I am planning to run /walk /crawl again, this time from John O'Groats down 'South' to St Albans .......... not sure how far i will get but its one heck of a journey!

Monday, 28 June 2010



Well, today has finally come!! I am reaching a place i can call home!! Back to Bishops Stortford where the children live so that is good enough to be HOME!

Breakfast was a rather casual affair with no cooked brekkie as Mondays is the staffs day off! So cereal, milk from the carton and toast was on the menu which didnt take long to get through..... although it had been a warm night, the room had stayed quite cool but my restlessness to get home had kept me up for an hour and a half in the middle of the night so i was still a bit tired when i set off just after 9am....
I began just off the A10 on a lane towards Hay Street and with the sun beating down already at that hour, it was a hot start and i had stupidly forgotten the sunscreen!  (Ooops!)  Mike dropped off my mum when i had 5 miles left to go, around Braughing (famous for their sausages!) and we dodged the cars in the narrow lane, and even a Gordon Ramsay (look-a-like!) in his big blue Jaguar?!

It was so lovely to have mum join me on my final few miles and although they werent the last miles into St Albans, they were the miles that took me to the magic 500 mark and i felt a little inner glow as i passed that big 5-0-0 number.  (Pat on the back Caro! :0)

It was 11.30 by the time we made the final steps into Duchess Close and it almost felt sad to turn off my Garmin for the last time.....i have decided to do my distance between B/S and St Albans when i get my new bike ... now ordered from Rutland Cycling shop and should be with me either tomorrow or Wednesday (yeehaaaa, cant wait!!)  Maybe i will do it one weekend when the weather is nice ....

Mum and i chilled for a while on the patio and it felt a bit odd to be at a loose end where i didnt have to unpack my bag!!!  Mum then left for her home leaving me to shower and go into town with Mike where i bumped into some old friends i hadnt seen for years!! It did feel really odd just wandering around town, not just having to window shop but funnily enough, now that i could buy things, i didnt actually need anything or see anything i wanted! (how does that work!!)

We collected the children from school and made cakes for tea before Mike did a wonduerful celebration BBQ outside on the patio for us all.  It just feels wonderful to be all together again with the children and i cant tell you how much i have missed them all these 5 & a half weeks .....

And just in case any of you are wondering where & when i am planning my next trip to ......???

Well, that would be telling!  (Heehee!!)

Sunday, 27 June 2010



The ‘Penultimate Day’ and boy was it set to be a scorcher with weathermen predicting today to be the hottest day of the year so far!! Well on that note, I was on fire & raring to go but had presumed that the breakfast would be on Sunday service mode and a little on the slow side – wrong! Supersonic service as i was the first down to be served and as a few things had run out, it didnt take long to be ready.

Louisa and Tony arrived around 10am, all ready for marching me on towards Buntingford and Louisa set off at such a pace, it was hard to believe she only had a baby 8 weeks ago! I was almost breathless at the speed but it was great to melt away the miles and before we knew it we had covered off the first 6 miles!

Tony ‘kerb crawled’ next to us (but not in any sordid way of course Mr Dalwood!) supplying us with much needed water, juice and grapes and i think he also got to enjoy a few quiet moments catching up with the Sunday papers in a layby ahead until we caught him up and ate him out of house and car!

At the 6 mile spot it was handover time and he swapped with Louisa to help me over the next 5 miles whilst Louisa disappeared off in a heat haze to visit her relatives who coincidentally were only in the next village!! There was one more handover after Tony’s stint pounding the pavements & country lanes, where Louisa and i shared some ice-cream but before we knew it, we had reached Steeple Morden and it was time to call Time to allow Tony to get back to a house full of guests for the World Cup game!! (I so appreciated their company however so THANK YOU THANK YOU for coming all this way to help me along today!)

They very kindly dropped me at my very LAST B & B location, a beautiful country pub in the very heart of Hertfordshire – the Sword Inn Hand - and i was shown to my lovely room in the garden area, complete with roll top bath and 4 poster bed! I was well in need of a shower by this stage having walked 11 miles in the very heat of the day and enjoyed relaxing away the afternoon whilst the rest of the Country seemed locked in a time wharp as boos and cheers could be heard from the nearby Bar as the match got under way!!

Instead i chilled with ITV2 and ‘Holiday Showdown’ while England seemed to sadly let things slip away and suffered a rather humiliating 4-1 loss to Germany! Oh dear. (Sorry Olivia that we are no longer in the game!)

It seems almost surreal that tomorrow i will reach Bishops Stortford and nearly the end of my nearly 6 week journey ..... it has been full of good (and some bad/terrible up North!) weather, wonderful people and some absolutely amazing countryside and scenery. I am inspired to explore more at a later date and hope my enthusiasm for all things outdoors spills over into my life once i get home, starting with more cycling and the swimming theme i have begun on.... It has also been a bit of a wake up call reminding me that i can do anything i set out to achieve and whilst i may not have reached Lands End on this stint of the journey, i have achieved a tremendous amount in covering over 500 miles so far...... which was exactly what i set out to achieve...

Saturday, 26 June 2010



So excited about today!! I slept really well inspite of the humid night and was counting the seconds down to 11am!  Finally it arrived along with Mike and the children and unfortunately it wasnt the best start as Olivia had already been sick in the car!! 

Not the best thing when we were planning a day at a theme park but she assured me it was just the heat in the car so we let the kids know we were going to Wicksteed Park for the day and they were very pleased as an alternative to trudging the sweltering country lanes with mum!!

We picked up a great picnic first on the way from Tescos and arrived at the Park for around midday.  After getting all kitted out with our wristbands, the children jumped straight on the first ride and it was non stop until be took a break for lunch!  The children were really so excited and it was just like Christmas without the presents or bad weather!

The sun was incredibly hot today so we tried to shelter under some shade for our picnic but the car wasnt very accommodating in providing this so we got back to more rides and whiles away the afternoon until suddenly it was 5.30pm and it was all closing!  Zak is off night fishing tonight so had to get back so Mike dropped me off at Fairlawn B & B in Sandy to an incredibly humid small single room with absoultely no air moving in any corner!

The room did have Wifi and freeview TV however and having been out in the sun all day, it was as much as i could do to lay still on the bed and keep my eyes open to watch it! What a wonderful day with the children and i think i am nearly prepared to getting back to the normal land of the living - lets hope there is a fan in it as this heat is way too much for me!

Friday, 25 June 2010



We were right next door to the Bird Sanctuary so should have really expected to be woken to joyous birdsong but we have become so used to the noise of passing traffic, that is was quite a novel sound to hear at 4.45am!!

Breakfast was quite nice until the 'Wrath of Sue' was released, relating to my comments on her B & B!! Her clear irritations were most unexpected and it seems she had read my Blog & taken exception to my brief review of Forge Cottage and of my own personal opinions on her 4 o'clock access ruling!!  (Instead of embracing it as constructive feedback, she could only see it as extreme criticism unfortunately)  I wanted to suggest putting her forwards for that 'Three in a Bed' Channel 4 programme (no guesses as to which category they would fit into!!) but she was too annoyed & seemed to be missing the point that she has entered into the hospitality industry which is all about customer service and making your guest feel welcome and not like they are intruding and being a nuisance before they had even checked in!!!

She (correctly!) told me it was 'their home' but really if you let people into your home and make it into a business, then at least do it graciously and not with resentment or there is no point!!  I felt like i was getting a right telling off, all before my breakfast had even been digested!  Not terribly palatable, especially after she pointed out the 2 huge favours they had extended by allowing us to leave our luggage before the designated 4pm and that we had been allowed to stay only 1 night when her normal rules stipulate 2 nights minimum!!!

To conclude this matter the place was reasonable to average,  the rules were way too rigid and the Jekyll & Hyde character which was displayed to us, all a bit unnerving but the location was a plus, the cleanliness good and if you can stick the rules, it should suit you down to the ground! Oh, and after all that she did donate £10 to Grove House so Sue, you are a little star after all! :0\  (And if she hadnt made such a hulabaloo over the feedback i would probably not even have mentioned the place again but i guess any publicity is good publicity?!) Forge Cottage - go go go!!! (PS after 4pm!!)

Now, on to the rest of day! ....... we reached Kettering for 10.30am where Gordon was there to pick me up and take me out for our 2 planned walks in the heat of the midday sun & boy oh boy was it hot!!  I have been so looking forwards to today and the adorable Oscar (his 2 year old Boxer!) accompanied our morning 5 miles and it was so wonderful to have Gordon in complete charge of the route and all directions!!!  He had planned a very comprehensive wander around lakes and bridges that i would never have discovered on my own and Oscar loved the water and especially having a dip and then rushing past my legs at full pelt to dry himself!!

After a quick bite to eat Chez Gordy we headed straight out for phase 2 and a longer 6 mile circular walk along old disused railway tracks and then back past some more lakes and the local Diamond Football ground.  It was fun to catch up on the last 3 years and hear all Gordons news and his gallavanting round the world following his ACDC (last weekend in Paris!) and various other bands (off to Bon Jovi tomorrow!) and to have time with such a genuinely lovely man.  THANK YOU GORDON FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL DAY!

He dropped me off at my smart A45 Eastbound Travelodge (where check in was anytime after 2pm!!) and it was all i could do to stay awake after all the scorching sun i had taken in today!  My arms were very red and with no aftersun the only way to cool them was a cold shower!!  Mmmmmm, nice!

Chauffeur Gordon returned with my carriage for 7pm and took me to a great little venue called the 'Ock 'n' Dough where we had a really nice meal to round off a really wonderful Friday and end to a great week!  I cannot believe this day has finally come - my last Friday - and that this time next week it will all be over!!  And only 1 more sleep until i see my most beautiful prize - my 4 gorgeous children (photo of us here the last time we were together) - 11am in the morning and they will be HERE!!  Bring it on, i bet i cant sleep now!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010



After a night at the haunted mansion (a.k.a. The Vale of Belvoir!) we were spirited into the deserted breakfast room for a Full English breakfast to start us on our merry way!! It was the only place in the hotel we could get any internet so we had to finish off our work before leaving for the day to reach our next destination.....

Rutland Water was on the agenda today and we arrived at Forge Cottage for around 10.30am where we were able to leave a couple of bags in our room instead of leaving in the car, before heading out on our bikes.  We had a map to follow for the boundary route and there was an add on bit to Hambleton village should we feel energised enough (we didn't though!) and the whole route we followed was around 16 miles.

With all the starting and stopping (a lot!) we managed to eke it out for 4 hours as it was made clear (as per our hostesses previous emails sent to me she said!) we had no access or entry to our room before 4pm!!!!!   We stopped at Rutland Cycle shop and nearly upgraded our bikes with new ones which was very tempting especially once we had done a test cycle and realised how smoothly proper gears can work!! Ours have been clicking and clonking the whole last 3 days and it was a bit like test driving a top of the range Mercedes when all you've been used to is your clapped out banger for so long!!

I have the make and model of the earmarked new bicycles however and just need to do some research now to see what the best price i can find for it .... we noticed lots of very colourful hippos all around our route which were fun to spot (See above - the hippo is the one with the Union Jack thanks!!) and took a few photos next to them!

After driving into Oakham to watch a bit of footie and suss out the evening meal location, we managed to while away another hour to take us to the Golden 4pm!! I must say that this is the very first place we have had such a rigid time allocation to our room on the whole trip having stayed at over 40 places now! Every single other B & B have all welcomed us from any time giving us keys to come and go and made us feel at home but things are most formal here and very regimented ('because we have our work to do before 4pm to get things ready' we were told!) However, the room is very nice, TV all in working order and the location perfect for the cycle route!!

Anyway, no point stressing over other peoples strict rules so we got ready to go out for 6pm which meant we could benefit from 1/3rd off the menu with Happy Hour!!  A very nice meal in Oakham and then we went back to celebrate the near end to my walk with a lovely bottle of Campagne on the patio, washed down with some emails and work appraisal spreadsheets!!!

My mood has certainly been lifted again with more great company (thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this such a memorable trip by joining me and physically putting in the effort to join me and walk with me) and its reinforced my belief that i am better with companionship than just left to my own devices! I am not such a loner or so self contained after all! 

Wednesday, 23 June 2010



I slept soundly after such an exhausting day yesterday and had a regulationary B & B cooked breakfast so i was firing on all cylinders by 9.30am! We drove to our starting point today which was Colwick Country Park and after a couple of false starts finding the best car park to park in, we eventually decided on one which was quite busy as it felt safer to leave the car.

We had no map or directions today so started off just following Byways and arrow signs but after crossing (?Trent?)Bridge we cycled alongside the river and found ourselves at the National Watersports Centre (above photo) and amongst fellow cyclists and runners and rowers and sailors all making use of the great weather. We continued on our merry signless way  towards a small town hoping we could do a circular route however after stopping for some water at the Co-Op it seems we werent destined for our easy ride back!

On trying to get some directions, I nearly fell out with a local in my poor pronunciation of our destination as i was incorrectly pronouncing it Col – Wick and he said that the place didnt exist anywhere round here!  I indignantly showed him my iPhone map and he then looked at me like i was a bit dumb or blond or something similar and said it was Col(W)ick (pronounced like Colic!) and that the quickest way back to the car was exactly the way we had come! How depressing to retrace our steps!

Enroute back we stopped to watch the local Fire & Rescue services practicing their skills to retrieve colleagues from the rapids and slipstreams of the River which was a bit like an assault course in water!! It was amazing to see how quickly people can become caught up in the current and how simply they can just bob under and not come back up again! Scary!  Fortunately no real casualties here today but it was good to see them practicing this vital service!

We eventually got back to our car, very saddle sore today and in definite need of a doubel super duper gel seat to go ON TOP of my existing gel seat if we are in any hope of getting any cycling done tomorrow!

Just in time for the Big Match (like its really at the top of my agenda!!) we made it to the David Lloyd Nottingham just in time for kick off!  I promptly went swimming and for a steam and finished just in time to see the whistle blow at our 1-0 victory with everyone feeling much more happy than after the last match!

We drove to our next nights stay - the Vale of Belvoir - near Bingham and found what can only be described as close to a ghost hotel!!! It was set just off the main road and looked great from the outside but for a 30 room hotel, there was only 1 car in the carpark and not a single soul in the bar save the gentleman acting as Publican / receptionist & barman!!!

We tentatively checked in and took all our gear up to the room but decided to eat out rather than risk being lone diners in the large empty restaurant!!  So we went to nearby Bingham which was still basking in the England victory with lots of local suitably dressed fans spilled into the little streets and not many places still serving food (were all the chefs the worse for wear?!)

We did find one place which served a very nice meal however with free Wi-Fi which meant we could catch up on all our days emails and work in one place without having to risk a dodgy connection back at the Ghost hotel!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010



Today was back to the bicycle and it was a very gratefully received change to walking of which it has kind of lost its sparkle over the last few days in case you had not noticed?!!!

Breakfast was ok, served by a lovely lady a little hard of hearing but she can cook great bacon and poached eggs so at least i could begin the day high on protein!

I cycled to Clumber Park for starters which took only 1/2 hour to cover the 5 miles instead of the 1 hour 30 mins yesterday!!  The weather was amazing and i could tell it was going to be a scorcher so had already lathered on the Factor 30!

With my 50p map in hand we navigated around the outer Boundary route of Clumber Park and covered another 10 miles on this scenic journey with a mixture of flats and long gradual hills which were a killer for the stamina!  After a brief break at the Natrional Trust loos and shop and a walk around the edge of the lake, it was onwards through Sherwood Forest to follow the Cycle Route 6 another 7-8 miles until exhaustion set in and my legs needed a long rest under the massive oak tree in the photo above!  It was easy to imagine being Maid Marion in days long gone by but with no Robin Hood in sight (or Friar Tuck for that matter!) it was back on my bike rather than a trusty steed with only my own legs to rely on for transport back!

A necessary Magnum icecream stop back in Worksop concluded the 33 miles travelled today so at least it can go a little way towards my reduced mileage this week!  It was so easy to strap the bikes on to my new Thurso Ride on Bike Carrier and as its been nearly 3 weeks since i have been in a car, it felt a bit odd driving to Mansfield instead of being on the pavement!!

Thankfully i adapted and orientated myself swiftly and 25 minutes later and hey presto, my next B & B - Mansfield Lodge Hotel!  Once checked in, a much needed shower later and i was suddenly ravenous to after  completing a few emails, its definitely time for some tea! 

Much better mood today, inspite of the new Budget announcement increasing Capital Gains Tax, but heyho (!) as my good dad would always say, there are only two sure things in life - and hat is death and taxes .... i will stick to the latter today!