Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas message

Guy, Sam, Camilla and Ben © That Guy Photography
Dear friends and family

Well, we are all still here and soldiering on through 2014 and into 2015.
Sam continues to make slow progress after his stroke, which was now two and a half years ago. His speech has improved a bit this year but the major change has been our recent acquisition of a MyGait, an electronic device (FES - Functional Electrical Stimulation) strapped to the right leg, which helps Sam to lift his foot and also stimulates his hamstring muscle, which has very little movement. It requires very accurate positioning to get right, and is quite a temperamental beast, but Sam is now walking without rolling his foot out to the side and on good days is noticeably faster and has more stamina than before. We paid for the MyGait, as well as some physiotherapy to help make the most of it, with a legacy from Sam’s brother Adrian who died late in 2012. We hope he would be glad to know that the money has made a real difference.

Sam continues to go to the workshop at Street Forge once a week and is now enjoying it much more. We hear that he works faster and more accurately with one hand than many of their trainees do with two. Apart from many bird-nesting boxes and decorative wheelbarrows he has also made a rather splendid stand for one of our model pond yachts.

Camilla has returned to work this year with a fairly wide range of different activities, although working from home most of the time, and with some months a lot busier than others! She has been updating the website for Suffolk Yacht Harbour (our marina), working with her brother Paul on his photography website for part of the year, and returning to digital consultancy to implement a SharePoint intranet for a Lloyd’s underwriter, via Brandex, a Norwich-based branding agency (these things can get very convoluted). And just a few days ago she was appointed as the next editor for Cruising magazine, a quarterly magazine for members of the Cruising Association (the “leading association for cruising yachtsmen worldwide”) which is not hugely well paid but should be good fun and a continuing income. Again, most of the work on the magazine can be done from home, which means Camilla is around to help Sam and make sure he has plenty of activities, including swimming, various therapies, and socialising with the lovely members of our local stroke club.

Ventura in Monte Carlo
Quayside drink in Toulon
We went on another cruise of the big-ship kind in April, this time a fly-sail trip on P&O Ventura from Marbella to Venice, via Mallorca, Barcelona, Toulon, Monaco, Genoa, Liguria, Naples and Dubrovnik – a fantastic itinerary, and although Ventura is vast, we did have a magnificent accessible balcony cabin which made a huge difference to our enjoyment. We managed to explore a few old haunts in Barcelona, meet up with a school friend of Camilla’s in Monaco who entertained us for a wonderful day exploring the city and surrounding hills, spend several hours at the Uffizi in Florence, and discover how impossible it is to get around Venice if your mobility is restricted – the vaporetti are the only way.
Terrace café at the Uffizi
The only downside (apart from the flight back) was that we had so few sea days, which we enjoy, so in 2015 we’ll be making up for that by joining Ventura again in Barbados for a transatlantic cruise. The north Atlantic in late March may not be all that fantastic, but we spend five days in the Caribbean and get to visit the Azores, which I don’t think we’ll ever get to now by yacht, so that’s good.

The tent turns the cockpit into an extra cabin
We spent a lot of time on board Kalessin this year, although not as much time as we hoped actually sailing. Our new cockpit tent proved an excellent addition, providing not only an extra room but also making the whole boat warmer and more peaceful. We managed trips to the Deben and Tollesbury, and our biggest trip of the year, with the support of Camilla’s long-standing singing companion Andy Roe and his son Sym, was a trip up the Thames to St Katharine Docks marina. It’s something we have wanted to do for many years but the weather or other factors mean that we have never managed it before.

Through the Thames Barrier in choppy conditions (that's why Sam is looking miserable) with Andy, left, and his son Sym

St Katharine's, view from the shower block
It really is extraordinary to wake up and head off for an early morning shower, only to see Tower Bridge and the Tower of London looming up just beyond the lock. On our way home we spent a few days in the Medway and Blackwater.

Next year we hope to recruit crew via the Cruising Association or elsewhere (see blog post below this one) and head off to the Netherlands for a few weeks. Camilla is even talking seriously about doing the Yachtmaster exam, if time and energy permit.

In between trips on Kalessin Sam also sailed most weeks during the summer with the East Anglian Sailing Trust, a body that provides daysailing for less able people. He seems to have enjoyed every minute, and using other people’s boats does have the wonderful advantage that you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs…

A German walk on one of the few cooler days with, from left, Ben, brother-in-law Mark, nephew Felix and sister Lucilla. Sam stayed behind to mind the schloss
In July we were able to travel, by car via the Hook of Holland, to the Herrmann holiday home at Pretzfeld in Bavaria, to spend 10 days in scorching weather with Camilla’s sister Lucilla and her family. It was a bit of an unknown, as the flat we use is up two flights of stairs and Sam hasn’t really used stairs since his stroke – we had visions of getting him up there at the start of the holiday and staying there until the end! However he gamely managed an up and down once a day, and various outings, although wild swimming in the river Wiesent was rather beyond him. We were accompanied on this trip by Ben, now 21, and in his final year at Nottingham reading civil engineering with bit of Japanese. He is also president of the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Anime Society (yes really) which seems to take up a surprising amount of his time.

http://www.thatguyphotography.co.uk/
Guy, 24, is working as a photographer and you can see his portfolio (under development) at www.thatguyphotography.co.uk. He’s not earning vast amounts but is developing a lot of new skills and is employed by Camilla’s company, Kalessin Consulting. He is available for commissions of all types ☺ and will be the official photographer for Cruising magazine. He works from home and looks after Sam when required, which is the only thing that allows Camilla to work, so it all pans out ok.

In November the Friends of Icanho, of which Camilla is chair, put on a charity fundraising concert with Rough at the Edges, the group Camilla sings with. However, the star of the show was Sam, playing about two minutes of one-handed guitar to rapturous applause from the select audience. He plays a very lightweight travel guitar, uses an amp with gain turned up to maximum, and manages to make some astonishingly tuneful music. You can now watch  a video of him playing on YouTube.

May your 2015 be musical and contented….
Much love

Camilla, Sam, Guy & Ben

2 comments:

Stuart B said...

Always great to read this update. Happy Christmas and love to you all

Kevin Rogers said...

Just want to say how much I've enjoyed reading parts of your blog. Can't help with crewing - we sail our Westerly out of Milford Haven on the opposite side of the UK - but wish you fair winds, calm seas and sunshine for the coming season.
Kevin 'Swn-y-Mor'