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.

Wednesday 2nd July

Route: Shrivenham to Winchester
Distance: 53.13 miles; 1,357 so far
Weather: Cloudy, rain early afternoon clearing to give a sunny end to the day

A sound night's sleep. Breakfast with Stella and Graham, with their lovely labrador Barney in attendance. Your kind hospitality and support is much appreciated.

Not far from Shrivenham, I passed some fields shimmering with a delicate purple flowered crop which I hadn't seen before and just had to stop to take a closer look. A car was parked beside the entry to the field, and I hadn't noticed a man crouching on the opposite side of the road looking at a similar field. He was on his way to work and wanted to stop and marvel at the sight as I did, and confirmed it was a field of flax. Thanks for the chat, Ben, and for your pledge of support.

Apart from a reasonable climb up Ashbourne Hill, the terrain was relatively flat beyond crossing the Ridgeway. It soon became apparent this was horse racing country with fields of gently grazing animals and white metal railings. Evidence of serious investment at Weathercock House Stables where a number of jockeys were out for a morning ride beside what looked like a mini-race course in an adjoining field. Beyond Lambourn more fields of beautiful horses, these ones with purple coats, some possibly resting after yesterday's 2.30 at Newbury.

I then took the higher road up Coppington Hill down to Ermin Street, the B4000, which runs alongside the M4 then through Wickham to Newbury. Some lovely properties around here but a shame about the traffic noise which would drive me spare if I had to live with it all day. I had forgotten to ring Mike and Alison, some friends who live at Boxford, but realised they wouldn't be home during the day, so left a message.

Stopped at McDonalds in Newbury to have a coffee and use their WiFi for yesterday's blog. meanwhile it started to pour with rain. In a call to the L'Arche office, Judith informed me that some friends of hers lived on the Andover Road just after the 40 mile/hour sign, if I needed any help in an emergency. When I emerged from my blog spot, I bumped into Martin from Chieveley, a cyclist who showed interest in my ride. Thanks for the chat Martin and and any support you can give.

On the way out on the A343, I looked left at the 40 mph sign and saw a man in the driveway, so thought I'd take a chance and called out “You don't happen to know Judith Ellis do you?” “Yes indeed.” came the reply! This was Judith's friend William who would be seeing her this week-end in Yorkshire.

On to the bottom of Andover Road where William confirmed there was a left turn at the post box which would avoid the busy A34. The road was closed except for access so I took a risk and went along what was a narrow lane leading to some major construction works. Here I came up against a barrier fence on either side of a 3 foot trench for a new sewer. A friendly contractor came over to move the barrier and let me through. Thanks, Liam, for your help and for any support you can get from the Murphy contractor's office. Galway is a beautiful county!

I had rung Tessa Till earlier to find that she would be at Tessa Feilden's this evening so we would be able to meet up after all. So after stopping at the Caernarvon Hotel and Restaurant to get more sponsorship, I decided to risk a stretch of the A34 between White Hill and the old Newbury Road further on, to save a bit of time. A bad mistake. Huge trucks and lorries seemed to suck me into their path from the narrow section of tarmac the other side of the nearside white line. Fortunately, the dicing with death didn't last long. It was only when I arrived in Whitchurch that I realised I had parted company with my wallet. Panic. Where had I lost it? I called in at the local printers after 118111 was decidedly unhelpful in getting a number for the Caernarvon. Jo and Paul were really kind in helping to find their number when my mobile rang and Judith said that the Hotel had rung to say they had found the wallet.

I needed transport back there. Into the paper shop across the road for the number of a local taxi firm. As I explained my plight and asked if I could leave my panniers in their safe keeping, a man in the shop came up and said he would run me up in his car, and suggested I chain the bike to a stand outside and brought my panniers with me. Thanks to another example of extraordinary generosity, I was back in Whitechurch 20 minutes later with the recovered wallet. Martyn, you are a star, and I wish you well in your search. Thanks, too, to Joanna at the Caernarvon for taking the trouble to ring the office.

As I was preparing to leave Whitchurch, Another cyclist appeared and asked me about my ride, attracted by the advertising panels on the panniers. Jonanthan turned out to be a keen cyclist judging by his trip tomorrow to do the Marmot over the Alps, a 120 mile circuit on a racing bike. He joined me as far as Lower Mill, giving me a chance to explain a bit more about L'Arche. Jonathan cycles to and from work as a barrister in London throughout the year. Great to meet you, and good luck with the alpine challenge!

This is a beautiful area with trout farms taking advantage of the river complex, and more than one picturesque thatched cottage, and another with herringbone pattern brick. The narrow lanes avoided the A34 and A303 intersection a Tidbury Common, taking me through Barton Stacey and Sutton Manor. I was nearly home when I reached the B3420. Time for the SatNav which I decided to give another chance to redeem itself. I can hear it saying in defence after yesterday's fiasco “Well, you did program me to avoid major roads, and I thought the A40 to Oxford was a touch busy for you” But I must give it credit for guiding me through a maze of Winchester's one way streets to get me to my destination by about 6.20.

Here the two Tessa's gave me a hearty welcome and I was soon enjoying a delicious dinner with them both before Tessa Till returned to Petworth.

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