Aaahh….sea travel. One of those things that always seems like a better idea beforehand than at the actual time, and yet I always think it will be…majestic…and raw and pure out there on the open sea in a gently rolling vessel. Well, maybe that’s how it feels to be in the Carribean, or the Mediterranean. But not the North Sea, which is definitely for people who are a little more in the seafaring frame of mind than myself. Those types who wear roughly knitted Aarran sweaters and wellington boots for a jaunt in a boat. Because I love any travel not in a plane, (especially train travel), I very often sign up my long-suffering family for arduous journeys that may have been done more quickly or enjoyably by other means. I love driving. I thought I loved sea travel – yet how quickly I forget the constant distraction of sea-sickness, boredom, and being in a confined space with lots of blokes drinking Heineken.
The journey across the North Sea, from Amsterdam to Newcastle in Northern England aboard the King of Scandinavia, is an overnight voyage of pitching and rolling and falling out of bed. Best to eat dinner as soon as possible before entrenched sea-sickness settles in. After dinner, I take the tablets offered by the steward and drift into a troubled sleep where I am rolling over hills and falling into valleys, and occasionally jolted by something hard. That would be a huge North Sea wave smacking the side of the boat, waking me up.
Dickens describes the hideous sensation of seasickness much better than I can, as always:
‘..it was as a maundering young wretch in a clammy perspiration and dripping saline particles, who was conscious of no extremities but the one great extremity, sea-sickness who was a mere bilious torso, with a mislaid headache somewhere in its stomach who had been put into a horrible swing in Dover, and had tumbled giddily out of it on the French coast, or the Isle of Man, or anywhere.
A stout wooden wedge driven in at my right temple and out at my left, a floating deposit of lukewarm oil in my throat, and a compression of the bridge of my nose in a blunt pair of pincers, these are the personal sensations by which I know we are off…….’
From The Uncommercial Traveller : The Calais Night Mail by Charles Dickens
Oh, for it to be over. At least it wasn’t a five day voyage, and hopefully in a week or so my family will start talking to me again.