I awoke in the morning yesterday to the wonderful delight of Daisy, Adam and Gemma’s black lab who began licking my face from the bedside as I proceeded to pet her. However, Lady, their golden retriever was not going to allow for that attention, heard the movement, and was also keen on receiving some love and affection when she entered the room. Two beautiful puppies at your bedside; is there a better alarm clock? Muffin, their rather fluffy, tan and round kitty was not as concerned with my arrival downstairs, as he was only interested in his morning biscuits. If Adam or Gemma did not comply, he would simply continue to ‘meow’ which caused him a hard time breathing, that resonated as an unpleasant noise. The puppies were extremely friendly throughout my stay; I enjoyed the amount of excitement they had for a foreign visitor – perhaps it was due to my attention instead? Gemma and I were about to take them for a stroll, when Adam returned from his morning workout; a rather quick one as we were up late the night before engaging in conversation, listening to Gemma on guitar and sharing stories of adventure. I attempted to try and get a few hours rest, as I knew I would be traveling south to Dover the next day. We took the puppies around his small town, and briefly explored a grand old mansion where Gemma had performed recently, before returning to the house. Adam was set to have a business call in downtown London around 12 o’clock, so we hurriedly gathered our things, Adam changed into his business attire and we set off for the Grantham train station about 20-minutes’ drive down the motorway.
We arrived at King’s Cross station (a massive station) in downtown London, and took the Picadilly Line (we made sure to ‘Mind the Gap’!) before exiting near Baker Street. Adam took his business call, and I had a walkabout to the nearest barber for a fresh trim. Anthony the Barber was from Lebanon, and we chatted about his three young children; including his youngest daughter who was keen on living in America. He asked if Miami was a nice place to settle, and I assured him it was safe, and described the nightlife and architecture along Ocean Drive and South Beach as an example. After a shave and a haircut, I ate a brief snack of an avocado/tomato/water cress/chicken Panini, fresh squeezed carrot and orange juice and an Americano before Adam met me to return to the ‘Underground’, and then ‘Aboveground’ to Dover Priory from King’s Cross. It took about an hour to travel to the south east coast of England, and I cannot describe the excitement I felt as we entered Folkstone, and was able to see the splendid waters of the vast English Channel. It had been almost 4-years’ time since I crossed her landscape, and I could not wait to once again walk along the rocks and pebbles of Dover Harbor. We exited the train, and set about the town as Adam needed a piece for his Blackberry phone. I Skype’d with my brother, Matthew from outside McDonald’s (free WiFi) while Adam did his business. We then walked down to Dover Harbor in the shadow of the White Cliffs. A truly amazing sight, as it brought back so many wonderful memories as my parents, Cathy and I preparing for my journey several years prior. The pictures flashed through my mind of ones we had taken together in July 2010, and couldn’t believe that much time had passed since I returned. My travels have taken me to so many wonderful places, but nothing can take the place of the memory of conquering the English Channel!
Adam and I walked into the Dover Marina sport club along the water, and were met with smiles from the waitresses as we changed in the rear of the facility and walked out in our towels outside to begin our swim. We snapped a few quick pictures, disrobed and walked briskly down to the water’s edge we were quickly reminded to the powerful chill of the Channel in March! Only in the mid-upper 40F’s (8C) at the time, we were met with instant ‘ice cream headaches’ yet continued to power through for close to an hours’ time. Adam stayed in longer to do some extra training (he is leaving for the Cook Strait in a few weeks) in the cold water; I on the other hand chose the warm shower! We chatted in the showers until we warmed, left the facility and headed over to the historic White Horse Pub, made famous for all the signatures of Channel swimmers over the years in permanent marker on their walls. I took pictures of as many swimmer’s signatures I could identify, had a pint of Guinness and then quickly returned to the Dover Priory for our return trip back to King’s Cross, and finally on to Grantham. Adam and I had a feast on the train, spoke with a lovely gal about marketing ourselves and returned home to one happy girlfriend, two jubilant puppies and a tranquil kitty.
Love and respect from England,