3:45am – 5mg of Diazepam for breakfast and I am in the car with Mum and Dad being driven to Gatwick.
5:15am – I wake up at the airport. It is cold and damp and I drag my suitcase up to the check in desk and go through the usual routine.
I try to force an egg muffin down my throat but I am having another panic attack and contemplate running away, all my breathing exercises, visualisation and self talk doesn’t seem to be working and I resort to another 5mg of Diazepam.
11:00am – I am at 35,000 feet above Bulgaria taking photos of fluffy, white, cotton wool clouds and thinking of my daughter, Annie. My fear and panic only go as far as the departure lounge, now I am happy, now I am relaxed, now my adventure begins.
Seeing Jamie and Liz in their current home was quite emotional for me. For them to come and see my new house in North Essex was a walk in the park, for me to see them six hours from my front door was an achievement only blood can fuel. Touching, smelling, seeing Esper is something I can now carry with me for the rest of my life – now begins my account of Follow the Boat.
After a long list of boat rules, which were apparently for my safety, I am shown around the vessel, but more importantly to my bunk, which looks comfortable and inviting.
Regardless of our long day, however, a meal is in order and we go down the water front to a restaurant which my parents said was called “The Fish Restaurant”, at the Western end of Attaturk Road, near the town pontoon and Fethiye monument. My first experience of Turkish food and service away from the Essex kebab shops was exceptional and I thoroughly recommend the octopus. After a full tummy and plenty of Turkish wine (which is best left without comment) we stagger back to Esper, an Oyster 435. With my bed made up in seconds, I am asleep before my head hits the pillow.