What a nightmare! After 500 miles of walking I arrived at Dover docks to buy a ticket to Calais. No, sorry, P&O doesn’t allow foot passengers, I was told, despite the fact tickets were available online only a few days before.
I had a number of options. Swim, obviously. But more realistically. I could jump in a car, if I could find one. Or I could acquire a bicycle. Or I could walk for a week or so to Harwich, where foot passengers were welcomed.
I popped into the marina to see if crewing on a yacht was a possibility, but apparently there wasn’t much cross-Channel action at this time of year.
I tried to contact BBC Radio Kent to see if they could find a car with a spare seat, but they weren’t answering their number.
I jumped on to Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone nearby had a cheap bicycle.
In the end, my saviour came in the form of Alexia, now a Facebook friend but she’d once been a performer in the comedy night I used to produce in Spain. I hadn’t seen her for about 15 years. But now she lived 20 minutes from Dover and had an old bicycle I could have. What a star!
And now, as I arrive to Calais, nothing about the bicycle journey to the ferry would have been impossible or dangerous or even marginally unpleasant on foot. What a stupid rule! But one that nearly seriously scuppered this big walk.
And there will be a happy ending for the bike. An immigrant-helping charity in France will take it off my hands and do with it what they will. It needs a little love, but at least it got me across the Channel.