Wednesday 14th May – Deserters Report Back to the Guard Room Voluntarily

Jon & Carol Dutton
Tue 13 May 2014 23:52

Wednesday 14th May – Deserters Report Back to the Guard Room Voluntarily


So, that’s the swift visit to the UK done.  The escapees returned on 6th May via Cattle Class for 27 hours or so each way on Emirates.  That was just fine - yotties sign up for a bit of discomfort now and again.  Nonetheless, it took about a week at the end of each trip to stop falling asleep in the early evening and waking well before dawn.  But, given the alternative costs, we’ll settle for that.


We thought that there would be one or two minor things that needed sorting in the Lymington cottage.  That turned out to be a bit of an underestimate.  So, we swapped working Arnamentia for sorting out fascias, soffits, the fence which had blown down and the paint on the front door and both garage doors.  In-between April showers, of course.  Carol managed to get away to Pembrokeshire to see her sister, brother-in-law and niece for a few days whilst Jon did a bit of sanding and carpentry up a long ladder, took down and replaced the gutters and slapped some paint about.  We had called in a number of firms to give us quotes for much of the work but, by the time we’d cut through the blather, agreed that none of it was rocket science and reckoned we’d rather have the job done now-ish rather than at some undefined future time and at not inconsiderable cost for largely unskilled work, we decided to do it ourselves.  It’s the yottie mentality of bodging it yourself reasonably well and now, rather than paying someone else to bodge it for you to some other standard and at a time of their own choosing.


Jonathan and Caroline Calascione had us to a marvellous lunch at home in Kingston-on-Thames and had invited a great raft of Gunner chums to meet up.  Crikey – some people Jon hadn’t seen for more than 30 years and some much more recently.  As ever it was as though, no matter when we’d last met, it had been yesterday.  It was a very special occasion.


There was the usual round of visits to opticians, dentists and the like.  Then we had to slap the agent, responsible for managing the tenancy of our main house in Shrewton, about a bit.  Some 9 months previously, the agency with whom we had originally let the house had been bought out by a different lot.  We’d been fed a great deal of blah about how we would experience an ‘enhanced customer experience’ with many other wondrous and mind-boggling benefits of all sorts – of most of which one could scarcely dream before being awakened to the possibilities by these visionaries.  Ahem.  They have done absolutely nothing since then.  They didn’t even know where the house was.  Much less have they conducted any visits or contacted the tenants in any way.  The manager of the Amesbury branch was a little upset to find that we considered it inappropriate for his firm to charge us a handsome fee for doing zilch.  Shame.  We now await a response from a level or several up from him.  Betta be good or we’re outta here.


So, nothing like a good skirmish to keep the blood flowing.  The disappointing bit of the visit to the UK was in not being able to get to see so many of our friends in the time we had available.  A most important visit we did make was to Richard Clark in the Salisbury hospice.  Richard is in good heart.  He was unable to attend the very recent wedding of his daughter, Susannah (she of the First Class Honours from Cambridge).   Son, Matthew, a Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm, gave her away and the whole ceremony was Skyped into the hospice. The wonderful Mary is, as ever, sorting life out in a way that is an example to the rest of us.


As always, Chris and Ann Austin have been stalwarts in resolving the UK admin and travel arrangements.  Chris picked us up from the airport on landing and delivered us back there on departure despite our protests that this was well beyond the call of duty.  They have taken Carol’s Freelander back into their care for another year or so.  Life would be a lot more difficult without such great chums.  And, of course, we’d been delivered to and were picked up from Auckland by Raewyn – our landlady.  She’d also thought to lay in a pack of groceries to tide us over until the morrow and gave us supper.  And, nothing that we ask (or remotely suggest or hint or do not ask and protest ought not to be done) of Lindsey or Raewyn is too much trouble.  We’re lucky in our mates.  We really are.


Back in the Brin Wilson Boats ‘shid’, progress is pretty satisfactory.  Let’s not bother with the detail – all is going well and Arnamentia is beginning to look very good indeed.  The solar panel superstructure is about to be fitted just as the work on fitting the new teak deck approaches completion.  There is still much to do in getting her ready for sea but we hope to complete that within the next month before heading north to get away from the Kiwi winter and into the tropical sunshine.  We will return to NZ at the end of the calendar year – with luck via Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  What – not pressing on further west in 2014?  No way – not given that about 800 bolts have been taken out of the deck and put back again.  We don’t want to discover leaks from any of those halfway across the Indian Ocean.  Crossing that is next year’s project (assuming that we don’t dilly dally on the way, in one of several enticing places) having had any ‘snagging’ sorted in NZ at the end of this year and the beginning of next.


Amongst the notable delights of the shid is “The Sound”.  This is a NZ radio station which plays pretty much non-stop classic rock from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and this stuff blares out over the loudspeakers all day long.  No matter that most of the workforce hadn’t been born by the ‘60s and ‘70s (and some of their fathers hadn’t been either), they give it big licks along with the Stones, Beatles, Who, Animals, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, Meat Loaf, Don McLean, Creedence Clearwater Revival – the lot.  One of the lads remarked to Jon that it must have been ‘awesome’ growing up in the ‘60s.  Can’t think why he might have imagined that Jon would know.