Off to Cambridge for the eagerly awaited First Meeting of the People of the Rickshaw Run. We arrived in England to be greeted by a 35 minute queue to get through customs. Things got worse when our luggage turned up damaged… We then had to wait 25 minutes for someone to turn up at the baggage claims desk.
We got to the hire car center an hour late to find the staff running around in a panic as they had run out of cars… This wasn’t as bad as it sounded as I was given an upgrade from a Mongol Rally worthy Daewoo Matiz to a brand new, 16 miles on the clock, VW Golf Turbo Diesel.
We finally left the airport at 1am, two hours after arriving, just in time to tune into Fabio on Radio 1. This combined with the car upgrade instantly put a smile on my face (Thankfully it was Fabio and not Grooverider who over the last couple of years has just started shouting rubbish on the radio, detracting from the Music).
The journey home was made a little more interesting by helping a lost Ukrainian Tesco truck driver find Tescos…
On Saturday we had an early start to get up to Cambridge and then find the Orchard in the stereotypical old English village of Grantchester.
We were a little late and met Justin of Mongolia or Bust as we arrived in the car park. We entered the orchard to find a huge turn out for the meeting. Some 25-30 people had turned up. I think Tom was expecting less than 10…
Cream Teas and much banter about the route, charity and dates ensued. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Leo and Liz had also made the trip over from Madrid for the meeting, and also took the opportunity to speak with David Johnstone who I’d not seen since I was in Kyrgyzstan!
We later moved onto a pub in Cambridge where the discussion switched onto all things Mongol Rally. Mainly due to the fact that the people who remained were Rally ‘veterans’ (most of whom I’d never met before) or people planning on doing the rally this year or next.
That evening we headed out of the city to Swaffham to visit my uncle and family, who as ever were wonderfully receptive. I spent the evening explaining the wonders of the Rickshaw Run to Malcolm, being beaten and a memory game by my 6 year old cousin Philippe, and talking to the respective pets of Emma and Chantal. This was all complemented by my uncle’s usual excellent cooking (gonna have to learn how he made that salad).
After a hearty English Breakfast we spent Sunday wandering about Cambridge and then met with Tom & Jenny for afternoon Tea. What a wonderful city Cambridge is. So beautiful and peaceful (I didn’t hear a single reversing bleep all weekend), small yet full of history and great architecture, if only we could have had a couple more days there.
They seemed to have nailed the traffic problems associated with most cities as well with pedestrians zones, park and rides and cyclists everywhere. In fact, in two days I think I saw more cyclists in Cambridge than I’ve ever seen in Madrid.
All in all an excellent weekend, marred only by the weather on Sunday and Espe’s ongoing tooth pain.
Now I’m back, time to get on with finding a flat, planning the Rickshaw Run and translating the Mongol Rally site into Spanish.