Saturday was gloriously sunny so, after a frantic house-wide search for my car keys, Moo and I set off to the beach for a picnic. JJ wanted to have a nana-nap in preparation for her long overnight drive, so I decided that the best place we could be was out. The sand was warm and the sun was hot, the lake was still freezing, so after a quick paddle I decided to give that a miss, although Moo didn’t seem to mind the temperature and I was soon laying out her shorts and T-shirt to dry in the sun. We spent a happy couple of hours building castles in the sand, it seems that spring has well and truly sprung just in time for us to leave.
We got home and pottered till tea time, ensuring we had the correct in-flight entertainment for Moo, finishing all the washing and double, triple and quadruple checking I had all the travel documents in readiness. It was a very excited Moo that was put to bed with the promise of a ‘night-time’ adventure while I faffed about the place making sure that everything that was supposed to be cleaned had been, and everything that was supposed to be away, was. For someone who was quite organised for this trip, there still seemed to be an awful lot of things to be done!
At last the time was upon us and we were ready to go. It was as I put my jumper on I noticed the small patch skin on my neck, just about where the seat belt would be resting for the next 4 hours, that had been missed by the sun-cream earlier in the day. That’s going to make for a comfortable journey. Moo was reluctantly pulled from her bed and deposited, still snoring, amongst the various duvets and pillows that had been arranged for her in the back seat and I returned to the house for the final check and the big ‘switch off’. I shall miss this house for the next few weeks, and miss seeing the garden come into its early summer glory. The apple tree is just starting to push out the first signs of blossom, just in the last few days the rose bushes have burst back into life and are covered in tiny leaves, the elderflower twig I ‘liberated’ has taken root and is rewarding my winter care with shoots of green and I have never seen so many buds on the lilac tree. But much as I will miss them, I can’t wait to get away.
Moo stayed asleep for the first 15 minutes of the journey, then treated us to an almost non stop sing-along with Disney’s greatest hits all the way to Dieppe. She was not at all perturbed when I told her it was in fact 3 am and gleefully responded that ‘normally I’d be fast asleep by now, this is cool’. We arrived at the ferry terminal and reported to Passport control, all was well, but we were asked to open the boot to check we weren’t trafficking any illegal items across the channel. The Customs man took one look at our packing job and clearly decided that asking us to unpack, and therefore re-pack, anything would be more than a 5 minute job and waved is through with a rather impressed ‘wow, c’est tres plien’. It was indeed ‘very full’, with the combined skill of JJ’s and my packing expertise we had managed to fit in rather a lot of ‘stuff’. It’s not surprising they asked to check it, the back of the car was hanging so low there could well have been a family if illegal immigrants in there, but it was merely our combined luggage and three weeks of JJ’s supermarket trawling, and that’s a lot of ‘stuff’!
The ferry was boarded and while JJ made a nest of duvet on the floor Moo tried out the conveniently located soft play area with her last remaining iota of energy. 10 minutes later we had set sail and JJ and Moo were snuggled up fast asleep. I on the other hand had no illusions about the size of the sleeping area and Moo’s ability to occupy more space than a fully grown elephant, and opted to stay in a chair that was quite clearly designed with minimum comfort in mind, and take an occasional stroll around deck for a caffeine fix. At around 5 am I headed outside for a bit of bracing sea air and was treated to a thing of real beauty. A tiny sliver of a ‘fingernail’ moon hung low in the sky reflecting dimly on the choppy sea below, glowing in the most un-earthly shade of fiery orange. Nature’s wonder at it’s very best. After a short uncomfortable doze I awoke to see that the moon had been replaced on the opposite horizon by the new day’s sun breaking through the clouds and the shores of Kent looming large. Moo awoke with a huge grin and headed to the play area for a spot of early morning aerobics while I plied JJ with coffee.
Off the ferry and a nail-biting ride in the passenger seat for me as I tried to reconcile my sleep deprived brain to the fact that all the cars were hurtling towards us on the wrong side of the road. One very welcome coffee stop later we were finally on the last stretch towards our old home town. How very strange it felt driving back in past all the familiar landmarks we had left behind a very short lifetime ago.
There was however little time to contemplate as we arrived at our destination and JJ proceeded to purge her house of 3 weeks worth of cat hair before we unpacked the car. From the boot of the car we managed to fill half a living room floor, no wonder the customs man was impressed. JJ headed for a well deserved nap as I looked on longingly, but somehow, even after being awake for the whole of the mornings journey, Moo had very defiantly decided that she was still very defiantly not tired. Bum.
Lunch and a long bath seemed to take care of that little problem and we headed upstairs for a little snooze. 2 hours later I woke and fought the great temptation to stay snuggled up and warm with the sobering thought that if I didn’t get her up now it was quite likely that Moo would wake up at around 3am full of energy and ready to face the day, I would almost defiantly not be in the same frame of mind. We staggered through a few hours of wakefulness before admitting defeat and hitting the sack with a resounding ‘whumph’.
After what seemed like only a few minutes, but in reality was around 10 hours, it was Monday morning and time to get up.
Walking down into the busy town centre reminded me just how far away we have moved. The mass of humanity in a constant state of hurriedness, getting to and from whatever desperately important thing or place without pause for breath, the urgency in the air was palpable, well it was for a ‘hick’ like I now fully and happily confess to be. I was pleased to notice a few people in the high street with wide and welcoming grins, until I realised they were ‘chuggers’, falsely charming and well paid workers who mug unsuspecting members of the public into parting with vast sums of cash to support the charity cause of the day. Still it was nice to see somebody smiling. What I needed was cake.
My need was resoundingly satisfied by the genuinely charming Etta at the Empress cafe in Luton library. I can without hesitation recommend the carrot cake, and if I’m being entirely honest I can also give a big thumbs up to the caramel topped apple cake too. What? Moo couldn’t finish it, you wouldn’t have wanted it to go to waste would you?
Then it was time for the main event of the day. Molly was to be re-united with the first and greatest love of her life. She made quite sure to ask me if her hair looked OK as we waited for them to arrive to pick us up. As we got into the car a couple of timid and terribly casual greeting were exchanged, but it was not long before the were tearing around together, all thoughts of neat hair banished as soon as the word trampoline was mentioned, as if it were only 10 minutes since they had last had a proper play together, rather than the 2 years it really had been. Rather magnificently the same could be said for me and his mum, although I did leave the trampolining solely to her. I adore having friends that fit so well. It doesn’t actually matter how much time or how many miles have passed, it always feels like it was just the other day that you were round for a cuppa and a natter. So much and so little has changed, but it certainly doesn’t feel like 27 months since the last ‘mum’s club’, and I sincerely hope its not the same amount of time before the next one.
I even managed to leave my mobile phone in her house when I left, some things, thank the Lord, will never change.