So, the last day. I woke at around six to the gentle sound of running water from the small stream not ten feet away from my tent. Even with the beautiful sound of the water I could feel my mind starting to worry and wanting to work through the problems I could face upon my return. Have I run out of stock yet? Do I still have an income? Don’t forget to do your accounts. I forced my mind to return to the present and got up. I still had 365 kilometres to ride before I got to Dieppe and the last day is often the most dangerous; the mind wanders and the concentration ebbs away and the next thing you know, you’re on your arse sliding down the road at sixty.
I grabbed my bag and made my way to the toilet block. I smiled as I passed the locked and coded toilet door; with the amount of Imodium I’d eaten the previous day having a poo this side of Christmas would probably be a physical impossibility.
I entered the shower cubicle and had a nice long shower. After my shower I made my way to a sink, as I stood there shaving the last few days of scrub from my face I heard what sounded like a heavy smoker coughing up yesterday’s lining. It was disgusting, and it went on, and on, and on. Hawking, coughing, spitting.
I finished up and left expecting to see a large man in his fifties or sixties leaning on the sink struggling for breath. Instead I saw a women, probably in her mid-thirties, fag in hand. She had an angry look on her face and hawked up another as I walked past, I relaxed a little when I was no longer in spitting distance.
Even though my ferry wasn’t due to leave until six in the evening I still felt a need to hurry.
“Less haste, more speed.” I mumbled under my breath as I packed up.
Within half an hour all my stuff was packed away and the bike was ready to go. I grabbed a piece of note paper from my pad and made my way to reception which was closed. The board outside told me the price was seven Euros forty. I wrote the owners a note, folded up a ten Euro note and posted it under the door.
My trip from Revigny-sur-Ornain to Dieppe didn’t include any toll roads though I made one mistake around half way there and had to do a little creative riding to avoid getting sucked onto one. I stopped and looked over at the Policeman who was looking at me, I shrugged and pointed to the grass verge, he gestured to me which I took to mean ‘You’re English so we both know you’re going to do exactly as you please anyway.’ I agreed and rode up the curb, over the grass verge and down the other side. Thinking it was only right to say thank you I shouted
“Bonjour Monsieur!” then promptly realised that I’d said hello Sir instead of thank you or good bye. I looked in my mirror and saw him waving as I rode away.
There were a few diversions during the journey so the route might well look a little strange but here are some of the places I rode through on my way to Dieppe. Vroil, Charmont, Possesse, Vadenay, Bouy and Saint Maur.
When I arrived at Dieppe I found a nice little restaurant, parked outside and pulled up a seat. My order was Moules marinière with cream, garlic and parsley. It felt good sitting there almost home eating beautiful food in the port. I was tempted to have a glass of wine to compliment the food but when you’re trying to get a heavy bike onto a ferry you need to have balance on your side so I decided not to.
I finished my meal, paid up and made my way to the ferry terminal where I checked in, took a seat and waited for boarding. I had almost two hours to kill and did my best to fend off worrying about what I’d find when I got home but unfortunately I lost the battle and checked my emails. All of a sudden I was in a world of bills, pressure and anxiety and I wondered if I’d done the right thing in going away for such a long time. Was it selfish to leave my wife for such a period of time? A dog’s life is relatively short and was it right to leave her for a whole month? Would my business be permanently affected? I started to regret my trip and wished I’ve never gone. What had I done?
“Welcome back Richard.” I muttered miserably.
I tried forcing myself to read my book but I’ve never had much of an attention span and every once in a while I’d look up and glace around the room. I saw an elderly couple sitting in the section next to mine; they got up and walked over to the toilet. She went in and he waited outside. I continued reading my book.
When she appeared again I heard him say
“Have you washed your hands dear?” She went back inside and washed her hands.
When she reappeared a few minutes later she walked straight past him and stood in the room looking around blankly. He walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder.
“It’s okay Hilda, I’m here. We’re on our way home now.” He said and gave her a big cuddle.
She didn’t cuddle him back, instead her arms hung limply down by her sides. He glanced over at me as his eyes filled up.
For me this was the answer to my question. Was it right to go away for such a long time? Yes it was. Life doesn’t last forever and it’s important to make the most of it. I hope Hilda and her Husband made the most of theirs.