“hier bent u”

We had no chance to refuel the car our ourselves in Harwich, but the huge, half-empty car ferry taking us to Hoek van Holland did a credible midnight sausage roll to supplement the excellent chicken-based supper Catherine provided us with. As ever, it was good to see Eli and family; this visit had a little less comicking/conventioning than the usual, a little more strolling (excellent weather) and a lot more Stand Alone Complex and The Man Who Would Be King.

I like travelling by sea. There’s just something about being on a vast metal box*, a great, powerful machine built by the skill and hard work of people; it gives me a weird kind of pride in being human, and a sense of comfort which has nothing to do with actual safety (OH CHRIST THERE’S NOTHING BUT WATER FOR MILES AROUND AND I CAN’T SWIM). I watched the docks and cranes of Harwich shrink, first to a thin line of orange lights and then to nothing at all. I slept on deck for part of the night, near enough to the funnel to keep me warm, listening to the distant rumble of the engines

I dropped a few texts while still in English waters, where they were supposed to be cheap, and as a reward got (among other things) a message back telling me that I’d left my mobile charger at Eli’s… dammit. However, given that I now have 77p left on my phone (either texts suddenly became £1 each or I had a lot less credit than I thought I had) it may turn out to be academic…

We arrived at the Hook early in the morning, and enjoyed the strange feelings of driving on the right, vast tomato-growing greenhouse complexes, wind turbines everywhere and no hills whatsoever. Dutch is a wonderful language to listen to, even if (like me) you know about three words of Dutch and all of them are to do with pking – you can really feel the double vowels.

Breakfast was, as expected, cheese and ham. The cheese came in both normal and shot-through-with-cumin, which with dreadful cod-Hindi I dubbed “cheese jeera”. The bread was coated in delicious poppyseeds, and the five hours of driving interspersed with three hours of wandering around in the Dutch (and later German) countryside that took us to Gifhorn were altogether highly agreeable.



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