D-DAY was fast approaching!
Our carbon footprint peaked as last minute deliveries arrived from all over the UK and sadly, the TO-DO-LIST was growing just when we thought we had it all covered.
Frustration as Chloe’s last minute, shiny new (Touratech) extra special, super low seat was redirected to London thanks to an ‘unexpected’ Bank Holiday (delay) to the postal service. Pete wasn’t best pleased with the cycle home through rush hour London with the seat strapped to his back! – “bloody pain”
In the week prior to departure, last minute goodbyes were a plenty, with the London bound Rachel dropping in, aunties, uncles, grandpas and nanas all taking time out to visit us, along with Jess and the recently delivered Sebastian Sibson. Weighed down and inebriated with milk, Sebastian took the goodbyes in his stride; however try as she might, Jess didn’t quite have Chris in tears but Chloe finally began to show the strain with a tear in her eye. The swollen TO-DO-LIST soon put a stop to that!
To add to the mix, the sale of Chris’s student flat in Aberdeen finally completed the day before we left, and his last minute Speed Awareness Course (courtesy of Greater Manchester Police) was taken on the last night in Manchester. Sadly any final farewells could not happen on this poignant final eve….
The big day 31st AUGUST 2011. 0930BST
Assisted by Katie, Keith, Kevin, Anna, Paul, Laura (with baby Hattie) & James (fellow hairy biker) the Grangers were seen off the premises. Not one to miss out on a show, Mother Granger was an onlooker via the power of Skype, watching the whole event unfold from her front room in sunny Kirkcaldy.
James (our hairy biker) escorted us in convoy to the motorway . . . do 3 bikes constitute a convoy? More of a flock? Or even a gaggle?
With a final coming together for a Team Fist at 50mph, we said good bye. Bye James! x
Still in Manchester, we swung past Radcliffe’s Independent Methodist Church on the way to the mechanic’s; one of Chloe’s last Architectural marks on Manchester, not yet finished but only days (?) away
From late night working on the bikes, to even later night time banter, beer and Tequila, we couldn’t have met a better bunch of bikers / mechanics.
‘Friendly’ Jono and the ever affable Aiden made sure Fireman Sam was in safe hands as he tried out some of the bikes for size. No more hoses, no more fire engines just the wind in his hair – we think he has some under his little yellow helmet!
We returned Fireman Sam to his home briefly to say bon voyage to his owner, Arthur, his family and close friends. Arthur was a true inspiration to us and we enjoyed our time learning more about his family and what they have bravely battled through over the years since Arthur’s diagnosis with Cancer at such a young age.
Mum, Rachel, has a determined, vivacious Character and it was joy to meet her. We wish them all the best in their own adventures. As part of our ongoing trip we would like to help raise awareness of Arthur and other young children who suffer from critical illness at such a young age.
If anyone is feeling charitable and would like donate something to Arthur’s after-care, Rachel is collecting donations through Arthur’s website which can be found by clicking here.
While making our way to London, we also dropped in on friends in Leicestershire and Oxfordshire. Anthony and Jean treated us to a night in their lovely home in Slawston, making use of the picnic set one more time before the end of summer.
We kept Marianne and Richard in Blewbury waiting until well beyond their bedtime and like most parents with two small children, they battled on with tired eyes until 10pm (not before a bottle of wine was seen off). Sorry guys!
London! Pete & Others! Six bottles of Champagne, numerous cocktails and a Chicken Tikka Sandwich Filling Pizza! It all adds up to a quiet night out!
Pete was celebrating his second child, Sam celebrating buying his new house, Jonathan celebrating moving job (again) and Tim (Gibbons) celebrating handing in his Part III (nearly).
Not one to miss an opportunity, Pete, who was also our London delivery agent for Team Granger, made sure he found the best of venues with the wackiest of facilities, space age toilets and a complete lack of real ale! Phhh, Londoners!
D-DAY! A hungover Chloe and highly excitable Chris Leave London for Tilbury at 0900hrs, on time, packed and only a little anxious!
We arrive at the Ship bright eyed and bushy tailed, 0930hrs sharp, as directed!
Once the kit was unloaded we were shown to our (windowless!) cabin which will be home for the next 4 weeks!
Meanwhile, the bikes were rested on dry land for one last time alongside their cargo hold buddies.
We were assured King Kong had been adequately tranquilised for the trip and his equally as large crated Jurassic arachnid (I’m thinking Tremours here) had no way of escaping from his crate! As for the third crate, they wouldn’t tell us what was inside that one!
THEN! Just when we thought our life was about to settle down to easy cruising, we had a message from the Granger Clan that explained they had enlisted the help of family friend Paula to deliver a gift to us at Tilbury railway station. Fooled into thinking he was picking up a small parcel, a mildly frustrated Chris hot footed it to the station only to be met by sisters Trish and Allyson who were stood there having flown that morning from Edinburgh to say their goodbyes! Some parcel..! – Bless!
Fortunately (for them), the ship’s departure was delayed until Sunday so a family afternoon in Gravesend (you should try it!) awaited us!
Sadly the only record our afternoon was taken with a 19th Century (Circa) 1995 Nokia; through the grainy graphics, you can just see the joy on their faces!
Sunday 4th September – Escorted out of the country by Her Majesty’s Service tug boat (is he going backwards?!)
The lasting image of home as we hit the open sea
Monday 5h September, landed in Antwerp, after 2 nights on board, we haven’t come very far, a mere 22 miles across the channel!
While writing, Belgian radio has treated us to a rendition of; A good heart these days (is hard to find) , Don’t stop believing by Journey (TERRY CAN YOU BELIVE IT?!) and The Thompson Twins, Hold me now . . . . oh and Take On Me by A-HA!, then Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms! OMGg!!!!
Antwerp Docks; our musical & spiritual home perhaps? Shall we stop here? Or onwards
Squeak & Rusty x