28th July 2015: Written on the rolling waves.
Amid a telephone call from one of my sons for moral advice and simultaneous arrival of plumbers to investigate our failing boiler, I climbed into my armoured clothing and set off on the bike for this trip to France. I weighed myself before and after getting dressed in my riding gear once and discovered it all weights 10kgs.
Moving was so slow in Cambridge, first down Mill Road then along to Trumpington Street then finally onto the A10 where it started to lightly rain, then down to the M25 anti-clockwise interrupted by a call to fill up with petrol somewhere near ghastly Uxbridge, my willingness to risk running out of petrol reduced by my last experience of calling out the RAC on the side of the same orbital road because Bertha was always optimistic about petrol, then tailbacks finally leaving the orbit and heading off toward Portsmouth on the A3 only to get stuck into another jam somewhere around Guildford. The new GPS cleverly links to my phone and can - and does - suggest ways to avoid trafic jams but I haven't tried them yet so didn't.
I arrived in Portsmouth with only a stop to get fuel and a to much two bars of a triple Bounty bar standing next to the pump. Over three hours riding and tiring. Arriving here though, as usual, on a bike you get your own lane right to the front of hundreds of cars in line.
One other man on a bike who was very nervous about parking up. The men here just tied our two bikes to the railing with some old rope,
we both picked up something more substantial and did our own fixing, lingering anxiously, mind you I am glad now, two hours into the all night trip and there is some pitching and yawing I'm unaccustomed to in my trips to date. We sat and chatted while our cabins were cleaned and he bought me a pint. He learned to ride even more recently than I did, got the licence that limits riders to small bikes but ignored that and just bought a big bike anyway and rode it illegally! I call that risk-taking. He's riding a Triumph Tiger and plans to ride down to the south of France. I watched the other boats come and go in the harbour before we moved off.
Later: I got into my rather basic (inside) cabin
and showered then decided to eat in the restaurant... I've just returned to my swaying cabin from the restaurant (I didn't fancy the cafe with its hoards of children) where I remembered that the French enjoy food unlike the Germans and I wondered if this could be the key to a successful holiday, weather permitting as always i.e. eating some nice food at every opportunity. I remember meals in Germany can be really poor quality, not much different sometimes to school dinners. Feeling rather over full not helped by the swaying opening and closing the door to my bathroom like a ghostly hand is moving it, bringing back pseudo memories of my childhood trips on the Harwich to Holland ferry where I was always sick. Always? Perhaps just once.
So tomorrow I head in a direction I approximately know. I have forgotten to write down which campsites I go to on each night. I have GPS coordinates of each but I don't know which order I have booked them. I need to do that tonight before I go to sleep. Pitching and yawing.