I’m back. The heat swelters my body like an overtight hug invading my personal space. I have a headache when I wake up and as I stagger out into the cockpit, I gaze at the bottle of rum on the table regretfully. There is a groan from the aft cabin and Laura’s dishevelled head appears.
“Oh God,” she moans.
“I know,” I say in sympathy as she lays down on the bench. Quickly downing a vitamin C drink and swallowing a multi-vitamin, I make the same for Laura.
Without a fridge, it’s difficult to make sure you get a varied diet, and although we try our best with as much vegetables as possible, I’m happy to give anything a try to make sure our bodies and minds are in the right place.
The previous night we had spent with friends on Papageno, playing the guitar, talking and laughing as Laura and I shared a bottle of rum. I was happy with any sort of distraction to be honest.
Gone were the days of lying in my cabin reading my book, waiting for night to appear. I would wake up with a new motivation in my stomach, keen to achieve a task for the day, no matter how meagre or small. Then I would have a nap, my mind for some reason absolutely exhausted. I’m not really the napping kind of person, but since I’ve returned to Papageno I’ve taken a small nap every single day and I can’t express how much I needed that rest.
I was trying to be kind to myself.
We have about four weeks left on Papageno before we return for Christmas. There’s a wealth of things to do. The bilges need cleaning and repainting, the wiring needs to be done, the engine needs to be cleaned, the bathroom to be tiled and the shelves put up, the kitchen sink needs repainting, custom cut foam to be ordered for the seats and bedding, the automatic bilge pump to be fitted, a couple of the hatches needs extra padding to stop the occasional leak from the rain, the cockpit to be scrubbed, there’s was a weak spot on the deck that needed some fiberglass work and I’m sure I’ll find something else…
The only thing I wasn’t worried about was the masts and rigging. That was booked in for the 12th of November. After that, we were putting her out to anchor in the bay around the corner with our four anchors. I was slightly concerned about leaving her. But with the storage being 368 euros a month and the marina saying they couldn’t keep us beyond November 1st, we had little choice.
After deciding to go back for Christmas, I was going to rent a room in a friend’s house for the next couple of months whilst I did some extra courses, research, work and rest. I wanted to have a base in England to do all that in, and the truth of it was, was that I could not possibly afford to keep storage for the boat and to pay rent.
So anchorage it is. I’m hoping to find someone who can check on her twice a week and to make sure the bilge pump is working and the anchors are fine. I don’t fancy coming back to a sunken boat in February.
I’m trying my best to be motivated, focused and positive. Of course, I fail at times. I’m missing my old life with Edouard a lot but I know I have to move forwards. He’s very happy at the moment in Marseille, working with the homeless association he loves, working at a farm shop and Decathlon to save money for his Diving Padi qualification in France. He gets to cycle 15km every day for work, he sees his brother and sister in law and is meeting new interesting people every day.
I’m glad he’s happy.
And me? I have a bit more inner peace each day that passes. I’m focused on thinking forwards for Leela and I, thinking about our future in England and the adventures we will have. I think she’s going to have a shock when she gets exposed to the cold, but that just gives me an excuse to buy her a little tartan coat!
I’ll be taking her doggie training when I get home too. She’s a lovely dog, but she could really benefit with some proper training. She’s incredibly clever and I’d like to make sure she’s a dog that I can trust around my friends’ children and my nephew. She doesn’t seek out trouble, but you know what children are like. They see a fluffy dog and want to pat it. They don’t realise that sometimes running up to a dog is quite scary for the animal.
I’m looking forward to that responsibility and having a routine in the morning. I’m looking forward to extend my paintings and try out new things. I’m looking forward to also seeing where Papageno will go, and I’m pretty sure I will burst into tears when her masts and rigging are done. The goal is to bring her back to Europe. But I’m taking it one day at a time. She needs to be safe and comfortable for a crew. I think if anyone lived on her right now, they would need a survival guide.
Like I’ve said before, I’ve been trying to be kind to myself, not putting pressure on my schedule, goals or intentions. I have dreams, aspirations and places I want to get to in the future with Papageno, but I’ve learned more than anything, things can change within a heartbeat. The most important thing is to do what is right for you.
I still want to live on my little narrowboat in England in the future. I want that deeply. I want the calmness that will come with the rivers and having Leela peacefully dozing on pillows as I’m painting my surroundings. I still want to explore those castles and ancient places of history. But I cannot possibly see myself moving forwards with that dream until Papageno is complete.
The story is not over. Papageno must be restored and completed. I must finish what I set out to do. Because if I don’t complete it, I feel like I don’t deserve my dream on the canals of Britain. My soul still has some growing and I know Papageno is going to take me there.
I need to continue healing and I’m taking this journey one step at a time.
With you guys by my side.
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