The challenge begins

With February on our doorstep, training for my latest challenge is about to get underway.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed (via Cheltenham Town’s official Twitter feed – @CTFC_Official) that there was a challenge taking place, organised by Help The Hospices (@HelptheHospices), the Football League’s official charity for 2011/2012.

The challenge is to cycle from Wembley Stadium to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The ride is over 3 days and 244 miles (393km) in June.

Now, I should point out that I’m not a brilliant cyclist. In fact last year I had at least two accidents on the bike. One was full on, off the bike and sprawled on the pavement (I hit a kerb) while the other saw me misjudge the space between two bits of fencing on the building site of an estate that I live on. In the last incident, the fence came off slightly worse.

Has this put me off? Well, a little, but I want to do something to help this fantastic charity. The support they give to Hospices is brilliant. How many of us know someone who has spent time in one?

I’m pretty sure I will be cycle-fit enough to complete the challenge and I have the determination to raise the money so why not give it a try?

I’m hoping to put on a charity concert with a couple of friends in the next month or so (just need to organise the venue – anyone in Gloucestershire want to loan me somewhere and/or kit for free for a great cause?!) along with other ideas which are in the background, to help raise money. Which reminds me, I must setup my online sponsorship page…

The training will begin in two weeks. Need to fix one of the tyres on my road bike and plan how I’m going to approach this. Having not cycled more than 1 mile to/from the train station in the last 14 years, I’m confident this will be tough!

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Dreams

Everyone has dreams. Where they want their life to be. These dreams can be everything from working for Manchester United to travelling the world.

Some dreams are less dramatic. A home, a lover, health…. But all of these dreams make us who we are.

Recently I’ve had a lot of advice from people on what I should be doing. Comments on how lucky I am in my job, how I must love life working in London.

It’s true, I am very lucky in my job. But it took 12 years to get me into a role that some had said I’d never achieve. London life is fun but having also worked locally and had the joy of getting home 10 minutes after leaving work, it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. I started commuting in 2003… You’d have thought I would have learnt by now!

When I take a step back and look at my life I realise that I am in a very good place. I work for a great company and with some of the best characters and people that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

But I still have dreams.

The most important part of that is that they are my dreams. They deserve no censure or praise from anyone. They deserve respect but that is all. I have been laughed at for one of the things that I would love to do and yes they’ve always been a million miles out of reach, but sometimes life can throw a curve ball at you, for the better. That’s what I’m hoping for!

One thing is for sure, I will be making big steps toward at least one of my dreams this year. That’s a promise to myself.

Never be ashamed of your dreams of what you want to do. Just as our past, they make us who we are. And you never know when the opportunity may arise to follow them…

A day to remember

I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying that Saturday 7th January 2012 was one of the best days out I’ve ever had.

The third round of the FA Cup saw Cheltenham Town travel to Tottenham Hotspur. The invasion of Ruby clad fans, arriving by Coach, London bus, overground train and car ended with what I can only describe as a beautiful sight outside the ground.

My day began, as ever, at St Neots train station where several men stood, decked out in Spurs kit, staring at me like I was from another planet. I’m guessing their geography skills were good and they were trying to work out what a woman in a Cheltenham Town shirt and scarf was doing 60 miles North of London and 110 miles from the club’s town.

They didn’t ask. I didn’t approach them.

My journey consisted of chatting with some friends, who were off to watch (a victorious) Stevenage FC at Reading and working out the travel plan for myself, my Spurs friend (P), his daughter and nephew. It was the first time P’s daughter had watched a match and the first time any of us had been to White Hart Lane.

Once we’d eventually arrived at the ground (on a bus full of Spurs fans!), we met up with several Cheltenham fans and headed for a pub. It was at this point we successfully went the wrong way and wound up with a good 10 minute or so detour. Why does that always happen?

As we started down a small street opposite the ground, we turned in time to see the team coach arrive, with Cheltenham Manager Mark Yates clapping at everyone on the pavement and the players watching on. It gave us all (P & family excluded I feel!) quite a buzz.

When we eventually arrived at the pub, we opened the door to be greeted by a packed bar. A bar full of Cheltenham Town shirts. The atmosphere was brilliant with everyone singing and chanting.

A little while later we headed back to the ground. Walking up the stairs, to be greeted by the sight of Ruby shirts on the pitch with that backdrop was amazing. Sadly the Cup run for Cheltenham was to end with a 3-0 defeat but at the hands of such opposition and putting up a good fight, I’m not sure many (if any!) could complain. Match Report.

It’s been said a number of times, but I hope the players realise just how proud we all are of them. Same goes for the work put in behind the scenes. From the moment we were drawn against Spurs the club has been professional and quick off the mark, while still providing answers to even the smallest (some times repeated!) questions on Twitter.

From organising the ticket sales, coaches, handling queries from left right and centre, and of course the ever faithful Robins Player coverage, it’s been excellent, while not letting the league coverage slip. Keeping everyone up to date, to the point where local media was close to saturated with Cheltenham Town news and views!

The best feeling for me, since Saturday, was walking into my office today and a Spurs fan commenting on how good Cheltenham played against them.

So now we look ahead to what is sure to be a great couple of months of league action and a chance to close the gap at the top of the league.

My only request?

That more of those who came to Spurs, come along to watch them in the league. Yes, visiting White Hart Lane was a great day out, but there’s nothing better than watching your team home or away in the league.