We left Lincoln for the second time this trip, having found it a lovely place to visit on both occasions. As we rolled out of town, we stopped off at Waitrose supermarket for some travel supplies. I love Waitrose. It’s the sort of supermarket I like to go to every now and again when we feel like a touch of posh. All the supermarkets have their own style and personality and Waitrose is just a slight cut above the others. The women shoppers look like tweed wearing versions of Barbara Cartland or friends of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and their men folk are a little like retired accountants or members of Dad’s Army. The staff in Waitrose are always super friendly and it’s just a really nice place to stroll the grocery aisles. It doesn’t matter how spick and span we are, I always feel just a little bit scruffy when I shop at Waitrose!
Today the aisles were full of bored, frustrated and ever so slightly tetchy men, obviously not pleased with being hauled along to assist with the weekly shop or the gathering of Christmas Day supplies. This was evident from the snatches of conversation I heard.
“Oim joost standin’ ‘ere waitin’ fer ‘er t’ do ‘er thing. Whatever thart is,” explained one gent to a fellow chap who’d been conscripted into grocery assistance duty. Of course these fellas will be more than happy to reap the benefits of the grocery shop, when the food is placed in front of them and they’re waited on with Christmas dinner and pud, but they were not happy about helping to gather the required supplies that would provide them with their feast.
Then on leaving the store I walked beside a man pushing the trolley and stating, quite emphatically, to his dear wife,
“Oim tellin’ yer, this is t’ last woon, this is t’ last shop, oim not goin’ out again. Yerl ‘ave ter go t’ Co-op if yer need anythin’ else. Flamin’ Nora now where’s the bloody car!? It’s over there…”
I love grocery shopping! It’s so entertaining!
We headed off into the rain and hurtled along the roads, through villages and towns, and just to continue our brush with the posh, we called into Sandringham, to wish Her Majesty a Merry Christmas!
As our journey continued, we ended up back in some of the same places we had been on the bikes. We choofed through Swineshead, the small village where we met up with Steve’s parents, Len and Pauline, for the last time, then bypassed Fosdyke.
“We rode into here, from the other side, over there,” I said to Steve, “I remember that pretty church spire.”
“We did too,” agreed Steve, “that’s where I broke a spoke.”
It was this retracing of our wheels, that brought on another trip down memory lane and sharing some of our tour highlights. We’ve been to some amazing places and we mentioned some of them to each other, but it struck me, as we were sharing the memorable moments, that the bulk of the top moments we recalled, all involved people.
> Staying at the campsite outside Evesham and the man with the little dog walking up to our tent for a chat. When he found out we were Australian he started singing Slim Dusty songs, including the obscure B side to Pub With No Beer, “because it were on t‘oother side yer see, on t’oother side,” he explained.
> Reginald, who stopped to talk to us on the seafront at Sidmouth and told us interesting stories about the history, geography and geology of the area, while his hungry wife stood tapping her watch and trying to drag him away with frequent repeats of “Reginaaalllld!”
> The two older men in Portugal, with their little dogs, one man walking and the other in his motorised chair, who stopped to talk to us while we were having elevenses by the side of the road. None of us could understand anything each of us were saying, but it didn’t matter, we had a lovely chat with two wonderful friendly men.
> Laure, who met us during our muddy ride along the banks of the Seine in Paris and invited us onto her houseboat, where she let us clean up and then made us tea and brunch.
> Meeting Phil and Phil at the top of the hill on our ride into Axminster, who told us of the places to see and the places in Wales to visit.
> Pat, our wonderful, gracious host in Mechelen, who showed us around and took me for a fantastic run.
> David and John, who stopped to chat to us when we arrived in Barton-on-Humber and talked to us about our travels and their travels, including cycling Ben Nevis in Scotland.
> Meeting Steve’s family for the first time, Ghislaine, Michael, Rosemary and Juliana who welcomed us into their homes, fed us and gave us special “We can’t believe we’re in a real house!!” moments of warmth and comfort.
> and so many more…
So many of the memories we shared, as we zipped along the road, were about the moments we’d shared with people in our travels. Yes, travel is about going to new places and seeing new sights, but I’ve realised it’s so much more than that. It’s about the people. It’s about the locals and the chance meetings. It’s about taking the time to stop and talk with the people we meet or the people who offer a moment of their time to help or say hello. Places are important and they still hold special memories, but places can still be found in a book or on a postcard. The people can’t. The people are the special, unique, one-of-a-kind experiences and magic memories that belong to no one but us. The pictures we have in our minds, of the people we’ve met, won’t be seen by anyone else, in any glossy book or on any postcard. They’re far more special than that. I’m so glad we met the people we have and I’m so grateful for that time and for the memories those moments have given us. It wouldn’t have happened without the bikes. It wouldn’t have happened if we’d been trapped in a speeding car all these months. Magic memories. I miss the bikes.
We continued along the wet roads, with the sky well and truly dumping the waterfall on us and then we entered the county of Norfolk. A side step along the Norfolk coast took us to Kings Lynne and Hunstanton and then back into the countryside.
“It’s 3:30 for heaven’s sake!” blurted Steve suddenly. This was in reference to the bright headlights all around us and the lack of light outside. Yep, it was dark. We’re still adjusting to these short days! It’s still dark at 8:00am and then gets dark again about 3:30pm. We wouldn’t have made much progress on two wheels in the short daylight hours we have at the moment!
We finally arrived at our digs in Norwich, where we’ll spend a couple of days so we can have a look around. Today was pretty much just a travel day, a day of reaching a destination. We still saw some nice scenery and we shared some memories about some amazing experiences we’ve had. It was a few hours of motorised nostalgia! I’ll finish with some more pub signs, because we’re running out of time to collect them. I will also finish with this…remember people. They bring amazing moments into our lives. The strangers, the passers-by, the old, the young, the locals and the travellers. If the moment arises to talk to someone new, grab that moment! Never miss the opportunity to create a magic moment and a sparkling memory. It just might be your very own highlight!