To say I was feeling anxious was an understatement. Just before leaving the UK to honour not only my Death In Paradise contract but also to sticking to my word to take part in ‘The Five Peaks Challenge’. A crazy idea of Steve Keys to ride a motorcycle to five countries in five days and climb five mountains, one in each country. France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. In DIP I play a policeman and it is quite a physical role, running, jumping and riding around on a motorbike and sidecar. 5 Peaks even more so.
About a week before I was due to fly out I was diagnosed with a hernia!!!
Now hernias, in the painometer can vary from, ‘Mild irritation’ all the way up to’ ‘I think I’ve just grown a bowling ball’!! And I’m going mountain climbing?
I was told that an operation would mean five weeks complete recuperation which meant that I wouldn’t be able to have one before my exploits. I had to keep training as a fit patient surely has better odds than an unfit one.
No sooner had I arrived in Guadeloupe I heard that My dad’s second wife had passed away from a stroke. I called him up and spoke to him. I told him I would go and see him. A couple of weeks passed and I got another message saying my dad had now suffered a stroke and was in hospital. The usual stress of dealing with step children as well as dealing with a loss.
It was a week before I had to leave for the 5peaks and I had one weekend left to go to Dominica which is where my parents come from. It’s the next island along from Guadeloupe which made it very convenient for visiting my dad who remarried and moved back there many years ago.
It was such short notice that I had to get a small private aircraft with a couple of friends chipping in to visit the island with me. It was one of those single propellor things that sound like a bumble bee and bobs and weaves on the clouds. We hire a car and drive straight to the hospital.
My dad looked uninspired. I was told he wasn’t eating, so me and my friends Pak’o and Kikora helped me raise his spirits. By the time we left he still hadn’t spoken but he ate, laughed, and flirted with Kikora. We went to see some family members and then went to the hot sulphur spring and bathed in what can only described as, hot healing water. We went to eat and got drunk on some ‘spice rum’.
The following day we entered to see my dad sitting up on the end of his bed. I had told him the day before that if he didn’t eat he wouldn’t be leaving the hospital. It seemed to have worked. I even met a cousin I’d never met before. We fluffed around him some more, said our goodbyes and drove to the other side of the island to get out return ‘night’ flight…. scary… But fun.
I now had three days of DIP which included a stunt on the bike and sidecar. In consisted of a stuntwoman called Amanda Foster driving an old Peugeot at me travelling from the other direction. I had to stop in her path and swing the back of the bike around. The whole escapade shall we say was not too comfortable in the marriage department. The day had come for me to go to France for the first leg of the challenge.
This was crazy. I am supposed to be taking it easy but I couldn’t let the side down. I jumped onto the plane for an eight hour flight to Paris where I would be met by Steve Keys and Chesca Miles, plus film crew to start our trip. I couldn’t sleep on the plane as I had to write an article for this months Motorcycle Racer Magazine. I ate and watched movies the rest of the time I wasn’t writing.
Finally I arrived in Paris. Maybe they wouldn’t turn up and I could pull out? I waked out into arrivals and there they all were, big smiles and cameras. There was no turning back now. I kept my little affliction to myself. To add ridicule to an already ‘huge mountain to climb would have been too much luggage to carry, and believe me I had more luggage than a holidaying Joan Collins.
I was just hoping that the roads weren’t too bumpy!