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Figure of 8

For Thursday 19th November Maurice had set an unusual course; a figure of eight, with Haslingfield at the centre and Burwash Manor as the coffee stop. On this occasion the pleasure to be derived from the trip depended on whether you did it in the morning, as 16 people did, or later after the rain had mostly passed, as did Deborah and Jenni.

Eight has long been regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics started at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm on 8 the August 2008. Jesus was resurrected on the 8th day after Passover. Spanish gold was known “pieces of eight”. The 8-ball is the key to snooker. Everything will be OK on this course I felt, what can possibly go wrong?

The route. GPX readers like lines or circles better
Maurice in wet weather gear. He has a visor on his helmet which makes it better than mine. Still covetousness is a deadly sin, so I try to avoid it.
Oh dear. Brian has a puncture. Victor helps out. But Brian is forced to retire with the worst sort of mechanical problem. A bad back.

There’s no getting over it, the weather was dismal, but I set off hoping to see people and receive a cheery wave. I donned wet weather gear and reached Ickleton unscathed, then visited the charity box at Martin’s. To my delight CHOCOLATE BISCUITS to keep out the cold, top chap. And beer. Better drink that later, after all it’s only 9.50. Still I am beginning to understand why they make alcohol expensive in Nordic countries. Goodness isn’t it grey. On I go Hinxton, nobody, Duxford, nobody. Whittlesford. Where are you all? At Newton I check my phone. Yes it’s Thursday, yes I have the right map, but where are 16 of you? Uncharitably I think, they must have looked out of the window and gone back to bed.

The rain wasn’t hard, just enough to keep me in wet-weather gear. It was grey though. I thought what shall I do to cheer myself up? I know compose a poem, so here it is.

………………………………..

A poem by Hannibal the

Alliterative, Little, Lecter of Littlebury.

There were       eight   pigeons on that wire

In spring they   ate      all my apple-tree buds

Some birds I     ‘ate     because they are destructive (and don’t sing)

As a convicted multiple murderer of pigeons

Unrepentant, I will scratch on my cell wall

I ate, the eight fat pigeons I ‘ate.

And I don’t care.

……………………………

To forestall the obvious literary criticism, I know these are homophones, a subset of homonyms and not alliterative, but this art not English Language A-level, so give me a break. Now you understand how bored I had become.

Finally I struck gold, none other than Maurice and how glad I was to see him. Not long after that, my cup over-floweth, Victor too. Victor had started with Brian, but Brian had pulled out, faced by impending hills and a complaining back. Victor was about to give up and go home, but now I knew everything was going to be alright. You see I knew 8 was a lucky number.

Victor and me.
Very welcome refreshment courtesy of Martin. At least it didn’t need chilling
Plenty of club members and improving weather

The weather steadily improved as we made our way round. We encountered increasing numbers of club members. Good to see you all and to have a chat in these lock-down days.

I say the weather improved, it did so to such a degree that by the time Deborah and Jenni had done the circuit they were able to capture these amazing images

What a beautiful place we are lucky enough to live in
I think this should be this year’s Christmas card picture.

By the end of the day one would have to say this was actually a highly successful Windmill ride. We had been encouraged out by being part of the club. We had eased the boredom. We had raised another £150, with more to come.

We thank the usual Maurice and Andrew. Also Martin for his hospitality and Graham for his efforts on Zoom pub meetings. It takes a lot of effort to make a club work and I’m sure all the members are grateful, especially in these challenging times.

Keep it up! (please)

Simon

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Red kites, Darker Nights

Like Bob Geldof in the Boomtown Rats (and Brenda Spencer), much of the club ‘don’t like Mondays’. Still going for a cycle ‘livens it up’ without hurting anyone, so off we went again. Many members made it out; Alan, Lawrence, Maurice, Martin and Suzanne, Deborah and Jenni, Andrew, Simon, Charles and Andrew with Lindsey having to drop out of this one.

The route with my home and back added
Suzanne at the 398 bomber memorial in Nutampstead. November’s reef laid to commemorate our forbearers having overcome greater challenges in the past

Andrew setting a fine example of social distancing. Good to see.

People set off from different points with Andrew having assigned a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction for each person beforehand. All very well if you can remember how to reverse your way-points on the fly. Still we set off meeting sporadically as usual with the occasional conversations from opposite sides of the road. This is most social we are allowed to be at the current time.

The highlight of the ride was the spotting of so many red kites. Suzanne and Martin saw 5, Deb and Jenni saw 10. Taking my editorial duties very seriously, I thought it wise to check the verisimilitude of these sightings of course. The RSPB site says ‘There are probably around 1,800 breeding pairs in Britain, about half in Wales, with the rest in England and Scotland. In England the reintroduced birds can be found in the Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Gateshead and Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.’ So seeing so many was very lucky, perhaps due to a local-spot, maybe.

One the other hand, there are a number of common birds of prey in UK; Harrier, Goshawk, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk. One of particular interest is the Common Buzzard.

The buzzard, is common, has a fan tail and highly variable colour, from light to very dark. The kite has a forked tail. The two can be confused even by twitchers http://www.yorkshireredkites.net/general/is-it-a-red-kite-or-is-it-a-buzzard.

I shall be looking more carefully next time. Maybe we should have a prize for the first good photo?

Just outside Clavering on the way to Langley Upper Green we have a fine example of hedges cut according to two British traditions. The smooth and understated, following a time honoured style, for which the UK is famous. This tradition is best embodied by the Royalty and our splendid city parks perhaps. And on the other side, innovation and individuality, this is also the British way; the Beatles, Punk, Henry Moore and Banksy. In Switzerland the right hand hedge would elicit a letter from the council, asking for it to be tided up. I speak from grim experience. I was fined for mowing the grass on Sunday and sternly warned by a local government official, not to flush my apartment toilet after 10 pm.

Style and tradition. A hedge cut the way as we have come to expect it.
Innovation and self expression applied to hedge cutting

Dark nights, cold and solo cycling, this leaves time for ones mind to wander. What would I like for Christmas, I thought? I don’t know. After thumbing through the back-catalogue of my memory, it came to me.

Keeping things trim and proper in the garden

What I would like most is well trimmed bush as modelled by my niece, pictured here last summer. Yes that would make me very happy. There’s a lot that needs doing in the garden. That’s that problem solved then.

Soon after I took the hedge photos, Alan passed me and we made our way round to Chishill together. It was good to have company and the road from Chisill back to Elmdon is mostly downhill, so as the light faded, I was soon home. Another Monday ride done.

Another fine route by Maurice. Made to happen by the steady organisation of Andrew. It was good to see all those who took part.

Simon

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Getting high in Essex

According to Wikipedia, the village of Chrishall marks the highest point in Essex, at some 147 metres above sea level. Atop these lofty heights lives our Windmill chum, Charles, who on Thursday was hosting the Club charity box.

Victor and Brian

Victor and Brian, having cycled from home, had already clocked up 40 miles and stopped to help a stranded cyclist, so we arrived at Charles’ somewhat later than expected. Just as the Union Jack flies over the Palace to signify the queen is in residence, we were hoping the Cross of St George flying over Chalky Lane meant that somebody was home. Letting ourselves in through the side gate, we found the place strangely deserted. Charles was probably walking his many dogs or otherwise airing his cavalry twills. No matter, stuffing our contributions in the charity box, we mounted up and headed back down the hill towards Great Shelford some ten miles distant.

We had enjoyed a delightful outing; perfect autumn weather, beautiful countryside, quiet roads and, every so often, a cheery wave – or a few brief words – exchanged with a Windmiller going the other way.

Maurice’s route in red, with Brian & Victors extra miles in blue

Our notable moments had included:

  • Graham passing us on the circuit not once, not twice but three times. The man is a machine!
Graham in full lycra. And Simon in, er, one bicycle clip.
  • Judging by the many photographs posted, the big log on the roadside between Little Hormead and Furneux Pelham proved a popular spot to pause for refreshments; we trust everyone sanitised the log before moving on.
  • Pulling up for a breather in Nuthampstead, we found ourselves outside Bridget Tarrington’s house – and there was the lady herself tending the garden. We had a lovely chat – hopefully overlooked by the lockdown police – separated as we were by Bridget’s garden gate. She sends her love to all and hopes to join us on a Monday ride in the spring.
Rod outside Bridget’s house
  • The aforementioned stranded cyclist was Suz, who we found mending a puncture by the roadside in Great Chishill. Helping out, we realised we had a mutual acquaintance; Suz lives in Wendens Ambo and is a near neighbour of Andrew’s. She was interested to know more about the Windmill Club and, who knows, we may even see her join us on future outings.

Finally, we must thank Maurice for the fine route, Andrew for logistics, and Graham, Simon, Martin and Deb for the many fine photographs.

Maurice
Andrew throwing some shapes
Martin and Charles
Simon and Lawrence
Ken and Deb
Rod and Alan
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5 November. Back to CAC. 30 miles.

This should have been Vernon’s memorial ride but instead it became a CAC ride as a result of the new lockdown. 18 responsible Windmillers therefore set forth singly or in pairs on clockwise and anti-clockwise rides around a route which had been used during the previous lockdown, enabling almost all to join near to where they lived. Those going clockwise were Geoff, Andrew, Howard, Alan, Brian, Graham, Mike, Simon and Roger whilst those going anti-clockwise were Martin, Ken, Lawrence, Charles, Maurice, Rod, Deborah, Jenni and Nick. There was plenty of waving to those passing in the opposite direction.

This is where we went:

The weather was nearly perfect for a November day – a misty start in places which soon cleared to reveal bright sun on higher ground, no wind and quite mild. Maurice hosted the charity box, which added a further £107 to the magnificent sum of £4k+ already raised this year but, as Rod said recently, ‘Let’s make it over £5k by the year end’. Maurice also generously provided some beers, in return for a larger donation to the box of course. But lugging a 500ml bottle of Adnam’s Southwold up the hill to Barkway was Martin’s excuse for taking longer than usual. (10.45am just seemed too early to consume a beer at Maurice’s but it went down a treat at the end of the ride.)

Rod also observed recently that CAC rides can lack the support of others when things go wrong, as they did on this ride for Alan (puncture, but he got home after several pump-ups) and Geoff (unknown problem but he got home ok). All being well, there should be someone heading in the opposite direction or coming from behind, depending on the start and finish times.

Different Windmillers see different things when out on a ride. How did Ken and Martin, and perhaps others too, miss the pumpkin field? Deborah and Jenni not only saw it but Deborah got amongst them too (see photo above) and Simon stopped to take some really arty farty photos which make the field look more like a lunar landscape:

And here are some more taken on Simon’s ride:

Graham was clearly in a photogenic mood too:

Ken and Martin meanwhile were spotting the wildlife:

And here are some pics of some of those taking part:

All got back to base safely and to end the day Graham organised a Zoom session at 6.00pm to recount tales. A good time was had by all.

Thanks to Maurice and Andrew for organising the day and to Simon, Graham and Brian for some of the pics. And thanks again to Maurice for the beers.

Martin

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2 November. Lockdown is a-comin’ agin. 19 miles.

After several happy weeks under the Rule of Six and Tiers 1 and 2 which enabled almost normal rides and pub lunches to take place, but requiring some CAC adjustments at times, this ride involving just six Windmillers was about as normal as they come. However, the debacle over the lockdown announcement on 31 October instead of 2 November, due to a leaky Minister, meant that we knew before setting off that this would be the last ‘proper’ ride for at least a month. Sadly, this meant having to cancel Vernon’s memorial ride scheduled for 5 November but we will look forward to arranging a new date once we can all get together properly again.

In the expectation of Maurice being able to present Moira with a lovely framed photograph of Vernon this week, Brian, who very kindly organised the printing and framing of the photo, cycled from Shelford to The Red Cow in Chrishall with it on board. But due to the imminent new lockdown Moira had very sensibly decided to spend the month with her daughter and so the photo will be presented to her at a future date. Here it is in the back of Maurice’s car:

So, it was Maurice, Andrew, Rod, Lawrence, Alan and Martin who set off in a group of six from The Red Cow around our lanes on this sunny autumnal day. This is where we went:

All went well as far as the Shaftenhoe End / Little Chishill junction where there was a significant traffic jam, the likes of which we have never seen before, caused by a large delivery vehicle, a tractor and several cars not to mention six cyclists all of whom had to reverse / do a U-turn, to enable the delivery vehicle to pass, with a very harrassed-looking driver at the wheel. Astonishingly, we saw the same vehicle coming towards us again on a narrow lane in the vicinity of Meesden with the driver looking even more unhappy, having nearly ended up in a ditch to avoid us. Let’s hope he wasn’t on commission of 50p per delivery.

The sun was low in the sky by the time we reached Langley Upper Green, which enabled some fine photographs to be taken:

At this point, Martin’s new chain and cassette started slipping a gear or two and so engineer Andrew said he would tweak the cable adjuster half a turn which should sort it out. Result: some improvement but more tweaking / investigation needed.

It looked like a good sunset was in store, and indeed it was:

Back at The Red Cow we received a warm welcome and enjoyed a socially distanced pint on 3 separate tables, followed by some ordering fish and chips from the van outside before departing for home with a full moon to light the way.

Thanks as always to Maurice and Andrew for organising the ride.

Martin

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9 November. First Monday CAC ride. 20 miles

The CAC acronym, invented by The Windmill Club, is now generally known by Windmillers as meaning Clockwise Anti-Clockwise and has proved to be a most useful way of continuing our rides during periods of lockdown whilst obeying all the rules. But what is it about CAC rides that seems to bring members out in larger numbers than on normal rides? Is it a reaction against being told to lockdown (but are we really a rebellious lot?) or is it the convenience of starting and finishing a ride near to home and being convivial at the same time? Perhaps CAC could also stand for Convenience and Conviviality? Other suggestions on a postcard, please.

So we had 10 Windmillers setting out either singly or in pairs on a route devised by Maurice, who went clockwise along with Charles, Deborah / Jenni, and Simon. Those going anti-clockwise were Andrew / Lindsey, Nick and Lawrence / Martin. This is where we went:

https://gb.mapometer.com/cycling/route_5172574

Maurice was the first person that Lawrence and Martin met, in Heydon, followed by Charles near Barkway golf course and Simon near Meesden, who had time to remove his helmet and get stuck into a big debate with Lawrence about the role of consultants in life. The consensus was that they are generally ripping off the taxpayer but Martin said why not become one if the Government chooses to throw our money around liberally? Ten minutes later we decided it might start to get dark and so we pedalled on. Then we met Deborah and Jenni who were clearly enjoying a nice autumnal ride. Here they all are:

Meanwhile, Andrew was on the look out as usual for roadkill, having been known in the past to stuff anything that looks tasty into his bike bag, dead or alive, including a solitary onion once. But on this occasion it wasn’t a pheasant or partridge or even the deer which he was seen eyeing up in a ditch near Chrishall recently, but some lovely looking quinces and an Ice Plant:

The quinces need no explanation but this is what Google has to say about Ice Plant: Crunchy, juicy and with a gentle marine-like salinity, the ice plant is surprisingly versatile as an ingredient. You can eat it raw – the fleshy leaves are great in salads, giving the dish a nice salty crispiness; or steep it in boiling water to make tea. … As it is mainly made of water, the ice plant is low in calories – sounds like the perfect diet for Andrew!

We didn’t see Nick but he reported having had to modify the route due to not having charged up his battery beforehand. But it appears he needn’t have worried as he got back with plenty of oomph left. The range of some of those modern e-bikes is just amazing.

Thanks to all for taking part and particularly Maurice and Andrew for their organisation and Simon who provided the wonderful topiary photo above – enough to scare off any nasty virus.

Martin

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26 October. A rutting good CAC ride. 20 miles.

Once again, it was The Red Cow at Chrishall for the meeting place on this autumnal Monday ride. Is it the convenient location, is it the cosy interior now that the evenings are getting chilly or is it the fish and chip van in the pub’s car park which gets going just as a ride finishes that makes it so popular? Whatever the reason, it resulted in another good turnout of nine Windmillers to enjoy a circuit of local lanes, in two groups, one going clockwise and the other anti-clockwise making this another CAC ride.

With the clocks having just gone back an hour, 3.00pm was pushing our luck a bit for setting off, given that we started at 3.30pm the week before. But the weather made all the difference – a bright, sunny afternoon which lasted for a couple of hours compared to a cloudy end to the previous Monday.

Maurice’s group included Charles, Sandra, Nick and Simon whilst Andrew’s group included Alan, Rod and Martin. As usual, Maurice shot off at high speed on his e-bike, anti-clockwise, leaving the others trailing in his wake whilst Andrew’s group freewheeled merrily down to the Wendens Ambo road before climbing up to Duddenhoe End. This is where we went:

We are used to seeing a wide variety of wild life on our rides but Andrew’s group were thrilled to spot a very large stag near Meesden, thanks to sharp-eyed Alan, strutting his stuff (the stag not Alan) on open fields looking for his next conquest. He was a magnificent beast and was seen again close up the other side of Meesden with a smile on his face. Had he just had a quick rut we wondered? Martin was slow on the draw with his camera and the stag soon galloped off having presumably got a whiff of his next romantic encounter, but this is what he looked like:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is stag-pic.jpg

With decreasing light, Andrew’s group decided not to call in at Maurice’s house but, in any event, whilst rocketing down the long hill from the Barkway ridge we saw the others crawling up in the opposite direction. They still had a long way to go, no doubt due to Maurice’s hospitality, and indeed they returned to The Red Cow some time after Andrew’s group.

The sun was just setting behind the Great Chishill windmill as Andrew’s group climbed up to the village, which enabled the featured photo above to be taken. Of all the windmills we pass on our travels this one seems to have a majestic beauty about it.

Portions of chips with spicy mayo and tomato sauce washed down with a pint of Wherry proved to be a very good end to a rutting good ride.

Thanks go to Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.

Martin

P.S. What do you call a deer with no eyes? No idea.

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Suffolk

Punctures Galore!

Martin’s Group . . .

When cycling with Martin we recommend you bring a good book, or maybe the Times crossword, or even Travel Scrabble – anything to while away the hour it can take to mend one of his punctures. Being such a nice chap, everybody wants to help and for each additional helper you can add another 10 minutes. So Martin plus five helpers equals a one hour puncture repair.

Then there’s the collateral damage; this week’s included three new inner tubes (two exploded), one bicycle pump (also exploded), two CO2 cylinders (fully discharged), not to mention minor injuries (Roger’s finger, bent but not quite broken).

That aside, we enjoyed a delightful ride, Martin leading Geoff, Roger, Charles, Victor and Brian around a 30-odd mile loop from the Packhorse, Moulton to Maglia Rosso and back. Lunch – a little later than usual – was excellent and over a beer or two we swapped stories of Martin’s memorable mendings; the most notable of which include the one outside the Blackwall Tunnel and the one at the vicarage in Comberton. Check them out.

Of Graham’s group, Simon reports . . .

Bike rides are a bit like life. First comes the easy bit when you glide along thinking it’s all going well. What you haven’t noticed of course is that the wind has been behind you.

Out we went through Upper Green and Little Saxham to the bike shop and café at Hawstead Green – Simon, Mike, Deborah and Jenni – ably shepherded by Graham. The weather, in particular the westerly tail wind, was kind to us, apart from a brief hailstorm that forced us to shelter for a few minutes under a tree.

Funny how you don’t notice the wind until you turn and it is blowing in your face. Just like that stage of life when you are building a career and raising a family, you have to keep going. We pedalled on, legs aching, struggling to make headway, the scenery all a bit of a blur; though I do remember there were some busy roads and intimidating drivers to keep us on our toes.

Then came our mid-life crisis where everyone had to rally round with the sole objective of getting back to the pub on-time. On this occasion Deborah had a puncture after we had ridden past some seasonal hedge cutting.

Deborah and her pit crew

The group came together nicely. We had all the necessary kit but not always the clearest of ideas of how to use it. Still we muddled through and were soon on our way. The descent into Moulton came as a relief and, arriving back at the Pack Horse, we enjoyed a well earned beer.

By next Thursday we may even have the energy to do it all again, with the prospect of more stories, more laughs and finishing with another good lunch and a beer. So here’s to next Thursday. The weather can’t be that bad, can it?

Maurice’s Group . . .

. . . comprising Maurice himself, plus Howard, Ken, Rod, and Alan, had a memorable start, Maurice arriving as he did with a flat car tyre. Rumour has it he has never changed a wheel; “I have people who do that,” he explained. In no time, the Windmillers had his car jacked and the wheel changed in a marginally sub-Formula 1 time. We only hope Martin was watching and learning.

Maurice Clean Hands Warner

Needless to say, we had all enjoyed a great day out and owe a special thanks to Maurice – for selecting a fine route, Andrew – for getting us organised, and of course, Martin, Graham and Maurice (again) for leading us all safely around the circuit. Thanks, guys.

31 miles whichever way you go

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Monday rides

19 October. Mushrooms galore. 21 miles.

Knowing of the typical Windmiller’s love of mushrooms, following the monster specimens found on 15 October, Deborah very kindly offered to go hunting for more and brought a massive box full of field mushrooms collected from a field near Ashdon, the whereabouts of which is a closely guarded secret. The box was soon emptied and conversations then held about the best recipe for mushroom soup. But a bucket full of bramley apples that Deborah also brought along was not so popular and so Martin took the lot and will be enjoying apple pie for the next few months.

A good turnout of 10 Windmillers at The Red Cow in Chrishall on this pleasant autumnal day meant that two groups of five would cycle separately around the lanes, but exactly where was a mystery to those in Maurice’s group A of Rod, Charles, Nick and Martin. As a result, Andrew’s group B of Sandra, Simon, Deborah and Lindsey headed off first in the general direction of Duddenhoe End, followed at a visible distance by the others. Maurice shot up the first hill on his e-bike towards Hamlet Church but took a left towards Arkesden without waiting for the others in the group who, arriving puffing and panting at the same junction, wondered where he had gone. Seeing some hi-viz jackets by Hamlet Church suggested that might be the way to go but having eventually caught them up there was no sign of Maurice. So there was nothing for it but to phone him and arrange a rendezvous at the two windmills, hoping he was not suffering from being lonely. Meanwhile, Group B continued on their merry way.

This is where the lost souls of Group A went:

Maurice’s route took in Arksden and Clavering whereas Group B went anti-clockwise from Langley Upper Green.

Having reconvened, Group A then met Group B at the muddy end of Violet’s Lane, luckily still passable:

Nick peeled off from Group A on the return leg after Brent Pelham and both groups arrived back at the Red Cow at around the same time, where some stayed to enjoy an outside pint and to put the world to rights.

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route, even if it did result in a lasoo for most of Group A, and to Andrew for organising us.

Martin

15 October. The ABC of ride organisation. 32 miles.

Oh, the joys of ride organisation in these Covid days! First we had CAC rides, now we have ABC rides but it is not quite as simple as ABC. Planning routes, finding suitable pubs, staying Covid-compliant, organising groups and getting members to the start line on time for a scheduled departure is quite a feat and we have Maurice and Andrew to thank hugely for their efforts on our behalf.

This ride from The Black Bull in Balsham was soon oversubscribed but Windmillers are a creative lot and soon found a solution to the problem by organising a separate group starting and finishing at The Three Hills at Bartlow, thanks to Geoff and Brian putting their heads together. So Groups A and B, comprising 11 riders, did the route clockwise, 15 minutes apart, and Group C went anti-clockwise, making this the first ever ABCAC ride! No doubt more will follow before we are free of the Covid plague.

This is where we went:

Sadly, whilst en route to Balsham, Rod had a collision with a Wincanton lorry being driven fast and dangerously (witnessed separately by Martin) but luckily it was only his wing mirror that got destroyed. It could so easily have been a lot worse. This resulted in a slight delay as Rod went back down the road to try and retrieve bits of the mirror.

Group A, comprising Maestro Maurice, Howard, Mike, Roger, Lawrence and Martin led the way at 9.15am followed by Group B with Deputy Dawg Andrew, Rod, Ken, Victor and Andrew. Group C also left around the same time, judging by the place where Group A met them between Bartlow and the A1307, when we did our best not to mingle – see photo above. Unfortunately for Lawrence, whilst stopping at the junction with the dreaded A1307, he collided with Howard who was waiting patiently to cross and the impact threw Lawrence off his bike sideways to laand on his hip joint. ‘Ouch’, he said, or words to that effect. It wasn’t long before a bruise was surely to emerge and by the end of the ride he was decidely uncomfortable.

Group A’s ride otherwise went well and they were overtaken during their coffee break by Group B who then took a wrong turning allowing A to regain the lead and get back to the Black Bull first in line for a beer, but drenched to the skin due to a downpour during the last few miles, during which they spotted John Bagrie heading in the opposite direction. Much steam was to be seen in front of the roaring fire in the pub.

Here comes the cavalry

Here’s a report from Andrew’s Group B:

Group B 

Faithfully congregated at Balsham with Hot Rod missing a major component from his new Mazda wing mirror having made contact with a Wincanton lorry en route to Balsham 

A quick return visit to the scene of the crime failed Rod’s attempt to recover the wing mirror part .

Five windy millers  Andrew, Rod, Allan , Ken and Victor eventually left on a 32 mile beautifully planned route sculpted by  supremo  route master Maurice 

Only 3 miles into the ride we past Group C going in the opposite direction led by Brian C 

Our ride was mainly uneventful apart from the occasional rain shower ,

The coffee refreshment stop took place at Birdbrook opposite a disused farm 

To our surprise we bumped into Maurice’s Group A who elected to have a late refreshment stop . There was much shouting from Group A instructing Group B not to stop in fear of perhaps catching the dreaded C disease from the Essex contingent.

Approx five miles to the end of the ride we encountered a solo very familiar cyclist heading in the opposite direction- it could only be John Bagrie and it was the man himself.

A slight detour into a main ride saw us back at Balsham for 12.20 ready an eager to tuck into hearty ales and a well prepared lunch.

A good time was had by all.

And here’s Brian’s report:

Andrew’s instructions to Group C were clear and – following last week’s escapades – perfectly understandable: Do not lose Simon! So it was that Geoff, Deborah, Jenni, Brian and Simon set out from The Three Hills, Bartlow, going clockwise and looking forward to seeing our pals in Groups A and B coming the other way. Sure enough, and after less than a few miles, we passed Maurice’s gang, followed some ten minutes later by Andrew’s; both groups glad to see Simon was still with us.

Cheery waves were exchanged and we continued on, pulling over occasionally to admire the autumnal colours and curiosities; notable of which were the field mushrooms, pictured below (with Brian, for a sense of scale).

Not mushroom for these in Brian’s saddlebag. (Ed.)

Mid-way around the circuit, Geoff introduced us to the delights of Tarka’s Café, Baythorne End. Hitherto unknown to the Windmillers, the coffee and cake were excellent. We must return.

The return leg to Bartlow passed uneventfully and we enjoyed a good lunch and a few beers at The Three Hills.

Strong focus on eating and drinking by Group C

———————————————————————-

It was great to have John Bagrie join Groups A & B during lunch and to catch up with him whilst examining archive copies of the Manchester Evening News from the 1970’s in The Black Bull. Nothing much changes – tanks at Heathrow airport and flu epidemics etc etc..

Thanks again to our organisers Maurice and Andrew in achieving the first ever Windmill Club ABCAC ride.

Martin

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Lost and Found

They call me the wanderer,
Yeah, the wanderer,
I roam around, around, around . . .

Lyrics sung by Dion in 1961

Thursday morning saw Ken and Martin ready and waiting to greet Windmillers arriving at The White Swan, Conington. Ken had prepared the route and – with Andrew laid up sick – Martin had taken on the logistics. Seventeen Windmillers were expected and, keeping us Covid safe, Martin had planned for us to gather, ride and take lunch in three groups, separated in time and space. What could possibly go wrong?

A flurry of Whatsapp messages and phone calls later, however, and Martin’s plans lay in tatters. Several Windmillers were stuck in traffic on the M11 and Deborah, distraught on the telephone, was lost in the wilds of Cambridgeshire. With cyclists now arriving in dribs and drabs, Martin, thinking fast to avoid chaos, assembled and dispatched groups of six on a first come, first served basis.

Hail Weston welcomes Howard, Charles, Alan and Geoff

Meanwhile Deborah, still orbiting the outer reaches of the county, with Martin’s help was guided in to rendezvous at our refreshment stop – The Wheatsheaf, West Perry – where her spirits were revived with generous helpings of coffee and cake. No group outing for her, though she did at least manage a pleasant ride around Grafham Water, which the rest of us could only glimpse over a hedge.

Socially distanced coffee and cake at The Wheatsheaf, West Perry
Charles and Maurice outside the Wheatsheaf

Near Buckden, those of us following Simon were mortified to see him take a wrong turning on to the busy A1. Yikes! Attempting to call him back, we yelled for all we were worth, but to no avail; there he was pedalling alongside the traffic, seemingly bound for Scotch Corner and all points north.

Maurice on his e-bike, risking electrocution

That was the last we saw of Simon for some time as he embarked on an impromptu 17 mile tour of Brampton, Huntingdon, Godmanchester, the Hemingfords and Fenstanton before finally rejoining us at the White Swan in Conington. Mightily relieved to see him back safe, his arrival was applauded by Windmillers and locals alike. Somewhat pink in the face but otherwise unharmed, he enjoyed a restorative pint though was sadly too late for lunch.

Rod, Ric, Howard and Ken
Maurice, Martin, Lawrence, Graham and Mike
Simon, doing the stray cat strut

Simon, poor chap, suffered a final indignity when his car stubbornly refused to start. Martin, Ken and Lawrence tried pushing it around the car park before enquiring in the pub as to whether anyone might have jump leads. A very helpful Sandra-type lady came to the rescue, positioning her Audi alongside Simon’s Honda and, connecting up the cables, he was soon firing on all four again.

It had been an enjoyable, if eventful, outing – the majority of riders clocking up 35 miles. This week’s high mileage awards went naturally to Simon (42 miles), but also Ric (70 miles) and Graham (88 miles).

We all did the blue route, except Simon, who took the northerly detour marked in red

Thanks are due to Ken for planning the route and Martin for improvising his very own Operation Stack, avoiding chaos on the approaches to Conington, much like the Kent police do for Dover.

Finally, we must pay tribute to our dear friend, Vernon, who sadly passed away this week after a long illness, bravely fought. Our thoughts are with Moira and his family. We will be organising a memorial ride in the next few weeks.

Vernon Gamon, much loved and sorely missed
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28th September. A ride between storms

The weekend had been windy. Branches removed from the trees, with lashing of rain and grey skies. So it was with considerable relief that come Monday and the Windmiller’s ride, the weather had turned to give a lovely autumnal late afternoon, with bright sunshine and little wind. The sun shines on the righteous of course. Seven Windmillers assembled at the Red Cow in Chrishall; Martin, Maurice, Alan, Simon, Charles, Deborah and Nicolas. With the present Covid rules we set off well-spaced and in the fervent hope that the locals can’t count. 

We were determined to do our best to enjoy the ride despite the absence of Andrew, alias Deputy Dawg. Martin reported that Dawg had acquired food poisoning, had lost 10 pounds and was feeling too miserable to ride. We thought that sounded quite plausible, after all, that is quite a lot of money for a Scotsman.

A brief stop for the customary photo. It’s great to get out with friends.

We rode clockwise round this loop.

Mapometer, my saviour during lock-down.

Along the Royston Road and up the hill to Arkesden. At 4.30 the pull of the Axe and Compasses was easily overcome. Our furthest point was Stocking Pelham. Wikipedia tells us that its population was exactly 163 in 2001 and exactly 163 in 2011. My belief is that so little happens they probably put the same documents in for the 2011 census that they had for 2001. This shows an admirable contempt for government form-filling, as one would expect from the wild no-man’s-land that is the Essex-Hertfordshire border. More Pelhams, then on to Lower Langley Green, where the attractions of the Bull were, with some effort, resisted. Down to Duddenhoe End where Nick peeled off and back to Chrishall, losing Charles to the attractions of Chalky Lane. Deborah needed time to do something for her husband’s birthday. The details were mercifully sketchy. Only three Windmillers up for a drink then, the downside of which is that there were only two available for me to scrounge drinks off.

Sitting in warm, post-ride sunshine Simon observed, quite correctly, what fine child-bearing hips the barmaid at the Red Cow has. Only to be told by another club member that they had spotted her first and that he would have to join the back of the que. He felt that this offends against the usual spirit of the Windmill Club, with its all-important emphasis on generosity and sharing.

We thank Maurice for the route and leading. Andrew for coping so well with organising the club in these times of increased rules and restrictions on our cherished freedoms. Members should note that ‘Simon’s Law’ in the new Club Rules, restricting the sharing of nuts and crisps, was studiously observed throughout. All that was shared was our company, something for which were all are truly grateful in these times of government sanctioned isolation.

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21 September. Last of the summer romance. 21 miles.

Was this, the last day of summer in 2020 (if you believe that the Autumn Equinox marks the first day of Autumn), the reason why romance remained in the air for a second Monday running? Not only did Maurice plan the route to ensure that we went by the same field of flowers but he picked some flowers together with Martin and they were then snapped by Deborah and Simon plighting their troth! Very worrying indeed, until it became apparent that both posies of flowers were for their wives and not each other. Gasps of relief all round!

Starting once again from The Red Cow at Chrishall, nine Windmillers set off on a delightful cruise around the lanes, the others being Andrew, Rod, Lawrence, Deborah, Nick and also Lindsay who it was a pleasure to see again. It was also great to have Simon rejoin us only a few weeks after his hernia op and to see him charging up hills. This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/79fc91e1b153e08b47b05e5ab86bf3cc

Although this was the last day of summer it didn’t really feel like it – it was very warm, sunny and quite balmy when we got back to The Red Cow. What a good ending to one of the strangest summers ever experienced, and a pleasant contrast to daily news about Covid-19. It wasn’t long, however, before we lost Lindsay who took a right towards Great Chishill at the bottom of the hill from Chrishall, down which the other eight went at high speed, but hubby Andrew and Deborah went back to find her and we all reconvened at Langley Upper Green.

‘Are you receiving me? Over.’ Maurice attempting to trace the missing three Windmillers.

Passing The Bull at Lower Langley, which we haven’t visited for a while, we passed close to Nick’s house and then through to Brent Pelham and down to a gravel strewn, but dry, Violet’s Lane and back up to Washall Green. (Violet’s Lane is generally avoided in the winter as it floods at the bottom end and can be icy.)

Pausing for a breather near Washall Green

At Starlings Green the prolific plum tree was devoid of plums. We were probably just a bit too late although there were suspicions raised that Andrew had got there before us. But then he discovered it last year, so fair enough.

Passing Stickling Green and skirting Clavering, it wasn’t long before we were picking flowers again near Duddenhoe End. This time, Simon and Martin dived in first but Simon took a distinctly scientific approach by getting up close with his camera and listening intently to the sound of buzzing bees, and impressed too at the environmental contribution this farmer was making.

Botanically beautiful pics from Simon.

Meanwhile Martin got picking another bunch of flowers for Deborah, who was a short way back with Lindsay, and was ordered by Rod to get down on one knee to present them. But then he had to dash back to pick a second bunch for Penny, who had very much enjoyed receiving last week’s bunch, whilst Maurice did the same for Lyn.

Andrew and Lindsay took a short cut back to The Red Cow whilst the others returned via Elmdon and we all enjoyed refreshments outside, Lawrence having to leave first as it was bedtime story time by Zoom for one of his grandchildren.

Well done to Simon for getting ride-fit again so quickly and for taking some pics. And thanks to Maurice for planning the romantic route and Andrew for organising us.

Martin

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Braughing

Free ranging half dozens

Would you rather be lost with Maurice or lost with Andrew? That was the tricky decision faced by a dozen Windmillers as we set off from the Golden Fleece on Thursday morning. But the question was academic as Andrew, brooking no dissent, picked two teams of six. We were off! And, in fairness, our worries were groundless; both leaders knew the route very well and neither got us lost.

The A Team: Brian, Rod, Geoff, Andrew, Alan and (behind the camera) Martin
The B Team: Howard, Maurice, Victor, Roger, Simon and (behind the camera) Graham

We had been warned there would be no stopping at a café so, having brought our own refreshments, we found a pleasant spot to sip coffee and munch biscuits in the September sunshine.

The A Team doing a socially distanced Ring a Ring ‘o Roses
Hungry looks from Victor and Howard

Now we all know Martin likes gadgets – more the steampunk kind than electronic – and so, chancing on this fearsome piece of kit in someone’s front garden, he dismounted and took a snap . . .

Allen Scythe

It’s an Allen Scythe – a petrol powered lawn mower to you and me – guaranteed to transform rough pasture into a passable domestic lawn. These were made from 1935 until 1973 and although many are still in regular use they can be dangerous; the clutch system only disengages the wheel drive from the engine, leaving the blades turning. Health and Safety be damned, eh?

Both teams returned safely to the Fleece and enjoyed an excellent lunch served up by Landlord Peter.

31 miles anti-clockwise from Braughing

Thanks as ever to our team leaders, Maurice and Andrew. These are difficult times to plan outings but, week in – week out, you rise to the challenge and get us all organised. It is much appreciated.

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17 September. Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside. 37 miles.

Starting from the Fore Street Pay and Display Car Park in Framlingham (phew, got that mouthful out of the way safely), just down the road from the Crown Hotel where some had congregated for coffee beforehand, two groups of Windmillers set off in the direction of Aldeburgh. Five in each group was the plan but Maurice shot off at speed (such is the acceleration of an e-bike) accompanied in Group A by Ken, Lawrence and Howard whilst Group B was led by Andrew with Deborah, Mike, Alan, Graham and Martin in line astern.

The route was familiar for some, through very quiet and beautiful Suffolk lanes, but it was just as well that Group B had a couple of GPXers with them, Graham and Martin, as Group A went out of sight quite soon. The problem with GPX files, however, is that they are never wrong – the old saying of garbage in, garbage out still applies – with the result that Group B faithfully followed the route but just before Knodishall discovered that it took them down a sandy track, through a farmyard, under the pylons from Sizewell and then back on the tarmac. Group A, meanwhile, were relying on Maurice’s paper map which is never wrong!

This is where we went:

Entering Thorpeness, Group B were surprised to find Group A on the green by the Meare. Were they admiring the group of vintage Rudge motorbikes we wondered? Or was that a Windmiller’s bike upturned and being attended to? It was indeed Lawrence’s rear disc brake that was not working correctly and despite various adjustments it stubbornly refused to cooperate. Nothing for it but press on and have another go over a coffee in Aldeburgh.

Windmilling around in Thorpeness whilst Lawrence’s bike is attended to
Some fine Rudge motorbikes were on disolay. Rudge also made high quality pedal bikes.

The next stop was Aldeburgh for coffee but Group B stopped to admire the Maggi Hambling scallop sculpture on the beach, which created such a hoo-ha amongst the locals when it was first commissioned and installed in 2003, who considered it spoilt a lovely stretch of open beach. But the general view now, certainly amongst Group B, is that it enhances the beach and has withstood both vandalism and gale force winds without flinching.

Martin and Deborah admiring Maggi Hamblin’s scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach
The sculpture was set up to commemorate Benjamin Britten and displays a quote from Britten’s Peter Grimes ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned’.

Aldeburgh was heaving with visitors and so coffee was not easy to come by. But whilst some were queuing for their lunchtime baps at a baker’s shop Mike came to the rescue and invited everyone for coffee in his spacious garden at his and Pat’s house near the church. And what a glorious place it turned out to be, not to mention coffee worthy of the best barista. And Deborah voted the jam that Mike and Pat produced to accompany her croissant as being 10 out of 10.

Coffee in Mike and Pat’s garden
Work re-commencing on Lawrence’s bike, this time with success

By the time we set off at noon on the downwind leg back to Framlingham, some had already eaten their fresh warm baps whilst the others were looking forward to a picnic lunch at Snape. The route was a Maurice special – a left after Aldeburgh Golf Club and then along a sandy track, a boardwalk through wetlands and a forest path all the way to Snape, with a diversion at the end through a wood and then along the river bank to the Maltings. And with a high tide to greet us, the views were quite stupendous.

Picnicing at Snape

Maurice had worked up a thirst by this time and so he headed off to The Ship at Blaxhall to see if it was open. Indeed it was and so after the picnic the others joined him there and some stayed for a pint whilst others started to make their way back, stopping in Easton on the way to get creative, photographically, with the famous crinkle crankle wall, thought to be to longest in England:

The crinkle crankle wall in Easton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crinkle_crankle_wall

Maurice, Mike and Martin, energised after a pint, set off some time later and despite a stop to admire the view over a hedge caught the others up as they were leaving the Fore Street car park. Thus ended a fabulous ride.

Thanks go to Maurice for planning the route, even the scenic sandy route at Knodishall, Andrew for organising us, Mike and Pat for their kind hospitality and all the photographers who contributed pics.

Martin

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14 September. Romance in the air. 17 miles.

Valentines’ Day is a long way off but Deborah and Martin looked like they were getting romantic on this lovely summer’s evening when Deborah suddenly jumped off her bike and dived into wild flowers sown at the edge of a field near Duddenhoe End, hotly pursued by Martin. And what a splendid assortment of flowers they were, humming with the sound of bees and insects amongst them – a great example of what environmentally friendly farmers can achieve if they put their minds to it. Well done to the farmer concerned.

The border of flowers surrounding a large field
Deborah the flower girl
Martin being all lovey dovey with a posey of flowers…..
….whilst the others looked on in astonishment at what was going on, Andrew being creased up.

But poor Deborah had a jilted look on her face when Martin said the posey was not for her but for his missus, Penny, who displayed them in the neat little vase above when Martin got home. There were Asters, Marigolds, Anemones and several others that a botanist such as Ric might be able to identify.

All this took place towards the end of a very pleasant ride around the lanes, starting and finishing at The Red Cow in Chrishall. Seven Windmillers set forth – Maurice, Andrew, Rod, Charles, Lawrence, Nick and Martin. Nick had come over from Meesden and so he peeled off at Langley Lower Green whilst the remaining six continued towards Clavering on a very warm and sunny evening – one of the best.

Stopping for a breather in Clavering

Back at The Red Cow it was good to be joined by Simon O and to hear his tales of tractor driving, where it seems there is nothing to do these days but let the GPS steer the tractor whilst the driver reads the Financial Times. He also told us about his grand daughter’s first day at school which resulted in her returning home enquiring about a certain part of the male anatomy. The things they teach kids at such an early age these days!

Enjoying a pint at The Red Cow

This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/c297907e678fb3dac5177bdf84cd00b9

Thanks as always to Maurice for planning the route and to Andrew for his organisation.

Martin

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10 September. Down by the River Blackwater. 35 miles.

What a contrast with almost a year ago when this ride was first planned but then cancelled due to inclement weather. Instead we had almost perfect conditions for a cycle ride – non-stop sunshine after a slightly cool start, little wind and pleasantly warm on the return leg.

Starting from a lovely pub, The Square and Compasses, in Fuller Street, south of Braintree in the midst of quiet Essex lanes, 12 Windmillers set off in two groups, suitably equipped with GPX files on their devices. But Maurice took the wise precaution of bringing along a paper map too which proved to be quite useful towards the end of his ride………….

Group A was led by Martin, who devised the route using mainly National Cycle Network routes, and he was accompanied by Maurice, Charles, Alan, Chris and Mike. Group B was led by Rod and his faithful followers were Andrew, Ken, Deborah, Howard and Geoff (who had a back up GPX just in case). At a couple of points Group A took wrong turnings only to watch Group B wizz past on the correct route – so much for Group A’s ability to follow a GPX route, correction Martin’s ability, who should have known better as he had done a recce of the route a year ago.

Except for a housing estate in Witham the route took us along delightfully quiet and often narrow winding lanes with far reaching views of the Essex countryside, and hills were few and far between. Exiting Witham, where Martin took one of his wrong turnings, resulted in cries of ‘Where’s Maurice?’ once Group A had caught up with Group B. So we waited and waited but then spotted a smiling Maurice approaching us. Why was he smiling so broadly? It soon became clear that the wrong turning proved to be to Maurice’s financial advantage as he spotted a £20 note lying on the ground which he just had to stop and pick up, by which time the traffic lights were against him. But this being deepest Essex, had the note just been printed locally we wondered?

Maurice proudly displaying his £20 note, which he generously offered to donate to our charity funds, if it was legal tender

It wasn’t long before we were heading down towards the River Blackwater at Heybridge Basin, a familiar sight for Maurice who used to keep his boat further down the Blackwater at Maylandsea and often sailed it to Heybridge Basin and Maldon. It was low tide and so the view was mainly of black estuary mud rather than black water but gorgeous all the same.

Relaxing on the quay at Heybridge Basin. Some brought coffee with them in case the Tiptree Tea Room was busy but a take-away window produced coffee quickly for others.

The return leg commenced with a trip up the side of the River Chelmer / Blackwater Navigation Canal containing many moored craft including a lifeboat. This consisted of a narrow towpath / bike path / footpath which required careful bike navigation to avoid falling in or knocking a pedestrian in. But both Groups made it safely into Maldon avoiding any roads and ending up on the banks of the muddy Blackwater as it flowed into the estuary. Then it was a short trip down the Blackwater before turning up into the centre of Maldon, an attractive town hosting an excellent brewery, and exiting on the north side for the final miles back through beautiful undulating countryside. Group A found this to be peaceful whilst Group B experienced some road rage from an angry lady driver and a fast moving tractor.

Entering the pretty village of Terling, Martin stopped to admire the view which resulted in Maurice and Howard taking the wrong road out of the village but thanks to Maurice’s paper map they found their way back to the pub without any great delay.

After a warm welcome at the Square and Compasses and an excellent lunch, washed down with thirst quenching JHB from the Oakham Brewery, the main drama of the day suddenly unfolded when Mike staggered to his feet saying he had to find a doctor / hospital quickly. It turned out that his pedal had hit a shin bone which resulted in a broken blood vessel which quickly grew to the size of a tennis ball. Directions were given to the local hospital in Chelmsford but Deborah recognised the pain Mike was in and offered to drive him there. Well done Deborah! A medal for sure at the Christmas lunch. The good news since is that the swelling subsided and that the doc thought there was every chance that Mike would be able to go climbing in the Alps as planned within a couple of days. That’s an extreme Windmiller for you!

This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/2b4bf5a3067a663147bfe1c0a575e4e3

Thanks to all for taking part and to Andrew for getting us to the starting line.

Martin

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7 September. Where do you take a sick hornet?

To a waspital of course!

So was it a hornet or a wasp that stung Andrew badly last Thursday? We’ll never know but he was clearly not a happy bunny 24 hours after the event.

Nasty sting, but lucky not to have swallowed the horny wasp.

By Monday the swelling had subsided and he was his usual cheery self when out on a 19 mile ride around the lanes with Maurice, Rod, Charles, Alan and Martin:

Happy again.

Starting from The Red Cow at Chrishall at 4.30pm, Maurice led the way around our quiet autumnal lanes taking in Shaftenhoe End, Nuthampstead (giving Bridget a wave as we passed her house), Anstey (giving Andrew a shout), Brent Pelham, Meesden, Langley Upper Green and Duddenhoe End, before enjoying a pint outside on our return, at which point the temperature began to drop quite quickly.

The Red Cow looking splendid
Two vain Windmillers admiring themselves in the mirror inside the porch of The Red Cow (or was Andrew checking his sting?)

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route and Andrew for getting us assembled.

Martin

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Stevenage

Deflated & Stung

It wasn’t Andrew’s day. Not only did he suffer a flat tyre before we had even left the pub car park – but then he was stung on the neck by a wasp. He swears it was a hornet; no doubt it was the size of a Tam O Shanter.

Ready for the off, apart from . . .
. . . Andrew, deflated but not yet stung

Apart from that, it was another excellent ride. Starting from the Rising Sun, Halls Green, Maurice steered us in a wide loop around Stevenage, so wide indeed that – apart from the odd glimpse from afar – the town remained out of sight. The surrounding countryside is hilly – but the roads are quiet and the scenery delightful.

Half way round, we pulled in at Whitwell to visit Emily’s Tea Room, one of our favourite haunts, where we particularly enjoyed the homemade crumpets and jam.

Lovely crumpet at Emily’s Tea Room

For the record, our peloton comprised Maurice, Andrew, Alan, Chris, Roger, Mike, Graham, Charles, Rod, Howard and Brian – and upon returning to the Rising Sun, Simon joined us for lunch. Recovering after his recent surgical procedure he reported he had one black one and one white one. Oo-er, we hope he is in the pink again soon.

And then to cap it all, a lovely surprise – Vernon turned up, accompanied by wife Moira. We hadn’t seen our old pal for a long time so it was particularly good to catch up with him again. Indeed, it was Vernon himself who first introduced us to The Rising Sun three years ago; you can read all about it here.

Looking good, Rod
29 miles clockwise around Stevenage, starting from Halls Green

Thanks, Maurice, for another great outing. Andrew too, ever cheerful in the face of adversity, for getting us all organised.

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Steeple Bumpstead Suffolk

Coffee & cake at Clare

We like the Fox & Hounds at Steeple Bumpstead, not least because Landlady Kate provides coffee and biscuits while we wait for Deborah, who generally arrives just as we are draining our cups.

Refreshed and ready to go, twelve Windmillers attempt to form two equal sized pelotons in conformance with government guidelines*. Only it never quite works out, Maurice heading out with eight riders while Brian musters just four. Maybe some can’t count? Maybe – quite understandably – others fear getting lost with Brian? Or maybe it’s just our Keystone Cops-like inability to get organised. Who knows.

Whatever the reason, all twelve somehow found their way to Clare where we enjoyed some excellent coffee and cake at Platform One, the café in the long-disused railway station.

From Clare we made short work of the return trip to Steeple Bumpstead where Landlady Kate served up a hearty lunch washed down with a restorative ale.

For the record, this week’s riders were: Maurice, Howard, Roger, Deborah, Jenni, Alan, Victor, Graham, Geoff, Charles, Lawrence and Brian – and Ken joined us for lunch.

At Clare station; a map of the long lost Stour Valley line
35 miles clockwise from Steeple Bumpstead

Thanks, Maurice, for organising another terrific outing.

*As of Thursday, 27 August 2020, Cycling UK’s guidance is that groups of up to fifteen can ride provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Read more.