The big day finally arrived! We set about doing all those last minute things which always take longer than you expect. Plus, Glyn was interviewed by Radio Bristol at 7:15; and a pretty good interview it was too! He even managed to plug our charitable cause, and got a laugh or two out of the DJ, which is always a good sign.
As far as the riding goes, it was much as you’d expect for a slightly drizzly day. Most of the morning was spent looking forward to the warmth and dryness of a coffee shop or the Eurotunnel. The latter was exactly as expected, and ran like clockwork.
We are now camping a few miles south of Calais, in a municipal campsite in the village of Arques. Very conscious of the luxury afforded by the proximity of local shops and our lush green pitch (with such soft soil the tent pegs just glide in). Took advantage of local produce for an easy dinner, gobbling down Neuf Chatel cheese with terrine and tomatoes, washed down with orange juice and a nice cup of tea. Ah, the good life!
Ok, so it was always going to be a somewhat stressful experience, packing everything you might possibly need over 3 months into two panniers and a large waterproof ortlieb. Still, today was, for the most part surprisingly uneventful but also predictably strained; particularly when we exhibited serious sense of humour failures at exactly the same time!
That said, we appear to have done remarkably well in guestimating just how much we can take for food/cooking and motorbike spares and were therefore pleasantly surprised at the speed with which these items were packed as well as the snuggness with which they fitted into just one pannier each. Aha, more space! Alas, no – miscellaneous items have somehow managed to take up another two panniers. Books, travel documents, more food (mostly pasta and a few tins), first aid kit, a few more spares have all managed to eat away at any remaining ‘luxury’ space on the bikes.
Plus, as every seasoned traveller knows, you have got to take into account the ‘explosion effect’ – that peculiar phenomenon which occurs as soon as you start unpacking and repacking items you’ve taken on holiday, which suddenly sees seams streching, poppers unpopping and zips straining to contain all the items which were so neatly and sensibly packed before you embarked on your mission. No such space exists at present. Our ortlieb bags are full to capacity, with just enough space to fold the top over 3 times, and thereby make them waterproof. Hmm, this should be interesting!
Today saw us repeat an earlier visit (on 11th August) to the wonderful market which takes place every Saturday in the shadow of the great cathedral in Wells, a lovely town-sized place which by virtue of this building is technically a city, and the smallest one in the UK from what we understand!
Anyway, we were there to publicise our trip and thereby raise money for Riders for Health. The response we got was great. People are genuinely interested in what we’re planning to do, and they also have the most amazing stories themselves. So far, we’ve met people who have: worked in the merchant navy on Lake Malawi, done the Plymouth to Banjul rally (old bangers get driven down to the Gambia from the UK), camped in Saudi’s deserts (lots of common ground with Glyn here), and been evacuated from Libya. Stories about other people’s adventures also abound – both those we’ve heard of before and those we haven’t. domain expiring It’s been a fantastic way to spend a Saturday, and we hope to do it again when we come back – especially since we’ve only managed to raise a tip of the iceberg for Riders!
We’d like to say thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with us. We’ve been warmly surprised by the generosity of people we don’t even know, and are especially greatful to all those who said they would support us and who then followed up on their promises! We know your money is going to a good cause.