Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Dropping in

"A travel moon gives your life an exciting international flavour" – today’s horoscope

I’d been a bright but utterly bitter start to the final day on the road. Sharp rather than merely crisp. Buried deep inside heavy winter gloves, the tips of my fingers had throbbed. The rear brake cable had frozen solid, forcing me to have to disconnect it. Moisture ingress from yesterday. Even the higher hub gears felt sluggish.

I’d stopped short in Bridgwater the previous night. Fading light and a busy road. It’d left me about thirteen miles or so to reach BBC Somerset’s Taunton studio the next morning, but I was confident I could manage that without too much drama. Much safer in daylight.

Winding through the still quiet streets of Taunton, I’d stumbled on my local MP. He’d come to wave me off when I’d set out from Fitzhead. But now a Minister of State, I knew he’d business to attend to out of the constituency and wouldn’t be able to welcome me back. Hopeful we’d catch up later.

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9.20am. Outside the studio. I’d just over an hour before joining Emma Britton on air for her Saturday morning Somerset Live show. Intern Rob let me in. We chatted for a while. He’d cycled in as well. Then greeted with a big hug from presenter Emma before she dashed off to make a few last minute adjustments to the running order.

Getting my fully-laden trusty steed into the small studio had been tricky. But worth it. Nice to know these sort of things weren’t staged, mere artistic license. And I’d remembered to switch off my phone moments before wheeling her in. Close call.

Facts from my travels replaced the usual quirky questions for the show’s guests. I felt at ease. Pleased I’d the chance to recount my favourite anecdote. Trials and tribulations of partaking of kumus – fermented mare’s milk – in Kazakhstan. Adding I’d simply no idea you could even milk a horse. Emma almost choking with laughter.

The parting question had been about regrets. Had there been any? No. I’d said. Quite robustly. Although entirely correct, I’d kicked myself a little later. Far wittier response would have been along the lines of …just one… never quite managed to explain pantomime to foreigners… Never mind.

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