Day 2,525 - New Zealand (36° 25S 174° 49E)
07:50hrs - April 29th 2014
Goodbye Mum

April has been a difficult month for us. Three weeks ago my brother, Stephen, contacted me with news that our Mother was in hospital with a chest infection, and suggested that we return to England to see her. We flew back the same day, but sadly our Mother died shortly after we arrived, on April 10th.

Carol was a caring and independent woman. She was a natural beach babe, too, and even though she was born and spent her life living in England, in my memories, when she was younger, she was always tanned. She loved the sun, and grew up in a pre-SPF era, happily lounging away summer afternoons in her garden, listening to ABBA, glistening with sun tanning oil, while Stephen and I burnt English sausages and burgers on a rickety barbecue. The fondest memories I have of her are summer ones.

In 1974 Mum bought a Mini. Friends say she drove it at only one speed - full speed - everywhere she went. She crashed it, wrote it off, four years later, miraculously escaping injury. Later, much to our apprehension, she raced around town on a moped, which thankfully had a top speed of barely 30 mph. And finally, even after she suffered a severe stroke in 1995, she would be seen tearing off up the road into the village on her motorized wheelchair, a device that she maneuvered around her garden with all the speed and dexterity of Barry Sheene. Mum lived a modest life, but it was clear to me that she craved adventure.

When Stephen and I were boys, rainy Sunday afternoons at her house were spent laying on the carpet, head resting in hands, watching classic movies on the telly: Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur, Gone With the Wind and Cleopatra. Mum dreamed of travelling, but the stroke kept her at home and to her garden, where she cared for her flowers, her birds, and her fish, but she seemed content.

Mum didn't have email, so when Catherine and I started sailing we mailed her postcards from every country, region and island we visited, dozens and dozens of them, which she kept neatly organized in a folder near her chair. Even though she saw photos of Dream Time, I think she imagined our voyage was like Bogart and Hepburn's on the African Queen, I think it made her happy, and I hope proud.

Catherine and I are back in New Zealand, it is the first time in weeks that we have stopped moving, and only now are my thoughts and emotions catching up with me. I am grateful beyond words that we had the chance to say goodbye, and that we were with her when she passed - the nurses at Southampton General Hospital think that she was waiting for us.

She died on Thursday afternoon, when the sky was a clear blue, when the flowers were in full Spring bloom, and with English birds chirping in the trees, she would have liked that.

Goodbye Mum, we will all miss you.