Dulwich College 2016

Ashley Austin, Daniel Piers

‘the two busketeers', busking and cycling in france

Their story, in their words…..

“Ashley and I had the idea of cycling around Normandy to visit historical sites and busk for charity. Initially we received lots of scepticism, and the frequent criticism was that we were being far too naïve, and we should be realistic – you can’t actually cycle around the Normandy coastline with instruments as well.

After lots of planning and organisation, we set out after our GCSES, taking the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre. We ended up cycling about 50 km a day, but this was not constant: some days would be a short 40 km and others 85km. The cycling, despite being extremely difficult with a keyboard, sax and two heavy panniers strapped to the back of our bikes, was definitely one of the great parts of the trip: Normandy is very rural and the scenery is nothing short of awe-inspiringly beautiful – the agriculture combined with the views were wonderful.

Despite the cycling being incredible, the independence of travelling alone for a good cause fuels you not only with determination, but a subconscious and powerful feeling of altruism and self-liberation. On the trip, all the people we stayed with (using a website called warmshowers) were incredibly lovely and moreover interesting people. We made a lot of friends, and we felt we really bonded and connected with the many people we met and stayed with.

The historical places we visited included Pegasus Bridge, Omaha beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, and the American War Cemetery. The American War Cemetery was poignant: the aesthetics of it were exceptional, but when visiting the American War Cemetery you truly get a sense of the amount that was sacrificed for the world we live in today to exist.

The busking aspect of the trip was really fun, despite not being as successful as we would have hoped. We made 26 euros busking. The first few days it was pouring down, and the times we busked after that we did not receive as much as we had hoped we would from the French pedestrians there. But Ashley and I can wholeheartedly say we enjoyed busking, and it definitely increased our confidence when playing in front of others.

A combination of all these aspects allowed us to marvel at the beauty of our chance encounters with a variety of colourful characters and unforgettable experiences. This extraordinary trip allowed us to expand our horizons, and mentally develop from teenagers into young adults.”