Lymington to Poole, via Mudeford

Day 89  Sunday 26 June: The week back home started so well. A welcome fix of family & friends catch-up time, grandson’s 4th birthday, lots of useful planning & communicating…  For some of us (62% in Bristol), the week ended in gloom and despair …. Being back on the road today is at least a welcome distraction from the pain and angst of the State of The Nation.

Many thanks to the wonderful Sheila (aka Peggy Webster) and her delightful daughters Sophie & Katy for putting me up and putting up with me last night in the deep south of leafy Hampshire, thus making it possible for me to make an early start back at Lymington, where I stopped pedalling after day 88 on the Isle of Wight. Thanks to you girls, I am now one step closer to understanding social  media. Only a few thousand miles away from full competence. Apologies to my own daughter Kate, who specified that 6.2 of the 20 miles-worth of her RNLI donation were from Lymington to Hurst Spit. Thanks Kate. Beautiful, but not all cycleable. Saltgrass  Lane was ok, but the sand & shingle along the spit was too much to ask of Fondo.

And so to Mudeford ILB Station. Good timing. Plenty of crew around. Plenty of action. Great welcome. Thanks to Richard (LOM), Mel (Crew, fellow biker and specialist in high energy food), Ian (Dep Helm), Jane (Lifeboat Admin, another very enthusiastic new cycle buddy) and to the rest of the crew on exercise. It was a privilege to meet you all and see so much going on! Further thanks to Jane for escorting me to the Mudeford to Hengistbury Ferry, introducing me to Julie the Ferry operator, who announced to the captive audience of fellow passengers who I was and what I was doing, suggesting they might like to make a donation to the RNLI before disembarking. No pressure. This day of Wonderful Women continues. Thanks to Julie, and to those who did as they were told. Quite humbling to be on the receiving end of a spontaneous burst of applause.

During the months of July and August, between the hours of 10:00 – 18:00, NO CYCLING is allowed along the wide, flat, smooth, 7 mile, traffic-free section of National Cycle Route 2 from Boscombe Promenade, via Bournemouth Undercliffe to Sandbanks. But today is still June and I see a couple of confident cyclists ahead, making good progress. Even so, every 100 metres, the same blue signs remind us that PEDESTRIANS (including members of National Amblers in groups of 9 abreast and dog walkers, releasing their lethal extending trip-wire weapons) HAVE PRIORITY. Quite right. I suppose. Should’ve listened to Mel. Too late now. Just grin and bear it. Slow progress, but still worth weaving & dodging through. 

A bit behind schedule on arrival at Poole. It’s obviously annual Stop the Cyclist Day. The last 500 yards of The Quay on final approach to Poole ALB Station is closed to traffic, including bicycles. Folk on the Quay. Another warning sign? No, a very popular festival. Heaving. Apologies to the Morris Dancer who bashed his shin against Fondo’s pedal. It’s ok, Fondo’s fine.  Perhaps louder bells would have prevented the minor collision.

But what a welcome! Two brothers, two friends and a large handful of Lifeboat Crew at Poole ALB Station. It would have been three brothers if Brother John had not been temporarily hamstrung by the aftermath of a prior engagement. We know where you’d rather have been Big Bro. As you said yourself, you were there in spirit. I swear I saw you in the Slipway Bar later.

Meanwhile, back at Poole ALB Station … many thanks to Nick (2nd Cox’n), Gavin (Helm), Neil(3rd Mech/helm), Adrian, Alex, Suzie, and Will (all crew) for keeping my gang entertained. They all thought you guys are amazing. I wouldn’t’ dare disagree.   Poole Lifeboat Station is not part of the RNLI College & H.Q., just 5 mins up to road. There has been a lifeboat station in Poole for almost 150 years. The original boat house at the Fishermen’s Dock  is now a Lifeboat Museum. The current Station has a Tyne Class All-Weather Lifeboat afloat in the harbour and an Atlantic 85 ILB in a floating boathouse. Sadly the old Tyne’s days are numbered and it may not be replaced with a state of the art Shannon ALB, as built less than half a mile up stream, but a wee workhorse in the shape of a nimble little D Class ILB to keep the current Atlantic RIB company.

Thank you Neil, Phil, Nick and Helen for the great team effort at the Brewhouse. I couldn’t have managed the pork pie starters and all 5 Sunday roasts without you. A very pleasant way to spend a cool, grey, damp mid summer afternoon.

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