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- Diane

John and Sparks set sail

John and Sparks set sail

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As if I needed any convincing that life holds new adventures at every age and stage, meeting John and Sparks (yes, you did read that right), and hearing the story of their inspiring adventure definitely leaves me in no doubt. Enjoy!

John: I’ve been a sailor since I was 5. When we decided to retire to the coast, Sparks suggested I get a yacht. We actually bought the boat before we bought the house!

Sparks: My plan was that John would have the boat and I would have a sewing room in the new house, which I do. But I found I got more and more interested in the sailing.

John: I don’t know where the idea came from but I said ‘lets go to Brittany’ and she said ‘Alright, but let's go for four months!’ She was adamant that we weren’t going to come home before that.

Sparks: It was all because of the whole gap year thing that we missed out on. People of our generation didn’t get a gap year and when our daughter took time off we thought, ‘that’s really good, let’s do it ourselves.’

To begin with we kept thinking, are we allowed to be doing this? Is this alright? Is somebody going to tell us - ‘go home, you shouldn’t be here’? But then we relaxed into the freedom of it. It was just the tide and the wind that told us where we could go.

John: In a boat you’re always going to have a crisis of some sort and we're very good in those situations because Sparks lets me take over and does as she’s told. Later on she might tell me off for shouting at her! We didn’t ever fall out and really the only reason we came back was because I had to have a medical procedure.

So next year, who knows. I'm not sure about wintering on the boat, but if we can get it far enough south, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.

Sparks: I might have to move my sewing machine onto the boat, in that case!

What do you think of the idea of a grown-up gap year? Have you taken one? If so, what did you do? And if not, would you? And what would you do? So many questions!

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