28 September 2010

Milford Haven to Cardigan

Over breakfast Fr JJ talks of his life as a priest in Manila and of how he was asked to come to the UK. I'm struck that here he is serving both as parish priest and AoS Port Chaplain among a culture so far removed from his own and yet being at ease and successful with it. Noting the size of his congregation on Sunday, it's a testament to the high regard in which he is so obviously held. Being a Filipino has to be a tremendous asset to AoS when so many seafarers are from his country. I set off to Cardigan feeling invgored at having met such a fine man.
Light drizzle was around on departure so it was the first outing for the rain jacket. The road to Haverfordwest is slightly undulating and I covered the 10 miles or so in good time. Approaching the town, I take to the well laid out cycle tracks and notice a cyclist ahead on what looks to be a serious tourer. Catching up wasn't easy but when I eventually pull alongside at a crossing, I see that this is a lady of some mature years. I comment that it looks as if she is on a long journey. She replies that she is just going to the shops! We rode together for no more than five minutes, but she had the time to tell me that she and her husband just completed a ride aoround Spain and Portugal. She asks too if I have done the Trans-America or the Seattle to Fairbanls rides, saying how much she enjoyed them. Hmmmm... these are not good seeds to be sowing!
As on Sunday, the 60 odd kl ride isn't all that long but I enjoyed the lovely coastal scenery from time to time when the rain stopped and bright sunshine made a brief appearance. There were some decent hills but also greater descents. I arrived at Cardigan a little after 1400 and don't want to interfere with the schedule of Rector and PP Fr Jason Jones of Our Lady of the Taper Church. After a cruise around this lovely town, where 73% of the population speak Welsh as their first language, I escape from the misty rain and indulge in a comfort-food lunch - steak and kidney pie at a cafe that brings happy memories of the Laughing Halibut, one of the best fish n chip shops I know, but one that is just a five minute walk from Westminster! Midway through the meal, a chap comes up and says "You made it as far as Cardigan then?" This turns out to be Patrick Flower who was at mass on Sunday evening in Milford! Small world!
Our Lady of the Taper is the National Shrine of Wales and I'm privileged to be staying here tonight. I meet Fr Jones with Fr JJ and Also Martin Foley, AoS National Director who is taking driving duties for the next day or so. Fr Jones invites us to have a photo taken at the shrine and includes the bike as well. This has to be the most spiritually enriched pushbike ever built - which probably explains why it is just so comfortable!
Many thanks Fr Jason for such a warm welcome.

27 September 2010

Milford Haven, Pembroke and Chevron

A second rest day in four is a real luxury but Milford is a major tanker port and I am keen to visit a ship. Fr JJ has a full programme for me. We enjoy a "Full Welsh" before heading to St Fancis of Assisi School and a talk to the children. This is the second occasion where I've had this opportunity and it's such a pleasure. I asked "How many of you have bikes?" Almost 100% of hands shot up. I follow "How many of you wear helmets?" The number of raised hands falls sharply. I sagely advised them to always wear helmets.

I've suffered the indignity of falling of on several occasions and each time, felt the impact of my helmet hitting the ground. On one occasion I was using my knobbly-tyred Marin through a nearby wood at home and hit a brick that resulted in a spectacular catapult over the handlebars and a painful landing into thick black mud. Again there was a crack on the helmet but my head felt fine. A pain in the chest, but all else seemed ok until I looked at my right hand and saw that the little finger on the right hand was lying at a 45 degree angle! I was able to slowly ride the couple of miles home. When Maria greeted me at the door, she saw the sight of my finger and let out a horrified squeal. She then looked at the mud that covered me, and said "I dont want to sound unsympathetic, but I just washed the floor. Will you take your shoes off!"

Fr JJ drove me to Pembroke where we met with Fr Noel who has been standing in at St Mary's for the resident preist, Fr Patrick, who is away. We had a really interesting meeting with PJ and Judy, who run the Charlton Hotel and which houses the AoS centre. These kindly people are 100% c9mmitted to offering seafarers a welcome respite from their ships and much of the conversation revolves around the rota for driving the AoS mini-bus to the Chevron terminal close to Angle. This is a 30 minute drive each way. Currently only two drivers regularly volunteer for this duty and I am in awe that they do this 24/7 and pretty much on demand f0r visiting seafarers. If there are seafarers reading this and who visit Chevron at Milford, you really do need to be grateful for such selfless commitment. For the rest of us, too it is another example of the work of AoS volunteers.
The afternoon concludes with a trip to a ship loading at Chevron. Such an interesting experience to be wearing an AoS reflective jacket and not to be acting in an oil company representative capacity!

The photo shows Fr Noel Mullen with Fr JJ and me.

Carmarthen to Milford Haven

St Mary's Church at Carmarthen is served by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Parish Priest, Fr Monty O'Shea has three visiting priests from the Society who relate stories of their extraordinary work in the Philipines, Thailand and in the Americas. Brother Richard Blaunch works in Bankok and much of his work involves helping girls to escape from the sex trade. He spoke of recently rescuing an 8 year old girl from a brothel.
The car is picked up by Rowel Santos, a good friend of Fr JJ Baustista (AOS port Chaplain at Milford) and Willie arrives in good time, fully refreshed after the rigors of Saturday and he's raring to go. Again we elect to take the A roads. I suppose that at this stage, I'm simply wanting to get to point B as painlessly as possible and am quite willing to forego the scenic lanes. Again, the day is perfect, sunny and calm. We make brisk progress and with such a short 65km ride, arrive at the Milford Haven Marina shortly before 14:00. Our intention was to have a light lunch, but having finished the ride so early, it also being Sunday and for Willie, the end of his stint in harness, a look at the menu templing us with sea food and steak, it's enough to reward ourselves with a good feast! Many thanks Willie for the companionship and for the excellent lunch and conversation.
We rode to St Francis of Assisi Church at 1630 to be given a warm welcome by Fr JJ and Margaret, staunch parishioner who has been seconded for the evening to cook dinner.
I was able to make a short presentatiom after mass to a full church. It is great to see so many younsters there and also so pleasing to receive such generous donations to AOS.
Dinner at the presbytery was a lively affair, we being joined by Fr Noel Mullen, mentor to Fr JJ, ex Chaplain to the Navy, and former Whitehaven RFC player. Noel would definitely be the man to have on your side in the event of a fight!
Two hearty meals within five hours doesn't phase me a bit, and the prospect of another rest day tommorrow is a happy thought to take to bed!

25 September 2010

Cardiff to Carmarthen

When I was planning each daily ride, many months ago, I'm not sure whether I was getting fed up with all the turn by turn directions, or just in a hurry to see the miles eaten up, but looking at the route, again I am dismayed that we are facing a 70+ miler with some substantial climbing.
The good news is that unlike Thursday's rain and yesterday's blustery and overcast weather, today it is forecast to be cool but clear, with winds from the North at 12-15kts. Roisin tucks Uinseann into his pram giving his new winter coat its first outing, and we walk to the Cathederal where we are to meet Willie Austin who is to ride wirth me today.
Uinseann is suffering from a bit of a cold and sneezed several times during my stay. On one occasion the results were of a considerable magnitude and I was reminded of an expression I always liked when our kids were small and had runny noses. The instruction to get out their handkerchiefs was "Quench the candle!" It has to be said that Uinseann added a new dimension to the expression "Candle power!"
We are greeted at the steps of the Cathederal by Willie, really looking the part, and Brian and Anne Roberts, friends of Willie and from my days with OCIMF. It was kind of them to come along to wave us off.
Willie studied in Cardiff so again provided local knowledge to see us out of the city centre and out onto the A48. We elected to stick to the A48 as far as Swansea and then follow the coastal route. Although this added the miles, it avoided the hills. I have mentioned before the grind of A roads, but unlike those in Cornwall, the A48 supplements the M4 which means that traffic is much lighter. The normal routine on my rides attempts to get in one third before a coffee break, a further third before a lunch stop and thus leaving just the final third to complete in the afternoon. The absence of cafes along the A48 however, means that we are running to the 2hr mark before we arrive at Pyle and find a cafe. I find some amusement at the name and reflect for a moment on at least one of the possible and uncomfortable misfortunes that can befall a long-distance cyclist!
The trip through Swansea was a real pleasure, when, as we were pondering our options on entering the City, Willie asked a young mountain biker for advice. This led us to a spendid trip through the marina, sea front and a woodland ride that encompassed the entire southern and western areas. All of this in full sunshine and brilliant sea views out to the Mumbles. Although it was cool, the Saturday crowd were out in force.
The trip via Llanelli and Kidwelly was taking us well into the afternoon and prospects of reaching St Mary's Carmarthen in time for the 1730 mass werent looking good. The wind strengthened from the North and hills which we had largely escaped thusfar, started to be felt.
In spite of best efforts, we missed the start of mass and so weren't able to have the anticipated talk to the congregation. The welcome cup of tea and biscuits, however, at the presbytery was, as always, the best drink of the day! Many thanks to PP Fr Morty O'Shea for putting me up at your warm and welcoming presbytery and also for the stimulating companionship of your visiting clergy. Thanks too to Monica Oliver for your chilli!

24 September 2010


It's amusing that no matter where you are in these islands, you are going to be sure to know the country that you are in by looking at the breakfast menu, be it full Irish, full English, full Scotish or Full Welsh. Today at an Irish home in Cardiff, its a Full Irish. It feels a bit illicit - but delicious nontheless. Added to that, Vinny's precious stash of Dunne's white pudding is brought out as a special treat. Vinny is in his final year at Cardiff Uni, studying for a Master's in Chiropractice and gives me a load of useful tips for stretching before and after riding that will ease the agonising leg muscle cramps that have me on my knees for all the wrong reasons in the middle of the night! Thanks Vinny!

The rest day is very welcome and the only official duty is to meet AoS Cruise Chaplain Fr Ray O'Shea and Ship Visitor Joe Callan at Cardiff Cathederal. I donned the lycra and we walk to the Cathederal. Fr O'Shea encourages me to wheel the bike to the front of the church for the photos and I wonder how many times that has happened? A chat with Joe about ship visiting and the on-board conditions he encounters reminds me how thoroughly unpleasant is life today at sea. During my brief career as a ship inspector, I was constantly struck that there seemed to be so little enjoyment in the job. When sitting in Masters' offices I'd frequently think that there would be a ready market among seafarers for the sale of "Reverse Calendars". By this I mean that every passing date was overwritten with a reducing number, counting down the number of days until pay-off. How sad to wish your life away like this.

I always intended that this trip would not be obsessively concerned about diet or absence of alcohol and Vinny's invitation to have a pint or two of Brain's was welcome, as was the pizza that followed! Many thanks Roisin and Vinny for such an enjoyable stay.

Bridgwater to Cardiff

The Severn Bridge.

If I needed any reminder that this ride was not going to be a picnic, it came today! The hearty full English breakfast at the Maltshovel was eaten without haste and for some reason, I am expecting an easy day. I'm still positive about riding the Cheddar Gorge and head from Bridgwater on very familiar roads that were along the LeJO'G route in 2007. Unfortunately I failed to ride into the centre of Cheddar and missed the scenic road to the Gorge. A big mistake! Instead, I took the A371 (The sign post stated Cheddar Gorge) but only afater climbing for a couple of miles did I realise that something was wrong and that I was on the road to Wells.

The lack of a reliable GPS has an upside. One of the personal successes of the ride is that I am overcoming that terrible male phobia - asking for directions! If you are unsure as to where you are heading on a bike, you just don't trust to luck! The demoralising realisation of having ridden for many miles along the wrong road and having to retrace your track is devastating! Looking at the map, I see that if I make a left turn then I can reach the top of the Gorge without having to return to Cheddar. I confirm this with a local who simply says "It's a bit of a climb, mind" I soon realise that this gentleman is a master of understatement! An impossible gradient and I'm soon reduced to walking. The walk is neither pleasant nor easy. There's none of the scenic grandeur of the Gorge itself, and just a gloomy tree-shaded mountain track that seems to go on forever. Whenever the occasional car passes, I reach for the water bottle to pretend that I have just stopped for a drink! Pathetic!!

I regain the road towards Compton Martin having missed the great views along the Gorge itself and am feeling none to pleased. I had also overlooked that there isn't just the Cheddar Gorge climb to deal with here in the Mendips. I've lost the best part of an hour at this point and my ETA at Cardiff, optimistically given to Roisin Kavanagh, great family friend and host for tonight, as 1500hrs is already blown away.

As yesterday, it is neseccary to return to Bridgwater at some stage to collect the car, and so I want to make it to Cardiff as early as possible, with Vinny Pippet, Roisin's husband driving me back to Bridgwater. The luxury of coffee and lunch is therefore discounted as time hurries on. Not only do I regret the decision to ride the Cheddar Gorge, I'm kicking myself for setting more than 70 miles for today's ride. The redeeming moments come around Blagden when I encounter the beautiful church and just prior to that, stop to take in the glorious vista of the entire Bristol Channel estuary and the south Wales coast beyond. It all looks so close...
The rain that has largely stayed away for nearly three weeks decides enough is enough and a series of heavy showers ensure that the water-resistance of my clothing is tested - and found to be lacking! To ensure that I'm not going to get lost, I decide to take the A4 and A403 to the Severn Bridge crossing. For a busy road, it isn't bad, with good cycle tracks and the sight of the muddy sweep of the river Avon and of the Suspension Bidge adds plenty of interest. Crossing the Severn Bridge marks another major milestone but even though the the sun is shining, I trundle across without elation. I feel listless, my feet are heavy and there is a strong westerly that buffets the bike.

I must have missed the cycle track sign post on leaving the bridge as I end up on a rough track going nowhere. I notice that the main road is not too far however, so carry the bike across a muddy field and up a steep bank. The road, unfortunately, is the M4 - not welcoming to cyclists! The access roundabout however is just a few hundred metres back so I walk to regain the A466 and then dog's leg to get to the A48 and head west. The showery rain again descends to further dampen my spirits and checking with Google Maps on the Iphone, I'm depressed to see that my Cardiff destination is still more than 30 miles away. The time is 1700hrs. I am wet, tired and wish I could find a Costa! Throughout last week, heading towards Land's End, the winds were fairly consistantly from the SW. Turning the corner at Land's End on Sunday has provided a great push from the same winds for the last three days. The tables suddenly turn again, and I head towards the evening sun and into the same strong Southwesterlies for the rest of the ride.

I arrived at Roisin's to be greeted with hugs and the warm Irish welcome, and was reminded of the line in that great Irish song, Come to the Hills, where it goes "...and the cares of tomorrow must wait til this day is done."

22 September 2010

Bideford to Bridgwater

I had a great stay with Michael and Jenny. Thanks for the excellent dinner, the craic and the donation. Again I wonder that these wonderful AoS supporters who are already doing so much for seafarers, continue to give so generously.
The logistics of moving the car hit a problem this AM and I had to drive my car in convoy with Michael and Jenny in excess of 70 miles to the destination at Bridgwater. They then brought me back to Bideford to start the ride. This made for a late start and a long day. No company along today, but Michael was able to offer an interesting route that took in the Tarka Trail from Bideford to Barnstable. After the dreary A30 on Monday I was also happy to again meander down the fairly empty B3227, taking in Swimbridge, South Molton, Bamton and wonderfully exotic sounding Wiveliscombe! I took only one stop on this long afternoon at "That New Place" coffee shop in S Molton for a final scone with jam and clotted cream before leaving this most beautiful but hill-ridden county.

A couple of riders arrived shortly after me and it was like meeting old friends. There is a wonderful bond of comeradarie among cyclists - and I will exclude the "Obsessives" here - that understands and shares the trials and enjoyment of this great machine. They had just returned from a 30 mile circular tour of Exmoor and were immediately ready with a kind donation to AoS when they learned what I was up to.

The late start resulted in a hard slog with plenty of hills on towards the Somerset border and Taunton, accompanied with the first real rain for mor than a week. I seemed to be skirting the southern edge of the Quantock hills as they seemed a good bit easier than I recall in 2007. After crossing into Somerset the hills disappeared completely and I was able to crack on as evening approached.

I stayed at a welcoming pub, The Maltshovel Inn at Cannington and enjoyed a couple of pints to wash down great liver and mash as I plotted tomorrow's route. Is it the beer that makes me decide to take in the Cheddar Gorge?
The photo shows the Tarka Trail. What a delight.

Bodmin to Bideford

Company again from Bodmin to Bideford. Rob Maher, former farmer, teacher and another John O'Groats veteran who made the ride unsupported on a Dawes complete with front and rear panniers and a tent. Rob directed me along the tree shaded Camel Trail and we enjoyed a very pleasant ride to Bideford. Thanks Rob for the companionship and allowing me to taek all those rests! Thanks too for the contribution. I think about this and this isnt the way it was supposed to be. The idea of having company along for the rides was that the riders, in turn, would attract support from their own cadre of friends and family, not to sponsor themselves! Arriving at Bideford I reported to Micheal and Jenny Gilmour's lovely home overlooking the River Torridge. Michael, with vintage cars in the garage and a vintage Italian bike and frame mounted shifters for early generation Dura Ace Gears led me to the Church of the Sacred Heart to meet Fr Terry O'Donovan and the Welcome Committee. Again and again, I am seeing demonstrations of this kind of support to seafarers by such kindly people. We return to Scared Heart for mass. Thanks Fr Terry and the parishioners of Sacred Heart for making it very special and for such generous contributions. This is definitely NOT a parish that needs reminding of the work of AoS.
The photo shows Keith and Judy Lindsell prior to departure to Bideford

21 September 2010

Hayle to Bodmin

The pleasure of having companionship for almost all of the past week has provided both interesting conversation and local knowledge to navigate interesting routes. Today I am on my own and look at the map to plan for the next stop, Bodmin, without interest. Having ridden Land's End to John O'Groats in 2007, on an organised ride led by a bit of a sadistic leader who most definitely sought the toughest hills he could find, I can do without the switchbacks along the N coast, so decide to take the easy option of the A30. It's direct, relatively flat and there is no chance of navigation errors. The downside of course is that it's boring and the trip is unmemorable.

I focus 100% of concentration on staying within the 2ft wide relative sanctuary between the white line and the grass verge, looking for loose gravel or the glint of broken glass and avoiding the draft as trucks roar by. There is little incentive to stop on such a busy road, and although the distant views are enticing, I just want to get this stage over and make good progress with the luxury of the following wind. I'm fortunate that Brian Cassidy, AoS port Chaplain for Fowey, Falmouth and Truro who has handled the complicated logistics of moving the car from place to place with amazing and unflappable ease for the past five days, passes me and waves just as I am approaching Bodmin. He slows down to keep in sight and I'm piloted to the Bodmin Parish Centre at St Mary's, welcomed by balloons and the best cuppa of the day!

Keith and Judy Lindsell are my hosts for the night at their lovely horse farm. The sight of Indonesian memorabilia, gongs, gamalan, carved ducks, all similar to those which Maria and I collected during our stay in Jakarta in the 1980's, quickly tell me that we've plenty to talk about! Much of the evening therefore was spent reminiscing about our travels. I thought that I had done a fair bit of that but these two make me feel like a stay-at-home! Many thanks to both of you for such a warm welcome. Salamat Tingall!

The picture shows Gabrielle O'Connor, Secretary/Admin at the Centre, Andrew and Carol (from Bradford) who drove my car to Bideford and Sylvia and Brian Cassidy. It was a pleasure to meet you all.

19 September 2010

Truro to Hayle (Via Land's End)

Phillip Austin, nephew of Willie Austin who has been a fantastic supporter of all of the rides that I have participated in, joins Rachael and me at St Perin's for a 09:00 start. Phillip is another keen athlete and showed us great lanes and views as we headed SW to rendezvous with the second key milestone of the ride, Land's End. We faced a stiffish SW wind throught the morning and were thwarted on three occasions when we tried to find a coffee stop. We did think that we'd succeeded at the Crown Inn, a pretty looking pub in Leedstown where we arrived at 11:45 to find the door open and staff behind the bar. Whether it was the sight of the lycra, or the fact that the landlord might have had a heavy night, I don't know, but refusing to serve us a cup of cofffee because he didn't open until 12:00 seemed a bit churlish. We are eventually able to find coffee and the obligatory cakes at Marizion a few miles down the road and take in the amazing views across the bay to St Micheal's Mount. Why we are so impressed with these sights I'm not sure. Perhaps it's that we have worked hard to reach them and not simply taken a spin in the car.
The wind is freshening all the time as we leave Penzance but the threatening black clouds pass harmlessly to the south. Phillip is another kindly cyclist who insists on taking the lead for most of the ride. Rachael, on my back-up Trek is riding as if she has done this all her life. This morning I was showing her how to work Shimano gear shifters and now she's tireless! We pass through Penzance, amazed at the skills of the kite-boarders who are streaking across the bay. The anticipation of arriving at Land's End is mounting and for a lot of cyclists we see who are kitted out with touring bikes and panniers, this must represent the end of their ride from John O'Groats. What a pity that the Dr Who and other tacky attractions await them. The signpost at Land's End must be among the most famous in the World and to prove that we've actually been here, I shell out the 11 quid for the picture thinking that this might be one that I actually get around to framing!
Lunch at the Land's End hotel followed, but Phillip is limping with a sore knee. Phillip, I dont know how you managed to carry on with that pain, but thanks for being such a great guide and interesting companion. Not least, thanks to Karen and yourself for the Seawheeling donation too. Not only do you give up your Sunday, you help the cause as well. Many thanks!
Arriving at the Convent of St Mary in Hayle, we are greeted by Sr Imelda whp leads us to the cottage next to the convent which is used to house visitors. I cant believe how fortunate I am to be provided with such great accommodation. We all share a welcome cuppa before Phillip and Karen head home and I take Rachael to the train for her return trip to London. Many thanks for coming along Rachael.

18 September 2010

Tor Point to Truro

Ann's husband Peter gave up his Saturday to drive me to Tor Point, and onto the Ferry where we said goodbye. Peter continued on to deliver the car to our next stop, Our Lady of the Portal and St Perin, in Truro and then take the train home. Many thanks Peter.
The day's ride can be described only as superb. Lots of steepish climbs were followed by fast descents. On one of the latter, when coming into the village of Looe, I spotted an extraordinary sight. Outside the Globe pub, at least 40 morris dancers were rattling bells, clashing sticks and beer tankards. The time was 10:40 AM! I had absolutely no hesitaion in stopping to enjoy such a uniquely English ritual in one of the country's most beautiful villages and on such a wonderful day. Watching this, listening to the sound of the accordian, and a fine old saying comes to mind "Contentment is wealth!" Polperro follows and the hills as well. I can only say that they were worth it. Another treat in crossing to Fowey on the Bodinnick ferry, but after leaving Fowey, the scenic part of the day came to an end when I returned to the A380 for the final 18 or so mile push into Truro. I met Rachael Davidson at Truro station. Rachael is another big-hearted AoS supporter who has given up her weekend to travel from London to Truro and join me for the ride to Hayle via Land's End. We were given the privilege of attending mass at Our Lady of the Portal and St Perin. whatever esle Rachael was expecting when she left London, collecting donations for Seawheeling after mass probably wasn't high on the list! AOS will be delighted at the generosity of the St Perin's congregation. The kindness of Fr Gilmour McDermott in allowing me to stay at the presbytery is another example of this friendly parish. In addition, we were treated to an outstanding dinner courtesy of Mary Scanlon. Mary is part time Matron at Charterhouse school. The boys there are lucky! Overall, a memorable day in so many ways. In the photo, Rachael, Fr Peter Stone who said mass, and me.

17 September 2010

Teignmouth to Saltash

Ann took me to the Teignmouth Seafarers Centre at Teignmouth on Thursday evening. Small it is, but it's just like going into your living room and is just as homely. It is easy to see why seafarers enjoy this respite from the confines of their ships. Newspapers of many languages are stacked in orderly piles and a clothes rack providing all sorts of attire offers a "If it fits and you need it, take it" policy. Ann tells me that seafarers, particularly from Asia, are often to be seeen in the depths of winter wearing completely inappropriate clothes and really welcome these. Of course no seafarers centre is complete without the essential wooly hats - knitting product of so many kind volunteers!

It's good to be back on the road on Friday and even more so as its another warm and sunny day in Devon, Glorious Devon! What a pleasure to again have company. Ann Donnelly and shipping agent, Dave (? sorry Dave, I missed your family name) come along and steer me through narrow lanes and hidden villages that are a delight. As on Wednesday, the hills are many and some are steep, but they are fairly short and, as Ann, a very fit marathon runner tells me, hills need to be embraced! Dave, another extremely fit athlete, biker and surfer is generous enough not to leave me in the dirt, and Ann, concerned to tell us that "I might not make it to Plymouth" frequently leaves us both behind. We rode to the Cattedown terminal, operated by James Fisher, whose name is very familiar to me in the tanker world and met manager Mark Landry whose enthusiasm for Seawheeling is infectious. Unfortunately no tankers were alongside as it would have been great to have a chance to meet the crew and get their take on ship inspectors! We rounded the port via the SW Coastal path enjoying the spectacular views. A visit to Victoria Dock and to the AOS Centre follows where we meet the terminal manager and enjoy a welcome cuppa. The sign on the office door still holds the name of former SW Region port chaplain, Louise Carter and current AoS trustee, who is clearly held in great affection by all I meet around these parts. It is wonderful that the Victoria Docks Management make these excellent premises available to visiting seafarers.
In view of the wonderful weather, we decide to push for a few miles as far as Saltash and make progress across the border into Cornwall. The Taymar and Brunel Bridges are so impressive and we concluded the ride with a glass of juice at a riverside pub. Ann drove us back to Teignmouth for yet another fine meal. Ann and Peter, you have been so generous in permitting me to stay with you for three nights. You will certainly be glad to see me go tomorrow. Many, many thanks for your grreat hospitality.

16 September 2010


While in Weymouth, I received a call from Allen Fitzgerald who reminded me that he was at the Hull send-off and had mentioned that he would be on holiday in Devon around the same time that I would be passing. It was such a pleasure to meet Allen and his family in Teignmouth where I am staying at the home of AoS port Chaplain Ann Donnelly. Allen lives in Beverley and is a champion AoS supporter, spending hours outside of Tesco with his 90 year-old friend Robert, shaking the AoS bucket for Sea Sunday. This year he, Robert and Ann McLaren raised over £500 at Tesco alone. The matter-of-fact and unasssuming way that these efforts are conducted is so heartening. Many thanks for taking the trouble to see me Allen.

15 September 2010

Weymouth to Exeter

I was again pleased to have company for the ride to Exeter and John Hughes, who had completed the gruelling Pyranees ride over the Tormalet and Aspin mountains only four days before, still found the energy to turn out to help me on what I'm sure is going to be the first of the hilly days. The weather appears to alternate betweeen sunny and miserable and we enjoyed warm sunshine again. The wind, although still from the SW was much lighter than on Tuesday. The hills were another matter, coming thick, fast and long! The elation of hitting 60k/hr switches to bottom gear and a crawl in about 5 seconds, but the sea views, Chesil Beach, Lyme Regis and overall beautiful scenery along the entire way compensate fullly.

Our planned lunch at Lyme Regis didn't materialise due to the large numbers of visitors and this encouraged us to tackle the steep ascent out of this lovely town to the quieter surroundings at Colyford, just north of Seaton.

A pleasing conclusion to the hard day was that our ETA was spot on (Something that I rarely managed when I was second mate!) and we were met at Exeter Station by Kathy Hughes and SW Area port Chaplain Ann Donnelly. It was with mixed feeings that I saw that Ann was dressed in cycling gear and with her bike. I was able to get over the unwelcome prospect of again getting on mine after thinking "Thank heavens that's over!" when Ann told me that the car was at Exeter Uni where she is a lecturer in clincal skills to Medical students. "It's just five minutes away" she promised. We said goodbye to John and Kathy. looking forward to our next meeting when John will do the final stage from Bridlington to Hull on 11 November.

We drove to Ann and Peter's lovely home near to Teignmouth and I'm not sure how Ann did it, but within minutes we were munching excellent pasta. The highlight of the day was to visit the church of Our Lady and St Patrick in Teignmouth where I was privileged to meet Fr Johnathan Stewart and Sandra Hancock, both hugely committed AoS supporters. It was very significant event. Thanks so much.

Total Dist: 95 Km

St time 5.55 hrs

Spd: 17.5 k/hr


I have mentioned before, the feeling of elation that comes at the end of the day's ride and after this one, it was such a pleasure to arrive at the Pavillion and to be greeted by clergy and AoS supporters. Thanks so much for turning out. Andy needed to return to Southampton and after the quick refreshing cuppa, rode back to the station and home. Thanks Andy for your great companionship for the two days and encouragement since way back in April.

I spent the night at the home of Joe Peterson, AoS supporter and a genial Mancunion who was called to the South many years ago, great cook and walker extrordinaire. I was amazed to learn that Joe had walked/camped from John O' Groats to Portland, the Santiago de Compostela pilrimage trail and incredibly from the UK to Rome. What feats! Thanks Joe (seated centre above) for giving me such a fine evening. Sorry I wasn't able to accpt the offer of the GnT but I will when we meet again!

Southampton to Weymouth

An interesting and "character-building" day lies ahead, but starts on a sad note, with Salvina and Candice passing the baton (AKA car key) to Sheila Bailey, AoS Fundraining Director who will drive the car as far as Exeter. The organisation and detail into which Salvina has put into making things run so smoothly for the entire ride is remarkable. You have both been so kind and ever-supportive. I am looking forward too, to the party afer the ride is over, when a certain person will definitely be encouraged to demonstrate how to gurgle blazing Sambukas!!
We left from the Seafarers Centre and again as pilot, Andy led the way out of Southampton and towards the New Forest and Christchurch. We made reasonable progress but the SW wind was increasing. incessant and in our faces for the entire day. Such a pity as the ride provided great and varied scenery. Bournmouth and Millionaires Row - Sandbanks - took us to the chain ferry and across the entrance to Poole Harbour. The wind at this point must have been in excess of 25kts - ever from the southwest. It was interesting to encounter a lady on the ferry who was riding from Bournemouth to Land's End for a charity. The shared experience among cyclists generates comararderie and the three of us chatted like old friends about riding for our charities and the foul weather for all of the 10 minute trip across to the Purbecks.
All of this part of the country is so new to me and the experience of entering Corfe Castle just as a Swanage Railway steam train was pssing over the bridge provided a "Wow, look at that!!" moment after the long morning's slog. Soup in Corfe was very welcome. A bit of a respite from the wind as we headed NW up to Wareham but it attacked us with renewed vigor as we agained turned towards Weymouth. The original ETA of 1530 was never going to be achieved and we eventually rolled towards the Paviliion rendezvous at 1710.
Dist: 106 km
St Time: 5.5hrs
Spd: 19.27 km/hr

14 September 2010

Worthing to Southampton

Andy Dogherty is a local who knows these parts and I was more than happy to let him navigate and lead the way. Andy in fact, ended up leading for 90% of the day which meant that I was able to "draft" and coast behind. Many thanks for doing that Andy, I had an easy day. There was plenty to talk about and we made decent progress. As we passed Butlins at Bognor I remembered that when we lived in Horsham, we took our son John, his 10 year old classmates and the family there for a birthday treat in 1983. There is a funy story that accompanies this but suffice to say, it rekindled happy memories that involved the blinding chlorine from the swimming pool, Optrex and the fact that because it cost £1.05, Maria didn't buy it!
Around Chichester, the odometer was just about to click over the 1000km mark. A cause for some celbration, but it occured to me that this represents approx 23 % of the ride. The Justgiving site however, was showing donations only slightly in excess of 4%. A bit of a depressing comparison which reminded me that we have to get out and shake the tins. There is certainly enough publicity. The Intertanko secretariat were kind enough last week to publish news of the ride in their weekly Members' Newsletter and having literaly hundreds of tanker-owner members, these are just the entities who can push us to the target.
The trip into Southampton was memorable mainly for the first real rain of the trip. We arrived at the Seafarers Centre to be met by Colin and Tracy. For once, Salvina and Candice weren't there to wave us home as they were out ship visiting with Roger Stone, AoS port Chaplain for Southampton. They did arrive shortly after, excited to have been to Fawley, having visited two tankers. I was so pleased as these definitely are my type of ships!!
The Centre laid on a terrific curry dinner and what a pleasure to see such a large contingent of seafarers' supporters come along to share a really good evening. Thanks so much to everyone who turned up. Thanks too to John and Kathy Hughes for putting me up. John, the Centre is such a credit to the efforts you put in to its initial creation and on-going success.

13 September 2010

Hastings to Worthing

Is this the same country? Saturday's wind and dark clouds gave way to a sparking Sunday with varied, interesting riding, some stunning coastal scenery and my first real hills. Following the A259 makes navigation easy along this sector. I swung through Pevensey and Eastbourne expecting a flattish ride. Wrong! Leaving Eastbourne provided a long climb and I'm starting to wish that I'd not been persuaded by Condor to fit double compact rings instead of getting the triple I wanted. On triple rings the lowest is often, and disparagingly, referred to as "the granny gear." I was grinding up the hill, running out of steam and of gears, with the summit nowhere in sight when I saw a bench facing back to the East. The views down to Eastbourne and the Channel were enough to tell me that this was all the reason I needed to have a rest - exhaustion wasn't a factor, of course ;-). The bench, the views, the warm sun, bike helmet as a very comfortable pillow and a 15 minute snooze! It doesn't get much better...

The views along the road towards Brighton are stunning and plenty of Sunday riders were out and about. Cycle paths are all very well but in many cases, they are badly swept and the sight of grit and glass will disuade cyclists from using them. Those along the A259 were a delight and I was happy to follow them. What I didn't expect was for them to lead me into a traffic jam! These parts are foreign to me and coming towards the Brighton sea front I encountered wall-to-wall people and thousands of bikers of the other variety! Leather, Harleys. Led Zepplin. long grey beards, pony tails, tatoos, the smell of engine oil is everywhere and a carnival atmosphere prevails. I noted at the centre of the throng, large banners proclaiming that this is the Brighton Burn-Up. Such a passion.
Arrival into Worthing and I was astonished at the reception, with so many AOS supporters there to welcome me. Many thanks to Raymond for announcing the arrival in the bulletin. That was very thoughtful. The kind donation that we received from Andrew, owner of the Sunney Cafe where we had tea and cakes was both generous and welcome. To Bryan and Jayne Lock; having us all for dinner was such a great pleasure. You were exceptional hosts and your faith is inspirational.
I stayed at the home of Paul and Claire Chalmers and for the first time in years, rode in an open top MG. Happy memories for Maria and me from our sports car days! Thanks to you both and sorry for gorgetting to take with me, the pocket compass that you so kindly offered to lend me.
Thanks to all at Worthing for such a warm welcome. It was a great stay.

12 September 2010

Canterbury to Hastings

A day that should have been memorable for reaching the south eastern corner of the UK seems to have been anytihng but. All started well enough and after saying goodbye to Dan and Val, I freewheeeled down into Canterbury and spent all of 15 minutes cruising round the Cathederal and ancient streets before getting back into the pace. Surely this is just a taster for a real trip!

The loss of the Garmin has significant consequences as, unless I stop frequently to check the map, I need to keep to major roads. Again, I am on a schedule to reach Hastings in time to say a few words after the 1800 mass so need to crack on. The A2 into Dover was memorable as Andy Dogherty, (who is to join the ride on Monday in Worthing), John Hughes and I, rode the final few miles into Dover along the A2 when we rode on our first big biking adventure, The Mission to Seafarer's Tour Pour La Mer ride, in 2006. At least the traffic on this occasion was lighter, but the expected exhillarating 1.5 mile ride down Jubilee Way into the docks didn't materialise due to very strong head winds. The result was a hasty snap of the cliffs and then out of Dover and up the A20 towardes Folkstone, where I planned a coffee break.

The A20 out of Dover is a nightmare for a cyclist. A long grinding hill, juggernauts passing at speed and a lack of hard shoulder all make for a depressing ride. Add the wretched head wind and to compound that, a puncture as well, and my misery was complete :-( I was able to get away from the road by climbing the grass banking to a refuge at the concrete base of a large sign post, change the tube and resume the climb feeling none too happy.

Leaving the A20 into Fokstone was a relief, but the head wind remained with me for the entire day. Losing time to fix the flat, I skipped the coffee break and made up time until encountering a bike shop-cum-cafe. With soup on the menu, I ordered this and then went across to the bike section to buy a new tube. As you do, I fell into an intersting bike conversation with the owner, and when I returned to the cafe, the soup I'd ordered 15 minutes previously was lying on a table. The kindly girl at the counter asked as to whether it might be cold, and if I would like it warmed up. Of course I agreed, but was taken aback when her technique for warming it was to add boiling water! Sorry she said, we dont have a microwave! Oh well, at least it was hot...

The ever-reliable reception committee in Hastings - Salvina and her daughter, Candice - was waiting on arrival and the Seawheeling banner up to announce this memorable event. A quick hot drink and then off to the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, for the vigil mass. Many thanks to Fr O'Brian for giving us this opportunity and for the parishioners for their kind contributions.

My host in Worthing was Elizabeth McReadie, but this kind hearted lady needed to be away. Nevertheless, she put me in the capable hands of her son John, who was a gracious host. He did, however, recommend that we might prefer to eat out and so we took in large helpings of pasta at a local Italian. A very pleasant end to a tough day.

11 September 2010


I spent the night at the home of Dan and Val Mulcahy. Both extraordinarily kind and generous people. Again I am reminded just how fortunatel AOS are in having port Chaplains like Dan and of any patient who is fortunate enough to be cared for by Val. Your Alaskan Salmon pie was great as was the conversation. Dan took me for a quick tour of Whitstable and I was reminded of how different is the kind of shiping that calls to small sorts such as this, as compared to the tankers that I am used to. Many, many thanks to both of you for such a great stay!

Enfield to Canterbury

My appreciation for the hospitality shown throughout the journey seems to have dried up at Enfield. No offence Suzanne, you know what its like when its family :-)
A trip down memory lane as I took the Lea Navigation route into London. Always a joy during summer months when I was riding into Central London every day, it again reminded me how refreshing this area is, only yards away from the crowded suburbs of Walthamstowe and Hackney as sights of heron, foxes, rabbits, boats and rowers are commonplace. The milestone of crossing the Thames at Tower Bridge gave a brief moment of satisfaction before car-dodging again consumed 100% concentration. The sprawl of London seemed to continue endlessly and with my confidence in the Garmin GPC at zero, ( it is utterly useless as a navigation device BTW) I was not able to use those side road routes that I'd spent so many hours preparing. Another happy moment when I stopped to check the map outside the Cosmopolitan Pub at Northfleet. Stewart Hylands, who works there asked if I needed directions. His immediate reaction after learning about Seawheeling was to open his wallet and hand over a kind donation. As the ad says...for everything else, there's Mastercard :-)
I needed to arrive at Rough Common by 1615 to meet Daniel Mulcahy, AOS Chaplain for Medway ports so cracked on without a longer lunch break. It was pleasing to be there in time and to see Dan's AOS care parked half way up the very steep hill approaching the rendezvous. This of course gave me the perfect excuse not to continue to the top! The local SVP contingent very kindly came out to greet me and I was so pleased to be able to ride with Winston Waller and Carolyn Helman as far as the Franciscan Study Centre where we were so warmly greeted by Friars, Clergy and AOS supporters. (See pic)

The first rest day

My intention on the first rest day was twofold. First, the new bike was due to have its bedding-in service at Condor, who are based in London and second, I was hoping to get the opportunity to visit the offices of shipping companies and asscociated service companies. The former was accomplished easily enough, but efforts to find anyone who would welcome a tin-rattler were fruitless. Landlords who dont permit charity callers, company policies that dont permit strangers into the working areas all were wheeled out to justify saying "Sorry but..." Quite depressing, as was my visit to HQS Wellington, home of the Honorable Company of Master Mariners of which I am a member. Timing my arrrival to coincide with the start of a Wardens' meeting wasnt great, but I might have been better received had I been selling the Big Issue. Depressing.
On a much brighter note, having the opportunity to visit AOS and catch up with events gives renewed hope. Volunteers (See pic) who were immersed in the stuffing of envelopes to AOS supporters - 14,000 in total - gave me a generous welcome. It's worth mentioning that some of these lovely people who have a genuine care for the welfare of seafarers even braved the ordeal of the London tube strike to come in to HQ.

Chelmsford to Enfield

Salvina assumes control and we say farewell to John and Ann Holland. It was a real pleasure to meet you, the warmth of your your hospitality and the full Irish complete with BOTH black and white pudding was such a great tonic!
Another meandering ride due largely to faulty navigation on my part and the initially estimated 48 km ends up as 72! The final dozen or so Km into Enfield was unavoidably along busy roads and Rebecca, you did amazingly well for all three days, not only to keep up a good pace, but also to put up with my rubbish navigation! Sorry too, about your tyre. When I offered to blow it up at Enfield, it wasn't supposed to be literally that! :-)
Dist 72 Km
St Time 3,3 hrs
Spd 22.12 K/h

10 September 2010

Felixtowe to Chelmsford

The violent rain and wind that lashed on Monday night promised a really miserable ride, but Tuesday dawned fine, clear and with only a gentle breeze. More VIP hospitality at the home of Lindsay and Marisa Gillespie. Their son. Oliver, seemed pleased that I had stayed for the perfectly good reason that a full English was on the table! Thanks so much to Lindsay and Marisa for your kindness and Marisa, for finding time in addition to caring for your family and four sons, to be able to visit seafarers too.
A further twist to the saga of Rebecca's suitcase emerged when it was revealed that Angie and Nigel Getting's son James actuallly cycled 2 miles in order collect it - not expecting that this was no overnight bag and not readily carried on a bike crossbar! The unanswered question of course, was what on earth was in it to make so heavy!
Picking up Rebecca at her B&B, we retraced our steps back to the Seafarers Centre. To maintain the integrity of the ride, it is important that the completion point of the previous day and the start poin the following morning are the same. Taking the foot ferry from Felixtowe to Harwich would save us at least 10 miles, but when Rebecca called on Monday night to reconfirm our reservation, she was told that the bad weather might mean a cancellation. We were pleased therefore to see that it was operating normally.
Interestingly, we passedf the MINAS Navigation Service vessel Relume moored at Harwich, of interest perhaps my old friend and amazing cyclist, John Hughes. On Monday, John texted me from the Pyranees to say that he had just conquered the Tormalet and Aspin, two of the toughest cols in the Tour de France. In comparison, my efforts look puny.

Avoiding the A12 resulted in a meandering trip towards Chelmsford. This, and a series of navigation errors, (none of which can be blamed on Garmin BTW) added to our journey, but the flat terrain and pleasant weather made it an enjoyable ride. The proximity of Tiptree allowed us to take a detour and we were pleased to unexpectedly stumble on the famous Wilkins Jam factory where we enjoyed a sandwich lunch along with bus-loads of seniors who obviously like the jam.

Rendezvous-ing with Sr Marian just outside Great Baddow, we were soon arriving at the home of John and Ann Holland, hosts for the night. They gave us a great welcome, but this celebrity treatment needs to stop! We had an excellent dinner with John, Ann and their daughter Hannah, all accompanied by excellent craic, with tales of loss of balance and keys in the sand causing great hilarity!!
Sr Marian heaved a great sigh as she relinquished responsibility for me and she returned to Ipswich by train. It was a huge pleasure to see the rapport that Marian has with everyone she meets. What a credit to AOS! Many thanks Marian for your companionship, humour and support.
Dist: 89 KM
St Time: 4.6
Spd: 19.35 k/h


After meeting Anita Mazur, long time helper at the Felixtowe Seafarers and Peter Dearsley, Centre Manager, we hastily made our way to obtain passes to enter the docks. Neither simple nor quick. The consequences were that our visit to meet supporters at Harwich had to be cancelled. We we, however able to visit Tor Britannia, a DFDS Ro-Ro that was loading trailers. A great experience and we were greeted warmly by Captain Petersen, officers and ratings, who so obviously knew Sr Marian as a very close friend. A tour of the vessel followed and we were treated to a an Irish style dinner (i.e. enough to feed a regiment) and celebrity treatment as well! Thank you, all on Tor Britannia and DFDS, for such warm hospitality.

09 September 2010

Lowestoft to Felixtowe

In addition to their warm hospitality, Chris and Janet presented us with a generous donation as well. You are both very kind and Chris, another testament to the good work of the Knights. After two days riding solo, it was good to have company. Rebecca brought good fortune after the head winds on Sunday, with more sunshine but the wind having shifted to the North, provided a welcome following wind for the entire day.
St Time 3:36
Dist 79 km
Spd 21.85 k/h

Kings Lynn to Lowestoft

A late start and a very strong head wind slowed things down after Saturday's good progress. However, the sun was shining and plenty of enjoyment from from seeing dozens of vintage cars getting their weekly work-out. A pint of J2O and the still-substantial remains from the banquet that Anne had packed for me, served a decent lunch in the company of highly tattooed and pony -tailed bikers - yes, the other kind!
Marian greeted me on arrival into Lowestoft around 1800. She explianed that Chris and Janet Brooks - my hosts for the night - had literally just returned from holiday and that it was a good idea to eat out. It turned out that in Lowestoft this is not as easy as it sounds. After two laps of the town, we decided that KFC was going to be as good as it was going to get. Janet and Chris are genuinely kind people. Marian needed again to get back to Ipswich so this meant leaving with the car and gear on Sunday night. We were having a chat in Janet's living room when I received a text from Rebecca, who was going to join the ride on Monday morning. She asked me to confirm that there was room in the car for her case. Hmmm... Mariam was just about to leave for Ipswich... It took all of five seconds for Janet to offer to drive her car with Rebecca's case all the way to Felixtowe. That is all of 60 miles. It is also the mark of a very kind lady. Janet, thanks so much.
St Time 05:38
Dist 127 Km
Spd 22.48 k/h

Louth to Kings Lynn

Many thanks to Anne and Tim for their kindness for feeding me, puttting me up and helping with running repairs to my so-called hi-tech mudguards. Riding as far as Louth on Friday was definitely a good idea and reduced Saturday's long ride by a good 20-odd miles. Thanks too, to Tom Bourke of Bourke's Cycles in the pretty town of Horncastle. Tom generously gave me a free lesson on the finer points of tuning Campag gears! Another warm and pleasant day cruising though the Eastern Wolds, with Anne's sandwiches and plums gratefully devoured at Sleaford. A long but pleasant afternoon into Norfok, the only downside being my rapidly fading confidence in Garmin at (literally) every turn. You definitely start to loose faith when approaching a turn and see that the arrow is pointing to the right, while the words above say "Turn left"!!! I was pleased to have carved up a motorists pocket road atlas, removing those pages I was not going to need, to save a bit of weight. I get the feeling that those pages are going to be used a lot!
I arrived at Kings Lynn around 1715 and was greeted at the church of The Assumption of Our Lady by Peter Barton of the Knights of St Columba and Sr Marian Davey, AOS port Chaplain for the Haven ports. Marian was to be my "roadie", taking car duties and overall command for the next for days.
The Knights have been so helpful. When I first started thinking about the ride, the very simple plan plan was that Maria would tow our caravan from site to site. A no-fuss, self contained arrangement that needed litttle third party support. The arrival of three grandchildren within the past year, however, meant that this was not going to be possible. In fact, it made me think that the ride just wouldn't work. I have great admiration for those true touring cyclists who pack panniers with tents and geat, but both the huge weight and prospects of camping are just not for this OAP. I definitely need the car.
The work of Sheila Bailey (Fundraising Director) and Salvina Bartholomeusz (Parish Contact Coordinator) at AOS, to find lodgings and handle the logistics of moving the car has beeen nothing short of amazing. The Knights of St Columba are an inspirational group. Moving the car from Hull to Kings Lynn involved Mike Fraser-Townend, Terry Pennock and his wife, Elaine who gave up their weekend to drive their own car in convoy with mine. That was greatly appreciated and thanks to you all.
I was given the opportunity to have a few words after the Saturday evening mass before being substantially fed at the home of Deacon John Belfield and his wife Jane. I stayed at the Church Presbytary and was privileged to be the first to use the newly fitted shower! Many thanks to Fr Peter Rollings and to Fr David Baker for their kindness. Breakfast, again with John and Jane set me up for the day. Speaking after the 0930 mass on Sunday meant a late start and with Sr Marian already having left with the car to Ipswich, cycling gear had to be worn. It's probably true to say that this was the first time that anyone had spoken from the lectern at Holy Family Church dressed in lycra!
Dist 158 km
St Time: 06:48
Av Spd 23.3 k/h

Arrival at Louth

In spite of me leading Tim on a two lap ciruit of Goxhill (courtesy of my state-of- the-art Garmin GPS) he suggested resuming passage after our stop at St Joseph's. We rode at a decent pace for a couple of hours with Tim kindly taking the lion's share of pacemaking and allowing me to draft. A well deserved pint was purchased on arrival at Louth and he must have seen my look of surprise in noting that half the glass was downed in a single gulp. He said David, one thing I need to explain is that my friends call me "Two sips Phipps!" No wonder!! In the bckground is the Church of St. James, with a majestic spire that dominates the surrounding landscape. At 295ft it's the tallest Aglican spire in the UK.
Dist: 98.2 km
Av Spd 18.46 k/h

Visit to Arklow Rock

Officers and ratings from Arklow Rock (The Wicklow contingent will love this one) shared a few tales with us when we stopped to say hello at Immingham.

08 September 2010

St Joseph's School

Children who had returned from holday only the day before still were able to give us a happy welcome at St Joseph's, Cleethorpes. After Tim Phipps and I had ridden into the hall, head teacher, Mrs Pollard said "That's the first time anyone has done that!" Perhaps the last as well, I suspect! :-) The children's questions and prayers were a delight. With such a warm reception, who needs carbs!

Day 1 Hull to Immingham

John Prescott spoke with affection for seafarers and he was on good form with recollections of visits to New York, and of dances at the Stella Maris. Thanking him for his generous donation to Seawheeling, he said, " It's worth it just for having the opportunity to tell a Captain to get on his bike!"

03 September 2010

The Start!

The question though, is exactly from where? It has been a great day with so many highlights, it isn't easy so I'll spit up the posts to cover some of these.

Chronologically the night in Hull was spent at the St Charles presbytery. The very Reverend Canon Michael Loughlin kindly invited me to stay.

BBC Radio Humberside (RH) gave us a live interview around 0900 and Port Chaplain Ann McLaren recorded a piece about her work which will be broadcast on the RH Sunday Breakfast Show. They also ran news of the ride throughout the day.
The sight of number plate KH1 indicated that the Lord Mayor and Admiral of the Humber David Gemmill had arrived, and as the Jaguar cruised in, there were no prizes for guessing who was driving! Really terrific, unscripted and personal tributes to seafarers followed. All under a warm sun! Stacks of photos are still to be posted, but the above shows the "launch" (L to R) Eamonn Delaney (AOS Chairman), yours truly, Lord Prescott, David Gemmill and Tim Phipps.