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12 May. Yellow ochre in Suffolk. 36 miles.

Cycling in Suffolk is always a treat – quiet lanes, beautiful countryside and pretty houses and cottages painted in hues of red, pink and white. But look closer and there’s a colour that seems to be all the rage at the moment – yellow ochre.

Setting off from The Plough at Rede after having ordered lunch over a cup of coffee, nine windmillers comprising Maurice, Howard, Roger, Simon, Graham, Alan, Rod, Nigel and Martin decided to cycle in one group to start with, but that only lasted until Foxearth when bits started falling off Martin’s bike.

Le grand depart from The Plough at Rede, on a fine Suffolk spring day

There’s so much to see in Suffolk that it’s difficult to keep one’s eye on the road, which is a bit dodgy these days as roads everywhere have more potholes than ever before and the Chancellor has nothing left in his kitty with which to mend them, partly due to the naughty MP for Newmarket spending millions on unused face masks and protective clothing supplied by his mates and which is now past its use-by date. (How can a face mask be past its use-by date? Ed.)

Maurice spotted a couple of hares having a bout of fisticuffs on the roof of a thatched cottage which prompted Graham and Roger to have a go at each other too, but in a more friendly fashion:

A substantial well proportioned property, probably once the property of a rich wool merchant

Foxearth came into view just as Martin thumped into a large unseen pothole which ejected his heavy water bottle out of its holder and onto the road where it was recovered by sweeper-up Alan and replaced with no damage done to bike or rider. Not long afterwards a smaller pothole then ejected Martin’s trusty old Garmin eTrex 30 which had given sterling service over the past 10 years but which ended up being tragically killed by two cars, both of whom ran over it. Once again, Alan came to the rescue but, sadly, the look on its face said it all:

Goodbye, Garmin. It’s been good knowing you.

Martin and sweeper-up Alan waiting to pick up the next bit to fall off Martin’s bike

The coffee stop was once again at Café Como in Brent Eleigh, south of Lavenham, where it was pleasant to sit outside in their nice garden and soak up the sun.

Avoiding the main road into Lavenham which from previous experience we decided was too busy and dangerous, Maurice took us on an Easterly loop around and back into Lavenham via Preston which was pleasantly quiet. In Brent Eleigh, another yellow ochre building was spotted, this time a very run down 15th / 16th property which had seen better days and in need of more than a slight touch of tlc.

Anyone fancy a bit of DIY?

Lavenham is a difficult place to ride through without stopping and so Martin and Alan eased up and sauntered gently down the High Street.

Spirit levels clearly hadn’t been invented when these houses were built

Looking up Lavenham’s High Street, with more yellow ochre on the left

Suffolk is famed for the colour of its houses and cottages but, in fact, this is a fairly recent phenomenon. Plain lime wash was the usual colour but there are reports of red ochre being used on barns in the 17th century, purportedly made with blood or with sloes. So yellow ochre turns out not to be particularly traditional but perhaps just faddish today.

A full coverage of the history of Suffolk decoration can be found here: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/Conservation/upload/ConservaionLeafletPainting.pdf

Cycling out of Lavenham past the impressive church is always a sight to behold, this time flying the Ukrainian flag on the top of its tower:

The magnificent church of St Peter and St Paul’s in Lavenham, flying the Ukrainian flag

It was at this point that the third item fell off Martin’s bike, this time a pedal toe clip but Alan was not around to pick it up as hunger had got the better of him. It was not a problem to re-fix it temporarily with a spare bolt and he was soon on his way again, as a very distant tail ender.

Hartest hill was descended for a change and what should be seen at the bottom but another yellow ochre cottage, plus the house in the featured photo above overlooking Hartest village green.

Looking up Hartest hill, with more evidence of yellow ochre on the right

A headwind made progress slow towards Hawkedon where it proved impossible to not stop and take a pic of another magnificent church, St Mary, sitting in a field of buttercups – the only church in Suffolk to be surrounded by green on all four sides.

St Mary’s Church in Hawkeden surrounded by buttercups

Lunch was in full swing back at The Plough by the time your correspondent arrived, happy at having sauntered through the lanes.

Lunch in full swing at The Plough

Thanks to Maurice for planning and organising the route and to Graham for some of the photos. Graham not only rode to Rede (that’s a mouthful), leaving at 6.30am but declined a lift back from Martin, clocking up an impressive 100 miles for the day. Well done, Graham. This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/4c58fc2c3d9051714176784f37ab1ef2

Martin

One reply on “12 May. Yellow ochre in Suffolk. 36 miles.”

Anyone reading the (not)painting instructions herein would avoid buying/restoring any very old property. Myself I think the search for ‘authenticity’ is a fool’s errand. I know someone who ‘asked for permission’ then found that their expensive, approved scheme contrasted with the battle ship grey utility box appended to the front elevation of the property. Utility companies are exempt from the rules you see. How odd, seem like different rules for those with some power. Also exempt are buildings for agriculture, hence ‘approved’ restored house next to corrugated asbestos barn/grain store.

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