I left Fairfax in a flurry. Unable to focus on anything but the swim, I slept most of Friday. Naps rock! The only problem was that I was not tired at all when we boarded the plane at 10pm. So, I watched two movies and managed a paltry 1.5 hours of sleep during the tail end of the flight. I was beat tired when we landed. Kathy and Patrick had taken Dramamine for the flight so they passed out before the plane even took off and slept the entire 6-hour flight until right before we landed. I was jealous. Typically, I have that sleep pattern during long flights. Not this time.
We landed, cleared customs and gathered our things for our hired car trip down to Dover. Initially, Kat and I were thinking of taking the "cheaper" route down via trains and taxi. I did the math and in no way was it cheaper than a £110 (roughly US$150 at the time) - ride for the family. Plus, we were in no shape to grab the train from London - Heathrow to Paddington station, take a cab to St. Pancras, board a train to Dover, switch at Rochester, and then carry on to train station where we would lug our bags to the Churchill Guest House. Nope, no shape. Kat and Patrick were still a bit dazed from their drug-induced plane naps while I could barely keep my eyes open from sleep deprivation. We landed at 10am local time or 5am our time and thankful that our trip to Dover involved nothing more than greeting our driver, crawling into the car and crashing for the 2-hour ride. Without any sleep during the night, I needed to nod off.
Did I sleep? Nope. I spent the entire car ride down chatting up a storm with our driver - Rob. We talked about Brexit, the US presidential election, UK tourism, Ireland, and tourist destinations. All in all, it was a mighty craic. The time flew by and we were at the Churchill in nothing flat - at least that is what I recall. Toward the end of the trip, I was falling asleep while talking. Yep, I was beat and ready for bed. Unfortunately, it was only 2pm and I had no reason to crash that early. We headed out and grabbed groceries instead. It might be a long wait before bedtime calls.
A quick trip to the grocery store followed by a quick pint at the White Horse, and then an early dinner at Il Rustico ended our day at 9pm. Now, I was ready for bed. Really, I was and fell asleep about 20 minutes after we returned from dinner. That sleep lasted just 3 hours when I awoke from the slumber and felt totally rested. I have no clue why but I just couldn't get to sleep. I tossed and turned then decided to read email, check Facebook, and organize my photos. Some of you benefited from that last step. Once I got to 5am local time, I fell asleep and slept until our breakfast time of 8am. In total, I logged in 6 hours of sleep - not bad but not good enough to really feel rested.
Breakfast at the Churchill Guest House is an event. I hurried off to sit at the "big table" where we could meet other guests, strike up some good conversations, and talk about and with Alastair and Betty - the proprietors. Alex - their son - runs the place now because Alastair and Betty are getting older but they all have a strong hand in the day-to-day operation. Our interactions are similar to those observed in the John Cleese serial "Fawlty Towers." I posted this observation last year but this year just confirmed it. We have a great time. Well, 2 hours later, our breakfast time ended to give way to our swim.
Kat and I walked down to "the beach" at Dover Harbor where all the marathon swimmers congregate. It is a great event every day during the summer but particularly well-attended on the weekends. Today was no exception. We were met by countless people either training for, preparing for or waiting for their EC swim. Everyone rolls out the Dover welcome mat for any swimmer. The Dover harbor swims are truly one of the best parts of marathon swimming. The people, the location, and the conditions make it ideal for training.
I wasn't interested in training per se. Instead, I just wanted to get in, get a few strokes into the 17C water (sans cap today to boost the exposure) and restore my feel for the water. The harbor was warmer than I expected and quite choppy. All of the pilot boats were out with swimmers today. Despite that draw, I counted no fewer than 50 people at the beach. Kat and I swam for about an hour and then got out to socialize. It was great. We had a fun time chatting with the folks. I had the great pleasure to chat with the Honorable Secretary Kevin Murphy. We chatted briefly about my upcoming swim and my Catalina Channel swim. He is a lovely person - always supportive and interested in every swimmer who attempts or even dreams about a marathon swim.
Afterwards, we retired back to our guest house accommodations to nap. I was done eating and just needed some sleep. My nap lasted from about noon until 4pm - some nap, eh? I needed it. We topped off the day with a quick meal at Blake's of Dover and then a stroll down to the harbor beach to cool off with the sea breeze. The boats are still out so I don't have any news about my swim tomorrow. Tomorrow will likely follow the same routine as today. I'll keep you all posted as I learn more about the potential to swim. More than likely, if conditions hold, I will swim on Tuesday. Stay tuned for more updates as they come. Thanks for following.
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