OK, the nearly there bit is nothing to do with cycling. The book of the ride - A Bike Across the Sea - is nearly ready for publication.
After several months off writing, researching, checking, it went off to the editor and the designer. Thank Heaven for them and their work. Emily at Foxhat takes my vague ideas and turns them into attractive and expressive covers. This time, we even have a sketch map. Second nature to a talented individual, but people like me forget that Munster would disappear in the central gutter go the book when bound, and that Rotterdam, if too close to the edge will push Europoort into the North Sea.
Then there's thanks to Emma Lockley, who had the great pleasure of reading the book several times. Each time she sent me a lot of pesky questions and pointed out places where revision might be best. Absolutely necessary and just what she should do. Having edited other people's work, I know just how easy it is for a writer to read and re-read, and re-re-read their work and still miss the sort of thing that some people remember when the reading is done. Did Dickens ever misplace an apostrophe? You can bet that the opening lines of Great Expectations would disappear into the recesses of some memories; but instead, we'd have Dickens, Charles, who didn't know his grammar.
So thanks to Emma and Emily. And, of course, to Malcolm Henson and North Staffordshire Press, for publishing it.
Alan and Cheryl Gerrard have written the foreword. Together they have done so much to rebuild the memory of the story of Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent. They have involved schools across the world, brought a proud story back to life, promoted the memory of Sir Barnett Stross, built partnerships to provide land for a garden in Hanley, worked with the Lidice Resident's Association to bring a pear tree to the city (a graft of the only living thing left of Lidice after it was wiped form the face of humanity), helped organise my expedition, sourced a gift for the gallery in Lidice, and the list goes on. By the way, it is not all they do; thy run a business, campaign on local issues, and still give time to people like me asking lots of questions.
So, the proof copy will soon arrived, then we'll be off to print. A launch will be planned and publicised and we'll crack on with sales. Marketing is much harder than writing - at least, for me.
Will my cycling companion, Mark Dally, be reaching for the phone to call his lawyers, have I managed to get all these Czech accents in the right place, Have I got the weekly pay of a North Staffordshire miner in 1942 correct? Fretting-time. Mind you, the big picture is clear, and i think it is a tale worth telling. Not so much the bike ride, which was not especially tough or long, but the inspiration behind it. The sad tragic tale of lives destroyed, a village that would die forever, and the rallying cry that echoed around the world from North Staffordshire. Mind you, it was a life changing trip, so there's bit of reflection as well. And travel always brings one, intentionally or not, into the company of unfamiliar people and interesting places. 2016 was, of course, the year of the UK's referendum on EU membership. So we travelled across the Europe and came home to a country preparing, or not preparing, to embark on a new course. So, this is really a story of a journey through history, via the present and the personal, and many points along the way.