John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.



Sunday 14th July

Route: Basildon to Canterbury
Distance: 68.91; Miles so far 1,742
Weather: Hot and sunny


It was only when I was reviewing the day's ride with Julian that he drew my attention to the fact that Sunday crossings on the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry did not appear on the timetable. Mike Cox kindly gave me timetable and maps when I was in Lambeth, but I obviously didn't tell him I would be travelling on a Sunday, nor did I take a close look until today. Thanks Mike, nevertheless.


Attempts to clarify the position came to nothing, as the travel enquiry line for the area didn't seem to know anything about the ferry, and another number called merely had an ansaphone message.


So I headed off soon after 9.00 am wondering which way would be crossing the Thames estuary. I left Julian preparing for the parish barbeque which looked set for fine weather.


I faced quite a long ride so took the A11 which wasn't that busy, turning off at Standbury Hope to check the state of play at the Tilbury Ferry terminal. Here Kheiron in the Docks Office confirmed there was no service but directed me up to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge traffic control office. En route, I called in at St Clement's Church, West Thurrock where they were preparing for a service and spoke to Sue who kindly agreed to promote the Big Bike Ride appeal. Thanks for your help here.


It's quite a maze of roads to get up to the traffic control station a clearly marked cycle path keeps you clear of the busy road and leads up to the office where Traffic Officer Roberts obligingly help me load my bike onto the back rack of his vehicle and we were soon whizzing over the bridge to the other side where he put me on the right road in a spaghetti junction type complex which was difficult to navigate with the very small scale map I had. Not far along the road, I met fellow cyclist Roy from Greenhythe who suggested I took the minor road to Gravesend.


A bit hilly, but an easy ride otherwise, and I was soon rolling into Rochester and across the bridge and up a long steep hill that tested the legs. From here on the road was long and straight. Apart from the short lunch stop, it was all the way to Canterbury.


I arrived at a services at around 4.30 so thought I'd stop for a coffee at the diner beside the services. had a good chat with Shyla, the waitress there – thanks so much for your sponsorship.


The last leg of the journey looked fairly straightforward, and I passed the first exit to Canterbury not knowing that my map wrongly showed another couple of exists along the A2. I was due to arrive at St Thomas's Church at 5.30 and thought 30 mins would be ample, but ended up having to go as far as Bridge and double back into Canterbury. I pedalled as fast as I could then had to find the church which I was told was near the Cathedral. I eventually rolled up at 5.50 and met Canon Bunce who asked me to speak for 5 minutes after the Gospel. It's quite difficult to compress what I wanted to say into that amount of time, but I managed it.


Mary, a local Committee member, found a parishioner to hand out the Gift Aid envelopes, so a number of donations were handed to me there and then, and the Canon kindly agreed to put the JustGiving web address in next week's bulletin. Many thanks, Canon, for the opportunity to speak about my fundraising appeal.

Whilst at the back of church John Paul introduced himself as an ex L'Arche assistant who was living in Canterbury with his French wife Helene. They kindly asked me back for a drink which turned into an impromptu supper. It was really good to meet you both and Juliette – thanks for your warm and generous hospitality. Yes, somehow the French just have a special knack of making excellent salads!


John Paul took me round to The rainbow where I was staying, where I met assistants Lisa and Sue who made me feel very welcome.

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