Day 44

Great start to the day – comfortable bed, clean sheets, hot water at the Daresbury Park Hotel in Cheshire. Thanks to Marissa Hankinson and BNI Viking for organising it. It is 20 years since I was last at this hotel when it was called the Lord Daresbury and whilst I have happy memories of an awards ceremony here, I would not have recognised the old hotel. It is now a prestigious hotel, conference and leisure complex that I would highly recommend to you all. Enjoy!

Sadly I could not cuddle my pillow for too long and I was soon 20 yards down the corridor to their meeting. It was one of the very best I have been to and also one of the biggest. That is not always the case but with this chapter big IS better. Congratulations. Marissa as chapter director had also organised that the chapter photographer Andrew Collier took some photos. I was so well treated (lovely chocolate cake, Emma!) that I have made BNI Viking sponsor of the day. I was also delighted that Jody from Widnes Local had some magazine distribution for me. That should hopefully pay for a bed for tonight. Thanks all.

A friend wrote about me on an internet forum and asked me to comment on HOW I am rather than WHERE I am. I realised that I had not really covered that over the past few weeks so perhaps these words will give you an idea of how I am progressing.

I said,

Physical – it is MUCH MUCH MUCH tougher than I ever imagined. Cycling 25 miles is NOT cycling one mile (which I guess we can all do) 25 times. Cycling 50 miles is DEFINITELY NOT cycling 25 miles (which I guess many can do) twice only. Cycling anything over 60 miles on a regular basis is NOT for the faint-hearted. Bjørn is immensely fitter than I am (and was even more so at the beginning of our respective journeys). IF and it is a big IF, I could be assured of a good clean bed, a shower and good food at the end of every day, life would be easier and the physical challenge much less.

Mental – it is MUCH MUCH MUCH tougher than I ever imagined. As Bjørn says “Cycling is not the tough bit”. He warned me I would have high “highs”and low “lows”. He was 100%correct. It is the constant hassle of trying to liaise about 300 gigs over 100 days, sort out 120 bed nights and ensuring that the blogs, FB, twitter, Ecademy, emails are up to date. It is finding wifi hotspots. (Long live McDonalds and Starbucks. Viva Great Western and Ramada Hotels) It is trying to find landline numbers so that friends can call you and so they aren’t being ripped off on international calls to UK mobiles. It is trying to keep one day’s worth of clean, dry clothes. It is keeping calm when the directions you were given by a well-meaning stranger takes you 5 miles out of your way …… and its pouring down. (*) It is constantly packing and unpacking and constantly being aware of security issues every time you run in to a shop for a water or chocolate or having to sleep with your total worldly possessions in a backpackers hostel. It is the constant fear of having your bike or panniers stolen and the incessant near misses from drivers on their mobiles or who misjudge completely distances on roundabouts

Emotional – it is MUCH MUCH MUCH tougher than I ever imagined. As some will know, two weeks into the journey, I lost absolutely everything I own in a fire in Spain. I am sitting here looking at literally every single thing I possess …. and this is carried on my bike every day. When I first heard of the fire, I could not believe it. I sat in Starbucks and then McDonalds just numb for maybe three hours. I really had no desire to go on. FORTUNATELY, I had a BIG day the following day and I would not want to let Jim down as he had made such an effort to set up appointments with his MP, a a radio station, Luton Town FC and a meal with some BNI members. If he had not organised those ……. I remember his wife kindly made me a sandwich and as a vegetarian I was horrified to find it was meat sausage ….. but I ate it. It did not seem to matter whether I ate it or not. The 3rd time in perhaps 20 years I had eaten meat ….. so what? Even now and pretty much every day, I remember things that went up in flames and have to be added to the insurance report. It’s a constant reminder that life has been good to me over 53 years and despite being a minimalist, one does acquire so much over that number of years.

I am also coming to terms with being let down constantly and continually. The two major sponsors evaporated when push came to shove and I am owed almost 900 GBP from smaller sponsors who have all been generously and genuinely thanked on my blogs etc ….but then do not cough up. What does that mean? My budget does not stretch. I have set myself a target to live on 20 GBP per day ALL IN. If the sponsors do not pay I cannot feed and water myself nor pay for accommodation. The promised accommodation did not appear this week so I am completely out of funds. After I put yet another 10 on my PAYG phone this afternoon, I found I had 2 GBP for food this evening. (The phone sponsor also evaporated in Milton Keynes!) My fault, I should have put 5 GBP on my mobile and left myself with 7 pounds for a pizza or whatever. I learn to accept responsibility. Fortunately the petrol station had Snickers on special offer so 1,89 got me 5 Snickers. Tomorrow I have a BNI breakfast and that will see me through. If the sponsors paid I would have enough almost for the end of the tour and certainly enough to live far more comfortably than the refugees. I have been quite lucky with accommodation recently but two weeks ago the refugee budget ran out again and I had to sleep in the back of a ro-ro container. Fortunately, it was only for one night and not for the months or years that refugees have to endure dreadful conditions.

I am coming to terms with people promising shirts, and boasting about invitations, appointments which do not materialise. It is all part of the journey and the challenge. Next!

So, I now realise that the challenge is not only physical but that it is mental and emotional. Realistically, I am sure I could do far more physically if I did not have the emotional and mental hassle to deal with 24/7.

So, tough? Yes. Absolutely.
Am I coping? Yes. Absolutely.
Why am I coping? I am supported by a lot of people who HAVE kept their promises and who I know are behind me. Dean “Warrior Coach” Grimshawe, Aron Stevenson, Andy Trice, Penny Power, Pernille, Ingela, Carolyn Williams, many in BNI ( I have visited 15 chapters now. RESPECT) BRX and Ed Nash, great support on the LinkedIn BNI group lead by John Coupland etc etc.

Why am I continuing? Personal pride and a commitment to support Bjørn (“Blood Brothers”) and the world’s 45 million refugees. Moreover, every day is different and I have met so many fabulous people who I try to praise on my blogs etc. Every day there is some form of highlight – a great welcome at a club, a great BNI meeting, an invitation to speak at a BRX or a rotary club, a class of children thirsty for knowledge, a bed/shower/wifi connection. Great comments on blogs, FB, twitter etc. ALL of these and more, “get me through the night” as the song goes.

Huge thanks to ALL who have supported in whatever way, great or small and I look forward to meeting many more of you before the trip finishes. With Blackpool, Burnley, Accrington and Blackburn covered this week I have now visited 34 clubs so I am now nearly half way there. By the time I get to Leeds United I will have done more than 50% of the clubs. I will be on my way “home” and looking forward to the Ecademy cricket day on 5th September in Southend On Sea where I hope to be nothing more taxing than count daisies and reflect on the previous 92 clubs and 34 BNI regions. I also hope to meet many of you there.

Hugz, un abrazo, kram, klem ….

(*Here is a plea – if you are asked directions and are not sure, PLEASE say so. I think that realistically nearly half the directions I am given are flawed or plain wrong!)

2 Responses to “Day 44”

  • Doing great pal!!!!!n Keep on smiling and be safe!

    Bjorn

  • Steve Hall:

    Thanks, Bjørn. Had a nice afternoon catching up on blogs, Ecademy, twitter at the Daresbury Park hotel and made some great contacts.

    Have been invited to a Premier League meeting in Preston on Tuesday. How cool is that? Also got some great referrals from BNI Viking. I have have five hours work this weekend – thanks BNI members Jody (Viking) and Alan (Cumbria/Durham director). The piggy bank is now officialy empty so I am hoping some of the “sponsors” pay this week or I’ll be under the bushes on the way up to Tynemouth and David Blight’s clean sheets and shower next weekend!

    Hope you are enjoying yourself in S.A. Going to interview a Widnes Rugby League fanatic later today so I hope I’ll be able to explain why Widnes is famous for its rugby and has no real soccer to talk about. I love this type of story.

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