So – home at last.
This final blog needed to wait a few days since, as computers do, my mainframe took one look at me after three months away, 10kg the lighter and as fit as I’ve ever been, allowed me briefly to copy all my pictures off the camera on to the hard drive, deleting them from the memory card as I did, then crashed.
Never mind. Our friendly computer repair man here in Cirencester has sorted it out, and all is now back in action, and I can access my final frames.
It’s good to be back after 4170 miles, driving carefully as instructed left, and enjoying our gorgeous Wychcroft home (see below), and the warmest of welcomes from an at first understandably nervous Sue. I was too, but within minutes, it was almost as if I’d never been away, but positively so.
What have I learned? A lot. Much of which I’ve already, really, written about. It’s been serious fun keeping the blog, and it’s been so good to see so many old and newer friends along the way, connecting and reconnecting across Europe.
My good friend and colleague at the BBC, veteran and brilliant Radio 4 Documentaries Producer Simon Elmes, asked me before I set off at Easter if I’d be interested in doing a radio programme about my Euro-journey, pegged to next year’s 20th annniversary of the fall of Communism and our continent’s reunification. Jonathan Marks has also wondered whether there’s a programme in here.
I’m sad, but glad I have so far said no. This trip was too personally important, and it was special to be able to enjoy each day and each mile/kilometre for its own sake, without having to think (beyond the blog) of accountability to anyone else. Very un-journalistic.
But blogging and the internet made it anything but a lonely experience – something which perhaps, as a creature very much in need of constant connection, I had most feared.
My little PDA and the Blackberry deal with O2 worked brilliantly and relatively inexpensively, considering how much I emailed and the roaming calls I took. I was even able to keep up a little bit of psychotherapeutic continuity with clients old and new, and now look forward to taking that up again rather more formally, and from a normal phone/in a normal consulting room.
Who’s been reading this? I’m not entirely sure, but as I said in an earlier blog, you know who you are. Sue, see below, wasn’t among them – but hey, she’s had other exciting things to do. It wasn’t about reaching huge numbers of folk. A blog more for me, really, than for you. I do know, though, that my daily readers included my very lovely daughter Katharine. Who has just got a First Class Honours degree in Drama at Exeter University. Whoop! whoop! as she would say.
So, finally, a photo of Sue, Raven, me and Wychcroft in the background. Hens and cats missing, but they too were delightfully welcoming.
Journey over. For the time being. Iberian peninsula next year? Perhaps Beijing-Katmandu? Sue has even said she might come with me and we could do that on the tandem.
But first, in August, a week on the BBC Club narrow boat in Northern Wales, then three weeks tandeming with Sue up the Loire valley in France, chateau-after-chateau. Hoping for less rain and less wind than I had cycling the upper reaches of said river in April.
With the warmest of wishes. If you’ve read this, that means you really did read the blog. Thanks.