Last Saturday I had a real treat.
A few days before I got a call out of the blue from Ranju, Sandeep’s other half, and we arranged to meet for lunch at Villandry (in London, not the chateau in the Loire Valley).
Sandeep and Ranju came along on our 2nd ever Chain Gang bike tour. In those days we only had 1 tour, the Dordogne, and from memory this was the end of June 1997.
They’ve been on a few trips with us since, and we meet up occasionally for lunch or some sort of event. Their main thing is cricket, they’re fanatics, and I do like sports fans as a rule.
I remember on our tour, one particular day it was pouring with rain, and we were all in our waterproofs, dripping wet, cycling on our way to Sarlat. Stephane, our guide said he was amazed at how much we Brits didn’t care about the rain and just kept cycling. I don’t remember the rain now, but I do remember Steph making that comment, so I’m guessing it must have pissed down!
Before they booked their first holiday with us, Ranju and Sandeep came to see me in the Chain Gang office. I was horrified, it was a pokey little room that I rented off a friend of mine on the 4th floor of a building on Foley Street, near the Post Office Tower. Ranju has explained since that this is an Indian thing, they would always expect to meet people before they did business with them. They couldn’t have cared less about how tatty my office was, but I was sure that one look, and they’d be out of the door.
This blog post is a bit of a self-indulgence – even more than usual. I’ve met some lovely people through the Chain Gang and made some great friends. Of course this wasn’t anywhere in our business plan when I was putting it together, and it never occurred to me that I was going to spend weeks at a time cycling with hundreds of lovely people as the years went by.
It was a lucky day for me when Ranju and Sandeep walked into my (horrible) office 11 years ago, and great to see them again this weekend. Thanks for lunch, by the way.