England to Spain
…to 11th October
As Britain slowly makes its tortured tortuous exit from the EU, Henrietta and I make a swift silent simple exit from England. We left from a sunny windswept Lymington pontoon one afternoon in early October – out past the Needles at the end of the Isle of Wight, and away.
It really was simple to leave: filled water tanks, fresh bread and milk loaded, toss off the ropes and we’re away. (There are some old newspapers aboard somewhere so I can read yet more of our collective Brexitosis saga should I be really desperate.) But it’s always exhilerating to think we could go anywhere in the world.
Three and a half months of English summer was a delightful spell, personally, and I did appreciate the beauty of verdant countryside, comfort of security, and general friendliness of normal folk, the cheapness of life’s essentials like food and clothes, efficiency of transport etc. (albeit a bit of a horror show on the public political front, but we shan’t go there – Brexitosis says it all). I wonder sometimes why I’m driven to leave. Friends and family, I shall miss. But then a cold wet autumn day and darkness drawing in, remind me that summer is a fleeting affair.
Final few weeks in England were busy, sailing west to Falmouth, then east to the Solent, seeing kith and kin along the way, fixing bits of Henrietta and me….Here are some photos…
Then, with an unusual period of easterly winds, sometimes a bit strong, we set forth, west down the Channel, round the top left corner of France, and across the boisterous and charcoal grey seas of Biscay, to Spain. Nearly 700 miles non-stop in five days.
Now we’re in Muros, a pretty Galician town, nestled in a tranquil Spanish Ria.
And today I took a bus ride to Santiago de Compostela, to rub shoulders with fellow tourists. Some of them are walkers who’ve tramped a long way to get there.
The walking pilgrims are mainly late middle-aged with giant rucksacks and walking sticks (poles, I mean). The men sometimes have grey beards and look earnest and honest. I admire them. Non-walking tourists and pilgrims are bulkier and outnumber the admirable few. A huge number want to ‘hug the apostle’ in the cathedral (my Spanish is limited, but I think this is what the sign said), and they join a long slow-moving queue. I don’t want to ‘hug the apostle’, so go in through a side door, and spend ages in a nearby cathedral museum instead. (There’s no beating Catholic art when it comes to advanced soul-wrenching suffering, with its endless depictions of arrows, nails, thorns, blood, anguish and pale-faced wretchedness. Even poor Virgin Mary doesn’t look too happy with her new baby. To lighten matters I always try to find a cheery face among the anguished – but it’s hard.)
Anyhow, here are a few words from Henrietta:
I’m pretty happy to be dancing over the waves again. Wish I didn’t have this unsightly red kayak on my foredeck though (it’s M’s bargain toy from Southampton Boat Show!); and I wish M hadn’t mucked it up when leaving that Lymington pontoon and I picked up a dreadful scratch on my newly polished hull, from a metal plate protruding from the pontoon. Ouch, it hurt!
I’m glad to say that M’s spirits have picked up a bit now we’ve been away a few days. To start with he was a rather gloomy old grump, groaning with bruised bits of body and sore hands, sloppy sea legs and all round queasiness. I reckon he’d forgotten how uncomfortable life at sea can be: constant rolling, lurching, bobbing, splashed with chilly spray, slapped with cold winds, fingers numbed, muscles aching and not nearly enough sleep.
Basically, he needs to remember his good fortune in venturing forth with me. After all, he could be slobbing on the sofa in front of the telly, or dozing under a cosy duvet, or drinking draught beer in a squalid pub, or sitting in a traffic jam – like most sensible dirt-dwellers. As it is, he’s out and about usually enjoying himself and fresh air, and meeting lots of lovely people.
Here are some pictures of boats I passed last week (or they passed me):