I haven’t written much recently about the next Tour but it starts in just over two weeks so I guess I’d better let you all know how things are going!
The itinerary has been pretty much finalised for some time, although I need to do a check of all the ferries: I found out yesterday that the Islay sailings will only go to Port Askaig while we’re in the area, as major engineering works are underway at Port Ellen. That’s actually quite good as it cuts down a bit of repetitive mileage, but I need to check the other islands to avoid any last-minute banana skins.
We have accommodation arranged for thirteen nights, courtesy of benevolent local residents, and in one instance, good friends who are on holiday in self-catering accommodation when we’ll be there. We are still looking for lodgings for another fourteen nights, mainly for the Outer Hebrides, Mallaig, Coll, Tiree and Colonsay, so if there’s anyone out there… please get in touch! Otherwise we’ll sort things out ‘on the hoof’ – staying at Youth Hostels or B&Bs.
I had to book the train journeys this week, and just like last year, it’s an eye-opener. On the return journey from Oban to Preston at the end of the tour, all the train-ticket websites quote £83.50. There is one change at Glasgow which also involves changing stations, from Queen Street to Central. Booked separately, the leg from Oban to Glasgow is £21.10, whilst from Glasgow to Preston it’s £12.50. I make that £33.60, i.e. £49.90 cheaper than the identical route booked in one ‘go’. Can anyone explain how that can be, please?
Richard and I have been comparing notes and checking check lists: the trick is to take everything you need without carrying too much weight. Simple! It’s such a shame you can’t take all the maps you need, but I’ll have to rely on a page cut out of my road atlas, together with the GPS. I’ve a book which contains details of all the islands, together with contact details for hundreds of B&Bs etc, but it weighs a ton. I may see if it’s available as an e-book and borrow Val’s Kindle to save weight, if she’ll let me.
Oh, and I don’t have a decent camera yet! I ruined one whilst walking all 214 Wainwrights in 2009, and another last year on my 4,500-mile cycle round the GB coast. So I resolved to buy another, but haven’t found a decent one with an optical viewfinder yet. Canon have just brought one out but it uses AA non-rechargeable batteries, which is useless. I may have to try and get used to one without the viewfinder, but I don’t relish the idea…
Blogging en route will not be as easy as last year, as I won’t be carrying the lap-top, but I should be able to get by with the iPhone and by using hosts’ computers if they’ll let me. I think you can expect quite a few updates as we go along.
As for fund-raising, I’m not banging the drum as much as last time but it would be nice if my readers, followers and supporters could give something. Online donations via www.justgiving.com/bill-honeywell (or Text donations - see the top of this page) will go to Cancer Research UK; if you give me a donation personally, by cheque or cash, I’ll send that to the absolutely excellent Rosemere Cancer Foundation unless you specify otherwise. We’re not talking aggressive tax-avoidance here, just whatever you are comfortable with, so I don’t think you’ll get into trouble with Mr Osborne! (But if you are a multi-millionaire it’s not illegal yet, so please hurry before he closes the loophole!)