Is it finally here? Feels like it. Bit of a disappointing gap from April to July without any joyous weather to speak of and then hey presto, the clouds part to reveal those blue skies we’d almost forgotten about and people flip-flopping around the middle of town in terrible shorts.
This was my summer day – the return journey from St Malo to Portsmouth on a Brittany Ferry. After the cloud and more or less unbroken gloom of deserted chilly beaches in Brittany, the sun put his hat on and the day-long sailing was the perfect time to soak up some rays.
There is nothing to compare with travelling on a boat. It takes you to a new dimension of relaxation. There is nowhere to go much and nothing to do but lean on the rail and stare out into the wide blue English Channel, looking at distant yachts the size of a gnat’s wing, wondering about dolphins and thinking if this was the Caribbean you might now see the silvery flash of a flying fish.
You can people-watch. There was a gaggle of yachtie types, the men all tall, tanned and loud, the one woman, bleached blonde hair tied back with a black ribbon, a worn tanned face. They were all smoking and drinking and claiming the place for their own, fresh from yacht crewing and racing in France. The woman dropped her cigarette butt over the side of the ship. A trivial act but indicative of a lack of respect for the sea, even among these people who knew it better than most. Familiarity breeding contempt? There was a tall chap who looked like a university lecturer with close cropped greying hair and long scout-camp type shorts with hairy legs and trainers. He was contemplative and stared out to sea for a very long time before a girl with long dark hair came to his side and they put their arms around each other companionably for some minutes before she left him alone again. Daughter or lover? A former student, I guessed. Easily twenty years his junior.
Oh, the other thing you can do is just sit with your feet up in the sun with a chilled bottle of water, a good book, the music player set to Spanish guitar music and let the sun warm your skin.
If there is no more summer at all, that day was mine.