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Collecting in aid of

Pier Pressure 2016

Day 7 - Thursday 18th August 2016

St Margaret’s Bay to Ryde I.O.W - 190 Miles

After yesterday’s monumental trip we were hoping for an easier time today. 

However, as we would be ending the day on the Isle of Wight we had a single governing factor; we needed to be at Southampton in time to catch the 7:15pm Red Funnel ferry.

We had already completed 1496 miles and visited 29 piers. Today’s trip was a planned short distance of just 190 miles but conversely was going to be our busiest pier day yet, with 9 piers to visit before wet finally hit our beds in Ryde.

We were literally going to be bouncing all the way along the south west coastline, visiting parts of the country I had never visited before including, unbelievably, the most famous pier of them all at Brighton.

Our first destination of the day was a rendezvous with Hastings Pier. We had been amazingly been offered the chance to drive on this newly restored and only just re-opened pier if we arrived before 10am. This was to ensure we we on the pier and parked before it was opened to the public. Therefore, despite not arriving at the hotel until the early hours the previous night, we were up early to set the sat-nav and in readiness for an early breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. We had to be on the road by 8:15am at the latest so we aimed to be in breakfast by 7:30am.

Whilst loading the buggies for the day ahead we found Ruben was already up and had been for a swim in the hotel’s heated swimming pool. He said it made up for not having a shower in his camper van, smart thinking.

We were informed the night before that breakfast was served between 7:00am and 10:00am and we were really looking forward to a proper full English for once. However unlike the swimming pool it appeared as the restaurant wasn’t open because as we entered there was no-one to be found, no smells of bacon, no tea brewing, nothing. When we enquired at the main office it turned out the restaurant was leased out externally and it was not unusual for the chefs to turn up late in a morning. Great!!

So with empty bellies and just a couple of granola bars for company we headed off towards Hastings, hoping we can find breakfast there.

The weather was once again very kind to us, with blue skies and an ever warming rising sun. This would be the 7th day in a row we were driving without hoods and after yesterday’s traffic issues we were feeling a little more optimistic about today.

Within just 5 miles we were driving down the steep incline into the busy port town of Dover. I have visited Dover many many times through my life, using it as the gateway into Europe and over the past few years we have always used a specific BP garage a mile from the port as the last fill up point before hitting Europe and the first fuel fill up point back in Old Blighty. It is also the garage I once had a wiring loom fire on the forecourt in my buggy when my ignition shorted right after filling up, after returning from doing over 1000 miles driving to and from the Nürburgring in 2010.

Therefore is just seemed right to fill up at the very same BP garage this morning too. However it did feel strange to be filling up here today as I had only been there just 3 months earlier when returning from that year’s German International Buggy Weekend. Thankfully there was also a Subway franchised to the station which at least allowed us to grab a cup of tea to drink on the move.

We had 50 miles to reach Hastings and had already taken the decision to use major roads (M20, A2070, A259) as the quickest route to Hastings whilst avoiding Felixstowe, as we knew we would be seeing a lot of the coast later that day anyway. The A259 was quite an entertaining road with a nice switchback over a bridge in Rye and a tight 180 degree bend in Winchelsea.

Somewhere around Winchelsea we suddenly saw a flash of orange travelling in the opposite direction and we waved madly to Robert Wren in his classic example of an early Manx buggy. Robert did a swift u-turn and joined up with us as we homed in on Hastings.

Before long we were driving along East Parade with the sea and beach on our left. We could now see Hastings pier in the distance. Waiting by the side of the road was James Horsely in his LWB Orange Apal buggy. I had had some good chats with James earlier in the year as his wife Sarah had also been through breast cancer recently and had helped Ruth immensely by talking with her at length at the Kit Car show earlier in the year. So, it was great to see James along to support our cause.

Even before we had reached our first pier of the day we had already picked up 2 additional buggies for today’s trip, with the promise of a lot more joining us further along the coast.


We arrived at Hastings Pier just 5 minutes before the 10:00 am deadline and were shown straight through the gates and onto the pier. We pulled up alongside the circus tent and right next door to the nice new entrance café. So whilst waiting for our contact at the pier to come and meet with us, we all headed into the café and manage to get a drink and finally something to eat for breakfast.

At this point we also meet up with Ben Gladwish who I had produced a wiring kit for earlier in the year. He had just missed out on getting his buggy finished but still came to support us. It was good to put another face to a cyber name.

The pier manager turned out to be a great guy and after a nice warm welcome, invited the four buggies to drive right to the head of the pier for some photos. This was truly incredible for us and a real honour as the pier itself had only reopened some 4 months earlier following a £14 million refurbishment after fire had destroyed 95% of the pier in 2010. We genuinely felt really privileged to be allowed on the brand new boards. Half way along the pier was a striking building, build from timbers from the original pier decking and housed such things as offices, toilets and a small amusement arcade.

We spent around 20 minutes at the pier head getting some great shots before we had to head off towards our next planned pier at Eastbourne. The welcome we had had from Hastings Pier was brilliant and before our engines had even cooled they had posted up pictures on their Facebook page and wished us good luck on the rest of our trip.

Unknown to us the staff had also undertaken a collection for us on the day, which we hadn’t expected either. We found out later that the story had also picked up by the local press and we had been published in the Hastings Observer.

The drive off the pier was equally as enjoyable as the drive on to it and we took advantage to get some additional photos from a different perspective, before finally saying goodbye to this great pier and its staff.

It was just a relatively short 17 mile trip down to Eastbourne and the 4 buggies with Ruben’s van at the rear havd a nice uneventful cruise west along the coastline. We stayed on the A259 through Pevensey Bay to approach the pier using Royal Parade and Grand Parade along the sea front.

As we had had no reply from Eastbourne Pier to our e-mail and learning from yesterday’s experience at Clacton (boo Clacton), Ruth had called the pier earlier in the morning on the way to Hastings to confirm we were arriving that morning. It turned out the pier was owned by an oriental company and after some accent and translation issues we were finally given permission to park up outside Eastbourne Pier. Technically ‘outside’ of the pier was actually public highway, but it was nice to know that this time we weren’t going to get run out of town when we arrived.


As we arrived at the pier the four buggies reversed right up to the footpath directly outside the pier gates, whilst Ruben went off to find somewhere to park his van.

I really liked Eastbourne Pier as it had retained much of its original Victorian architecture and still had a large playhouse on the pier head, which many other piers are now lacking due to fire or decay.

The weather was warming up nicely again and we had a really nice 30 minute chilled out stop at Eastbourne.

At this point Robert was intending to head off to work for a meeting but as the weather was so nice and he was really enjoying the ride, he decided to stick with us to our next top at the magnificent Brighton Pier. The ride to Brighton was 25 miles and we decided to take in some amazing coastline scenery on the way. Between Eastbourne and Brighton lies Beachy Head, not only home the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain (531ft) but also one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.

The ride across Beachy Head peninsula was breathtaking but hard to capture on camera whilst driving.

Pretty soon we were back on the A259 which would take us all the way into Brighton. The road roller coastered up, down and over the chalk cliffs and crossed the river Ouse on a pivot bridge at Newhaven.

Just about 4 miles away from Brighton, whilst driving along Marine Drive we saw a yellow buggy driving towards us in the opposite direction. Peter in his well travelled Manx Buggy did a quick U-turn and joined onto the back of our cruise. Peter’s Manx has travelled over 100,000 miles since he built it and is was a pleasure to have him adding a few more miles to his buggy on the Pier Pressure journey with us.

Then just another mile up the same road it seemed to suddenly be raining buggies, as two more approached us from the opposite direction once more, this time followed by a big white and red VW T5 van. We waved madly at Chris and Emma in their blue and Red GT buggy, Dave and Louise Higgs in Jack the Bug; his union flagged painted LWB GP super buggy and Jazzy and Snowy in their T5. Unfortunately Jazzy’s GP was poorly in bed at home and it just wasn’t fit enough to make the trip to meet us that day,

Another mass U-turn was completed and suddenly we were a 7 buggy cruise accompanied by a VW T4 and VW T5 vans, heading towards the most iconic of all piers – Brighton. When you ask people to name a pier inevitably it is either Blackpool, Wigan (yes this did get a bit boring for us as everyone thought they were the first to say it), or more often than not, Brighton.

Believe it or not in my 49 and ¾ years on this planet I had never visited Brighton bfore so I was really looking forward to rocking up at the Pier. After contacting the Pier a couple of weeks prior to our trip they had jumped at the chance of hosting us and supporting our venture, offering up their large front promenade for exclusive buggy parking. They had re-emailed us on a number of occasions to check everything was fine and gave us a contact to meet on the day. Amazing and heart warming generosity from this pier team.


Bang on 12:45pm (well that’s what it said on the massive clock at the pier entrance) we all arrived at Brighton Pier, which amazingly was just 5minutes behind our pre-determined and web published schedule. After a quick U-turn around the central reserve, the 7 buggies proceeded to take over the front promenade, whist the 2 vans managed to find parking on the street right outside the pier too.

As had now become routine, Ruth headed off to find our contact but at the entrance to the pier she encountered a less than happy security guard. He hadn’t heard anything about our arrival and was getting jittery about us taking just turning up and taking over the pier frontage. Not again we thought, surely not another Clacton (boo Clacton).

Thankfully a quick call up to the office confirmed that all was OK and we were actually expected. It turned out to be the guard’s own mistake, admitting after, that he hadn’t been told about over our arrival some time today.

A few minutes later the pier manager came to meet us all and gave us a grand welcome, along with a massive tray of complimentary teas and coffees. Speaking with him it turned out he had done a similar trip to ours a few years back doing it none stop in a transit van with his mates, to raise money for a local kids charity. He therefore understood the size of the challenge we were undertaking more than most.

As it was now lunchtime we decided to spend a good hour at the pier, grab some food and make use of the facilities. The pier was really busy as you would expect and we got loads of attention and plenty of donations in the tins for our cause. It did feel good to be at Brighton and I really enjoyed the stop there. The savory Crepe we had for dinner also made a nice change to the burgers or chips we had been surviving on recently.

Chris then came up with some amazing news. He had just been called by the people behind the Paddle Round the Pier car event of which he himself is a great supporter. They had decided that Pier Pressure would be one of their chosen charities for 2016 and they had made a massive donation of £500 to our collection. Amazing generosity by the wider VW family.

Brighton Pier didn’t disappoint and I am glad it lived up to all my expectations. However, unfortunately the clocks moved on all to quickly and soon we needed to head off to our next destination. At this point we said goodbye to Robert and Peter who were going to head for home when we left and we were very thankful of their support today.

Having the two vans with us turned out to be a trump card as they merrily set about blocking off all approaching traffic at the roundabout outside the pier to allow the 7 buggies to all pull out as one long train. Thanks guys.

Our next stop would be another new town for me and just 11 miles further up the coast we had another pre-planned rendezvous with Worthing Pier. We travelled between Brighton and Worthing right along the south coast and the weather remained very kind to us, staying warm and sunny with clear blue skies. During this part of the cruise Louise in Jack the Bug did some great stunt camera work, standing up in the back of the buggy and taking some great action shots along the way.

During our pre-trip discussions the team at Worthing Pier had agreed to lower some electric bollards on our arrival to allow access to the promenade at the front of the pier. This part of the world had already shown us some amazing hospitality, with all four of the piers visited so far that day allowing close access to their piers and giving us a great deal of support in the process.

Just a mile outside of Worthing we made a much needed fuel stop. This also gave Jazzy the opportunity to stock up on another type of fuel he was running short of.


On leaving the petrol station Ruth called our contact at the pier and as we arrived, the bollard wass dropped right on cue to allow us access to the normally closed off promenade. As a bonus, Jazzy and Ruben in their vans are also allowed access to park too. The only thing we had to do was drive between some fixed bollards right by the pier, some fairly widely spaced bollards and easy to drive through the wide gap type bollards. Ones with a massive sized gap, easily navigated bollards, you know the ‘I could get a bus through that’ sized gap …..

Well I actually managed to hit one of the bollards and trapped my rear wing beneath the lip. The only thing I could do was reverse out from beneath the bollard and I still have the scar on my buggy as prrof of my stupidity. My excuse was I was looking for a suitable place to park up outside the pier and just got a little too close.

We were met by both the Promenade’s caretaker and the Pier Manager, who were really happy to have us there. Unfortunately we only had a maximum 30 minute stop at Worthing as we were very conscious we needed to make Southampton docks at a set time and therefore needed to be super strict with ourselves today.

Worthing is Jim’s home town and his wife Sarah came and joined us all at the pier to provide support and to have a chat with Ruth too. The pier itself was a lovely example of a traditional Victorian Pier. The main northern (shore end) pavilion was originally built in 1888 and still remains in in place today having, having been beautifully maintained over the years. It is also now Grade II listed.

What I had noticed with all the 4 piers we had already visited that day is that they had all retained their traditional Victorian charm without resorting to the need of adding a tacky 1980’s style amusement arcade to the entrance pavilion.

The weather was certainly bringing people out and the buggies attracted a fair amount of attention in the short time we were there.

30 minutes rolled around very quickly and all too soon we were all back in the buggies and ready to head for our 5th pier visit of that day. The time was now moving on towards 3:00pm and as he lived in Worthing, Jim said his goodbyes at this point.

This left 4 buggies and 2 vans to drive the next 17 miles along the coast to Bognor Regis. The support vans with once again proved their worth. with Jazzy and Ruben blocking the traffic once more, allowing the buggies free passage onto the road.

The drive to Bognor was nice and uneventful. Then suddenly we found ourselves faced with the biggest pyramided tent I have ever seen, which turned out to be Butlin’s entertainment hub at Bognor. All I know is it must have taken up half the land mass of Bognor.

We approach the Bognor Regis pier from the east along the Esplanade. We then proceeded to drive straight passed the pier as the front was completely sealed off from vehicle encroachment by a 3 foot high brick wall. There was a small locked barrier in the wall, but as we had heard nothing back from our pre-trip e-mails to Bognor, this meant we had to find an alternative place to park. This also meant a quick u-turn was required.


We managed to find a suitable space on the footpath just to the left of the pier, which allowed us to put our back wheels almost on the sand.

In all honesty Bognor Pier was quite forgettable. The entrance wasn’t as grand or as Victorian as the others we had visited already that day and the 3 foot wall did seem to give it a sense of detachment from the road and the town. It just didn’t seem to invite you in.

However we did get some great photos next to the beach.

Amazingly we were still almost on schedule for the day, but this did mean we had a slightly shorter stop at Bognor Regis. As we were about to set off we realised we were missing someone, only to spot Jazzy emerging from the shop opposite with freshly cooked fish and chips in hand. I haven’t a clue how he stays so thin as I rarely see him without food or booze in hand.

After what seemed a very quick hello to Bognor Regis pier we were soon saying goodbye. I pulled left off the sea front and immediately turned right into a side road, piulling up alongside the kerb to wait for the others, as there was little room to stop on the road outside the pier. George followed me, before I spotted Chris & Emma, Dave & Louise and Ruben drive straight passed the side road and off down the main Esplanade.

At that point I was not quite sure what happened to Jazzy and Snowy so George, Ruth, Alex and myself set off alone to find our next planned rendevous. After a couple of miles, I look in my mirrors to see Jazzy and Snowy’s white van now sat behind George’s buggy. I presumed Snowy must have tracked us o the Glympse app, which had allowed them to find us. Therefore, we were now two separate buggy groups heading merrily off towards our next stop 25 miles away at Southsea near Portsmouth.


The Grade II listed South Parade pier was unfortunately closed in 2012 due to public safety reasons and although the new owners have promised to re-open it in time, it was still closed to the public when we arrived. The pier itself looked like a nice traditional seaside pier with a large ballroom and entertainment building stretching out to sea. Hopefully the South Parade Pier can be restored someday and not just be left to rot away.  

(Footnote: Since our visit, South Parade Pier has since been restored and re-opened for the public to enjoy, which is brilliant news)

The front of South Parade Pier was almost impossible to get near to with a vehicle, as it stood higher than the road and was protected by steps, pedestrian railings and 3 foot high walls. Therefore, for a 3rd time that day we threw a quick u-turn and headed back along the promenade until we found a suitable place to mount the kerb and park up with the pier in the background. Thankfully Jazzy was on hand to take our obligatory ‘proof of visit’ number photo.

To be honest considering we had been kissing the seafront and southern coast road for most of the day, the drive to Southsea was quite a boring 55mph slog along the A27 dual carriageway.

Southsea itself lies on a peninsula to the south of Portsmouth and because we were now in the perfect time for evening rush hour, we did meet a small amount of congestion. I kept myself entertained by snapping pictures of George in the rear view mirror. We kept heading south until we hit Eastney Esplanade and turned right along the se front towards our next stop.

There are two piers in Southsea, situated just a mile apart and the first on our schedule was Southesea South Parade pier. By now Snowy had thankfully managed to get in touch with Chris and Emma and had arranged to meet them at our second planned stop in Southsea at Clarence pier.

As there was little to see and do at South Parade we quickly got moving again and headed off towards Southsea Clarence Pier, to meet up again with the other half of that days cruise. Southsea Clarence Pier was literally just a 5 minute drive away up the promenade and on arrival it looked and felt like a completely different beast to all of the other south coast piers we had already visited that day.


Clarence Pier was unusual as unlike most other UK piers we had already visited (except maybe for Rothsey) it ran more parallel along the coast rather than extending perpendicular out to sea. Originally built in 1861 as a ferry terminal for the Isle of Wight, it was damaged by air raids in WW2 and reopened in its current form in 1961. Although the fast IOW hovercraft ferry service still operated off the beach to the side of the pier, it had more of a theme park, 1970’s feel to it than Victorian. The original Victorian pier frame was under there somewhere but was now completely covered by one of the south coast’s largest amusement parks. If I’m being honest I felt this gave it all quite a tacky, ‘kiss me quick’ un-pier like seaside feel.

Outside the pier was a large bus terminus which meant a large expanse of tarmac, ideal to park up on and take photos. However in my infinite wisdom I initially tried to mount the footpath right outside the pier but was quickly asked to find somewhere more suitable by a pleasant but insistent security guard in the amusement arcade. Therefore I decided to park up on the ideal large expanse of tarmac outside the pier!

Thankfully our forward raiding party were already there, waiting for us nearby and soon re-joined us for some photos.

After taking our proof of visit shot, and whilst the rest of us are parked up and chin wagging Ruth, Alex, Snowy and Emma headed off behind the pier frontage to take a look at the hovercraft which was just taking off.

Myself and George were then suddenly summoned around the back of the pier by Alex. I was expecting Alex to just want tokens to get on one of the rides, but actually it turned out Snowy had found a newly installed high ropes course on the Pier which was aptly named ‘Pier Pressure’ !!! It would have been foolish to miss the opportunity, so of course we didn’t and got some great shots for our scrap book. Thanks Clarence Pier for doing that for us!

It was now time to say goodbye to Emma and Chris who had to head home. It was brilliant to have their support through the day and we really enjoyed having them with us.

Just 1 mile from Clarence Pier lies Portsmouth Harbour from where the car ferry to Fishbourne on the Isle Of Wight disembarks. Fishbourne is just an hour ferry journey to the Isle and 3 or so miles from Ryde, our last proposed pier visit for today. This would have been a great route for us to take as the time was still relatively early at 5:30pm and we could have actually got an early night for once.

However, we weren’t leaving from Portsmouth as fortunately someone had managed to secure a fantastic deal with Red Funnel ferries in and out of Southampton. Dave Fisher, of Kingfisher Kustoms fame, had put us in touch with his niece Angie who worked for the tourist board on the Isle of Wight. She gave us a sympathetic contact at red funnel who gave us a heavily subsidised fare of just £35 return for each car (normally £120). This meant more funds we able to go into the Pier Pressure charity fund.

The three remaining buggies and the two VW vans headed off the 20miles towards Southampton and our 8th pier of the day, the Royal Pier. Thankfully the Royal Pier is right next door to the Red Funnel ferry terminal so we would be able to kill two birds with one stone.

Uninspiring the ride between Portsmouth and Southampton meant a slog up the M275 and M27 before turning off at the extremely busy Windhover Roundabout towards the centre of the city and the quay. This way did, however, take us up and over the Itchen Toll Bridge We made a quick stop and pulled  up at the side of the road just before the tool booths to ensure we all have the requisite 50p Toll on board. I wouldn’t say the bridge was one of the most spectacular we had crossed on our travels, but it did the job and saved us a few good miles and more importantly valuable time.

Finally we arrived at Southampton Royal Pier around 6:15pm, just a mere 30 minutes behind our planned schedule but more importantly an hour before our ferry to the Isle Of Wight was due to sail.


The last time I was in the Isle of Wight was in April early in the year at my bestest friend’s wedding. I had taken the opportunity then to scope out Southampton Royal Pier and therefore we knew that all that remained of the original pier was the entrance pavilion. After closure in 1979, the pier had succumbed to fire in the 1980’s. The entrance pavilion had been restored in 2008 and was now simply a Thai restaurant on the ground floor and posh grill house on the first floor. We had managed a meal in the grill house in April and it was a pity we didn’t have time to eat there once again before our ferry sailed.

We spent no more than 10 minutes taking photos right in front of the Thai restaurant entrance before we said goodbye to everyone and headed off for the ferry arrivals gateway. We would be catching up with Jazzy, Snowy and Ruben the following day as they were stopping on the mainland for the evening. Jazzy, Snowy, Dave and Louise went and sampled the delights of the Grill House and watched us board the ferry whilst Ruben headed off for his pre-booked campsite for the night.

The days were now being to merge into one but I was pretty sure today was Thursday. It turned out that Friday to Sunday was the one and only VW show on the IOW known as VW Island. This was the reason why there were a few old VW Campers sat in the rows of cars waiting to board the ferry with us and why we were mistakenly thought of as heading for the same show ourselves. We ended up waiting in he boarding queue right next to a nice peppermint green split screen classic VW camper van and chatting with the guy and his wife for a while. It turned out his family had recently suffered from cancer and he made a nice donation to our collection too.

We didn’t have to wait long before the ferry arrived, disgorged its load and invited us to board for the hour and half trip across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. This would be the second time we had left the mainland in search of piers during our trip.

Thankfully we had made our deadline at the docks and hadn’t suffered the delays of the previous day although it did seem a long time since we woke up in Dover that morning. But the day was still far from over as we still had one final pier to visit at Ryde.

We set sail bang on time at 7:30pm and went about grabbing some nice food and a well earned rest on board. What we actually got was a very soggy and tasteless barely warm chicken pie, raw broccoli, limp potatoes and a very noisy, busy and hot lounge area. Thankfully George’s fish and chips were just passable as a meal. Alex and myself managed to reluctantly eat our pies but Ruth was less than impressed and there was little else to wet her appetite on board.

In all honesty, I think this was about the point when we realised we were all starting to feel a little jaded and that the challenge was indeed harder than perhaps any of us had ever expected. I think we naively anticipated that we would have had more down time at the end of each day in which to relax and reflect, rather than having to chase food and catch a few hours sleep, before it all began again the next morning.

What we didn’t expect was that our challenge was about to become even harder.

I mentioned earlier that we had been really lucky with both the weather and the reliability of our buggies throughout the trip so far. Other than a few spots of rain over Snowdon and George’s front shocks doing a mean Gordon the Goffer impression, everything was going fine. Therefore the law of sod would say that the second you leave the safety of the mainland and head for an island with no VW spare shops something will break…

Literally as the ramp on the ferry opened up and hit the ground in East Cowes, I started up my buggy and instantly my volt meter spiked past 17 volts – That’s not good. Good would have been 14.5 volts as 17 volts basically overcharges the whole system and can even boil your battery accident. This spike also had the result of blowing my electronic speedo, which effectively lost all our trip data collected so far. I stopped the buggy, restarted it and the volts now read 15, a little over the normal, 14.5 but workable. However the volts started to increase slowly again, my rev-counter had a wobble and the battery charging light flashed on and off. As we now only had about 8 miles to Ryde, I took the decision to chance it and take a look when we get to the hotel at the end of the day.

As we left the ferry at East Cowes and there sat on the car park was Nick Howell and his family in their Pink Doon Breast Cancer Tribute buggy. Nick’s mom had been through the breast cancer and he wanted a buggy built in tribute to her fight and ultimate survival against horrible disease. It was a real surprise to see Nick and his buggy there as when we had left for Pier Pressure just a week before his buggy was sill in pieces at Volksmagic’s workshop back in the midlands. Lee and his team at Volksmagic  had pulled out all the stops, got the buggy finished in record time and delivered the buggy down Southampton docks just a few hours earlier that day for Nick to ship over to the island. This was a brilliant sight and it was unfortunate I was that I was now so concerned about the health of my buggy with its battery charging issues at that point, that I didn’t make as much of the moment as I should (i.e. I actually didn’t take a picture for once – doh!).

The time was now just before 9:00pm and Angie, from the IOW tourist board, had arranged to meet up with us at Ryde Pier for a photo shoot and general chinwag. It therefore looked very much like we would be doing another pier visit in the dark. Other than a quick stop on route to Ryde to wiggle some wires on my alternator to check this wasn’t the problem with my over-charging (which it wasn’t}, we arrived at Ryde Pier just as the sun was setting.

Read about the amazing build of Nick’s Brest Cancer tribute buggy by Volksmagic at this link.


Ryde Pier is the world’s oldest seaside pleasure pier and is the second longest in Britain next to Southend, at 745 yards.

At the pier head there is still an active working passenger ferry terminal, running passenger ferries across to the mainland everyday. The end of the pier is basically a large car park out at sea for commuters using the ferry as well as a station for the passenger train that also runs along the pier.

As promised, Angie was waiting at the pier entrance with a couple of friends and colleagues. Generously she also had some pound coins to pay the pier toll, which allowed the buggies to drive all the way out to the car park on the end of the pier, which thankfully was lit all the way.This allowed us the opportunity to take for some nice photos against the far railing of the pier and also gave us time to have a chat with Nick and take a good look over the Tribute buggy. An amazing job by the Volksmagic boys to get it all done in time.

As the time was moving rapidly towards 10:00pm Nick and his family headed off to their IOW holiday home which left the two pier pressure buggies on their own for the first time hat day. However, before heading off to find our hotel for the night, we decided to move the buggies right up to the ferry office entrance to make use of the bright lights for our proof of visit picture.

And I mean right into the ferry port entrance!

It was now proper dark, so we said our goodbyes to Angie and finally headed off back down the long pier towards our hotel for the night. I have the fleeting hope that my buggy had fixed itself, but the volts started to creep up once more, although with the headlights on they did manage to hold them at about 15.5 (still not good).

As Ruth had not actually eaten on the boat, we stopped off at the local Chinese takeaway opposite the pier to grab her a quick takeaway.

The hotel for the night was the Dorset hotel on Dover Street. The Chadwicks had stayed there earlier in the year in April for our best buddy’s wedding so we knew it was nice, clean and more importantly had a private secluded car park. They also gave us a discount when we booked in April to support our charity challenge.

The hotel was only ½ mile from Ryde pier and soon we arrived on the rear car park around 9:45pm. Whilst Ruth took the bags up to the room and scoffed her chinese, I set about trying to temporary fix the charging issue on my buggy. Sorry to get technical for a moment but at this point I will hold my hand up and as someone who does know a bit about buggy wiring, I had made a small faux pas when building my buggy. I had used an LED bulb as my warning light for the charging system. I also now know that LED’s eventually cause issues with the alternator as they act as a diode and alternators need current to flow both ways to work properly. How do I know this? Well 5 years ago I blew an internal regulator on the alternator on my way back from an event in Swanage, which massively overcharged my system and boiled my battery. What I didn’t then do was change out the LED bulb for a normal filament bulb, perhaps due to a good dose of apathy at the time and probably because I simply forgot.

So 5 years on I was now sat on the IOW with an overcharged system once again. George of course took a little bit too much pleasure saying ‘I told you so 5 years ago !!’.

Therefore I set about using the a fix we had used on another buggy in Germany earlier that year and temporary wired in a normal bulb taped to the back of the buggy and fed off the +ve feed on the coil. Also, knowing that tomorrow we would be passing through Dorset, I made an emergency call to Flags (Terry Flanagan - a long time trusted buggy friend) and asked if he could contact Ollie at Beetle Magic for me, to see if he had a second hand alternator I could buy off him and fit on our way passed his place tomorrow. Flags soon called me back to say Ollie will happily sort me out tomorrow, which slightly helped put my mind at rest altough I knew I still had 70+ miles to travel tomorrow before we got to Ollie’s place..

It is now well passed 10:30pm and it seemed a hell of a long time since we left Dover that morning. We decided to skip our normal end of day cuppa and debrief and head for bed. This decision was also driven by the fact that we needed to be on the road at 7:00am the next morning for reasons that will become clear later.

That night we had two rooms, one a twin and one a double. Now as much as I like George, I really did fancy spending the night with my family. So whilst George headed off to his room, I headed off to find Alex and Ruth. By the time I got there Alex was already soundly asleep in our double bed, so we pushed the two U shaped arm chairs in the room together to make essentially a large soft cot and carfeully lifted him into it. It was funny the following morning to see his face when he realised he had gone to sleep in a double bed but woke on a bed made from two chairs from which he couldn’t escape.

That night I simply had no energy or will power left to update social media, so no-one other than us 4, Flags and Ollie knew of my overcharging predicament. I did find a small amount of energy to punch the first part of our day 8 journey into the Sat Nav, knowing we would have a 1 ½ sat on the ferry tomorrow for me to set the rest of the route.

We had now been on the road constantly for 7 full days and it was time to reflect on a brilliant day of sunny weather, great company and support, 9 pier visits (taking the total tally to 38), another ferry crossing, our first major breakdown (car not people) and a total number of miles now exceeding 1700.

When arranging the Pier Pressure challenge I knew Day 8 was going to be our nemesis day, simply by virtue of what we needed to accomplish before adding in the possibility of a long pit stop at Beetle Magic. By vertue of my broken alernator, tomorrow’s challenge had now become even more daunting.

Finally I got to bed and sleep happened almost instantly.

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