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Friday, 27 July 2012

Home via Horse Guards Parade

It's very tucked away, Horse Guards Parade and the visit to Hyde Park and The Mall had only served to illustrate this more clearly/more covertly.  We needed to complete the task, so we headed back towards ExCel to track the river to Westminster, find the elusive HGP and head home on the train.

Taking leave of the hotel was odd, can't imagine spending 30+ nights in various hotels and B&Bs will happen again?  Even odder was the encounter with the policeman in his large police van as we approached ExCel.  "Do you need a lift?  There's plenty of room in the van.  I saw you on TV last night, well done!"  We declined the kind offer and off he drove - who'd have thought...?
Great views from a bike

Slightly nervous, waiting for the interview with Jon Harle
We stopped off at Tower Bridge so that Jake could renew his acquaintance with Jon Harle who had interviewed him at BBC Radio Newcastle and offered a quick chat now that the adventure was over.  A really lovely bloke - if ever you were to be interviewed for radio, he'd be your man.

That done we then headed towards Parliament Street to see if we could peer through to HGP.  We were approached by Mum and daughter who had seen us on the TV & wished us well - the power of television is extraordinary.

So a quiet pedal down Parliament St. and an obvious photo opportunity at the end of Downing St.  Philip nudged Jake into handing over a postcard to one of the Police Officers and then, in the space of just a couple of hours, we had our second surreal encountered with the boys in blue.  "Would you like a photo taken in front of Number 10?"  Now, having thrown away the previous offer, it seemed churlish to do the same on this occasion...

What's more, the Officer outside Number 10 was a keen cyclist (with Egyptian hieroglyphic tattoos - somewhat unexpected) and took one of our postcards and pushed the button on our camera for a photo opportunity we would never have imagined.
No need to curtsey, Jake

How unlikely was this?
We left Downing St. with the broadest grins, but the day was about to get more surreal and move from grin to verging on hysterical laughter.

There, crossing Whitehall, was the bike, the hair, the bluster... the Mayor of London.  "Boris, over here Boris, come and meet this young man, Jake!"  Buoyed with Downing St. exuberance Philip, called, beckoned and succeeded in obtaining Mr Johnson's attention.  Unbeknown to the team, this full scale assault was being monitored by a BBC News camera and journalist desperate to engage Boris about the proposed PCS strike.

With stereo eccentricity, Jake seems to have zoned to a
pleasant and quieter place.

BBC journalist despairs of unscheduled interruptions -
he obviously hasn't met Philip.
Boris chatted, took a postcard and conducted an interview with the BBC about the PCS and moved on seamlessly.  His days are probably littered with surreal encounters and this was another of those, but for team BikewithJake it provided nervous laughter for many hours.

The jittery giggling was continued when we finally did the Horse Guards Parade photo - even the horse was getting that end-of-journey, demob feeling.  And that was that, all sites visited, over 1400 miles cycled - a never can be repeated experience and three very privileged cyclists - thank you everyone, it's been incredible!
Couldn't have put it better ourselves!

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