This is the end my beautiful friend....the end (well almost)
There wasn’t much of a rush this morning when we got up, we knew we had to cover about one hundred kilometres until Dieppe which I didn’t envisage being much of a problem.
It was time to rid ourselves of the extra food I’d been carrying for a while so we ate a mammoth breakfast of not only porridge but also pasta; not together you understand.
It was a strange feeling knowing that the very next day we would be back on English soil. Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we finally left but despite the fact that we were so close to home it wasn’t excitement that filled us early in morning but instead both of us were possessed with a rather dour demeanour as we pedaled our way towards Dieppe.
I suppose it just felt like one of those things we had to do and the strong headwind that we faced throughout most of the day followed by a heavy downpour didn’t help matters. Nevertheless we pushed on but conversation was minimal with both of us lost in our thoughts as we rode on.
We spent most of the day on a fairly busy road and despite our huge breakfast it wasn’t long before we were hungry again. It’s interesting how your body reacts when it’s hungry I’m sure they are many who will agree that we all tend to get a little cranky when we haven’t had any food for a while and this was certainly the case just before lunch.
We hadn’t seen any petrol stations or small shops for that matter for a while and it seems that French people don’t pick up supplies in such places. There are plenty of houses in France but not many village shops. When we did see a sign for tea rooms and headed down the small country lane it was inevitably closed.
We eventually saw a sign for one of the large supermarket chains a little way down the road and turned off at a roundabout. What the sign didn’t inform us of though was the distance to the town it was based in which ended up being about seven kilometres; not a problem if you are in a car but a different matter when you are on a bike and hungry.
We eventually came across the very pretty little town of Saint-Saëns and were deliriously happy to find a supermarket. Neither of us really wanted to take out yet more Euros so we managed to cobble together what coins we had and I was sent off into the supermarket for another of my ‘economy shops’
You could be forgiven for thinking this was England but in fact it's the lovely French town of Saint-Saëns
Some mixed dry fruit, chocolate and bread later and we were ready to head back out onto the road feeling energized and far more upbeat about making it to Dieppe. In actual fact that diversion we took to get to the supermarket turned out to be just the ticket and the smaller road which directed us to Dieppe took us through a forest following the river and passing through some delightful villages along the way.
Our moods certainly changed once we started seeing the signs with the number of kilometres till Dieppe continually dropping. I’m not sure how Tom felt but for me I started to think about the vast expanse of land that I’d covered and here I was once again with the sea in front of me. It was a pretty cool feeling I have to say.
With plenty of time on our hands we stopped and for the last time took advantage of not only the free Wi-Fi at McDonalds but also their washrooms. I managed to call home to let people know that I’d arrived safely and it was only then that the excitement of being so close really hit me.
We still had the small matter of a six kilometre ride to the port but as we rode over the small hill taking us there seeing the ferry port with the sun setting in the distance was; I have to say one of the greatest sights I’ve seen since I started this trip. At this point neither of us were in the least bit concerned about the prospect of sleeping inside the ferry terminal we were just so pleased to be there.
Everything was shut inside the terminal and it kind of had the feel of an empty hospital waiting room. It wasn’t a bad place to sleep at all and in comparison to some of the places I’ve spent it was luxurious.
The last supper
Our minds were at this point very much on returning back and the long wait we had in front of us enabled us to take the bikes outside for a bit of TLC with both of us conscious that we wanted to ride back into England with our bikes looking their very best. Tom stripped down his converted tourer bike and not for the first time reiterated his desire to throw his racks away once he got home.
My bike has been an absolute Trojan and she has taken everything that both I and the roads have thrown at her, words cannot describe how much I love this machine even after all these months together. I continued to struggle with my mudguards and vowed to treat the old LPY to some nice ones the moment I got back but at the same time I’m loathe to throw away any part of the bike that got me here.
There wasn’t really much opportunity for sleeping although we both tried our very best to get some shut eye. Travelling with a bicycle always means that you are going to attract a certain degree of attention and this was also the case as people began to filter into the terminal. We met a really nice guy who upon hearing about our trip returned with a few small bottles of beer. In addition it was great to meet a couple of ladies from Yorkshire who were also kind enough to make a donation to Parkinsons.
As we drifted in and out of sleep trying to get some rest before boarding the ferry the next morning I knew that tomorrow would be a big day but had no idea what would be waiting for me back in the UK.