The van was packed and ready to go and as soon as we finished work we were out of the Lake District and on the M6. We had flexible ferry tickets which gave us a three day window to catch a boat but we wanted to maximise our time away – ergo, not spend an entire day driving south when we could already be across the channel! The drive was easy, we did half each with the other person snoozing in the passenger’s seat and, in what felt like no time at all, I was waking up and we were in Dover – the benefit of not doing the second shift, I suppose!
It was dark and a light mist was draped across the road, the moon, beginning its climb into the inky sky, was perched just above the horizon, huge and orange. It was an atmospheric night. There were a few cars on the road but all was quiet and navigating our way through the ferry terminal was a breeze. Despite it being 1:30am the staff were all cheerful and chatty. We were in time to catch the 2am ferry, the woman on the desk informed us with a bright smile. We were in lane, we were boarding and then we set sail, it was all delightfully stress-free – the benefit of unsociable hours and a tactic we will be reusing in the future!
The crossing was calm, everywhere you looked people were sprawled across sofas or had their heads on tables trying to get a little sleep, and we were no different. It was not the most comfortable snooze we have ever had but after a day of work and a seven hour drive – every little helps.
Approaching our destination we could see the glimmer of lights along the shore. The day was breaking, the horizon aglow with blue and a hint or orange that was getting brighter every minute. Despite being tired, the excitement of a brand new adventure was brewing! Getting off the boat was as smooth sailing (ahem, excuse the pun) as getting on and once again, in the blink of an eye, we were disembarking, reminding ourselves earnestly to drive on the right!
It was around 4am and with no real plan we decided to find somewhere along the coast to grab a couple of hours sleep before the day truly started. North of Dunkirk we found a spot right on the edge of the sand dunes, a sandy beach and the sea just a short distance away. Whilst we pulled the bed out the sky was aflame with oranges and reds as the sunrise really got into its stride. It was tricky to stay focused on the task and not get distracted by the show playing out before us.
A couple of hours later we were waking up from our brief slumber, outside a glorious day was offering up blue skies and bright sunshine. We knew we would spend most of this trip inland so we enjoyed the sea views while we had them, until we could hang around no longer – there were new places to explore and new adventures to be had and we were eager to get on our way…