A moment of quiet
The church bells are ringing 7am. The river flows fast beneath me and a black and white ship struggles against the current. Opposite, on the heavily wooded hill, sits one of the fairytale castles that Hannah believes are inhabited by “Tinkersbelles.” The sun is already strong, no signs of rain today. The white plastic table I’m sitting at is damp with the condensation of the night. This is my hour. The hour I rise from the tent in silence, with no one wanting anything from me, crying at me, fighting, tired or hungry. The mist hangs over the woodland, and behind me are the first few vines of wine growing country. The outdoor swimming pool, a hive of industry yesterday, is deserted. No one is around. I’d love a coffee.
Peace is so precious
Quiet time is something to be guarded jealously on our trips. It comes so rarely and must be celebrated. Stuart tried to snatch some last night here at the camp riverside restaurant, when we came down for a beer. But the kids were intent on playing UNO and their mood was competitive,testosterone filled. And loud. His attempts to take evening photo’s of the passing fairy lit cruise boats were met with thumbs up being constantly thrust into the lens. Sometimes you have to concede that quiet time just isn’t going to happen. But this morning they all slept soundly as I crept out onto the dew covered grass, unlocked the bikes and wandered down to the riverside.
Tiny birds punctuate the rippling of the water as it flows down to the sea. We have followed this wide, impressive river for days now. It’s always with us, lulling us to sleep, beckoning us in for a swim. Today it looks fast and fierce and I have no desire to plunge in.
For now I am captain of just myself
Today I am the captain. That means a day of decision making, of rallying, cajoling, and bribing with sweets. In half an hour the shop will open, and I’ll buy fresh rolls, and hopefully take away coffee and wake my team, pulling away sleeping bags from warm reluctant bodies. But for now, I am captain only of myself, feeling small amidst the towering cliffs either side of me. The river passes by. The birds tweet and the sun catches the sundeck. Another ship forges its way up the current. There’s no sign of life on the Lady Anne cruise ship, except for her red white and blue flag, flapping happily in the breeze. Perhaps her captain is also grabbing a few minutes of reflection.