The Dads’ Ride – Southall to Ipswich – June 2022


This was a small project to pay tribute to two great friends from the 1960s. They were lecturers at Southall College of Technology (SCoT). The pair were Alan Rogers and John Simmonds. See below for the Twitter posts:

The two men were assiduous union reps in the ATTI (later NATFE) now UCU. Alan often came to the Simmonds’ house bringing laughter and fun. Our house was on Alan’s way to work.

They attended Auditors’ meetings. At some point, I was underage drinking in the Red Lion, and bumped into them. “A lot of auditors, dad!” Laughing he bought us a drink and we had a lovely evening. Sometimes, looking back, rather like viewing through a telescope from the wrong end, can give a distorted view. However, this particular memory feels fresh 52 years later. Dad died young having contracted Parkinson’s Disease (PD) at 45. He first complained of illness while waiting for a 92 bus after ENG vs FRA in 1966. Jimmy Greaves gashed his thigh that night and it probably changed the course of his life, too. Well played, Dad!

Even though he could barely walk in his mid 50s Dad rode his bike. He had to steady himself to walk and was slow to start. Yet he didn’t lose the knack of cycling, including the “postman’s mount” where the right leg scoots and then goes over the saddle. I’ve seen this several times more recently at Leicester Wheels for All sessions, too. You can sometimes ride a bike even when it’s impossible to walk. We told him it was foolhardy but to his eternal credit, he carried on cycling for as long as he could. He was very farsighted in that kind of way.

When his hands started to tremor with PD we wondered if his 1940s motorcycling was somehow to blame. We seriously thought that the vibrations of a bike engine were the culprit. Silly but understandable. We were trying to find explanations for his poor health.

In the 70s he became a patient at UCLH on what was the cutting-edge research of its time. It motivated Dad and he enjoyed interacting with neurosurgeons and their specialty trainees. The experimental drugs were alternately wondrous and dreadful. LevaDopa was the miracle drug of “Awakenings” but Bromocriptine had horrible hallucinatory side effects. We all struggled with the outcomes, but none more than dad himself

Day 1 of the ride – Southall

Originally tweeted by Peter Simmonds (@PeterSimmo) on June 12, 2022.

The Elizabeth Line is astounding to anyone who visits old haunts after a long absence. We were unable to travel on anything east of Paddington yesterday. Astounding is an inadequate word for this. Eye-watering? It is magnificent to see.

Economic development in Southall, and presumably therefore in all suburbs served by #Crossrail, has been boosted hugely. Southall has areas completely neglected – and swathes of massive development. The “new” areas west of Southall station were similarly neglected for decades. Looking on Google Maps at the area south of Beaconsfield Road through to White Street and The Straight you’ll see a massive area of construction – and road names like “Green-leaf Walk.” and developments like “Genteel House”.

Some Transco infrastructure can still be seen which went with the old gas works and famous “LH” Gas Holder that was demolished about ten years ago. Here is a 2008 photo of it ? The Southall booking office on Station Bridge is now unused.

The station is much longer than it was and there is a new booking hall. Here is a photo of urban decay around the Booking Hall from 2013. The Water Tower, now up-market residences, is on the right.

View from the Litlle Bridge in 1963

The neighbouring Southall Green is neglected and unkempt. It was a shock to see the beautiful council owned Manor House closed and decaying. This has to go down as an example of Austerity.

Day 2 of the Ride Central London to Thaxted, Essex

Originally tweeted by Peter Simmonds (@PeterSimmo) on June 13, 2022.

Day three and final day of the ride to Ipswich

Woodcraft Folk preparing on Ipswich Waterfront for Suffolk Pride on Saturday.
Woodcraft Folk celebrating their work ahead of Suffolk Pride on Saturday. Helen keeps up Alan’s tradition with the Woodcraft Folk.

The ride home – Ipswich to London 100 miles Wednesday June 15th

Email from Helen on Day 3

Dear Peter and John

What a triumph! And what an honour that you cycled all the way from Southall to Sunny Ipswich in memory of our fathers’ great friendship! Dad would have LOVED to have been here to greet you! It would have made his year! 

I hope your journey home is smooth and trouble free! 

I’m sorry I introduced some shocking facts about living in Southall – it wasn’t a bad place all told,  and Southall holds a big space in my heart! 

Will try to meet up whilst at International Camp at Kelmarsh Hall! 

I’ll keep you posted! 

Can you please send me the pic you took of number 27, Oakwood Ave… what a change! 

This is how the Rogers’ old house in Southall now looks.

This is how Alan’s house looked in 2019
This is a shot we believe from Cranfield Institute of the Royal Aeronautical Society. This later became the basis of the new Cranfield University. John Simmonds is four from the left in the second row from the back.

My letter to Helen at beginning of last and final day (Day 4)

Dear Helen, 

Awoke early after deep sleep sifting a wonderful day in my head.  Thank you and Martin for enabling it all.

Copying to Trish and Jill who are looking forward to meeting you.  Also to John who really enjoyed it. And Val, abandoned at home.

Southall forged us all.  That’s a good metaphor for a town that made the London Bus and specialised in light engineering factories.  West London was full of them.   It gave our dads a living at SCoT guiding apprentices to C&G and HND. There was a small metal bashing unit at the bottom of our garden for a while when we were small but we didn’t pay much attention to it.  

I don’t think it was a contributor to John’s illness but he was completely washed out by his 50s due to lecturing at “night school” over and above his daytime contract. But he was proud to have redeployed from the aircraft industry to FE.  When he landed his job at SCoT it ended a period of job insecurity caused by manufacturing decline. Fairey Aviation was not successful after the war despite a scheme to build the Fairey Rotadyne which was a conception of a combined helicopter and airplane. He worked in London for some years catching the Paddington train each day but his teaching certificate from Garnett College and his switch to lecturing ended a period of worry in which he suffered ulcers. 

Did your dad qualify at Garnett, too?

Above is a link to the last aircraft to be made by Fairey Aviation the company at which dad worked. It was a flop and much too noisy to use in cities.

Helen’s Reply:

Dear Peter, 

Thank you for your email – Thank you for the picture of number 27! Looks so different! 

Dad qualified as a lecturer after a 2 WEEK teaching course in the RAF during his National Service and when I challenged whether 2 weeks was sufficient (as I was doing a 4 YEAR degree in education at the time) he told me what they covered and I had to agree that they’d covered all the bases! Lol – just without all the beer! 

I’ll attach some pics of our @suffolkpride session last night! 

Happy cycling today! 


Helen x

Trish replied:

This is all so emotional Peter You remember things so clearly Dad’s story begins with him having to leave school at 15 even though he was such a gifted pupil because his family couldn’t afford for him not to work.  How he must have felt then at such unfairness I can’t begin to imagine.  I never heard him say how unfair it was but he was so determined that we his children should be able to have the opportunities that he didn’t have I wish I had appreciated this at the time I do remember him having ulcers It was all such a worry for mum. 

Love all the photos and descriptions What a lovely place Ipswich seems to be.  So glad Alan got to live there with you Helen at the end of his life 

Trish (Tricia Patricia) I remember that Alan always called me Patricia!

Email from Jill
A quick response before I get ready and my day begins!

Beautifully written Pete (we were forged in Southall) and what a wonderful achievement, Pete and John. Great weather too.

Lovely pictures … lovely memories of our dad and Alan …

Looking forward to our Southall day. It will be so good to meet Helen.


Some photos …

John Simmonds with Iris and Jill
Alan and Ann Rogers
Moustachioed Alan and Ann Rogers
Iris Simmonds with Helen and Kate Rogers

Layers of London Map


This is an intriguing and interesting chance to travel from your armchair through time and place with an innovative interactive map of Greater London. You might, for example, explore Tudor London, study the late 19th Century Booth Poverty Map or scan aerial views of WW2 bomb damage in the capital. There are many possibilities.

This interactive resource enables you to create your own views and layer them as you please!. Head over to the link below to find out more.

The project was created by the Institute of Historical Research. You can access free historic maps of London and contribute stories, memories and histories to create a social history resource about their area. Start exploring now!

Go to Layers of London interactive map!

Layers of London ( is a free crowdsourced website, uniting London’s iconic historical maps with the histories of place and people. Layers of London can be used to explore the capital and enable you to contribute your own records. See more here >

Timeline for our Cathedrals Cycle Route

This is a collection of tweets from CCR 2023

Eve of CCR tweet

Final shot of the day at magnificent St Mary de Castro, Leicester, standing in for the cathedral. St Martins remains closed for redevelopment. Peter, Sue, and Sophia.

You can almost sense that Geraldine McEwan is just around the corner, plotting hard as Mrs Proudie..

Reverend Canon Dr Rowan Williams, Canon Precentor, Peterborough Cathedral saw us away. She knew Francis Jackson, perhaps the most talented organist around during my youth. He died recently at 104. Tuba Tune, by Norman Cocker on the York Minster Organ, is probably the best recording of it ever. It featured on EMI’s “The King of Instruments LP in the 1960s.

While Rowen was giving the blessing for our ride the Peterborough organ ssounded, played stunningly by the Cathedral’s Organ Scholar. It was almost too much. The good wishes overlaid by that fabulous instrument could have tipped us (me, anyhow) over the edge. The organ was only recently raised to concert pitch via a heroic project – it has a tremendous sound in the hands of the Organ Scholar.

The blessing was:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rain fall soft upon your path.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

We stopped for lunch in Chatteriis. I hit the wall. Our group kindly drafted me. The idea is that by moving into an area of low pressure behind another cyclist it reduces the wind resistance and the amount of energy required to pedal. However, my luck was in and I slowly recovered strength sufficiently to lead on to Ely and its magnificent and unique cathedral. We were treated royally by the cathedral staff and we took tea on the lawn sharing stories of a great day.

Sarah’s Blog Post

Cycle Camping by Sarah Jasat

Last year my family dipped our toe into the world of cycle camping. Though intrigued, we had
concerns. What if we were freezing cold? What if we got lost? What do we do for food?

What if we got a puncture?

The Active Travel on Holiday taster in August 2022 went some way to alleviate our fears. Set at
the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre with a dozen seasoned campers and plenty of friendly
faces, it provided a relatively safe environment to see what this camping lark was all about. We
borrowed a tent to sleep and ordered UberEats for the evening meal, and came away having
had a positive experience.

This year we decided we wanted to take the next step. Holidays are getting more and more
expensive, even a week self-catered in the UK is pricey, moreso when you factor in petrol
prices. Then there’s the joys of entertaining small children when stuck in traffic on the motorway.
Cycle camping around Leicestershire, if we could make it work, seemed more and more like a
better alternative.

After months of researching, we purchased a four-man tent, and a better sleeping mat for my
husband, Zubair, who had suffered last year with a very thin one. We also invested in a cooking
set – if we really wanted to get going camping, we couldn’t keep relying on UberEats. While car
camping is an option for us perhaps if we travel further afield, I love the concept of cycling off to
a new destination, so we chose gear that was lightweight and could pack fairly small.

Last year Zubair pulled the baby in a Burley trailer, while I had the five year old on the back of
my bike. This year the baby graduated to the back seat and my now six year old was on her
own bike, complete with side pannier! Along with my sizable front basket, the empty trailer
afforded us a decent amount of storage, and Zubair’s panniers were good for bits and pieces

We rolled up to the town hall on Saturday morning to join the group ride to the Outdoor Pursuits
Centre. There was a good group of about fifteen of us and we cycled at a relaxed, social pace, chatting away and in good spirits. As we neared Morningside Arena, we spied another cycling
group approaching: it was the Ride on Sistas leading a confidence building ride.

Feeling buoyed by the cycling community in Leicester, we carried on across the Abbey Park Road cycle bridge and before we knew it we were winding our way past the River Soar and into the Outdoor Pursuits Centre. I was particularly impressed by 6yo who I had expected to require continuous bribes in the form of sweeties in order to keep pedalling, since she doesn’t usually take on a longer distance than her mile-long commute to school.

There was a warm welcome at the campsite where we met plenty of familiar faces from group
cycling rides and last year’s event. We dumped the bags and joined the group for a ride to the
mammoth in Watermead Park, then back.

While Zubair got to grips with the tent, I refuelled the children and inflated our sleeping mats.
The 6yo was concerned that we needed to pitch in the exact same place as last year. The baby
was delighted at the prospect of a wide open space where she could cause havoc and started
romping around happily. It was a lovely feeling to have our own tent this time, and set it up as
we liked. It was very hot in the sun but I wasn’t sure how we would fare once the temperature

Tired from the bike ride and setting up camp, Zubair had a quick snooze and I settled in for a
chat with the other campers. I calculated that the baby couldn’t get into too much trouble on the
campsite, so sat near the entrance, figuring I would see her if she tried to leave. After about
fifteen minutes one of the other campers walked up to me.

“I’m not sure if you’re aware,” she said, “but I think your baby has taken off her nappy.”

By evening Zubair and I were keen to step up to the challenge of dinner. LOPC feels like it’s
miles away in the countryside but there’s a supermarket right next door. This was handy as wedidn’t have to bring food from home. We picked up a bag of pasta, some sliced mushrooms and a jar of sauce and about half an hour later, dinner was ready! Emboldened by our success we
ate dinner by the campfire and Zubair used a telescopic fork he had bought (one of those ‘add
to your trolley?’ impulse buys that Jeff Bezos is so good at) to toast marshmallows for us.
Before we knew it the sun was going down.

I had a shower and got into my warm nighttime clothes. I was coming to learn that camping can be done differently by everyone. I spoke to a lady who did the NC500, a wild camping challenge in Scotland. It sounded incredible but I don’t think I could camp if I didn’t have access to a hot shower! Some things are non-negotiable.

Similarly, I chatted with organiser Peter Simmonds, about the fairy lights I had brought to put around our tent. As a seasoned distance cyclist, Peter’s focus would be on going as fast as possible and minimising weight to do so, making frivolities like fairy lights quite out of the question.

For us on the other hand, going at the pace of a 6 year old, we could carry far more and bring ‘fun’ items that would make an impression on the kids. One of the seasoned campers confessed to getting very cold at night and therefore having a 4 season sleeping bag.

From what I had read online I had thought ‘4 season” bags were only for going up a mountain, so
it was useful to learn that if you’re a cold sleeper, you might be more comfortable with one.

Hot chocolates before bed in a bid to stay warm and then it was into our sleeping bags.

Last year we camped in August but this year it was still May and the nighttime temperature dropped to a challenging 6 degrees C. I slept in my coat and was fairly comfortable, but Zubair’s 1
season sleeping bag wasn’t sufficient. I also found the baby wasn’t warm enough so ended up
popping her into my sleeping bag which was a squeeze, but very effective at keeping us both

While the night may have been cold, we were treated to a nice warm start as the sun heated up
the tent impressively. We emerged not too worse for wear and had breakfast with the other campers.

Taking advantage of what the LOPC had to offer, Peter had booked a couple of bell
boating sessions on the river Soar. I had forgotten how much the 6 year old enjoyed it the year
before, but once again she was enchanted, staring in open mouthed adoration as the scenery
drifted by.

I rarely venture onto the water but it was tremendously relaxing. We saw a heron, a
moorhen and her chicks, and a pair of swans flying overhead which seemed like it should be
impossible, we all agreed.

Back at camp it was time to pack up and say goodbyes. As last year we were among the last to
leave – putting away a tent and camping gear is difficult when you have four people’s worth of
stuff but only two people working, while one small but powerful person tries their best to
sabotage you. Reflecting on it we decided that for future camping trips it would be better to stay
for at least two nights, to make the time packing and unpacking more worthwhile.

Trailer packed, children ready, and the sun shining, we cycled off. We left more relaxed, with
new knowledge and happy memories, and said our goodbye to the campsite. Until next year…

Favourite Parts From All the Family

Sarah: chatting to all the different campers (until my child took off her own nappy and mooned

Zubair: cooking dinner and sharing it with everyone

Six year old: standing up in the bell boat and cycling myself with my own pannier

One year old: taking off my own nappy and mooning everyone

Top Camping Lessons From All the Family

Sarah: you can camp your way, there are no hard and fast rules

Zubair: the mat is half of the problem, the sleeping bag is the other. If you’re warm, you’ll sleep well. If you take a one-season sleeping bag you will probably be cold.

Six year old: if you ride your own bike to the campsite, you can ride it around the campsite with
your friends too.

One year old: if you cry enough, you’ll be allowed to cuddle and sleep with mummy. Also a little
burrowing will get you into most tents.

Camping Blog

Content about our camp between 19 and 21 May will appear here.

Hear Sarah Jasat talking about our Active Travel on Holiday event in 2022. (Ben Jackson Show, Radio Leicester on 16 May 2023.)

Sarah’s post and the end of the third day. “Roll on next year!” sums it up on behalf of all of us.
Thank you to everyone who came. If you’d like to share other photos, please send them to Peter by whatever channel is best for you.
A video posted by Rizal Sapii, on the Brompton Bike World Explorer YouTube channel! Thank you Rizal for producing this great taster of our Active Travel on Holiday taster weekend. We are glad that you enjoyed your first taste of cycle camping!