with a couple who are moored behind us, apparently they and a load of others got stuck up the River Ant the other side of Ludham Road Bridge the water was too high and could not get under the bridge until the tide had gone out and the water level had dropped enough. Normally there is an 10 foot clearance under but the levels being high meant it was less than 8 foot.
The evening arrives and at 8 pm we are off to the pub, literally only 10 yards away, so we did not have time to get wet. We had some drinks first, no beer for me again, soft drinks only. Sharon had a 10oz gammon steak, grilled and served with two fried eggs, char grilled pineapple rings and tomatoes accompanied by fresh chips and garden peas followed by a chocolate chip mountain. The "human dustbin", Michael, had what was called The Gladiator, Half a grilled chicken, smoked BBQ short rib, homemade chili con carné. Served with chips, homemade coleslaw, homemade onion rings, corn on the cob, sour cream dip and celery sticks. He ate the lot and still had room for strawberry cheesecake and ice cream. Me, I settled for 2 Smoky Pork Belly Ribs, dripping in slow cooked succulent BBQ sauce, and served with freshly battered, homemade onion rings, homemade coleslaw, chips and salad garnish, no sweet for me, I was stuffed. We stayed until closing time. Back to the yacht with Michael preparing our bunk again, he does this each day to save me struggling.
Day Three, Monday 14th October.
We have a bit of a later start, waking at 7 am with me putting the kettle on followed the usual bunk and meds ritual. Breakfast was the last of the "ordinary" bacon and egg sandwiches. Listened to the forecast on the radio and it seems like it will not be too bad during the day rain wise but not enough wind to sail, thunderstorms forecast for overnight. We decide to go to Salhouse Broad it is more upstream and probably cleaner water for Michael to do some more fishing, we actually see a couple more yachts gong the other way, both private yachts and probably out of Wroxham Broad Sailing Club. We meet a few other motor cruisers going the other way, all with dower, grim faces behind the wheels, not a smile between them nor a return wave, I wonder just why they were here if they were not enjoying themselves, okay the weather was not great but what can they expect, for the middle of October in Britain.
We pass Little Hoveton Broad entrance, a private broad, with the gates closed and only the top of the gates showing, just the top rail. We eventually arrive at Salhouse to find we have it all to ourselves. The wind has picked up, beam on and this presented us with what could have been a problem. It is stern on mooring there, now Salhouse is a flooded gravel pit. The mud weight is used by dropping it off the bow to prevent the bow from being blown around, it works by sinking into the mud and holding by suction (think of it like wellie boots getting stuck in mud) but with a gravel bottom to the broad it just gets dragged side ways. As mentioned earlier part of our gear that we take is a length polypropylene rope, so this was tied to the bow rope, as an extension, then taken at an angle to another post further along the mooring which stopped that swinging. We could of course moored up side on as there was plenty of room, but that was not the point of the exercise. It has been quite a few years since Michael has sailed and I want to make sure that he knows his stuff, for my own piece of mind, so he can hire a yacht himself, with his own crew in later years with confidence, he is after all gifted with Asperger's Syndrome, which should not present a problem. Whilst there we filled up the fresh water tank.
Michael gets out his fishing tackle and starts to pole fish from the bank, with quite a lot of success, of course he returns them to the water and I kid him that keeps catching the same one all the time. At about 5 pm just before it started to get dark, the couple who were behind us at The Ferry Inn arrived and tied up about 40 feet away. He was a fisherman too although he did not have the luck that Michael was having.
Tinned new potatoes, carrots and peas were simmering in the one saucepan whilst the chops were roasting in foil, with some instant gravy completing the meal, as we listened to a comedy show on radio 4, Michael has discovered the concept and joys of radio plays. We listened in to the forecast and after the night's storms the wind was going to go round to the Southwest 18 mph gusting 28 mph overcast with no rain.
Perfect conditions for sailing! So I discussed a plan with Michael, we were going to put up the sails and sail off the moorings, sail to the entrance of Womack Water on the River Thurne, drop and stow the sails, then motor up Womack Water to Ludham Staithe. I checked my vitals and they are still good, very satisfying to see that.
That night there was a bit of thunder and lightening with some heavy rain but I missed most of it as I was sound asleep, totally exhausted, but in a good way, the clean fresh air more than responsible for it, not in an ill way at all.
Day Four, Tuesday 15th October.
We wake at 6 am, I had set the alarm, we carried out the usual routine with one exception, today it was time to start on the beer soaked bacon, and this time I had one round of just bacon and another round with a fried duck egg. The bacon was gorgeous if you can find it anywhere, I highly recommend it.
After breakfast it was time to prepare to sail. Sharon stowed the pillows in the crockery cupboard to prevent the crockery getting broken as we heeled over. Michael pulled the bows around with the extended rope so we were side on, the bows were roughly roughly pointing into the wind with a port bias. There was a slight hill ashore giving a little shelter. The couple who arrive late day day stood and watched, as Michael removed the mainsail cover from the boom the wife asked "Are you really going for it?" (she knew my condition) to which both Michael and I said in unison "Yes, of course we are" with beaming smiles. Michael hoisted up the mainsail which was left to flap, whilst he untied the bow rope he got back aboard and I then unfurled the jib on the port side, acting as a dam which swung the bows out to being stern on again, whilst Michael took the helm and trimmed the mainsail. I flipped the stern rope off the post and we were off, giving a wave to the couple on the shore, all done without the engine at all with Sharon controlling the starboard jib line and myself the port one.
Emerging from the broad into the river went smoothly, no motor boats to get in our way, half of them don't know that sail has right of way over them. In the peak periods of the Summer we have had many close calls. Even a collision when a day boat tried to go across our bow, courtesy of a teenage girl at the wheel who thought it was hilarious, the fact that they very nearly sank under our bow seemed to be of no concern.
It was pretty slow progress for a time with the wind behind trees on the banks that were still in full leaf, a golden colour glistening as the wind blew through them. We had some good pulls though then it was around the bend at the start at Horning for a starboard"reach" (wind to the right hand side). We get past Horning with less trees and more open marshland and we really take off at last, at one point we heeled right over in a strong gust and poor Sharon nearly wet herself, thinking she was going to fall into the water. We were overtaking all the motor cruisers who were obliged to keep the speed limits. Even at speed we had no bow wave nor a wake. Having reached our destination and swung the yacht around with the wind perfectly onto our bows and let the sail flap and slowly glided in to moor up on the bank. Michael gets ashore and ties the bows to the only one solitary post, we use a rhond anchor pushed into the bank for the stern rope. Michael dropped the mainsail as I furled the up the jib. Then between us we folded up the sail on top of the boom, neatly, applied the ties and sail cover.
Michael remained at the helm up Womack Water to Ludham Staithe. When we arrived it was stern on and there was a only small gap between two motor cruisers. Michael brought us around and after a couple of tries, maneuvered us in astern smack bang between them without touching either side. Impressive, as is his sailing skills, he has not forgotten anything from the tuition we had. He handled being at the helm really well including tacking when required. He was alert at all times and in full control. I am really proud of him. It was an exhilarating sail and everything went exactly as we had planned without a hitch.
Michael drops the mud weight from the bows. First job, after washing his hands, was to top up the fresh water tank (which we always do, never knowing when the next opportunity will arise), before we troupe of to the village pub. A sign says it is 5 mins walk, haha maybe if you are a fit healthy hiker, It is a 1 1/4 mile walk, that takes me 25 mins to do with 3 stops to catch my breath and that is without a full stomach. Upon reaching the pub we order smoked chicken cheese and bacon baguettes for lunch and booked a table in the restaurant for 8 pm. We drool over the menu, for what we can have in store for our evening meal. I am able to have my very first pint of the holiday. The pub has free wifi and we are all on our phones for a couple of hours catching up on our various sites.
Back to the yacht for strip washes, after putting on the heating and a change of clothes. The heating is very efficient within such a small space, it literally takes only two minutes to be warm. We listen to another comedy show on the radio. I check my vitals again, they are still all normal my o2 has never gone below 92 the whole time and usually it has been at 94. My blood pressure has never been so "normal" since being in Norfolk either, the lack of polluted air responsible for that?
It is then time to get the torches out and set of back to the the pub, there are no street lights until the actual village itself. We sit in the bar for half an hour, with drinks, before going into the restaurant. We already know what we are having Sharon is having the stuffed lemon sole whilst Michael and I are going to have the sea bass with crispy herbs, leeks piled on top all sat on a large potato patty. Wow the sea bass was to die for absolutely top notch and cooked to perfection. Sharon said the same about her meal as well. We all had a sweet as well, Sharon had a chocolate, orange cake with cream. Michael had the OMG chocolate cake with ice cream, with the 3 different types of chocolate layers. Myself, a simple lemon meringue pie with cream. The trip back to the yacht was an effort and a half with a full stomach, not that I regret eating so much. It was a cold night too, the coldest night so far with a clear starlight sky with the huge Norfolk sky, devoid of any light pollution, with the stunning sight of the Milky Way with it's thousands of visible stars.
Until that night temps have generally been around 15°C during the day and with a lot of layers I have been warm and comfortable the nights outside have been around 9°C not bad at all for mid October.
Day Five, Wednesday 16th October.
We have a later start to the day 7 am with what is now the normal morning rituals. It was still a little chilly after the cold night. The plan is to go to Wroxham today. The best laid plans of men and mice so they say. The wind is all wrong to sail down Womack Water, a narrow 10 foot wide, meandering dyke. Michael lifts up the mudweight, we prepare to leave, turn the key to start the engine and nothing happens. On investigation the negative terminal is lose on the engine battery I manage to to push it down whilst turning it, too get a tighter connection and try again, this time the starter motor gives a click but that is all, we are up the Swanee without a paddle, marooned.
With a lot of pacing around Michael manages to get one bar of signal on his mobile and phones the yard, only to get an answering machine that gives a message that they will return his call. But there is only that one spot that he can get a signal, both Sharon's and my own phone have no signal at all anywhere at the staithe. We are thinking that a trip to the village might be needed to get a more reliable signal. Eventually he gets a return call on his voicemail, calls them back and explains the problem. They say they will be bringing out another battery, it will take around 40 mins for them to get to us. It was gone 2 pm by the time it was fitted and the altenator checked out. It is now too late to move on and guarantee getting a mooring at our chosen destination, certainly too late to make Wroxham before dark. So we decided to stay for another night at Ludham. We knew the food at the pub was excellent at least.
We had yet to have any lunch but the pub did serve baguettes all day, so off we trekked to the village, if the roads and paths had been in a straight line it would probably only been half a mile to get there but as with all ancient villages it was not so. Is that where the phrase "a crooked mile" in the old nursery rhyme came from?
After we had our lunch it is almost 4 pm, we decided that it was not worth returning to the yacht and we would stay at the pub , in the warm, until we had eaten our evening meal, Sharon took a wander around the village and visited the tiny local store to pick up a few bits. Michael and I stayed in the pub, playing on the pool table. I had not realised just how far you actually walk, going around the table looking at all the available shots, then changing your mind to leave the cue ball in a safe position, thus making it harder for your opponent. After an hour we were down to just the black, which then took another 5 mins chasing it around until Michael potted it, winning the game, leaving me huffing and puffing, out of breath. Sharon and Michael had a, much shorter, game as well. Michael was merciless and thrashed his mother, giving her no quarter, but that is of course a consequence of his Asperger's. Funnily enough my drinks defaulted back to tonic and OJ again, I had not suffered from the dreaded night cramps in the legs so far and no desire to change that.
That night there was a carvery in the restaurant, we had a table booked for 8 pm. £9.95 a head for the carvery with a such a huge choice laid out. Mindful of the walk back, I had ham with very modest portions of veg Sharon and Michael made up for that though, with plates piled high. Sweets all round again, Sharon had chocolate fudge brownies and ice cream, Michael a toffee crunch pie and ice cream, Myself, a mixed fruit crumble with cream.
On the walk back it was a damp night almost misty in fact. Where we had been in the pub all that time we had missed paying the £3 mooring fee when it was collected, so a little zip bag was waiting for us with the name of our yacht on a ticket with the amount to pay, the £3 was put in the bag, with the ticket and posted in the small stone "letter box" like structure that was there to take such payments. Most of the moored boats were in darkness, all the occupants asleep, it was difficult to convert the double bunk without making a noise and one of the boats next to us had a dog with them that started barking, oops.
Day Six, Thursday 17th October.
We are awake at 6 am having set the alarm, Sharon still wants to go to the small town of Wroxham to look around the shops, and all the different "Roy's Of Wroxham" stores. After our usual morning routines and consuming the last of the beer bacon. Michael topped up the water tank again, lifted the mud weight, and we push off. The forecast is pretty good regarding any rain during the day, but the wind is against us for going to Wroxham, it is quite chilly so Michael is going to take us there using the engine whilst I behave myself and stay below, in the warm and out of the wind. I have this log to scribble down too. I go back up to the cockpit for the Salhouse to Wroxham part of the journey as it has been a long time since Michael has been up this stretch of the river, not that he can really get lost, just none too familiar with. We go past Wroxham Broad a private broad belonging to Wroxham Sailing Club, you are allowed to cruise around, but no mooring.
We start to reach all the riverside holiday cottages and have to reduce speed to 4 mph and then the later 3 mph past all the hire yards with their moored motor cruisers, we swing into the lagoon where the public mooring is and it is all totally full, not a space to be found, even for our dinky little selves. No option but to turn around and leave. Sharon is disappointed but we have little choice. It will be our last day tomorrow and as in May, will be returning in the afternoon to the boatyard, there is also a shower block there for their customers, then spend the last night at the yard after revisiting the White Horse at Upton village. So we do not want to be too far away from the home yard. We elect to go back to Horning to The Ferry Inn where we can moor up right outside the pub, rain is forecast for tonight so at least we will not get wet.
There is now an air of subdued sadness with us, the week has flown by so quickly. We do not want to leave and go back to Southampton, with it's rat race and polluted air but it is where our home is. Thanks to Don-1931, the romantic thought of becoming "water gypsies" is a very attractive idea, but of course totally impracticable. If only we were young and healthy then yes, we would have certainly given it a go, as one of life's adventures, we are all entitled to dream.
The river takes a 90° bend as we get to Horning. It then hits us, the stench of marsh gas, very strong at that too. I laugh out loud as it reminds me of that Jim Henson/David Bowie move called "Labrynth" with the scene at "The Bog of Eternal Stench" with the character called "Ludo" holding his nose crying out "The smell, the smell". One of my daughter's favourite movies, from 1986.
Along the way a few photos are taken from the yacht as we very slowly make our way through Horning, the sinking house, the horse with foal carvings, we moor up later that afternoon. Typically, now we are near the end of the holiday, Sharon has now got the knack of climbing down and back up with the water still very high. Michael wanders of to the village butcher to get some of that beautiful beer soaked bacon to take back home with us, but find that they closed at 4 pm and did not get there in time. We spend what was left of the afternoon doing a little packing up so there is not so much to do the next day, mainly our dirty washing.
The evening arrives and time to visit the pub for our penultimate evening meal. Tonight we are going to have burgers, not any old burgers but one of these. A bully-boy of homemade beef burgers, 10oz of 100% British beef, with lashings of melted Cheddar, two rashers of chargrilled back bacon, crispy lettuce, mayo, gherkin, tomato, homemade coleslaw and onions. Served in a 6” floured bap with chips. It is more than enough for me to get through without having to eat staberry cheesecake again, me, I went without, being already stuffed full. We sit for a while with our drinks talking and laughing about our week, yes I had couple of beers that night, it made for a total of 5 pints all week. We find it is raining when we leave but with only a short 10 yard walk to the yacht, having moored up in the same spot as before right opposite to the entrance and did not really get wet. The kettle goes on for a coffee whilst waiting for the 11 o'clock news and especially for the weather forecast. which was rather mixed, dry but chilly again in the morning becoming milder in a Southerly wind in the afternoon but with thunder storms.
Day Seven, Friday 18th October.
Our last day! We lay in until 7 am. We had been woken up at 4 am by the sound of military jets screaming past, overhead, with their afterburners on, followed a second later by 2 sonic booms, perhaps those new F35s or Typhoons, there must have been an incident of sorts, they are not allowed to break the sound barrier over land unless there is. I still do not know why they were scrambled that morning. Maybe to shadow a Russian bomber, testing the limits of British airspace as they do from time to time, out over the North Sea.
Today, after our breakfast it is the final packing away our gear, leaving just the electics out for the phones and my meds. Michael "swabs the decks". Sharon cleans the galley area, the interior carpets are lifted and given a beating outside with the back of a hand brush. The yacht is now clean and ready for the next hirers, tomorrow?
We go to pub when it opens and we have large jacket potatoes for lunch. No alcohol, we are away at 1 o'clock for the boatyard to try and beat those forecast storms. We set off down he River Bure, under power, as half the journey would entail tacking against the wind under sail and we were time constrained, I had no desire to get wet and cold for obvious reasons. Before we get to St Benets Abbey Michael calls down that he is shutting up the hatch and for me to stay down below, someone, a farmer? has a fire and there is a strong smell of smoke coming from across the marshes from a field. I phone the pub to make a booking for tonight's meal and for a heart stopping moment thought that they were fully booked when he said that he would have to check as he was not sure, we are in luck they can fit us in at 8 pm, but it would have to be a table in the bar, which is fine by us, we are not exactly the proud and posh sort.
As we approach the mouth of the River Thurne we turn to starboard and head due South after 30 mins or so we spot a huge black cloud looming on the horizon, it has to be a storm cloud, as per forecast. Will we be able to make it back to the yard before it reaches us? The race is on. We pass another yacht sailing at a rate of knots going the other way, upstream , it is another one from Upton yard. Just before we reach Upton Dyke the rain starts. I call up to Michael "do you need wet the wet weather gear", he replies "no, my fleece is enough" Just as we get to the end of the dyke, where the yard is situated, the heavens opened along with a crash of thunder. I now have no option but to go up to the cockpit to help, it is a really confined space that we have to get into and we have to moor stern on as well. My first soaking of the holiday, having remained reasonably dry until then. No sooner had we tied up the rain had eased of to a slight drizzle, 10 mins later the storm had passed over and heading away into the distance, over the North Sea. It is 4 pm which was exactly when I had estimated we would arrive.
We go to the office to collect Michael's car keys, it is closed, but there are sounds the of work coming from the boat sheds, around the back. One of the guys opened the office up and found Michael's keys and also gave us the key to the shower block. He commented that we were back early and asked if were we leaving? I told him no, it was by design and would be going into the village for an evening meal and staying back on board for our last night.
Michael moves his car next to Tornado,we have approx an hour of daylight left and proceed to load up his car with the bulk of our gear ready for the morning. All we have left to load in the morning will be, flannels, soap, towels, night clothes, meds and the electrics. That done, there is another almighty crash of thunder that echoes around the flat landscape and it tips down again, hammering on the deck above us, as we all have a cup of coffee, listen to the radio, partially dry Michael;s fleece and my own anorak and wait to leave for the pub at 7:40 pm. We will be going by car again.
When arrive at the pub it was very busy. We had to wait a while before our order was taken but we were not in any great hurry at all especially on our last night. Sharon has scampi and chips Michael had the biggest piece of plaice I've ever seen and chips. I was not too hungry myself, lunchtime's baked potato with chili con carné was rather large so I chose the child's "cow pie" meal that was still huge and could not finish it. No alcohol consumed by any of us, Michael had to drive in the morning and it would not have been fair to drink beer right in front of him in front of him. We get back to the yacht at around 10:30 pm and with the bunks already sorted out before we left for the pub, it was just a case of getting changed and putting our heads down.
Day eight, Saturday 19th October.
We are up at 6 am with great sadness that we are about to leave. No breakfast this morning, just coffee, we will have brunch at Duxford the same as on our way up here, Michael goes on the Web and finds that the butcher in Horning does not open until 10 am on Saturdays, the plan was to have made a slight detour on the way back, to pick up some of that beer bacon, a disappointment. A final washing up of the coffee cups. Our charged phones in our pockets, the last of our belongings in a small bag put in the car, then last but not least we leave a large bottle of wine on the table as a thank-you.
Satnav set, this time to avoid London as well as motorways We leave dead on 8 o'clock. An uneventful journey home arriving at 3 pm. Michael carries our bags up the stairs for us. We say our goodbyes. The last thing left for us to do was start unpacking.
Once again a totally different holiday, one that we were lucky to be able to go on, my calculated gamble with going so soon after coming down with Pneumonia had paid off. I would really have been peeved if we had stayed at home recovering, knowing I could have managed it. Perhaps it could have all gone skewiff and ended up a nasty disaster, but it did not. For want of repeating myself, I did think very hard on whether to go, against medical advice, or not. As is often said here, "Listen To Your Body" and I did just that. I felt up to going away on holiday, I felt strong enough, not up to the exertion of sailing every day in all weathers and certainly not as skipper, but well and fit enough to go on a relaxing holiday. I took things reasonably easy and kept warm and dry. I had monitored my vitals regularly with full compliance towards taking all the medication. It gave a big boost to my mental well-being and I ate heartily too. What more could I have asked for under the circumstances. Bonus, I got to take part my passion, to actually sail again, even if it was just for the one day.