It certainly has been a busy three months and time has flown by.
We started in early September with a trip to Athens to see all the doctors and to get a final prognosis. Caryn got the”all clear” as far as the cancer was concerned and now has to have bi-annual check-ups for two years. The shoulder is also well on the mend and she must continue with exercises to strengthen the muscles. However it is a good omen and we were enable to enjoy a good lunch with Marilyn in Glyfada before she drove us to the airport to catch the plane to Marseilles.
We hired a car at the airport and drove to Arles which was to be our base whilst we dealt with the paperwork. After wandering the deserted streets we managed to find a restaurant that was open and enjoyed our first meal on French soil. The following morning we delivered the medical files (3 thick ones!!) to the health office and then drove to visit our old haunts (Navy Service and Port Napoleon). We saw a number of changes but unfortunately many of the people we wanted to see were busy at the Cannes Boat Show so we had really picked our timing well. However we did manage to see Harry and Liz on their boat “Junica” and some old working colleagues. After a good lunch at Joaline (one of our favourite fish restaurants) where we gorged ourselves on tellines and mussels we returned to Arles.
The next day we had an appointment with the bank to meet our new financial adviser and then we spent time in the local shopping area before driving back to Port Saint Louis to have dinner with Patricia and Patrick, our friends who look after our mail and sort out any other problems we may have. After a delightful evening we returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
Saturday being market day in Arles we took advantage and wandered through it but, unfortunately, did not find our old stall favourites. However we did manage to drink in the atmosphere before setting off on the next stage of our journey. This was to visit Caryn’s aunt who lives near the town of Eymet. After a 5-hour journey we arrived safe and sound. We stayed here 2 days visiting family. Whilst here we learnt that Caryn’s mother had fallen and broken her arm but had been moved to a local town hospital for care. We would now have to plan a journey to the UK when she was ready to leave the hospital. There was nothing to be done for the moment so we continued with our visits and moved further West to the Atlantic coast where Caryn’s son was on holiday. This was the opportunity to meet his wife, Jo, as we had been unable to attend the wedding. We spent a couple of days with them and then were on the move again to the Vendee to see our friends Barry and Angela from “Scorpio”. We had missed them in Port Napoleon so had decided to visit them at home. We had a lovely drive to their home through the pine forests of the Landes, then a short boat ride to Royanne and another short burst in the car to Mervent. What a delight their house. It is full of surprises and has the most spectacular view out over the river. We stayed here a couple of days catching up on news as it had been 3 years since we had seen them.
Then it was time to leave and catch our flight back to Athens. We left and started the 1000 km journey back to Marseille where we arrived exhausted but with 10 minutes to spare for our hotel check-in. We caught the flight the next day and were met by Marilyn at the airport who kindly drove us to Piraeus to catch the ferry. She showed up a little restaurant near the harbour where we had an enjoyable if expensive meal. The next day we were back safely in Kos.
We returned to the flat and started packing up as the boat was going to be launched and we had decided to move back on board. Svein spent the week finishing off the different jobs that remained to be done before the launch. We also caught up on news with “Jespan” as they had returned from their stay in Sweden. We also met up with Keith (Castor en Pollux) several times. He had driven back to Greece from the UK so had kindly brought out some things for us which he dropped off on his way to his boat in Rhodes.
After much delay the boat was launched and we were moored on Pontoon “A” so it was ideal for the move back on board as we could drive the van right up to the boat. It was good to be back on board after such a long absence and we were quick to find our old habits. The first job was to sort out the clothing and this was done fairly quickly.
Svein was very anxious to try out the new wings so we planned a short trip to Nisyros (with “Jespan” who had also gone back in the water) to see if everything was working out well. It would be the last opportunity of the season to get a little sailing done as we had already booked our passage to the UK. Caryn’s mother had at last got a place in the care home and we would be clearing the flat and making it ready for sale. We had decided to drive as we would have things to bring back and had bought the car from Keith.
We left Kos on the Wednesday ferry arriving on Thursday morning. We drove to Patras to catch the next one which would take us to Ancona. On arriving in Patras disaster struck. Although we had had the car thoroughly checked before leaving Kos we sprung a leak in the radiator. We managed to get the car on the boat with the intention of repairing it in Italy. However we misunderstood the arrival time and instead to arriving at 11am (as we thought) on Friday morning we eventually arrived at 11pm!!! It had been impossible to find a hotel but Svein worked some magic and managed to get us a cabin (for free) on the ferry so we had a good night’s sleep and did not have to leave until 9am on Saturday. Needless to say no mechanics work during the weekend so we had to spend the weekend in Ancona. This meant getting used to crowds again but we found a nice little hotel and explored the town on foot. Svein also went to find mechanics and on Monday morning he drove the car to the one he had found. They promised to have the car ready the next day so on Tuesday at 2pm we were setting off on the next stage of our journey.
Svein drove through the night and we drove through Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, Belgium and them back into France to pick up the last ferry to England from Dunkerque. We left on the 2pm ferry (24 hours to do 1900 km with a few stops on the way) and by 6pm we had at last arrived in Henley on Thames.
Then it was straight into the work of emptying the flat, sorting out what was to be kept or taken to the care home and arranging to get rid of the rest. All the authorities also had to be dealt with and everyone advised of the change in circumstances of Caryn’s mother. Her sister Cheryl was also there so that mutual decisions could be made and the drive to the tip was made a little easier although there were at least 6 trips!!! An auctioneer came to evaluate the items to be sold and generally at the end of 2 weeks all was in order as we were able to think about leaving to return to Greece. The weather was miserable whilst we were there and we certainly felt the damp and the cold.
With Caryn’s mother well settled into the home and after clearing out the final items, loading up the car with the items going to Greece and dropping off the keys we headed for Newhaven and the first ferry for our return journey. We arrived in good time and after an uneventful crossing we started south on the trip to Barry and Angela who we would be staying with for a few days. We arrived safely and were extremely well fed during the whole stay. We also got to sleep in the tower (which had not been possible in September). We took advantage of the time there to drive to La Rochelle where we browsed round boating shops and found the material needed to make our spinnaker sleeve.
After 3 days we took to the road again and headed, this time, for Caryn’s aunt. We again arrived safely and enjoyed a visit that enabled us to see Caryn’s uncle, Dick. and his family and to participate in the Armistice Day celebrations in the village as well as having a birthday lunch for Caryn.
On the road again and this time heading for Grenoble where we were due to meet Alex and Jo. Caryn had had her mother’s engagement ring resized for Jo in England and this was the opportunity to give it to her. We had not wanted to drive to Tignes (where they normally live) as we wanted to avoid snow. We had a pleasant meal with them and caught up on news.
The next day we all left: Alex and Jo to return to Tignes and we headed for Italy passing through the Frejus tunnel. What a shock on exiting the tunnel to find snow stacked on the side of the road!! Fortunatley there was none on the road and we continued on our way heading for Ancona or rather for a little town south of Ancona called Porto Raconnati where we had booked a hotel for the night. We had one last stage to do in Italy and that was the journey to Brindisi where we would catch the ferry to Igoumenitsa On the road we received a call from the ferry company to say that the ferry had developed a technical fault so we would be leaving the next morning instead. On arriving in Brindisi we checked in for the ferry but had to find a hotel by ourselves as there was no help from the company although the delay was their fault.. The weather was foul but we eventually found a hotel and they even arranged for a takeaway to be brought to us as it was too awful to go out. We left the hotel at 5am to catch the ferry. We drove to the harbour but had great difficulty in finding anything out about the departure. Eventually things got sorted out and we boarded the ferry together with a very large number of Bulgarians who all seemed to be taking second hand cars back to their home country.
After an uneventful journey we reached Igoumenitsa. The original plan was to drive to Messolonghi and stay the night as it was impossible to catch a ferry to Kos until the next day. We started the drive but soon had great difficulty driving in the dark along a road we did not know. We reached the town of Amfilochia and took our chances on finding a hotel for the night. We discovered a fantastic hotel that had a room available. This turned out to be the best and cheapest hotel of our whole journey!!
The next day we completed the journey to Athens. Here we managed to buy our tickets for Kos and to meet up with Mike and Marilyn for lunch before boarding the ferry. We had a quiet night on board and arrived safely in Kos the next morning after having been away for over 5 weeks. It was good to get back.
The boat had not moved but we did manage to move to Pontoon D (our winter quarters) before the BBQ that was planned. It was good to get back to the warmth and the sunshine.
It is difficult to imagine that we are only a month away from the end of the year. It will be good when this year ends as it has been a very unsettling one but we now hope that everything is back on track and that at the end of the winter we will be able to sail to harbours new.