Posted by: Zombi | June 7, 2010

Day 4 London to Ashford

The night wasn’t as comfortable as I had hoped and I woke up quite early before dozing for an hour or so.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed and got re-packed it was just touching 9am. For some reason, known only to me, I had paid for dinner yesterday night but not bothered paying for breakfast this morning! The look of horror on the guys face in the canteen this morning when I asked him if I could pay now made me wonder if it was really worth it. I had to go back to reception, wait for five minutes for the lady in front of me to finish complaining to the manager that the bin men on the street outside had been too noisy and he should do something about it, before I was able to pay for my breakfast ticket and then give it back to my new, non horrified, friend who waved me to my table.

A bowl of cornflakes, wheetabix and two raspberry yohgurts later and I was off back to my room. A bit of manuvering that Laurel and Hardy would have been proud of and I was outside the hotel, bike ready and about to set off on the nice 55 miles to Ashford. The reassuring beep from my Garmin woke me from my daydreaming to tell me it was still working and it was ready to direct me the 70 miles to Ashford. 70 miles! Oh damn, seems like it wasn’t the short day I had been expecting. Still, nothing I could do so off I went.

The trip out through London was straightforward enough. It’s quite exciting riding in and amoungst the hundreds of other cars, busses, lorries, cyclists and suicidal pedestrians. You have to be on your toes as nobody waits for you but being on a bike meant I was amoungst the fastest in the food chain anyway.

Pleasingly, despite it taking an hour due to all the lights, within 10 miles I was out in open countryside heading eastwards towards Gillingham.

Now if you have never been to Gillingham, you have been too many times. In my list of the 9 worst places in the country Gillingham is the only one that beats Wakefield. It is a horrible place with nothing there (there is not even a pub in the town centre!) and the last time I went my mate was threatened with a brick.

Fortunately I was only headed in the direction of gillingham and turned off south before I went too far! The miles passed reasonably well, helped no doubt by the fact there were no hills (more on that later) and I had an occasional tail wind. I also, for the first time listened to some of my podcasts I had prepared before I left. Having something to listen to that isn’t just your own thoughts made a real difference. You don’t have to just ride thinking about how far is left and the miles flew by.

Lunch was a beef sandwich, can of coke, frijj chocolate brownie milkshake and a banana outside a Summerfields petrol station.

Nicely full I set off and made good progress for the remaining miles and with only 10 or so miles to go I was feeling pretty good, unroll the following instruction popped up on my Garmin:

“Turn left on to Cripple Hill”

Oh damn. Still, never mind, it has not been too bad a day and I only have a short way to go. It can’t be that bad.

The don’t have many hills down south so I guess they make the most of them. Cripple Hill should really have been called “Cripple totally flat road with a 4 foot rise at the end” but I can imagine that would have been difficult on a road sign, especially if they have to pay by the letter!

Before I new it I was at the campsite, tent up, clothes washed and refreshed after a nice shower using some amazing Moulton Brown black pepper shower gel. Now not wanting to be gay, and their is nothing wrong with being gay, I’ve told you that many times Forbes, it is amazing stuff and I will be, excuise the pun, splashing out on some more when this runs out. It’s this trips luxury item (that and the motor I had fitted to the bike).

All refreshed I headed down the pub for tonights tea. I know, this is supposed to be difficult and I spend every night in the pub! Well, when I arrived on foot a mile or so down the road on foot, I decided to leave the bike for a change, it turned out the only pub in the local area wasn’t doing food because they have “a meeting on”. I didn’t stop to ask why they had turned their kitchen into a meeting room and headed down the road to a tesco in the hope there would be something edible.

To my horror, ten minutes later I found myself trapped in a part of the shop surrounded by things that made me want to scream. It was almost as bad as the time I had wandered into the “big gurdle” section in M&S by accident (look, I wasn’t trying them on I was trying to find my way out. Ok). I was surrounded by ready meals. Mainly Chicken ones (now I won’t go on but I really don’t agree with the majority of chicken sold in the uk. It is out and out cruelty and yet deemed perfectly acceptable. Google “intensive chicken farming” and look on you tube then you decide if you are happy to support, by eating, any chicken other than totally free range). I managed to spy a lamb curry meal for two and collared it before making my way to the checkout queues that were already heaving harder than Jordans unmanagable breasts. I joined the queue for the self service checkouts in the hope I would be done quite quickly.

Now can someone please tell me, why, is the self service checkout full of people who don’t know how to use them. They do that thing when the machine has an error where they just stare gormlessly around. If you can’t use them, use the manned ones you imbecile!

Finally I am next but one in the queue. The middle aged couple in front of me are herded to the next available ‘Self Service Checkout’ before turning to the guy who’s job must be akin to herding cats, and saying to him “would you scan these through for us…”

I nearly walked out without paying…

Finally I got back, pollished off two of tescos finest revolting curries and am now ready for bed before tomorrows short trip to Dover and the crossing…



  1. Am enjoying your blog Ben, and wondering just how you have the energy and time to write it.
    It will make a good read when you return and have it bound !
    Take care when you cross – remembering they drive on the other side, and they are foreigners !
    However, the best is yet to come. Take care, and we are all thinking of you.

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