While we took the quick way home by air, A Capella has travelled back to Tahiti, through the Panama Canal, a quick stop in Florida, and finally across the Atlantic to Southampton on a cargo ship.
For us we were leaving Covid free New Zealand and, it felt like we were entering a different world where people had to live with so many restrictions on normal life for such a long time. What would we find?
It would be fair to say Covid control is a fast moving, dynamic affair, where it appears the politicians do their best to appear in control, the scientists are forever pessimistic, and the people and Covid do their own thing. As I write it seems to be broadly working. When we arrived in the UK, the Country was just beginning to open up and it was mask wearing, signing in and other very variable and seemingly inconsistent control methods. Now masks have been abandoned, nightclubs opened up, a pingdemic is threatening food supplies, and thousands are flying abroad on holiday.
We were lucky to be able to fly back via Singapore, so that we remained in “green” countries and did not have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival in the UK. Despite this we still had to do the unpleasant PCR test in New Zealand, and another test on day 2 after our arrival in the UK. Just more cost.
Auckland and Singapore airports were empty, eerily quiet, and both planes were barely half full. The only food available in Auckland airport was McDonalds. This was a pity as we had a long wait and something better would have gone down well, but this is the reality of flying during a Pandemic. In Singapore there were face recognition temperature thermometers throughout the corridors and all the staff were in full PPE. The plus side was we could lie across three seats to sleep – a very rare treat on a long haul flight in the cheap seats. Heathrow really seemed quite busy, and the segregation was minimal. Hey ho, the mystery’s of Covid control.
A Capella’s trip home has taken 7 weeks so we have had plenty of time to see our family, many of our friends, including some long distance cruising friends, and visited a few of our favourite haunts. We have been really well entertained and yes home really is the best place. Herefordshire Cider and English beer have slipped down well, and oh my goodness Waitrose has reached new levels in sophistication (or decadence?).
We visited Northern Ireland and once again were thrilled to see family and friends, and again were positively spoilt. We have decided to set up home in Northern Ireland so we spent some time looking at the possibilities. In the two weeks we were in Northern Ireland the sun shone and Co Down just looked magnificent. I did have to remind Julian that it is not always quite like that! I had done plenty of research on the internet while in New Zealand so we had a good idea what we were looking for. Julian had been keen on building a new house, but, in our view, we did not see a plot worthy of the effort. We are now in the process of purchasing Apple Tree House near Killinchy which we think will suit us very well, and provide us with plenty of opportunities. Fingers crossed.
Finally the cargo ship, Dynamogracht, arrived in Southampton in mid July, and it was time to go and retrieve A Capella. The unloading process went extremely smoothly. We arrived in the docks at 7.30am and we were tied up in Ocean Village Marina by 11.00am. It was baking hot, and we now had to tackle the job of putting A Capella back together before we could set sail along the coast and head for Northern Ireland.
Tristan and Marie joined us for the first part of the trip along the south coast of England to Cornwall. The prevailing westerlies ensured rather steady progress and plenty of motoring. We managed to visit Poole where we met up with Bill and Moira who we sailed to New Zealand with, Salcombe where we escorted in a yacht who had radioed a Pan Pan due to no engine, Plymouth where we replaced the starter motor battery, and beautiful Newton Ferrers and Fowey. Storm Evert meant a safe but very bumpy night on the pontoon in Fowey.
Angus and Anna joined us for the short trip from Fowey to Helford
It seems incredible but in the short space of 8 weeks we are now the proud owners of a blue Skoda, nearly house owners, and A Capella has a buoy in Strangford Lough waiting for her. It has been a whirlwind, and our cruising life seems a distance away just now, but when things slow up again, I think those fabulous memories will come flooding back.
This must be the end of the blog for now but hopefully when world travel gets easier we might be lucky enough to have another go, and perhaps be even braver. Thank you for making the time to read the blog – we have appreciated it, and loved the support from all.
THE END (for now).