During an enforced stay in France, waiting for the importation requirements for the dog I rescued from the Canary Islands, I lived on the French inland waterways, on the River L'Aa. It was free, I had an electricity connection from some helpful French people nearby and the village, Watten, had the basic necessities for life - a couple of supermarkets, a few bars, a hardware shop and some lovely surrounding woodland.
I had to stay six months and winter is harsh on the continent, without the Gulf Stream to warm the climate, but I discovered an important aspect of happiness. Somehow the limitations came with a gift. Those 180 days consisted of scraping a living with my saxophone in a town called St Omer, a ten kilometre cycle ride away. I took portrait photographs of Watten locals and gave most away. The small tourist office gave me an exhibition. My neighbours helped me survive the cold and strong winter weather by providing social contact, we went on our bicycles into the woods to collect sweet chesnuts, drank pastis, belgian beer and wine around a fire on the river bank and shared meals. This rural and hardy period made me happier than I can remember at any other time in my experience. The Voyage of Storm Petrel was complete, all there was left of that was to sail the boat across the English Channel to Britain and edit the book draft into a publishable manuscript.
Despite all this I still found myself suffering cabin fever. One day I filmed myself inside the boat and this short and silly video, which I named 'girl in a gale', has nearly 7000 views on YouTube.
'girl in a gale' has become my brand name which I use for music and videos. Of course it is not a real gale, but of course it is a real girl.
Watch 'girl in a gale'. It's a study in cabin fever, it's a boat, a voyage, a life, it's the promise of a return home, it's a snapshot into a happy life, it's the end of a voyage.