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Pier Pressure 2016

Going Home - Monday 22nd August

Monday 22nd August 2016

Going Home- 128 Miles

I dreamt of piers. All night I dreamt of piers.

It was a strange feeling to awaken and realise that today we wouldn’t be on the trail of any platforms sticking out to sea.

Technically we had completed our challenge of visiting all 57 Piers in 10 days. However, we were still in Swansea and needed to get home. And this is where our 10 day challenge actually became an 11 day trip. This did confuse some people on the run up to Pier Pressure when they realised our 10 day challenge would take 11 days!

As a celebration we had allowed ourselves a lie in, not meeting up until at least 9:00am that morning. The only thing on our itinerary today was to end up where it all started and finish our trip at my work in Oldbury, West Midlands.

My work’s press team we keen on seeing us return there to take a picture or two, as I assumed, for the staff newsletter. So, before we left I had provisionally arranged with them that we would get back around 1:30pm.

Even though the M4 services we were staying at had a myriad of food options available to us, the draw of a £7 breakfast of any 5 re-heated items didn’t really attract us for some reason. So we decided to look for alternatives on our way home.

We Chadwick’s, being last out of the hotel as usual, met up with George and Hugh on the car park in readiness for the relatively short 128 mile skip home. Once again, as it is wanton to do in Wales, it was raining. I personally love Wales (we live less than an hour from the border and I have many fantastic memories of visiting Snowdonia through the years), but it does rain an awful lot.

After a quick fill up at the overpriced petrol motorway station and we finally hit the road about 9:30’ish, (I can’t remember exactly what time it was and actually I have no photo evidence for once – I think I was just too relaxed and unfocused that morning). Normally from that part of the world I would take the M4 then either head up the M5 or pass via Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye and take the M50 to the M5 home.

However, this time we had decided we would prefer to take a more scenic and sedate route home. This would involve us passing through the Brecon Beacons national park, through Brecon Town and passing over the border before heading through Leominster and Kidderminster towards home. However we couldn’t avoid a quick brush with the M4 but after just 8 miles we peeled off onto the A465 towards Hirwaun. The A465 was just an uninspiring straight’ish wide dual carriageway and the rain was once again lashing down.

Visibility was very poor and the only way I could tell that Hugh was still with us was by counting the headlights in the yellow blur that was all I could see through my water soaked rear window.

The difficulty was that as both George’s and Hugh’s buggies were yellow, I had to count 4 headlights to be sure no-one had broken down or got lost.

Then a couple of miles before the roundabout with the A4059 which would take us up into the Brecon Beacons National Park proper, we hit congestion. The signs did warn us that queues were likely, but two miles worth was a bit much.

Luckily the queue did move slowly and soon we were leaving the masses behind us as we turned and started to climb up into the Brecon Hills.

The national park is blessed with stunning scenery and makes for a brilliant drive, or so we are told. All we ended up doing was climbing further into the heavy wet cloud and getting even more rained on.

Suddenly, as we passed the highest point and started descending towards Brecon, the rain began to ease and then remarkably stopped as we hit the valley floor.

We skirted around Brecon centre on the town’s bypass and continued on our north-east diagonal path back towards the English border. I was now acutely aware that breakfast had been a hastily eaten muesli bar on the M4 and our bellies were starting to protest a little.

We needed to find somewhere to eat and soon. Then, as we drove around the outside of the little village Bronilys we spotted a sign for what looked like a nice place – The Honey Café.

A quick u-turn and around 11:15am we pulled onto the car park which amazingly was dry and looked like it had seen no rain at all today. It must be the Brecon hills which collect all the water and shield the area inland from wetter weather. We were now almost half way home.

The Honey café was a converted country house which had been owned and run for three generations by the same family. Brunch was great, the staff were great, the pot of tea was great and importantly they had great toilets too.

The Pier Pressure team were now looking pretty jaded and thankfully Hugh was there to gee us along otherwise we would probably have spent all day just sat there drinking tea. But on we had to go, and with just over 70 miles left to travel we left the café around 12:15pm. Before we restarted, I got in touch with my contact at work to let them know our estimated arrival was likely to be around 2:15pm rather that the 1:30 pm time originally planned

The weather had now dried up completely and had warmed up significantly enough that we all stowed our hoods away to do the last part of the trip as we started 11 days ago; topless. The drive back towards the ever nearing Midlands was actually very pleasant in the sun and also very uneventful. The only stress was now getting back into Oldbury at a sensible time (as we knew people were waiting for us) and trying to avoid rush hour traffic. Before long we knew we were back in England; there were no boarder signs but the rest of the road signs were now a lot smaller and in a single Language.

Then I knew we were close to home as we passed the West Midlands Safari Park in Bewdley. Around that time I received a message from Dave Dream who was off work and had come out to play again, wanting to give us an honour guard as we arrived back in Oldbury. He said he was waiting patiently by Junction 4, M5 for us to come by. I got Alex to reply and suggest that it would be better for him to wait by Junction 3 as this was the junction we would be joining at !

Through Kidderminster and soon I was on very familiar ground. No need for the sat-nav anymore. Before too long we were coming up Manor Way towards the M5 and waiting for us in the layby was Dave as promised. We didn’t even break stride as he joined on the back of the passing buggies.

Just a quick 2 mile trip along the M5 down to junction 2 and we were heading down the slip road, back to my home town. We made one last small diversion onto Toys R US car park to collect Snoopy and Vicki and Dave and Gail in their buggies, who also had come out to cruise with us home. The time was now around 2:15pm as we turned right up Freeth Street, back to the place the trip had all began some 11 days previously.

What we really didn’t expect was the welcome awaiting us. There was waving flags, cameras galore, press people, loads of work colleagues, friends and family on the square to welcome us home. This totally made up for the lack of fanfare at the Mumbles Pier yesterday. The Mayor, Sandwell’s Town Crier and other dignitaries we on hand and like 4 zombies we were suddenly being moved here and there, being asked to manoeuvre the buggies, wave flags, ring bells and smile.

To be truly frank, all we really wanted to do was go home and George as he admitted later, was a little cranky with the press man who had constant demands to keep moving the cars. I think he had forgotten we had just spent 11 solid days in the cars and driven over 2500 miles. But the welcome was brilliant and just what we needed. A special mention mustgo to Julia and Evelyn, Rob’s kids (rhythm guitarist from the band) who had made us a ‘Welcome Back’ banner

But before we could go we were treated, and I mean treated, to a brilliant rendition from the Adrian Holmes, Sandwell’s Town Crier, who had written a great poem for us about our travels .

To all here gathered to greet Simon Chadwick and George Meakin
I am here to tell you about where they have bin
They set themselves a challenge, it was clear for all to see
To visit 57 piers, in 2 buggies in 10 days to raise money for charity
They have been on 6 ferries and bridges they have crossed
Covered 2,500 miles without getting lost
Through the Mersey tunnel and passed Snowdon, no hassle
They even had time to visit Edinburgh Castle
They have raised thousands of pounds to date
But it is not too late for you to still donate
Just giving, Pier Pressure 2016, Cruising Against Cancer the place to go
So come on the Black Country dig deep and go with the flow
Thanks to Ruth, Alex, the support team and all those involved
This is a challenge that for years will be told.

This was great as I have worked for Sandwell now for 31 years and never knew we had a Town Crier.

And then it was all over. Colleagues went back to work, friends drifted off home, the other buggy guys saddled up and got ready to leave and the press man finally left us alone. Finally the 4 of us with and our two amazing, crime covered, plastic steeds were on our own, travelling the short 2 miles back to my home.

We arrived back at home just about 3:30pm and it was done, all finished, the end. 9 months of planning, 2500 miles and 57 piers later we had circumnavigated Britain in two home build cars, with just a few minor troubles but many many marvellous memories. But most importantly we had done what we had set out to do and raised a great deal of funds for some really marvellous charities, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care and the Georgina Ward of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.

We were truly thankful of everyone’s help, donations and support over the 11 days of our challenge.

But I have to thank one person above all else and that is George. Without George’s agreement to join us on the trip I doubt we would have ever undertaken the challenge. He was there to share the highs, the lows, was a sounding board and someone to moan to. Without hesitation, he agreed to do the trip, using up valuable work’s holiday time. His help also meant we could take Alex with us too to share the whole experience. He even allowed me to cover his paintwork with stickers and livery. And if nothing else he will always be my hero for just putting up with the Chadwick’s for a full 11 day 24/7 period. Thanks George, you’re a star.

It was time for a well -earned cup of tea and an afternoon of doing bugger all.



But it wasn’t quite the end.

The Story

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Going Home

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