Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘end to end’

Drive across Britain – Home

IMG_0681I woke up today in a nearly familiar bed!

It wasn’t me that leapt out of bed to go running, I crawled still numb from the drive yesterday and snuck downstairs to leave a tired and achy husband in bed.  Moments later in a change from his Lycra, Sexy Sporty Dad appeared in running shorts and left the house.  He completed a childhood run that he had done many times before but not for a long time.

Of course Sexy Sporty Dad has now completed his challenge.  He has cycled end to end across Britain, and I have driven the distance almost with him.  My job however is not quite complete we need to get home from the most easterly point in northern Britain all the way down to the south coast.

DSC_0706My trusty Sat Nav discarded by Sexy Sporty Nav and his cherished map, more or less as soon as he got in the car, not that I have found the journeys difficult to navigate.  I have found the roads in Scotland particularly, very easy, very smooth and very empty apart from the odd cyclist.

There was one place I still had on my list to visit whilst in Scotland.  I had planned to visit theDSC_0642 Morangie Distillery as I was almost sleeping in the vats but as luck and planning would have it; they were closed on a Sunday.  Fortunately I had noticed as I passed through Fort William the first time that Ben Nevis Distillery is on the edge of town.

DSC_0652Monday morning saw both of us being shown round the distillery,  taken between the vast wash back vats full of fermenting beer and the huge heating bins. Watching the steam from the first heat of liquor,  I realised I have not smelt malt since my parents brewed their own beer.  The strength of that heady childhood smell followed us around as our guide shouted his information.

I feel my hero Matthew and his wife now take a new twist as they will most certainly have to be involved or linked with whiskey.  Every tiny town seems to have its own distillery.  Whether he plays a hand inventing whiskey, developing the amber nectar or just drinking it you will have to read the book to see what I decide.  He will DSC_0650have to stop here in Scotland as the journey back is too far for Sexy Sporty Dad to try cycling home just yet.  Let me knit his story from the Cornish mining backdrop through the rich and dramatic tapestry of Scotland’s landscape and furnish him with a fitting finale in or around John O’Groats.

IMG_0690We set off again to retrace our separate routes through the most glorious Glen Coe.  The weather cannot be normal, the sun shining, not a cloud in the sky and the view of the valley mind-blowing.  I complained at the slow progress it took me on the way up due to all the cyclists but today I had a photographer in my midst and we had to stop for each wow vista and there were so many. Every turn opened up another stretch of valley enclosed by the shadow of the mountains reaching to the sea.

A brief stop at Gretna Green shopping outlet gave us a chance to catch our breath and move around from the position imposed by the confines of a car seat.    Then we were back in England.  I had one quick stop to make.   I wanted to visit the house backing on to the graveyard where my friend and fellow writer Shelley Stewart’s based her first children’s book DSC_0742Templeton’s Tale.

Then we ploughed on suddenly meeting traffic for the first real time since the journey to Land’s End.    We reached DSC_0736Manchester and a welcome from Sexy Sporty Dad’s father with fish and chips on the table and a nearly familiar bed ready and waiting.  It did not take either of us long to melt into the softness and warmth of sleep.

Lands’ End to John O’Groats

The statistics are:

We drove 188 miles to Lands’ End

Sexy Sporty Dad cycled – 970 miles in 9 days

I drove 1140 miles to John O’Groats in 9 days

We drove 2111 miles in total over 12 days.

We did 778 miles in just 3 days to reach home

And let that be a salutary lesson to anyone who suggests travelling via any form from end to end.

Home to my own bed, to my three boys who we have missed dreadfully, and back to work that maybe we haven’t missed quite so much!

IMG_0691My trusted companion the credit card will now have to be paid back but, we had such a blast just spend spend spending.  There were far more important things to prioritise such as which hotel or B&B to stay in, where I might find my next meal from the chequered choice available, and of course how much support, sympathy for the sores and succour I could give Sexy Sporty Dad.

I could never do what he has done but driving is no lesser achievement in my eyes.  Each person has their own capabilities and talents to be used in the way only they can.  In all the celebrations surrounding my beloved husband someone said to me;

“You can always pretend you did it too; especially if you don’t mention the car”.

My reply;

“Read the blog!”



The official results are just in; Sexy Sporty Dad came 43rd out of all those who took part over the whole week.  Which I think is quite an incredible achievement although we are constantly reminded that it is not a race!  It also opens the scary question what will he do next?

the route

Drive across Britain – John O’ Groats


Well guess where I woke up?

Back in Fort William at the very beautiful Dalchreggan House.   The house looks out over the sea and again tactically I had re-opened the curtains after Sexy Sporty Dad had closed them last night.

Yes I did say Sexy Sporty Dad; he is with me this morning and as I glance from my bed  I can see my running clothes beside my overnight case laid out in readiness.

I could go and run along the coast with the breeze tagging gently at my hair.  I could breath in the fresh Scotish Air one more time leaving Sexy Sporty Dad to sleep in and wake up all alone, wondering where I had gone. Or I could sit here in my bed and watch the sun wake up the world; in particular the sea with the mountains in the background.  The windows are open and I can taste the salt in the air as the fresh sea breeze seeps into my room and tussles my already tousled hair.

DSC_0607Well that is one question you will never know even if you read the book.

I am afraid yesterday was about one thing and one thing only; John O’Groats.    I checked out of the hotel and pretty much raced to John O’groats.  As I left the breakfast table I had received a text to tell me he had just arrived at Pit Stop 2 and only had 30 miles to go ‘cold and windy, want it to end now’

As if I would allow him to stop now!  I told him I would meet him when he got to John O’Groats.  I was able to send some more good wishes from Facebook friends I had picked up that morning, plus another large dose of my own good luck wishes.

For the only time on this trip, it was important for me to get to the arrival venue first. I checked with the ever faithful Sat Nav, we had 86 miles about 1 ½ hours journey to reach the rendezvous.

I did it!

I drove all the way, 1145 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats with a map and a Sat Nav;  Thelma without her DSC_0585Louise.  Ellen MacArthur without  her crew and Amelia Earhart with only her plane.

I met people along the way, but always carried on alone.  I investigated places on the map and I took a 9 day journey of discovery about me.

I have plotted and woven stories and ideas to be fleshed out in a novel during NANOWRIMO this November. I have explored places that will not be woven but held important meaning or interesting facts for me.

And I have discovered that I am an amazing person too.   Don’t underestimate me….  The power, determination and enthusiasm I can put to a project is just as staggering as the physicality of the honed athlete.

But of course it has not been about me.  The reason I have taken this journey is because Sexy Sporty Dad had begun a DSC_0564

challenge some long months ago possibly even years when he took up regular Saturday morning cycling.  Was that where the idea came;  I know for a fact I did not plant the seed.

I arrived as 12 riders had come through and hoped he had not pushed himself too much and got there before me.  No text so I felt I was ok.   Camera in hand and smile upon my face I wheedled my way through the growing band of supporters to the barriers just over the finish line and waited.

800 odd riders still to come over the line, it is not easy to see who they are until they are close enough to read the number on their bikes.  They all wear similar lycra and Sexy Sporty Dad had not let me know which of the kit I had been washing over the week in my hand basins and baths he would choose to wear.

My wait was not a long one as he came in about 61st over the line, this of course would be amended when the results DSC_0573of all came in and there may be others who left after him and will come in a little later.   A build-up of emotional pride as he came through the inflatable finish, the threatened rain must have drizzled at that point as I felt damp cheeks while I clicked the moment.

He has ridden 970 miles (he obviously took the short cut), 9 days up mountain and down dale, blazing sun and pouring rain and he has been true to the torture and camped every night when most nights there was a spare space in luxury just nearby.

DSC_0579The physical effort has been phenomenal.   It was all a bit bewildering and surreal as he came through the finish line and received his medal.  The ‘I done it’ medal, that no doubt will decorate our house and conversations for months to come.

After a shower and cup of soup, he appeared nearly normal.  He was far better than I expected him to be and even the saddle sore did not prevent him sitting in the passenger seat to help me learn how to drive the car!  It was going to be emotional this journey back, I knew about the twists and turns and high cliff edges I was about to take him.  I also know from long experience he is a hopeless passenger, nervous, fiddling and finicky.

We eventually reached Inverness as the rain finally caught up with us and dusk began to settle.   We found the Cinnamon Restaurant not only open on a Sunday night, they were serving a buffet style eat as much as you could meal.

Back on the road again we travelled along the side of Loch Ness, I met a young deer waiting to cross the road, dusk had definitely fallen and darkness enveloped the car,.  As I came round the corner my lights reflected her eyes standing in all her glory. Thankfully she did not step out but there no chance of a photo; by the time I had swung the car out to overtake her, the moment was gone and so was she back into the trees.

Further down the Loch as I pressed on towards our bed for the night a creature ran across the road in front of us.  Was it a fox?   No we knew it was not a fox.  Was it an otter?  All the signs say beware of otters. Or was it a baby loch DSC_0603ness monster being called home by its mother after an evening’s exploring.  Will we ever know?

The other man in my life at the moment my hero Matthew, a determined, challenged and highly fit young man , who does that remind you of, also made it,  Now he has reached the very top of Britain,  there are not many opportunities for him to carve out a life for himself.  He may have to find another challenge or learn to grow old gracefully running a tea shop for visitors, few and far between in the 1700s.  NANOWRIMO is not so far away only 6 weeks, you will have to read the book then to find out what he does.

The results came in once all the cyclists came over the line and of course every single one of them is a hero and successful but Sexy Sporty Dad’s place today was an incredible 74th, out of all those guys and some incredible girls (don’t even go there) who completed the Deloittes Ride across Britain 2015.



What have I learned today;   Behind every man reaching his goal  – there really is a supportive, determined, and caring wife.


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