Broomfield Hospital ICU

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Ben(The Driver)

benA week ago I was not a part of this team. A week ago when Cheryl, my wife, phoned her parents to ask if they could look after our daughter Esmee on my days off, because I was maybe joining a cycle team on a ride to John O'Groats my mum-in-law nearly fainted due to shock. She was soon resuscitated with the fact that I would be the support driver, not getting on a bike.
Very proud I am to be supporting the lads in their efforts. They are all excellent blokes, and the ride is for an extremely good and valuable cause. Kevin has put it very well in his blog so I feel no need to embelish on it further.
There are good reasons why I am not cycling: first, I aint THAT mad. 1,500 miles in 10 days. Err no!. Up to the shop and back, with a stop in the pub for a pint or 2, yes. Second, I look better in neoprene than lycra (you'll just have to trust me on this) and third, I've got a bad toe. But if it is getting in the grub and fluids, motivating and keeping the vibes positive, cooking up a bacon and egg buttie and brewing a cuppa, then I'm ya man. But there is nooo way I'm doing leg rubs (so give it up lads, right!). Now all I need to do is pass that driving test and learn to map read. Haha.
I need to do some big UPS. My Ma and Pa-in-law, Linda and Colin for taking over my dad days, Izzy and Johnny.B for covering my shifts at work, without whom I would not be able to go at all. Thank you! to you 4. And my Mrs, Cheryl, who was chilled enough to just say 'go on then' without a second thought.
Lastly to the lads, lets do this for Alasdair. And remember I'm right behind you, or in front or round the corner or somewhere. And you can guarantee if the going gets tough, which it will, or the weather is either chucking it down gale force or blistering hot like an oven, then my windows will be up and the air con on, don't you worry ....... I'll be fine!.


Day 11 Lincoln back to Broomfield. Some Shakespear is in order me thinks for sooth. PDF Print E-mail

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

This also applies to those that from Middle Earth do hail and Poland.
0550. We are at the van. Matt is gnawing at the door frame so eager is he to be off. It would be fair to say the day is dreich. Tis 6am and the rain is falling. There are punctures to be fixed from the day before and everyone except the mentalist have resided not to ride in rain again for the moment. Matt sets off and we follow sometime later. A stop in another leafy yet very damp layby for breakfast. Sausages bacon and eggs,brown bread and hot milk tea sets the team right up. Leon has to go for a wonder into a field to er...ease himself. Bringing most of the field back with him on his cleats.(These are the metal devices on the sole part of cyclist shoes,which attach ones footwear to the pedals, in a manner that one can pull on the up stroke as well as pushing down whilst pedalling. Doubling the input force through ones crank simutaneously so to speak. See I'm learning. These are also the devices the Frodo Roadkill member of our team would forget to release each time he stopped, thus enabling he to fall dumbly sideways into the path of moving traffic.) BUT guess what it seems to be drying up, and if one can smell rain coming then I can also smell sun coming!!. Few miles on and all are decamping the van except me to mount bike, Matt appears and off they all set towards Royston not Vasey but who knows. Definately seems to be turning back into summer again. Yay. Bout time.
Undulating flatlands (is that possible), stretch out before us, rolling Lincolnshire merges into Cambridgeshire, pretty villages come and go. Years ago prior to nursing I worked in a forestry department of a big country estate around here, on the edge of Peterborough, so this is all very familiar and nostalgic for me. A long Roman road (Kings lane) leads down to the village of Wansford, the place of our second stop on the trip. Cambridgeshire gives way to Herts. Not far now. Royston is reached and I have time to source some very cheap champagne which I am to freeze virtually solid in my fridge for later.
The day has turned out smashing and the lads arrive and fall in a heap next to the van. We rest up now until others arrive to bravely cycle the last leg back to Broomfireld with us. More frying and boiling of kettle. No, not frying of kettle silly. Michelle and Sophie insulted me deeply by going next door to the Little Chef to purchase onion rings instead of excepting a rather tempting fish paste and blackpudding sandwich from my kitchen, whereas Rob, Matt's Dad and his mate had no qualms about it. It's ok I'm not bitter. Really I'm not. Tom, Matt's Bro also turned up and followed me back in his motor. Next stop a quick rondezvous in Takely to take on more light weights I mean cyclists, Conrad and a nurse from theatres who's name escapes me..sorry.
So now just like Simon and Garfunkle we are truelly homeward bound.Home where my thought's escaping, home where my music's playing, home where my love lies waiting, silently for me. Getting quite lyrical me eh.
We stopped outside the main entance of the hospital to crack open the champagne in a bottle lollipops. Then round towards the 'Old Nurses Home'. I blasted my horn in true tour ending fashion and rounded the bends to be met by a cheering crowd and the flashes of cameras, a heroes welcome indeed.
I'm very proud of the achievement that we as a team have made. It was no mean fete to cycle that distance in that time. I am very glad that the van held it together down some of those hills and didn't break down on me. But mostly that we all got home in one piece to tell our story. I will never forget the experience and I have the greatest respect for the effort the lads put into this. I'm pleased to think that I have a new friend to add to my not Jock the biker in J O'G. My brother and twin Mr Frodo Christopher cleats oot pal Roadkill Sir.
To the all the team I would like to say an Old Ravers catchphrase. Top One, Nice One, Get Sorted. Big box little box big box little box big box little box big box little box big box little box big box............................................
Day 10 PDF Print E-mail
Well thats twice we have stayed here now and I haven't seen a single Orc yet. Good job really, as I'm sure Frodo's sword would have been bluely glowing, requiring us to charge out to attack them. Stinking Orcs, LEAVE Frodo's ring alone. Ahem.
Anyway the day was drab and wet, as usual, but not actually completely hossing it down. So the cycle posse grimly set off southwards, whilst I set off even more grimly in search of Morrison's. Which I never found incidently. The instructions the lady at reception gave me seemed straight forward enough, but I found myself heading out of town into no-mans land. Thought sod this and turned the van around.
I caught the boys up in Darlington, found a Somerfield, and thought to myself that'll do nicely, they are sure to sell potnoodles and cat food here. Nearly took an old dear out with the back of the motor swinging into the carpark over the curb. Poor love probably hadn't moved so fast since the last time some chav made a grab for her pension outside the post office.
Our first arranged stop was near Topcliffe, wonder why it's called that. The boys were wet and shivering. Hot tea was in order, and a hot bath, but they could sing for that and still not get one. Dripping lycra was left hanging from every available place, causing muddy puddles to appear about the floor of me van. It was during this break that it was noticed the happy and joyful blue/orange flame of my trusty camping stove was beginning to sputter and cough in a fit of terminal calor-ific decline.
Must get more gas, today is not a good day for cold comfort and crunchy noodles. I stopped at 4 places before being directed to a boat yard some way away before I was successful. The lads had needed another warm up break in the mean time but unfortunately I didn't have the gas yet, the look on Kevin's face said it all. He was shivering wildly, and looked totally forlorn when I told him as I excelerated away...No gas yet buddy. I wasn't staying there for long, didn't fancy the linching. Even a little hobbity dancing wouldn't raise his spirits at this juncture. I guess Frodo wasn't inclined to start twanging his bib straps and grinding those hips in this weather which could have made all the difference.
Gas at last so needed to get to the lads pronto. Tea, noodles with extra chilli, bacon and eggs. Sorted. My life secure for the moment.
The weather was not going to let up. And as we drew nearer to Lincoln I took on a cyclist every once in a while. Except Matt, who in his customery way went brazenly on. I finally picked up Chris at the top of a knee burning climb into a village called Kirton in Lindsey. The last proper climb of the day, and maybe the trip.
The drive through Lincoln itself was a nightmare, dark, rainy and disorientating, a oneway system sat nav clash to beat all others. 'No I can't perform a U-turn I'm on a dual carriage way you stiiiiiuuupid thingmy'. By the time I had wiggled the van into a parking spot big enough, and the lads had decanted towards our lodgings Matt had arrived and was chuffing down a rolly, and generally bouncing around like a looney. Nothing for it, get into the bar order pints and food, it was late and the kitchen would be closing in 10 minutes. A brief conflab on the next days precededings concluded with the plan to be on the road by 6 (yes six) am. This was to ensure we would not be arriving at Broomfield for at 9pm and everyone at the Bar-be-que to be slaughtered on the lawn upon our arrival.
Day 9 PDF Print E-mail
0720.Chirrrpp chirrpp chirrpp chirrpp chirrpp. The cicada in my pocket starts to vibrate violently urging me to pull it out and give it attention. Looks like it could rain today. I have just wandered back towards the breakfast room having dumped my bags in the van with Matt. Who as usual has wandered off, this time in the direction of the neighbouring field, as there is a sheep grazing and he wants to carress it and commend it on it's fine covering of wool. I retrieve the insistant buzzing thing from my jeans. Phone call. 'Bello'.  Me, 'Yes Bello, how are ya?' (this is Robin), ' Fine yeah, Dad day looking after the chimps, listen Bello have you seen any news?'. 'Not yet Bello, just on me way to eat as it goes'. He, 'Well you might want to catch the weather forecast, I have just heard an extra severe weather warning for Edinburgh and the southern uplands of Scotland'. Slight tinge of urgency notes in his voice tell me he is not having a pop....this time. Me, 'What is it, wind Bello?'.  'No, rain Bello and lots of it, Like several cm's per hour'. I won't repeat the word that came out of my mouth next, lets just say it was an example of the best Anglo Saxon. Me, 'That sounds like the entire route for today then'. He, 'Yup, that is exactly what I was wondering about, thought you should know sharpish'. Me, 'Cheers Bello that is an excellent shout, will tell the others and get on-line over breakfast, check out the met office website. Laters Bello, love to all '
Over beans on toast, sure enough the forecast is more than appalling. You would not count this as a good day to do laundry by any standards. Nothing for it, for safety's sake all in the van, get across Edinburgh and well out of the city and have a good hard look at the weather and roads. Except for one thing, you couldn't see any weather as the rain and mist got completely in the way, and the roads were invisible under a sheet of filthy pedal deep water. Five up in the van for now then. Matt sat up front with me. Gnashing teeth, clawing at the windows, bugged eyed and hyperventilating, followed by periods of calm, where he would gently say 'No no no no no no no' to himself. Before fitfully sleeping in self imposed dejected isolation.
BUT...the further South we went the worse it got for a time anyway. Hmmpff. A horse box infront of us had a bow wave so magnificent that you could have surfed it. No honestly it was about six foot tall and was knocking down the cows who had ventured near to the road to see what the fuss was all about. This made Matt feel much better about things as even he would not have cycled in these conditions. But it didn't stop him from forking his own thigh as penance. He be mad yes it's true. But not that mad.
Apparently at some point we crossed the border into Eeeengerland again, but who could tell where the Scotch mist ended and the English fog began. Twas all greyness, doom and water in them there mountains.  
I think most of the boys were nodding a touch when round the mountain passes I started to glimpse the odd crack in the cloud cover ahead. Best say nothing for now, it might be a dream, you know me. But no. Blow me (please), the weather was breaking and for the first time in an age a yellow orb was beginning to show.
We stopped, suddenly there was the sound of snapping lycra on skin, a ciggy was hurriedly smoked, a helmet fastened, and before we knew it Matt had broken loose across the moor. Go on son. Cycle Forest, cycle. The sound of happy, if not vaguely psychotic laughter filled our ears.
Have to say the weather did not look entirely safe, but it remained dryish. The wind was coming straight out of the south (true) at about 75 knots (??, made this bit up. I have no idea what that amounts to, pretty stiff tho.). Undeterred the rest of us ventured on to Bishop Aukland in the van.
Matt made it home in very good time, but not as quick as us. Ha
Day 8 PDF Print E-mail
This was a lovely day enjoyed by all. No driving no cycling…much to Matt’s disgust. Spent doing the tourist thing in the city. Apparently the ladies are going to blog this Haha. That’s all I’am going to say on the matter.
Day 7 PDF Print E-mail
Up shower shave breakfast poo in that strict order. Don’t worry I didn’t have the poo actually at breakfast, just in case you were wondering. Got Kevin in the van today as his knee injury is impossible to cycle on, It is the size of a beach ball, and creaks like a rusty hinge, which thinking about it with the rain they have been cycling in it probably is. Any more miles on it and he will be getting a bionic one off the NHS when he gets home.
But to help cheer him up and to take his mind off things I have been letting him get an ear full of my old school hardcore jungle techno circa 1990-1993 collection. Lucky lucky boy. Since being in the van I have been under the impression (given me by John) that the van does not possess a CD player. How wrong can you be….It is hiding behind the front of the control face thingy, and by simply pressing a magic button the face flips forward to reveal the player. Marvellous. So now, We got the, We got the Buuuzzz. Leon was the one to show me much to the whole teams delight. At the time of the discovery we were parked on Culloden moor, site of the famous battle and a national heritage war grave. Needless to say on went a Suitable CD and off we went, possibly the first ever grave rave. 4 blokes in lycra (them) and one dressed sensibly in normal clothes (me) having it large style. Chucking boxes big and small, shelf stacking, big fish little fish, changing light bulbs and shooting the sky with our disco pistols. Whooping like native Americans, and showing the locals and tourists alike just how well a bunch of blokes from Essex could throw a party at the drop of a cycle helmet. Chris really went for it, attracting the attentions of quite a few ladies and strangley even more men. Very queer indeed. Must be the arm warmers eh ;) nuff said.
We parked up in possibly the most un-shanty (shanty=peaceful) place so far on our trip. A road side filling station for articulated lorries in a little village called Ballinuigg. Waiting for the lads to catch up with us was noisy smelly and earth shaking, as huge lorries from all over came in, turned around, swapped parking places and made the place a complete nightmare.
Now.. on a previous day one of our plastic picnic chairs from the van had broken. Well a leg had snapped off (Matt’s fault, oh and maybe something to do with my driving style) anyway I had kept this chair in the stack hidden away nicely, for a cunning plan had hatched in my mind. All I needed was a victim. One soon presented itself to me. Frodo…sorry, Chris asked me on this occasion to pass him out a chair. So I dutifuuly passed him out the 3 legged one. He didn’t take a lot of notice as he was discussing the finer points of zip wheel shimano break top bar fixed wheel carbon framed time trial mountain road cleats with leon( or something, obviously I’m no expert on these things). While trying to get this stuuuupid chair to stay up long enough so he could get his bum on it. He would get it roughly stood up, turn around to sit down, by which time it had toppled over. This went on for a full 15 minutes with Frod… I mean Chris getting more and more agitated, whilst I made water in my pants. You had to be there I spose.
We travelled on in to Edinburgh, and squeezed our way through traffic and near enough a thousand sets of roadworks,  for our stop for the night. And to meet up with the WAGS, It was really weird being in a city, hadn’t realised how unused to it I have become. But it was great to get together with our ladies. And we all had such a laugh that evening. Thank you Cheryl, Sue and Michelle for making the effort to come and see us it meant a lot. Shame that Caroline was unable to get to us. Not everyone is able to drop everything eh. But really look forward to seeing you at the after party. Don’t know or rather can’t remember if I have said this yet, but myself and Mr Baggins I mean CHRIS Are twins. Oh yes indeedy. Same day, year and everything. I gave him a big kiss on the mouth when I found out, which surprised him somewhat, but then we had drunk 7 bottles of the local moonshine. J O’G moonshine at that.
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