by Andrew Martin
The final part of our adventure began on Friday the 2nd of August 2019. We wanted our final goodbyes to be a low-key affair, so we hired a car for a few weeks to eventually self-drive to the airport, my sister and a few close friends joined us for a cup of coffee, that was more than enough to try and emotionally handle.
The time trial braai/impromptu farewell at the club on Thursday the 1st was a nice gesture. Dave said a few words and it was done. Saying goodbye to those that were there after being at the club since 2007 did bring a tear or 2. I had made some incredibly special friends during the 12 odd years of running/socializing at Stella Running/Drinking Club. I think the continual laughs, camaraderie, club nights, socializing, oh…and running, will never be forgotten.
We landed at Heathrow on Saturday the 3rd, we were collected by a mate who put us up at his home in Windsor and then drove us down to the coast on Sunday.
As the universe would have it another mate was going on holiday and needed someone to house and dog sit for the week, we had use of their car so we could find a place to live, find work and buy a car. They were situated in Corfe Mullen, which was pretty close to Bournemouth, the city we had chosen to settle. The main reasons were that it was on the coast, close to the New Forest, a massive green belt in the south east and was in the southerly part of England. It has a supposedly micro-climate which differs from most of the UK as in a few degrees warmer and not as wet. Not quite Durban, I know.
Tanya had by chance connected up with an ex-Capetonian who was busy renovating a small apartment in Wimborne near Poole. It was almost complete and was offered to us for a nominal rental while she was busy renovating upstairs.
We had managed to buy a car, find a place to live and both had interviews by the time our mates got back from holiday. We moved in [to an empty apartment] and started work a week later. The universe works in mysterious ways. We subsequently moved upstairs to the larger apartment in February 2020.
Running had obviously taken a back seat while we tried to find our feet and get to grips with all the new systems and processes in a new country. We did walk…. a lot. We explored our little town which has a church that was built over 800 years ago. We are about 100m from the River Stour, so our walks were across open fields and along the river.
I had attempted a few runs, but the weather was closing in on us, days were getting shorter, it was getting cold, dark and miserable, so much easier to get home and read a book. We did walk most days though, apparently there is no such thing as bad weather in the UK, only bad clothing…ja right. They say your blood gets thicker with time…ja right…zero degrees is cold.
Fast forward to Spring, clocks get changed and almost immediately you sense happiness in the air, people are smiling, more friendly and the day light hours get longer.
I began to start running again, it was wonderful. I started slow and short and gradually built up to my goal of 5km. It is pretty flat where we live near the river so no real challenges.
We also cycled a lot, so much easier and could get to a lot more places. Cycling is huge in our town, most days we would see more cyclists than runners and walkers. I often cycled to and from work.
Summer had arrived with a vengeance…. daylight hours doubled. We bought a SUP [stand up paddleboard] as we were so close to the river and used it very often. We would get home from work, pack a bite to eat, some beers and take a walk down to the river and get back home close to 10pm, the river was busy and the weather warm. We would paddle upriver, find a ‘beach’ and have dinner and drift back down. Believe it or not there were some evenings it was just too hot and humid to run or paddle, so we packed a bag and sat under the trees and watched the world go by.
Summer here makes up for the dreary winter and there are four distinctive seasons. Autumn started peeping her head when the leaves began falling in late August and by late October winter was arriving. Soon December was here, and it was cold and dark again, but we had made a pact that we would continue running if it were not too windy or raining. So…when we got home, we got changed and hit the trail to do our 5km route along the river and through a bit of forest. We had got our winter running gear, gloves, beanie, lights and thermals. We saw foxes on the trail and a few other crazies. We had managed to run 19 times in December, and a few of those runs were in zero temperatures, before we had a major disruption in our lives.
I tested positive for the dreaded lurgy [Covid19] on January 1st, 2021 and Tanya on the 4th. Both felt like we had been hit by a bus. I went back to work on the 12th and Tanya on the 14th, we are still both fatigued but on the mend.
Running has taken a back seat for a while but I am sure we will start again soon…we have started walking longer distances in the meantime.
We were introduced to an activities group by another mate and they have an assortment of disciplines that various members do. In total there are over 1000 members.
We did a few group paddles on the river with them until the lockdown put a stop to it, they do mountain biking, road biking, wall climbing, orienteering, open water swimming, cliff walking, sea kayaking, road and trail running which are but some of the available activities. We will be joining them in a few when things ease, and the days start to get longer.
In closing, I often get asked if I miss South Africa, my answer is yes, of course, every day, to move to another country and leave everyone and everything you hold dear is huge…I miss family and friends terribly, but we chose to move, Robyn is thriving and loving it here and for that we are grateful. It may still take time for us to acclimatise and get used to life in another country, there are some good and not so good aspects about living here, but I believe it is all about attitude, embracing change and courage.
Hope the club goes from strength to strength in these testing times.