There was a certain aroma in the air as Martin emerged from his BMW; distinctly savoury, some likened it to Lancashire hot pot, others to boeuf bourguignon. Martin explained his misfortune; he had up-ended a pot-full of casserole in the footwell earlier in the week. We suspect it’s a new business venture; some sort of meals-on-wheels-for-the-well-heeled, or a soup kitchen for the super rich. We will let you know.
There were eight Windmillers gathering outside Andrew’s house in Wendens Ambo for the regular Thursday outing: Geoff, Chris, Tom, Roger, Sandra and Brian, plus Andrew himself and the fragrant Martin.
A quick risk assessment concluded that – barring an unlikely encounter with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Land Rover – the main hazards to look out for would be a low sun and frost in the shade.
Anticipating a cold ride, we set off at pace, heading out through Saffron Walden and Hadstock to Linton, where we passed a vaguely familiar rider going the other way. What with him being so well wrapped against the cold it was a while before it dawned on us that that did look like Victor. Likewise, with the low sun in his eyes, Victor had pulled up wondering whether he had just passed the Windmillers. But, sensible chap, he turned around and we all caught up; so now we were nine.
It wasn’t long before Tom pulled up with a flat tyre. Alas, his reputation as a mechanical wizard took a knock when he needed two attempts at the repair, though no doubt the poor chap was hampered by cold, numb fingers.
With Tom re-inflated, we continued on through Little Abington, where we shouldered the bikes and took the footbridge over the A11, Babraham, Sawston, Whittlesford and Duxford, where we pulled in at Greystones for refreshment. Our first visit, the warm welcome, coffee and excellent cake were all very much to our liking; we shall return.
Then it was on to Hinxton, Ickleton (where we were minded to inspect Martin’s kitchen facilities – alas time was short) and up the steep incline of Coploe Hill to Strethall, where we spied a familiar figure on his shiny new e-bike. Maurice! Now we were ten.
Then came the best bit; whizzing down the long descent into Wendens Ambo and the warm embrace of The Bell, where we thawed out in front of a splendid log fire. It was here that John Bagrie turned up; now we were eleven! And this being Martin’s birthday, we enjoyed a few beers – not to mention stew jokes – at his expense. Cheers!