Day 1 Kimbolton-Gillingham 110m(176km)

The big send-off! The first drops of rain came from the blessing at Buckden Towers at the hands of Fr Chris. It rained holy water!! So the words of the famous Irish blessing came true: ‘may the rain fall softly on your fields (ie bike) and may the winds be ever at your back’. I had a helpful wind almost the entire day. Thank goodness. I won’t make a habit of such high mileages. But thank you to the members of St Hugh’s at Buckden who gave a rousing send off this morning. I could hear the applause as I left the grounds of the Towers.

Royston. My abiding memory is of sitting in a ‘greasy spoon’ surrounded by a dozen pot-bellied compatriots, all tucking into a mid-day Full English Breakfast, and then probably off home to have a three course Sunday lunch. I munched an egg sandwich made with lots of TLC (by Jenny).

I considered popping into the Travellers Friend to correct them on their punctuation, and wondered if they might offer me a free meal in return. Didn’t bother ;0(

Have cycled over several coins in the road, one might have been a £1 coin. Don’t normally do this. By the third, I risked life and limb to rescue it from the traffic. The Haiti Appeal is now 10p better off.

Ermine Way. Following a dead straight Roman road for 25 miles, and heading SE directly towards Rome, has got to be a good omen.

Epping forest. As I entered the forest in brilliant sunshine, I found myself cycling through rivers of rain. I had missed, by a whisker, an almighty downpour. The holy water sprinkling was still the biggest wetting I would get!

Dartford Crossing. The mysteries of getting over the bridge. I had to find an obscure, and very difficult to find, control point, where (I was assured) a friendly man with a car and cycle carrier would pick me up, and take me across the bridge. When I eventually found it, Chris (a local lad) was commuting home from work and waiting for the same lift (which he uses daily), so that gave me some confidence. The serendipities of the journey have already kicked in. Sharing my story briefly with Chris, he valiantly decided to cycle with me and guide me through the warren of roads leading through Gravesend, Rochester and Gillingham, and made sure I knew exactly where the Youth Hostel was, before saying farewell. A real gentleman of the road!

Youth Hostel. Arriving at my destination, gasping for a fix of carbs, I discover that the hostel building had a former life as an Oasthouse, still bearing the marks and images of its former life. Youth Hostels never fail to surprise me. Most are located in old, converted buildings, from hunting lodges to minor stately homes. Cheaper and so much better than a B&B.



About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on August 30, 2010, in Canterbury-Rome 2000kms: a cyclist's tale and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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