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2 September. Record ride? 34 miles.

20 Windmillers cruised into Finchingfield in three separate groups to take over every available seat outside at Winners Tearoom on what could be a record ride for the Windmill Club. And Maurice joined us for lunch which made a total of 21. What an amazing turnout!

Assembling once again at the fabulous Chestnut Tree in West Wratting at 9.00am to have coffee and place lunch orders, the groups setting off included Andrew, Brian, Sandra, Ric, Charles, Ken, Victor, Roger, Rod, Graham, Alan, Jeremy, Howard, Mike, Tom, Lawrence, Jenni, Geoff, Simon and Martin. And to think we could so easily have several others join us, were it not for holidays, this says a lot for the club.

It was great to have Lawrence with us, borrowing one of Maurice’s e-bikes for the day, and at the end there were still five blobs left on the battery indicator, having completed the circuit in eco-mode. Mike joined us too but chose wisely not to accompany Graham to the start from Ickleton which would have meant riding via Finchingfield and having breakfast in Haverhill. Brian, Ric, Victor, Tom, Jeremy and Howard also rode from their homes, clocking up many more miles / km. Well done to everyone.

Here is the route taken, anticlockwise:

Winners coped well with the invasion and dished up excellent coffee and cakes with great efficiency. A feature of the ride were the extraordinary smells that surrounded us, not just of the coffee but those of the harvested countryside – a mixed fragrance of freshly combined and ploughed fields which nasal buds were still able to detect despite frequent lateral flow tests for some.

The first stop for Group B on the return leg had to be Finchingfield’s windmill:

The route then took us up a quiet lane to Helions Bumpstead, passing Jamie Oliver’s new abode on the way:

Jamie Oliver’s country pile with his iconic white Ford Capri in the foreground. No jokes, please, about Essex girls and Ford Capris!

Simon also came across a classic pile of rusty junk somewhere en route which took his fancy:

Parts of an old Ford Capri?

Meanwhile, Andrew made a stop in Castle Camps to admire this RAF war memorial:

Back at The Chestnut Tree, the beer flowed plentifully as thirsty and hungry Windmillers arrived for lunch. And once again we were not disappointed.

Maurice was still feeling a bit bashed and bruised from his accident last week but threatening to be back on his bike very soon. There’s no putting that man down.

Thanks to the team involved in planning the route – Howard in particular – and to Andrew for organising the record turnout. Also many thanks to photographers Charles, Brian, Graham and Simon.

Martin

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26 August. Pat’s pies ride. 31 miles.

Our thoughts today as we gathered for coffee at the Pig and Abbott in Abington Pigotts were with Lawrence and Simon O, both of whom will be having medical time out shortly. We wish them well for a good recovery and look forward to seeing them again as soon as possible. We also heard about a close shave which Maurice had the previous day whilst crossing the A1198 north of Royston on his bike when a passing motorist clipped his front wheel and knocked him off resulting in a few bruises, but it was great that he could join us for lunch relatively unscathed.

So eight Windmillers, Andrew, Ken, Roger, Charles, Alan, Simon, Howard and Martin set off on a pleasant anticlockwise circuit of Hertfordshire and South Cambs lanes before meeting up with Brian and Victor in Haslingfield who rode over from Shelford. Alan had set off from Great Chishill and Howard had ridden all the way from Saffron Walden, clocking up 70 miles in all. Well done to all those long distance types.

This is where we went:

It wasn’t long before Alan hollered that he had a puncture, just before Barrington, but it turned out to be a mini one which was conquered at regular intervals thereafter by means of his trusty pump.

In Haslingfield Brian and Victor were bemoaning the loss of the Moringa Tree café and its sausage rolls but were having a coffee instead at the nearby village shop, also destined for closure apparently. How will cyclists ever survive in this area in future?

On we went, taking a slight Maurice detour in Bourn as we did so, until another detour was made into what we thought was Bourn Golf Club for coffee until a chap with a yellow hat said it was a construction site for the new clubhouse. The old clubhouse was further down the road, where we pulled in for large slices of freshly made strawberry and cream sponge, but not an Americano or Cappucino in sight – just a bag of something that tasted frothy when stirred into hot water. Hopefully the new clubhouse will invest in a coffee machine.

Coffee time at Bourn. Nobody took up Andrew’s offer of a fry up.

The return leg was uneventful, except for the occasional pump up by Alan, and relief was expressed all round that we descended the 10% Croydon hill rather than going up it.

Back at the Pig and Abbott somewhat earlier than expected due to a relatively quick flattish ride, it was good to have Maurice join us to give graphic detail of the idiot driver who nearly mowed him down. The driver stopped and asked if he was ok but then drove off without giving his details so if anyone in the Royston area spots a black Vauxhall being driven at high speed, make a note of the number.

Pat’s pies were as good as ever, according to those that had them, and other menu choices were also excellent, washed down with fine ales. We shall be back on 4 November for Vernon’s memorial ride.

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route even though he was unable to take part, Andrew for his organisation and Charles, Simon and Brian for the photographs.

Martin

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5 August. A red herring in West Wratting. 34 miles.

A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important question. It may be either a logical fallacy or a literary device that leads readers or audiences toward a false conclusion. Wikipedia. It’s also a very good pint of bitter brewed by the award winning Mighty Oak brewery in Maldon, and weren’t we lucky to sample it at The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting after this rapid ride around Cambs and Suffolk lanes?

Graham ensuring he has enough calories for the ride ahead.

And a rapid ride it was, having first placed our orders for lunch at The Chestnut Tree and had a cup of coffee. But the coffee stop in Barrow at The Three Horseshoes was not so rapid as the coffee machine packed up after the first few had been dispensed, resulting in a long wait for a cup of instant for those at the back of the queue of 16 Windmillers. Blame the Chinese, said Charles, who spoke ecstacically of Danish machines but eventually, after pressing various buttons the machine starting behaving itself just as we were leaving.

The A team of Maurice, Simon, Jenni, Roger, Chris, Jeremy, Victor and Ric were first in the queue whilst the B team of Martin, Deborah, Charles, Alan, Graham, Hazel, Howard and Brian arrived 10 minutes later having stopped occasionally to admire the lovely freshly combined Suffolk countryside, and got the instant coffee as a result.

Maurice gets in early with his coffee orders…….
………..Hazel is happy to wait for hers

All changed in the team line up after coffee as Deborah was on a very tight schedule in order to get to Chelmsford by 1.30pm to view a wedding venue for her daughter and future son-in-law, who got engaged recently. Congratulations to them! There was much debate about how best to get to Chelmsford and the combined wisdom of Windmillers, which might well have resulted in Deborah getting hopelessly lost, actually enabled her to reach her destination bang on time. Much of this must have been due to Maurice switching to sport mode on his e-bike with his slightly depleted group (Victor and Ric joining team B, which was not considered a very good swap for losing Deborah!) keeping close behind.

Meanwhile, the now 9 members of team B set off also at a fast pace until it came to a sudden halt on hearing the word ‘Ouch’ screamed by Hazel who had been stung in a sensitive part of her nether region by something with a sting long enough to penetrate a layer of lycra. Luckily a gallant Windmiller (Alan?) came forward with some sting relief cream which seemed to ease her discomfort. Well done Hazel for managing this whilst surrounded by earnest and willing would-be helpers!

Back at The Chestnut Tree after a delightful ride through very quiet lanes but with a strong head wind on the last leg, we sat down at reserved tables in the garden to enjoy pints of Red Herring and other beers / drinks whilst eating fabulous sandwiches and other dishes, all delivered in such an efficient manner. The ham can be highly recommended, sourced from a Suffolk farm and cooked at the pub. It was great to be joined by Geoff who had done a ride starting from Balsham.

And this is where we went, anti-clockwise:

Many thanks to Maurice for planning the route, to Andrew who couldn’t make the ride but who organised us and to Graham and Charles for some of the photos.

Martin

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2 August. Barking mad tales of lost property. 20 miles.

Andrew regaled us on this ride with his stories of joining the ‘real’ Windmill Club whilst on a night out in London, and losing his wallet en route (not due to improper expenditure it should be stressed).

What happened was that he left his wallet at a BP Station whilst en route to the Silverstone Clasic in his brother-in-law’s Mercedes Benz 560SEC, once owned by Martin. One Windmill wag questioned whether there was anything in the wallet but Andrew claimed it contained £240 and they were not Scottish notes, plus credit cards. Luckily it was handed in at the BP Station who promised to return it, and it eventually arrived with nothing missing.

If that wasn’t enough hassle for one day, after a rollicking good night on the town Lindsey left her handbag in a London cab, a fancy handbag at that, which contained her mobile phone. Andrew eventually traced it to a house in Barking where the hung over SEC was directed to early on the Sunday morning in an attempt to retrieve it. And there on the drive was a Black cab and the phone could be heard ringing inside but despite Andrew barking in true dawggie fashion outside there was no answer. Eventually an upstairs window opened and the sleepy cab driver who hadn’t got home until 4.30am came out in his pyjamas and handed back Lindsey’s handbag. Phew! Relief all round in the Rusack family. Or just Barking mad?

These tales of woe were recounted at various stages of a pleasant 30 mile ride around the lanes which Maurice devised, somewhat cruelly, to take in hill after hill after hill after hill, starting with that nasty little bastardo going eastwards from Chrishall Grange.

Deborah spotted the words ‘mountain bike ride’ on the announcement and so came prepared only to find that this was not the case. Humble apologies were given by Maurice but, given the hills, the mountain bike was in its element.

So stops galore were needed to regain breath and hear the next instalment from Andrew.

At this stop on the road from Littlebury to Littlebury Green, Andrew is in full flow whilst Simon peers at Martin, also in full flow, having done a couple of somersaults after hopping over a gate to have a pee in the adjacent field, and landing in a deep ditch the other side of the gate. Much mirth all round.

Then it was on to Arkesden, Clavering, Langley Upper Green, Duddenhoe End and back to the starting point of The Red Cow for refreshments.

Thanks go as always to Maurice and Andrew for organising our rides, and to Charles for two of the pics – he is not guilty of the Windmill Club pic!

Martin

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15 July. Ego Borago, Guadia semper ago. 34 miles.

Translated from the Latin, means ‘I, Borage, bring always joys’ and that was certainly the case for 10 happy Windmillers who cruised around the lanes from West Wratting admiring the blue Borage fields and wondering why so many farmers are growing the crop this year. The joy of money perhaps?

Meeting at The Chestnut Tree for coffee before departure were Maurice, nursing a disjointed new knee, Andrew, birthday boy Ric, Simon, Victor, Brian, Howard, Suzanne, Tom and Martin.

Getting ready for the off whilst Maurice collects the dosh in the smart outdoor area of The Chestnut Tree

This is where we went looking for Borage, going clockwise:

The first stop was en route to Dullingham where we gathered under a threatening looking East Anglian sky, which proved to be harmless, and paid homage to Borage (photo above). Simon was joyfully happy to be photographed posing alone………….

………….as was Suzanne:

So Borage clearly has a joyful effect on Windmillers. Not surprising really because this is what Francis Bacon had to say about this ancient herb: ‘It hath an excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of dusky melancholie.’ And John Gerard said in his book Herball: ‘Those of our time do use the flowers in salads to exhilerate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the mind. The leaves and flowers of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadness, dullness and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirm. Syrup made of the flowers of Borage comfort the heart, purge melancholy and quiet the frantic and lunatic person. The leaves eaten raw engender good blood, especially in those that have been lately sick.’ So there you go; pick some and don’t just bung it in your gin and tonic but make a syrup and it will cure all ills whilst also putting a lid on your average lunatic Windmiller.

At the half way stage in Barrow we discovered a new pub The Three Horseshoes who opened up specially for us at 11.00am to serve good coffee, which was enjoyed in the pub garden, but the all important cakes were not on offer unfortuately. Opposite the pub was a fine garage, Kevin Williams, specialising in classic cars and we were somewhat surprised that neither Maurice nor Howard stepped inside to do a deal.

Maurice and Howard missed a great opportunity…………
But who would have wanted this one? Perhaps a member of the National Organisation of Beaters.

The return leg to West Wratting took us through more delightfully quiet Suffolk and Cambs lanes where GPX files came in very useful unless you happened to be on Maurice’s tail, who sped along at high speed even though he was recovering from a fall on his replacement knee – well done Maurice!

Back at The Chestnut Tree, birthday boy Ric very kindly bought the drinks and received a hearty rendering of Happy Birthday in return. Large helpings of food appeared from the kitchen and an excellent lunch was had by all.

Cheers, Ric!

Thanks once again to Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the route and to Brian and Andrew for some of the photos.

Martin

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12 July. The wettest, muckiest Windmill ride ever. 21 miles.

This says it all. Oh, forgot to mention Jeremy’s puncture.

Martin.

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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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5 July. Familiar lanes. 21 miles.

The Red Cow in Chrishall was once again the meeting place for seven Windmillers to spend a pleasant evening cruising around our quiet local lanes and admiring the countryside in all its splendour. We are so lucky to have this on our doorstep.

Maurice, Andrew, Charles, Suzanne (who rode all the way from Abington and back), Rod, Alan and Martin set off at 4.30pm and had an incident free ride taking in Heydon, Great Chishill, Nuthampsted, Anstey, Furneux Pelham, Brent Pelham, Lower Langley and Builden End before returning to The Red Cow for a drink and chips from the pulled pork van (which also offers excellent Alsace-style coleslaw with chunky bits of fermented white cabbage – go for it!).

Here is the route taken:

Thanks go, as always, to Maurice and Andrew for devising and organising the route.

Martin

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14 June. Ye olde Clavering Castle ride. 20 miles.

The site of Clavering Castle is reputed to be the oldest in England, according to the description on the information board overlooking the deep moat which would have surrounded it. Windmillers have ridden past the site on countless occasions without noticing it, hidden as it is behind trees and only accessible by a lane leading to the church or by a footpath, but on this ride a stop was made to soak up the history behind it.

Starting from The Red Cow in Chrishall, Maurice, Andrew, Lindsey, Lawrence, Charles, Deborah, Nick, Suzanne and Martin set off on a repeat of last Monday’s ride but in an anti-clockwise direction, taking to gravel tracks at times. This is where we went:

Maurice had warned of gravel tracks and, true to his word, it wasn’t long before we were ascending the lane from Builden End to Lower Langley, passing the Thames / North Sea watershed ditch on the way at the top of the ‘col’. We’re proud of our mountains around these ‘ere parts!

Then it was down to Brent Pelham, Violets Lane (thankfully free of water) and up to Washall Green where a stop was made for a natter as much as anything.

Stopping for a natter at Walshall Green

Not long afterwards it was time to stop and trek up through an unspoiled 1,000 year old meadow (photo above) to view the site of Clavering Castle – all except for Nick and Charles who nobly stayed back like knights of the castle to guard probably 10 grands worth of e-bikes and push-bikes. Thanks chaps!

Clavering Castle’s history, stretching back to pre-Norman conquest times. The castle had a sophisticated water management system which must have been the envy of surrounding landowners. There are no visible remains but there is still much to uncover.
Knights of the modern era – Andrew de Rusack and Lawrence de Vere Wragg – with Maurice the Conqueror looking on.

Continuing northwards via Arkesden on this warm summer’s evening, Maurice treated us to a ride up hill bastardo to Littlebury Green before taking to the gravel again through Elmdon woods and again through Chrishall woods before coming to rest back at The Red Cow, where he very kindly bought a round of drinks. Thanks Maurice! Somewhere along the route Nick left to return home to Meesden and Lawrence likewise to Fowlmere to get back in time for reading bedtime stories to his grand children. If we ask him nicely he might read us one too.

The Monday Pimp my Fish van was not in evidence but, instead, a French van selling delicious pulled pork, chips and the best coleslaw outside of Alsace kept the Woodheads fully nourished for two days.

Thanks again to Maurice for planning the route, Andrew for organising us and Deborah for sharing more photos of her student days in Leeds with the current leader of the Labour Party. Parties in Headingly have probably never been the same since.

Martin

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27 May. Pagan happenings in deepest Suffolk. 31 miles.

Simon was full of the joys of Spring on this ride through deepest Suffolk, resorting to Pagan displays of happiness at times which involved praying to the flowers (photo above), ritual dancing to celebrate the forthcoming summer and a special Pagan pose too for good measure:

Starting from The Plough in Rede, where Joyce and her staff made us feel very welcome with large helpings of coffee whilst we placed our lunch orders, we split into two teams with Maurice taking the A team of Rod, Roger, Charles, Suzanne, Deborah, Alan and Jeremy whilst Martin followed on with the B team of Simon, Brian, Lawrence, Graham, Mike, Hazel, Geoff and Victor.

Teams A & B preparing for departure

This is where we went, cruising through the most delightful countryside on a reasonably warm morning, waiting patiently for the sun to emerge:

The first village on the circuit was Hawkedon, which we rode through recently, with its church situated centrally on the village green and surrounded by quiet lanes – a spectacular sight when coming from the direction of Rede. This set the pattern for the rest of the ride as we passed through Hartest with its steep hill (the steepest in Suffolk with a maximum gradient of 12.6%), Lavenham, Thorpe Morieux, Bradfield St Clare, Sicklemere and Hawstead.

Team A chose to stop in Sicklemere for coffee whilst Team B took up Brian’s suggestion of coffee in the centre of Lavenham at the excellent National Trust Tea Room / Garden.

Cool dude Deborah with Rod, who looks remarkably like her friend Keir Starmer

By this stage, Mike was not feeling 100% having already ridden to the start with Graham and Hazel and so he took it easy with Graham on the remainder of the circuit but all arrived back at The Plough at about the same time thanks to puncture stops for both teams, Deborah suffering one for Team A whilst Brian got one in his back tyre shortly after thumping into a large pothole. But, boy were we impressed with Brian’s speedy repair – surely a Windmill Club record – not timed but it can’t have been more than 4 minutes. Well done, Brian – fancy giving the rest of us a few lessons?

Brian undertakes a speedy tube replacement whilst Geoff and Victor look on in awe

Meanwhile Charles in Team A had been busy snapping away as they moved through the Suffolk lanes:

Back at The Plough, those who stopped for lunch sat down inside a very pleasant dining room and enjoyed an excellent lunch washed down with drinks kindly provided by birthday boy Graham, who received a hearty rendering of Happy Birthday thanks to having choirmaster Lawrence with us and being joined by other pub customers too. We nearly brought the beams crashing down. Thanks Graham!

After lunch Hazel couldn’t resist chatting up the owner of a smart red Jag in the car park, alongside other iconic vehicles out for a spin.

Ton up kid Hazel in matching gear. She has probably done more than 5,051 km this year, and at Jag-like speeds too.

Many thanks to Maurice for organising the ride in all respects, in the absence of Andrew who was sunning himself in Scotland. All agreed that the ride was worth doing again in the opposite direction, with the benefit of descending Hartest Hill.

And thanks to Charles, Lawrence and Graham for supplying some of the photos.

Martin

PS. Just to confirm that of the money we have raised so far this year, we have already distributed £1,000 to Macmillan Nurses following the sale by Charles of the model boats given to the club and £200 to Jess at The Golden Fleece to support a breast cancer charity. Let’s hope that by the end of the year we beat last year’s record distribution.

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24 May Go-Go-Go then Stop -Stop 22 miles

by Alan Ferrie

Yes or No was the question poised to the Windmillers at 2:50 by Andrew on Monday afternoon. Andrew had spent the early afternoon studying meteorological websites and to be honest they did not look too promising for a dry ride. Not wishing a repeat of the previous Monday when a late call resulted in some cyclists not seeing the late cancellation and turning up. Andrew requested that the group made the call to go or not.

Within a few minutes of the question being poised there was a unanimous yes for the ride.

Andrew made the GO call at 3:15.

At 4:15 Andrew, Maurice, Deborah, Rod, Charles, Jeremy, Simon and Alan gathered at the Red Cow. It was clear from Windmillers dress that there was a range of opinion on what type of weather they might encounter.  Ranging from shorts and shirts to a full wet suit get up.

At 4:30 Andrew made another GO GO Go call this time in the style of the recently departed Murray Walker and off we went.

The route was a reverse of last weeks Monday ride  Great Chishill, Little Chishill, Langley Lower Green (by passing the Bull), Butts Green, Upper Langley, Duddenhoe End, Littlebury Green, Catmere End, and Elmdon.

The tail end of the group had gone less than 200 meters from the Red Cow car park when the first Stop call was made.

Jeremy had a front puncture. The front of the group had gone ahead but the stop call reached them before they had gone too far up the road.

This unplanned stopped allowed discussion among the front of the group as to what of type of pine tree was at the corner of Palmers Lane and Abrams Lane. Simon told us about the new technology in Android phones that enables users to photograph a plant and Google will find the name. As nobody had an Android phone we will have to wait for another day to find out what type of pine tree it is.

While the discussion on the local flora was taking place Jeremy set about fixing the puncture only to find that the replacement inner tube was also holed. Fortunately Deborah had another inner tube only for Charles to announce that it too was faulty. By this time Alan who had been in the front of the group came back to find out what the delay was, after all we are all seasoned cyclists who can change a tyre in less than 5 minutes!

A third inner tube was produced from Alan’s saddle bag, but before it could be fitted, it was found that the second inner tube was in fact fine. The fitter admitted that they had made made a technical error??

Charles in his wet suit , getting very hot not bothered but charming as ever as he fits the second inner tube.

Within a few minutes we were all off again.

Very soon afterwards very dark clouds appeared and it was clear that the rain which many of us had been tracking before we set off was coming our way. In fact looking around after the Little Chishill hill there appeared to be rain showers everywhere and especially in the direction we were heading.

As we passed through Lower Langley we were passed by a van and car who had obviously been taking tips from the local rally school as they felt the need to use both the road and verge to pass us by. The car narrowly missing a head on with another car coming round the corner.

Somehow either by clever route planning or just good luck we managed to miss most of the rain with only one shower cloud giving us a gentle wet kiss as we passed through Roast Green.

The rest of the ride was enjoyed by everyone in fine weather and with no more impatient drivers. We were about 2 miles from the end just before Elmdon when the second Stop call went up. Alan had a puncture in the rear tyre.

Only a single inner tube was required with Charles clearly demonstrated that his earlier error was a one off.

Rod and Charles stayed behind while the rest of the group sped off to the get the drinks in from the Red Cow and chips from Pimp My Fish.

Rod ,Charles and Alan arrived shortly after the others and enjoyed their well earned chips and beer.

Thanks to Maurice for planning another excellent ride and to Charles and Rod for helping with the punctures and to the weather for not drowning us.

Alan

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17 May. Go-or-no-go? 20 miles.

The BBC must have another Michael Fish on the staff. This time, not wishing to be blamed for cyclists being killed by massive hailstones on lockdown-easing day, the forecaster warned of terrible weather between the hours of 16.00 and 20.00 which resulted in Andrew calling a halt to the ride at 15.49. Good decision; safety has to be at the forefront of our planning but it was too late to prevent five Windmillers congregating at The Red Cow in preparation for a 16.30 start, a sixth who started early (Nick) and a seventh (Maurice the debt collector) who brought up the rear at breakneck speed to collect fivers from those ahead, making this an official ride after all.

But was it go-or-no-go at 16.30? The skies were clear, there was no wind and so Rod, Charles, Simon, Suzanne (who rode over from Abington getting a bit wet on the way) and Martin took the plunge and set off on what proved to be a delightful ride with not a hailstone to be felt let alone a drop of rain. That’s weather forecasting for you. Who would want the job?

The route took us via Elmdon, Strethall, Littlebury Green, Duddenhoe End, Langley Upper Green and Roast Green before conversation got around to The Bull at Langley Lower Green and how we had not been there for a while. And how good it was to sit outside in the warm sun and enjoy a good pint.

And then who should come along but Maurice, skidding to a halt to collect our fivers but sitting down to enjoy a pint of Southwold.

‘Your fivers or your life’. Debt collector Maurice skids to a halt at The Bull.

By this time it was already 5.30, when Andrew had suggested meeting at The Red Cow, and so Rod decided to call him to invite him over, but to no avail.

‘Andrew, come on over. We’re at The Bull’.

Time was passing and so instead of continuing on the intended route via Shaftenhoe End and Great Chishill, the decision was taken to take the short cut via Builden End where there was a splendid view of Chrishall at the col of the lane.

Watershed moment on the col of the lane leading to Builden End. At this point the water in the ditch to the left has to choose whether to head south to the River Stort and then to to Thames or north to the Cam and thence to the North Sea.

Back at The Red Cow there was time to devour some good chips from the Pimp My Fish van (can someone please explain how a fish is pimped?) and to sample some more fine ale.

We were sorry not to have Andrew with us and also sorry not to see Nick on our travels but luckily the weather was kind to all, except to Suzanne who got soaked in Duxford on the way back and Martin who also got soaked in Ickleton.

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route and Andrew for getting us to the start even though we were not meant to be there.

Martin

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13 May. Record ride? Not quite. 28 miles.

Maurice, Andrew, Roger, Ric, Chris, Brian, Alan, Tom, Deborah, Victor, Geoff, Alan, Charles, Howard, Suzanne, Nigel, Graham, Hazel (guest for the day) and Martin were expecting Lawrence to join them on this ride, which would have made a record turnout of 20 Windmillers. But poor Lawrence had torn a leg muscle whilst out running and so couldn’t make it at the last minute. Suzanne was suffering likewise but, fortunately in her case, she was able to cycle but not run.

It was great to welcome back Nigel who we hadn’t seen since the first lockdown – a sign that there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel provided it’s not an Indian train coming in the other direction. And Graham invited a fellow Ickletonian to join us for the day, Hazel Turton.

Hazel Turton, our guest for the day.

The starting point was The Fox and Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead where we were welcomed by the landlady and her staff at 9.00am for a civilised coffee and the placing of lunch orders before setting off on a quiet, twisty- turny route through very minor lanes in North Essex – how does Maurice do it? The man’s a miracle.

This is where we went:

There seems to be always someone who is the centre of attention on a ride and this week it was the turn of Tom who arrived without his helmet (so easily done in the morning rush). Deborah came to the rescue (as often happens in these situations) and promptly whizzed off with Tom to a friend’s house to collect one. That made Tom, Deborah, Brian and Roger the last of three groups to set off, the first one being led by Maurice who shot off as usual at high speed and Martin leading the second group. But it wasn’t long before groups merged, demerged and even went different ways before all met up at Winners Café in Finchingfield for more coffee.

Tom’s second claim to fame was when he stopped to have a drink of water only to discover that when the bottle was squeezed it shattered into small pieces, smothering him with water in the process. He admitted later that the bottle could have been quite ancient and had been sitting in hot sun which could have made it brittle.

Tom with the remains of his shattered water bottle, and his borrowed helmet, whilst Roger looks beside himself with laughter.
St. John the Baptist church in Finchingfield, dating from the 14th Century. Given the dominant location of the building, it is thought the tower was used for both defensive purposes and for worship. There was once a spire but it was blown down during a gale in 1658 and never rebuilt. All that survives of it is the 15th century angelus bell, which is now in the cupola built in place of the spire atop the tower. We passed several other churches with large square towers which may have likewise been used to repel the enemy.
The Grade 1 Listed Guildhall in Finchingfield with its archway to the churchyard.

Winners Café did us proud as the horde of Windmillers descended on them like locusts, hoovering up cakes galore and drinking excellent coffee. Well done to the staff for handling such a large group with great efficiency.

It was only a short ride back to Steeple Bumpstead where excellent beer and a good lunch was devoured in the courtyard at the back of the pub, the drinks being very generously paid for by Mike whose birthday we celebrated in an out-of-tune style. If choirmaster Lawrence had been with us we might have achieved a better rendering of Happy Birthday. Room for improvement before the next birthday is celebrated, which seem to be coming fast and furious at present.

Cheers, MIke. Thanks for the drinks. Happy Birthday and congratulations on having the reaction time of an 18 year old (as opposed to the Ed. being ranked as an 81 year old). Keep on rowing (i.e. pulling oars, not arguing with your wife).

For those who rode to and from Steeple Bumpstead, Graham, Hazel and Ric, the weather changed dramatically after lunch resulting in a thorough drenching on the way back which was very unlucky for them.

Once again, thanks to Maurice for devising an excellent route, to Andrew for organising us and to all those who have contributed photographs. Keep ’em coming.

Martin (Ed.)

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10 May. Quality pics ride. 20 miles

By any standards, even the high ones set by Brian, we were fortunate to have with us on this ride three ace photographers – Jeremy, who took the one above, (having spurted ahead like a true professional to find a good vantage point), Charles, who took the photos of the puncture repair brigade, and the third photographer, responsible for the last photo in this blog, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Deborah arrived at The Red Cow in Chrishall with her bike already in disarray – a puncture in her front wheel and a brake that hardly worked but an army of helpers led by Alan set to work whilst others including Jenni and Martin whiled away the time playing footie in the car park.

Gallant Alan sorting out Deborah’s pre-ride puncture whilst Jenni gives advice
Injured Alan regretting his gallantry (or is he just giving the finger?)
Shiny Simon waiting patiently for the off

Eventually, together with Maurice, Andrew and Martin, all nine Windmillers set off on the same route as two weeks previously, but in a clockwise direction. This is where we went:

The weather was perfect – sunny, warm and a long, light evening to look forward to ahead to devour fish, chips, burritos, mushy peas or whatever else took people’s fancy from the Pimp my Fish van back at The Red Cow. And the fields were ablaze with oil seed rape, but no signs of course of Chinese or Japanese tourists who descend increasingly on the UK, in normal times, to admire our yellow fields.

Bluebells were also at their best, although a trip to Rickling Green is necessary to see Deborah’s favourite display where she reports they are better than ever this year.

Flower girls Jenni and Deborah stopping to admire the bluebells between Anstey and Nuthampstead

Cycling past Bridget Tarrington’s house in Nuthampstead it wasn’t long before another stop was made on the climb to Great Chishill where Jenni, Deborah and Maurice were like Chinese tourists admiring the field of oil seed rape stretching towards ‘our’ windmill:

Yet more yellow, with cowslips at their best too.

Meanwhile, the others had careered on ahead desperate for beer and to get first in the queue for Pimp my Fish at The Red Cow, where a warm welcome was received from the ever efficient staff. Hats off to them for being so well organised.

Towards the end of scoffing chips, and Jeremy tucking into a juicy cod burrito which risked ruining his smart bike jacket, there was much merriment as our anonymous photographer took a classy photo of Martin’s half pint of beer, worthy of Charles Eck the celebrated beer photographer………….

A view to behold of Martin’s beer!

And on that revealing note (ho-ho), the only thing left is to thank Maurice and Andrew for organising another great ride, and our photographers for their quality pics.

Martin

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29 April. Brass monkey weather in Suffolk. 28 miles.

As the saying goes, it was cold enough on this ride to freeze the balls off a brass monkey – a reference to cannon balls on a ship’s deck in case you were wondering, or so the myth goes. But this didn’t stop 19 Windmillers from venturing out on yet another mixed day of sunshine and icy cold April blasts, including hailstones at one stage. Amongst them were Alan and Martin who chose, and bitterly regretted, baring their legs whilst Simon wore just his familiar white shirt under his jacket and shivered his way around the Suffolk lanes.

Those more sensibly dressed were Maurice, Andrew, Ken, Howard, Charles, Roger, Lawrence, Brian, Rod, Geoff, Chris, Mike, Suzanne, Ric, Graham and Jeremy. Ric was already warmed up having ridden all the way from Harston.

Setting off in two groups from The Three Blackbirds, Maurice led the first group around lovely quiet Suffolk lanes on a route which included both familiar and new roads, followed by Martin’s group a few minutes later. This is where we went, clockwise:

Cycling past the posh, neat and tidy studs in Cheveley it wasn’t long before Dalham was reached where both groups stopped to look at the Lower Windmill, minus its sails. Presumably there was an Upper Windmill at some stage but there is no sign of one now.

Group A looking towards Dalham windmill, whilst Group B got a bit closer

On we went through picturesque villages being pelted with hailstones at times, which attack bare legs like shotgun pellets. Group A decided to have coffee at a Stradishall café outside the prison gates whilst Group B stopped at The Plough at Rede and enjoyed plentiful supplies of coffee in the back garden. So impressed were they that a return visit is planned for lunch when the weather allows. Just outside Rede is the highest point in Suffolk at a mountainous 131m.

Group A chilling out at Stradishall

By this time, Graham and Mike had caught up with Group B which then subdivided again to form Group C to keep numbers down and a slightly different route to Group A was taken through the lanes on the return leg.

Geoff, Suzanne and Andrew stopping to admire St Mary’s Church in Hawkedon, the only church in Suffolk to be situated on a village green. It is a Grade I listed building, and includes a painted panel depicting St Dorothy and a square font with carved panels thought to date from the 12th-century. Hawkedon means ‘hill of the hawks’, derived from the Old English hafoc meaning hawk, and dūn meaning hill.
Meanwhile Group A were happily admiring a junction with the A143

Back at The Three Blackbirds in Woodditton where everyone arrived at around the same time, unlike last week, warm clothes were donned by those who had them whilst blankets were dispensed to others as we sat in a wind tunnel to tuck into a good lunch, although some wished they had gone for dishes with larger portions. Some warmed up, others didn’t, not helped by the gas heater expiring but it was good to be back once again around tables in the time honoured fashion of The Windmill Club telling stories and swigging good beer, all paid for very generously by Howard whose birthday we celebrated. Cheers Howard!

But there was one person who never quite warmed up:

Simon still warming up after lunch. Lawrence doesn’t look too warm either.

Despite the cold, this was a great route and we look forward to exploring more Suffolk lanes soon. Thanks to Maurice for arranging it, Andrew for organising it and Brian, Charles and Suzanne for the photos.

Martin

PS. Congratulations to Graham for clocking up 3,000 miles to the end of April. And huge thanks to everyone for raising the magnificent sum of £3,405 to date, i.e. approx £1 for each of Graham’s miles. So if Graham does 9,000 miles for the year, will we make £9,000 and achieve two bullseyes?

Two arrows on red target - business concept Stock Photo - Alamy

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15 April. Glorious Suffolk ride. 35 miles.

How does Maurice do it? Yet again he comes up with a ride we haven’t done before, this time a glorious ride into deepest Suffolk using carefully researched farm tracks and lanes which produced quite a testing 35 miles, as can be seen from the elevation / gradient plot below, some hills approaching 10%.

Starting from The Fox & Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead, where Maurice had also arranged for coffee to be laid on at 9.00am, and riding in two groups, Maurice led the first group comprising Ken, Rod, Roger, Simon and Alan whilst Andrew, Howard, Brian, Deborah, Lawrence, Mike and Martin followed along about 10 minutes later. Geoff was due to set off too but unfortunately had left his battery behind at home and had to return to collect it, but caught up with the gang later on in Clare. (Don’t worry, Geoff, it happens to us all, having left my golf battery behind recently, with similar expletives expressed. Ed.)

After traversing the farm track successfully shortly after leaving Steeple Bumpstead and before reaching the A1307, a delightful lane led us through to the hamlet of Wixoe before emerging at Baythorne End, where group B stopped to admire a fine Georgian house with walls made from knapped flints, which must surely represent one of the finest houses of its type around, and definitely a labour of love.

Flint mansion at Baythorne End

The weather was perfect, the hedges were ablaze with blossom, leaves were emerging, cowslips were out, daffodils were having a last gasp whilst narcissi and tulips were taking over, the birds were singing, the pubs were open and Windmillers were again riding together in a group. What could be better? Up and down the hills we went passing more lovely Suffolk houses, cottages and churches including this fine looking example in the small hamlet of Fenstead End near Glemsford:

St. Mary’s Church, Fenstead End
Group B overlooking the River Glem, choosing not to go through the ford

After approx. 25 miles it was definitely time for a coffee stop and the café at the old railway station in Clare was our destination, which we had visited on previous occasions. Some queued patiently for coffee whilst others opted for their own refreshments but it was a pleasant place to relax and for both groups to meet up prior to the final leg back.

Group B ouside the old station at Clare
The railroad runs through the middle of the Grade 2 listed café
Clare Castle Country Park

Back at The Fox & Hounds a warm welcome was received from the landlady and her staff who looked after us well as we dined under cover in the courtyard garden. It was very good to be ending a ride in the traditional Windmill Club way.

Windmillers drinking and dining in style

Thanks again to Maurice for planning a superb route and to Andrew our organiser who, nevertheless, had to confess his cardinal sins to the Rev’d Holey Moley before setting off on the ride.

Andrew confessing his sins to the Rev’d Holey Moley

Martin

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12 April. Pubs open. 22 miles.

A welcome bonus for the Windmill Club when lockdowns are eased is that changes tend to take place on Mondays, which gives us an extra reason to celebrate. This ride was no exception with the wonderful bonus of pubs opening again, albeit outside, with no requirement to eat a Scotch egg or any other substantial meal, plus the ability to ride in groups larger than six should we wish to do so. So, The Red Cow in Chrishall exploded into life once again with people flocking in for a celebratory drink in the fresh air, warm at first but freezing cold as the evening wore on. The overflow car park was jammed, some customers making a special effort by arriving in their vintage cars. The Duke of Edinburgh would have loved it.

Maurice’s promise of chips after the ride was perhaps another reason why so many Windmillers turned out, but concern was expressed that the ‘Pimp my Fish’ van was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it had been held up or found more lucrative business elsewhere? Perhaps it would be in place and frying away at the end of the ride? Speculation was rife.

It was great to have Sandra with us again after a long absence, showing off her smart new van full of familiar equipment for shearing Alpacas and mowing lawns. Likewise, it was great to have Simon O join us and so together with Andrew, Charles, Deborah, Jenni, Nick, Simon T, Lawrence, Alan, Jeremy and Martin, that made 13 Windmillers in all who set off in two groups at 4.30 pm to navigate the local lanes in near perfect conditions.

This is where we went:

Another England, Scotland and Wales ride
Group B from the left: Simon O, Sandra, Deborah, Andrew, Nick, Charles, Jeremy and Jenni

Alas, ‘Pimp my Fish’ was nowhere to be seen on our return but that didn’t stop Windmillers ordering chips galore from the pub’s kitchen, served with natty tubs of mayo and tomato sauce and washing them down with some fine ales and soft drinks. Andrew had told us of his success stripping down some grubby brass window handles by soaking them in tomato sauce, which put many off from ever touching the stuff again.

1958 Ausin-Healey 100/6 BN4. Lot 215 in Historics Auctioneers auction on 18 May 2011. Expected price £25,000 – £30,000. Sold for £22,000. Now owned by a Red Cow customer.

(Now why did I sell my 1953 Austin-Healey 100/4 in 1967 for just £170? Ok, only 3 of its 4 cylinders were working but even so…….Ed.)

Knowing the cold air was about to descend most Windmillers donned warm jackets and, in Deborah’s case, a very smelly horsey jacket (or so she claimed whilst socially distanced), but this didn’t stop some getting very cold indeed as stories began to unfold, one involving a dead granny in Calais.

Celebrating the easing of lockdown, Windmiller-style

We were promised ‘Pimp my Fish’ would be back again next week (their chips are worth waiting for) and so we look forward to a repeat of the ride. Thanks go as usual to Maurice for planning the route and to Andrew for organising us.

Martin

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1 April. Three counties ride. 30 miles.

There were no fools out on this ride, just 17 wise Windmillers relishing the re-introduction of the rule of 6 and enjoying a change of scenery in South Cambs, North Essex and West Suffolk. Bartlow was the starting point for 13 Windmillers and 4 chose to start in Steeple Bumpstead, both villages having fine pubs which we hope to take advantage of in the near future. Andrew had made arrangements for parking to take place in the Three Hills car park in Bartlow which was very convenient.

This is where we went:

Andrew, Geoff, Victor, Lawrence, Deborah and Jenni went clockwise from Bartlow, most of them sticking together like peas in a pod the whole way, whilst Charles, Ken, Suzanne and Martin went AC before being caught up by speedsters Graham and Mike in Steeple Bumpstead. Maurice, Rod, Alan and Roger went AC from Steeple Bumpstead, which explains why they never saw the AC group from Bartlow. Such are the logistics of CAC rides.

Cruising from County to County, crossing borders at frequent intervals, and soaking up the scenery is what makes a Windmill ride such as this a real pleasure, particularly after such a long period of lockdown when we have been unable to travel very far from base. It will be good to revisit familiar places in farther parts of Essex, Herts, Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk in the coming weeks and to try out new routes too.

The half way point on a CAC ride for those starting from the same place is never one that can be predicted with any accuracy, but recently we seem to have found nice quiet spots such as the Wimpole ridge last week and, this week, a lane just outside Kedington, where Andrew can be seen above perching on a wall trying to make a phone call from his coffee flask.

Also perching on a wall, but rather wishing she hadn’t, was Jenni:

Jenni, captured by Graham (unintentionally we’re sure!)

Two groups of 6 Windmillers meeting up for a chat across the road did result in a bit of a traffic jam but luckily there were very few vehicles about – just a few stationary OpenReach vans. Martin took this opportunity to ask the men in question if their next job was to install fibre broadband in Ickleton, but the answer was no. They had never heard of the place.

Thoughts of coffee / refreshments started soon afterwards for the Bartlow AC crew who found a British Legion bench in Kedington to sit on and watch the passing traffic go by.

Martin, Ken and Suzanne having a coffee break in Kedington
Meanwhile, in Balsham, Howard looks as if he is having a serious meal of a Scotch Egg whilst a large slice of cake is seen next to Mike. No wonder they look so content.

In Little Thurlow there are some interesting properties. One is a thatched barn with what looks like a miniature bomber wedged in the thatch whilst the one-time grand building next door, a former school built in 1614, looks nearly derelict – a rare sight these days for such a historic property.

This distinctive brick building in Little Thurloe is The Olde School. It was established in 1614 by Sir Stephen Soame (at one time Lord Mayor of London) as a free school for the sons of local farmers who were to be taught English, Latin and Ciphering (that is, arithmetic) and then sent on if possible to Cambridge or Oxford. The ground floor, which was the schoolroom, is cunningly designed so that it was not possible to see out of the windows while sitting down! The garden has a wonderful display of aconites and snowdrops early in the year.
The aeroplane is a World War 2 thatched Short Stirling four engine heavy bomber. The first of the four engine heavies prior to the Lancaster and Halifax and the scourge of Nazi Germany. Its appearance on this barn roof in Little Thurlow is undoubtedly because of the nearby airfield at Wratting Common which flew the Stirling, along with its parent station at Stradishall (now HMP Highpoint). Many of the old war time buildings still remain at the site of the airfield including two large hangars and the local roads follow the course of the old runsways.

Cruising on towards Weston Colville and West Wratting, full of the joys of Spring, the Bartlow AC group enjoyed a final downhill, downwind very fast ride all the way back to the Three Hills, stopping only briefly to cross the busy A1307.

Thanks to Maurice for taking us farther afield on a lovely circuit, Andrew for his organisation and Charles, Graham and Suzanne for their photos, plus The Three Hills for the parking – we’ll see you soon.

Martin

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29 March. Summer arrives early. 22 miles.

It was only a week ago that Spring arrived but Summer came in hot pursuit and encouraged some Windmillers to bare their limbs on this ride and enjoy the sunshine whilst doing a repeat of last week’s ride around the lanes. Those taking part fully clothed were Maurice, Andrew, Rod, Nick, Suzanne and Graham, whilst those showing some their white bits were Deborah, Jenni, Simon, Alan, Charles and Martin. Correction: Rod and Graham claim they were baring their white bits too.

This was a day to celebrate not only the warm weather but also the first easing of lockdown since it was last imposed – Christmas was it? Whenever it was, it seems ages ago but hopefully there is now light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the train coming in the opposite direction. Rod had also taken advantage of golf courses being open again before coming out on the ride – very impressive given the ups and downs of Royston golf course. Well done Rod.

The rule of 6 was back in action too which enabled members to ride together like old times after meeting up and enjoy good conversation, much of which centred on the fish and chip van which was parked in the car park of The Red Cow in Chrishall and where Deborah, Jenni, Simon, Suzanne and Martin ended up to scoff some chips, washed down with a fine Italian white wine. The extra hour of daylight too was a great bonus. So all in all things are looking up!

Here are some of the meetings en route:

Suzanne, Jenni, Alan, Deborah and Andrew enjoying the afternoon sun and the longer day
Deborah spotted these cute Alpacas, waiting patiently perhaps for Sandra to arrive with her scissors. Sandra might use a different four letter word to describe them when they get angry.

Thanks go to Maurice and Andrew for organising the ride and to Charles for hosting the charity box. Thanks also to Charles and Deborah for some of the photos.

Martin

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25 March. Record ride day. 32 miles.

20 Windmillers! Phew, that’s a lot out all at once, a club record, but all perfectly legit thanks to our CAC system. Take a bow Maurice, Andrew, Rod, Lawrence, Deborah, Simon, Victor, Tom, Brian, Chris, Alan, Ken, Jeremy, Roger, Colin, Charles, Graham, Mike, Geoff and Martin. It would have been nice to have a group photo in front of Wimpole Hall but this will have to wait for normal times to return.

The ride was a repeat of last week’s circuit to Wimpole Hall, which proved to be about half way for most people resulting in many meetings on the multi-use trail above the Hall. The conditions were drier than last week and the views from the ridge towards Elmdon in the east and Sandon in the West were clearer.

Thriplow was still looking splendid as Deborah, Ken and Martin met up to start a clockwise route, joining up with Simon in Fowlmere to deposit fivers in the charity box, hosted once again by Lawrence. Thanks Lawrence! And thanks to Ken’s good sense of direction we found our way to Melbourn and then through Meldreth, Bassingbourn and quiet lanes towards Croydon before entering the gates of the Wimpole estate at the Arrington End, where it was considerably less muddy than last week.

The climb from the Arrington end is shorter but steeper than at the Hall end and who should we meet as we puffed and panted our way up the final slope but Maurice with a broad smile on his face. There was no stopping, just a gasped ‘Morning Maurice’ as we passed by, except for Ken who happily chose to dismount and have a chat whilst walking up.

‘Morning Maurice, morning Geoff’

Simon then led the way across the parkland towards a building that we had thought last week might have been an ice house. But, on getting closer, doubts began to be expressed as the building had a corrugated roof, yet it did appear to be buried around the base and surrounded by a clump of trees. Subsequent research indicates that there was indeed an ice house in the same vicinity, situated on Mill Mound, but it no longer exists.

Ice maiden Deborah and Jack Frost Simon outside what they hoped would be an ice house on the Wimpole Estate. The exact purpose of the building remains a mystery.

And then the meetings began, in quick succession:

Ken admiring the view towards Sandon from a coffee stop on the Wimpole ridge

The return leg for the clockwise crew who by this time had Andrew too amongst them, socially distanced of course, took us via Orwell and Barrington when conversation turned again to coffee and sausage rolls which meant only one thing – a stop at The Moringa Tree in Haslingfield, where there was a large gathering of other cyclists outside. Once again the coffee was excellent and the sausage rolls were to die for.

The view of All Saints’ Church, Haslingfield, from The Moringa Tree Café

Meanwhile, those gluttons for distance and coffee, Graham and Mike, were enjoying their coffee at the Hill View Farm Shop in Kneesworth and taking photos of local residents:

The only other wild life spotted it seems were these ‘wild’ Angora goats seen in Fowlmere by Jeremy:

Angora goats clearly have no table manners

Here’s a reminder of the route we took:

And so ended a perfect ride. Thanks to all for making it a record turnout and special thanks of course to Maurice and Andrew for their organisation and to all the photographers.

Martin