In 1961 we were living and working in Calcutta and were due to end the three-year assignment in 1962 with a four months paid leave. We had ideas of maybe cycling back home to England from the Middle East.
We read an article in the magazine “Cycling” by Peter Jenkins, who had done an epic trip by bicycle from UK to India. We wrote to him for advice; he gave us information about the ride but also said we should join the Globetrotters Club. We did so and I think it was in 1962 as I have found a Globe of that year, different in size and format but very well produced. Gordon Cooper was President, Albert Heat was Chairman of Committee; he and his wife have visited us in NZ and used our camper van.
Sadly, Albert has died, but we still correspond with his widow, Phyllis. The late Norman Williams was London Meetings Organiser; he and his wife visited us in NZ and also had our van and again we correspond with Norman’s widow, Wyn.
In the Jan/Feb. GT Newsletter, as it was called then, is an article by John Southworth who was in the UK from Pomona USA on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship. John later joined the Peace Corp and served in Malaysia. At the end of his assignment he came to India on his way back to the USA in 1965, he stayed with us in Calcutta, the start of a friendship to this day. He went on to the Punjab, got hepatitis and spent a month in hospital quite alone, but when we found out about his illness we contacted Indian friends and they visited him regularly. John married Sigred and they have lived in Hawaii over 20 years.
By coincidence, Sigred is in NZ now (June 1995) with a group of students from Hawaii on a nature study tour. She stayed with us two weeks ago and we are joining her and the group for dinner this week. Also in the 1962 Newsletter is an article by Vickie Prosser an amazing GT member who has also stayed with us. She came at the same time as GT, Dean Mitchell. Another article is by Dennis Head, “London to Istanbul on two wheels”. This brought back memories of the cycling trip, we did at the end of our 1962 leave from India. Our plans changed when I was asked to do a second year assignment in Calcutta.
The firm gave us a 1st Class air ticket Calcutta-London-Calcutta. We used it to go home to the UK via Italy, Switzerland, German (West and East) quite an ordeal in East Berlin, where the wall had just been erected in 1961. We visited friends in Holland before going to England, visited relations and friends and did some work and celebrated our Silver Wedding in Blackpool, where we were married in 1937.
We changed our first class ticket, which gave us travel funds, and in September 1962 set off on our bicycles for Greece on our way back to India. Fantastic journey, not much traffic in those days, plenty of accommodation, superb weather one hour’s rain in two months. We rode from Kings Lyn to Harwich, a boat to Holland, then with the odd lift, train and ship to Greece via Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Yugoslavia, Italy.
After touring Greece we sent the bikes back to Evans Cycles in London for safekeeping and went on to India by train, bus, ferry and air via Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and to an India at war with China. We flew from Karachi to Bombay and on to Delhi only to discover all planes were in use on the border war with China, so finished that long journey from Kings Lynn to Calcutta by train.
In 1959, Mabel bought a Visitors Book in India, for Rupees 22. I thought a lot of money at that time. We still have it and it’s got a lot of names in it, very many Globetrotters. We are also Serves hosts and travellers, have friends world-wide including lots of cyclists and mountaineering and outdoor people. Looking back at the old Globe Newsletter and our visitors book makes us realise how many friends we have made.
We have given slide shows to GT members in Pomona, Toronto and London and still do a lot of photography. Save the Children have used our NZ slides to produce their 1995 calendar. I have only mentioned a few members but send greetings to all the ones we have met and ones who have visited us, and to the others we have yet to meet. We hope the Club goes from strength to strength and the next 50 years will give as much joy to members as it has done for us.
George and Mabel Garside, New Zealand