Fred Slattern/ Big Swifty set off for the far north-west on Wednesday's 05:40 to Plockton on the west coast of Scotland, from Colchester, changing at Peterborough, Edinburgh and Inverness. It's a "poetry and escape from diabetes tour", by bicycle and camping in my tiny tent, pedalling about 300 miles to the top left corner of Great Britain, at Cape Wrath. It's for entertainment, and hopefully a bit of awareness and fund raising for Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF).
I'm sure Fred will be very popular in the Ross and Cromarty area, and that his Essex and USA fans will be gutted to miss his "message from essex" set, in person at various pubs, cafes and music venues in n/w Scotland. For those Colchester peeps that can't be bothered to travel 736 miles to see Fred at Cape Wrath Ozone Cafe, I suggest you go to www.justgiving.com/planetfrank and donate some of the money you saved by not supporting me.
For the many Fred fans that are travelling to the far north, here's the link to the gigs: http://andrewbudd.blogspot.com/p/fred-slattern-colchesters-slum-poet.html
So how is the preparation going? Now this is a bit worrying, as I've been a bit busy and haven't ridden much, excpet the usual short local trips. The 300 mile cycle ride may look like an idyllic journey along the Scottish coast through a beautiful romantic landscape, but I reckon only about twenty miles will be flat. There will also be 140 miles slogging uphill, and 140 rolling downhill. The coast road does not follow the coast; indeed at one point I'm 1200 feet up. And with a heavily loaded bike, and an overweight rider.....
I have had a preparatory ride to test my newly kitted out, old-junk bike. I rode home from a work trip at Chelmsford to Colchester, twenty-five miles with a headwind, and it took nearly forever. And don't give me that "Essex is flat" rubbish.The route included Wickham Bishops hill, from 8 metres above sea level, to the top at 89 metres. The randomly passing ambulance had oxygen on board.
So this is my last posting for a few days, adventure beckons for Colchester's slum poet.
(Set list includes: "Had James Dean lived, would he have shopped in Waitrose?", "House clearances", "I love the smell of insulin in the morning", and "Steve Ball - a love affair through Facebook".)