Usually I would have made a start on my travel report long before now, but I needed to sit and think about this one a bit more than usual. You see, on Day Two of the holiday proper, Howard came off his bike, writing it off and breaking his collarbone.
Everyone is safely home now, but it would be silly to try and pretend that the trip wasn't a mixed bag at best.
And, with that explanation out of the way, onward!
The cheapest and most convenient way to cross the Channel was to take the Dover to Calais ferry the day before the tour started and spend a night in the hotel where Bike Normandy's John and Jen - and, it turned out, all the other participants - would be staying.
As I carried my luggage down to the bike, my neighbour's black miniature poodle raced towards me, barking frantically. Undeterred, I packed up and set off for Dover on the A2/M2, both for fear of delays on the M20 and because it's a more pleasant ride.
I arrived in the short stay car park in good time, and Howard rolled up 15 minutes later, allowing us to get an earlier ferry than the one we'd booked and have a nice chat with a Czech biker in the queue.
Calais was sunny but windy. Held up by a lifting bridge on the way to our hotel, we were approached by a gentleman on foot who had seen our UK plates and turned out to be part of our group. We found the hotel, parked, went in search of a light snack to sustain us until dinner, and ended up having an early dinner instead. By the time we returned, more bikes had rolled up. We located John and Jen in the restaurant, along with most of the rest of the party, and joined them for a drink.
There were more people than I could begin to sort out on that first evening, but they all seemed nice and all, like us, were excited.