We travelled from Southampton to Kenya on the SS. Nevasa (above). It was the first time I had been abroad and my fifth move although I was only two months off my 8th birthday. But this trip, which took almost three weeks, was definitely the most exciting. We stopped a number of times to refuel as the ship ran on diesel ( and smelled quite strongly of it at times).

There were charts on the walls of the ship and we traced the route with our fingers; into the Med, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean. But it only really started to make sense after we had passed a place, docked in a port or ( in Gibraltar and Aden) been allowed to spend the day ashore. The destination itself always seemed unreal.

Our domestic life below deck was much the same as it was on land; we slept in bunks in our cabins, had a routine that was regulated around the meals in the huge communal dining room and went to morning school or the nursery. For our mothers it was a holiday cruise and they loved it, but our fathers went to work for at least part of each day. Being on deck never quite became normal and was in any case constantly changing as we sailed along. The colour of the sea itself changed with the weather, sometimes grey on a wet morning with white horses on the waves or blue on a breezy sunny day with porpoises leaping in our wake. Later in the voyage it was so hot we were just allowed brief glimpses of men on camels on the banks of the Suez canal, before Dad whisked us below again away from the heat.

2 thoughts on “Moving

  1. Somewhat congruently (if this is a word), I’m working on a story that has this voyage in it, although back in 1920 when ex-military went out to Kenya as part of the Soldier Settler Scheme. It was lovely to read your version from a different time to the one in my head. It truly must have been thrilling for you at nearly eight: the right age for adventures.

    • Thanks for your kind comment Tish. I look forward to reading your story; the Soldier Settler scheme theme reminds me of the Flame Trees of Thika, one of my favourite books about Kenya. Although it’s a close run thing between FTT, Tick Bite Fever and A guide to the Birds of East Africa. It’s no good I can’t choose 🙂

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