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.