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21 December – Winter solstice ride. Cock Robin and his murky mates cycle around murky lanes

It was a day full of Christmas cheer but somewhat foggy (or was that just the brains not being in gear?) when six hardy Windmillers met at the Fleur de Lys in Widdington at 9.30am to work up an appetite for the days to follow. There was Deputy Dawg Andrew, Storm Sandra, Brummie Brian, Two Scones Keith, Lost Lawrence and the Revd Holy Moley Martin in attendance but only Brian decorated himself in festive attire, including a proud cock robin on his helmet, for the second year running, which seemed to again enjoy the ride:

Bike ride 21 Dec IMG_20171221_100257174_HDR
Brian and his little cock robin, both looking happy

There had been talk of a trip to the Blue Egg café near Great Bardfield but Andrew’s magical mystery tour took us instead westwards to Rickling, down to Manuden and then on to Maggotts End only to find that Martin’s very own pothole no. UTT357920084675B had been repaired, along with most other Essex potholes, which is very impressive (where did they find the money and is it true that Essex has more miles of road than any other county in England?).

Here is the route taken:

Bike ride 21 December 27 miles clockwise from Widdington

The murky pasts of the pagans present blended well into the general murkiness of the damp, muddy but mild Winter Solstice day when we should perhaps have gathered at the Fleur de Lys to dance at sunrise, Stonehenge style, instead of 9.30am, except there was no sunrise.  Even the pylons were difficult to spot, not to mention Range Rovers looming out of the fog with no lights on.

Bike ride 21 December Foggy Five
Murky pagans celebrating the Winter Solstice

Shortly before stopping at the café at Clavering Lakes Lawrence serenaded us to a Flanders and Swann Christmas concert with a loud rendering of The Gas Man Cometh. Here are the words if you wish to join in :

The Gas Man Cometh – Flanders and Swann

‘Twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call.
The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all.
He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main
And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on a Tuesday morning the carpenter came round.
He hammered and he chiselled and he said:
“Look what I’ve found: your joists are full of dry rot
But I’ll put them all to rights”.
Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights!
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on a Wednesday morning the electrician came.
He called me Mr. Sanderson, which isn’t quite the name.
He couldn’t reach the fuse box without standing on the bin
And his foot went through a window so I called the glazier in.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on a Thursday morning the glazier came round
With his blow torch and his putty and his merry glazier’s song.
He put another pane in – it took no time at all
But I had to get a painter in to come and paint the wall.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.
‘Twas on a Friday morning the painter made a start.
With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part:
Every nook and every cranny – but I found when he was gone
He’d painted over the gas tap and I couldn’t turn it on!
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.
On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all;
So ’twas on a Monday morning that the gasman came to call…

Thanks, Lawrence, for getting us all into the Christmas spirit on a dismal day.

Keith had clearly not readjusted to the English weather following his recent trip to Australia where he hired bikes in 30+C and cruised around Brisbane and Adelaide stopping every now and then for a scone or two and a tinny or two of Fosters. How different it was today, as we delighted in letting him know when we reached Clavering Lakes, where he was lucky to be allowed in considering the amount of mud on his jacket:

Bike ride 21 December Dirty Keith
No wonder Keith had been complaining of damp pants!
Dec 21
Coffee and cakes at Clavering Lakes were of the usual high standard

Unfortunately, cleaning of the deck had been completed otherwise Keith might have been able to take advantage of the hosepipe:

Dec 21IMG_20171221_114242455_HDR

Dec 21IMG_20171221_114305285_HDR

And so, suitable refreshed but still smothered in mud Keith and his fellow Windmillers cycled back through the lanes to a warm welcome at the Fleur de Lys where we were pleased to be joined by Rick who had sensibly decided to ride on cleaner roads from Harston to Widdington and back. As always, the food was wonderful and set us all up for the extravaganza to come.

Rick 21 Dec IMG_20171221_140550637
Post-lunch Rick preparing for the return trip to Harston

Thanks, Deputy Dawg, for organising the ride and for all your hard work on our behalf throughout the year, for which we are very grateful.

Merry Christmas one and all and a very happy New Year.

Martin

 

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