"Last Call for Hot Meals"


You won’t get a calmer crossing. Today the rise and fall of the window view is only 5 degrees.  A mere hint of motion as the ferry makes its peaceful homecoming to Stornoway.

It is a beautiful evening. Colours of pale yellow and gold, silver grey and mirror blue. Dappled sky reflected in a sea thick like oil, with slow, slick ripples. The soft line of the horizon broken only by low dark islands and their shadowy mountain brothers beyond. Shafts of early evening sun angle steeply into the sea. A stairway to heaven. A lazy guillemot paddles by, in no hurry to change its course.

A gentle snore. Rustling papers. Children’s carefree laughter. Small hands slapping giant windows. Photos, videos, headphones. Black pudding rolls. The atmosphere on the boat is quiet and relaxed tonight. I have my favourite nooks and corners for sleep, views or solitude. To embrace the ferry social or avoid it? Today I watch the view, enjoying the easy conversation of closest friends.

The wind changes direction, shifting the Saltire aesthetically to the north, its fringed tattered edge a remnant of more eventful crossings. We are entering the middle of the Minch. On a different day this is where the real weather begins. I recall the deep, cold darkness of an early crossing in winter. The noisy roll and creak of a tested hull. Waves which bash and crash on salt stained windows. A rolling whitecapped landscape rising and falling, sky to sea to sky to sea.

But today we have peace. ‘Last call for hot meals’ and we are nearly home.

The palette changes as we approach land. A pale wash now over the scene, softening all the edges. 3 brushstrokes of watercolour blue hues, defining the contours with a subtle change of tone. The light shafts intensify, cutting gold into the picture. Illuminating the middle horizon into a thin strip of molten sunshine. A deep contrast sky behind. Not an incoming squall, but the soft comforting colour of a sleepy evening, damp with a summer days end.

We are home and these weary travellers are ready for their beds.