Meet Europhile Chris, the Pushbike Pilgrim

Of all the reactions to the UK’s momentous decision to leave the EU, few, surely, were as extreme as Chris Ware’s.

“My world collided with an uncomfortable truth”, he says, as we sit down for supper.

“The striking thing that [referendum] night was that my view was so different to the majority of the UK’s.”

Chris Ware, at journey's end in Brussels.
Chris Ware, at journey’s end in Brussels.

Chris, a Sheffield charity worker, is clearly a worldcentric, global citizen. His outlook on life sees far beyond the seven hills on which his home city was famously built.

And it’s clear that, as well as his politics, his tastebuds reach past the British border.

Tonight he’s cooked a Thai fish curry, using ingredients from a Polish mega-market near his house in the Crookesmoor area of the city.

Unsurprisingly, he tells me that he gets along well with the shop’s owners. But, in his visits since 23 June, he has had to balance an unavoidable sense of embarrassment: embarrassment in his country’s decision to Leave.

“I remember watching the results come in. That was quite a chilling event, and I had to reconsider what my world was about.”

Whilst ‘reconsidering’ his world, he quickly arrived at an extraordinary decision. With his brother Joe, he would cycle to Brussels, in order to bid farewell to the undisputed metonym of Europe.

In his blog, the self-styled Pushbike Pilgrim writes: “I felt the need for closure, to move on, so I could think about what Post-Brexit Britain could be.”

Only through doing so, he writes, would he be able to adequately “mourn the passing of British membership of the EU”.

Along the journey, he and Joe relied on the generous hospitality of strangers, coordinated entirely via the cosily-titled websites WarmShowers.org and CoachSurfing.com.

Hot meals, lively conversations, and comfy beds rewarded the brothers at the end of each day. Finally, after 215 miles of pedalling, the pair arrived in Brussels.

But it was not until they crossed back on the “grandly titled Spirit of Britain” that Chris realised what the Brexit vote could mean.

“The kindness of those we met along our way made me feel we have friendly neighbours who understand us.”

His blog concludes: “It is up to us to decide how this independent Britain relates to the world”.


Click here to read Chris’s blog.


VIDEO

Now watch a video of Chris showing off his bike.

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