Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas message 2017

Camilla with her parents when Patricia received her OBE in 1997
Frank reading the Giant Alexander to Camilla's nephew Alex in 2002

Dear friends and family

2017 has been a rather quiet and sad year. In April Camilla's father died, just three weeks before his 90th birthday and, as his death notice in the Times said, "after a long illness, impatiently borne". He had a funeral, a cremation service, a memorial service in London in October and his ashes have been distributed between the two Herrmann homes in Germany and his local parish church in Essex, so we have all been able to say goodbye. Camilla's mother Patricia is slowly recovering from his death and many exhausting years as a carer, and remains positive and cheerful.

If you are interested you can read:
All were designed by Camilla using George Him's illustrations from the Giant Alexander books.

Guy & Kai
Back home in Hoxne things have also been quieter, as Guy moved out to live with his girlfriend Kai in Leiston. He spent the summer running the National Trust ferry to Orfordness, and has just begun the process of training as a volunteer with the RNLI in Aldeburgh. He's still taking some great photos, but not quite so many.
Guy's ferry

Ben & Anne
Ben is also living with his girlfriend Anne, in Nottingham, something he forgot to tell us for a while. (He's been with Anne for several years, but not living together). In between his working weeks as a civil engineer, he too is volunteering, with the Army Reserve, where he eventually hopes to become an officer. We are incredibly proud of both our boys.

Sam and Camilla have spent quite a bit of time in France this summer, some of it on the boat, but have not sailed as much as we hoped.  In June we drove out to Arzal with Guy and got the boat ready to sail. Then during a couple of weeks without crew we finally managed to visit our friend Harry and his new partner Janet at their home in the Charente, in the heart of France. Fortunately their home has a fully accessible extension, because Sam had somehow damaged his Achilles tendon and was almost unable to walk for a week or two. Back on board Ben joined us for a week's sail to the Île d'Yeu and back, briefly joining the CA rally there. And in July we were joined by terrific volunteer crew member Steve, a retired GP from Ipswich, who helped us to get from Arzal to Brest, via Concarneau which we have passed several times before without visiting.

The marina at Arzal (Camoël side) - a lovely location which we very much enjoyed

Harry & Janet's home in the Charente

A visit to Le Croisic with Ben (by car - there's no marina)

Concarneau in fog

Kalessin on a nice wide pontoon in Brest, where she stayed for rather longer than we expected

In September we went out again to Brest, this time meeting up with another great potential crew member, William. Unfortunately a combination of two gales and William's commitments meant that we never managed to leave Brest on Kalessin. You can read elsewhere on the blog about the complicated logistics with cars which proved to be entirely unnecessary. In the end Camilla rescued our car, we drove from Brest to Cherbourg and then via Condor Ferries for an enjoyable week on Guernsey staying with Sam's dear friend Robin and spending time with Sam's sons Tim and Nick. Meanwhile a delivery crew rescued Kalessin from Brest and sailed her back to Suffolk Yacht Harbour, a stonking sail on which they averaged better than 6.5 knots over the 400 miles.

We have spent some time considering future options for sailing, especially as Sam found it even more difficult than usual getting on and off the boat. We have looked at the possibility of a new, more powerful engine, or selling Kalessin and buying a motorboat which Camilla could handle alone, perhaps on inland waterways, so we don’t depend on crew so much. In the end our big spend this winter will be on replacing the 12-year-old standing rigging (important if you don’t want the mast to fall down) and we have made no further decisions yet.

We'll be looking for crew for sailing excursions on the east coast this summer - please do let us know if you fancy sailing with us for a day, a week or longer!

P&O's Ventura

View of Marseille from Camilla's trip on the Ferris wheel. Sam was happy to watch from below
In between our sailing adventures we managed a cruise into the Med with nice Mr P&O, especially enjoying Marseille which Sam knows but where Camilla had never been. Camilla's French lessons (thank you Suffolk Coastal Leisure Learning) paid off when a taxi driver complimented her on her excellent French.

Sam carries on much as before, although twice this year he has strained something on his good foot, which is a pain in every sense. He had a small carcinoma removed from his face in August but fortunately that was all very straightforward. And he developed a horrible fruity cough during the summer which fortunately cleared up once we got back to nice damp England. He'll be 78 in 2018 and doesn't always feel like being adventurous. Still, he puts up with Camilla dragging him around Europe and banishing him every Wednesday to the Street Forge woodworking workshop.

Camilla has continued to edit Cruising and a monthly newsletter for the Cruising Association, and this year added the Yearbook as well. Apart from a few problems with teeth she has been reasonably healthy, although occasionally sad or frustrated, this year.

Much love to you all, Happy Christmas, and all the very best for 2018.