Setting off from the Education Village was an emotional affair - after months of preparation and training, the time came to say goodbye to everyone and what a turnout! It was lovely to see so many friends, The Worshipful Mayor of Darlington and of course children of the village. There were many photographs taken and I began to get very nervous as the time to leave approached - rituals that were to become second nature were gone through for the first time - the smearing of the Vaseline amongst them - and I began to contemplate the absurd distance ahead of me. I climbed into Myfanwy to change and it was a haven of quiet - I wanted to sit down and stay there - the noise and chatter outside began to make me anxious and I knew I had to move now or I was sunk. Back outside the clamour fills my head and I begin to feel sick – more photographs – I straddle my bike, Becky tells me how proud she is of me, I want to stay and I want to go. “Will you cycle round the roundabout once so we can get some cycling photo’s?” I say I will but as I push down on the pedals for the first time I know that I can’t and head straight down the drive and out into the road. I wave once and then: “It’s just you and
me now Jamie.”
I wonder: should I have stayed longer, should I have said a few words of thanks? But I’m glad to be away at last and at home on my bike.

The Worshipful the Mayor of Darlington - Councillor Ian G Haszeldine.
The weather is good, and after getting through the Darlington traffic, I head out into familiar countryside on a route I've done many times before. I meet Phil and Jenny in Easingwold and get some massive sandwiches from the deli' for lunch. Fortunately we've all watched the David Attenborough programmes avidly and as a consequence are able to dislocate our lower jaws in the manner of cow eating snakes, which is fortunate since our sandwiches are indeed the size of a medium sized ruminant.
Jaw back in place and stomach swaying from side to side I head off again – perhaps a little slower than before but nonetheless in good spirits.

At the end of this, the first day I have reached Pocklington, (or Pock, to the locals) and I’ve covered 72.3 miles. I meet up with P & J again and as we begin to load the bike onto Myfanwy I’m stopped by an old lady who kindly gives me a couple of pounds for the charity.
We’ve decided that since it is not far, we’ll drive home and spend the night there rather than pitch up in Pock’, so there’s a good deal of confusion when I rock up at my local bar in the evening.

Sat 24th May (day 2)

The second day sees me heading through the slightly less familiar countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds and there are one or two stiff-ish climbs that take me by surprise. I pass through the ancient market town of Market Weighton, a place with a colourful history of giants and witches – one of whom, Peg Fyfe, reputedly skinned a local youth alive in the 1660s. Hanged for the crime, she swallowed a spoon to save herself but upon escape was hacked to bits by two passing knights – so not a good day for her.

The first major landmark of the trip is the Humber Bridge which I’ve been looking forward to crossing but it proves more elusive than I’d imagined and I get lost within sight of it’s towers. The delay is frustrating but soon I’m on the bridge and the wind that had been against me changes direction, increases tenfold and whoops me across at brake melting speed. I should have made the most of it since it’s not long before I’m battling into the wind again, and as the landscape flattens out it gets stronger and stronger. We meet up for lunch in the prettily named Barnetby le Wold; It’s name by far and away the prettiest thing about it. There don’t appear to be any restaurants or pubs open so we sit in Myfanwy. So. Pasta for lunch then!
It begins to rain in the afternoon but I’m not worried – it’ll pass over and we are heading south. What with the wind and the rain it is quite a hard afternoon and I’m pleased to finish the day in Hemingby with another 72.5 miles behind me, sore legs and an aching bum – more Vaseline needed!

Jenny has arranged for us to park up in the car park of the Coach and Horses pub. Good Lass! So, after a shower and change we head in for dinner, noticing as we do that the pub holds a couple of ‘Tastes of Lincolnshire’ awards. Here’s a tip: If you’re ever tempted to have a nibble of Lincolnshire – resist! If this is the best, there must be some pretty rotten stuff out there. Anyway, the beer’s good so we get plenty of it down our necks and misguidedly top it off with a bottle of the ‘House’. Who’s going to be waking everyone up in the middle of the night?

A hot day for the Lincolnshire newshounds.

Sun 25th May

We stayed in the car park of the Coach and Horses pub in Hemingby last night and it's from here I set off into the wind once more, bound for Boston where we stop for a loo visit and some breakfast. If I'd thought the wind was a problem I now find it has started to rain and boy, does it rain! Now you'd think, as I did, that things can't get worse. Just as this comforting idea is formulating in my mind I get a puncture.........Bugger! Phil and I spend what seems like hours fixing the damned thing whilst hiding from the weather in the lea of a village hall and then I'm off again. I manage about four miles when I get.............Another puncture. The rain continues to lash down and the wind continues to whip across the endless miles of bugger all and Jenny and I sit glumly in the steamed up Myfanwy whilst poor Phil changes the tube and tyre. We have some pasta for lunch and sit on whilst the rain drums on the roof.

We try to sit it out but after an hour or so it becomes obvious that I will have to set off again and I'm getting pissed off with wet lycra. On and on; water pouring off my waterproof top and running down into my shoes. It runs down my face and mixes with snot, turning me into a kind of cycling slug and the landscape is remorselessly flat. FLAT. Did I say flat? Well I meant FLAT. I finish the day in Chatteris

In the restaurant - Chatteris
In Chatteris we go in search of somewhere to eat. There are two or three restaurants and pubs along what appears to be the main street so we split up and recce the joint. Jenny recons she’s found the ideal spot – well I think that’s what she said! So in we go. It’s a funny little place – half pub, half restaurant, we get some drinks, plonk ourselves down in some leather armchairs and grow stubble whilst the woman behind the bar decides whether to bring us menus or not; we give up and collect our own. It’s an odd menu, and even odder, I notice is a line at the bottom saying, ‘We do not serve tap water!’ What the hell is that about? After ordering we’re taken through to the restaurant where we order wine and, of course, tap water. The young waitress disappears and returns with the wine and a nervous tick.
“I’m sorry, we don’t serve tap water” She says.
“Why not?” I snap. “It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of the stuff about”.
She squirms with embarrassment and says she doesn’t know; she’s new. This sort of answer cuts no ice with me at all, but I can see I’m in a minority of one – Phil and Jenny clearly feel sorry for her and I soon begin to see their point. She’s as pleasing to look at as a Sumo’s gusset and she’s far from the brightest star in the firmament, so we let it go.
What possible reason can there be for a restaurant not to serve tap water; other than to mug its customers? We are allowing ourselves to be conned and dictated to by silly fashionistas who think that an exorbitantly costly bottle of French bog water looks more sophisticated than a jug of the recently precipitated with ice. Well think again!

Monday 26th May (Bank Holiday) Spitting on to rain!

First sight of a windmill. No, not in Holland, but in Suffolk A beautiful day as we enter EssexA lovely view of Harwich ferry terminal from my bedroom window on Myfanwy. This is where we spent the night. Below that, the ferry, and finaly, boarding.
Also. I'd like to thank the guys I've met on the cycle ways of Holland and Germany. send me your emails, I'll reply when possible and thanks for your kind comments.