Lagos, Portugal, six a.m. Luggage bundled into the car, fumbling in the dark with the satnav. Farewell waves from my magic circle, then eighty kilometers to Faro Airport. The ex-pat South African banters as the receives my hire car back into his fold. I escape from the wrong passport queue – I’m in Schengen, unlike my fellow Brits.
My French fellow travellers sulk patiently – the flight is thirty minutes late. I see the Pyrenees from the plane window and cloud over Orly. The Orlybus with multiple nationalities, but no eye contact, brings me into the centre of Paris for two minutes. Struggling down the steps into the Métropolitain with 18.5 kilograms of case, I watch for pickpockets. Four stops and I arrive at Montparnasse. I hone in on a coffee shop. A slice of fruit crumble slips easily down to a stomach stretched with a week’s overeating. An hour later, the TGV brings me nearer to my destination. After an hour and a half’s drive, here is home.
No more tea on the terrace watching the warm sun rise before swapping the nightie for the swimsuit and sliding into the swimming pool. No more super-activity talking about writing, doing writing, eating and drinking too much.
And here are Steve, and George the cat.