Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Day 10 “Golden Sunday”

Sunday 30th September - Day 10                     Daily Mileage 539 – Total 2825

With the challenge of visiting all the Gold Post Boxes over 22 days of riding I thought I’d better pull something out of the bag, so to speak. The number of Gold Post Boxes is growing at an alarming rate, there are now 100 throughout England, Scotland & Wales, 1 on the Isle of Sark, 1 on the Isle of Man and now fantastically 3 in Northern Island giving us a grand total of 105 Gold Post Boxes. However the Royal mail have added a footer to the list saying there may be more added in the future!

Trying to map all the locations is turning into a daily struggle. Some post boxes appear on the Royal Mails Gold Post Box Finder site then suddenly vanish. The same can be said for Wikipedia’s Gold post Box List’s too so it’s just a matter of gathering the information from anywhere or anyone willing to help.

I’m lucky in one respect that two fellow #GoldBoxJourney families are in constant contact with me through Twitter. @Gold_Postbox_Family & @PaulaJubliee are travelling around the country visiting the Gold Post Boxes & we’re all keeping each other updated on where the Gold post boxes are which is a great help. @Gold_Postbox_Family told me about Pete Reed’s second Gold Post Box near Nailsworth as recently as yesterday so that’s another one to go on the list that I was unaware of.

So, with my mind full of lists & maps I headed off to bed at 8.30pm on Saturday night leaving Jeannie and Ben watching the TV. A quick shower & within minutes I was fast asleep content in the knowledge Mr T was packed, my bike gear was laid out ready to put on and all the locations and route were uploaded into my trusty guide, my Garmin 660.

In what felt like minutes the alarm went off, I was wide awake, wired! Rolling over I thought it odd Jeannie wasn’t there? Up washed, dressed, I headed down to find both Jeannie & Ben watching TV.

“We wanted to say have a great ride and see you off, Dad” Ben said as he gave me a massive back-breaker of a hug.

“You be good for Mum now and look after her whilst I’m down at Uncle Ron’s, OK?

“I will, love you, say hello to Uncle Ron from me won’t you”

“I will” Big Kiss.

I said my good bye to Jeannie and left them to it. 

Sat on Mr T I opened the garage door and that is when it hit me like a punch in the face! It was pitch black outside the time half past midnight. In order to achieve my challenge I’d decided to put on my “Iron Butt Head”. The plan, I’ve always got a plan, to ride to London picking up a swathe of Gold Post Boxes on route. Meet Ron at the Ace Café for breakfast at 9.00am. Visit all the Gold Post Boxes in London bar one, Westminster which I would do on Monday morning. Try and collect as many as possible on the outskirts of London. Spend the night at Ron’s then back to Westminster to meet Bruce of www.TeaPotOne.com and take part in his setting off on his “Around the World Ride”. Finally head home collecting whatever Gold Post Boxes we missed.

Halifax - It all sounded simple enough in my mind but as I watched the temperature gauge plummet from 17 degrees down to 8 degrees I was just wishing I’d plugged my heated jacket in already. The ride over the tops was nice not a single car on the roads, up and over the hills past the White House Pub I realised I’d best top up with fuel. At £1.40 a litre in Rossendale I kicked myself for not filling up at ASDA in Rochdale at £1.36. I even had to hand my card over before filling up, it was like being in France all over again.

Pulling into Halifax town centre I realised straight away, I’ve done this one. Something I told the “Street Angel” in her high viz vest as I almost rode over her stood in the middle of the road I’d just tried to turn down. Great start to a long ride still Hannah Cockroft’s second Gold Post box on Tabor Road was only 1.8 miles away that was until I punched it into the Garmin that is. “3.2 miles to  Tabor Road?” Brilliant pieces of equipment Satellite Navigation Units but I’ll tell you one thing they never marry up with the mapping program on my laptop (and yes I have downloaded the latest maps thank-you).

Still it was a straight run out of Halifax and I was there. The Gold Post Box took a little finding as I never imagined it would be in someone’s outside wall but hey who cares. Photo taken and I was happy to now be heading South.

Mount Tabor Road Halifax
Hannah Cockroft - Gold Medal Athletics: Women's 200m - T34

Kirkby Ashfield – There’s not a lot to say about the ride down other than I was happy that the Garmin clipped off the M62/M1 turning as it was closed for the night. What did surprise me was arriving at the Post Office to find the post box RED! “Here we go again” I screamed in my lid! Riding around at 2.25am looking for a post box is not  great especially in a suburban area. Luckily for me a white van came up the side road looking to turn left in front of me onto the street I was on. I gave the driver a wave and flashed to indicate I wanted to speak to him. The van driver stopped and wound the window down. To my surprise he was dressed in a familiar black uniform with head set on and the biggest Alsatian I’ve ever seen in a cage in the back. Whoops!

“Good evening officer, I’m looking for the Gold Post Box do you know where it is?”



“Can you tell me whereabouts I can find it as I’m visiting all the Gold Post Boxes in the UK”



“Where is it?”

“I’m going that way now, follow me”

“That’s great thank you”

5 minutes of back lanes and side roads  later and the hazard lights switched on in the van. There is was 2.8 miles away from the location I’d taken from the internet. Ahhhgggg!

Still after a brief chat and the offer to take my picture which I gracefully accepted I had my photo. Now how’s that for a stroke of luck at 2.30am Sunday morning.

Chapel Street Kirkby in Ashfield
Ollie Hynd - Gold medal Swimming: Men's 100m Backstroke - S8

Lowdham – is just 16 miles down the road on the outskirts of Nottingham and is a brilliant twisty stretch of tarmac. The post box is outside the Post Office and so within minutes I was off to my next destination without issue.

Main Street Lowdham
Richard Whitehead - Gold Medal Athletics: Men's 200m - T42

Milton Keynes – A spirited 85 mile ride down the M1 then into the bike heaven that is Milton Keynes roundabout city of the world! I had a great time only interrupted by a pit stop for loo and fuel. Again the loo was out of order but I’m sorry to say the back of the patrol station wasn’t! Relieved and happy I arrived at the shopping precinct and took the photo.

Silbury Boulevard Milton Keynes
Greg Rutherford - Gold medal Men's Long Jump

Bedford - No drama’s straight  across to Bedford, post box found, photo taken I was away again.

St Paul’s Square Bedford
Etienne Stott - Gold Medal Men's Double Canoe Slalom

Stotfold – “Where is this damned post box?” Could I find it, Brook Street, right I’m  here the shops are there, nope I could not see it and at 4.15 in the morning I was getting a wee bit stressed out too say the least. 35 minutes it took me find the damned Gold Post Box at the other end of the street! Hay ho and on we go.

Brook Street Stotfold
Victoria Pendleton - Gold medal Women's Keirin

Elsenham – Brilliant, straight down the hill and straight in front of me stood the Gold Post Box Photo taken and I was off quick as a flash. With the sun now up life just got a whole lot better.

Robin Hood Road Elsenham
Ben Maher - Gold medal Equestrian Team Jumping

Harlow – “Excuse me do you know where the Gold Post Box is?”

“Yes love it’s down there but you will have to ride back around town as it’s a one way road”

Yea right! at 6.00am on a Sunday morning, I’m sure I’m going all the way around Harlow to get to a post box 20 foot away. Photo taken I was away in minutes.

Post Office Road Harlow
Laura Trott - Post Office Road Gold medal Women's Team Pursuit

Cheshunt– In, photo, other end of town, photo number two taken, out, enough said!

Cadmore Lane Cheshunt
Laura Trott - Cadmore Lane - Gold medal Women's Team Pursuit

Newham Parade Cheshunt
Laura Trott - Newham Parade - Gold medal Women's Omnium

Enfield - Having made good progress I could either arrive at the Ace Café at 8.15am straight from Enfield or go to Watford and bag another Gold Post Box. The post box won hands down. Like I said I’d got my Iron Butt Head on.

Southbury Road Enfield
Charlotte Dujardin - Gold medal Equestrian Team Dressage

Watford –  A kind Polish chap took my picture before rushing off before I could even say thank you and check if it was OK. So to the kind chap in Watford “Thank You for taking my photo with the Gold Post Box”. As for the chap trying to sell me a Bible…….. I’ll leave that to your imagination’s!

High Street Watford
Anthony Joshua - Gold medal Boxing Men's Super Heavy Weight 

London – Now there is absolutely no way I am going to break each and every suburb down or this Blog will be colossal. I’m sorry if this offends true Londoners but hey I’m a Northerner, deal with  it!

Breakfast at the Ace Café was very enjoyable and by 9.00am it was heaving with bikers. I love visiting the Ace Café as it is just one of those places that has stood still in time. 1960’s time and it brings me out in goose bumps just thinking about being a “Biker” back in the 60’s.

Ron arrived and we had a good catch up. Not impressed with the thought of visiting Gold Post Boxes would be a polite way of putting it but “what are best mates for if not to get you to do stuff you’ve no interest in what so ever, hey Ron?”

Now I don’t visit London (or Ron come to that matter) half enough. It’s a great city with some of the UK’s most iconic land marks all within one sprawling metropolis. I love it but in short bursts. Needless to say by 2.00pm we were heading out of the city off to collect the two far flung Gold Post Boxes near Reading.

The reason I’m not going to prattle on about how manic the inner city is, how mad the driving and rising is can be summed up in this small briefing Ron gave me before we left the Ace Café.

“Right so tell me if I’ve got this straight or not”

“30 means 40, 40 means 50, 50 means 60, yes”

“Yea, that’s right”

“And what were you saying about passing”

“There are no lanes, pass where you can, slow down for the camera’s but ignore the average speed cameras as there not switched on”

Oh and I nearly forgot, don’t go round the bollards though, the police don’t like that at all” 

With those words of wisdom clearly logged in my head we set off. Here’s the 7 inner city Gold Post boxes we visited in rapid succession. All I can say is I’m glad I chose a Sunday to visit them as the city is one very busy place even on a Sunday. We saw a film being made, where one of the security men actually let me sneak into the corner of the back drop between takes to get the photo at Chiswick. We visited Wimbledon, Ron had me doing the Mo “M” just to make sure everyone watching knew I was a total head case visiting all the Gold Post boxes. We visited a post box that was only Gold for a week then re-painted red on Carshalton Road? I even managed to get up close to the Gold Post Box in Cheam which was a little bit of a challenge and chose to push my bike back with hazards flashing so as not to upset anyone.

Heathfield Terrace Chiswick
Pete Reed - Heathfield Terrace Gold medal Men's Four Rowing

London Road London
Mo Farah - Gold medal Men's 10,000m

Broad Street/North Lane Teddington
Mo Farah - Gold medal Men's 5000m

Church Road/Somerset Road Wimbledon
Andy Murray - Gold medal Men's Tennis Singles

Worple Road Wimbledon
Sophie Hosking - Gold medal Women's Lightweight Double Sculls Rowing

Woodcote Road Wallington
David Weir - Woodcote Road - Gold medal Athletics: Men's 5000m - T54

Ewell Road Cheam
Joanna Rowsell - Gold medal Women's Team Pursuit

(Sadly on my return home I now see we missed visiting David Wier’s second Gold Post Box just 1 mile up the road on the edge of Mollinson Square, mistake number one.)

Bentworth - Happily after a boring ride down the A3 we were out of town and soon onto some interesting country lanes. Ron was really happy to be out of the city and started to enjoy himself a little “though he will stringently deny it to anyone who asks”.

Now having had another look on the Gold Post Box Finder site and on Wikipedia I see that Peter Charles Gold Post at Bentworth is no longer listed I have Tweeted @RoyalMailNews but had no reply so I am claiming this as an official Gold Post Box and leaving it in until someone tells me otherwise.

Peter Charles

Alton – Not the Alton where my Dad lives but the one near Bentworth. Again a lovely town with pub’s offering two Sunday Lunches for £10 “Sorry Love we’re sold out, but you can have a drink if you like!”. Moving on swiftly.

Paper Mill Lane Alton
Peter Charles - Gold medal Equestrian Team Jumping

We found a lovely Pub called ”The Bull Inn” at Bentley where we stopped for an amazingly tasty Sunday Lunch and a soft drink for the princely sum of £30. Well worth every penny it was too.

The Bull Inn at Bentley
"Does a brilliant Sunday Lunch"

Sunningdale – A swift ride up the A31 / M3 put us back on the outskirts of West London, straight in and out photo taken we moved on. (On my return I now see I missed visiting Sophie Christiansen’s other Gold Post Box some 3 and half miles up the road in Egham, mistake number two).

London Road Sunningdale
Sophie Christiansen - Gold medal Equestrian: Mixed Individual Championship Test

Maidenhead – In out no fuss what so ever, photo taken and away.

High Street Maidenhead
Sophie Christiansen - Gold medal Equestrian: Equestrian: Mixed Individual Freestyle Test - Grade Ia

Marlow – See above plus a quick call home to check in and let Jeannie know we were all right, if not a little tired by now in my case.

High Street Marlow
Naomi Richel - Gold medal Rowing: Mixed Coxed Four - LTAMix4+ final

Henley-on-Thames - Ron and I had a discussion about whether or not to visit Oxford and the two Gold Post Boxes on the way there but chose to head back into the city to collect the last Gold Post box of the day.

Hart Street Henley-on-Thames
Henley Rowers - A celebration of Henley Rowing Clubs

Uxbridge – With a little effort we managed to squeeze both bike together each side of the Gold Post Box for the last photograph of the day. 

High Street Uxbridge
Natasha Baker Gold medal Equestrian: Mixed Individual Championship Test - Grade II

Day 10 - 26 Gold Post Boxes 

“Golden Sunday” had been a resounding success with 26 Gold Post Boxes visited and photographed. We only missed 1 box which it turned out had been painted back to red and missing just two opportunities to visit two more Gold Post Boxes.
Still, as I said to Ron “It just gives me an excuses to re-visit London again”.
Just not today………..Oh and Thomas to answer your question, "Yes it is possible to vist 20 Gold Post Boxes in a day"

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