Good day to you.
I have been home for just over two weeks now. There is so much to write about and share with you but I kept getting distracted with being back home and all that comes with it. Today on the blog I will share my homecoming. I really want to do a whole piece on this as the whole day was just such an experience. And here's the hook, some parts were really not what I expected, but I will explain the best I can.
So it started I guess in a field in Northern France. After the ride through Europe I simply had to spend my last night of the trip camping alone with Penny. This was my time to relax before returning home. I had a few bottles of beer that night and just chilled and soaked up the sun setting for the last time of this journey, as you know I am a sucker for a sunset. It was a perfect evening. But something didn't feel right, it didn't feel like it was coming to an end, I didn't really feel anything. Just the normal feelings of having a great spot for the night. Was strange. I even tried to force myself to get emotional about it but it just didn't happen. I knew I was going home but there was no emotions. No sadness, anxiety, happiness, nothing. I was just content in my beautiful surroundings with my bottle of Belgium beer.
I woke early the next morning to ride about thirty minutes to the port. I got there nice and early and chilled watching the boats with my cup of tea. So many British plated cars, that made me feel a little excited, something a bit different. I was sat there next to my bike with everyone walking past me. Nobody cared who I was, not that I expected people to care about my trip but it was strange to think these guys are just heading home like I am, difference is I've not seen home in 505 days.
Boarding the boat was an all too familiar feeling. Is it because I've done this crossing lots of times in the past?, or was it simply because in these past 505 days I have become so numb to travel that it has just become 'normal' for me to be crossing into other countries. But this isn't just another country. This is home! This is where family and friends are, this is the country where I joined the army for all those years and put myself on the front line, this is England. I spent so many times thinking about getting home and getting emotional at the thought and now there was nothing. The big day just felt like the next day of the journey. It just felt 'normal'.
I remember being on the boat and looking for people to talk to. I found a Polish couple that were living in London. We chatted and they asked about my trip, They said that this must be an amazing feeling to be seeing everyone. It was an amazing feeling, knowing that in about an hour or so I would be seeing people that I have not seen for almost a year and a half. But already I was thinking past that moment and quickly started talking about saving some more money to get going again. What the hell was wrong with me!! I was not even home yet. I just couldn't get in the moment.
The boat docked mid morning and I was greeted in the town of Dover. I was absolutely blown away by the amount of people that had turned up to meet me. It was fantastic. Everyone cheering and saying well done. I didn't really know what to say to that as it was all a little overwhelming. So many answers were coming to my head and I didn't know the best response. So I just smiled and shook hands and hugged my mates.
The ride to Rochester from Dover was amazing. So many bikers rode with me and I was given an escort from the Royal British Legion Riders Branch. This is the charity that I have been raising a few quid for over the trip. I remember looking in my mirror and seeing all the bikes behind me. This was such an amazing feeling and one that I will remember for a very long time. All these guys came out to meet me and give me a proper welcome home. And they did an incredible job. Most of these guys I didn't even know in person. They heard about the trip and just wanted to be a part of it.
Arriving in Rochester was the big moment, this is where all my family were and friends from all different walks of life. Army life, civilian life, work life and social life. They were all there. I rode into town with the bike escort behind me. It was an amazing feeling. People were sat at their tables in the beer gardens and rose to their feet to cheer and come greet me. We parked up and straight away I saw my family and there were big hugs all round. I knew they were happy to see me as I was them. The emotions were under control, I didn't feel the need to cry, I just smiled and went along with the meet and greets with everyone. It was all a bit too much and knew that over the coming weeks I will have to see everyone in a more personal environment.
This was my moment, my big day as it was. This was the moment that I had been dreaming about for a long time, but I couldn't help think that perhaps the magic of it was in the dream and that's where it should have stayed. So many things were going through my head. Being in that town with family and friends meant that the trip was officially over now. A very strange feeling as now my life has to change being back. The past sixteen months have been my normal, I had acclimatized and now was wondering whether I want to change again. I like what I had done and became good at it. My life had depth and meaning and now being back meant it was all going to change. It doesn't have to be a bad thing but it will for sure have to change.
I know from experience that things will definitely change. I have spent years away on operations with the army and I also spent a year back packing round the world with a friend. I know I am happy moving and staying still for too long is not good for me. But for now I don't need to be thinking that. I knew it was coming so I just relaxed and tried to enjoy this moment of being united with family and friends. I've missed my family a lot on this trip and was great to see all them together. I come from a very big family and it's rare to get us all together so this was a great day. They have all been there for me and I am so grateful to have this in my life.
Overall the day was great and exactly what I wanted. I know I've got a lot of strange feelings on route to me that I will have to tackle and I will certainly share this with you. But for now it's just good to catch up with everyone before heading off again.
There are so many thanks to give out that the list would be huge, and also there's so many thanks to people that I don't even know that worked behind the scenes to get this day organised and give me such an incredible welcome home. If you're reading this and was involved then know that I am very grateful for your efforts. Also an unusual thanks goes to the cannon of Rochester Cathedral for being such a good sport and allowing me to take her for a ride around town on the bike. Great experience.
Have a great day all.
Aaron and Penny.
As always a big thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Please feel free to get in touch with me below and I will reply as soon as possible. During this trip I was trying to raise some pennies for the Royal British Legion so if you do have anything that you're willing to give then please do click this link to place your donation.
I will carry on writing blogs and sharing my journey as I always have done. This is the end of the bike trip but certainly not the end of what I want to achieve. Below is a box to stick your email address in which I would greatly appreciate. I send a very occasional letter out normally when I write a new blog. Speak soon.