"A day of two halves", as they say in most football matches. Dawn cracked open cold but cloudless in the cathedral city of Canterbury. Hooked up with my cycling companion Gareth.W (doing the first four days in France with me before returning home) at the Cathedral and after the customary photo shoot in front of the cathedral and the starting stone of the pilgrims way of via Francigena we were invited to be blessed by the reverend of the day inside the cathedral.
I am not the most religious person in the world but there was definitely something moving about the occasion. We set off through the "rolling" hills of Kent ostensibly following CycleWay 16 to Dover. I put "rolling" in inverted commas simply because if you're lugging 130kg they all feel like the Alps. The irony didn't pass me by. One moment I am been blessed by the great man's representative and the next his name is been cursed in vain! Not to say the rolling hills didn't provide some nice views of the ill named Rapeseed
30 km later and after not one but three wrong turns we arrived at the Dover ferry terminal to be told by some jobsworth that as our ferry was leaving in 30 minutes we had missed it. #midlyannoyed. Killed some time at the salubrious Dover terminal "passenger welcome centre" then stood for 45 mins at the head of the 213 queue in a biting northerly wind to await boarding for a delayed ferry.
Now here's a tip for you - if you ever travel on the P&O ferry from Dover to Calais then pay the extra 8 quid for "club lounge". Trust me, it's worth it. Free champers and nibbles and lovely seats with your own private balcony. Unlike the guy who named rapeseed I can understand why the white cliffs of Dover got their name.
Arriving in Calais we made our way south east to Licques. Most of it along a canal tow path to Guines ...
before heading over more "rolling " hills to Licques. Like the first day why did he above save the longest and hardest hill for the last 3 km ??? Checked in at Auberge du Moulin d'Audenfort and what a find. An old mill turned hotel with food to die for. The French do several things well and food is definitely one of them. Here we are in an innocuous French B&B and are served a meal befitting a very decent restaurant in London yet at 1/3 the price. 65 euros for dinner, bed and breakfast.
Another 56 km tucked away on the day . Ponderings of the day ... Canterbury has a lot tourists. Why? Ok, it's the seat of the Anglican religion but beyond that ?
Why are people in SUV's on narrow country lanes the most inconsiderate drivers?
How can two intelligent men get lost four times ?
Why is a "short cut " rarely that ?
Why did I see more diesel cars with dirty carburetors in 30 km in France than I saw in 200 km in England ? The answer to this was provided by Gareth who stated " you were cycling through S.E. England which is one of the most affluent areas of the Uk and now you're cycling through N.W. France which is one of the poorest". This answer, coming as it did, from the man who told me the birds we heard chattering on the canal near Calais were "Chiff Chaffs" and the first warblers to arrive for the spring from Africa made me think I should trust him on the car thingy . Hill of the day - that so n' so effing hill about 4 km before Licques and just 6 km from the end of the day. Honourable mention though to the "rolling" hills of Kent which come a close second.
Arriving in Calais it dawned on me that, if so inclined, I could now cycle all the way to Valdivostok on the far Eastern Russian coast or even to Singapore all on the same landmass. The 3 operative words there are "if so inclined ". #unlikely