Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 11 May 2017


The most common question we are being asked is, "How does it feel to be home?" and, having been back at Parkhouse Cottage for a week, we are just about getting to grips with the question. The main answer, in truth, is, "It's a bit weird!".

After nearly 5 years living on a 38ft boat, the sudden access to all the living space in our, admittedly, modestly-sized house is taking some getting used to, as is the access to fresh (and hot) water at the turn of a tap without worrying about water tanks and the almost-forgotten responsibility for managing a garden. More on the garden later.....

A well-packed van!
We spent two full and exhausting days on Thursday and Friday shuttling back and forth in a hired van to collect all of our 'indoor' belongings from the storage unit in nearby Bridgwater (generously provided to us by our friend David) and another day collecting mower and other 'outdoor; things from a lockup at Holt Farm in the Yeo Valley (thanks to Tim and Garth). We really thought we had been pretty good at divesting ourselves of unnecessary clutter before we embarked on the voyage and, indeed, did a further cull when we were back here briefly a couple of years ago, but unloading everything into the house and garage was quite a shock; we clearly hadn't been trying.

The hallway filled with carefully-wrapped framed photos and art
A few years ago Graham attended a marketing briefing at Yeo Valley where some researchers presented their thoughts on world-wide trends in consumers' attitudes. One of the themes they highlighted was an increasing feeling that we are all becoming overwhelmed by 'stuff' - either physical possessions or electronically-delivered information. So much so that many people feel suffocated by it all and are starting to try to simplify their lives by divesting themselves of some of said stuff. The marketers (who like to do this sort of thing) came up with a snappy title for the trend - 'stuffication' - and that's what we are feeling right now. Our sailing friends Bob and Sue on Mawari were in our position a year ago when they flew back to England from Australia and have sent us a message saying "You'll wander down memory lane as you unpack everything and then take 75% of it to the charity shop!".

Apart from the issues of stuffication, our biggest challenge has been to start tackling the results of the house having been rented out for 5 years. We guess that we have been relatively lucky with out tenants but there is still a lot to do, inside and out. We have therefore moved abruptly from 'boat maintenance in exotic places' to 'house maintenance in Somerset'. The garden, which is pretty big, has certainly suffered from neglect, in spite of our paying a gardener to try to keep on top of it. The tenants of the past 2 years apparently had no interest in gardening at all so the mild climate and fertile soil has resulted in some astonishing and unwanted growth that has gone largely untamed. 

Thankfully, the mower, strimmer (Graham much prefers the American name of weed-whacker!), hedge-trimmer and chainsaw all started first time after 5 years, thanks to some careful moth-balling, and all have been used a great deal in the past 3 days of wonderfully sunny Spring weather:

The grass was pretty long so the first run of the mower revealed some unhealthily white stalks

The evergreen trees reshaped 

Sunset after an exhausting day
 At the top of the orchard, where we would usually enjoy a view across to the sea from our summerhouse, the hedges and trees had completely taken over, with an evil intertwining of wild rose and thorny brambles ready to inflict flesh wounds on us as we tackled them. Here is the 'before' and 'after' comparison after another busy day:

Before: Where did the view go?

After: The smoke from the bonfire drifts across
The good news is that we are making very obvious progress and are remaining stoical about all the boxes that remain, as yet, unpacked, as well as the increasingly long to-do lists that we are creating. It's probably not a bad thing that we have some welcome family diversions coming up - Di has just taken the train up to Lancashire to spend a few days with her sister and father and then we have Graham's dad's 80th birthday to celebrate up in Scotland next weekend. The maintenance jobs and the reduction of 'stuff' can wait a few more days.