Cummings’ goings: On yer bike, Father Christmas!

I mused out loud what fun it would be to dress up as Father Christmas and cycle up the Nailsworth W

I mused out loud what fun it would be to dress up as Father Christmas and cycle up the Nailsworth W - Credit: Archant

BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Mark Cummings remembers how he and forty profoundly portly cyclists, clad in Father Christmas attire, ended up on bikes for charity.

The Royal Oak, Tetbury

The Royal Oak, Tetbury - Credit: Archant

A few years ago I splurted out something on air without any thought of the ramifications and reverberations this would entail later that day. This ‘shooting from the hip broadcasting’ usually makes for the most engaging brand of radio, even if it causes the boss to choke on his Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and spill milk over his well thumbed Media Guardian supplement.

Mark's Victoria sponge (top left)

Mark's Victoria sponge (top left) - Credit: Archant

On this occasion, however, I was the one to pay the price a few hours later. For some strange reason at 7.20 on a cold December morning I mused out loud what fun it would be to dress up as Father Christmas and cycle up the Nailsworth W. I said I’d do it if enough people promised to join me and to my horror the phones lines lit up with mad people preferring this horrific physical challenge to a morning on the sofa shouting at Jeremy Kyle.

No longer will the great Cotswold public be able to read a dog-eared copy of Cotswold Life in their

No longer will the great Cotswold public be able to read a dog-eared copy of Cotswold Life in their doctors' waiting room - Credit: Archant

Forty profoundly portly lycra louts plodded up this hairpin zig-zag Alpine monstrosity that links Nailsworth to Minchinhampton Common. A group of bedraggled Santas recovered with a pint of Tom Long bitter at The Lodge hostelry before the ambulances arrived and took us for oxygen and a cuddle at Stroud hospital.

The transport café (and railway booking office) on the A40 in Andoversford, in 1933

The transport café (and railway booking office) on the A40 in Andoversford, in 1933 - Credit: Archant

So guess what? Yes, this month on December 23 we are doing it again! Come and join us at 11.30 in Nailsworth dressed as Father Christmas. Why not do it for your local charity, do it as way to keep fit over the winter, do it as a midwinter training camp for next year’s Tour de Gloucestershire ride around the whole county! For more details email me cummings@bbc.co.uk or follow updates on my twitter account @cummingsradio.

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Stocking fillers

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Great news in 2013, and not before time. BBC Radio Gloucestershire is now on DAB. If you have a digital radio re-scan now! Phase One started on October 18 with two transmitters beaming DAB signals to Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Stroud and along the River Severn/M5. Phase Two, launching before the end of the year, will see transmitters for the north and south Cotswolds.

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Worst night of 2013… I was invited to the Bath v Gloucester match by a group of Bath fans. I had to endure a narrow defeat at The Rec whilst sobbing gently into my ultra-absorbent Gloucester scarf.

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Greatest let down of 2013… my Victoria Sponge! The wonderful Tom Herbert from The Hobbs House bakery judged my team’s efforts on the day of The Great British Bake-Off final. I came third.

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Biggest medical emergency of 2013… I saw this sign in my doctor’s surgery. No longer will the great Cotswold public be able to read a dog eared edition of Cotswold Life from 2004 whilst waiting to be seen by the local quack. There is something rather special about looking back in time and I thought it was all part and parcel of the waiting room experience. People will miss out now on my perceptive and witty observations about my phone-in show with the PM Tony Blair, the latest revolutionary plans to transform King’s Square in Gloucester and the emergence of a young whippersnapper at Kingsholm who looks quite promising called James Simpson Daniel.

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End of year report, 2013

In January I introduced you to a group of people who we’ve been following all year knowing that 2013 would be challenging, exciting and unpredictable. So as the year draws to a close I thought I’d update you on what has happened to some of them in the last 12 months. We’ve had births, attempted retirements, enforced retirements, children leaving home (and some coming back) and a business venture rising from the ashes.

I followed the ups and downs of Gloucester rugby star Olly Morgan, who spent most of this year fighting a long term knee injury. Unfortunately Olly announced his retirement in October and when I met him at the Hartpury training centre he seemed upbeat, hopes to stay involved with the club and appears relieved at not having to go through the hell of rehab again. Olly will be joining me soon to co-host the Breakfast Show for a one-off special. He is a top bloke and we wish him well.

It has been a massive year for Kate Lewis and her team, who in January had the enormous task of renovating the historic Royal Oak pub in Tetbury. I know, from regular visits, that the team have ploughed in vast sums of money and elbow grease and they’ve had virtually no sleep or days off, but it has all come good in the end.

This month the whole class of 2013 will gather in this stunning building for an end of year party… better get working on my class of 2014!

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The Long and Winding Road... as told by Roger, Madge, Christine, Mike, Steve, David and Douglas.

Every morning thousands of commuters are listening to me whilst struggling with the challenges of the A40. We decided to treat them to a journey through time recreating the drive along the original route. However, we didn’t anticipate the reaction this would provoke, and I’d like to share with you some of the nuggets from a group of people who added such colour to our journey.

The A40 was the main route to London from the west coast of Wales and because of our county’s location in regards to crossing the river Severn it means the road goes straight through us. Here are a few people who couldn’t resist joining in when we drove from May Hill to Windrush.

Roger in May Hill found some documents dated from 1835. He noticed that people had to pay “6 pence carriage to Gloucester”. He thinks these were toll gates between May Hill and Gloucester. Back then there were tolls along the A40! I’m not sure they would go down well today at Over Bridge.

The A40 used to run through Gloucester past the cattle market and along Estcourt Road. Madge has lived in Gloucester all her life and her house backs onto St Oswolds Road, she remembered what life was like before the road was built. Back in the day she could see May Hill from her house and when the road was built her dad made her steal some of the turf that was dug up for their garden.

One character many people mentioned was Gordon Wrigglesworth, a policeman who directed traffic at Over and at The Cross in Gloucester. His daughter Christine told us about his no nonsense approach.

Mike in Ashleworth provided a wonderful guide of when the A40 used to go through Cheltenham, essentially right down The Prom, around Boots Corner, onto the High Street and onto London Road.

Steve was a young mechanic at Halls Garage on the Gloucester Road in Cheltenham. His A40 memories include wearing a white smock coat with the Shell petrol logo emblazoned on the pocket. “Good morning Sir/Madam” he would say, “How many will she take today, would you like a shot of Redex upper cylinder lubricant?”

Onto Andoversford and David Hanks, local historian and author of Cheltenham Past and Present sent us this picture of the legendry all night cafe.

Dave Pearce remembered the cars being tested on the A40 from the Cowley plant in Oxfordshire. “These vehicles could be seen on a daily basis in the 60s and 70s, they usually travelled very quickly in pairs and the body outlines were camouflaged, they were unmarked and used trade plates.”

And finally we had Douglas joining us who worked as a petrol pump assistant and general handy man at the Windrush Cafe. He wore a uniform sponsored by Regent Fuels and he was the man who painted the sign ‘Windrush Eateries’.

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Mark Cummings can be heard on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s morning show 6am-9am

104.7FM and 1413AM, Stroud 95FM and Cirencester 95.8FM

Visit: bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire

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