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8 July. Colours to Dye for in Lavenham. 31 miles.

What a colourful ride in Suffolk this was! Colours galore and colourful Windmillers much in evidence, the ride being a repeat of 27 May but going clockwise this time. Some even learnt about the art of dyeing, for which Lavenham is famous.

Starting once again at the popular Plough in Rede, who welcomed us warmly and efficiently with excellent coffee at 9.00am, we pondered the extensive menu before placing our lunch orders and then split into two groups of seven Windmillers before heading east on the first leg towards Lavenham. One wag was heard to comment that the arrival order in the car park set a club record with Deborah being one of the first to arrive and Andrew the last, a reversal of what usually happens.

Preparing for le grand depart, dues having been collected by Maurice

Leading group A was Maurice with Rod, Howard, Brian, Graham, Roger and Lawrence in tow. Following on a few minutes later were the B team of Martin, Andrew, Charles, Geoff, Ken, Simon and Deborah but it wasn’t long before B caught up with A due to the lane being blocked by a large lorry.

Group A take evasive action

Suffolk houses and gardens are a joy to behold, none more so than this cottage and immaculate vegetable garden in the pretty village of Thorpe Morieux:

Andrew, Deborah and Simon admiring a Suffolk cottage garden in Thorpe Morieux
The lane to Thorpe Morieux church – worth a visit next time

Not long afterwards, group B could not resist getting up close to a couple of gigantic John Deere tractors, despite orders barked by Brigadier Charles to ‘get off my tractor’.

….whilst Simon got up closer still. Nothing he likes better than a chunk of agricultural metal.

Soon Lavenham came into view over the fields and it was great to revisit the National Trust Guildhall tearoom, part of the magnificent Guildhall featured above, and to sit in the courtyard garden devouring cakes and coffee.


Once one of the richest towns in England thanks to its leading role in the cloth trade, Lavenham is home to stories of great wealth built on the growth of the cloth industry.
The famous Lavenham blue cloth was an expensive and sought-after material, highly prized and exported to the farthest corners of the world nearly 500 years ago.
This is a woad plant in the garden behind the Guildhall. Woad plants may produce bright yellow flowers, but once the plant leaves have gone through a process to turn them into a dye, the fleece starts to turn a permanent shade of blue.
This is a dyed in the wool Windmiller

The perfect weather continued during the return leg to Rede – not too hot and just a light wind. And the best bit was being able to descend Hartest Hill instead of labouring up it as we did on 27 May.

And of course an obligatory stop had to be made outside the impressive Church of St Mary in Hawkedon:

The Grade 1 listed St. Mary’s Church in Hawkedon is the only church in Suffolk to be positioned on the village green

Group B eventually arrived back at The Plough only a short while after Group A, despite Brian reporting quite a lot of competitive racing between Howard, Graham and Roger, with Howard just having the edge were it not for the occasional call of nature. He also reported no mishaps, no newsworthy thrills or spills, no near misses, punctures or dismounts. Likewise, group B and so the perfect ride ended with a perfect lunch at The Plough.

Thanks to Maurice and Andrew for organising us, everyone for taking part and to photographers Simon, Charles and Brian.

Martin

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