Friday, 21 May 2010

A Little Lad Called Colin

Way back in July 1990, when my friend Susie and I did the real-life journey by bike from Lands End to John O'Groats, as with the chemo journey, I also came across some marvelous people.

There was one person who stood out most of all on our trip and he came in the shape of a little lad from Liverpool called Colin. He must only have been 10 or 11 years old.

On our 17 day trip, all we had were our bikes, a couple of panniers strapped to the back containing a 2 man tent, a cooking stove, some shorts, t-shirts, a cagoul, socks and knickers - oh, and about 15 quid to pay for food and campsites.
 After a few hard days cycling, we arrived at a campsite somewhere in Merseyside.
'Sorry love,' the grumpy gadgie at the office said, 'this campsite is for families only.'
'But we've cycled 60 miles today. We're knackered, starving, and once we've eaten our beans we will go to sleep and be away by 7am.'
'Sorry love - got to stick to the rules.'
'Well, what will we do then?' we asked helplessly, too tired to smack him on the nose.
'There's a garage down the road,' he said, 'ask them.'

Like two lost souls, we set off again to find the garage - trying not to cry at the pain in our backsides.

We soon arrived at the garage, and I bought a packet of custard creams before asking the man where we could park our tent for the night. He explained how to get to a campsite 10 miles away, and I was aware of a little lad dressed in cycling gear standing behind me. He didn't say a word - he just waited patiently to buy some sweets.

I remember standing outside the garage with Suze, stuffing every last custard cream in my face, and looking on in awe as the small little boy sped away at 100mph in the opposite direction.

'Howay then Suze, we'd better get going before it gets dark.'

And off we set, pedalling like 2 old biddies, despite the custard cream energy boost.

After about 20 minutes, I looked behind me and I could see a little dot of black and yellow on wheels speeding towards us. As the bumble-bee thing got closer, I realised that it was the little lad from the garage.

He soon caught up and came up beside us, beaming and puffing.

'Me mam sez ye can stay at our house,' he gasped in a gorgeous Liverpool accent.

We pulled over - actually - we nearly crashed into a verge of nettles.

'Me mam sez ye can camp in our garden,' he smiled.

And so, somewhere, I couldn't tell you exactly where, but somewhere on a housing estate in Liverpool, we pitched our tent, taking up all the space in Colin and his mam's little garden.

His mam cooked us tea, ran us a hot bath, and gave us a couple of beers. Colin grinned all night long.

We had the best sleep ever, and after a nice breakfast, we cycled off with our new pal, who wanted to come with us for the day. Our little guardian angel.

I often think of that little lad and his mum, and the kindness that they showed to 2 nacker-brained girls on their great adventure needing help along the way.

Journeys like that, and chemo journeys can be incredibly tough at times - but if we don't make them, then we may never get to meet the wonderful people that are out there, as well as experience the warmth of friendship and family that we already have, and may sometimes take for granted.....keep celebrating, all of you - there are plenty of reasons to do so...


  1. Shents, you are an absolute star for getting through your journey of the chemo, I'm sure you are a lot more worldy now that you have reached John O'Groats the second time compared to the first!I still think of Colin often and the people who let us stay in their caravan in the lake district after it had been pissing down for days. Weren't we nuts! Thanks also for being so sweet and allowing the rest of the world to feast their eyes on my pink and blue lycras. I love you Shents! x

  2. That old caravan couple were called Bob and Jean Roby and they cooked us a HUGE breakfast in the morning before we set off for Shap!
    You look great in pink and blue lycra. Hope you still wear them.