Wales to Cheshire
7th & 8th September
The Nature of a Blog
It's erratic. The connections are random. People and incidents come into your life in a way you cannot imagine. The only resolute grip on who you are, how you think, why you do what you do and where, are the important people in your life.
Roger Murray’s film
Roger is without doubt my greatest idea mentor over the last 38 years. When I have an idea he refines it. When I have a bad idea he excoriates me. Ex Chairman of an advertising agency, a busy ex-boss used to being busy bossing people about, he knows a good story when he sees one. Around the world by motorbike in 19 days he thought middling. Client rides to Morocco the best. The length of the Americas had no purpose, he said, but this … an electric bicycle ride around the world could be the best.
There are always more adventures
Often there is a collision of adventures in my working life. Whilst operating one - say, riding around the world by motorbike, I am simultaneously working out how to do the next. Whatever it is. When I rode around the 4800 miles coastline of Britain I conceived the idea to bicycle around the world a second time but in 80 days - like the book. The collision comes in the distraction when new ideas form. New ideas seem like frightening ghosts to people at the beginning but when they stick, it's like a spark lighting up your brain. Having just motorbiked around the world on an Enfield 500cc Bullet, in 1992 I needed somewhere to live. Easy. I created a canal boat journey to the Black Sea - the furthest distance such a craft had been sailed. If I got to from the Black Country in the West Midlands of Britain to the the Black Sea and back, I was told I could keep the boats. So I did. And I do.
So this is me. Born in a council house on Gamesley estate, 4000 people from areas demolished in Manchester's quest for gentrification were offered new lives 2 miles from Glossop, the gateway to the Dark Peak, to Kinder Scout a column of men and boys during the Mass Trespass of Kinder in 1932. My Dad marched on it, to the Downfall overlooking the reservoir, further on from Williams Clough, rambling. We left on the train from the city then years later after his businesses failed moved to Derbyshire and rambled from there.
The ride across Cheshire, along back roads forged in a time before mass transit and paid holidays were dreamy and possessed a quietness which rose up like ripples of warm air. Occasional cars disturbed the peace at odds with fields of mown wheat, the stubble standing motionless in the stillness and I heard birdsong for the first time whilst actually moving on a journey. The hark of crows pitching up to perch on branches were high up in trees lining the periphery of fenced grasslands. Small groups of old forest with incumbent gnarly oaks and sunshine filtering through canopies of leaves to dapple the light. On a motorbike you would never hear the rummaging of a vole in a pile of dry leaves but creeping up on them with no more than the pad of tyres on tarmac they really do get caught unawares.
Dad and me in Glossop's main square
1985, Around the World in 79 Days
I once cycled around South America and my Dad didn't even know I'd gone. I hadn't told him I was going nor had I explained to anyone why I felt a need to go, and for no one to know. I rode from Ushuaia in Argentina to Quito in Ecuador and that was how I became a man who could not stop still. For years and years I have slept in a different place every single night. Without exception there were no two nights in the same place. It messed with me. How could it not?
John Constable - The Hay Wain (free from the Milk Marketing Board with every 36 pints)
In the surreally small living room, a printed Constable fitted into a cheap frame and without the embellishment of glass looked exactly what it was, a gift from the man who ran our milk round. My mother had excelled herself with her dairy purchases. Milk bottles on our doorstep often sat next to particularly good orange juice and a goodly supply of eggs, butter and cream. My father sent off his vouchers with a coupon he’d extracted from a newspaper, there was a symbol of scissors around which he cut along the dotted line.
I've always known that short time travelling is a more approachable idea than someone who leaves on a much longer expedition. I disrupt lives, feel guilty to be gone for so long and everything has colluded to see me at the start line soon.