Yacht Pipit


(Re)location, (re)location, (re)location - 27th May 2015

Meet the neighbours...

Again, we wonder where the time goes as it has been nearly two months since our last update. Well actually, we know where it has gone as, since we arrived back in the UK, we have been busy from early morning until late at night, having dinner well after 2100 and I think the record is 2215. Andy has been working in Quedgeley, I've been doing website development here at home for various clients, we're working at getting the cottage furnished, equipped & sorted, doing myriad household and business administration, I'm trying to keep up with the daily household chores, we've been back to the Ionian for two weeks doing maintenance on Pipit (as well as having a little time to relax) and we've had two social weekends away in the UK (and even then we were up early!).

The relocation process and settling into Plough Cottage has been a lengthy one and somewhat delayed by various factors, the first of which was discovering that the oil tank we'd been told was ¼ full was, in fact, completely empty. To discover this on Good Friday, just a couple of days after we got the keys, and when we planned a mammoth Easter weekend of cleaning, was, to say the least, more than a little annoying but, to be fair, no fault of either the estate agent or the owners. No oil meant we had neither heating nor hot water, so we had to 'abandon ship' back to the holiday cottage. Well, it was Easter weekend after all, so we did enjoy a lovely Sunday roast - leg of lamb cooked Greek style of course with olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and oregano! A walk up the steep hill to Minchinhampton Common gave us time to appreciate some of what we returned to the UK for, worked off a bit of our lunch and eased our guilt over our Wye Valley rhubarb (well one has to support local farmers) and custard dessert. Oh, and that empty oil tank? Obviously we couldn't organise anything over the Easter weekend. The next delivery we could book was to be for the following Friday which, although it meant we were losing another week, seemed a good plan as we also had three other deliveries of furniture arriving and Andy arranged to not work that day. Great planning fell into place as one by one the furniture deliveries arrived, but the oil? "Oh, sorry sir, the tanker has broken down and we can't get to you until Tuesday". Queue a paucity of patience and a major sense of humour failure at yet another week lost.

Over the Easter weekend, we also took a trip to the Sharpness Canal (well, by this time, we had been away from the sea for about three weeks) and, in glorious British spring sunshine, we strolled along the canal and out to the Purton Hulks on the edge of the Severn Estuary. This is a graveyard of numerous barges intentionally beached along this part of the river to help prevent erosion caused by the strong currents that occur due to the extremely high tidal range. Very interesting and an ideal antidote to our frustrations.

Sharpness Canal at Purton.

An old hulk - and a beached barge...

Spot the hulk deliberately beached on a sandbank in the estuary.

So, after the oil fiasco, a few other delays and just generally the enormity of the project of our relocation, we finally moved into Plough Cottage in the last week of April and just a week before we were due to fly back to the Ionian for a fortnight. We are still not fully sorted and as yet unpacked plastic crates & bags abound, but we are getting there (if I keep saying that, it will happen). Last weekend, we even (finally) made time to potter in the garden - more work, but enjoyable all the same! There are still quite a number of things we need to buy, but as you'll read in the next paragraph, this isn't going to happen overnight.

As everyone knows, moving house can be a tiring, stressful and time-consuming operation. Moving from one country to another raises the level of those attributes and, in our case, we've had to completely equip our new home from scratch. Prior to leaving the UK in 2010, we sold or gave away everything from furniture to kitchenware with the exception of some small antiques, family pieces and decorative items which we hope to collect from storage, family and friends soon. Shopping is definitely not something Andy considers a leisure activity (although garden centres, tool shops and the like may occasionally be granted this status providing, of course, they are not crowded). Retail therapy? It's more likely that Andy (and I, as a result of his reaction to shopping) need therapy after each shopping expedition! To ease the pain of this process, I have spent many hours browsing the internet sourcing and short-listing everything from sofas and beds to cutlery and cookware so that our 'in-store' time is as limited as possible. Oh, and this 'click and collect' revolution that seems to have happened since we left? I have one word - Hallelujah! Ok, so if you take the direct translation of that it's actually two words but hey, who's the pedant?

Discounting the stressful aspects of setting up our new home, it has been really nice to have lovely new things that we've selected together and making the cottage feel more like our home every day. We don't mean this from a materialistic perspective, but because we've chosen items we will genuinely enjoy using, like our new pots & pans. The range cooker at the cottage is fantastic with five induction zones, two ovens and a grill so, as you can imagine, with our love of culinary arts and lovely new pots & pans, cooking is definitely a leisure activity we are both enjoying. We're also looking forward to entertaining once we've got the cottage in order. It really is lovely and just right for us, in a beautiful location with views to the garden one side and fields the other side with grazing cattle, pheasants, bunnies and squirrels - ok, so they are grey squirrels and I know they're 'bad' squirrels, but they're still funny to watch. There's also a pub at the end of the lane!

We thought we'd have a lack of photos in this update but managed to get enough on Andy's phone camera, now that we've brought the download lead back from the boat. Our camera has not, despite a replacement battery, been holding its charge. Something else to shop for then...

Check out this lovely pair!

Just a bit larger and definitely more controllable than the Techimpex aboard Pipit.

As well as the chaos of the relocation, we've had two fantastic weekends away, firstly for our friend David's 60th birthday which involved an overnight stay in Bristol, a delicious meal at Brasserie Blanc with great company, food and oh, I think there was some wine... An added bonus the next morning was discovering, as we wandered around the corner from our hotel to Queen Square where Andy's father's office once was, a classic car rally with the Square ringed (can a square be ringed?) with a range of interesting and beautiful vehicles as diverse as an Aston Martin DB5 and an Ariel Atom, as well as more 'ordinary' classics such as a Mark III Cortina and a Rover 2000 TC. A further ramble took us to the Floating Harbour where we were just in time to see the steamer MV Balmoral departing. A wonderful weekend, thank you again David and Linda!

MV Balmoral.

Our number two (:-o) remedy for relocation bedlam was a weekend escape to Plymouth where we had a chance to catch up with a few friends over the ubiquitous food & drink - fantastic fish & chips with Phoebe & Simon (who as well as being a friend owns Liberty Yachts, the company from whom we chartered boats and then bought Pipit), a proper 'British' curry with Robert & Deborah (fellow sailors who are just setting off in 'semi-retirement' for extended cruising during the summer months) and a delicious homemade pizza with Rick & Sally (fellow sailors who also plan to become liveaboards and who we'd met only 'virtually' previously after they contacted us having been following our adventures via this website). It was a hectic but very enjoyable weekend and thank you again one & all. We stayed at the Future Inn and took great puerile delight when, after a meal out in town, we could say "Back to the Future please" to the taxi driver. We did miss catching up with other friends - well some of you will swan off to Spain on the very weekend we come to visit. Neither had we time to travel further to Cornwall, but we hope to do so soon.

Our weekend in Plymouth also took us on a few trips down memory lane including a visit to Newton Ferrers on the River Yealm, just east of Plymouth and where we enjoyed many a lovely weekend aboard Pipit or on chartered yachts or crewing for friends before we left the UK. I do, however, recall one crisp but sunny winter day's sail there aboard Pipit when we awoke to snowfall the following morning...

Memory lane creek - Noss Mayo at low water.

Plymouth Sound - hard to believe it's been nearly five years since we set sail from here.

Prior to finally moving into the cottage, you will recall that we stayed in a holiday cottage in Nailsworth. Pensile House Cottage is a gorgeous, small but perfectly formed holiday cottage in a quiet lane just a few minutes walk from the town centre. We'd highly recommend the cottage to anyone visiting the Cotswolds - it really is right in the heart of the most quintessentially Cotswold of Cotswolds, with villages popular with tourists as well as glorious countryside walks on the doorstep. The pretty town of Nailsworth has a great range of shops, including a fantastic butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, supermarkets, a well-stocked hardware shop and several lovely independent gift, clothing and other shops. There are numerous restaurants offering various cuisines, including an Indian restaurant which does take-aways - we did indulge more than once I must admit. Well, we had been 'starved' of a good curry for five years! Nailsworth is just a couple of miles from our new cottage, so in addition to 'normal' supermarket shopping, I foresee regular visits there.

We mentioned in our previous log that we were to become an Italian car household. A few of you correctly guessed that my car is the cute one - a little Fiat 500 and Andy's is an Alfa Romeo in classic Alfa red, offset with tan leather seats. Mine was a stock vehicle, so we were able to collect this some weeks ago. Andy's is on order, although it has now arrived in the UK ahead of schedule (yes, that's right, Italian and ahead of schedule - get the Prosecco chilled!). Mine is called Vicki, partly as her number plate starts with VK and partly named after my big sister who, like the Fiat, is funky and a little bit 1960s retro. I'm not sure Andy has a name for his yet, I guess naming your car is not a guy kind of thing to do (he looks at me in exasperation)... Anyway, I've not driven mine very much yet as Andy has been driving it to work since we returned the very nice but not ideal for country lanes black Audi A4 S Line that he had on short term lease. Andy described it as a car he'd have hankered after 20 years ago but, now being older and wiser, the 19" wheels with ultra low profile tyres, lowered & stiffened suspension to jolt your kidneys out and a front air dam so low that I had to get out to check curb heights every time he parked makes it somewhat less appealing. Nonetheless, a very nice car!

Andy's temporary car at Plymouth Yacht Haven.

Me & my little Cinquecento.

We had mixed feelings when we returned to Greece for two weeks at the beginning of May. In some ways, we didn't want to go back just yet as we were nowhere near sorted in the cottage, nor had we had much time to enjoy being here. In other ways, we were missing the beauty of the Ionian and Pipit who had been our home (and our first together) for five years. It seemed surprisingly busy when we arrived, but actually, although there were many nights when the town quay in Vathy was full and there were several visitors to the marina, including their first whopper - a 44m luxury motor yacht called Africa, it was still relatively quiet. We had a number of maintenance jobs to do that we'd planned for the spring including the usual engine service, re-proofing the canvas (sprayhood, stackpack and helm cover which still look very good after 5 years), and changing the pump and one of the hoses on the toilet. Just thought that last job (if you'll pardon the pun) deserved special mention in case any of you non-sailors reading this think a life on the waves is all G&Ts and olives.

As well as various maintenance jobs, cleaning & polishing above and below decks and sorting more clothes to bring back, we did take some time to appreciate why we still love the Ionian and Meganisi in particular so much. We felt like we were on holiday (well we were really). We ate out far more often than we previously did as liveaboards, caught up with friends and tried to relax and recharge our batteries for the next push back in the UK to get our new home sorted, not to mention returning to work.

There are lots of exciting things happening on Meganisi and elsewhere in the Ionian this year and it should be a great season for the businesses there and an excellent time to visit, particularly at present with incredibly favourable exchange rates. Vathy boasts a very nice new butcher's shop, there's another taverna opening soon, Exclusive Meganisi is growing and has a whole new range of fantastic activities & excursions on offer (we will be getting all the new details onto their website soon!) as well as great deals on accommodation and anything else visitors to Meganisi could want, plus an aerial drone still and video photography service. The already stunning Villa Octavius has made beautiful enhancements to the outdoor spaces and Ionian Webworks (that'd be us then!) has added an availability calendar to the Rates & Booking page of their website. The bar at Odyseas Marina has had a chic new makeover with further improvements to other facilities in progress.

A view through the new screens at Odyseas Marina (cut-outs are shapes of the islands) to Pipit in her summer berth.

We left Pipit at her new summer berth, tucked away from the busy part of the marina, on Saturday to spend our final night of this visit in Nidri on Lefkada Island, from where it would be easier to travel to the airport on Sunday morning. We were both a bit tearful at leaving - partly because we were sad to be leaving Pipit who has taken us on such a wonderful journey, partly because we planned and sailed for so long to reach our destination of the Ionian and were now leaving it for another life, although we will be back for visits. We toasted our last night on Meganisi with a fine rosé over a delicious meal of seafood at Errikos and our last night in the Ionian over (another) fine rosé and a typically seemingly endless and delectable feast at Ta Kalamia, aka No Menu, restaurant in Nidri.

Our homeward journey went smoothly and although the Sunday queues at Aktion Airport in Preveza were typically tedious, it was brightened by meeting a nice couple who own a managed charter yacht in the Ionian and, after chatting for some time, we discovered that they were relatives of a couple with whom we over-wintered in Sicily! Hello Bob & Judy of Kinabalu if you happen to be reading this - it was lovely to meet Bob's sister and brother-in-law and we hear you're now having a fabulous time sailing in the Chesapeake.

We should also mention the excellent service we had from Cotswold & Stroud Airport Taxis on our three recent journeys from and to both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. When compared to the alternative cost of combined coach & taxi fares or car parking at the airports, they offer great value for the huge added benefit of the convenience of a door to door service with roomy & spotless vehicles and professional and friendly drivers.

So, the recent Bank Holiday weekend was actually our first full weekend in the cottage. We did pop out to Gloucester to the Shanty Festival that was taking place there in conjunction with the Tall Ships event, as my friends from Falmouth Shout were performing there. It was fantastic to see them again and catch up - sorry we couldn't stay longer folks, but the work on the cottage and garden called. We hope to see you all in Falmouth for the Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival in June.

Some of Falmouth Shout at the Gloucester Shanty Festival.

The well established garden at Plough Cottage is really lovely, with a huge range of plants we've yet to identify - Penny, you will be receiving many photos entitled either 'what issit' or 'plant or weed?' when Mr Google can't tell me. With summer just around the corner, we were keen to get some hanging baskets planted, add some other summer colour, get some tomatoes in and, of course, some chillies. We visited St Aldams Nursery, one of Andy's favourite nurseries and from where he used to buy fiery little Apache chilli plants. They had no Apaches, but Demon Reds seemed a good substitute. Oh, and look, they have Scotch Bonnets, so we'll have two of those as well. When we then visited the local Wyevale Garden Centre in Nailsworth to buy potting mix and pots (we had to do two runs in my little Fiat), we spotted some Apaches. They came in a tray with two other varieties, so we've now a total of ten chilli plants! Well, we do like chillies and they are also quite pretty plants, but I think we may have overdone it a little. Chilli jam anyone? We have also discovered there are gooseberries and either blackcurrants or redcurrants here in the garden too!

Although it will no longer be a liveaboard's log per se, as we both enjoy writing, we will continue to keep this website updated with our adventures both on and off Pipit, just in case anybody finds it worth reading... We hope that our previous logs will continue to be of interest to those setting off on a similar adventure to ours. We have also updated our Home page to reflect our change of lifestyle.

To close this update, we'd like to thank so many of our friends and readers of this website for your emails, thoughts and words about our decision to return to a more conventional life ashore. We were a bit surprised at how many other liveaboards and former liveaboards, including circumnavigators, concurred with many of our sentiments, even those who are still enjoying the liveaboard life. Your words have been reassuring and, as several of you said, we are proud of achieving our goal of taking that big step into the cruising life, sailing every mile from the UK to the Ionian on our own (although we know many thousands of others have done the same and more) and enjoying the places, people, food (ok, and drink if you insist I mention it...hardly touch the stuff myself) and cultures we've encountered along the way. Yes, there have been events that made us sad. Yes, there have been situations when we've been a little frightened. And yes, there have been times when the stresses of the lifestyle have challenged our relationship. But no, we would not have missed it for all the tea in China... Ooh, on that note, I think it's time for a nice British cuppa...

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