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Adam Lee-Potter on training for the annual four-mile Brownsea Island swim

PUBLISHED: 15:36 14 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:40 14 May 2014

Illustration by Claire Jelly

Illustration by Claire Jelly


Ten years on from cycling round the world, getting back into training - this time for the annual four-mile Brownsea Island swim - holds about as much appeal as alcohol-free whiskey

My wife has just flown home after a month in Russia. My dry March - a dry January is frankly unimagineable - is at an end: celebratory champagne and Duty Free vodka happily toppled my Lent-esque wagon.

And it was time. I was in danger of becoming the dullest of teetotal bores. As it is, I now have a tedious, encyclopaedic knowledge of alcohol-free beers and ciders (pints of fizzy water pall very quickly) and where to buy them.

Dorchester’s Tesco has crept up in my estimation. Not only do they stock bucatini – the best pasta this side of Livorno – they have a seemingly unrivalled array of faux ale. A bottle of 0.5 per cent Erdinger, with a twist of lime, isn’t nearly as grim as it sounds.

Whissin, however, a rash Spanish attempt at prohibitionist whisky, is unsurprisingly foul: like a bag of sugar dissolved in a bucket of Blue Grass.

And a shot of Whissin certainly wasn’t going to cut it when my wife – almost the first thing she did – crashed into my parked car as she reversed up.

There has, of course, been an element of readjustment since her return – my mountain bike has sadly been banished from the snug along with my turbo trainer - but, though abstinence doesn’t necessarily make the heart fonder, absence arguably does.

Spring is, after all, the season of renewal, that giddy time of year when winter’s gloom and flood finally recede and all seems newly possible.

And that’s probably just as well. I have stupidly agreed – again – to join my Head Ranger chum Reuben for July’s annual, four-mile Brownsea Island swim.

Having shamefully pulled out at the eleventh hour last year, I feel on-pain-of-death to actually see it through in 2014.

My 2013 regimen clearly didn’t cut the mustard – a sporadic yomp down to Dancing Ledge for a 10-minute paddle, followed by a pasty and a pint of Eve’s Idea at the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers.

But my new one isn’t any better: a five-mile cycle ride up and down Weymouth’s pond-flat Rodwell Trail with my seven-year-old daughter, broken by lunch at the Crab House Café. I am going to have to raise my game, and soon.

It seems, and is, an age since my wife and I took 18 months out to cycle round the world. This month marks the tenth anniversary of our return and, right now, that milestone is seldom far from our minds.

Ten years ago, in Cherbourg, waiting excitedly for our ferry back to Poole, I wrote: ‘We’ve cycled 15,000 miles, been shot at and pelted with stones. Our tent has been set on fire in the desert, we’ve fallen down a Himalayan ravine. We’ve surfed off Japan, eaten eyeballs in Nepal and I’ve shaved my legs. But now I yearn to be home’.

I felt then what my wife felt last Tuesday morning at Sochi Airport. As T.S. Eliot put it: ‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’

Simply, there’s no place like home.


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