The ferry crossing was smooth and uneventful. With my, by now, standard combination of gin and Stugeron, I slept like a baby. When I awoke, there was a soft pink glow on the horizon, visible through our cabin window. I couldn’t resist one last sunrise.
I quickly showered and dressed, and dragged poor Howard from his bed. We went up on deck, and watched a magical sunrise in the east, looking back towards Europe. It seemed such a very apt way to be saying goodbye to the continent that we had been exploring for the past ten months. It was really hard not to well up inside.
The sun shone on the drive back up to Fife from Newcastle through the glorious Borders countryside. We should have felt excited about being back in the UK, but perversely it was the sadness that our amazing adventure was over, that was the over-riding emotion.
Arriving home, if I’m honest, was a bit of an anti-climax. It just felt really peculiar leaving Oscar on the drive and coming indoors. The house was cold, since both the boiler and the Aga had decided to malfunction simultaneously. So rather than arriving back to a cosy warm house, it felt like entering a cold room, one of the drawbacks of not running the heating for months. The first night back in our own bed was ridiculous. Neither of us could sleep – the bed felt so soft and saggy after the very firm upper bed in Oscar. We tossed and turned and fidgeted, and at one point, at about 3am, we did consider going outside to sleep in the van!
We have now been home a few days, and are slowly acclimatising to all this space around us. The boiler and the Aga have been sorted, and the house is starting to feel more lived in again. I am savouring having a toilet and bathroom at hand, rather than walking across a cold field, especially in the middle of the night.
It has been lovely starting to catch up with family and friends, not to mention Doctor Who and Strictly Cone Dancing! Our sons are pleased to have us home again, and we have already spent a lovely weekend with the two younger ones in Edinburgh.
The really odd thing is, that already, the trip is starting to feel a little bit like a dream. Did we really travel to all those amazing places? Did we really travel 25,000 miles and visit 35 countries? So many amazing experiences. So many memories. We have been very lucky indeed to have had the opportunity to undertake such an incredible trip. For some, it would be a lifetime’s dream. For others, living in a small campervan for the best part of a year would be a nightmare! For us though, and I think I speak for Howard on this one too, it has been one of the best experiences of our lives.
Already, ideas are going through my mind – different destinations, new adventures. I think it will be hard to settle after such an amazing trip, but who knows what the future holds? I hope that for those of you who have followed the blog, that you have enjoyed being armchair travellers. I have really appreciated all your comments and input over the months.
You will realise that I am a huge advocate of travel. I really do think it broadens the mind, and leads to a better understanding of our fellow human beings. Europe is an amazing continent. It’s diversity must be greater than any other continent on earth. No other continent can possess the same number of incredible old buildings, and the same amount of history on offer. It’s natural wonders and beauty are beyond words. I hope that I may have inspired a few of you to get out there, and see some more of this wonderful continent that is just on our doorstep.
For now though, I am signing off. Thank you for travelling with us … until next time, a bientot!