Thursday 18 June, a few days after returning home and a week after reaching Little John’s House
It’s been my biggest adventure (so far): from Dunkirk through the windswept low countries and then Germany and the beautiful Rhine Valley; following the meanders of the River Main and the long open stretches of the Main-Donau (Danube) Canal; the rainy days along the Danube; the increasingly warm weather as I left Austria and entered Slovakia; the spectacular view of the Basilica at Esztergom as I re-crossed the Danube into Hungary; the unpredictable road conditions of Romania and the beautiful wooded Carpathian Mountains. And countless river crossings by ferry and bridge.
Besides all this, I met so many hospitable and helpful people, showing that I wasn’t so much the independent traveller as one who depended very much on others. In fact, once my brothers joined me near Budapest, I was happy to take a back seat and let them deal with navigation and finance.
But while all this was a great experience for me, the purpose was to raise money for the new project at Little John’s House. So it was a great moment when we arrived at Cisnadioara (see photo), although my memory of the village (from 1996) failed me when it came to finding the home itself. It took a phone call to Mags (founder and director) to locate it (see photo).
The children, at present three boys and three girls, are all very well cared for for by several staff, including Tinca (head of house), Eti, and Nicu (maintenance man and driver of the LJH minibus – see photo). (They are all on the group photo.)
The two photos of the village show that this is not a wealthy place, but by contrast some very smart new houses are being built there – it is, after all, in a beautiful setting with the background of the Carpathian Mountains. This means that land prices are increasing, so the charity trustees want to take the opportunity now to acquire a nearby plot to extend their work and cater for more children. So if you have already donated, thank you for your support – and if you are still considering it, I can assure you your money will be put to good use.
Last but not least, my thanks to Rod and Mags, for help with planning and publicity; FlipAnt of Gillingham, for the customised “Ride to Romania” hi-viz vest, which led to conversations and often donations along the way; Gillingham Press, for the maps which allowed several people to track my progress; David, for his company for the first few days; all those who hosted me or helped me find my way; the cyclists I met and who sometimes accompanied me; the bike-shop owners who did running repairs; all those praying for me and supporting me back home, especially my blog-editors, Elizabeth and Ash; for brothers Roger and Richard, seeing me safely over the last 400 miles; and Anne, for letting me go.