Martin, Stephen and me
Friday May 21 – After breakfast in the hotel, we took a taxi to the rental car place to ‘hire’ a Nissan Pathfinder. While waiting for the car to be ready, the three of us walked around the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Then off we went, what should have been a 4.5 hour drive took 7.5 hours, this included lots of “round-y-rounds” as we call them. We had no GPS and Paul’s iPhone GPS helped some but not when we got real close to the hotel.
Diletta, me and Paul
Once we finally got to the Lamphey Court Hotel, we saw Stephen and Luisa again, as well as more of the Runningblade team, including Jon Williets and his family – and Don Wales – the lawnmower driver - and his wife Francesca. Also met Clare, their PR person, as well as Peter and Steven – the builders of the lawnmower. We had dinner and drinks with them all.
Me with the Don Wales
Saturday May 22 – I wasn’t feeling too well in the morning, but got better so we all headed to the Pendine Sands for day one of the event. The drive should have taken 22 minutes, but we took the ‘scenic’ route – until Diletta got out of the car while it was still moving to ask for directions. It took 3 times longer than it should have to get there, but we were just in time to see Don cutting grass for the press. Speaking of press, I was interviewed by the BBC, SKY TV, Kawasaki Engines, and some local papers. Everyone really liked the flash drives that Paul put together – they were loaded with images, press releases, my bio and some video clips.
Me being hounded by the press
The day was long – a lot of hurrying up and waiting, but the weather was perfect. The beach was full of spectators and others who were happy to be out on the best day (so far) of the year. We told everyone we brought them the good weather.
Beautiful Pendine Sands
We learned what “FOD” means – foreign object debris. “Fodders” were going up and down the 7-mile beach in teams collecting garbage (debris) so that Don could safely do his runs. I got a picture of Diletta “fodding” but she just got a branch off the beach.
Diletta getting her 'FOD' on
The three of us were able to see Don doing the runs in a vehicle next to him which was great. At the end of the day – which was after 9 pm- he had broken my 80.792 mph average with 86.069 mph. Champagne was served to all of us.
Me congratulating Don
Part of the Runningblade team
Don - the new World's Fastest Lawnmower Driver
We all went back to the hotel, took quick showers and met down for a banquet. There, Paul and I presented Wessex Heartbeat with their $1,104 check which was very much appreciated by them. Some of the Project Runningblade Team said the money we raised was the best part of it all.
Paul, Stephen, me and D'Arcy
Sunday May 23 – We drove back to the sands, but it was a more relaxed day – the weather was just as perfect. Diletta, Paul and I had lunch in town and walked around a bit while everyone waited for the tide to go out so Don could start his runs on the mower.
Diletta and me - enjoying the beach
Not a bad view, huh?
Taking a scenic break
Some shops in Pendine
We were able to get some clips of his second run, where he did 87.833 mph. On the BBC, I invited Don to watch me take a stab to his record back in the good old US of A. We need to go 90 mph but I’d still like to go 104!
Don in action
The record - for now!
We left the beach and headed back to London at 8:45 pm. We were in need of “petrol” and while we were filling up, Paul washed the windshield with a dirty sponge. I saw the flash of a camera while doing 40 in a 30 mph zone. Paul said he hopes I was smiling. We got to our hotel in London at close to 2 am.
I put Paul to work
Monday May 24 – We returned the rental car with no scratches. Diletta, Paul and I bought day passes to the London tube and buses. First we went to Harrods. That place sells everything imaginable and it’s expensive!
Diletta and me outside of Harrods
Diletta missing Koda
Me, Diletta and Paul at the pub at Harrods
After that we took a bus to Parliament and saw Big Ben. It’s there we got the call that the BBC wanted to do a live in-studio interview with me. It just happened that we were close and we had four minutes to get there! It was like being on the Amazing Race, but we made it just in time. The interview went well.
About to be interviewed on the BBC
After that, we went on the London Eye. It was really great – Diletta and I had seen a documentary on it a while ago. It’s a big Ferris wheel that takes 30 minutes to go around once. Each see-through cage holds 20+ people. Great views of London. We took a red double-decker bus back to the hotel after that. We then did some window shopping near our hotel and had dinner at an Italian restaurant. We later “Skyped” with Manny, Marc and Luanne before bed.
The London Eye up close
We're up real high
Paul - trying to cool off
The money shot
Tuesday May 25 – Diletta and I went to the Beaulieu Museum, where Stephen Vokins is the curator. To get there, we took the train to Brockenhurst.
Stephen picked us up and we had a nice lunch with him, Luisa, Clare and Russell at the place where they used to build ships. There is 7,000 acres at this amazing complex. We got a personalized tour of the museum by Stephen, saw millions of dollars worth of classic cars and race cars. We took lots of pictures, and then went to the palace where the Lord Montagu lives. We got to go through the castle (which is what I call it). We had a great time. My name is on the plaque that tells about the fastest lawnmower. Later, we took the train back to London.
Luisa, Stephen, me, Diletta and Russell
I wanted to take this home
Wednesday May 26 – We got up early and the three of us had breakfast and headed to the airport. The flight back seemed to go a lot faster than it did on the way there.
Saying good-bye to jolly ole' England
All in all, it was an amazing trip and we never saw a drop of rain. WE collected lots of racing intelligence, secured some solid PR and made of few new friends. As for resetting a new record…more to come.
Until next time!
Bobby Cleveland - The Engine Answerman