Thursday, August 23, 2007

16.7.07: Whitstable to Herne Bay

12.00 pm:
Temperature: 19c, humidity 39%, light west wind. Distance cycled: 9 miles

Horsebridge Centre, Whitstable

Breathe Easy group members and friends have come to see me off. I have brought my finger pulse oximeter which measures oxygen saturation in the blood and we all measure our own levels. 96% and over is normal and ours collectively range from 87% to 98% depending on our health and the state of our lungs. Mine is 93% but it changes from moment to moment.

Leaving via the harbour, past Brett's strange giant inhaler-shaped structure I head east for the wide promenade (forbidden to bicycles in the summer but still used by most cyclists). After the past months of planning chaos and trepidation, it feels strangely calm to be on my way.

1.30 pm:

Gentle ride towards Herne Bay pier ...

... where I call in for lunch with Rosemary and her partner John. They entertain me with stories of cycle journeys they've made in the past. Rosemary's oxygen equipment crouches by the front door in the hall - she shows me how its tubing reaches all over the house and offers me a whiff to perk me up.

Later near to the pier I begin a conversation with a woman who asks me about the yellow buoys in the sea. My first conversation with a stranger on this trip is interrupted by sudden heavy rain as she runs for cover. I didn't discover her name.

3.15 pm:
Shelter from the rain at Herne Bay Junior School with teacher Rosie Cullen. We will be working together with Year 5 on the project next year. The current plan, which could change, is to make a giant sculptural bicycle out of coastal waste materials.
Later and hungry I buy fish and mushy peas from Bhanal who works at Kings Fish Bar and eat them on a bench in the mournful damp of Memorial Park before heading inland.

6.30 pm:
Overnight with Vicky, Tom and Nancy in nearby Broomfield - peace, calm and generosity. At the end of this first day I'm exhausted and exhilerated.