Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to the Nest

Well, we got here. Through rainstorms and showers, drizzle and hail – and traffic jams, don’t forget the traffic jams…

We got to Dunkerque at just after midnight and had a 5 hour wait till the ferry at 6 a.m. The rain was streaming down, lashing down, battering down on the roof of the car as we tried to snooze.

Around 5, through the misty windscreen, I could make out a strange orange blob hovering towards us – alien abductor, balloon from “the Prisoner” - I wound down the window a little – actually you don’t ‘wind down’ windows any more in these new-fangled cars do you…erm ...buttoned down the window … motored down the window…? - and a strange voice said, “lowdin’ in ten minutes, moit.”

It was the very wet and windswept steward from Norfolk Ferries in his wildly inadequate oilskins.

You must do a crossing with Norfolk Ferries …the boats are amazing. The first time I crossed on one I had to ask to make sure I wasn’t on a luxury cruise ship to the Bahamas …they are dead posh …shining marble and steel and glass. The problem is that the passengers look like the last refuges from a bombed out village in Iraq …bleary eyed and cruddy-looking – crashed out anywhere there is a body-sized bit of carpet …plastic bags of duty-free offers tucked in around them…

We got a seat facing a floor to ceiling window …wow …the Channel can be dead impressive. A rain-soaked foreboding sky and a sea a mixture of two disturbing colours – a military steely-grey and a sickly hospital green. Over towards the French coast the pendulous clouds were licked on their distended underbellies by a lurid unhealthy pink-orange reflection of dawn.

The White Cliffs looked very white too for once.

We disembarked and set off for the ’Pool. 500km and two appalling coffees (taste and price) later we straggled down the avenue, up the path and into the abandoned forlorn house.

It’s funny how little things can affect you powerfully even when you know they are going to be the way they are. I mean, I know there is no-one in the house to cut the grass and I know no-one has cut the grass this year and I know the weather has been very agreeable for unsupervised grass to grow …but still when I looked out of the back window and saw this …

…it hit me yet again that there is really no-one living here any more and what always seemed like a refuge …a nest, was not so nestlike any more.

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