… that I got to tell you man, and that it’s Good To Be Back Home”.
So said Barry Hay on the beach at Scheveningen in the Netherlands back in 1993 when I was there on my old CX500 and I can’t disagree.
But I owe a great big thanks to two of my neighbours who drove to the railway station here at Granville at 19:00 to meet me off the train because, believe me, I was finished, totally finished when it pulled into the station
And I was right about my affairs at the hotel. I really was given the run-around and at 07:00 when I was on the point of leaving and wanted to pick them up, I was told that they weren’t there as far as they could see and I could stand there all day and wait for them if I liked and it would change nothing at all.
So that’s the NIKON D500, the 70-300mm LENS and all of my photos from Canada along with all of my portable electronic equipment gone the Way of the West.
It’s not surprising that i was in a bad mood about this because I’d had a bad night, as I always do when I’m having to go somewhere early. Not that it stopped me going off on my travels and although I don’t remember much about my travels, I do recall that had I not awoken suddenly, I would have had a visit from one of my favourite young ladies.
So maybe that’s why I awoke suddenly. My whole outlook on life has changed just recently.
Having finished my rather acrimonious but otherwise pointless discission with the hotel staff (I seem to be arguing with everyone right now) I set off in the ice and freezing cold that made my already unsteady gait even more so.
But not for the railway station at Bruxelles-Midi. Instead, I clambered gingerly down the stairs into the metro station at the Boulevard Lemonnier. Crossing the road to get there was fraught, and no mistake.
Even more fraught was crossing the tram rails to the opposite platform and I was convinced that at one point rather than travel by tram I would be out on my ass but in an incredible feat of gymnastics I just about managed to keep my feet.
The platforms at the Gare du Nord were a mess and I must have staggered for miles trying to find my way up to ground level, having to be helped up a few steps by a few people. But when I did I had to go round and round in ever-decreasing circles in order to find my way out of the station.
Yes, “out of the station” because I’m not going by train.
Eventually I found my way outside in the freezing fog and having completely lost my bearings, I wandered around (such as I can) until I stumbled quite by accident on that for which I was looking.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that back several years ago when there was a rail strike I ended up HAVING TO GO BY BUS. I remembered that it called at Caen and then went on via several stops to Bruxelles-Nord – without going via Paris.
It was going via Paris that was frightening me. Can you imagine the fight in the Metro and the long walk down to the station at Montparnasse? Not on your nellie!
But trains now go from Caen to Granville and there were, to my surprise, two that corresponded with the arrival of this bus. So sitting comfortably (not that it’s comfortable on these buses but you get the point) all the way to Caen without moving has to be a good deal.
It’s not surprise to anyone that I had to be lifted onto the bus, and then I was sat in a seat by the door. And to make sure that I didn’t move, I didn’t eat or drink anything all the way to Caen. What doesn’t go in can’t come out.
It was a long, boring drive all the way to Caen but every time I started to become fed up, I began to think of the fight through the metro in Paris and that restored me to my senses.
We were late arriving at Caen which means that I missed the 16:11 but there was plenty of time for the 17:16. And that wasjust as well because it’s a long walk from the bus stop to the station. Once I’d bought a ticket from the machine I bought myself a coffee (first drink of the day) and made a tomato butty while I waited for the train.
And what a stagger it was to the lift, through the subterranean tunnel and back up the lift on another platform. I was really gone by this time and I just fell into the nearest seat on the train. My journey had been well-documented on social media and you have no idea the size of the sigh of relief that I breathed when Marie and Anna asked if I would like to be picked up.
The station at Granville was iced up and I was even more unsteady that I had been in the morning and I took hours to leave the station. Marie and Anna were heartbroken to see me because, believe me, I am not the same person who left here in September. That trip to Canada was one trip too many and one trip too far.
When we arrived back here there was a little ad-hoc reception committee that met me but I was really in no mood to see anyone. Marie helped me into my room here at Ice Station Zebra and that was that.
When I’m finally tired enough to sleep, whenever that might be, I’ll go to bed. And there will be no alarm until Monday. Not that I care either. It’s been weeks, if not months, since I’ve slept with no alarm and I deserve some time off
And when I’m ready, I’ll rebuild my life with what’s left of my health and what’s left of my possessions and start again until the end. I just can’t fo it any more.
A big thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me on my travels around and who has helped me in my difficulties. So many of you that have helped restore my faith in humanity. I love you all, more than I can say.