Not a pleasant night, with little sleep, I will say nothing except 'wind-eze fueled diarrhea' - not comfortable, not quiet and certainly not pretty. The morning breakfast largely passed me by, except for the moment when the owner greeted Steve and asked where his bike was. Looking slightly caught out Steve explained that it was in our bathroom but that there was nothing to worry about, it was clean and well behaved. Our morning then started with a lap of Carlise to gather some drugs from whoever opened first. Having spotted a Boots I confidently parked my bike and strode into the shop next door before re-assessing my chances of success in WHSmith.
Pills popped we set off up the A7, a road which was to take us all the way to Edinburgh. The weather was good, the views spectacular and the road surface good. All of which I failed to notice as I concentrated on just turning the cranks. My suspicion is that I was going slower than normal but also that Steve had picked up the average pace of the rest of the group. His chosen steed was an old Dawes Galaxy - the classic touring bike of it's day - which he had picked up from Gumtree and nursed back to health. Our first stop was only 21 miles into the day, much to disgust of some but at the firm request of me - I needed some calories that were going to hang around in my body long enough to help keep the bike moving rather than finding their mates and making a dash for the exit.
In fact it turned into a day of tea shopping in general, with pasties and cake consumed at stop one and another 20 miles behind us we were rolling in Hawick looking for stop two. We eventually found a cafe with a very local feel in the basement of a building (there were signs, we weren't just poking our heads into every unlikely looking nook and cranny). This also doubled as the school canteen, a fact which became obvious when a troupe of school kids marched in and all ordered matching cheesy chips. One lad wanted to stand out from the crowd and poured half a pot of salt on top just to show how tough his heart is.
With the fiasco of Steve's planning it seemed a shame not to give this some air time in the group, and indeed we had just started to set ourselves up for a four day long debate on exactly how useless someone has to be to make the catalogue of planning errors that gave rise to the slightly truncated Lands End to John O'Groats (minus the English bit) when Duncan handed Steve a gold coated oppurtunity for some distraction tactics. Nadine had packed Steve off with some first class flapjack to keep us all going and this was gratefully received by almost all. Duncan at one point seemed to suggest that he actually preferred the other flapjack Steve had in his bag, a surely inferior Sainsburys own brand. Sensing blood Steve jumped on this slight against Nadine and coupled it with good effect to Duncan's natural tendency to be easily wound up - hapless planning wasn't mentioned again. A master class of a cornered animal lashing out.
Our final stop of the day was 30 miles out of Edinburgh and was at a time of day I would have happily hung up my shorts and called it one. Perky I was not and the last 30 mile drag was a tough moment where I promised myself that another night like the last and I would hole up in a hotel for a couple of days and finish the trip solo. When we arrived in the outskirts of Edinburgh we started to pick our way around towards Ben's house trying to follow a city map Hugh had printed out. My feeling of the day were summed up when Hugh asked for a location fix to see where we were on his map as he wasn't sure if we needed to turn off soon. A quick check of a phone revealed that we hadn't in fact even made it onto the map. This made us feel better for Ben because at that point we weren't standing in the most friendly part of town and we were hoping he wasn't hard up enough to have to live there.
I was immensely relieved to arrive at Ben's and have the day behind us and after a cup of tea I could barely keep my eyes open. We all had a quick shower and heading out to the pub for a bite to eat. I was pleased to get a good meal down me but it seemed that the weight of the food had been attached to my eyelids. Before desert Ben generously gave me his keys and I headed back and crashed out in the spare double bed. Perhaps with memories of last night no one came to join me!