With the news full of the previous night’s terrible happenings in Paris, I found it difficult to be upbeat for a radio interview for BBC Kent first thing in the morning. Shortly after, six of us, myself, Dave, Sarah, Bill, Jane & Colin, assembled at my friend Dave’s house and watched as the rain clouds gathered above.
We headed through “scenic” Edmonton and Tottenham and took the first opportunity to join the Lee towpath for a traffic free route to the Thames. Colin is a potato farmer in Lancashire, so you you would be forgiven for assuming he might be accustomed to the wet stuff that comes out of clouds, and come prepared, Alas, that was not the case, so we made a stop at Halfords on the way to enable him to get kitted out. Back on the towpath, Dave noticed that his front tyre was somewhat deflated, so we stopped and sheltered under a bridge while Dave attended to it. Fortunately, Dave can change an inner tube faster than anybody else I know. Unfortunately, that would not be his only puncture of the day!
We met up with Jacques-Olivier under another bridge and then headed down to the northern cable car station in Docklands, where Mike also joined us. The cable car is a bit of a white elephant but, incredibly, it does carry bikes, which made it a handy and quirky way of crossing this part of the river.
We came back down to earth outside the O2 (Millennium Dome) and proceeded along the south bank as far as the Thames Barrier, before heading south towards our first micropub of the day, the Long Pond. But first it was time for Dave to fix puncture number 4! Dave had twice as many punctures that morning than I had over the whole year’s journey! He will not be allowed to live this down!
Finally we arrived at the Long Pond, about 45 minutes behind schedule, and met up with Kieron, who had driven there, and Stuart, who had ridden with me at the start of my journey and was determined to be there at the end and had ridden across from his sister’s in Lewisham.
It was good to meet Michael the landlord of the Long Pond. Andy, landlord of the Broken Drum was also there with some of his regulars, on their bikes, as he had kindly offered to lead us round the day’s remaining pubs. It was also great to see members of Enfield and Barnet CAMRA and also Bexley CAMRA, who managed to keep up with us for the remainder of the day by hopping onto various buses.
Next on the list was Andy’s own micropub, The Broken Drum, opened during 2015.
Then onwards to the Door Hinge, where Ray and his regulars gave us a hearty welcome! Stuart’s Mum and dad, Graham and Marie and my wife Sujal and daughter Anya met us in the Door Hinge. Graham and Marie win the award for having travelled the furthest for the day – they had got up at the crack of dawn to catch a train from Crewe! Thank you! So glad you could make it!
And finally onwards to the final micropub of the day – and the end of my journey. A pub named The Penny Farthing seemed an appropriate enough place to finish my ride. Owners Bob and Bev were great hosts (thank you!!), and they and their customers had also raised over £300 for my Alzheimers fund!
It was good to meet in the flesh several people who had been following me and supporting me online, including Jane and Cliff from Bexley Brewery.
Also some familiarfaces that I had met along the way such as Tony and Wendy from Firkin Ales and Marianne, landlady of the Paper Mill in Sittingbourne who is also a fellow micropub “ticker” who has visited even more of them than me!
And to complete the circle, I’m glad my friends Mike and Diana could make it. It was Mike who first made me aware of micropubs, so in a way he is to blame for the whole thing.
One final piece of drama, when it was time for Jane and Colin to leave they discovered they had locked their bikes together outside the Penny Farthing but lost the keys! A frantic search ensued with Colin disappearing off in the hope of purchasing an angle grinder. Landlord Bob also tried a few contacts. In the meantime, Jane discovered the keys hanging of the brake calliper of her bike!
For once, I was glad to be catching the train home, and not cycling.
I have enjoyed (almost) every moment of this trip, and my last day was no exception. Well done all of you who are opening micropubs all around the country and keeping alive the true spirit of the pub!
Your fundraising has resulted in a total so far of almost £6000. I will keep my fundraising page open until the end of the year and then announce the final result, so please stay tuned.