Today was an important day in my “lockdown” life. Today I finished a long lasting project.
In 1995 I was offered and accepted early retirement after having worked for a large international company for 35 years. Later in that year my wife and I visited Leith Docks near Edinburgh to see the Tall Ships which had gathered there during the Tall Ships Round Britain race. We were lucky enough to be invited by friends to view the whole docks from the roof of one of the tall buildings with all the ships moored below. What an impressive sight. It was then that I decided that I would love to sail on one of these ships.
I found the Sir Winston Churchill moored there. This ship belonged to the Sail Training Association and was a training ship for young people teaching them leadership skills and teamworking. The ship usually sailed around the UK in the summer but in the winter it took people over the age of 55 as crew to the Canaries. After wintering in the Canaries it came back home to Portsmouth in May.
After making further enquiries and completing the necessary application documents, I soon found myself on the crew list for bringing the ship back home on the first leg from Las Palmas to the Azores. What an experience . It was hard work but worthwhile. It took us 9 days. Then another crew joined and we all flew home.
In 1998 I found a model kit of the Sir Winston Churchill for sale on the internet and decided to buy it. What a kit. It was Japanese and most of the plans and instructions were in Japanese with very little English.
It was to become a formidable task as I had never done any work as intricate and demanding as this, never mind model making. I finished the hull and deck after about a year. The main reason it took so long was that in my retirement, I took on work as a volunteer working for The Princes Trust. I was also regularly playing golf and had a sizable garden to look after. There wasn’t much time for the model and it soon got forgotten and was packed away in a box to be completed “one day”. We moved from our house into a flat in 2013 and the partly completed model came with us.
I took up other interests in our new found village , including bowling and I joined U3A, where I am in a photography group. My wife and I are also in a small walking group and are now in our eighties. So we have plenty of interests.
Then came Coronavirus and Lockdown. No bowling, walking, or U3A meetings and the photography group meetings were by Zoom. Because of her health my wife was shielding and I also had to stay indoors. Oh dear, what were we going to do?
My wife is a keen reader and made great use of her Kindle and is also a successful artist so she seemed to be well occupied in lockdown. But, what was I to do?
It was then that I remembered the model of the Sir Winston Churchill. So on about the 16th March I dug out the unfinished model and kit. I had a long hard look at it and decided to give it a go. Some of the parts were tiny so it was quite difficult at times as, due to illness, I had lost one of my eyes about 8 years previously. For example a searchlight was about the size of two pinheads.
Nevertheless I got stuck into it and worked carefully everyday for the last three months. I was in my study at 9.30 every morning and finished at about 4 in the afternoon. Some of the work was very difficult , especially the rigging. There were times when I really wondered how I could finish this model.
I kept at it and on 12th June finished it. It took me about 22 years with a gap of 20 years. If it had not been for the dreaded virus I might have been passing the kit on to my children.
Now I can look at my model of The Sir Winston Churchill and remember my voyage and hope that soon we all will return to some form of normality.