Categories
Essex Ridgewell

Fifteen go watermilling

Living up to our club name, we rarely pass a windmill without stopping for a photograph – and sometimes even a visit. We have, indeed, been known to stop and admire one of those rare delights, a tidal mill. But never to my knowledge had we visited a watermill . . . until today.

So it was that some fifteen Windmillers stopped off at Alderford Watermill in Sible Hedingham where Martin had arranged for us to have a guided tour.

Alderford Watermill, Sible Hedingham

We were shown around by Owen, one of the volunteers who maintains and keeps alive this wonderful piece of 18th century engineering. Owen explained how parts of the present mill date from around 1720 when it would have been operated by a miller and one assistant producing coarse wholemeal flour. Over the years new power sources – steam, then oil, and finally electricity – were adopted to boost output and reduce the dependency upon river flow.

Owen’s guided tour

The mill finally stopped turning in 1957 and from then on the building was used for grain storage. Now owned by Essex County Council it is lovingly maintained (and continually restored!) by Owen and his fellow volunteers, the Friends of Alderford Mill.

Earlier at the White Horse, Ridgewell, fourteen Windmillers had gathered for our regular Thursday ride. We should have been fifteen but Simon was missing. We are used to losing him during, but not before, a ride and a quick phone call established that the poor chap had mixed up the meeting point with the ride destination. Yes, he was at The Blue Egg. We hung around until Simon eventually, and somewhat sheepishly, rolled into the car park. Now we were fifteen – and all off to, yes, The Blue Egg.

Simon heads back to the Blue Egg
Chris, Sandra, Maurice, Howard and Alan near Gibraltar Mill, Great Bardfield
Coffee and cake at The Blue Egg

As ever, Maurice had chosen a wonderful route; 32 miles on quiet lanes and in perfect spring weather.

For the record the turnout was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Chris, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Howard, Ken, Martin, Maurice, Nigel, Sandra and Simon.

Thanks are due to: Maurice and Andrew for planning the day; birthday boy Charles for buying the beers; Martin for arranging the mill tour; and Owen for his excellent guided tour of the mill.

Millwrights Simon, Hazel, Charles, Andrew, Martin, Chris and Geoff
Simon putting his neck on the line
Simon again, this time wielding a millers thingummyjig
Charles – what on earth is he doing? – and Hazel
32 miles anticlockwise from Ridgewell
Back to the White Horse for lunch. Cheers!
Categories
Essex

Poppies & Poo

Whenever we passed The Cock Inn at Henham, John Bagrie would go missing, which was a pretty sure sign that the landlord kept a good cellar. So it was high time we tried the place for lunch – and it didn’t disappoint. The food was good, and the beer, generously bought by Birthday Boy Geoff, was good too.

Ten Windmillers – Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Maurice, Ric, Roger, Simon and Victor – had set out some three hours earlier from Henham bound for Broxted and all points east. Returning to the pub after an excellent ride, we were hungry, thirsty and – despite the dire weather forecast – thankfully dry.

Stopping midway at Finchingfield, we had enjoyed coffee and cake overlooking the green before returning via Thaxted, where we were delighted to see Ken and Suzanne waiting to join us for the final leg.

As ever, Maurice had devised a lovely route; the Essex lanes were traffic free and the roadsides seemingly ablaze with poppies.

And the poo? Well there was a pile of manure on the roadside in Stanbrook and Simon couldn’t resist the temptation to squat and pose for a photograph.

That’ll take two flushes, Simon

Thanks go to Maurice for the route, Andrew for logistics, Charles, Simon and Graham for photographs – and Geoff for the beer.

Brian

29 miles: Henham – Broxted – Thaxted – Great Bardfield – Finchingfield – Little Sampford – Thaxted – Cutlers Green – Henham
Categories
Essex

Chillin’ at Poppy’s Barn

Thursday morning saw sixteen Windmillers turn out for a tour of north west Essex, joining the circuit at whichever point was closest to home – some solo, some in pairs – some going clockwise, others anticlockwise – on a route taking in Saffron Walden, Widdington, Rickling, Stocking Pelham, Langley Upper Green – and Littlebury Green, where Simon hosted refreshments and the charity box.

Undaunted by Martin’s warning that much of the county was under water – we did indeed have to negotiate the odd flooded road – somehow we all got through without dismounting and wading.

Howard in particular had a memorable outing, pausing as he did to assist a stranded motorist. Not only had she a flat tyre, but hers was a vehicle equipped with a can of tyre repair sealant instead of a spare wheel. Howard did his best but only succeeded in getting the tyre semi-inflated. Thanking him profusely the lady drove off, only for Howard to encounter her – again with a flat tyre – a short distance down the road. It was time for her to call her family.

The 4th emergency service – the Windmill Club

Meanwhile, the day was turning out colder than forecast and we were looking forward to stopping off at Poppy’s Barn for coffee, sustenance and warmth. Alas, we had to sit outside and freeze as Geoff, Ken and Deborah had beaten us to it, arriving early and commandeering three separate tables (remember the rules; no household mixing!) Whereupon the proprietor, deciding she could not accommodate any more cyclists inside, asked the rest of us to sit outside. Humph! Neither did it help when Deborah gave us a jolly wave through the window as she tucked into her full English breakfast.

Deborah’s little snack
Deborah’s photo of us, taken from the warm interior of Poppy’s Barn

Suffering mild exposure, those of us finishing up at Simon’s were too chilled to consume cold beer and opted instead to stuff our fivers in the charity box and head for home. Poor old Victor and Brian, however, sustained punctures on the way home. Victor, making several stops to pump up his tyre, managed to get home without mending the puncture. No such luck for Brian, who found himself marooned on top of Coploe Hill with a totally flat tyre. Fortunately for him, Martin drove by on his way home, scooped him up and returned him to Great Shelford. Many thanks, Martin.

For the record, this week’s hardy bunch comprised Maurice, Andrew, Alan, Martin, Ken, Deborah, Geoff, Howard, Charles, Lawrence, Graham, Mike, Simon, Roger, Victor and Brian.

Simon reports the charity box yielded £120; well done, team! And thanks, as ever, Maurice and Andrew for organising it all.

Finally, we must just give a special mention to our two pals – Keith and Nigel – who, for various health related reasons, have been unable to join us for the past several months. We miss their company and look forward to them joining us again once things get back to normal in 2021.

August 2019: Nigel in yellow, Keith in red, their return keenly awaited as both owe us a birthday drink.