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7 November. Cheers! Vernon’s birthday ride. 29 miles.

A good turnout of 11 Windmillers gathered at The Fox and Duck in Therfield on this cold and windy Autumn day to take part in a ride organised by Victor, and to celebrate Vernon’s birthday at the same time.  Some were expecting milder weather and luckily team leader Victor came with spare jackets and gloves which he doled out to Simon and Deborah to prevent them getting frostbite.

It wasn’t long, however, before Graham felt the cold too thanks to a puncture during the first half mile heading down to the A505, resulting in a painful tyre changing session, helped by Vernon.

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Vernon being a saint on his birthday helping Graham mend his puncture

Some had gone on ahead, to Macdonalds we thought,  some were sheltering from the wind behind a hedge but it wasn’t long before all met up having had to endure a short stretch of the A505 before turning right towards Litlington. Turning left towards Steeple Morden was when the full force of the wind was felt and so a stop at the memorial to the 355th Fighter Group of the American airforce to pay our respects to those who died came as a pleasant rest.

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Strange how hi-viz types tend to stick together like peas in a pod. From the left, Deborah, Simon, Roger, Howard, Martin, Victor, Vernon, and the assorted colours of Andrew, Sandra, Graham and Lawrence

The lanes were open and quiet as we worked our way steadily towards Ashwell, at one stage wondering just which way to go:

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The majority head off in one direction leaving a few others to think about it.

At Ashwell’s Rhubarb and Mustard coffee shop, some hardy types sat outside whilst others warmed up inside, which had the advantage of access to the beauty parlour. Roger was stopped just in time from heading up the stairs.

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Hardy Windmillers outside
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Softies inside
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Special items for Andrew usefully on sale

Then it was head down once again as we battled our way to Baldock, thinking of how wonderful the return leg would be, and so it proved to be. Heading up the hill out of Baldock towards Wallington was a dream with the wind behind and we were soon stopping outside George Orwell’s cottage honking away like the characters from Animal farm.

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Who’s who amongst the pigs in Wallington? Decide amongst yourselves:
  • Old Major (Vernon?)– An aged prize Middle White boar provides the inspiration that fuels the rebellion. He is an allegorical combination of Karl Marx, one of the creators of communism, and Vladimir Lenin, the communist leader of the Russian Revolution (claimed by Martin as he rides a Revolution bike) and the early Soviet nation, in that he draws up the principles of the revolution. His skull being put on revered public display recalls Lenin.
  • Napoleon – “A large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way”.[16] An allegory of Joseph Stalin,[15] Napoleon is the main villain of Animal Farm.
  • Snowball – Napoleon’s rival and original head of the farm after Jones’ overthrow. His life parallels that of Leon Trotsky,[15] but may also combine elements from Lenin.[17][c]
  • Squealer – A small, white, fat porker who serves as Napoleon’s second-in-command and minister of propaganda, holding a position similar to that of Vyacheslav Molotov.[15]
  • Minimus (definitely Lawrence) – A poetic pig who writes the second and third national anthems of Animal Farm after the singing of “Beasts of England” is banned. Rodden compares him to the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.[18]
  • The piglets – Hinted to be the children of Napoleon and are the first generation of animals subjugated to his idea of animal inequality.
  • The young pigs – Four pigs who complain about Napoleon’s takeover of the farm but are quickly silenced and later executed, the first animals killed in Napoleon’s farm purge. Likely based on the Great Purge of Grigori ZinovievLev KamenevNikolai Bukharin, and Alexei Rykov.
  • Pinkeye – A minor pig who is mentioned only once; he is the pig that tastes Napoleon’s food to make sure it is not poisoned, in response to rumours about an assassination attempt on Napoleon

With thanks to Wikipedia.

Continuing on through Sandon and Kelshall it wasn’t long before all were back at The Fox and Duck and considerably warmer than when setting off, having enjoyed an excellent ride.

Vernon and Roger happy to be back in Therfield

It was great to be joined by no-sticks Maurice, looking very fit and dapper, and Ken. After a hearty rendering of Happy Birthday to Vernon we sat down to an excellent lunch, washed down with some fine ales and drinks all of which were paid for by Vernon.  Cheers Vernon!

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Where’s Vernon?
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Here he is getting all fired up
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Not much left on birthday boy’s plate
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This is where we went.

Thanks go to Victor for planning a great ride and of course to our hardworking dawg Andrew for organising us all. We look forward to seeing Maurice on his bike agian in the not too distant future.

Martin

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