It seems every other alehouse we frequent is at the top of a bloody great hill, so The Crown at Hartest gets my vote for best pub, if only because it’s at the bottom of a steep hill; which is blissful indeed at the end of a 30 mile ride. The hospitality is pretty good too.
Deep in the Suffolk countryside, the villagers of Hartest claim there is no other town in the world of the same name. Their other claim to fame is the Hartest Stone a large boulder on the edge of the green, thought to have been placed on that spot in the early 18th century. Locals say the boulder turns over at the stroke of midnight and that sitting on it as the clock strikes twelve may bring you a wife or good fortune. I know which I’d prefer.
So it was that eleven Windmillers set out from The Crown in pursuit of Maurice who led us around some of the prettiest parts of Suffolk, taking in Glemsford, Brent Eleigh and Lavenham.
It was at Brent Eleigh that we made a long overdue return visit to Café Como for some excellent coffee and cake. It was here that Andrew went into recruitment mode and persuaded one of the patrons – Abi – to join us on a future ride. We look forward to seeing her in the near future.
Cresting Hartest Hill, we freewheeled back down to The Crown where Roger, top chap, bought us all beer. Happy Birthday, Roger.
For the record, the turnout was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deb, Graham, Jeremy, MartinB, Maurice, Roger and Simon. No punctures, nobody fell off, and we didn’t get wet. Hurrah!
Thanks Maurice; excellent route. Thanks, Andrew, for getting us all organised. And thanks, Roger, for the beer.
We’ve had our fair share of tumbles over the years, and of varying degrees of severity ranging from the mildest (witness: The Alan & Roger Tango and The Simon Roll) to the more serious Full Hazel, which required a visit to A&E. And to my knowledge, there’s only one Windmiller who ever broke bone, our dear departed friend, John Tarrington, though I hasten to say his final departure had nothing to do with his tumble.
So it came as a relief when Chris and Brian were seen to pick themselves up having quite independently come to grief on the same patch of spilt diesel, just 50 yards short of our lunch venue, The Three Horseshoes in Stapleford. Happily, both riders, despite some bruises and torn cyclewear, responded well to treatment, ie a pint in the pub.
Tumbles aside, it was a good outing; Brian leading the way around a 30 mile circuit via Cambridge to Madingley Hall and back. This was our first visit to the 16th century Hall, though not a propitious one, as we gave up waiting for coffee and cake, pressing on instead to Coton Orchard Garden Centre for some 21st century service.
In all, thirteen Windmillers – Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Chris, Deborah, Iain, Jenni, Martin B, Ric, Rod, Sandra and Victor – completed the ride and eleven of ’em didn’t fall off. And finally, we were delighted to see Maurice joining us for lunch.
Thursday morning saw another good turnout; sixteen Windmillers gathering at the Fox & Duck, Therfield, all well-wrapped against the cold – apart from Victor, who was in shorts. Crikey, Victor, it’s 3°C!
Rod’s route took us south from Therfield, with an early coffee stop just nine miles in at Ardeley – or at least that was the plan. Half of us did indeed stop there – but were bemused to see the other half sail by, seemingly oblivious to the prominent sign, ‘Farm Café & Coffee Shop’. You can only lead a horse to water,eh?
They did eventually find a café, though it was 10 miles further, on Buntingford High Street.
Back at the pub, we were delighted to hear it was Martin B’s birthday – and he duly bought us all a beer. Happy Birthday, Martin!
For the record, the turnout was – Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Iain, Ken, Martin B, Maurice, Nigel, Rod, Roger, Sandra and Victor – and we clocked up 26 miles
Gathering in the car park on Thursday morning, there was an outbreak of jollity upon hearing that Martin – sadly in absentia – would be buying the beers at lunchtime. Top chap!
So it was that eleven Windmillers, led by Jeremy, set off from The Three Horseshoes in Stapleford heading for Wimpole. Along the way we pulled in at Barrington where we were joined by Alan.
The highlight of the ride was the 5 mile off-road trail around the Wimpole estate, taking in fine views of the 17th-century mansion, Gothic folly and Capability Brown landscape. The National Trust café was pretty good too and seemingly full of runners and other cyclists enjoying coffee and cake.
Back on the bikes we made short work of the return leg to the Three Horseshoes, where we promptly opened a tab in Martin’s name. Mid way through lunch we were surprised and delighted when the man himself joined us via a video call. There he was lunching with his family and raising a glass to us while we gave him a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday.
For the record, the turnout was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Jeremy, Ric, Rod, Roger, Sandra and Victor – and we clocked up 30 miles.
Thursday’s glorious blue skies were deceptive. With temperatures hovering around zero, we abandoned plans for a 30 miler, opting instead to meet up at Maurice’s mid-morning for a shorter ride of just 19 miles.
So it was that Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Chris, Jeremy, Ken, Rod, Roger, Sandra and Victor set out from Heath Farm, heading uphill to Barley and on to the Langleys.
Around the half way mark we pulled in at Poppy’s Barn and met up with Hazel, Graham and Ken for coffee and mince pies all round, except for Jeremy who had to feed his porridge addiction.
Back on the bikes, we rode the return leg via Meesden and Nuthampstead, returning to Maurice’s for mulled wine and yet more mince pies. And it was good to catch up with Geoff and Martin there too.
Thanks to Maurice and Lyn for their very generous hospitality; after such a cold ride, the mulled wine and mince pies went down a treat.
Thanks also to Andrew, Charles and Graham for the many photographs.
There’s really not much to report. 13 Windmillers cycled 31 miles – though Graham, as ever, did a lot more. Nobody fell off – and it wasn’t anybody’s birthday so, sadly, we all had to buy our own beer.
The only drama, albeit a mild one, was Roger’s puncture – but even that coincided with pulling in for a coffee break at Finchingfield, so no time was lost.
For the record, the turnout was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Iain, Ken, Rach, Roger, Sandra, Simon.
Thanks go to Andrew for getting everyone organised, and to Charles for the many photographs; there’s lots more here in the club album.
Graham’s plan to meet everyone over coffee in The Chestnut Tree took a knock when he sustained a puncture just outside West Wratting. So instead of warming himself with a hot drink in the pub, he was seen wrestling with tyre levers out in the garden.
Pesky puncture repaired, we set off towards Dullingham and Newmarket, thirteen Windmillers looking forward to Graham’s new route and enjoying our first dry ride in a month.
It was in Newmarket that Graham introduced us to a new (to us) café in the town centre, albeit one hidden away up a side street, called Victor Victoria. The coffee, cake and, according to Jeremy, the porridge too, were all top notch. We must make a return visit soon.
Before resuming our ride, we paused to look at the Memorial to Bill Tutte, 1917 – 2002. A Newmarket man, Tutte is commemorated for cracking the code used to communicate with the German navy during WW2.
Back on the bikes, we headed for Moulton and thence Cheveley, Saxon Street and Kirtling – where we encountered the surprise of the day, a pair of emus peering at us through a wire fence.
Returning to the The Chestnut Tree having clocked up 32 miles and looking forward to a well deserved beer, we were warmly received by Landlords Peter and Rachel – and delighted to be joined by Maurice, Martin and Ken for lunch.
For the record our peloton comprised: Alan, Brian, Charles, Chris, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Jeremy, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon and Victor
Thanks go to Graham for organising things, devising an excellent route and finding a really good venue for future coffee stops.
Earlier in the week we were saddened to hear of the sudden death of Mick Thompson who, alongside his wife Pat, ran the Pig & Abbot, one of our favourite lunch spots. Our thoughts are with Pat at this difficult time.
On behalf of the Windmillers, Maurice will be making a donation to Cancer Research UK, Pat’s chosen charity.
Into each life some rain must fall, so goes the song. But we’ve had more than our fair share of the stuff this past month and it’s becoming difficult to write a blog without tedious repetition of ‘stair rods’, ‘cats & dogs’, ‘drowned rats’, etc.
Yet here we were again; another wet Thursday and a tricky go / no go decision for Simon, this week’s ride leader. On the one hand he wanted to avoid getting everyone soaked and – it goes without saying – to keep us all safe. On the other hand he’d booked 18 people in for lunch at The Chequers. It was quite a dilemma.
Being a ballsy sort of guy, Simon confirmed he would be waiting patiently at the start – where he was delighted to be joined by a foolhardy foursome, namely Sandra, Graham, Jeremy and Brian.
Rather than meet in a rain-lashed pub car park, we got together a little further down the road at the excellent El Cafecito – where Graham was already enjoying a hearty breakfast – before steeling ourselves for the ride.
Of course, once we got going there developed a sort of all-in-this together camaderie – resilience in adversity and all that – and before we knew it, sixteen miles had gone and we were pulling in at National Trust Wimpole for coffee.
Refreshed (and quietly leaving behind us five sodden NT chairs), we took to the bikes once more for the return leg. It was only 11 miles but the rain was heavier and the puddles bigger. Indeed, Jeremy endured a complete soaking when a passing truck sent a tidal wave of water his way.
So it was with much relief that we tumbled back into the warm embrace of The Chequers where we were greeted with a cheer by our drier, more sensible friends. Sitting down with Andrew, Chris, Howard, Maurice, Rod and Roger, we enjoyed a well deserved lunch.
Our thanks go to Simon for instilling in us his gung-ho spirit of adventure.
The very next day, many of us were back at The Chequers raising a glass to our dear friend, Lawrence, having earlier attended his funeral at St Mary Magdelene’s Church, Ickleton. The service was memorable both for Windmiller Ken Worthing’s excellent eulogy and for the wonderful voices of the Cambridge University Musical Society Choir.
Very fittingly Maurice donated £1000 of our charity collection to the Arthur Rank Hospice where Lawrence spent his final weeks.
It was more of a steady drizzle than the stair rods of a couple of weeks ago, though the result was much the same; eleven soggy Windmillers drying out over a pint.
Ken had planned a 30-mile outing but, given the forecast, very wisely decided to put the start back an hour, knock ten miles off the thirty and, much to Deborah’s chagrin, ditch the coffee stop too.
So it was that an all-weather team comprising Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Ken, Rod, Roger, SimonT and Tom, having fuelled up on Landlady Pat’s coffee and biscuits, set off from the Pig & Abbot for a soggy Thursday outing.
It was one of those we’ve started so we’re jolly well going to finish it sort of rides, heads down into the rain, only interrupted by Brian sustaining an early puncture. But that was soon fixed and we were underway once more, completing the course at quite a lick.
Back at the pub we were delighted to be joined by Andrew, SimonO and Maurice who, two weeks on from his knee op, was looking very chipper, hobbling around with the help of a stick.
Just before sitting down to lunch we received news that Martin would be going into Addenbrookes for major surgery the very next day. Good Lord, Martin! We duly raised a glass and wished him well.
As ever, Pat served up her splendid pies in all their many varieties (steak & kidney being my personal favourite, Ed) and we looked on aghast as our legendary trencherman Charles went the whole hog, following up his pie with sticky toffee pudding and custard. He is such a skinny whippet, where does he put it all?
Thanks go to Ken for organising everything and for his doggedness in getting us all to turn out in such character building weather.
PS: We are glad to hear that Martin’s op went well and we look forward to seeing him back in the peloton soon. As Rod quipped, he is now a semi-colon publisher.
The weather forecast was a tad deceptive. Occasional showers? Humph, it was raining stair rods! Having waited in vain for a “Let’s call the whole thing off,” message from Andrew, ten Windmillers arrived in Henham hoping for a lull in the downpour.
Andrew had, quite understandably, been loath to cancel yet another outing from The Cock Inn, having already cancelled three in the past due to bad weather.
So there we were at 9.30, sipping coffee in the pub while the rain hammered down outside. Graham, having arrived on two wheels, was looking like a drowned rat and leaving puddles wherever he stood, while our remarkably understanding landlady trailed around after him with a mop.
Mulling over our options – it was still tipping it down outside – opinion was divided. The wimps – Andrew, Brian, Jeremy, Rod, Roger and Victor – formed a majority and just wanted to go home. But there was a gung-ho gang – Alan, Deborah, Graham and Sandra – gagging for a ride come hell or high water.
So it was that the wimps headed home while the gang of four stalwart, nay foolhardy, Windmillers headed out. And by all accounts they had a jolly time. The rain did eventually stop and they clocked up a respectable 19 miles on some very flooded roads.
Sandra? You betcha! With her capacious van, the Windmillers equivalent of Thunderbird 2, she can pick up and transport pretty much anything, anywhere. No job is too big – and we hear an HGV is available for exceptional loads.
This time it was Iain and his monster of an e-bike requiring salvage. It was only a puncture but, for want of a big spanner, we were unable to remove the rear wheel and effect a repair. More to the point, it was nearly pub-time and we were late for lunch!
So there was Sandra, already at the pub and enjoying some well earned refreshment, when she took the distress call from Brian, “Sorry, but please could you rescue Iain?”
“OK but where are you?” was her very reasonable response.
“Er, dunno. Suffolk somewhere.”
This was the first time we had cause to use what3words in anger – and it worked a treat – referencing our location (to the very square meter!) as prep.somewhere.extend and texting that to Sandra, lo and behold, some 20 minutes later there she was, scooping up Iain and his machine for safe delivery to the pub.
That aside, it was a very successful and enjoyable outing: Alan, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Howard, Iain, Ken, Roger and Sandra completing a 28 mile circuit, the highlight of which was a meander through the gardens of Clare Priory before stopping for coffee and cake at the nearby Platform One café.
Another good find was The Bell Inn at Castle Hedingham, a lovely old coaching inn full of wonky, period fittings and a perfect lunch venue for wonky, period Windmillers.
Thanks go to Maurice for researching a delightful route, Howard and Brian for leading the two groups, and Charles, Sandra and Alan for the photographs.
Spare a thought for Maurice next Thursday as he will be in hospital having some worn out parts replaced; our thoughts will be with him.
Finally, Windmillers, we recommend you install what3words on your phone – and maybe put Sandra on speed dial.
. . . that wasn’t arf a hilly ride” was the general consensus as we supped our pints at the end of Thursday’s ride. The day had kicked off with a stiff ascent to Therfield on top of Royston Heath – and from there on it seemed we were always either climbing or freewheeling back down.
Thirty two miles and umpteen hills later, we slaked our thirst while the pedallers amongst us mentally added ‘e-bike’ to our Christmas wishlist.
Nevertheless, we thanked Rod for devising a lovely route; traffic free and with some fine views across the Hertfordshire countryside.
Another revelation had been the Heath Café and Bar. Relatively local but little visited by the Windmillers – probably because it’s not a proper pub – we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and beer, not to mention the attentive service. Not only did they do a good breakfast but, come lunchtime, their venison ragu and Timothy Taylor’s bitter went down a treat.
It was another good turnout: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Jeremy, Keith, Ken, Nigel, Rod and Roger – with Maurice joining us for lunch. There would have been more riders but for yet another outbreak of covid and various other autumnal lurgies.
Thanks to Jeremy and Charles for the many photos, more of which can be seen here in the club album.
A sunny Thursday morning saw Jeremy leading twelve Windmillers away from the Three Horseshoes, Stapleford bound for Grantchester, Cambridge and Anglesey Abbey. Following Jeremy were Alan, Andrew, Brian, Chris, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Howard, Ken, Ric and Simon.
The outing soon developed an aeronautic theme; firstly when we paused at the end of Cambridge Airport runway and a Cessna flew low overhead as it came in to land.
Then on the return leg from Anglesey Abbey we pulled in at Bottisham Airfield Museum to admire the P-51 Mustang parked outside. Jason Webb, Chair of the Trustees, happened to be there and sensing our interest, gave us a quick tour. He explained how the airfield was taken over by the US Air Force during WW2 and saw P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs provide escorts for the allied bombing offensive as well as ground attack missions.
Stuffed full of WW2 history and interesting artefacts, the museum is well worth a visit. It’s open every Sunday, 10.30 to 4pm, is dog-friendly and we hear the coffee and cakes are good too.
Thanks go to Jeremy for planning the route and leading the the way. The off road section from Fulbourn along the Roman Road towards Cambridge was particularly pleasant and a novelty for most of us.
Later that same day, we were saddened to hear of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Windmillers would like to express their deepest condolences to the Royal Family.
Maurice recalls the time in 2005 when he and Lyn attended Windsor Castle for an Aston Martin drive-by. His DB6 was one of nearly 300 Aston Martins and Lagondas taking part in a St George’s Day parade, where they were met by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
The club website says we’re all about exploring the quieter lanes of East Anglia – to which we can now add . . . and the solar system.
Curiosity about Thursday’s ride had been piqued by Brian’s invitation saying we would be . . . visiting every planet in the solar system before stopping for refreshments at a pharmacy beyond Pluto. We thought he’d just had too much sun.
Come Thursday and there was indeed lots of sun – not only the usual one overhead but another one in the middle of Midsummer Common, Cambridge; as if we weren’t hot enough already, having cycled into town from Stapleford in the middle of a heatwave.
We were at the start of the Our Place in Space trail featuring scale models of the sun and planets recreated as contemporary art sculptures strung out along the River Cam and extending some five miles to Waterbeach (aka Pluto). Confused? Have a look at the pictures and you’ll get the general idea.
As for the pharmacy beyond Pluto, that turned out to be a café in Waterbeach called, well, Pharmacie.
Some Windmillers got quite carried away with their adventures in space. Rod and Victor experienced weightlessness, albeit fleetingly, as each was seen to fly from the saddle only to crash land somewhat painfully on planet earth.
Despite the immense distances covered, we got back to the Three Horseshoes in time for lunch and a few beers – and we were delighted to find Maurice waiting for us at the bar.
And for the record the space travellers were Alan, Brian, Charles, Chris, Deborah, Graham, Ken, Martin, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon, Tom and Victor. Back on planet earth we clocked up 28 miles.
Rest assured, next Thursday’s ride will be restricted to East Anglia.
Thursday morning saw the Windmillers gathering at one of their favourite watering holes, The Golden Fleece in Braughing. With some arriving on two wheels, others on four, soon there were a dozen cyclists milling around the car park, perusing menus, ordering lunches, applying suntan lotion and generally getting ready for the ride ahead.
And then we were off – Maurice leading the first group, Martin the second – heading for Puckeridge and thence Standon where, ignoring the Road Closed signs and taking the security guards by surprise, we skirted the Standon Calling festival venue. With the music kicking off tomorrow the organisers were busy putting the finishing touches to the site ahead of an expected 15,000 visitors and a line-up including Madness and the Sugar Babes.
The other highlight of our outing was the delightful 5 mile riverside ride along the towpath between Stanstead Abbotts and Hertford – which included our midway stop for coffee and cake at the excellent Ware Café.
Refreshed, we made short work of the return leg to Braughing, looking forward to a beer – courtesy of Ric, this week’s birthday boy – and a fine lunch at the Fleece.
For the record the turnout was: Brian, Howard, Jenni, Jeremy, Martin, Maurice, Nigel, Ric, Rod, Roger, Simon and Tom – and we clocked up just over 33 miles.
Thanks as ever to Maurice for planning the outing, to Martin for the many photographs, more of which you will find here in the club album, and to Ric for the beers. Happy birthday, old timer!
With so many of our pals away on holiday, Thursday’s peloton was a relatively small affair of just six Windmillers: Brian, Geoff, Howard, Ken, Maurice and Sandra.
Setting off from The Henny Swan – that’s in Henny Street, near Sudbury – it was only a few miles before we left the road to follow the old Stour Valley Line. Originally connecting the London to Cambridge and London to Colchester lines, the railway ran from Brian’s village of Shelford, South Cambs, to Marks Tey in Essex. Alas it closed in 1967, but its legacy is an excellent off road cycleway.
Leaving the trackway at Melford Country Park, we took to the roads again and headed east via Great Waldingfield to Kersey where, rather than visit the village, we carried on half a mile and pulled in at Kersey Mill for refreshment.
Back on the bikes we made the return leg via Stoke-by-Nayland, Bures and Lamarsh, arriving back at the Henny Swan for a slap up lunch in the garden.
To cap it all, Sandra – with her big birthday only days away – bought us all a beer. Cheers, Sandra, and many happy returns.
Thanks, Maurice, for planning and leading the way on such a delightful, traffic-free route.
It was one of those outings when we didn’t quite all manage to meet up. This week’s loose canon was Rod who, arriving late at the start, quite reasonably assumed the best way to intercept the peloton would be to set off in the opposite direction and catch us coming t’other way. Alas, we were not privy to Rod’s cunning plan.
So there we were, sipping coffee at Café 33, next door to HMP Highpoint, when there was a fleeting glimpse of a yellow and black-clad cyclist speeding past, but heading east.
“Was that, Rod?” asked Maurice.
“Can’t be – he’s going the wrong way,” replied Brian.
Back at West Wratting and checking our phones over a beer, we realised it had indeed been Rod we saw earlier. He did eventually return to the pub only to find most of us had had our lunch and gone home. And the poor guy also missed out on a free beer, courtesy of Geoff, this week’s birthday boy.
That aside, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Maurice, Ric, Victor – and even Rod – enjoyed a splendid, 30-odd mile outing in delightful Suffolk countryside.
And Rod did at least get back to West Wratting in time for a drink with Graham, who had dawdled over his beer, and Ken, who had driven over for a late lunch.
Thanks, as ever, to Maurice, for planning everything – and to Geoff for the beer.
PS We are always on the lookout for windmills, interesting old churches and the like. But did you know there was an ancient cattle pound right under our noses in West Wratting? Me neither. Ric and I stumbled upon it while riding back from Thursday’s outing. It’s not much to look at – and I can’t find anything about it on the web – but in the absence of a windmill it will have to do as this week’s curiosity piece.
This was always the highlight of the Windmill Club year but, thanks to the pandemic, we hadn’t ridden into London since April 2019. So it was with eager anticipation that we met up once again at the White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey, to cycle down the Lee Valley and reacquaint ourselves with the Thames riverside.
Ten Windmillers – Alan, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Howard, Jeremy, Maurice, Rod, Roger and Simon – set off down the towpath on a sunny Thursday morning, passing under the M25, heading south towards Enfield and Tottenham. As ever, there was plenty to see along the riverside – horses, herons and houseboats – while mindful of the need to duck under bridges, rattle over cobbles and generally keep an eye out for dogs, mooring spikes and oncoming cyclists.
After some 15 miles we left the towpath, Maurice leading the way, on a convoluted but traffic-free route to Royal Docks where we pulled in for coffee and cake at Caffé Fratelli.
From there we took the Emirates Skyline cable car to Greenwich. It’s a pity the future of this spectacular crossing – lofting us high over the river and affording fabulous views of the London skyline – is in doubt, as earlier this year Emirates announced they would not be renewing their sponsorship and would also close the adjacent Aviation Experience. Let’s hope Transport for London finds another sponsor soon.
Alighting on the south side, we followed the cycleway around the Greenwich peninsula to the Old Royal Naval College – pausing for the usual photograph with Nelson – and the Cutty Sark.
Then it was along the south bank via Deptford and Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge. It was here that we tangled with the only heavy traffic of the day but, forming a sizeable, if somewhat ragged peloton, we kept the taxis and trucks at bay until, reaching the north bank we turned eastwards into St Katherine Docks. It was time for lunch – at The Dickens Inn.
Revived by beer and pub nosh, we set off and wound our way through the historic lanes of Wapping and Shadwell to Limehouse Basin. From here we were waterside all the way back, along the Regent’s Canal, Hertford Union Canal and the final 12 miles back up the Lee Valley.
Arriving back at Waltham Abbey, it was with some surprise that we found Deborah and Rod were missing. How on earth can you get lost on the towpath? It turned out they had somehow diverted into a large industrial estate where they were not only accosted, but also roundly abused by an irate security guard. Glad to say, they eventually found their way back to endure some good-natured ribbing from the rest of us.
What a fantastic day! A huge thanks to Maurice for planning everything and leading the way.
Another Thursday – and the Windmillers had many reasons to be cheerful. Not only was it Ken’s birthday and he’d be buying us all coffee and cake, but it was also Graham’s birthday and he’d be buying the beers.
News had clearly got around as Keith chose this very day to return from a long medically enforced absence. And to cap it all, today was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, so the roads were likely to be quiet. We were counting our blessings!
So there was a general feeling of bonhomie in the air as twelve Windmillers set off from the Fleece. We should have been fourteen but Hazel and Graham had messaged to say they were still breakfasting in Puckeridge and would catch us up. Thursday outings are all about food.
This is fast becoming one of our favourite refreshment stops; not only for good coffee and fabulous cake – but also for frocks! Yes, indeed. Rach came away carrying a rather tastefully wrapped package which Maurice, ever the gent, offered to transport back to Braughing in his bike bag.
Rach subsequently sent us some pics of her purchase.
So, hitherto known for our appreciation of local eateries and alehouses, Windmill Club outings now also provide shopping opportunities. Maybe next week we’ll call in at Bluewater and, who knows, if Maurice gets a cargo bike1 we’ll do Ikea.
Oh, and we did a bit of cycling too, clocking up some 30 miles and with the peloton comprising: Alan, Ann, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Jeremy, Keith, Ken, Maurice, Rach, Roger, Sandra and Tom.
Our thanks go to Maurice, for yet another wonderful outing, and to Ken and Graham for the birthday treats; many happy returns both.
“Can you sleep in it?” enquired Deborah pointing to Sandra’s big shiny van, “and what’s in there anyway?” Whereupon Sandra, sliding back the door, pulled out an alpaca, albeit a large cuddly one. Talk about Aladdin’s cave.
Then there’s Ann and Martin who, for reasons best known to themselves, gave an impromptu rendition of “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do” during lunch. They only knew the chorus so we have helpfully included the complete lyrics below in the hope that they will give us the full version soon. The Windmillers are indeed an eccentric, some would say slightly mad, bunch.
So it was that thirteen Windmillers gathered at the Golden Fleece for a 30 mile jaunt around the lanes of East Herts; Ann, Brian, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Martin, Ric, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon and Victor raring to go on a figure of eight route devised by Maurice. And what a route it was, affording magnificent views across the Hertfordshire countryside, the roadsides abounding in May blossom. Views naturally only come with hill climbs, of which there were a fair few, so it was with some relief that we pulled up for a breather and some refreshment at the Brewery Tea Rooms in Walkern.
Set in a beautiful house, a former brewery to be precise, it serves excellent coffee and fabulous cakes, and we were very warmly received by the ladies who run the place. Why have we never been here before? We must return in the near future.
Back on the bikes we puffed our way around the remaining 18 miles, pausing occasionally for the pedallers to catch up with the electrically assisted. Cresting the final hill between Puckeridge and Braughing, we returned to the Golden Fleece looking forward to a beer.
Maurice, Ken and Andrew were there to greet us and, as ever, our hosts Pete and Jess served up an excellent lunch.
Thanks go to Maurice for devising yet another superb route, also Graham, Martin and Simon for the many photographs which are all available in the club photo album.
“Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” is a popular song written in 1892 by British songwriter Harry Dacre. It is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII.
There is a flower within my heart, Daisy, Daisy! Planted one day by a glancing dart, Planted by Daisy Bell! Whether she loves me or loves me not, Sometimes it’s hard to tell; Yet I am longing to share the lot Of beautiful Daisy Bell!
Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer, do! I’m half crazy, All for the love of you! It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage, But you’ll look sweet on the seat Of a bicycle built for two!
We will go “tandem” as man and wife, Daisy, Daisy! “Ped’ling” away down the road of life, I and my Daisy Bell! When the road’s dark we can both despise P’liceman and “lamps” as well; There are “bright lights” in the dazzling eyes Of beautiful Daisy Bell! (Chorus)
I will stand by you in “wheel” or woe, Daisy, Daisy! You’ll be the bell(e) which I’ll ring you know! Sweet little Daisy Bell! You’ll take the “lead” in each “trip” we take, Then if I don’t do well; I will permit you to use the brake, My beautiful Daisy Bell! (Chorus)