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22 September – Constable Country tour

It was a fine, warm day when seven Windmillers met at the Carriers Inn in East Bergholt, Suffolk,  for a memorable ride around Constable Country, some taking the A14 to reach the start, some taking the A120 and Vernon taking the scenic route via a Colchester industrial estate. The other participants were Squadron Leader Maurice, Deputy Dawg Andrew, Captain Keith Pugwash, our resident botanist Rick, Marmite Tom and the Revd Moley Martin. Once assembled, we set off on this very scenic tour of 34 miles:

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The precise route can be found here: http://gb.mapometer.com/cycling/route_4411318

The first stop was for coffee / beer at the idyllic Butt and Oyster Inn on the banks of the River Orwell at Pin Mill, a place well known to Maurice, Moley and other sailors / smugglers, and hardly surprising given its remote location. It has not changed over the years and is now home to around 25 house boats and an anchorage for visiting boats:

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Happy smugglers at Pin Mill
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Or as one Windmiller who shall not be named said,’ If you want a shag on the counter ask a Churchman.’

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Then it was down to the marina at Shotley, a convenient point for sailors for quick access to the North Sea or the Stour Estuary, which brought back happy memories of good sailing days:

img_20160922_121550520 img_20160922_120853421 img_20160922_120416022Looking towards Harwich from Shotley

Then it was along the picturesque Stour, crossing the bottom end of Alton water (which has a cycle track around it, perhaps for next time) and past this strange multi-phallic gatehouse to a desres in the large grounds

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before heading to Flatford Mill to see Constable Country in all its glory.

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Special Constables on parade at Flatford
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The view towards Dedham

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Flatford Mill – wot no cows? This was once owned by John Constable’s dad, who also owned Dedham MIll. John clearly preferred painting to heaving sacks.
The lock at Flatford complete with height warning device
The lock at Flatford complete with height warning device
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The Church of St Mary the Virgin, East Bergholt,  was built in the 15th and 16th centuries, but is well known for the absence of a tower or spire to house the bells. Work began on a tower in 1525, but construction came to a halt in 1530 and the following year a wooden bell cage was erected in the churchyard. This temporary structure still exists although not in its original position. It was moved from the south to the north side of the church in the 17th century. The five bells are thought to be the heaviest in Britain, weighing 4.25 tons.

It was a surprisingly hilly ride at times and the final one back to the Carriers Inn produced thirsts that were soon quenched with some fine Adnams Southwold bitter followed by an excellent 2 course lunch for £7.95 except for the young Captain Pugwash who had to pay £8.95. The pub had some fine advice for its customers on display:

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Perfect for senior Windmillers! (Spot the typo.)

Thanks to Maurice for planning a superb ride. We look forward to doing it again in the future.

PS. For all those motivated by the special scenes at Flatford to take up a brush, paint, canvas and easel, go no further than Hinxton Mill where cows still linger in the cool water of the millpond:

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Hinxton Mill, 25th September

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