We were waved off from home by a group of friends and family, and suddenly everything was a very real. Just us and our bikes. Christine managed all of 100 metres before getting off to push up a hill! Mainly day 1 was as lovely a cycling day as you could imagine, apart from the ferocious headwind for the last stretch East from Brighton to the campsite near Newhaven. Christine really struggled, at the end, especially as she has done no training at all. But she made it to the campsite, having, near the end, off-loaded her luggage to friends Jane and Roger, who came to share a farewell meal. We camped and found that our inflatable mattresses were more comfortable than the futons we used for the last few days at home!
Day 2. Up early to break camp and cycle the couple of miles to the ferry. How lovely to have a tailwind! We waved goodbye to the white cliffs of Sussex, wondering how long it would be before we saw them again! Arriving safely in Dieppe, we aimed for a campsite supposedly 0.5km from the town. After 2km decided we might as well head for the first campsite on the Avenue Verte route to Paris. That appeared to be closed so we ended cycling 38k to a lovely campsite in Forges les Eaux, right beside the cycle way, which was magnificent! But it was another late arrival. From just outside Dieppe it was along a disused railway through glorious rural French scenery. A beautiful route to cycle and we would highly recommend it.
Day 3. Up late, especially as Christine managed to sleep for 11.5 hours after the exertions of the previous 2 days!! Packed all our camping stuff away and headed to town for croissants, eating in a beautiful little park where we chatted to a group of French cyclists, who managed to pass us twice later in the day! (Very much a case of the tortoise and the hare.) We left the Avenue Verte and headed along country roads. We had forgotten just how quite they can be in France. There are NO roads around us as in Surrey quiet. It was meant to be an easy day, but there was a complete lack of campsites, and so we kept going before deciding to blow the budget again and go to a hotel.
We have made it over the start line just half an hour later than intended! Conal and a group of friends came to wave us off which was lovely. (But they may have just come to make sure that we did actually go!
The last few days have been stressful and busy – we cannot believe how long everything takes. But we now have a clean and (almost) empty house – just a last few things to put in the loft tomorrow morning. A takeaway with the last bottles of cider/beer and then an early night is what the doctor has ordered.
The pictures below show our lounge as it has been since the furniture was taken to storage on Tuesday:
All our stuff waiting to be packed:
And then packed.
Last night saw the start of the camping (perhaps more “glamping” at the moment if truth be told) after we dismantled the bed in preparation for the removal men arriving today. We spent the night in our sleeping bags and camping pillows on futons on the bedroom floor.
Preparations are still “progressing” but we keep on coming across things that we hadn’t previously thought of. However, it all seems do-able – just. Today is going to be slightly traumatic as the removal men are going to be taking all our bikes other than the ones we will be riding and Stephen’s pride & joy which is going for a holiday chez Sally and Marwood.
Stephen’s new ultra short hair cut ready for the ride!
The last couple of days has seen some significant progress being made – and it was needed!
The big relief was getting the electrical system in the house checked and OKed following a few instances of the circuit breaker tripping over the weekend.
The spare bedrooms are now all cleared and the removal men booked for next Tuesday. We got rid of the 12 year old Volvo that has done over 200,000 miles and which was showing its age!
And we had a shopping expedition to Kingston to get new sleepingbags, mosquito nets and sandals for both of us.
Today we said goodbye to our eldest son Alaric, his girlfriend Annabelle and our daughter Eleri after a lovely weekend with them and Lynn, Clair, Luke and Harry. We were both taken by surprise at the emotion, thinking it could be 2 years before we see them again!
Stephen started to sort out his clothes (storage, Oxfam, recycling, etc) this morning. Christine wanted to have some “input” to the proceedings. “Thanks but no thanks” was the reply. She found other things to do thankfully!
We are both now (as of yesterday) officially RETIRED – or at least UNEMPLOYED! Reality is starting to dawn. No income (difficult for two accountants!) and a BIG plan with limited preparation. Yikes!
But, being a resilient and flexible couple, we will cope – perhaps with a few “bumps in the road” which we will muddle our way through!
We had a lovely meal at Toby Tobin’s Dining Room in Reigate last evening to celebrate. Christine has been to Taunton to say “au revoir” to her parents and Stephen has been enjoying his new new-found freedom with a bike ride (no surprise there, then) and pottering about at home doing sundry little jobs that move things a little bit further forward.
After we both spent a restless night thinking about all the things we still have to do we, independently, reached the conclusion that it would be infinitely better to delay our departure by a week. After all, there is nothing particularly special about the date we had chosen (11 April). So our new deadline is Saturday 18 April.