Coast to coast
What a relief to get back to base, even after a journey across Middle England, calling in and seeing good old friends across the land.
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Our crab-like journey to and from St. Mawes in far off Cornwall with overnight rest points in Marlborough and Bristol’s Clifton, with a family wedding in the beautiful Gloucester countryside just outside Cirencester and a surprising coffee break in Crediton’s market square – more of that anon; then back to Greenwich, an overnight pit stop, then up to the Gog Magog hills in Cambridgeshire where we overnighted on a circular defensive ring. Then off to the ‘Red Lion’ at Stiffkey with brother and sister-in-law for a damp two-day break, before coming to Holt with good old friends of some 50 year standing for our bi-annual picnic – this time deck chaired on the crumbling cliffs at Cromer having ‘praised the Lord’ for our long-standing friends amongst the pilgrims at Walsingham, where the peace was shattered by a vintage motorcycle rally held in idyllic Castle Acre … even the M11 seemed peaceful after that!!
Crediton was a maritime surprise. Whilst taking coffee in a café in the handsome market square, I spotted a gent wearing an Eye of the Wind tee shirt. He gallantly responded to my surprise greeting, he having been mate on the Faversham built tall ship which had been cruising around the oceans of the world under charter to all and sundry, for over 20 years. The ‘Eye’ is to take part in the forthcoming Tall Ship event here in the Thames in September, with my own spy on board to report progress. Part of our coast to coast journey was to sketch out Falmouth’s great harbour where the fleet will gather, then race to the Needles in late August, then cruise in company along the south coast, then up the Thames to a weekend’s celebrations in September.
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By chance – yet again – as I penned this piece, Robert Knox Johnson’s flotilla of yachts passed by outward going after their round the world challenge which has been well reported in the press. The ten or so craft looked surprisingly trim after their ordeal, the corporate sponsor logos still intact, no doubt after being spruced up for their St. Katherine’s Haven appearance. Sir Robert has long-term connections with the marina over many years. KPMG corporate logos, however, are now being removed from the Thames Clippers leaving the speedy craft to their original, uncluttered elegance. I still enjoy a ride up to town with them or on deck on the slower City Cruisers when you receive a broader Thamescape view on their upper deck.
As I sign off, a trio of sailing dinghys receive instruction for the ‘Ahoy’ volunteers who sail out of nearby Deptford. A visit to the Ahoy Centre down by the tall new flats will surprise, as maritime pursuits persist for young and old – well worth a visit!