In the queue for the ferry at Harwich, I was joined by Roel and Nick, his 12 year old son. On bicycles laden with camping gear and memories, they were returning home from a week or so cycling around the Somerset levels and Stonehenge.
Roel was an old hand at this bike packing game and could write a book of his own, telling tales of trips through Syria and beyond at times when it was somewhat safer, but not without it's moments. (I hope to catch up with them again soon, to hear the detail of his earlier travels.)
For now though, he recounted nights spent in fields and being moved on by landowners in the morning. Roadside camping in the midst of some of England's most famous historical monuments will be something that Nick will never forget. (My own boys will share those opportunities in years to come. I can't wait!)
They had also cycled across London and I caught myself and laughed, as I tried to claim that the cycle network in London was pretty good! Here's me talking to a Dutchman about cycle paths. What do I know? Like trying to explain to an Irishman, that they make this really cool ale in Ireland called Guinness. He might like to try it! Doh!
The ferry crossing was due to be a good 7 hours but we were delayed by 2 hours in Harwich for diving operations in the harbour entrance. With Harwich on the southern side and Felixstowe to the north, this is a busy seaway.
As a consequence of the delays, I was doubly glad to have booked a cabin for the crossing. I remembered well enough trying to sleep on the deck of the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry last year, without success. I was not about to repeat that mistake.
Instead, I had a good meal and settled down to catch up on the lost hours shuteye from earlier in the morning. Devoid of the nerves that attend the chance of missing trains and ferries, I could relax properly now and prepare myself for the challenge ahead.