Year Abroad Diaries: 11 March 2013

Friday 8th, the living room, home.

My ‘cherished’ Moleskine has been neglected for a while: since I’ve been home, it’s been non-stop food, family and fatigue. It is so lovely being back; a million times less strange and foreign than at Christmas, when I’d been without home comforts for three months. This time, it’s only been a six week gap, so seeing everyone isn’t such a shock.

The weather has been kind to me, much milder and more importantly sunny, compared to dreary Normandy. On Thursday, I woke C early and by 11am we were fleeced up and walking towards the trig point. We had the most beautiful view onto Loch Lomond at the summit: the sky was shining blue, there was snow on the hills and the wind smelled of spring. It was perfect. Another weather highlight was post-lunch with the two G’s (my maternal grandparents) where we drove down to the banks of the loch and took pictures of the still water. They both seemed to relish pottering around the countryside and chattering away.

Early in March, it was C’s birthday. After a short drive and a bowl of soup, we headed towards Ardtorna B&B, turning port across the Connel Bridge. We pulled up in front of a futuristic building, a stunted cylindrical torso lowering into a longer, cottage-inspired arm. Crunching nervously towards the door, C repeated, ‘Wow. This is amazing. You shouldn’t have.’ The owners welcomed us and we were shown to our room at the end of the corridor. It really was luxury – a massive bed, underfloor heating, a mini fridge full of nuts and snacks, chocolates, a huge bath… and C was further flabbergasted when the complimentary scones and clotted cream arrived. We sat munching, looking onto the loch. Hot chocolate and a bath relaxed us into sleep.

The next morning continued the opulence: muesli, poached eggs, homemade soda bread and jam – our stomachs were bursting for hours. Jumping along the road to the Sea Life Centre, we watched otters twirl in the pools, seals crack fish bones, rays fly along invisible currents. It was grey but we wandered outside. Sutherland’s Grove was the next stop; a Forestry Commission nature trail. The drizzle fell harder towards the road end, gravel merging into reservoir over which peered a monotone mount. The walk tired us out, so we spent an hour afterwards in the Oban Chocolate Company supping on hot beverages…

Monday 11th. Southampton Airport, in the snow.

Dad brought me to the airport this morning in his van. As he watched me, waving at security, I saw his eyes take on a shininess, and tried not to cry myself. The amount of times I’ve said to Mum and C, and there to Dad, ‘I’m not going to get upset. Only six weeks left of teaching. I’ll manage; it’s not long at all…’ It’s become a mantra.

When we boarded the plane, the pilot announced that there had been snowfall at Southampton and that it was minus one. Flights to both Jersey and Guernsey have been cancelled due to the snow. In some ways I’m hoping I won’t be able to get back to France. Then I realise how dim I’m being, because I’ll be stuck in England instead.

I can hear the rumble of a plane on the tarmac, though I can’t tell if it’s coming down or taking off. I can’t tell what I’m doing either – I’m not sure whether to feel horrendously sad that the holiday is over, or to think optimistically towards the future and the summer. I think it’s obvious the latter would be more beneficial. It’s an uphill struggle to keep yourself going, but the ascent has to level out at some point. Right?

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