2011 Real Ale and Cider Festival
A full tent is a sure sign of success!

 

This weekend has been one of two clearly defined halves. Saturday was work as usual but the evening was the conclusion of some planning and a lot of waiting. Every year Weston-super-Mare Lions host a Real Ale and Cider Festival, raising funds for local and national charities. We, my sons and I ,have attended or the last two years and thoroughly enjoyed the music,atmosphere and drinks. The fact that it raises huge amounts of money for local causes is a bonus but it also raises the profile of our town to visitors and businesses.

This year, since my father’s premature death from cancer, I have been actively trying to help raise funds for charities that help others in a similar situation. This year, as a family, we sponsored a barrel of ale for the festival. That was the easy part of the weekend, and the tickets for free entry and a few drinks helped.

Cows on the line
Cows blocking the route!

The following day was the work day. I had signed up to raise funds the hard way. Speaking to one of the main corporate fundraisers at a previous function, I had agreed to join the Strawberry Jam, a sponsored ride along the Strawberry Line cycle/footpath.

I cycle daily, albeit only to and from work or shops and the allotment, but decided that of all the options available, 5 miles was too short, as was 10 miles but 50 or 75 was beyond my ability so opted for 25 miles.

I set up a justgiving page as the charity’s own page has no link or page for sponsorship and promoted it on social media and amongst family and friends before the event.

So far, I have raised a fair amount. Any amount is a good amount for the charity.

On the day, the train took me and my mighty steed to Yatton the start point and I was surprised to find no signage to show where the event was but, on asking at the cafe on the station, discovered the location and was told the event should start at 10 o’clock. As I arrived at Yatton at 10:20 , I was also disappointed to find the organisers still setting up the register point and start point.

That aside, the ride itself was beautiful. The scenery around Cheddar and Wedmore is stunning and there are more orchards than I knew. These orchards are not only huge and full of nature but the Strawberry Line route passes through many of them, the owners providing pathways and gates. The ride also passes through several villages and by passes others via maintained cycle routes and bridalways that simple exist as secrets only few know about.

It was a great and enriching experience, I met lots of people, discovered some wonderful places but I don’t think I’ll try such a distance again without a little more preparation!

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