Showing posts from June, 2008

Sponsored Games Night for Uganda

This enjoyable but tiring all-night (7.30pm to 7.30am!!) fund-raiser served a dual purpose: raise more money and do some team bonding prior to our departure on July 15th.

The Nintendo Wii proved very popular.

As did Guitar Hero on the XBox 360.

Uganda 08 - final preparations...

... are well under way. I'm writing this on the train going down to London to get our visas sorted at the Ugandan Embassy. Three weeks today we'll be on our way to Heathrow Airport. Correspondence with our Ugandan Brothers has been most encouraging in terms of how happy they are that we are coming and how easy it has been to sort out the multitude of details that need sorting when you yourself are acting as "tour operator".

We have been asked if we can go into an extra orphanage in Kasasa. So that's now 2 secondary schools and 2 orphanages that we will be working in over the 2 and a bit weeks.

Pupils at our school in Ibanda.

The money has been coming in steadily from my sponsored cycle in school, from parishoners and from the web page which has certainly proved its worth. Our rock concert at the New Picket in the centre of Liverpool (staff band the Manic Street Teachers + 3 pupil bands) raised a tremendous £940. Kudos to Uganda 08 group member Paddy B…

Liverpool to La Salette - Day 6

Day 6 - Probably the most enjoyable day in terms of weather (warm with little wind, drizzle to start with, rain to finish), terrain (very hilly but beautiful) and my physical condition (pretty darn good, considering).

During breakfast with my friend Jean Collet (who, by the way, had come down to his farmhouse from Paris especially to put me up for the night) we spotted a deer in his large back garden. Jean was delighted. This had never happened in all the 20 years he'd owned the place.

Time to go...

I had Jean to thank for helping me choose a particularly picturesque route for today's riding that took me off the main road but avoided the worst of the very steep climbs in the Morvan region whose mountains rise up to over 900 metres (about as high as Mt. Snowdon in N. Wales).

Riding into the Morvan hills.

For lunch, a rarity... a sit-down meal, a pizza in fact. Made a change from my usual sandwiches, fruit juice/energy drinks and tubs of creamed rice. I couldn't resist having my …

Liverpool to La Salette - Day 5

Day 5 - By now I was heading past Paris (to the west) and into the Burgundy region. This day was notable for 3 things: the hilly terrain, the lack of wind at all in the afternoon (therefore no headwind for the first time since Liverpool!), the afternoon sunshine (I got nicely burnt) and arriving at the country farmhouse of my good friend and film mentor, Jean Collet (that's 4 things!.... never mind).

A striking morning skyline before the wind dropped and the skies cleared.

Jean is the reason why I now teach Film Studies A-Level. A renowned former French film critic, film producer, Sorbonne University lecturer, friend and biographer of the great director François Truffaut (who has a cameo role as the lead scientist in Spielberg's "Close Encounters"), in recent years Jean has taught at the Jesuit University faculty in Paris where I did 4 years of Theology and Philosophy from 1995 to 1999. The faculty offered various extra option courses (including film-related ones), all…

Liverpool to La Salette - Days 3+4

Day 3 - Gale force winds and rain from Dartford to Dover made this the slowest and most unpleasant morning's riding of the whole trip. Things brightened up literally and metaphorically in the afternoon as I got the ferry to Boulogne-sur-mer where I was met by a French friend.

Two years ago, during my 16-day cycle to Santiago de Compostella, I made 4 new friends during the last week from the Pyrenees to Santiago. Here’s a quote from my blog for that ride:

“I bumped into one particular group of four French pilgrims - who were mixing hiking with passages by car - a total of seven times between the Pyrenees (on the border between France and Spain) and Santiago, including in Santiago itself amongst the thousands of August pilgrims and tourists who flock there daily. Though each of these encounters was by chance, by the end it did seem to all of us to be far more than just coincidence that brought us together.”

Here they are during one of those accidental meetings at Portomarin.

We’ve been …

Liverpool to La Salette - Day 2

Day 2 required me to ride across or around London to get to Dartford, Kent. I plumped for through London, but forgot to sort out beforehand how and where I would be crossing the Thames! Aaahhh... mistake. Ended up wasting about an hour before eventually heading back west towards Tower Bridge (see photo).
The final stretch to Dartford and my friends, John + Kathie Wilkinson, was made more difficult by a strong headwind and some heavy showers. The weather was doing its best to delay me.

Good to see John + Kathie again. I first met them in 1993 when taking a group of 6th Formers from St. Francis Xavier's College, Liverpool (where I still work) to Caldey Abbey on Caldey Island (off Tenby, S. Wales). John + Kathie were also there on retreat having recently retired. We have kept in contact ever since.
John cooked me a lovely meal and we chatted for hours. Kathie was unfortunately sick in bed but in good spirits when I went up to see her.
Another unexpected blessing (well, 4 really) during …

Liverpool to La Salette - sponsored cycle for Uganda: Day 1

It's about time I gave an account of my sponsored cycle, completed 2 weeks ago, so here we go.
As you can see, I tried to keep baggage to a minimum eventhough I was going to be away for 10 days in total (8 days cycling). I'd had a few problems with various bike components coming to the end of their life span over the month or so prior to the ride, in particular the wheel hubs and cones. After discussions with my regular bike shop (Quinn's Cycles on Edge Lane, Liverpool) it was decided that it would be cost-effective and possibly safer to replace the wheels completely rather than recycle the rims and spokes, rebuilding the wheels with new hubs and cones. However, the wheels that were ordered 10 days before I left didn't arrive at the shop as planned. So they ended up providing me with 2 higher spec wheels for the same price. Good form!

But there was a further problem... when I then went for a training ride a few days before leaving to test the bike set up with all the bag…

Web site update

I have at last got round to doing a proper update on my web site which serves both as a Chaplaincy web site for school and a point of reference for people looking for information about my congregation's presence in England. On there you will find some stuff that has already appeared in one form or another on this blog, but also articles and photos about school Chaplaincy-related events that don't appear here.

Click here to go to the site.

This photo is from a trip to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for a schools Advent Service before Christmas 2007. The group contained regular visitors to the Chaplaincy, Mass helpers in school (Yrs. 7-9) and some members of my form class (in Yr. 7).

Sponsored cycle 08 - completed successfully!

Well, I managed to get to my goal as planned in 8 days after 921 miles of riding in total. You can find photos from the trip at:

I have also at last managed to get a JustGiving charity page up and running for those who would like to make a donation at: I also put a widget to it in the right hand column of this page.

I'll put some of the photos and a few anecdotes on this blog in the next few days.