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Ed Peppitt (aka The Beacon Bike)

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100 days 3,500 miles 327 lighthouses

Day 9: Staying put in Sandbanks

by | Jun 26, 2022

Sandbanks Beach Cafe

Sunshine in Sandbanks

After the fog of the previous afternoon, the glorious heat and sunshine on the south coast the following morning was unexpected, though extremely welcome. After crossing the River Stour at Iford, my route took me back to the coast at Boscombe, before following the seafront on dedicated cycle lanes all the way to Sandbanks, through Bournemouth, Branksome Beach and Canford Cliffs.

Sandbanks is a small coastal resort on a peninsular crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour. It’s renowned for its exclusive homes and famous, well-heeled residents. In 2005 a modest bungalow sold for £3m, and again in 2007 for £4m. I stopped at the Sandbanks Beach Cafe for coffee and several slices of coffee and walnut cake. I blew my budget for the day in a single sitting, but it was worth every penny.

While I was soaking in the sun, my wife Emily was at home trying to contact Condor Ferries to see if there was any chance that they might sponsor my crossing to the Channel Islands. I had been generating a bit of publicity about my journey and Shift MS, the charity I was raising funds for, so it didn’t seem unreasonable to make a request of this sort. I got two replies from Condor simultaneously, one a public tweet and the other a personal email. The public tweet declared that they would have loved to have been able to help, if only they had been given a little more notice. The email was somewhat less effusive. It said that they get charity requests every day and were not able to help. It didn’t stop them adding my name to their mailing list, however, and sending me more than a hundred junk emails over the following months.

Having been turned down for a free crossing, I booked a ferry to St Helier for the following day, and then began a search for a cheap hotel or bed and breakfast. It clearly wasn’t going to be in Sandbanks, but I soon found a friendly, welcoming hotel on the cliffs above Poole, with spectacular sea views and an en-suite room with a balcony. I sat outside with a beer in hand, gazing out to sea while catching up on a week’s worth of The Archers. I have been a fan since I was a teenager, from the days when Nigel Pargetter was Mr Snowy, the ice-cream man and Laura Archer fell into a ditch and died of exposure. It’s a soap opera that irritates and delights me in equal measure, although in recent months some of the story lines had been utterly absurd, and a series of cast replacements had left every male character sounding virtually identical.

Looking out to sea I focused on a flashing light that, after a little research, I realised was the Needles Lighthouse. I had covered seventy-two miles since I had stood in front of the Needles headland, yet from this balcony the lighthouse was less than twenty miles away.

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