Friday, 18 September 2009

Summer's end and Blighty beckons

What appear to be London Plane trees stand by the water’s edge here in the marina, their maple-shaped leaves curl at the edges and their colour is changing. The few horse-chestnut trees found in this part of Montenegro are dropping their spiky green cases to the ground below, emptying themselves of shining, silky smooth conkers that taste faintly of blood when you touch them with your tongue. The sun has lost its intensity, the late afternoon holds a hazy, soft light. And for the first time in so many months, I am held in a closed up boat, dressed in fleecy trousers and dodging those drips again.

Our remarkable summer is rapidly drawing to a close and despite life being frighteningly brilliant at the moment, I cannot help but feel a certain sadness. Another summer gone, another summer I haven’t got to look forward to, one less summer in my life. Doesn’t autumn bring home your mortality?

I’ve been told I’m a brat. Which is, of course, true.

Anyhow, less of this morbidity and more of what we’ve been up to this summer. Well, it couldn’t have gone any better really (unless someone took pity on us and decided to donate a million quid to the Monty B leak-prevention fund). Our hopes and dreams were realised in early September when we hit our 52nd booking of the season which met our “one booking a week, every week of the year break-even/enough to survive and more” imaginary goal. So we have enough money to get through the winter, though not enough to plough back into the boat in anything other than an essential maintenance manner. But we are lucky to have done as well as we have and if we manage to find some other income over the winter, even better.

From mid May until the beginning of September, life was a blur of frenetic daily boat cleaning and associated arguments, big smiles and lots of enthusiasm, escape from the heat out on the water, sailing, lots and lots of sailing, gaining the vicarious pleasure of taking in the scenery, seen hundreds of times, through fresh eyes, lots of jumping off the boat and splashing around (though lots more watching other people doing it and making sure they didn’t drown), more tomatoes chopped than I care to think about and the sumptuous pleasure of watching the light and G&Ts soften everyone’s faces as the sun dipped behind the soaring peaks. Then usually we would crash out within an hour of dropping anchor. Lots of high energy and clean fun.

We both seem to be at our happiest when sailing, which is a bloody good job seeing as we live on a sailing boat. With Monty’s hull problems last year, we were always a little cautious I’ve really got into it this summer and just love the feel of controlling the boat when she is under sail. We spent many a day outside the bay, on off the Adriatic coast, with clean wind, deep blue waters and views of the mountains (and the many storms). We’ve learnt so much, by trial and error, as the year has gone on and I just wish we had the time this autumn to take Monty B on a voyage to somewhere.

But the reason why we are not doing this is because in 3 day’s time, we will be back in Blighty and in 9 day’s time, we will be standing on top of Mam Tor getting married. This is all followed by the biggest event I will ever be organising (particularly via a USB dial-up internet connection from a boat) – a two day party for around 100 beings, under canvas, in a beautiful spot in the Hope Valley. Our own “Weddingbury”, hopefully without the flash-floods, heavy-handed security and mud baths. See the ever-changing weather forecast for 26 September in Edale:

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