The past three weeks have been the best I could have hoped for: sailing aboard a tall ship from Glasgow, through the Western Isles, to Orkney, Shetlands and then racing (against other square riggers, an amazing sight on the horizon!) to Stavanger, Norway. It was a world away from one of the most stressful academic year of my life.

This sort of sailing must be close to the ultimate escapism from Real Life: a new set of 41 friends, soon bosom-buddies, none of whom could care less what anyone did outside of the boat (though of course people’s stories were often thoroughly interesting): what was more important was all contributing what we could (without expectations) in order to safely sail the ship from harbour to harbour.

Several kind people wished me ‘a lovely, relaxing summer’, though I am not sure they had in mind what I would be doing: Being woken at midnight or 4am for the next watch to a weather report of, ‘just a bit drizzly with a fresh breeze picking up’, followed by, ‘and get up quick, we’re setting sails and need as many hands on deck, now!’. It was like a total brain relax: the time spent just hauling lines that we were told to haul, easing when told to ease, and then to come down from the masts to a yummy Dutch meal, cooked and ready in the galley, was utterly, absolutely fantastic!

This gives a taste of some of the sorts of drama of the Tall Ship Races (best played with surround sound, ideally in an IMAX theatre!):

I’ve been back on dry land for a few days now and just gradually letting myself back into real life again. I know I’ll have to try to find a balance between shutting away the memories of uni stresses,  remembering the silver linings of uni and my friends there, and moving on to the scary prospects of job hunting, ideally with some confidence. For now I’m enjoying a cushion of time at home (I’ll put up with the heat and humidity for being here) with getting caught up on my backpack full of laundry, sorting photos, FaceBooking newfound friends and baking oatmeal cookies.

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