Dame Della Smith welcoming me back to the Village and at the same time trying to make off with my bike.I’m feeling ever so slightly foolish cycling round and round a housing estate waiting for Becky to give me the signal; well you do don't you? We’re waiting for the TV and radio people to set up their gear so I can ride into the Education Village as a symbolic end to the trip. The only thing is, I’ve been up and down the same road several times now and the three blokes fixing their car are beginning to give me the - evisceration with a tyre lever would be too good for you - look; so, not being overly fond of offal I decide that a change of scene might be good for me. The problem is: when I eventually get the call from Becky, I’m half way across the county. By the time I get back to the Village I’m sweating and panting and I’m sure many of the children think I’ve just cycled back from Vienna, which, incidently, some of them believe to be in Australia - Now that would be an impressive ride!
A countdown begins when I cycle through the front gates and then cheering and clapping but I’m barely aware of it as I’m in a self-made cocoon – my mind is concentrating fiercely on getting through the next few minutes – so much so that as I draw up to the Alpha Radio stand, there’s a moment of near disaster for me, and no doubt endless hilarity for everyone who knows me - I forget to unclip my pedals and very nearly crash to the ground in front of a hundred or so children and staff and the Tyne Tees Evening News. Phew!
I do a radio interview and the TV camera is in my face and the children surround me asking questions. My mind is saying, “Keep calm, keep calm.” And I do, and I begin to enjoy it. The children are much more interested than I expected and they seem to have made the project their own which is what I’d hoped for.
Dame Della isn't giving up, but Martin Lowes of Alpha radio is on hand to helpFifteen minutes later and I’m hopping about a classroom cupboard, trying to change out of my cycling clothes. It is only as my hitherto successful attempts to remain perpendicular fail, and I crash to the ground like a poleaxed moose, I realise that the pair of trousers I’m trying to get my leg into are in fact not mine, but those of a six year old – I’ve got the wrong bag.
Reunited with my own- and it has to be said - eminently more suitable trouserings, Becky and I swing along to the children’s party, but in common with one or two of the children, I find it too noisy, so after accepting the kind donation of a bike to raffle from Alpha Radio, I make a quick speech and leave.