My husband told me that he had organised an outing for us and that all we had to do was get ready. Following his instructions, I, and the boys, arrived at the starting point for our trip which was a small pier stretching out to sea.
“We’re going to France,” he told me exictedly. I looked around for the boat but could see none. In a way, it was a relief. The last time that I had been on a boat had not been particularly pleasant and it would have been thoughtless of my husband to have planned another, similar experience.
“Great!” I replied, “but how?”
“With this.” With a flourish he pulled something out of the water which looked like a giant fan with a steering wheel attached.
“I don’t understand. What is that?”
“I’ll show you.” Eagerly he jumped into the water and started the motor. Instantly it whirred into life and he grabbed hold of the steering wheel allowing the object to pull him rapidly through the water. We stood on the pier, watching, as he made a couple of loops.
“This might seem a daft question, but how are we all going to get to France on that?” I asked when he returned.
“Simple. Jump in and I’ll show you.”
Dutifully the three of us did as he asked and on his instructions, attached ourselves to the steering wheel/fan object in an odd kind of line formation.
“Ready?” He shouted. I nodded.
A few seconds later, the four of us found ourselves being dragged through the water as my husband aimed the contraption towards the distant shoreline. France, presumably.
It sounds odd even as I write this now, but in a funny kind of way, it was actually really liberating. After a while we all got used to the cold and even began to enjoy the freedom but unfortunately, my husband hadn’t considered that his arms would get tired. A short while later he pulled the fan thing towards a dock to rest and we all clambered out of the water, securing the strange object to the wooden railing.
Luckily the dock had a pub and so we crammed inside, keen to dry out. We were also starving. Ordering large, home cooked platters, we tucked greedily into the delicious food, unaware of how much time was passing. By the time we had eaten our fill, darkness had drawn in and so my husband reluctantly agreed that it would be best to rent a room for the night and continue with our journey the next day.
The following morning we awoke to a ferocious storm. There were black thunder clouds overhead and lighting ripped through the sky.
“I am not going in the water on a day like today,” I said. “If you want me to go anywhere near France then you are going have to organise something better than what we had yesterday.”
My husband looked crestfallen, but he agreed. “Leave it with me.”
I watched as he went over to a group of sailors who were stood in the corner of the main room. A few moments later he returned.
“I’ve got us a boat,” he said excitedly.
“Great.” Given the weather I was less than enthusiastic but a boat had to be better than the steering wheel contraption. Dutifully we all followed him out onto the dock.
The ‘boat’ turned out to be old and wooden and more than a little rickety. It was though – according to its owner – sound. There were a few supplies on board and enough space for us all to sit in comfort but to my dismay, it lacked any kind of covering or shelter from the elements. My husband though, was not to be deterred.
“Come on, get in!” he shouted as we all looked rather dubiously at it.
One by one we climbed in and settled aboard, surprised to realise that once we had set sail, the ride was actually, quite pleasant.
“What’s the weather forecast?” I shouted as he negotiated the small exit from the dock.
“I have no idea,” he shouted back, “I thought we’d just get to the opening of the Channel and see.”
“Right.” The wind had calmed a little but the clouds were still very heavy and threatening. “I have to be honest,” I continued, “if we get there and the waves are rough, I am not going any further. You are going to have to turn this boat around.”
“It’ll be fine, I promise.”
Smoothly the craft glided ever closer to the open sea and I began to relax, believing that perhaps everything would be okay. In the distance I could see the Channel getting larger. I squinted, trying to focus on how the sea ahead was behaving.
“I see waves,” I called out. “Big ones.”
Just at that moment a gust of wind hit us side on and my youngest son went flying across the deck. Nimbly I caught him.
“No – you’re imagining it. Look, the waves are as calm as anything.”
I looked again. “They are huge,” I said as we reached the mouth of the Channel, “there is no way this boat is going to stay intact once we leave this dock.”
“Piffle,” replied my husband, “it’ll be fine.”
The boat began to move ever closer to the gaping water ahead and I could feel the current beneath drawing us towards the waves. Their crashing height was only metres in front and for the first time since we had embarked on this hare-brained adventure, I felt real fear.
“Please, I can’t do this,” I pleaded, “nor can the boys.”
“It’ll be fine,” shouted my husband as he struggled to maintain control of the boat, “you want to go to France right?”
The rest of my sentence was lost as the waves crashed over us and slowly engulfed our small boat. The last thing that I remember is being pulled safely to the shore.
A while later I woke in a warm, comfortable bed with sun streaming through the gap in the curtains. I looked around noting the room’s familiarity and as I stretched, my leg brushed against something. Another leg. My husband. Snoring contentedly.
I lay back and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe over me and as I did so, I broke out into a massive grin.
I was happy.
…this had all been just a dream.