Back to Quest

Spring’s sprung. Just like that. Baby lambs are suddenly crowding round their mamas in the fields. The first wildflowers appeared in the bog – almost like they were shipped in. The wind is different too. It smells different.

This is the kind of weather that makes us go and stare at the sea. I haven’t been close to it over the winter. I used to stare at it relentlessly. Walk down the beach. Run down the beach. Beach, beach, beach. Winter was even better than summer, with winds that could blow you south faster than you could drive.

Jack and I went to the sand dunes last week with Fin in the boot of the Barbie car. She just fits in the boot – her head sticks out of it like a shaggy puppet. I was heading for the bog.

Before we reached Ynyslas turn, Jack said, ‘Let’s do the sand dunes. I want to look at the sea.’

I found myself prickling. ‘You do?’

He nodded. I turned. We pulled over and Fin was beside herself with the smell of rabbits. We walked up a dune.

Ahhh. There it was. Endless blue. I shifted uncomfortably. I used to look at the sea and see only possibility. Before we sailed off, I’d walk the dunes everyday, look out and feel the thrill of adventure. After all, we had a big girl of a boat, waiting for us to leave. We had places to go. Things to learn. What were we waiting for?

When we did go, we sailed down the Bay of Biscay in five days. Left Wales on a Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Spain on a Monday morning. Just like that. Whales at sunset, midnight storms. Delphine playing Barbies under the cockpit table while Lulu read Harry Potter out loud to distract herself from sea sickness. They were both significantly smaller then, without us even realising it. Ten and eight-years-old. All the while, Fin came across as more and more traumatised. I’m still imagining our conversations. ‘Where are the sand dunes? And how the bejesus am I supposed to pee? There’s no grass here.’

‘Fin, we bought you that fake, turf stuff.’

‘That green carpet you rubbed in my piss before we left? Are you kidding me?’

It felt like a one-way ticket. It didn’t feel like we were coming back. Sure, you could put plans into place and work towards them. We didn’t know how they’d end. This uncertainty felt as exciting as the sailing off and doing it. The waves used to sing to me, ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen. Anything could happen.’

This time, our plans are different. We’re hoping to go back to Quest in September. This trip is no longer a one-way ticket though. We have to be back for GCSE exams. A levels. Amazing dance schools. Jack’s burgeoning business. And Fin’s definitely not going again. She ate her pet passport when no one was looking.

I can still see the waves. I just can’t hear them anymore.


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