Which other sport allows you so close to its stars? – Rick Jackson

Geraint Thomas celebrates with team-mate Chris Froome on the Tour de France

On Sunday I travelled to London with a friend to watch the final stage of the Tour of Britain. As a Brit won the Tour de France it was ironic that this event was won by a Frenchman.

I’d never been to anything like this before. I’ve seen many a stage of the Grand Tours and day classics on TV, but I’d never seen it first hand.

I remember travelling over from Gosport and on to Cosham back in 1994 when the Tour de France came to Britain for the first time.

All I remember of that day was seeing a flash of multi-hued cyclists fly past on Havant Road before disappearing up Farlington Avenue. And with that they were gone!

We arrived at Waterloo early. A short walk took us to Trafalgar Square and from there we found the main stage before moving on to Pall Mall where there was line after line of coaches and tour support vehicles.

Closest to us were Team Sky. Crowds had formed as Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas appeared to loud cheers. He spent ages with fans signing autographs and signing photos.

Moments later, Chris Froome materialised. He too found plenty of time to chat to fans and pose for pictures before being interviewed by Sky Sports News right in front of us.

As we walked down Pall Mall the excitement grew as riders warmed up before riding off to the stage area to sign on for the race. It felt quite surreal as some of the biggest names in cycling simply rode past within inches of us.

King of the Mountains Julian Alaphilippe and German sprinter André Greipel nodded as I moved out of the way for them to pass.

The beauty of this final stage was the 14 laps around all the famous streets of central London. This meant we got 14 opportunities to see the riders fly past at speeds of more than 50mph.

As the race finished, riders rode back down the final leg in Regent Street. As Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas went past I got high fives.

Which other sport allows you to get that close to its stars? I’ve not washed that hand since!

I’ll need to hire Fratton Park to keep up with the parties

And so it begins. As Freddie entered his first full week at school he received his first birthday party invitation.

I’ve been warned about this. Thirty birthdays to attend and at least 30 children to invite. Surely not? You can’t invite everyone from his class can you? I’ll need to hire Fratton Park at this rate.

I’ve also heard there can be a bit of competition with these parties. If one child has a bouncy castle, another has a magician, but little Tarquin had Steps turn up.

We’ve also been invited to the school’s barbecue. A chance to meet all the teachers and parents. We’ve also noted the barbecue has a bar. I feel this may be a very popular event, all things considered.

Wanted: hanger for second coat… of paint for my bus

I own a double decker bus. She’s 36 years old and a bit tatty. She had some damage which I repainted, but rather than do it in gleaming white, I decided to put her front end into green and cream which is how I intend to paint the whole vehicle.

Don’t ever paint a bus. Hours of prep then the difficult job of brush painting synthetic enamel paint on to it. It’s thicker than gloss, much harder to apply, and it dries quickly.

I was just getting the hang of it when the wind picked up. Being outside and surrounded by trees, little flowers from those trees soon stuck to the wet paint. My blood boiled. Anyone got a spare hanger for the second coat?!​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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