Yesterday saw an early start, as the tour had to roll on to Redcar, somewhere I would never have imagined finding myself until now. And yet, in an area not previously renown for being a Liberal heartland, there is magic in the air. A series of council by-elections in the past two years have seen Labour seats fall to huge swings and the hard work put in by local activists, including Chris and Glynis Abbott, have earned the attention of Liberal Democrat campaign chiefs in London.
Ian Swales, the PPC for Redcar and Cleveland, collected us from Darlington station, and drove us through the Tees Valley through one of this country's most industrialised areas, with chemicals and steel amongst the products that made companies like ICI world famous. Sadly, much of the plant is owned by foreign companies, making it vulnerable in a global market, and the closure of Corus's steel plant recently was just another blow to an area buffeted by recession.
It is surely not beyond imagination to find ways of harnessing the skills and knowledge of the people there, yet this government seems capable only of throwing its hands up and claiming that a free market has winners and losers. Instead, why not encourage new, greener industries to develop here?
We met with local campaign activists before heading into the town centre to collect signatures for a petition to build a pier for Redcar and hand out copies of Ian's report of his activities. It was surprising easy to get people to take a leaflet, and one can only be optimistic that the seemingly impossible three years ago might now be possible.
All too soon, it was time to go though, for we had far to go before we slept, and one stop in particular...