The Penultimate Leg


This morning I scanned more colour negatives from the long walk of July 2003.


Sam continued rowing Pacific Pete along the River Soar at Leicester.


He passed the National Space Museum.


Boys at an Outdoor Pursuits Centre were introduced to the boat.


A harvester gathered in the crop; a coot paddled by; a mallard breakfasted with her ducklings; and a water snake broke the surface of the river in which a mallow was reflected.

Derrick working lock

James having returned home for a short period, I got to work the locks.


Anyone who has read ‘Nettle Rash’ will know how I avoided encountering bulls in the fields I had to cross. This rather amused a gentleman I met en route. He said that no farmer would dare leave a dangerous animal on such a public area. With a great deal of trepidation, I mounted a stile around which this herd of cattle were clustered. As I climbed over the animals all ran away; the scary bull in fast pursuit.

Sam at Ratcliffe

Here Sam approaches Ratcliffe lock, in sight of the coal fired Power Station opened in 1968.

Further on, at Beeston, we made another group of friends. Paul, with the long hair, owned a wonderful Dutch barge, on which I slept overnight.

Sam and James in Pacific Pete at Trent Bridge

James had rejoined Sam by the time he rowed under Trent Bridge, in sight of The Brian Clough stand of Nottingham Forest football ground.

Sam interviewd by Radio Nottingham

My son was then interviewed on the bank of the river by Radio Nottingham.

Sam and James in Pacific Pete, Jessica watching

This post culminates in the penultimate, short, leg of the trip. Only four miles in length, during which we were joined by Becky’s friend Jo Stone, and by Jessica, who watches our son and James moor on the Nottingham waterfront. Sam rowed the race in aid of Cancer Research. Jo suffered from leukaemia, and Jessica from myeloma. Much younger Jo was not to live much longer; Jessica survived until July 2007, having accompanied us to the finish at Port St Charles, Barbados in March 2004.

Given that we will probably just enjoy snacks this evening, Jackie provided a brunch of fried bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms, baked beans, poached eggs, and toast.

This afternoon, putting in the final touches of this post at half time, I watched the televised Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Scotland.

We will shortly be leaving for Walkford to make up a fundraising quiz team at Shelly’s church. Should there be anything of moment in this, I will report on it tomorrow.




  1. Derrick, such a beautiful journey for Sam and your amazing photographs capturing it.
    I felt the opening photos were well worth studying for awhile. . .
    Taking a pause to feel within the actual serene scenery.
    What a sad part about Jo Stone and of course, I am always saddened by your loss of Jessica. Now I will try to remember the specific cancers. I give to many disease research organizations, including the American Cancer Society.
    Paul’s barge is a gorgeous one and now I learned it is Dutch. In running, I had heard many times the use of “leg” but forgot the river trip had a final “leg!” You got me looking for legs! ?

  2. A post of contrasts. I had a chuckle when I read James got off, thinking, if only it were so easy out on the Atlantic. Then seeing the radio interviewer holding an umbrella rather than a recorder gave me another chuckle. Your cross to the nettle story provided some wry amusement mixed with discomfort. And then the sadness of the reason for the fundraising. My brother, too, is suffering from a cancer which is now beyond further treatment. It’s tough on him and distressing for all those around him.

  3. That Trent Bridge reminded me of the Princes Bridge in Melbourne, I wonder if the bloke who design/built the English bridge had a hand in Melbourne’s.
    Isn’t there a baseball ground or some other type of bat and ball game played at Trent Bridge?

    Heres a picture (I hope ) of the Princes Bridge in Melbourne so you can see what I’m rambling on about as usual

      1. It certainly is, but now I need find who and when the Princes Bridge designed and built.

        HQ in London ? thought it had moved to Bombay or Calcutta Thought the Indians now ran the events.

        One things for sure; It’s not cricket old boy, not anymore, it’s just money :'( and that’s why I no longer care about it.

          1. Some consolation :'(
            I saw Don Bradman, Ray Lindwall ,Keith Miller, Hasseyy & Harvey, Sam Loxton & Barnes, play Middlesex at Lords in ’48 ( The War Office wasn’t even born then) Bradman scored 6 and I’ve never forgiven him.

      1. I’ve been thinking about your post off and on all weekend. Damned cancer! Runs in my family, that’s for sure. My father, all his siblings, and his mother died of cancer. I’ve had cancer. My nephew was born with cancer but thankfully it was easy to treat, and he is thriving. My mother had cancer. So…

        1. So you appreciate so much. My Dad, maternal grandfather, aunt, younger brother (which I think you know) all are a few more. The youngest, first wife Vivien, succumbed in an epileptic fit, not yet 22. Jackie says I’m not burying her.

  4. I didn’t know this beautiful post was going to end on such a poignant note. May God bless the doughty rowers, and those who were culled in their prime.

  5. I was struck in the one picture of Sam at how much he resembled Jessica; looked a little closer and saw some of you as well in his face. I imagine he has less time for such pursuits now, but does he still row?

  6. A lovely journey and brilliantly illustrated too Derrick, much enjoyed . I loved the story of the bull! Can be scary animals but in this case it was you who scared the bull.

  7. Such beautiful photos, once again, Derrick, and a poignant reminder at the end about the why of this journey. Nearly everyone knows someone who has had cancer.

  8. Interesting and also bittersweet memories to share with us, thank you. I am most curious about that night on the attractive barge. Was it a good rest? Would love to do that or stay on a house boat awhile. I have slept on a small yacht during a week trip and that was pretty good, I have to say!

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