I couldn’t remember a time I’d been on deck and not worn an extra layer. Today, however, it was a joy to stand outside, waving goodbye to France and the fishermen on the dock. The sun shone brightly, the sky was pure blue and a warm breeze caressed the loose strands of hair that kept flopping out of my pony tail.
Perched against the rail I watched a couple of sailing boats enjoying the fine weather, racing each other round the bay, and stood pensively as the houses got smaller and smaller the longer I stood there.
It felt good. This whole trip felt good. Getting away from the daily routine, relaxing in the sunshine, laughing with friends and family… Just a few days had been enough. The heat of Seville and the stress of work seemed a million miles away. Summer travel was working its wonder.
Was this what contentment felt like? I breathed in the sea air with exited anticipation.
Since land was still in sight I decided to take a walk on the other side of the ship. This side was in the shade and slightly chillier but it also meant there were fewer people.
Just then, a boat came along side. As we continued on out towards the horizon a door opened below and we enjoyed a privileged view of the pilot leaving the ship to head back to harbour. We watched and cheered as he stepped down off the ferry and safely onto the boat waiting below. It looked scary enough on a calm day, I couldn’t quite imagine what it would be like in choppy conditions!
I pushed open the heavy door and stepped back into the busy dinning room where a varied group of passengers filled every seat available and kids ran back and forth between the playroom and their tired parents.
Lively chatter filled the cafeteria, one of the few places on the ship you could spend the crossing. A short walk would take you to the shop and a reception desk where you could acquire a pass for the VIP lounge, but other than that, the few tables and chairs dotted around the main area were pretty much your best bet for the duration.
Childhood memories of many crossings just like this one came flooding back as I looked around. Taking this trip with just mum and dad was strange also. Good, don’t get me wrong, but different. It didn’t seem that long ago that I had been the one running around in the playroom, or perhaps more likely, looking for a new English story to read from the small shop and asking if we could buy English sweeties.
It didn’t take long to leave the harbour in Cherbourg behind. With little more than blue water and blue skies on the horizon, I headed back to our table, got out my book (keeping with old habits) and willed time to pass quickly.
I looked forward to reaching dry land again. ‘Ahoy, England!’ one might shout, as a new country appeared in the distance. Soon enough, there it was, land visible once more, our crossing slowly coming to an end. Our journey, however, was still not quite over.
Back into the belly of the ship, back into our vehicles, back to a country that was both familiar and foreign, both exciting and, in a way, also challenging. There are things you forget when you spend a long time away, just as there are things you miss greatly.
It felt strange to be back, strange to be driving on the other side of the road, strange to be here with only part of the family. Yet it was also exiting. I looked forward to seeing my grandparents, to picnics, to day trips, to a spot of shopping for things I couldn’t get back in Seville. All this was yet to come. All this was good.
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder as well. Further into the future, what lay ahead for this country I loved? What lay ahead for those of us who live between two worlds? Recent events had had us glued in surprise to screens sharing unexpected referendum results. Since then, things haven’t really become much clearer as we wait to see how things develop. Only time will tell but I can’t help but wonder.
We drove along the main road as the sun was setting and pulled into the drive as it was getting dark. Hugs and cups of tea followed as we chatted about the journey before we all tumbled up the stairs to bed for some needed rest.
We’d had a calm crossing but I suspected choppy waters still lay ahead. Yet as I closed my eyes, I knew morning would bring a brand new day and brand new adventures. This trip was going to be great.