On that sinuous passage from infancy

and youth’s buoyancy through middle

life to advanced years, the one certainty

is a gathering of momentum consistent

with time’s flow- something scarcely

uppermost in my mind as the trout

I’m playing draws me downstream

till rocked by the tidal undertow I fight

to regain my balance: hard to know

Where the river ends and the sea begins.

Stewart Conn

We stood on the pontoon, two teenagers, tanned, bleached hair with a innocent sparkle of limitless opportunity in our eyes, scanning the white yachts that lay side by side moving gently in the French marina like sea birds full of the days catch, digesting and contemplating where next?

“Maybe we’ll find a boat that needs crew, you can help sail and I could cook? We could work our way up and earn some money then buy our own boat?”

“Yeah and we won’t need jobs or a house or a car , we could live onboard and sail the world!”

“And have babies that we can school ourselves, they won’t need clothes as it’ll be warm, a vest and maybe some wellies for getting ashore”

Well no one was looking for crew that day, at least not for two rookie Scots kids, they’d take one as deck crew or one as cook but not both.

“Oh well back to Uni for me and back to work for you, but we’ll do it one day for sure.”

“Yeah, one day”

Friday 10th August 2018, a house, two cars, various careers and three kids later ( all fully clothed and educated), we stand on the Scottish pontoon gazing at our beautiful boat Stravaigin, a 42i Jeanneau Sun Odyssey.

We eagerly await the arrival of the crew that have volunteered to join us on this trip. I collect Stuart from Oban, a tall, lean, sparkly eyed gentleman, softly spoken and gentle natured. He sailed round the world and I took to him straight away, he has an assurance about him.

Paul and Karl walked purposefully toward us, bags in hand and smiles on faces, I’m greeted by a hug and cheek kiss, lovely lads! Within minutes we all felt at ease, Paul is a fellow “weegie” and we rattled off places we knew, flats on Kersland St and even a mutual friend, small world. Karl is quieter, friendly, warm and sound.

Then there is our wee Stewart, number 4 son, a super lad, always ready to help and upbeat, a new adventure for him never having sailed before, save the 2 nights he went out with John to “test the waters”.

She is all ready to go, stocked up, filled up, fuelled up, all repairs done, all additions added, gear stowed away and 6 excited people climb aboard and we caste off.

We motor out of Dunstaffnage marina in sunshine, moods high with anticipation and adventure.

I raise my eyes to Ben Lora as we pass and thank Dad for making me the person I am, giving me that sense of exploration and love of nature. I gasp as a sea eagle flies directly over us and accompanies us out, I’ve never seen one so close to home! I decide it’s a good omen.

As we sail past the Connel Bridge I smile at the wee estate Mum calls home and thank her for making me the person hope I am –  kind, considerate, sociable and loving.

Then it hits me, is this selfish, unkind, inconsiderate? I have angst over this for a year, torn between the desire to do something for myself, in a way to be selfish and take the time I want before the inevitable happens, body ages, mind not so strong. I want to do it for John, it has been his dream for a long time and I don’t want to humour him by saying soon darling, soon.

I love my job, love being part of a great team that are friends more than colleagues, I love helping young people achieve their goals and make a difference in their lives, I feel somebody when I’m at work , respected, liked, big fish in a little pond but its my pond and I love it.

I love my friends, some are going through tough times just now and guilt pulls at me leaving them though I am always in contact and tell them I can be home in 2 hours on flight from anywhere if I am needed. But they encourage me to go and live my dream.

Toughest one is family, I adore my family they are my reason for living, my three sons such lovely human beings and their respective partners, all beautiful, loving young women. But they are all grown, independent and have their own ladies to care for them. Also I believe they admire us and want us to go on our long planned trip.

Wee mammy is a worry, 90 in three months time, frail in body but strong in mind, she admits she is not looking forward to us going but is also happy for us to have achieved what we have. Arrangements with family mean she is well looked after and although I still feel guilty, I am confident she will be fine.

In-laws have been encouraging and supportive from the start, always interested and keen to hear how we get on but they are also ageing and have health problems, I hope they’ll be ok.

We push further south, blue skies, sunshine, wind in our sails. I do have tears in my eyes, they are a salty mixture of sadness and excitement.

As I leave the hills of Argyll behind me, I fix my eyes and mind on what lies ahead.

I’m finally doing it!

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