For 5 lucky people the Eastwood CC tour to Oxford started 1 day early. I meet Heathy, Cam, Alaric and my mate Ian at Fenchurch St station on a slight misty and damp Thursday morning at 8am as the rush hour started. We had decided many months earlier to cycle to Oxford and raise money for the club and Havens hospice. We have prepared in our normal way with hard training i.e. holidays to New York, Vietnam and very little miles on the bikes!
Waterproofs were quickly donned as we cycled around to Tower Bridge through heavy traffic and crossed the river for the first time to pick up National Cycle Route 5 which would take us to our first stop-over that evening in Reading. With myself leading, we did really well to not even make London Bridge before I lost the other four. At this point the heavens opened, I was sheltering under London Bridge while the others were in Borough market. Heathy resisted the temptation for a pint as we met up once more after a few phone calls and waited for the rain to stop. A pleasant ride followed along the Thames through London as we used a mixture of paths – slow and cycle highways – lovely, to exit London past Putney and Fulham. It all seemed very nice and easy up to Hampton Court, no hills and the weather drying up as we stopped for a coffee and a snack in a lovely coffee shop on the high street overlooking the river and the sun starting to come out.
Back on the bikes we followed the river up into the impressive Richmond Park sighting some deer. As the road bikes of Cam and Heathy took advantage of any tarmac, they were often in front only to be caught up again when the mountain bikes of Al, Ian and myself enjoyed the off road sections. Ian was becoming a bit quiet at the back of the pack having suffered from a cold the week before. Later he was to confess that at this point he hit the wall and we were only 35 miles down!
The first real hill came just after Staines. Enjoying a tarmac cycle path, the route took a strange left turn into some woods and an off road section. With no warning there was a rather steep off road section. Road bikes suffered and Heathy gave the blood and bruises for the cause. I will not tell you how he rated the ‘cycle path’ at this point, but there were plenty of f’s and other words I cannot repeat. We made it to the top and continued with much grunting to Windsor through the great park with views of the castle. After a cycle around the rowing lakes used for the Olympics we had a rather nice lunch stop in the sun, Heathy had his pint but was later to regret it. Three o’clock and surely not long till Reading…… Ian now very quiet!
It was a long way to Reading, or it felt like it. After 75 miles and over 6 hours peddling on the bikes (9 in the saddle)we saw the hotel at about 6pm. Before this Heathy had two punctures in 10m as we cycled over some hills and past White Waltham CC (Henley tour 2011). The spa and pool were very welcome in our 4 star hotel. It was very hard work, so off to Pizza Express to re fuel before back to the Hotel bar to watch a David Brent style office party in full swing, Cam warming up.
Up early to enjoy the hotel breakfast and the knowledge it was only a short ride in the morning or so we thought. It did not start well as the cycle path had steps and Heathy was again on the floor. We climbed up to 200m at Stoke Row in the Chiltens and hill mist before the decent back down to the Thames and mainly flat ground, which also includes being lost for a few miles and another puncture for Heathy!
With regular phone calls to Boycey on the minibus our Midday meet looked like being put back as Alaric hit the wall with about 15 miles to go at Didcot. One last puncture, for Al this time and getting lost in Oxford we finally made the pub meet at 1.30pm after another 40 miles that day to make 115 in total, to cheers from the others. I think it was agreed it was very hard work as Kev bought 5 muddy and tired people a pint. Bikes were loaded into the back of Heathy’s man’s van as he and Ian departed and the tour started……..
It was great to have these four people along side me as we pushed each other along. 115 miles you say…….next time I will be on the minibus!
Please still give to us online (http://www.justgiving.com/teams/eastwood-cc-tour-bike-ride) or via the sponsorship form in the club house. Well done Heathy, Cam, Alaric and Ian, I will never forget the 115 miles of pain but it was worth it.PS Heathy looked like an old Doug.
A fine tale indeed Fletch and of course, it didn’t stop there. Just before 2pm on Friday, the bike heroes did indeed rather belatedly turn up at the pub, nearly two hours late, to join most of the squad to embark on ….
EASTWOOD CRICKET CLUB, TOUR 2013! A tour to
Oxford…. Erm, “The Three Counties Tour”.
Friday – September 13th
Earlier that day, a very bizarre startto the tour began at the Patel’s house, particularly bizarre in that, a certain Kevin Robinson was on it from the start. I guess times are a little tough for him as he saved himself some petrol money and got himself on the bus from the get-go. He wasn’t joined by many. Wiggy joined us much later, Mark Armitage joined us that evening, Nigel Armitage was driving from Norwich and of course, Aleric, Fletch and Cam were en route by bike. An 18–seater bus (admittedly laden with numerous luggage) took just six people from Southend to the Fishes pub just outside Oxford on the Ring Road. Nigel arrived shortly before five very tired, very dirty cyclists, who had a very swift beer before we set off for golf. Indeed, Heathy’s beer was particularly swift before he jumped into his van and headed off home. Some might say, that was the longest ever journey to have a 10-minute pint of Guinness.
So to golf. Last year, Fletch was castigated for sending us inside on the most glorious of September days. This year of course….. we played golf in the rain! Fortunately it wasn’t too cold and the rain didn’t start until half way round the 9-hole course……for most of us. Fletch set off with Boycey who basically hacked his way round while Fletch scored a pleasant 51. Then Kev, myself, tour virgin Mike Leonard and Nirmal went in the next group and Rich Ackery, Aleric, Cam and Drabble laboured round behind the rest of us. Poor Rich, as he was hitting a day-winning 45, he had to crawl round with the other three in his group who were determined to play every shot they needed to get the ball in all 9 holes. No picking up, goodness me no! As I got into the bar with Kev, Mike and Nim (all hitting respectable 50s except for Nim who was surprisingly brutal on Boycey who didn’t tee off so well on the first, only for him to have a horrible round himself! Stones / glass houses my friend!) we were conscious that the last group were a little behind. An HOUR after, they finally rolled in, tired and rather wet (see pic).
On to the hotel (we have stayed at worse) and then out for a few drinks. The rain was so heavy by then, taxis were required to get us to the Head of the River, just a ten minute walk down the road. This “dampened” (see what I did there) some tourists from exploring other venues that night, as well as two of the three cyclists being just plain knackered. Before midnight, seven of us were back in our snug hotel rooms. Mark (who eventually rocked up directly from work to the pub) joined the other boys but not for long and after two expensive taxi rides and an expensive beer as well as paying to get in a club, his hour sojourn did not seem to be of good value! But the other boys…. Oh boy….. they did not miss out. Rich, Cam, Drabbs and the ‘virgin’ had a full night for sure. I, myself, awoke to hear much frivolity somewhere in the hotel. It transpired that the boys had brought two young…..ish ladies back with them for …..er…. “games”. My clock told me it was 5am and the noise carried on for some time, until an explosive banging noise (we never did find out who it was) brought an end to “spin the bottle”. Obviously what goes on tour stays right there, but suffice to say, Cam had a successful evening, Drabble……not so much!
Saturday, September 14th.
It was a cold morning and there was still drizzle in the air. Some made a very fine breakfast, others… did not. Fletch went for a walk and made some calls to find that Sunday’s game was already off, but today’s was still hopeful, maybe a shorter game. More tourists turned up. Blobby, Maggie and Mike Dineen showed up just to….. “watch” and that…. they did in spades! As I alluded to above, this tour had become a “Three-Counties” tour. Today’s was in Bradfield Southend, Berkshire, the Sunday game was due to be in a third county, who knows where, Lancashire maybe..?! Sadly, we never found out. When we got to today’s ground, it was clearly very wet, but fair play to them, they cut the wicket, rolled it and at 3pm, we commenced a 20 over game. Even Wiggy turned up and we played with 12, with Fletch batting but not fielding. Drabble “batted” at 12 or was it Rich..?! Either way, Nos 9-12 did not get changed until we fielded.
As is tour custom (much to my chagrin), the Armitage “boys” opened the batting. Nigel encouraged Mark to take the first over, which was not such a good move. He played and missed at every ball and only a wide prevented a maiden. Not what you usually see from Chris Gayle in the IPL, huh! The second over…?? Well, it is nowof course, stuff of legends and of course, I am able to provide you with a video of this splendor…
Thanks of course has to go to Fletch, who captured this moment. It is always a foregone conclusion that Mark will do something ridiculous, especially on tour, so videoing it was a safe bet, but fair play to Fletch for thinking of it, even if his camera-work was a little shaky. Also fair play to a certain Darren Hawkins. Obviously, the video was plastered all over various Facebook ‘walls’, but essentially, the YouTube clip remained within our group and various other friends of the group. But Darren had the master stroke of thinking bigger. He sent it to the Guardian, yes the English National newspaper,that Guardian! They posted it on-line and as I write now, the clip has over 11,000 hits and rising. Mark, you are now a legend. (Edit: as of this morning it reached Oz and has hit 30,000)
Once that was all over and done with, we had a very pleasant and entertaining game of cricket. Armitage Senior hit a bright 25 off 23 balls, Kevin bludgeoned a pleasant 39 off 40 balls and Mike Leonard, who as everyone can attest to, is regularly the 3rd XI No.8 (!!) spanked a quick-fire 38 off just 22 balls, which included 6 boundaries, one a big six over mid-wicket. Fletch saw us through to the last over with 24 off 22 balls, eventually perishing playing a delightful scoop shot straight into the hands of the young lad behind the keeper. Shame there was no video ofthat one! Cam got a quick 9 off 6 balls, which included a splendid reverse sweep and we finished 152-5 off our 20.
Seemed a good score, but their young opener, Stansfield, was in a hurry to get to a wedding, so he tee’d off from ball one, with Rich particularly suffering early on. Drabbs bowled a superb spell at the other end (1-11 off 3) and got the first wicket of the other youngster, Borthwick. Arya replaced Rich and got an early wicket, but then Stansfield really cut loose, as did their 1st XI skipper Filber. From 50-2 off 8, they raced to 103 in the next 4 overs. Arya (1-21 off 3), Boycey (0-27 off 3) and particularly Shuftee, who went for 23 off his one over (!!) all really suffered. Fortunately Captain Courageous finally came on to do that thing he does. Aleric Wade immediately turned the game on its head. He cleaned out Filber for 21 and then in his next over, he did the same to Stansfield who finally hoiked at one too many and was bowled for an impressive 73 having hit 4 sixes and 7 fours. When Aleric came on they only needed 50 off 8 overs. Any respectable IPL master would scoff at such a paltry target. But alas for Bradfield, they got their order wrong and two….er….more mature players got stuck in a ruck. Aleric got one of them and Mike Leonard got the other, but from overs 12 to 17, they managed only 13 runs. Before you knew it, they needed 36 off 3. Another youngster, Matthews did his best, but didn’t get enough strike and Rich came back to bowl the last over and keep it down to 9, when they needed 13. We won by 4 runs in a great game. Aleric was immense, taking 3-13 off his 4, Mike ended with 1-20 off 3 and Rich 0-30 off his 3.
So, a great game against a really great bunch of lads. Drinks and Fines were had after the game, although by then, the “watchers” were especially noisy and, whilst money was collected, not many heard why they were paying fines. In the evening, everyone’s stamina was of a much higher standard (helped that it wasn’t raining too), all except a certain Richard Ackery, who completely crashed and burned and did not even come out that night at all..!!? The rest of us hit various bars, pubs and kebab houses and some of those same boys hit another all-nighter, albeit this one less likely to hit the local media.
Sunday September 15th
Blobby and Maggie were not seen and nor was Dineen, apart from his roommates. Everyone made breakfast expect for Cam and after a leisurely morning and no cricket to look forward to, we headed off for some (customary when cricket rained off) 10-pin bowling. Rich Ackery duly won that too and, having realised that he won the laser games last year on tour, it was quickly pointed out this year, that he is clearly very good at all sports, just not the one he is on tour for! We then went into town and found an unpleasant pub that was showing the Sky Sports live offering that, was so truly awful, that no one won the sweepstake for the first goal-scorer, as of course, there were no goals! Thanks West Ham and Southampton!
From there, we did find a very pleasant curry house, after which, Kevin left us to take the train home. From six in the bus, to ten in the pub on Friday, to 15 at the cricket Saturday, to 12 at the bowling Sunday, we were back to 11. That evening, we ended up in a real ale pub that Aleric and Boycey had found earlier. Much fun was had there indeed reminiscing about all our previous tourists that were now “dead to us” and a chirpy barmaid made things all the more entertaining, particularly as she kinda flirted with Aleric. Not often those words go into print, huh!
Later on the usual lads made an effort to get into another club, but it was not so easy on a Sunday night and I think they actually gotsome sleep that night. It wasn’t the best day we ever had on a tour, but we had some laughs. Ironically, the rain just about held off, but it was a miserable cold day and I think cricket would not have been much fun.
Monday, September 16th.
Cam made his first breakfast on the tour and we were all checked out by 10am. Arya had left at dawn to get to work and I waved off the remaining 9 on the bus as I was off to the airport to come home. It was another fine tour and yet again, awesome organising from Fletch to make it work so well. It wasn’t themost entertaining tour we have been on, but everyone got on really well as always and as usual, we are already plotting next year’s. We did however, learn a few things…
Who knew…. Mike Dineen had the loudest of voices! At the game on Saturday, his voice could be heard in all three Counties we were supposed to be in…..at the same time!
Who knew…. John Mitchell Jr. was such a stud. Yes, a fifth is on the way! Congrats….I think.
Who knew…. Maggie was so into politics! Saturday evening, he cornered me about living in the corrupt country of criminals and terrorists.
Who knew…. Wiggy had got so …. er …. full in the figure. Either that, or his cricket jumper had shrunk, right..?!
Who knew…. Our regular tour bowlers wouldn’t produce this year. Boycey unusually took no wickets and Nirmal can look back on his entire tour which was made up of one over for 23 runs and not batting. We didn’t even get to see the Shuftee dance! Thanks for Coming Shuftee!
Who knew…. Mike Leonard batted at No.8 for the 3rds..??! Not me for sure until Saturday!
Who knew…. Boycey was actually a “film” star on the quiet..??! Trust me, I have done extensive and exhaustive research. It’s him!
And of course, who knew Mark Armitage would become world famous..?! This report has been written over two days and this morning when I checked You Tube, the clip was up to 18,000 hits. Next step is to get on Cricket AM next year!
Thanks to all. Til next year!