Holidays and homecomings

I’ve been away. For the first time in 18 months, we left Ireland. It was a combination trip of visiting family we haven’t seen since Covid locked down the world, and delivering our daughter to her new university life in Scotland. We had a lovely time, but, as always, trips ‘home’ make me feel increasingly homesick and longing to return more permanently. Our return to Ireland on Sunday coincided with the start of my new MA module, which requested a short piece about a journey for a forum exercise. This is my offering to that forum:

Yesterday’s journey: Coming or going?
Larne is clearer than Cairnryan. Clouds shroud the top of the Mourne mountains but the Highland Explorer carries us towards a town bright under patches of blue. Below this passenger deck, water sparkles in shades of greens. The swell is less than on the open water where all the land was greyed out by fog. We are coming home; Scotland already a memory blurred with mist and tiredness. England, almost two weeks past, is already long-discarded.
We are almost home.
Larne port looks tiny, unsubstantial now we butt gently against the harbour wall. Far below, orange hi-vis’d figures scuttle, beetle-like, to secure the ferry. Two ropes, one fore, one aft, dangle tiny against the shipside but thick as the arms of the men who reach for them. Just two tiny men and two ropes to hold us firm while we are summoned to the car deck, wait our turn to roll from the ferry, thump-thump onto the ramp, stop-start, surge forwards to be waved on by another orange-coated man (not a beetle, this one; he and his colleagues became life-sized as we made the descent from the boat).
The road pulls us towards home, yet, despite these twenty years of living in Ireland, home is what we left behind. Home is beyond the water, beyond the swirling, sparkling green on the Belfast side; beyond the fog-shrouded greys of the Scotland side; beyond the rolling hills of the Galloway scenery, southernwards, down, down, beyond those unmarked borders and on, into England.
The closer we get, the further we are from home.

Shrouded in mist, Scotland is already slipping away
Arriving in Larne to slender patches of blue
The rain on the windscreen tells us we are home

Home means a return to the mundane, the daily lighting of fires (it’s turned cold while we’ve been gone – it was sunny and bright across most of Scotland, until the fog of the Western edges on the last two days), work, work, more work, and getting on with the proofreading for Dear Isobel. You may’ve seen my photos on social media about how that’s going for me:

(Apologies for poor picture quality: indoor photos!)

(And, of course, the kitten has grown in our absence. He’s less kitten and more trouble. Still cute though.)

Maybe by next week, I’ll be organised enough to share some of the better holiday snaps.

Meanwhile, back to the proofreading. Hopefully, by the time you read Dear Isobel, there won’t be too many mistakes left in… except the ones made by the characters, of course.

Love, Jinny

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