Outside the wind is picking up and whispering through the window panes, rattling them gently. Masts and wires are clinking in a metallic chorus and I can hear waves washing onto the shore. It is one of my favourite orchestras in the man-made world – that of a marina at night.
This will be my new home from January as I move down from the mountains to the sea to focus on preparing for the Pacific row in the spring. Gulliver ships from the UK in a few days and should arrive here in Japan about a month later. I cannot wait. Both for his arrival and the chance to fully immerse myself in preparations for the row, but also for a break over the Christmas period.
It has been a mad and tiring few weeks lately, busy and challenging and full on. My kayak and bike marathon feels like it has morphed into one of admin and logistics, reviewing and planning, meeting people and travelling into and out of Tokyo to be battered by my physio. I think that the ‘no chance to stop yet’ has been a good thing, because the change from 7.5 months of pushing hard to get as far along the road as possible every night and all the buzz and exhaustion that it brought, to this unfamiliar normality is not the easiest thing to adjust to. It feels a little bit like a culture shock of sorts – like the end of any big journey as you come to terms with it all and decompress, bit by bit.
I am thankful that the whole process has been smoothed somewhat by lots of lovely people – new friends here in Japan and family and friends and my team back at home. Brain and body have been firing at full capacity and are ready for a rest.
Before the break arrives I shall be heading up to Ishinomaki, a fishing town about 400 km up the coast and one of the worst hit by the tsunami earlier this year. I shall be volunteering with ‘It’s Not Just Mud’. Thanks to the Stamford Endowed Schools, Barnsdale Lodge and some very generous personal donors the winter clothing fund which I proposed a few weeks ago has nearly £1,000 heading out here to help keep some of the neediest residents warm this winter. If you think you might be able to spare a little bit of money, please do so via the information here.
Wishing you all well from my new home down by the sea,
PS We are looking at reviewing the expedition’s online communications over this winter break – all the social media outlets and the website. We would really appreciate feedback, so please get in touch with with thoughts on the website – layout, usability, tone. content – and your views on the story following experience so far.
I have been a quiet, but regular observer of your trip from the day you paddled under the Tower Bridge. Your stories are a welcome interlude during the regular “office day”. I like many others really like your writing style.
I think the website and blog are a great way of communicating and I certainly look forward to more of the same in 2012.
I have been fascinated with your journey and congratulate you on your writing ability.
There is nothing wrong with your communications as far as I can see. If it ain’t bust don’t fix it!
Good luck with the next stage and we are all rooting for you.
I know constructive criticism is useful but i have nothing negative to say about your communications – they come in the right frequency, are well written, factual, interesting, varied, humourous, human, the right length and the occasional call to action keeps us all on our toes without feeling ownerous. Keep it up!
I don’t use the website much however, perhaps more links back through the blog would make me do this?
Very best wishes and happy christmas.
PS My work with The Green Blue is ending at Christmas so watch out for a new email – Cradle to Wave is me!
It’s bloody brilliant, don’t change anything, we are all gobsmacked here at what you are doing.
Just a couple of tweaks website wise – think your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Flickr links should be more prominent, maybe logos right at the top of the page, also the Twitter logo in the right hand side bar and on the homepage isn’t linked to Twitter. Other than that perfect!
We love it!
Everything is just fine. Don’t overdo the social media stuff as you’ll end up with many duplicate messages.
Offer something extra for those you actually visit this website. It will involve them more.
Don’t hold back on your negative experiences. We all want to know more about “you”, as well as the trip.
–stay close to yourself–
Langley, BC, CANADA
Like the others said: If it ain’t bust don’t fix it!
Your write ups are just perfect the way they are, so full of all the bits of news and very interesting, please do keep it going.
Have a restful and happy Christmas and all good wishes
C & K
I have followed your exploits daily since you left London. I am entranced with your journey and your adventures. I only want more. I so love it when you have new blog entries, esp those that have video snippets. It lets me live vicariously through your efforts. Keep it up. I am anxious to see the story continue.
Ash here! Great to see you’re getting on so well. Spending time in Japan must be an incredible experience – a double culture shock, what with stopping moving for a while! Great work on your inspiring voyage.
Weii done Sarah.Keep the blogs coming.I hope you have a very pleasant Christmas and I know you are looking forward to the Spring and the Pacific crossing. Until the next time,which will probably be next year,keep smiling.Good luck and God Bless. Peter Nottingham.
I have also been a largely silent observer of your travels, but never miss a blog and I love your video pieces. What pleases me most on your behalf is realising that people from all over the world are following your progress and there is universal praise for your blogsite, commitment, bravery, compassion and humour.
Thank you for inviting us in to share; I would love to come to Tower Bridge in 2013 and welcome you home.
Colin Walford xx
i have only just read your book,good read.i don’t know how you are going to get from japan to america but i hear the flights are quite reasonable!have amerry christmas and a bountyful new year.even though you like mars bars yous faithfully angus
I have enjoyed following you – I do hope you have found some friends to share the Christmas festivities with. Our eldest son was in Japan for seven years and we had some lovely visits to him and his wife. But it is such a different country and is much enhanced if you have someone to translate for you – added to which you can visit some of the places where they still do not speak any English. Look after yourself – Averil.
Your adventure has been introduced to me through a dear friend. I love your attitude and am enjoying following you now – Merry Christmas Sarah!
Happy Christmas Sarah and I hope you have a really thorough rest….body , soul and spirit !
I’m a friend of Justine and Barry’s and live on Bardsey Island ,Wales,and have been enjoying following your progress both through your blog and reports from Justine. Unfortunately , our internet download is limited here so I’m frustrated that I can’t watch all your video clips ! However,my wife bought me the book of your Indian Ocean rowing trip and so I feel like I’m about to get to know you even better !
I hope that Gulliver arrives safely and that the New Year sees all your preparations progressing smoothly…
Best wishes from us all on Bardsey.
Justine has often talked about you – nice to ‘meet’ you! I look forward to paddling out for a proper visit when I return. I hope you enjoy the book. All best for 2012!
I saw your report in the magazine named Out door Japan. The book says in this winter you will stay in Minakami-machi Gumma pref. Im living in Minakami so I would love to do something if you need. Im at the Minakami tourist association in front of Jomokogen station.
Have a safe journy and Im looking forward to seeing you in Minakami!
Happy New Year! I have encouraged my book club to make your book our January discussion title – so hopefully will have boosted sales by about eight! I shall be interested in others comments.
Sarah! Greetings from across the oceans!
I have been reading the book this past week and couldn’t put it down! My traveling companions all wish you a safe journey. I will definitely be there to wave you good bye on April 1st. Aaaaaand (you’ll be thrilled about it, I hope), I have some letters that I promised you!
See you soon!
P.s. Your pie recipe is featured now in MyOrangePot.com check it out!