On your marks…get set…GO! 

 

 

 

 

Ted Ward and Geoff jackson on their original ride in may 1938 passing through Leicester
Ted Ward and Geoff Jackson on their original ride in May 1938 taken when passing through Leicester
TedWard and geoff Jackson with supporters taken in Leicester in May 1938
Ted Ward and Geoff Jackson with supporters taken in Leicester in May 1938

 

 

DAY 20. August 19th. BARCELONA!

 

Charles Jepson presenting Richard Goma with a history of the Clarion Cycling Club

Charles Jepson presenting Richard Goma with a history of the Clarion Cycling Club

 

 

 

Anna Marti reading out the letter from the Mayor of Glasgow to the Alcalde of Barcelona

Anna Marti reading out the letter from the Mayor of Glasgow to the Alcalde of Barcelona

 

The group was reunited the previous night with Anna and her boyfriend, Enric at the Centre Esplai in El Prat de Llobregat. At 0900 the cyclists left El Prat with a Police escort of cyclists and then guided to La Fosse de Pedrera on the south side of Montjuic.

Cyclists and Police escort before leaving for Barcelona

Cyclists and Police escort before leaving for Barcelona

Cyclists by the Christopher Columbus statue at the bottom of the Ramblas

Cyclists by the Christopher Columbus statue at the bottom of the Ramblas

Two TV crews were there to film them leaving a floral wreath at the tomb of Lluis Companys, the President of Catalunya who was executed by Franco after the end of the War. He died barefoot so he could feel the soil of Catalunya and then his body was thrown into the valley below where hundreds of other victims were also buried.

Ruth at the tomb of Lluis Companys

Ruth at the tomb of Lluis Companys

 

 

Two Spanish veterans singing a song from the period

Two Spanish veterans singing a song from the period

The cyclists at La Fosse de Pedrera, Montjuic

The cyclists at La Fosse de Pedrera, Montjuic

Colin beside Ruth while Charles leaves carnations at a monument to Austrian International Brigaders

Colin beside Ruth while Charles leaves carnations at a monument to Austrian International Brigaders

Anna being interviewed

Anna being interviewed

A number of memorials are placed in this quiet place which gave time for much reflection by the group and members of the Amics de las Brigadas Internacionales who were present for the homage and who had helped organise the event for us.

 

The cyclist then rode up past the Olympic stadium where Geoff Jackson was to have cycled in the Workers’ Olympiad in July 1936. Sadly we did not stop there for a photo, but cycled down the other side of Montjuic to the offices of the UGT on the Ramblas for an official welcome by the leader of the UGT and a interviews by numerous radio and tv stations. The group then cycled to the Ajuntament in the Placa de St Jaume where they were welcomed by the deputy Alcalde, Ricard Goma. A letter from the mayor of Glasgow was read out by Anna Marti and presented to Ricard Goma and letters from other mayors of towns visited during the cycle ride in Britain were also given.

 

With that event the cycle ride ended! Anna and Enric had to leave us early and the rest of the group had a celebratory meal before everyone else went their seperate ways. Most of the cyclists were invited later in the afternoon to the Spanish Republican Pavilion near Horta to view some of the archives of the Second Republic.

 

The numerous articles in the press were interesting to read. I attach below just some of them:

 

PRESS

http://www.adn.es/local/barcelona/20080819/NWS-1943-homenaje-ciclistas-Glasgow-guerra-civil.html
 
http://www.ugt-cat.net/index.php?option=com_events&task=view_detail&agid=288&year=2008&month=08&day=19&Itemid=31
 
YOUTUBE VIDEO – TV3 (Catalan Television)
 
http://www.tv3.cat/videos/598619

 

DAY 18? La Fatarella to El Prat de Llobregat

 

The morning passed quietly for the cyclists. Aftera late breakfast a local man started to play a game of “bielsa”and invited some of the cyclists to play. It seems that the aim of the game is to throw three skittles and to knock down all but one of three larger skittles. All those who played it enjoyed the challenge, especially Ruth who seemed to get very good at it.

 

At 1200 the group packed up and cycled down to Asco for a quick lunch and all the bicycles were strapped onto the van and some made their way to Barcelona while other sd drove up to meet them at Barcelona Sants railway station. They were then taken to Centre d’Esplai in El Prat de Llobregat for their final night before entering Barcelona

 

DAY 17? August 17th. Caspe to La Fatarella

 

To our surprise as we ate breakfast who should walk in but Isidro and Damaso from the Gernika Cycling Club to cycle the final stage with us!They had seceretly discovered where we were staying and had left Gernika at three in the morning after their fiesta and driven five hours just to be with us. Isisdro’s father in law had shared the driving and much joy was expressed by the group when they walked in. A complete surprise for us all! One thing that the Clarion Cycling Club would learn from is the mini bar that the Gernika cyclists had in the back of their van!

The route from Caspe to La Fatarella on the Ebro battlefield was only 40 miles but in hot weather and hilly countryside. The other side of Maella the group stopped to celebrate the 100 miles ridden since Glasgow with some cider from Gernika brought by Isidro and Damaso. Anna then left the group to cycle back to Mazaleon to be with her boyfriend but promised to return to Barcelona for the final leg.

 

By 1400 the group had reached the Casa Ecologica at La Fatarella. After a late lunch and a rest some of the group were given a guided tour of the battle of the Ebro including a visit to La Trinxera museum in Corbera (www.ebreguia.com/latrinxera). Sadly the newly opened 115 Dies Interpretation Centre closed early afternoon a does the museum at Gandesa. I was shown at the Gandesa museum by one of the directors a badge of the International Brigades similar to the bronze reproduction badges doing the rounds now but with the dates 1936 – 1937 rather than 1936-1939. Oddly enough this badge had been discovered on Hill 481 or nickamed “The Pimple” by the British or “Cota del Muerte” by the Spanish. It was highly likely it came from a British Brigader who was killed or wounded on that hill. It was strange to hold it in the museum. We visited the British battalion memorial on Hill 705 and took a group photo. Sadly there is a lot more to see but time did not allow us to explore further. And then back for supper at Casa Ecologica and an early night.

 

DAY 16? August 16th Tardienta to Caspe

 

Weleft Tardienta for caspe under an overcast sky which allowed for a fairly easy cycle ride. Coming down from the hills the roads were long and straight which made for fairly boring ride. We eventually entered Caspe which was the centre of defence during the Great Retreats in March 1938 under the leadership of Dave Doran. The Placa Mayor was where he based his command with about 100 Brigaders from the XV Brigade and held it for three days. The railway station where Sam Wild and the British battalion blockaded themselves in is still there. Eventually the survivors retreated to Batea where the Nationalist offensive stalled owing to lack of supplies.

 

Wewere welcomed by the Ajuntament of Caspe at the Tourist Office but no Alcalde. I think that the group were relieved not to be so feted as they had been kindly treated by other towns and villages on the way!  Saturday night however, was the last day of the Caspe Fiesta and Stuart was slightly frightened by bulls charging around with fireworks on their bodies. I believe that he ran for cover while Anna and Ruth were left to fend for themselves? That night there was a partial eclipse of the moon which made the evening quite special.

Stuart being brave!

Stuart being brave!Taunting the bulls!

DAY 16. August 15th. The Ruta Orwell

 

It probably goes without saying that if there is only one book that people have read about the Spanish Civil war it is George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalunya”. Despite various criticisms about Orwell’s politics, it is a very important book on the conflict. With this in mind the area of Los Monegros has begun an investment titled ”La Guerra Civil en Aragon” with the Ruta Orwell using his book to explain the conflict on the Aragon Front and to examine the masses of trench systems in the hills around.

 

We were greeted in Alcubierre by the Alcalde, Alvaro Amador and the President of the Communitat of Aragon, Manuel Conte, but disaster struck when the Clarion cycling Club banner was blown to the ground and broke one of the poles and finials. Despite trying to jury rig the pole the banner was then hung over a stand for the event. Today is a Bank Holiday and shops are closed so we will have to try and fix it better tomorrow in Caspe.

 

An impressive Interpretation Centre on the Civil War is based in nearby Robres and there are reconstructed trench systems near Tardienta and Mount Irazo near Alcubierre. We were covered by Aragon television for broadcasting later in the evening. We also discovered that there are masses of links in Spain to the Cycle Ride!

 

In summary of our visit to the Ruta Orwell  I would heartily recommend visiting this site though all the information is in Spanish though they are hoping to include English translations of the leaflets. For further information look up the website in Spanish www.guerracivil.losmonegros.com

 

If anyone would like to visit this quite remote but significant place in the Aragon then contact me, Alan Warren on warren.ofbooks@virgin.net

 

Incidentally nearby in Granen is the place where the first Spanish Medical Aid Committee Hospital was based. Kenneth Sinclair Loutit and Reg Saxton were based here in late 1936 though now the “Hospital Britanico” is now demolished the local people have been doing extensive research on the place.

 

The evening ended with some dancing in the town and the promise to return at a later date.

 

Tomorrow our objective  is Caspe and we will now enter the area south of the River Ebro where the British battalion fought during the Great Retreats of March 1938

 

 

DAY 15. August 14th. Valtiera to Tardienta

 

Today was the most worrying of the trip for me as the roads to Tardienta were long and high climbing. However the sky was cloudy as we left and a strong wind kept the cyclists cool though it was a headwind and slowed them down quite a bit. We were met by the alcaldesa of Tardienta and other civic functionaries at the edge of the town and directed to the Ajuntamiento where we were given local delicacies and presented with an inscribed plaque commemorating our visit.

The Alcadesa of Tardienta presenting an inscribed plaque to Charles Jepson

The Alcadesa of Tardienta presenting an inscribed plaque to Charles Jepson

 

Tardienta is in the arid area of Los Monegros which lies between sarragossa and Huesca. Eventually we were given lunch at our pension, Casa Marga and later shown round the town’s Centre of Water. There is a massive irrigation canal passing through the town and this played an important part in the battles in Aragon.

Aqueduct at Tardienta

Aqueduct at Tardienta

 

 The following was going to be a Rest day to explore the Ruta Orwell which was one of the reasons to visit this remote and fascinating area.

Ruta Orwell reconstructed trenches

Ruta Orwell reconstructed trenches

 

 

 

DAY 14 August  13th. Logrono to Valteira

 

We l;eft under police escort after a warm welcome from the people of Logrono. Merce had to stay in Logrono to sort out some matters and she overheard a conversation between a group having a copy that they thought that the group was not composed of just British cyclists but was International!

 

Jesus Camara, secretary of the Comisiones Obreras de la Rioja drove with the cyclists to a village to the east of Logrono called “The Village of Widows” which had been devastated by the War. A moving memorial is now there but I was unable to go and have only this photo from Ruth!

Anna in front of the memorial in the "Village of the Widows"

Anna in front of the memorial in the

 

The memorial

The memorial

 

 

We had been joined for this section of the trip by a Logrono cyclist Julio, who will be with us for a few days.

Chris asleep in front of the Alcalde of Valtierra

Chris asleep in front of the Alcalde of Valtierra

 

Now with 14 cyclists we make an impressive group.

 

The cyclists reassembled on the outskirts of Valtiera and we drove to the Ajuntamiento to be met by the alcalde Alfonso Mateo Miranda who gave us an inscribed memento of a strange 5th century BC tower in the village which will be shortly restored and preserved. Sadly, Chris was overcome by the day and fell asleep while the alcalde was speaking. Shame on him!

 

But stranger things were to happen in that we were going to sleep in some caves! A precipice lines the north side of this plain and is dotted with simple cave dwellings which we were told were in regular use until only 40 years ago. The ones we used were clean and tidy and a novel experience for us all. Some of us went to update the blog in nearbye Tudela while the rest grabbed a drink in Valtiera.

 

 

 

 

DAY 13 August 12th. Legutiano to Logrono

 

Joined by members of the Legutiano and Gernika club we then set off for Logrono. This was a reasonable ride but a couple of short showers dampened the spirits and the final ride up to the edge of the Basque country to Lapoblacion allowed us to view the city of Logrono from a magnificent viewpoint.

 

Lapoblacion. Downhill all the way to Logrono from here!

Lapoblacion. Downhill all the way to Logrono from here!

 

 

A street in Lapoblacion that we noticed

A street in Lapoblacion that we noticed

 

 

 

 The ride down was easy and quick until we were pulled in by the local Police at a garage on the edge of the town! But they were only there to escort us to the Ajuntamiento!

 

The Police stopped us!

The Police stopped us!

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling a bit like royalty we were escorted in to much acclaim. At the Ajuntamiento we were met by the deputy Alcalde Angel Varez who welcomed us with a toast and a buffet. TV and newspapers were there and Manuel Moreno and Anna Marti were interviewed.

 

Charles Jepson and Angel Varez

The deputy Alcalde Angel Varez welcoming us to Logrono

The presidents of the Gernika, Clarion and Legutiano Cycling Clubs at Logrono reception

The presidents of the Gernika, Clarion and Legutiano Cycling Clubs at Logrono reception

Anna being interviewed

Anna being interviewed

 

 

Thanks to Jim Jump later that afternoon we were taken to a fossa commune at La Barranca on the outskirts of Logrono where 700 Republicans had been executed by Franco’s men. The President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, Jack Jones, had unveiled a memorial here only last year.

 

The Clarion banner at La Barranca

The Clarion banner at La Barranca

 

 

 

Paco "el Comunista"

Paco "el Comunista"

 

 

 

In a moving ceremony including a guitar solo by a cyclist from Logrono who we called “Iron Man”owing to him racing up and down steep hills escorting our weary group to Lapoblacion! Actually he calls himself Paco “el Comunista” and not only can he cycle hard he can play very well! He wore a Republican rosette on the back of his helmet too!

 

The following morning we appeared in two local newspapers including a two page spread with colour photos. We bought eleven copies of each!

 

Finally the group was taken back into Logrono where some of the group were invited to eat and then get to bed for the next leg of our journey

DAY 12 August 11th. Gernika to Legutiano

 

We left early from Gernika in the company of our guides from the Gernika Cycling Club.We had appeared in three Basque newspapers and were very happy with the reports They were keen to show us an airfield at Dima on the way down to Legutiano which had been used by the Condor Legion to bomb Gernika in April 1937.

 

The Basque landscape

The Basque landscape

 

 

 

The winding roads and dense forests made it hard to believe that an airfield could be in such an area, but as we reached the peak of one mountain we could see a concrete runway 400 metres long and 10m metres wide ending abruptly on a mountain edge.

 

the airfield that was used to bomb Gernika

Dima airfield that was used to bomb Gernika

 

 

Maybe enough runway to get a fully loaded bomber off the ground? The roads were now all the way down to Legutiano where we were met by officials of the town 

 

The group was invited to sleep in Legutiano Sports Hall by the Sports officer of the Ayuntamiento, Aito Izaguirre. We were taken for lunch with the Teniente Alcalde, Estibaliz Ibanez de Gauna in front of the Town Hall.

 

Manuel Moreno thansking Estibaliz Ibanex de Guana for the town´s hospitality

Manuel Moreno thanking Estibaliz Ibanez de Guana for the town´s hospitality on behalf of the cyclists

 

 

 

We were then driven up to a mountain above Legutiano to be shown the panorama of one of the major battles for the Basque country. In December 1936 the basque government had attempted to attack nationalist forces in this area, but in April 1937 the Nationalists assaulted the first “Ring of Iron” protecting Bilbao. Each of the three mountains in the defence line were occupied by a battalion of either Socialist, Communist or Anarchist origin, but this mountain was held by a Socialist battalion in cold and wet weather. The Nationalists attacked from the road flanking the mountain on which we had been driven up to the crest and the Germans had experimented with their 88mm guns as artillery rather than anti-aircraft guns aswell as using aerial support for the infantry attacks. It was said that the dead were hanging from the trees and resistance was negligible. Slowy but surely the mountains fell one by one and the Basque forces had to retreat towards Bilbao. A tragic story.

 

The memorial
The memorial

Memorial panel

Memorial panel

Maite

Maite

 

 

Manuel Moreno who joimned us at Bilbao is also President of the Basque Children’s Assocuiation of 1937 who had joined us at Bilbao for thr ride was moved by this visit and also by the fact that his grandfather had been killed here during the fighting on these mountains.

 

The group on top of the mountain at Legutiano

The group on top of the mountain at Legutiano (Chris´ hat blowing off as we took the photo!)

 

 

 

The Bicycle Museum

The Bicycle Museum

 

 

 

Some of the group were then invited to a bicycle museum and a distillery with a 46% proof liquid of which they seemed to enjoy.  We all slept soundly in the Sports Hall before being met by members of the Gernika and Logrono Club to continue on our way to Logrono  the following morning

 

 

Lyn fast asleep in the Sports Hall

Lyn fast asleep in the Sports Hall

.

 

Day 11. August 10th. Bilbao to Gernika

 

After a well earned rest on the ferry we disembarked at the Port of Bilbao to be welcomed by a Basque TV crew and the Gernika Cyclist Club and a group advocating a Spanish Republic based in Bilbao.

Our welcome at Bilbao

Our welcome at Bilbao

 

 

Our Basque friend Maite was also there to introduce us to everyone and fairly quickly we were off.

 

With Republican, Basque and Catalan flags flying we were tooted by numerous cars as we drove to Gernika. The bus was very naughty as we drove off straight for Gernika to sort out the introduction and we were called back by the Gernika cyclists to near Mungia when we were in a long queue of vehicles following the cyclists. The Basques were very kind in supporting our group over the hilly terrain.

 

 

We were greeted by the Alcalde or Alkatea of Gernika, José Maria Gorroňo, and a letter from the mayor of Glasgow was read out and handed to the Alcalde by our leader Charles Jepson.

 

Numerous gifts were exchanged including a scarf for each participant of the cycle ride by the Alkatea embroidered with the Patron saint of Gernika, San Roke. His Saint’s day is August 6th.

 

 

We were then treated to a Basque dance and shown the ancient Tree of Gernika.

 

The Tree of Gernika

The Tree of Gernika

 

 

 

The director of the Gernika peace Museum, Iratxe Momorrio gave the group a guided tour of the museum and we then ate with members of the Gernika Cyclist Club for lunch.

 

After lunch we were invited to a winery called Itsas Mendi which is a small business producing txakoli, a Basque white wine which we were invited to try.

 

Idris

Itsas Mendi

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were also shown the vineyards with the grapes almost ready to be picked. The name of the man who showe3d us round was Aritz, which means “oak” in Basque

 

Later in the afternoon the cyclists were taken to the Gernika Youth Hostel and then invited to a strange event involving two cows dragging a huge stone up and down a cobbled street.

 

 

We are not quite sure what it was celebrating as the posters were in Basque but everyone was having a good time. It seems that the Basques enjoy doing lots of things with big stones and also have Christian names to do with trees.

 

Tomorrow we head for Legutiano under the guidance of members of the Gernika Cyclist Club with Damaso. Many thanks to Isidro, the leader of the Club for organising this wonderful day,our first day in Spain.

Day 10. August 8th 2008. Southampton and Portsmouth and the ferry to Bilbao

 

The morning of the 8th dawned bright and sunny as the cyclists were reunited with their bikes left overnight in La Taverneta and made their way to the IB memorial close to the Cenotaph north of the Civic Centre in Southampton. To see us off was Grayston complete with bandaged left arm after his fall the day before.

Grayston

Grayston

 

 

 

Many thanks to the staff of Southampton General Hospital for looking after him. Sadly Grayston had to say goodbye to us in the morning as he had a train to catch to return to Yorkshire (This was part of the plan  and was not due to his fall). We will miss his enthusiasm and speed in the cycle ride. Hopefully Chris will have a new companion to match him as both he and Grayston were usually in the lead. We were joined for the cycle ride last night by Pippa, Sid’s wife, and Lynn who had helped organise the Leicester event.

 

At 11.00am Alan Lloyd began a short commemoration to the four International Brigaders from the Southampton area killed during the conflict.

Alan Lloyd addressing the rabble

Alan Lloyd addressing the rabble

 

 

 

Alan has been doing a great deal of research on Hampshire Brigaders and has a book which should be ready for publication shortly. His passion is evident by his and his partner Beth’s hardwork in organising this event. Thank you not only to Alan and Beth but also to those who kindly hosted us overnight.

 

Local press were there and Anna and Ruth seemed to become the centre piece for the photo sessions.

Anna and Ruth beside the Southampton memorial

Anna and Ruth beside the Southampton memorial

 

 

 

Perhaps some bicycle company might like to promote their wares on Anna’s and Ruth’s chests?

The cyclists and friends before they left for Portsmouth

The cyclists and friends before they left for Portsmouth

 

 

 

 

 

The Southampton memorial

The Southampton memorial

 

Letters from the mayors of Southampton and Portsmouth were read out and given to the cyclists to deliver to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona. Thanks to Maite’s tireless work in Spain we are now being covered by Radio Catalunya during our trip through Spain and have permission to take the support van into Placa St Jaume in Barcelona when we get there for a variety of civic functions organised by the Ajuntament of Barcelona. Sadly the mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, is in China for the opening of the Olympic Games but we will be welcomed by his deputy, Ricard Goma, in his absence.

 

After the commemoration the cyclists were escorted by a police motorcyclist to the outskirts of Southampton (our reputation goes before us?).

Our Police escort

Our Police escort

 

 
On to Portsmouth!

On to Portsmouth!

 

Some of us were also able to view the recently unveiled memorial to the Basque refugees in the Civic Centre only unveiled last year.

 

Opposite the IB memorial stands a memorial to the engineer officers of the Titanic which sailed from Southampton on its ill fated maiden voyage.

 

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

 

 

 

 

The cyclists then went to Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth where a short memorial service was held for Jimmy Miller who was wounded on the Ebro and died of his wounds in Portsmouth in January 1939.

 

Charles Jepson gave a short speech explaining the reasons for the cycle ride from Glasgow to Barcelona.

 

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

 

 

 

 

By 4.00pm the cyclists had set off for Portsmouth Docks to catch the ferry to Bilbao. The patient work by the official at the entrance was much appreciated and though the ferry was late loading the cyclists and the van were first on.

 

 

Whilst waiting for the ferry to load I idly took photos of the various Royal Navy ships in dock to send back to Moscow for our Intelligence Archives. Old habits die hard…….

 

 

The Pride of Bilbao

The Pride of Bilbao

 

 

 

 

The ferry crossing took 36 hours and the group was able to rest and relax with some of us searching for whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Great fun! The Pride of Bilbao has a dedicated officer co-ordinating the study of marine life during each trip and they also organise specialised trips for only £99 for three days three times a year just to look out for the numerous species of whales and dolphins observed on the trip. I would like to do this trip again just to do that!

 

A fin whale

A fin whale

 

 

 

 

 

Another fin whale

Another fin whale

 

But we are due to dock at 0700 tomorrow morning and I need an early night to prepare for the fascinating journey though the Basque country towards Barcelona. We are nearly halfway there!

 

Oh yes. For those who we may meet on the trip there is a way of identifying Clarion Club members as was used during its heyday. Whenever you pass a cyclist just shout out “Boots!” and any member of the Clarion Club will reply loudly “Spurs!”. Try it on us if you see us!

 

DAY 9. 7th August. Bristol to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Police escort

Our Police escort

 

 
On to Portsmouth!

On to Portsmouth!

 

Some of us were also able to view the recently unveiled memorial to the Basque refugees in the Civic Centre only unveiled last year.

 

Opposite the IB memorial stands a memorial to the engineer officers of the Titanic which sailed from Southampton on its ill fated maiden voyage.

 

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

 

 

 

 

The cyclists then went to Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth where a short memorial service was held for Jimmy Miller who was wounded on the Ebro and died of his wounds in Portsmouth in January 1939.

 

Charles Jepson gave a short speech explaining the reasons for the cycle ride from Glasgow to Barcelona.

 

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

 

 

 

 

By 4.00pm the cyclists had set off for Portsmouth Docks to catch the ferry to Bilbao. The patient work by the official at the entrance was much appreciated and though the ferry was late loading the cyclists and the van were first on.

 

 

Whilst waiting for the ferry to load I idly took photos of the various Royal Navy ships in dock to send back to Moscow for our Intelligence Archives. Old habits die hard…….

 

 

The Pride of Bilbao

The Pride of Bilbao

 

 

 

 

The ferry crossing took 36 hours and the group was able to rest and relax with some of us searching for whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Great fun! The Pride of Bilbao has a dedicated officer co-ordinating the study of marine life during each trip and they also organise specialised trips for only £99 for three days three times a year just to look out for the numerous species of whales and dolphins observed on the trip. I would like to do this trip again just to do that!

 

A fin whale

A fin whale

 

 

 

 

 

Another fin whale

Another fin whale

 

But we are due to dock at 0700 tomorrow morning and I need an early night to prepare for the fascinating journey though the Basque country towards Barcelona. We are nearly halfway there!

 

Oh yes. For those who we may meet on the trip there is a way of identifying Clarion Club members as was used during its heyday. Whenever you pass a cyclist just shout out “Boots!” and any member of the Clarion Club will reply loudly “Spurs!”. Try it on us if you see us!

 

DAY 9. 7th August. Bristol to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidometer reading each day as we go. Kieran crashed before Cirencester but we patched his knees up and later he joined us in the bus to go to Bristol; he will live and cycle tomorrow thanks to Merce’s good care of him. Some are looking forward to the boat trip as their first real rest!

 

The van motored on to St Peter’s Church in Castle Park in Bristol. The church was damaged in the Blitz and stands roofless as a mute reminder to the horrors of aerial bombardment which was first carried out on Gernika. In December 1986 Jack Jones, now President of the International Brigade Memorial Trust unveiled the plaque pictured here.

 

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

At the Bristol International Brigade Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

Close up of the Memorial

 

We nearly all posed for a photo in front of it before loading up the bicycles and heading off to the home of John Pridham in Burnham on Sea.

 

Charles and Chris load up the van

Charles and Chris load up the van

 

The group were tired now but we were honoured by a wonderful party with food and drink aswell as the Red Notes Bristol Choir who sang to us a number of suitable revolutionary songs through the evening.

 

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

The Red Notes Choir from Bristol singing for us

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

Our host John Pridham and Dave Chapple

The Red Notes Choir

The Red Notes Choir

 

Dave Chapple, who was a good friend of IBer Andy Andrews who sadly died last May at the age of 101 addressed us and our leader Charles replied. Dave kindly displayed early copies of the Clarion Cycling Club magazine aswell as other material on the Club.

 

A great time was had by all at the party and we would like to thank John and all his friends  aswell as the Red Note Choir who helped make the event such fun. Good food, good company and good conversation was the perfect end to a tiring day. Oh yes. It started to rain as we drove down to Burnham on Sea!

 

Tomorrow Southampton! 

 

Here are individual photographs of the group so that hopefully you can identify them better in the photos on this blog:

 

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

'Grey Wolf' Grayston

Chris

Chris

Sid

Sid

Anna

Anna

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Colin Carrit who joined us at Stow

Stuart

Stuart

Terry

Terry

'Easy Rider' Martin

'Easy Rider' Martin

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Ruth texting while Charles does all the pedalling

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Kieran who crashed on the way to Bristol but he is ok!

Margaret

Margaret

Merce

Merce

Alan working hard as usual!

Alan working hard as usual!

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

DAY 7. Tuesday 5th August. Leicester to Stow on the Wold.

 

Despite an excellent breakfast made up for seven of us by Lynn’s wife, Jeanette, while Sid’s wife Pippa, who looked after Anna, Terry and Stuart and Steve, the cook of last night’s excellent meal who hosted Martin and Grayston, the day dawned wet and miserable. The cyclists set off from their hosts down to the Peace Walk beside Leicester University. Here a small plaque has been laid to Leicester International Brigaders Fred Jackson (Jarama), Jack Watson (Jarama) and Clarion Cycling Club member Roy Watts (the Ebro).

 

 

Leicester International Brigade memorial

Leicester International Brigade memorial

 

 

A photographer from the Leicester Mercury took photos of the cyclists in front of the Clarion banner for possible inclusion in tonight’s paper.

 

 

Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial
Cyclists in front of Leicester memorial

Opposite this was a memorial to the British Nuclear Test Veterans with the text “All we seek is Justice”. This was only put up in November 1993

 

 

We were joined by a new cyclist Kieran Whitrow who will be coming with us all the way to Barcelona. Lynn Hurst also joined us for the photo shoot but he will join us later at Southampton on the boat.

 

In pouring rain we eventually met for lunch at the Queen’s Head at Bretford. Stuart suffered a split tyre and Anna a puncture on the way from Leicester. In order to find a spare tyre Stuart, Terry, Grayston and Chris detoured back into Leicester and were delayed for our lunch together, having theirs in another village further north.

 

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

Sid having a free meal and Anna examining a strangely shaped chip in the Cannon pub in Cross Clay. Terry and Margaret in the background

 

 

 

We have decided to keep a tally on the number of punctures on the trip now!

 

We are travelling along the ancient Fosse Way to Stow on the Wold which is a pleasure to drive down. We will be staying at the Stow on the Wold YHA for the night before going down to Burnham on Sea via Bristol.

 

As I finish this report it is apparent that today has been the hardest yet for the cyclists. The miserable weather and the hills to climb have taken it out on everyone. Martin has only just come in at 2100 while the others have been invited to a party at Chipping Norton. They do not intend to stay out for long as they are absolutely knackered! The cyclists are now doubting Sid’s skills in judging distances. He said that today an easy cycle ride, but in actual fact it is probably easier going the other way! We now have a “Sidometer” to judge how easy a ride is and it is not very accurate.

 

 

Sid

Sid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Also Grayston does not like the sticky toffee pudding served at the YHA tonight. Sadly it only rates a “1” by his reckoning!

 

Supper at Stow YHA

Supper at Stow YHA

Sadly Natasha had to leave us today. She was always up front and a very good cyclist. I think the rest will miss her enthusiasm and effort.

 

 

And today is Merce’s birthday. Happy birthday Merce! She had a birthday cake this evening.

 

 

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

Alan being punished in Stow for not working harder on the blog

 

 

Tomorrow morning we head for Bristol, Weston Super Mare and tomorrow night we sleep in Burnham on Sea. Bad weather is again promised.

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY 6 Monday August 4th. Written at Lynn Hurst’s house in Leicester.

 

In bright sunny weather the group left Wortley Hall bound for friends in Leicester after a big breakfast in the Fireman’s Union dining room. We took some photos of the riders in front of the building. I understand that an article on the cycle ride appeared in today’s Morning Star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

Cyclists in front of Wortley Hall

 

We filled up the water container in the back of the van for the first time. This is vital for the Spain side of things. Everyone is coping well and enjoying the ride. Now Merce and I are joined in the bus by Charles’ wife, Margaret. So we have company to help and advise us when we get lost (which isn’t that often!). We drove down past Chesterfield Cathedral with its strange twisted spire late in the morning and eventually stopped at Clay Cross for lunch. The cyclists then sped on to Leicester via Botton on Stour for a drink by the river. The group is slowly coming here drips and drabs while Merce and I sort out the blog and maps for Spain now we have addresses from Maite who has done such a wonderful job for us in Spain with accomodation and publicity. We already have letters to give to the mayors of Gernika and Barcelona by the councils of Rotherham and now Leicester. Martin and Natasha have disappeared and Grayston has gone out to try and find them!

 

DAY 5 Sunday August 3rd. Bolton to Wortley Hall

We were served a delicious breakfast at the Bolton Socialist Club by members at them early hour of 0700 before the group of cyclists left for Wortley Hall closely followed by the bus.

 

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

The bus by Bolton Socialist Club

 

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

Natasha, Anna and Ruth

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclist in front of Bolton Socialist Club

Cyclists in front of Bolton Socialist Club

 

A delay through Manchester was caused by Greystone suffering three punctures through Manchester! The majority of the cyclists slogged on through the Pennines and we reached Clifton Park in Rotherham just in time for speeches and songs and later a buffet at Joan Brown’s house.

 

Clifton Park, Rotherham

Clifton Park, Rotherham

 

 

 

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Cyclists entering Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

Supporters at Clifton Park

DAY 4 AUGUST 2ND. Settle to Bolton

The ride was fast and furious to Bolton where we stayed at the Bolton Friends Meeting House for the night thanks to the kindness of Margaret Johnson. We bedded down in various rooms and were fed and entertained by the Bolton Socialist Club in nearby Wood Street. They sent us off in god style the following morning bound for Rotherham and Wortley Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 DAY 1 to DAY 3, 30th July to August 1st

  Written at Settle

 

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

Support bus being loaded outside Glasgow YHA

 

 

 

 

 

At 10.00am on Wednesday 30th July at the International Brigades memorial in Glasgow on the River Clyde saw ten cyclists join a small group of supporters for the send off of the intrepid group to Barcelona. Jimmy Friel, president of the Scottish Printworkers’ Union gave a rousing speech including the singing of “The Battle of Jarama” originally composed by by Alec McDade and the playing of bagpipes saw the group racing off towards Hamilton in fair weather.

 

 

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

Cyclists in front of the International Brigade memorial on the River Clyde in Glasgow

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

Cyclists leaving Glasgow with Jimmy Friel, President of the Scottish Printworker's Union holding the Clarion flag at the back.

By 6.00pm the cyclists had reached their first place to sleep at Wiston Lodge, north east of Abington after a 40 mile ride, the last part being in wet weather.

 

 

Wiston Lodge

Wiston Lodge

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The support bus outside Wiston

The support bus outside Wiston

 

We left Wiston Lodge at 0900 on the Thursday 31st and began an 80 mile cycle ride to Carlisle Youth Hostel through Beattock where we had a simple pub lunch at the Old Stable Inn. When the landlord heard about our journey he kindly donated £10 towards our fund raising. Thank you! We passed parallel to the M74 through Lockerbie where the support van bumped (we were parked!) into a Catalan man wondering why the Catalan flag was on top of a van in Scotland! Driving past Gretna Green we finally entered Carlisle about 6.00pm to bed down at the YHA close to the castle. 

 

Some of us drove up to see Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg close to Housesteads in the evening but again the rain was atrocious so it was a short and brief visit!

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg

 

 

 

 

 

To our shame, some of us ate in an Italian restaurant called “Franco’s”! But the food was excellent.

 

 
 
  
       

 

The end of a hard day.

The end of a hard day.

 

 

 

 

 

But who is this small but intrepid group composed of? Well, here are the names. The individual characters will develop during this exciting ride over the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly the leader of the group and instigator of the 70th anniversary trip; Charles Jepson and his passenger on his bright yellow tandem, Ruth Coates. Chris Goode, Greystone Small, Terry Lynch, Stuart Walsh, Sid Sherriff, Anna Marti from Catalunya and Martin and and daughter in law Natasha Perfect were joined by Natasha’s husband Edward in Carlisle. Meanwhile the two support van drivers Alan Warren and Merce Lluveras completed the team which will vary in numbers as we go on. We will keep you posted on withdrawals and additions as we go. How I keep this updated is another matter however!

 

Entering England

Entering England

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

From front to back: Stuart, Anna, Terry and Sid in the pouring rain between Penrith and Kirkby Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 1st August saw us leaving Carlisle in rain and ending up in Hawes in miserable weather.

 

We had lunch in Appelby at the Crown and Cushion.

 

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

Chris and Anna at Appelby. Anna enjoying the local beer

 

 

 

 

 

As I write it is more like October than August as I write this in the YHA at Hawes.

 

Leaving Hawes YHA

Leaving Hawes YHA

 

 

 

 

 

Good food and good company will hopefully make the long journey tomorrow bearable. The scenery between Hawes and Settle was quite astounding!

 

Ribblehead railway bridge

Ribblehead railway bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Expect us in Bolton at the Friend’s Meeting House about 6.00pm on the 2nd if the weather is fair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to Portsmouth!

On to Portsmouth!

 

Some of us were also able to view the recently unveiled memorial to the Basque refugees in the Civic Centre only unveiled last year.

 

Opposite the IB memorial stands a memorial to the engineer officers of the Titanic which sailed from Southampton on its ill fated maiden voyage.

 

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

Titanic memorial opposite IB memorial

 

 

 

 

The cyclists then went to Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth where a short memorial service was held for Jimmy Miller who was wounded on the Ebro and died of his wounds in Portsmouth in January 1939.

 

Charles Jepson gave a short speech explaining the reasons for the cycle ride from Glasgow to Barcelona.

 

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

Charles Jepson speaking at Jimmy Miller´s grave

 

 

 

 

By 4.00pm the cyclists had set off for Portsmouth Docks to catch the ferry to Bilbao. The patient work by the official at the entrance was much appreciated and though the ferry was late loading the cyclists and the van were first on.

 

 

Whilst waiting for the ferry to load I idly took photos of the various Royal Navy ships in dock to send back to Moscow for our Intelligence Archives. Old habits die hard…….

 

 

The Pride of Bilbao

The Pride of Bilbao

 

 

 

 

The ferry crossing took 36 hours and the group was able to rest and relax with some of us searching for whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Great fun! The Pride of Bilbao has a dedicated officer co-ordinating the study of marine life during each trip and they also organise specialised trips for only £99 for three days three times a year just to look out for the numerous species of whales and dolphins observed on the trip. I would like to do this trip again just to do that!

 

A fin whale

A fin whale

 

 

 

 

 

Another fin whale

Another fin whale

 

But we are due to dock at 0700 tomorrow morning and I need an early night to prepare for the fascinating journey though the Basque country towards Barcelona. We are nearly halfway there!

 

Oh yes. For those who we may meet on the trip there is a way of identifying Clarion Club members as was used during its heyday. Whenever you pass a cyclist just shout out “Boots!” and any member of the Clarion Club will reply loudly “Spurs!”. Try it on us if you see us!

 

DAY 9. 7th August. Bristol to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a hearty breakfast at our hosts we all drove back to Castle Park in Bristol to unload the bicycles and to get back on the road.

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

The cyclists in Castle Park, Bristol

 

 

 

 

 

We took some photos of us by the bandstand and while the cyclists began their journey along the cycle path towards Bath, the bus decided to take a trip to the Pump Rooms in Bath and later the Avebury rings on our way to meet the cyclists just east of Salisbury where a member of the Clarion club would be waiting.

 

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce trying to reset the Avebury stones despite some awkward children

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Merce and Margaret taking the waters at the Pump Rooms, Bath

Alan cleaning the bus

Alan cleaning the bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met our guide Maurie as arranged at 4.00pm, but of the cyclists there was no sign.

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

Maurie, our guide to Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth and Charles’ tandem was having wheel bearing problems and despite offers of help they decided to try and get it fixed in Salisbury themselves. Of the rest of the cyclists there was no sign. Leaving Maurie and Margaret to collect any wandering cyclists from the group Merce and I drove back towards Wilton to try and find the cyclists. By chance as we re-entered Salisbury from the west we found all the cyclists together outside Nash’s Cycle shop trying to find the correct ball bearings for the tandem rear wheel.

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

Repairing the wheel of the tandem at Nash Cycles, Salisbury

 

 

 

 

 

 The rest of the cyclists set off through Salisbury to meet Maurie while we tried to locate the proper fittings with Charles and Ruth. Then disaster struck! A phone call from Sid informed us that Grayston had fallen off his bicycle east of Salisbury and had fractured his collar bone. Leaving Charles and Ruth to fix their tandem the bus drove to where the rest of the group was waiting beside the injured Grayston and we quickly got him and his bicycle into the van and drove down to Salisbury General Hospital to have him treated. In the meantime the rest of the cyclists went on to meet Maurie, who on locating them all but  Charles and Ruth on their tandem discovered that he had a puncture!

 

Communicating between the cyclists and the organiser of the Southampton event that evening in Southampton worked and eventually by 8.30 pm who were the first to turn up at La Taverneta near the Civic Centre where we were to eat but Ruth and Charles!

 

Finally all made the venue and by 9.30 we were able to collect Grayston and Margaret from the hospital and to feed them. As they entered the restaurant they were treated to a round of applause from the invited guests and treated as returning heroes!

Meal at La Taverneta

Meal at La Taverneta

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

Ravenous cyclists at La Taverneta

 

Over the evening a number of speeches were made and songs sung including a stirring rendition led by Stuart of “Joe Hill”. Another favourite was “I am the man, the very fat man, what waters the workers’ beer”!

 

Tired and exhausted the group was invited back to their host’s houses for a well eared rest!

 

So all ended well on what was quite a stressful day for all of us. I think that the group wll need the rest on the boat tomorrow.

 

Thank you to all our hosts for looking after us and especially to Alan Lloyd for organising such a pleasant event.

 

DAY 8. 6th August Stow on the Wold to Bristol

 

For  a change the weather was dry this morning and despite a breakfast at the YHA in which the coffee and tea were awfully weak (Our two Catalan companions cannot believe the state of coffee here in the United Kingdom) we ate fairly well.

Stuart, Colin and Martin outside Stow YHA

Eventually the cyclists were organised outside the YHA and set off towards Tetbury where the van was to meet them for lunch. Colin Carrit from Woodstock joined us in Stow for the ride. Sid had planned the ride down to Bristol via a pleasant cycle route into the centre of Bristol, but despite this the Sidometer read 9.5 out of a maximum of ten later that night (This is now measured by the other cyclists at the end of each day). Again he had under estimated the hills and the cyclists found it almost as hard going as the day before. We will give you a Sidom