A strangely flat world where the horizon fills only a quarter of the train window. Wind turbines, their thin grey arms slowly slicing the air, and the flat grey estuary merges into a flat grey sky.
Low tide in the Humber estuary and pale ochre sand shows through white water. The elegant bridge arches gently over the huge estuary, supported by cobweb thin threads. A small blue boat forges steadily over the broad expanse of reflective water.
The sun comes out just after Goole. (I have wanted to use that sentence for some time). There is sudden vivid illumination of vast distances of corduroy fields, fresh acid green growth on dark brown earth.
Vastness, when I am used to hills and valleys and trees and steep twisting roads.
This is my first venture away from home in eight months, and it feels as strange and remote as if I'm crossing the Central Asian Plain. I think I am reconciled to my inability to travel abroad, and this tentative venture into time away from home proves it to some degree. The British Isles are full of enjoyable, weird, beautiful things, even in pouring rain, and I am determined to make the most of what I can experience, rather than hanker for what I can't.
The Humber Estuary may not be everyone's vision of delight, but it is mine.
Everyone else in the train seems to be playing with their phone or asleep, while I revel in light and distance and differentness.
I love train travel. I especially enjoy going through the outskirts of towns where you can look down into gardens and even into bedroom windows. Then I remember that I live in such a situation myself and make a mental resolve to close the blinds when I turn on the lights. But the glimpses you gain are fleeting and often tantalising - unless the signals are on red, in which case it is probably better to close the blinds.
I am travelling north into this different landscape to visit old friends. Very old friends. We met as teenagers and are now Senior Citizens with bus passes and free television licences (I can't wait! Only about a month to go for me). We pick up conversations where we left off many years ago. Sometimes we get confused and slightly argumentative over who said what in 1959, but so often the same idiosyncrasies emerge, and I see clearly the people I knew nearly fifty years ago. The gesture of a hand, the tone of a voice seem absolutely unchanged.
Are we really fixed as people in our late teens?
Life and experience have added layers, but it is fascinating how often it seems that the teenager, even the child, still lurks just below the surface.
Only just below, sometimes.
It's hugely reassuring.