It was dry at first, but not for long as the first rain for nine weeks descended on the six hardy Windmillers who had gathered at 9.00am at The Red Lion in Great Wratting near Haverhill for coffee before placing their lunch orders. Maurice had gone electric again, Vernon was riding his son’s featherweight hi-tech bike (hoping there was no off-road in store) whilst Sandra, Roger, Victor and Martin were on their usual steeds.
It was not exactly tipping it down, just a few spits and spots to start with, but wet enough for Maurice not to get a very good grip on his pedals with his clippity clop cycle shoes and so after half a mile he returned to slip on some deck shoes which were more appropriate for the prevailing conditions, leaving the rest of the group sheltering behind a hedge whilst admiring the entrance to the local pig processing factory:
With Maurice having got a grip on his pedals we soon re-started and started a clockwise route through wet but still delightful Suffolk lanes. Here is the route taken:
The churches, houses and cottages in the villages we passed through all looked splendid and there was a general absence of potholes thanks to some recent repairs and re-gravelling, necessitating some careful riding at times. There were hills too, steep enough in the fields near Boxted for a blue ski run, according to Roger.
Thoughts of more coffee began at about the 15 mile mark but the destination was the old Station at Clare after 20 miles, by which time we needed to dry out a bit too. This is a favourite stop with coffee and cakes being served in the Waiting Room amongst all kinds of railway paraphernalia. The Eccles cakes were still warm, and very good too, likewise the coffee.
According to Wikipedia, Clare Castle was built shortly after the Norman conquest of England by Richard Fitz Gilbert. In the 14th century the castle was the home of Elizabeth de Clare, one of the richest women in England, who maintained a substantial household there. The castle passed into the hands of the Crown, and by the 16th century was in ruins. It was damaged by the construction of the Great Eastern Railway in 1867 which went through the middle of castle, which could perhaps be the origin of that old song about The railroad runs through the middle of the house, the middle of the house, the middle of the house etc.. Perhaps not.
Then it was 10 miles back to The Red Lion, with Maurice having just two of five blobs left on his battery gauge, in heavier rain but not torrential, and it was good to see John B’s car in the car park. We sat down to a good lunch and were later joined by John who had started his ride a bit later than the rest of us.
Thanks, Maurice, for organising the ride. We had the best part of a wet day judging by what came later.
PS. What came later was one of the wettest days ever recorded in Cavendish.