Portsmouth : In the beginning there is often a farewell.

Portsmouth Travel Blog

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A final sun-dappled hug :)

So in the end maybe it’s as simple and gentle as that.  A pleasant bowl of luscious pasta with mince, olives and smoked applewood cheese knocked together by my sis.  A few final photos accompanied by assurances and promises to catch up with each other “soon” somewhere, somewhen on the other side of the globe.  A train along the coast from Hove to Portsmouth & Southsea.  A mile or so stroll through Portsmouth’s naval docklands towards the ferry port.  Knees, hips, spine and other bits all seem to be coping with my sudden, substantial increase in weight well enough… so far!  My 70 litre backpack near doubles the physical space that I now occupy in the world.  A wait, a bus ride, a ramp, a gate.

Packed and ready to go!
  . I am now on board my boat outta town, the Brittany Ferry ‘Bretagne’.  The time has finally come to leave.


A tale : It’s been a long time since I was last on a ferry bound for France (or anywhere else).  I’m around 15 or 16 years old.  Björn, Jasper and I are heading to France on a day trip to stuff our backpacks full of French-made zinc-fused firecrackers, the likes of which were banned in the UK.  The crossing is rough. Very, very, VERY ROUGH! The boat pitches and rolls most of the way from Dover to Calais on what at times feels literally like a 180 degree bow-to-stern axis!  After an hour the boat looks like a vision from Dante’s ‘Hell’.

Me and sis at Hove train station.
   I swear approximately 80% of the boat’s population, including Björn are letting go of their innards in ways that defy description.  Every sink, toilet, bin or other  possible vomit-retaining receptacle on board is blocked and/ or overflowing at the brim.  In fact when the boat pitches forward heavily the bins just topple over and the stuff literally waterfalls down the communal stair wells.  It is total anarchy.  Those crew members that have not already kissed their own stomach-linings and pancreatic contents goodbye have no idea what to do.  Jasper and I on the other hand do for we are entirely unaffected.  We’re not sure why and put it down to the fact we both have red-hair and this is our karmic moment of smugness for all the years of ginger-bashing we’ve endured.  We discover that if you time your runs juuusst right in synch with the boat beginning to pitch downwards you can careen down the corridors, jump and literally FLY I dunno?… 30 - 40 feet through the air before the boat commences arcing back up bringing the ground gently back to safely kiss your feet.
My boat outta town!
  Observing these super-hero stunts does not aid our ailing co-passengers! :)


Ever since that fateful ferry crossing I have had a recurring dream, unsurprisingly on the subject of flying.  Now I don’t often recall my dreams but this one has cropped up from time to time.  A dream where by a mere effort of will my feet can begin to leave the ground and for a time, a certain distance - as long as my concentration remains - I am able effectively to fly.  Not Superman style, but a soft levitation.  A loosening of gravity’s mooring ropes.  Nothing more.  But I control the ascents and descents and the direction of my journey through the air.  I know the sensation I feel within this dream is born of those long, laughter-drenched leaps down ferry passages as a teenager.

  I have had this dream surprisingly several times of late in the run up to my departure and wonder (probably over romantically) if having left my job and the weight of most forms and concerns of daily drudgery this is my mind or my imagination’s way of saying “yes, I am remembering that I can fly!”.


Today on my ferry to St.Malo, things are placid and smooth upon the English Channel and I am glad.  A gentle start to proceedings.  As we sit in the harbour a pretty orange and purple tinged sunset unfurls to the west. Perfect.  We all stare back off the boat’s stern at England as the boat begins to shudder softly, almost imperceptibly into motion.  I stand above the heli-deck in a t-shirt.  It’s a crisp evening with a cool coastal breeze but I’m stood in the path of the ferry’s warm funnel air and continue to stare in comfort as the great big boat begins to seemingly turn on a dime in the port.

The sunset heli-deck aboard the Bretagne
  How do they manage such a graceful departure with a hunk of metal THIS BIG?!


And so we stare as we pull out of Portsmouth harbour.  The sunset has reached it’s full, mesmerising bloom and is now beginning to fade.  We pass the infamous Portsmouth dockside Millennium landmark The Spinnaker Tower, the various amusement parks and old city-port walls that line the coast.  England begins gently to recede into the background, into the night.  I phone a friend to tell her I’ve left England, where she lives but I no longer do.  She laughs.


And so in the end maybe it IS as simple and gentle as that.

  After all the panicking, the fevered packing and last-minute-purchasing.  The goodbyes you made, and those you missed or forgot as it all got a little too late.  It’s all behind you now.  All these things, people, practicalities etc, etc are already also beginning, ever so slightly to recede., for there’s nothing you can do about them now.  The connections beginning to stretch.  It’s just me and the World for now.  A boat,  a sunset, a friend on the phone, a farewell.  Turning on a dime, a last glance, transfixed by the boat’s swell.  Goodbye England, I’m heading The Other Way. I’ll miss you I’m sure, but forgive me for I do not today :)

incognita456 says:
nice stevie
enjoy your travels
Posted on: Apr 29, 2009
marix_sublime says:
i enjoyed reading this...happy and safe travel my friend!
Posted on: Apr 12, 2009
globalodyssey says:
you might enjoy reading "the places in between", a straight ahead journey by rory stewart, as he walks across afghanistan right after the fall of the taliban.
Posted on: Apr 05, 2009
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A final sun-dappled hug :)
A final sun-dappled hug :)
Packed and ready to go!
Packed and ready to go!
Me and sis at Hove train station.
Me and sis at Hove train station.
My boat outta town!
My boat outta town!
The sunset heli-deck aboard the Br…
The sunset heli-deck aboard the B…
The Spinacker Tower, Portsmouth ha…
The Spinacker Tower, Portsmouth h…
Meet my travel companion Muju (mor…
Meet my travel companion Muju (mo…
Sunset over Portsmouth harbour.
Sunset over Portsmouth harbour.
photo by: Hannah1982Bug