As we got closer to the north coast of France we decided to book our Ferry to England. There are several crossings to choose from. We wanted one which meant we would still have a nice cycle towards my family in London. One that would give us a bit of time to feel what it is like to cycle in England but not so long that we would be hit by potential bad weather at the beginning of autumn. We chose to book a ferry from Caen in Normandy to Portsmouth on the south coast of England. Two days later the UK government announced that anyone travelling to the UK from France would have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival…

It crossed our minds to cancel the ferry and just cycle directly to Amsterdam via Belgium but I’d been thinking about reuniting with my family in London for such a long time that it wasn’t something we seriously considered. Our first plan was to find a nice place in or near Portsmouth that we could quarantine for 2 weeks before then cycling towards my parents house. However, after looking at the UK quarantine rules more closely we realised that we didn’t necessarily have to stay at our first destination for 14 nights. The rules stated that, if we were unable to reach our preferred quarantine location on the day of arrival then we could spend 1 night at another location before arriving at the place where we would complete the additional 13 days quarantine.

It is 170km from Portsmouth to my parents house in east London. We are not particularly fast cyclists. Our bikes and luggage combined mean we are cycling with around 40 to 50 kg each, so usually we do around 75km per day. Sometimes its more and sometimes less but eitherway 170km would be alot for us to do in 2 days. Worse still, our ferry arrived in Portmouth around 1pm. By the time we were off the ferry and started cycling we’d only really have 1.5 days to do 170km. Even though it would be a tough cycle we decided that we’d do it. We’d do 70km on the afternoon that we arrived and then, the next day, the final 100km home, where we’d do our 14 days quarantine in my mum and dad’s house.

The ferry arrived in Portsmouth on time and unusually the English weather was also playing ball. We cycled the 70km to the small and beautiful village of Milford along quintessential English country roads in glorious sunshine. It was a wonderful cycling homecoming and it meant that what we thought would have been a daunting task was actually a pleasure, albeit a tiring one. In Milford we would stay at the house of Josh and his family. Josh was a member of Warmshowers (Couchsurfing for cyclists) and had offered to host us. We explained our situation to him and that we would probably arrive late in the evening and have to leave very early in the morning so we wouldn’t have much time to chat as we normally would when we stay at a Warmshowers address. He didn’t mind and was happy to give us a place to crash for the night.
We arrived at Josh’s house late. Although we were tired and ready for bed we ended up chatting with Josh for a few hours. He was a fascinating young man who was not only into cycling but also walking. He is going to walk from England to Turkey next year. Yep, he’s mad. We liked him right away. We again explained to Josh that we had a really big cycle to do the next day and we were a little worried about the big distance so we’d better sleep to make sure we got home. Before sleeping Josh said that he would also wake up early tomorrow morning and cycle with us for the first 10 or so KMs to help us get started. He knew the way and it always goes much quicker when the person navigating knows the route, so we very happily excepted the offer and went to sleep.

Picture the scene. Me and Frouke up at the crack of dawn. Mentally focused on the 100km we needed to cycle to get home. We’ve come all the way from Vietnam and for whatever reason we have this final big push to get home. We were on our bikes outside Josh’s house ready to cycle. In front of us was Josh, leading the way. Leading the way with E.T in the basket on the front of his bike. Children on their way to school stared open mouthed as 3 bicycles sped through the streets and lanes of south east England with E.T guiding the way. Early morning commuters who were still waking up as they made their way to work had to look twice to check if they were dreaming as E.T flew by followed by 2 other cyclists.

Josh likes to cycle with a life sized E.T in the basket on the front of his bike. He said that he likes the idea of cycling by someone who is having a bad time or just a normal boring morning and brightening up their day, bringing a smile to their faces out of nowhere. It worked. It was hilarious actually. I saw a multitude of different reactions from the people we passed by and I personally couldn’t stop smiling. In the 1980s a bunch of kids on bicycles helped E.T to get home in one big final push and now, in 2020, E.T returned the favour and helped Frouke and Me get home. It was one of the best starts to a cycle we’ve had on our trip and needless to say we got home to my parents house in good time. Thank you Josh and thank you E.T.

Josh and E.T. are currently cycling in the England. You can follow their adventures together on Instagram

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