London - Harwich - Hoek van Holland - Roermond
Our taxi weaves through London as the city starts to stir and deposits us at Liverpool Street Station. There is a bus replacement service from London to the ferry at Harwich. It is not as uncomfortable as I feared.
On board, the ferry feels like a very comfortable airport, with wood panelling and armchairs. We set up in a sunny corner beside a big round porthole to watch England drift away. The sea is very calm. The crossing takes several hours, so we do a few laps of the deck, visit the lounge, read our books, lie on the couches for a nap.
My cousin Peter (he’s my first cousin once removed) picks us up and drives us south, through the sunset, into the evening, to his house in Roermond. Our window looks out across the rooftops to the cathedral, with its golden statue of St Christopher lit up on top of the spire.
Holland and Belgium and Germany, oh my!
The hills of Zuid Limburg (yes, they have a few)
Zoom, zoom, zoom
That evening, Dan and I take Peter out for dinner. As we walk home, the church bells chime and the town hall bells tinkle their tune. We’ve heard so many bells in every town and it will be one of my lasting memories of this visit.
Home again, home again
Our lunch consists of several snacks as we graze our way along the aisles. We buy food for the ferry crossing and visit the English language section of a second hand bookshop. I read my book in the park, then in a cafe in the train station, then in the ferry terminal.
During the night, I wake up and stare out the window. Lights of ships. The froth of disturbed water as the ferry ploughs through the swell. Mist whipping past in plumes and skeins.
Too soon, we’re on the train, annoying commuters with our luggage. I’m tired. I close my eyes and remember squelching mud between my toes, crunching a stolen carrot, whizzing along the cycle path, and the bells ringing out into the night . . .