Sat 20th April.
My ferry left about 12 o’clock or so. I remember leaving after around 10:30 and feeling worried I wouldn’t make it. The old fears of missing trains and planes began to sink in, and I began pedalling. I got there in good time, not sure where the ferries where, but found them and had about 1.5km to go before actually entering the ferry.
I made it and they let me on saying, “ah, the one with the bike, we didn’t think you’d make it.”
I felt silly that it’d been so close, but I was glad to see a few cars coming in after me.
A French lady locked my bike up in a way that would concern any bike lover, but after I tweaked a few things and removed bags with food, I shot upstairs, looked around, sat down and listened to Kendrick Lamar and started taking in what was ahead of me.
I entered France and got pedalling. I was quickly learning how to get used to manage weight of all the gear on the bike. I went through the barriers without being checked.
My aim was to get through Calais and to Etaples on the coast, SW from Calais. Originally I had a host there, but leaving two days later it wasn’t to be.
I put in a location by hand on the GPS for Etaples and got going.
I kept stopping to take in all the things that seemed different to me. The small houses, shops, roads, and general signage.
Fri 19th April.
Barnham, relaxing and planning.
I cycled through the night, to Kit’s abode in a small town a few miles south east of Canterbury, in a village called Barnham. I met Kit at the pub, and enjoyed the last of English beer that I’d be having for sometime.
We ate, and then I got down for the night.
The second day I stayed an extra day at Kit’s to get my head clear, plan my route, rest and do a test run to Dover and back. Kit was writing and editing while taking care of his mum for a week. It was nice to be out of London for the day. Dover was a strange town and the cycling was tough. Concerns began to grow about the cycling ahead, but that also added to the challenge.
We ate curry in the evening, watched ‘Have I got news for you’ and ‘Airplane’ and I realised that although I didn’t watch much tv, I would miss it, and all the elements of Britishness that I would no longer be exposed to for sometime.
I went to bed wanting to stay in Kit’s lovely house forever hiding away from the trip and the unknown that lay ahead.
Thurs 18th April.
Leaving London was a complete mare.
A week of madness, trying to do things, not doing, things and long long lists that never seemed to go away. I left two days later then planned just about with everything that I needed booked up and organised. I paid one last visit to my workplace, Crate in Hackney Wick, then boarded a train for Canterbury from Stratford international.
Going through Stratford Westfeild then down the long escalator among the shoppers and business men was very strange. But it felt good and liberating to be leaving London, with everything I needed on a bike.
Here we’re the last few images of the English countryside that I would see.