Day 6 July 9th 2022
Today we went to the sea-side, leaving our hotel, Dunstan Hall, just after 8am, for Great Yarmouth. A reasonably quick journey due east on the A47 and we parked up beside the Venetian Waterway. After dark this looks quite magical with illuminated boats cruising along the waterways, by day its still an interesting place though. Our BBs were waiting for us in the Furzedown Hotel. One of our BBs, Rachel was a Team England Shot Putter, whilst another Melissa, who had an untreatable brain tumour, had raised a lot of money for Cancer Research. On the Relay we met a lot of amazing Baton Bearers, all had been nominated for a variety of reasons; their volunteering, fund raising, overcoming illness or injury, inspiring and supporting others in sport. In many cases their activities had been performed throughout their life, over more than 50 years in some cases.
After dropping our BBs on the Promenade we left Gt Yarmouth at 10:15 for quite a long drive to the West Suffolk Sports Centre in Bury St Edmunds, arriving at mid-day. Here we were able to join the rest of the crew for a sandwic lunch. Everyday there was a planned lunch stop, where possible we tried to be at the lunch stop as it meant we didn’t have to buy our own lunch, This was the first time our schedule allowed us to be at a lunch stop. We were responsible for picking up BBs once they had completed their segment, at the Cathedral we picked up a lady who had been involved with netball for over 50 years both as a player and a coach. After returning her to the Sports Centre our activities for the day were finished. We now had to find our way to Westone Manor Hotel in Northampton where we would be spending the night.
Now might be a suitable time to mention laundry. As we were going to be on the road for 25 days, in different hotels every night, with only a few changes of clothes there had to be a way of getting out dirty clothes washed. We were given a large black cotton ‘sack’ with our number on and a smaller white mesh zip bag also with our number on.
The male mesh bags had blue zips and the female mesh bags had pink zips. You might be wondering why……
All our clothes had to be marked with our crew number which was fine for coats, trousers and shirts but not practical for small items like underwear, socks and hankies. The mesh bag was for the un marked ‘smalls’ and they would be washed in the mesh bag. Larger items. Shirts, trousers etc would be placed in the black cotton bag and they would be tipped out washed and then returned to the correct bag using the crew number written on the clothing. The first laundry day most of the large items were in the black bags and all the mesh bags were correct. Despite being correctly numbered my trousers and a shirt were missing and I had to sort through all the unclaimed washing to find them.
As a result of chaos with the first washing day the managers asked anyone going home or past their home to drop washing off or do it there if they could.
Our route from Bury St Edmonds took us on the A428 to Bedford, A421 J13 of the M1, as I lived very close to J14 I was able to call in at home at exchange dirty clothes for clean. Ally was also able to go to Boots at Kingston and buy essential supplies for herself and her female colleagues.
As I drove up Brickhill Street past Japonica Lane the shuttle bus was caught on video.
Back to the Laundry. The next laundry day was an absolute disaster. The contents of the black bags were washed and correctly returned to the black bags. If only they had done that with the mesh bags! The mesh bags were opened, emptied out and washed together. Because nothing in the mesh bags was numbered it was impossible to return items to the correct bag. Two large boxes came back from the laundry; one contained the contents of the female mesh bags and the other the contents of the male mesh bags. That night there were 60 people rummaging through the boxes of underwear trying to find their items.
I can only say I had no trouble whatsoever identifying what had been in my mesh bag! Two weeks later at the end of the relay there was still a lot of unclaimed pants, socks, kinckers and bras!
We arrived at Westone Manor in time for the evening meal which we ate outside in the rather splendid garden terrace. I had a room to myself tonight and that was nice as tomorrow was an R&R day so I could have lie in.