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30 September. Keep the flag flying! 32 miles.

Men of Essex were ticked off roundly it seems during World War 1 for not enlisting in their regiment, which had seen honours in Egypt, Gibraltar, the Battle of Waterloo and South Africa, amongst many other battles. So says the poster in The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting, as well as reminding women to do women’s work. Not only that, but women are reprimanded in another poster for excessive drinking and asked to leave the pub after having had ‘reasonable refreshment’. Meanwhile, the South Midland Divisional Cyclist Company was recruiting enthusiastic cyclists to ‘cycle for the King’ and pedal abroad somewhere having been given a free bike, uniform and clothing. Furthermore, having bad teeth was not deemed to be an issue. What a fab deal, except the cycling probably involved ferrying messages from trench to trench in the battlefields, for which task having bad teeth was a minor problem except, perhaps, for those on the receiving end of the messages.

These eclectic posters which adorn the walls of The Chestnut Tree provide a stark reminder of how lucky we are not to have fought in any world wars, although Charles has of course been in the thick of it during his Army career. Well done, Charles; we salute you. Fortunately, women are allowed to stay longer in pubs too, whether or not they have consumed a large amount of alcohol, and those fond of cycling like Windmillers can go where they like, when they like, except they have to pay for their own bike these days.

Thus ended a repeat of a ride to Finchingfield and back attended by Maurice, Graham, Ken, Victor, Alan, Rod, Brian, Jeremy, Howard, Roger, Simon and Martin. Charles was due to take part too but somehow or other he left his helmet at home and felt naked without one. (Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. So easily done. Ed.)

This is where we went:

It was a windy day and dry except for a few spots of rain whilst having coffee in Finchingfield.

A few old timers resting awhile in Finchingfield

Finchingfield is such a photogenic place that it’s no wonder the locals get a bit cheesed off at times with all the tourists. But it’s good business for the cafés and pubs.

The Parish Church of St Mary’s in West Wickham, dating from 1350, looking stark against an autumnal sky

Back at The Chestnut Tree we were joined for lunch by Suzanne, showing off her flashy new bike, and Geoff who had recovered from a back injury whilst weeding his garden – moral of the story, cycle don’t weed.

Suzanne’s new mile-eater – lifted with a little finger.

Yet another good lunch was consumed, washed down with some fine ales. How can one tire of such a place?

Thanks to Maurice for organising the ride, Graham for the gpx file and Brian for some of the photos.

Martin

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