Sunday, 26 July 2009

Cricket Tour In Cambridge

Was lucky enough to play cricket in Cambridge over the weekend of the 26th july and was part of the winning team against the West Indies; a day made more special when we got to meet Michael Holding - a true gent, who has a voice like liquid mahogany

Monday, 20 July 2009

Action day with the 18-21 year olds

A great day with the youngsters who have started to come and help us out more and more - Dan and Ben are old hands by now but Vicki and Immie both agreed to come and help - Immie doing this for the first time [she was great!]. As always the people you are canvassing with change the dynamic of what you do, how you approach the day, and often how you go down with the electorate. So it was today as it is tough to get cynical on the doorstep when you have 4 really bright, polite, questioning students on your doorstep
We started on Hordley Acres, which is the large estate in Haydon Bridge, which has long been neglected both by the Council and by political parties. I am amazed how well we are doing on the estates - they are really responding to our survey strategy and our desire to solve the local problems that affect their day to day lives. I am really proud that we were the ones who sorted out all the potholes in the estate - even though they had had a liberal councillor for months

We were canvassing the whole town and also surveying the area with a special Haydon Bridge leaflet
Even at 10.30 am on a monday morning a lot were in - most were just amazed we were actually asking them what was wrong with the town, how we could help locally and nationally and that we were there out of an election time...

In the town itself there was some Conservative support, only 3 labour, not one liberal and mostly possible conservatives. Lots of former labour switchers thinking of moving to us - the dynamic is very similar to the feel on the doorstep that you get in Haltwhistle

Then on to Ovington where we again canvassed the whole area. Gutted I missed their recent fair but you cannot go to everything

Big election meeting in the evening - we are now pretty much ready for an election whenever it is called - the plan is written, budget sorted and lots of people getting organised. I am lucky that the team of officers are as good as they are

Saturday, 18 July 2009


This had everything - Kamikaze sheep, torrential rain, the wild rough beauty of Kielder, more rain, floods, Wall fete, 3 prize northumberland alpacas, the wonders of the Bellingham bakery [again - I know! But it is so amazing], more rain, Kielder organic meat, hospitality in Humshaugh, a bike of dubious quality... and more rain

The apology is that we only managed Kielder to Hexham via the off road track and the back road via Falstone and Lanehead. There I lost my chain twoce and nearly lost my head as kamikaze sheep ran down the road towards us before executing a Brian O'Driscoll sidestep into the ditch. Being sheep they did not all go the same way with predictable results and a near death experience.

My bike is old and knackered and patently not an off road bike - we did well to survive the Kielder section. Between Falstone and Lasnehead the people and scenery are truly will struggle to find a nicer part of the county.

A Bellingham bakery pitstop [who else serves a Macaroni pie?..that tastes this great!] fuelled us all the way to Humshaugh and then Wall for the annual fete - full of everything from 3 very shy Alpacas [think a long necked sheep /llama], and great community spirit despite the rain

The flooding has been off the scale - not quite as bad as last year but getting there - the Tyne is in spate

Make it to Hexham very wet - everyone at Tynedale FM laid low with man, real or swine flu ... agree that we will pass on tomorrows Wylam section ...still a great day and we will do this annually

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Big Pedal

Less than a week before I embark on some long hours in the saddle, as I cycle from Kielder, over Northumberland's rolling hills, winding my way down to Wylam, to support Tynedale FM and raise money for them.

It's a worthy cause, and I hope my saddle fitness from racing will come into play on the bike, although I suspect few people will be drawing comparisons with Lance Armstrong as I whizz along.

But you never know. More on the ride soon...

Put simply we depart Kielder at 10 on saturday and then go to
- Bellingham at 12 [may have to stop in the amazing bakery - loved the "sly slice" [I kid you not] there on saturday]
- wark at 1
- Humshaugh for lunch
- wall show / fete at 3
- hexham for the afternoon show at 4

- Hexham to corbridge then along the river to the Boatman in Wylam for beer and medals

Have been totally inspired by Armstrong, who is one of my heroes - his books are amazing if you have never read them- at 37 he is still in the mix in the tour de france. His clash in the Alps next weekend with Contador is going to be epic

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Tynedale FM Question Time

To the Community Centre in Gilesgate for a 2 hour Question Time with various locals - although surprisingly none of the key opposition candidates showed up - Antoine having a baby [Mike Parker stood in - he clearly cares a lot about the town], Andrew D AWOL presumably [Derek K stood in for him as robustly as ever]. Interviewed by Stuart and Anna on issues such as the Egger expansion, the closure of day care centres,how to interest younger voters in politics, the proposed new hospital in Cramlington, and the brown bin debacle. We go live on Tuesday 14th as I understand it.
Tynedale Fm are doing amazingly well and everyone enjoyed the experience. Spent the rest of the day in Bellingham and Humshaugh and planned next weeks bike ride

Friday, 10 July 2009

Bardon Mill Drinks

An amazing day organised with military precision by John Galbriath - over 110 turned up to drink and eat delicious food. Bev gave a great introduction and I made a short speech. We were blessed with great weather. Met lots of poeple who are willing to help and get involved - our team of canvassers and deliverers grows literally daily. There is such a sense of optimism and desire in the party at the moment - a belief that things can change and a fundanmental desire to turn this country around. Everyone - party members and non members alike are passionately against Brown and much criticism from everyone of governments handling of Afghan campaign, country's finances and Brown generally. Brown is our greatest recruiting device - a lot genuinely hate him to the point of near apoplexy.