The months, weeks, days even, leading up to my departure, I was excited. Like most things in my life, I had put all the serious thoughts to one side, and believed that, what will happen will happen.
It came as a surprise, when the morning of the first day, I felt physically sick. I have never felt so sick due to nerves ever. For those that know me well, it was certainly a shock that I was lost for words, standing in front of all those amazing people that had come to see me off. In true Hannaford style, I was also late.
The cycle down to New Haven was difficult, I seemed to hit every hill possible over a 60 mile stretch of English countryside, and on the first day. A real birth by fire. I bought my ticket, had one last good English meal for the next 12 months, steak of course, and slept in the ferry waiting room. In a private room, I had wangled from the staff, who had let me keep my bike and bags in it, whilst I ate at the pub.
But as I handed my passport over and crossed the line into the que to board the ferry, at 00:30, Im not ashamed to say, I felt very emotional. It dawned on me that I was actually about to leave England and all who I know here, behind for 12 months of cycling hills.
I have never, truly, felt as scared and vulnerable as I did in that moment.