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Four cyclist and a Walker

24th April 2022 20 miles

The four cyclist Alan, Andrew, Charles and Nick departed from the Red Cow at the appointed hour. The actual number who were going to ride had fluctuated through out the day. We had thought about calling off the ride but as it was a nice day and it was the first ride after the clubs 11th birthday ride we decided to go ahead.

With Maurice being away the ride was led by Andrew.

The ride took us down and through Duxford, Hinxton, Ickleton, Littlebury Green, Elmdon and back up to the Red Cow at Chrishall.


The four riders

The ride passed without incident or really of anything of note until we were passing the meadow between Hinxton and Ickleton, then one of the cyclists spotted a familiar looking walker. Yes, it was Martin who, only a few hours before hand had dropped out of the ride, claiming he had a zoom meeting to attend.

Martin the walker, looking sheepish.

The cyclists greeted Martin with calls that he should be on his bike. Martin smiled back sheepishly, like a young lad having been caught doing something.

Friendly banter was exchanged with Martin over the river. After a few minutes (much to Martin’s relief) the cyclists headed off.

The ride passed without any further thing of note.

Thanks to Andrew for planning and leading the ride.

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21 April. 11th Birthday ride. 31 miles.

It is 11 years since The Windmill Club was established and we still have the dedicated support of founder Maurice, seen zooming onwards at a rate of knots in the photo above on this Birthday ride, and deputy-Dawg Andrew, who decided a rest was needed to smell the bluebells in woods near Nuthampstead. We are indeed very fortunate to have all the hard work taken away from us in terms of ride planning and organisation by those two stalwarts. Helmets off to both of them.

We were fortunate too in having perfect weather for this 11th Birthday ride. Seventeen Windmillers signed up for an outing around local lanes, ten starting from The Red Cow in Chrishall, where Andrew had done a special deal with Toby the landlord for lunch, and six from Ickleton which proved convenient for the gang from Shelford, Stapleford and Ickleton, generally known as the Ickleton mob. And the seventeenth, Deborah, joined for a late breakfast at Poppy’s Barn where we all stopped for coffee, at various times. More anon.

Those starting at The Red Cow were Maurice, Andrew, Geoff, Charles, Simon, Graham, Ric, Roger, Alan and Chris whilst those starting in Ickleton – Ken, Brian, Howard, Tom, Jeremy and Martin were put to work before setting off attempting to heave out the rest of Martin’s stubborn walnut tree stump, but to no avail despite Howard’s idea that a bit of leverage might help.

Howard, Tom, Martin, Ken and Jeremy couldn’t shift the tree stump despite a loud rendering of ‘Hooh! Aah! Hooh! Aah! That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9Ylio8H-VU (for those who want to sing along).

Having given up on the tree stump the Ickleton mob set off a bit earlier than expected and cruised up Coploe Hill with the wind behind to meet up with Ken who had made an earlier start. This meant that we were ahead of Maurice’s group and Andrew’s group and would be first in line for the coffee at Poppy’s Barn. Yippee! Little did we know what was going on behind us……… but Alan has very kindly supplied the details:

Group A or was it group B regrouped at the junction of Bastardo and the B1039. Just as we set off Maurice announced that he thought he had a puncture. How could this be the rest of the group were all thinking after all his bike was equipped with Schwalbe Marathon tyres which are claimed to be the most puncture resistant tyres on the market. 

Sure enough the front tyre was flat.

Never mind with Alan, Geoff, Maurice, Rod and Roger with our many years of experience we would soon have this sorted at a sprint.

Wheel removal

With the wheel and tube removed the next job was to get a new tube. Once the tyre had been checked for sharps, none were found but a cut was.  Maurice rummaged around in his saddle back (which we all know is a bit like Hermione’s bag in the Harry Potter film it contains everything you need, including a shot of port & brandy for medicinal purposes) and produced a tube of the correct size but also fitted with a Schrader valve. Unfortunately the hole in the wheel was for a Presto valve. No matter how hard we tried it was not going to fit. By this time group B or was it C arrived.

More experience arrives

More tubes where offered but they were either too big or too small.

Roger came to the rescue with some super patches. As it appeared all was under control some of the group resumed the ride leaving a few behind to carry on the repair.

The hole was soon identified, patched tyre and wheel fitted on we were on our way. The repair had taken over 15 minutes somewhat longer than the club record of just over 4 minutes.

The hill up to Arkesden was tackled but on the descent Maurice announced that the tyre had once more gone flat.

Puncture repair take 2

Examination of the tube showed that the super patches were not as super as they claimed to be.  Fortunately Charles had joined the group and as we would expect from ex-army personnel a tube of the correct size and valve was produced. It was fitted to the tyre and pumped and pumped but the tyre refused to inflate. Inspection showed the brand new tube had a faulty seal on the tyre. A second tube was produced fitted and pumped. This time it held its pressure and so we were soon on our way.

So the Schwalbe marathon was not fixed at a sprint but with a total time of over 35 minutes, it was a marathon repair.

The Ickleton mob got wind of this once Andrew’s Group C had arrived making us feel somewhat guilty that we hadn’t helped, but then too many cooks spoil the broth, don’t they? Eventually, and looking somewhat puncture-worn, Maurice’s group arrived and soon got stuck into excellent coffee and cakes at Poppy’s Barn.

The Ickleton mob looking deadly serious – planning thier next job?
Exhausted puncture repair team waiting for their coffee and cakes

Things improved after leaving Poppy’s Barn with no other incidents to report other than soaking in the smell of Spring all around and enjoying the sounds of nesting birds. Charles’s hi-tech camera snapped away happily every 3 seconds, just like a bird singing, until the battery ran out:

……….whilst Simon’s technique is reminiscent of the old days of 35mm film when each shot cost a few bob to produce and so each photo takes some time to create, but produces marvellous results:

Maurice’s route was a perfect combination of typical Monday rides to form a circuit of 31 miles taking in familiar villages such as Ickleton, Arkesden, Stickling Green, Langley Upper and Lower Greens, Brent Pelham, Anstey, Nuthampstead, Great Chishill and back to Chrishall. This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/211881c797da89ab45f3709d6d3add02

Entering Great Chishill, a once-in-a-lifetime event was taking place when a fork lift truck was seen carrying a recently cast bell towards the church entrance. But that was not all – the five original bells, four dating back to 1686 and the fifth made in 1841 – had all been renovated and delivered back the same morning, looking very smart on the path to the church door.

Note the mistake of the foundryman from Wightman Foundry who placed a G upside down on this bell

Back at The Red Cow it was good to be joined at lunch by Bridget, Ann and Hazel and we all tucked into fish and chips, chicken and ham pie, or a burger, all of which were pronounced excellent, and washed down with equally excellent ales, wines and soft drinks, all of which were kindly paid for by Tom who had just celebrated his 70th birthday. Cheers, Tom!

And so ended a marvellous birthday ride, but not without Maurice’s puncture incidents which must already place him in the running for the 2022 puncture prize at the Christmas lunch.

Thanks once again to Maurice and Andrew for their wonderful organization, to fellow blogger Alan for his report and to photographers Simon, Charles and Brian.

Martin

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11 April. Centurians on the Roman Road. 21 miles.

This was almost the reverse of last week’s ride when the tortoises decided to explore the Roman Road byway from Butts Green, near Poppy’s Barn, to Cooper’s End, primarily to get shelter from the wind. Maurice, being one of the hares on that ride, heard such good reports he decided to explore it for himself, this time as Centurian-in-Chief accompanied by his fellow Centurians Andrew, Alan, Charles, Victor, Graham and Martin.

Setting off from The Red Cow, it didn’t take long to reach Cooper’s End despite the long climb up Cogmore Hill to Duddenhoe End. The initial stretch of the Roman road is paved, not in cobblestones but in very smooth tarmac which Roman soldiers would have marvelled at. Quite how a dead-end country lane came to be given such treatment by Essex County Council is a mystery although a recently retired Tory MP, now a Baron in the House of Lords (who once repaid a £12,000 gardening bill he had claimed on Parliamentary expenses) just happens to live at Cooper’s End…………. (Enough of this tittle tattle. Ed.)

At Cosh Farm the smooth tarmac ends abruptly after which a decent surface of road planings continues, not in a dead straight line as shown on the OS map but instead wiggles its way over a ford and then down through the trees as far as Butts Green where it meets the Langley Upper Green – Clavering road. The course of the Roman road actually continues onwards towards Brent Pelham (but not on a public right of way) until it joins the lane we frequently cycle along between there and Meesden. Presumably it carried on towards Braughing and then joined Ermine Street which goes south to London and North to Godmanchester via Royston. Going north east from Cooper’s End would have taken it to Great Chesterford, a major Roman garrison town and where remains are still frequently found.

Windmill Centurians ready for battle

It was good to have Victor with us who was unfamiliar with the local lanes we use on Monday rides but soon appreciated why we like them so much. We are extraordinarily lucky in having such a peaceful and beautiful area to ride around.

It’s oil seed rape time, but no sign these days of Chinese or Japanese tourists who used to come in bus loads to see our yellow fields.

This time there was no road block between Violet’s Lane and Brent Pelham caused by sludge lorries queuing up to deposit their loads, as there was last time, and so we continued to cruise peacefully around until ascending the hills towards Great Chishill and thence to The Red Cow.

Maurice had arranged once again for chips to be available but with Alan having peeled off in Great Chishill and Graham and Andrew having to head for home, this left Maurice, Charles and Martin to scoff large helpings of chips and mayo, washed down with the usual excellent beers on offer.

And this is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/27fbebcaf035835908cb366c8d749be9

Thanks to our Centurian-in-Chief Maurice for planning the route and his deputy Andrew for organising us, plus Centurian Charles for some of the photos.

Martin

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7 April. Westerly Windy Windmillers in West Wratting, or WWWWW for short. 28 miles.

48mph or 48kph? Who really cares whether they were imperial or metric gusts of wind forecasted for this ride? Both are Force 8 + on ye olde Beaufort scale and that’s just how it turned out to be for 14 hardy Windmillers as they set out from The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting on a three county circuit of lanes in Cambs, Suffolk and Essex.

Deep in conversations whilst assembling for coffee and lunch ordering at The Chestnut Tree. But what are Simon and Ric talking about?

Maurice led the first group with Ric, Charles, Nigel, Deborah, Alan, Victor and Jeremy in tow, followed shortly afterwards by Andrew, Howard, Brian, Simon, Graham and Martin. The outward leg via Great Wratting was a dream with only the occasional sideways gust reminding us of what we had in store on the return leg.

Having passed St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Kedington on many occasions, it was decided to stop on this ride and take a look inside what is commonly known as ‘The Westminster Abbey of Suffolk’, and we were not disappointed. The interior pays homage to the Barnardiston family, from the nearby hamlet of the same name, and is brimming with tombs of early family members, some of which are covered in graffiti dating back to the 1700s. (Some more recent graffiti includes the word Debbie but we didn’t see Deborah scratching away whilst we were there.)

The interior showing the elaborate roof structure and the Barnardiston family’s private pew, where they must have felt like caged animals at times.
Non-caged Windmillers admiring the wall paintings and roof.
A highlight was this 9th century Saxon Cross in fantastic condition on the windowsill above the alter, which once stood in the churchyard.

Moving on, it wasn’t long before Tarka’s Café came into view at Baythorne End – always a good place to stop for excellent coffee and oversized cakes.

As Group B was leaving the café who should be seen returning but poor Deborah whose Group A had shot off at speed and not waited for her at the first junction. She was warmly welcomed into the fold of Group B who wouldn’t dream of such behaviour.

The first section of the return leg was quite well sheltered by trees and hedges and so it was only on the exposed parts that we felt the full force of the 48mph / 48kph gusts, most probably the former judging by the speed of the cloud shadows whipping across the fields towards us.

The worst part by far was the stretch between West Wickham and the turning to West Wratting where it was tough going even pedalling downhill.

This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/087f8bf646fde57ff428fc1217236473

All agreed back at the pub that it had been the windiest ever Windmill Club ride. But where was Sandra, someone was heard to say? She would have loved living up to her name of Storm Sandra.

It was great to have Geoff join us for lunch, which was brilliant as always. The Chestnut Tree never lets us down.

Thanks once again to Maurice and Andrew for their organisation and to Charles and Brian for some of the photos, more of which are on The Windmill Club site on Google. Thanks also to Jeremy for the WWWWW inspiration.

Martin

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4 April. Hares and tortoises. 20 Miles.

It didn’t matter whether you were a hare or a tortoise, there was a great selection of beers on tap at The Red Cow in Chrishall after the ride, and some great chips too, specially cooked for the six Windmillers on this ride around the lanes.

Maurice, Graham and Sandra (the hares), Andrew, Simon and Martin (the tortoises) all set off together at 4.00pm but the hares eventually charged ahead whilst the tortoises pootled along planning their forthcoming French ride, amongst other things, and how to avoid the strong wind on the return leg.

This was the planned route, taken by the hares:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/25e1cba6484da49cc78b8e384c3e3824

After a very pleasant anti-clockwise circuit via Great Chishill, Nuthampsted, Anstey, Brent Pelham and Starlings Green, the tortoises had other plans shortly after passing Poppy’s Barn when they decided to take the Roman Road byway to Coopers End, and to then rejoin the route at Duddenhoe End. Despite the recent rain this turned out to be a very pleasant route on a good surface of road planings but with a ford to cross at one point, so best done after a spell of dry weather.

Simon and Andrew admiring the primroses at Coopers End.

Back at The Red Cow, Graham peeled off, having been on the road for the best part of 4 hours, leaving the others to have a beer and tuck into the excellent chips.

Thanks, Maurice, for planning the ride and chips, and Andrew for getting us to the starting line. 4.00pm seems to be a popular time to start Monday rides and so we’re hoping for a good gathering on future Mondays now that the weather is improving. All we need now is less wind.

Martin

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24 March. Glorious spring non-Covid ride. 32 miles.

Essex put on its finest Spring clothes for 11 negative (so to speak) Windmillers who assembled at The Cock in Henham for a figure of 8 ride to Finchingfield and back. Covid was all around, with Simon unable to attend due to catching the dreaded lurgy, and Martin said a plague had descended on his house, thanks to snotty nosed grandchildren rushing about whilst currently residing in his house. He was positively negative but this didn’t stop Windmillers keeping a safe distance from him, understandably. And both Graham and Charles had reported large dollops of family / friends with Covid, which seems to indicate we’ll all follow in the pioneering footsteps of Brian and Roger sooner or later.

Having assembled to order lunch beforehand, Maurice led the way followed by Ric, Sandra, Nigel and Ken. Then a few minutes later, Andrew, Roger, Deborah, Howard, Jeremy and Martin set off at a more steady pace.

Determined to keep his distance from any would-be Covid carriers, or possibly wanting to compete with Charles for the 2022 sartorial sock award, Andrew donned some ferociously worded socks and produced a V sign to anyone who got close, particularly Martin.

No social distancing on the photographer’s part, nor by Jeremy.
Andrew’s Covid-precaution measure during coffee in Finchingfield

Maurice’s route took us through lovely quiet lanes where the early onset of Spring could be enjoyed – hedgerows bursting with growth, daffoldils everywhere, cherry blossom on show and even fields of oilseed rape starting to turn yellow. Maybe there’s a shock in store for all that foliage, not to mention the birds who seem hell bent on mating and building nests?

The obligatory stop to pay homage to Great Bardfield windmill
St Katherine’s Church in Little Bardfield, a jewel of a Grade 1 listed church tucked away down a lane and containing the newly-restored 1688 Renatus Harris organ, the most significant historic organ in Essex.
Cherry blossom in Great Bardfield

Andrew was socially distancing on the return leg, Martin was stopping to snap away and so various routes were taken on the way back. Andrew whizzed by the junction in Thaxted but realised his error and U-turned whilst Martin who followed on a few minutes later opted for a shorter route back to Henham and got there before the rest of the group, clocking up the shortest distance of the day of 29 miles. The longest ride of the day was achieved by Ric who cycled from Harston, clocking up around 70 miles in all. Well done Ric!

Tucking in at The Cock

Thanks as always to Maurice and Andrew for organising the ride.

Martin

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28 March. Axe and Compasses axed by fire. 20 miles.

News of the tragic fire which destroyed the Grade 2 listed Axe and Compasses pub in Arkesden began to circulate shortly after 11.45am on 27 March, just before 150 diners were due to celebrate Mother’s Day. Popular with Windmillers, both as a stopping point whilst on a ride and for meals with family and friends, the pub will be sorely missed by many people. The moussaka was legendary – how far do we have to go now to enjoy such good minced lamb, aubergines and tomatoes with a cheese sauce on top?

It was therefore appropriate for seven Windmillers to pay their respects, namely Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Simon, Charles, Graham and Martin, who started the ride at The Red Cow in Chrishall before passing through Arkesden.

Ten fire engines arrived from Saffron Walden, Newport and Stansted to tackle the blaze but were unable to save the building due to the rapid spread of the fire through a thatched roof. Only part of the building remained, on the right hand side, but this was severely damaged by water penetration. Our sympathies go to the Christou family who have run the pub for over 30 years, dishing up several tons of moussaka during that time.

Moving on through Clavering and Starlings Green it wasn’t long before we took a left down Violets Lane and through the remains of some thick mud before heading towards Brent Pelham, only to find our path blocked by a huge sludge lorry attempting to head towards us. Quite how he was planning to attempt the corner at Violets Lane, we didn’t stop to enquire but we managed to just squeeze past. All became clear when we then came across what must be a record jam of sludge lorries in Hertfordshire – not just one but seven in total!

Windmillers take the field edge by-pass to get round the sludge lorries. Luckily, not a car in sight.
Left or right of the lorry ahead? Decisions decisions.
Graham keeping his distance from a lorry load of sludge. William Gilder specialise in shifting nasty smelling stuff and were most probably connecting their lorries up to the pipe on the left to discharge bio-waste / slurry on to the adjacent field.

Writing about sludge brings back memories of an awful Limerick once heard about sewage:

There once was a man named McBride.
Who fell in the sewer and died.
The same day his brother
Fell in another,
And they were interred side by side.

(Love the last line!)

Back at The Red Cow, Andrew and Graham headed back home, Graham having been on the road since 2.00pm when he was spotted on Coploe Hill by Martin, who was tending his allotment. Graham was followed by Andrew, leaving the remaining five to have a drink and a laugh. And thanks to Charles for buying a round of drinks, and for some of the photos.

Thanks to Maurice as always for organising a pleasant route and Andrew for his organisation.

This is where we went:

Martin

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Spring is Sprung…..

……. And the grass is riz
(I wonder where the birdies is ?)

After last week’s abandonment due to the threatened bad weather and the waterlogged roads (which still didn’t deter three Windmillers from taking to their bikes and it certainly didn’t deter the many more that turned up at the Cock Inn for lunch ! – I digress), it was business as usual this week. Maurice had laid on gorgeous spring weather for a jaunt round the quiet lanes of Suffolk.

Maurice, Howard, Sandra, Simon (recently returned from Tenerife), Jeremy, Tom, Geoff, Victor, Alan, Sandra and Charles pitched up at the ever welcoming Plough at Rede for coffee and to place food orders.

Simon back from Tenerife and ready to take up the yoke.

Graham turned up a few minutes after the scheduled start time complaining about bike mechanical issues and relieved that the team had waited for him before heading off.

Pre ride coffee

The route passed mainly without incident except for Tom, cycling with the last group, who suffered a speedily repaired front wheel puncture on the normally traffic free road to Somerton.

Tom rapidly repairs his puncture

On this occasion we were passed by a couple of horse riders and a highly amused delivery driver who reported on having just passed our colleagues ahead, puffing and blowing loudly on Hartest Hill. To be fair, Hartest Hill is reputedly the steepest hill in Suffolk with sections of 12% gradient.

Hartest Hill

Easy riding from there to Lavenham, famous to all Harry Potter fans as the setting for Godric’s Hollow in the films. No coffee here, though. Instead it was back to the lanes with a gentle breeze now behind us in glorious sunshine to the Rushbrook Arms. Here the majority partook of coffees in the late morning warmth (only one taker for beer, who shall remain nameless).

Coffee in the Spring Sunshine

Alms houses, Hawstead

The last short delightful section took us back to Rede and a warm welcome for lunch and ales. Lets hope for more Spring days like this one.

..and here’s the route
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17 February. The lull between Dudley and Eunice. 26 – 31 miles.

Storms Dudley and Eunice had a truce on 17 February but Eunice was declared the victor after a ferocious attack on houses and trees the following day when record gusts of wind were recorded. Even so, the lull was still expected to produce winds of 38mph and so at the last minute the management decided to shorten the route. It was therefore most appropriate that we would be riding through:

The rivers were already full (that’s Barwick Ford in the featured photo above which some brave Windmillers often cycle through) and so there was potentially an interesting ride ahead, starting from The Golden Fleece in Braughing.

Fourteen Windmillers gathered together at 9.00am to place their orders for lunch before departing ahead of schedule, the last group leaving at 9.25am. Perhaps the thought of game stew and dumplings at lunch was already producing hunger pangs for some.

Maurice was the first to whizz off with his group A of 5 followed by Andrew’s group B of 4 and finally Brian’s group C of 5. The route was a clockwise circuit taking in Puckeridge, Barwick Ford, Ware, Hertford, Sacombe Park and back to Puckeridge, except for Martin and Graham who chose a longer route (or so they claimed) via Westmill, Buntingford and Hare Street to clock up 31 miles in all. (In fact, it was a major navigational error by Martin, having stopped to take the Nasty photo above, so he’s already in the running for the annual got lost award normally won by Simon).

Despite the change of plan, the lanes were pleasantly quiet and sheltered and so there really was a lull between storms Dudley and Eunice.

Hazel, Roger, Martin and Graham take the high road across Barwick Ford
Fanham’s Hall in Wareside brought back happy memories for Hazel who attended management training courses there whilst working for Sainsbury’s. It is an 18th-century Queen Anne House-style country house and is Grade II* listed, now operating as a hotel. The interior is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style with plasterwork by L A Turner and stained glass by Morris and Co. in the library. A former owner Lady Brocket had a keen interest in horticulture and influenced the employment of Japanese gardeners to create the Hall’s formal gardens. Her ornamental lakes and choice of trees (such as Japanese maples) can still be seen in the present-day formal grounds, as can the “Fuji-yama Mound” which was built with earth from the Hall’s lakes.[1]The garden is listed grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The grounds are open to the public and groups of visitors welcomed, even sweaty Windmillers some time in the future. Could be a good base for a ride or coffee stop?

Stopping for coffee in Ware was very pleasant, as usual, most choosing to sit inside to warm up a bit. Andrew was left out in the cold, however, on account of his Covid avoidance measures prior to departing on a cruise around the Caribbean.

The return leg was initially Cycle Route no. 61 along the towpath of the River Lee towards Hertford which is always a delight, but quite busy with pedestrians so care was needed.

Navigating through the meadows after Hertford Lock took some doing for Group C, and maybe the others too, due to the bridge towards Bengeo Hall being closed but a quick U-turn soon had the group heading in the right direction. Once out of Hertford the traffic eased and we were alone in Sacombe Park before heading to Dane End and Great Munden, where a pal of Maurice owns the village church. Maurice’s pals seem to own large chunks of Hertfordshire.

The Nasty experience was fine for everyone except Martin and Graham who arrived for lunch to find Group A had already finished and Group B were half way through. However, there was still plenty of game stew and dumplings left which was voted extremely good by those who had it.

Martin and Graham arriving slightly late for lunch
Empty plates in evidence for Group A (Hazel and Roger from Group C waiting patiently for their lunch to arrive)
We even had our own Court Jester to entertain us.

Thanks to the management team of Maurice and Andrew for organising and amending the ride to 26 miles at short notice (but only Martin and Graham achieved the usual 30 miles or so, unintentionally.) Thanks also to photographers, Brian, Charles and Deborah.

Martin

PS. This is what Eunice did to Martin’s beloved walnut tree the following day. Deborah and Jenni stopped by to take a look.

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10 February. Five star ride. 31 miles.

Unable to fill up with Five Star at Baythorn End, despite Andrew trying to squeeze the last drop from the pipe, this group didn’t give up. They tried yet again in Kedington but neither pump would oblige and so there was nothing for it but to keep pedalling into the wind on the return leg to West Wratting.

Ric and Victor tried their hardest but Five Star had run out here too

Setting out earlier after meeting at 9.00am for coffee at The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting and placing the all important lunch order, 15 Windmillers rode forth on an anticlockwise circuit of lanes in three Counties – Cambs., Essex and Suffolk – and what glorious lanes they were too. Maurice led the way for group A with Rod, Alan, Howard and Ken in tow, followed by Andrew leading Group B with Victor, Ric, Roger and Martin, and finally Brian leading Group C with Deborah, Graham, Geoff and Charles – five star riders in each group.

‘Now, what would you like to order for lunch, Sir? Sorry, haggis is off.’

This is where we went:

‘Hey! Wait for me.’

The weather was kind on the whole, a bit overcast but blue skies at times and, most importantly, dry. Not bad for early February. The coffee stop was at Baythorn End where we were greeted warmly, as usual, and served good coffee and cakes by the efficient staff – always worth the risk of being run over by a large lorry on the short stretch of the A1017 which is needed to get there.

The return leg took us around the north of Haverhill, thank the Lord, taking in the pretty village of Kedington with its rather ungainly looking church of St Peter and St Paul, but inside it houses a magnificent array of treasures:

The ungainly looking church of St Peter and St Paul in Kedington is one of the historical treasures of East Anglia, virtually untouched by the Victorians and stuffed full of fantastic monuments to the Barnardistons who were Lords of the Manor from 13th century until 1745.
There are many family box pews, the most elaborate being the manorial pew of the Barnardistons dating back to around 1610. This is why it is known as the Westminster Abbey of Suffolk. Must pop in the next time we’re passing.

Charles’s rear facing camera was busy clicking away and so it’s always best to be polite and keep a smile on one’s face whilst following him – clearly designed primarily to snap any offending motorist. We should all have one!

Back at The Chestnut Tree, big helpings of everything from Maurice’s favourite grilled salmon to ham, double egg and chips (with a field mushroom, but not sure where those come from this time of year), washed down with excellent ales, created a degree of contentment hard to equal anywhere.

Thanks again to Maurice and Andrew for organising another ride from The Chestnut Tree, to Charles for some of the photos and, of course, to everyone who took part.

Martin

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Tally Ho! 20 miles

The Tally Ho! in Barkway was the beginning and end of this ride for 9 Windmillers who set out around familiar lanes, at the later start time of 2.30pm which reflected the steadily longer days we now enjoy.

Maurice led the way followed by Alan, Charles, Graham (who all met up initially in Great Chishill, Nigel, Rod, Sandra, Jeremy and Martin. This is where we went:

Charles was in his element snapping away at every opportunity, and even has a rear facing camera to ensure there is no misbehaving going on behind him:

This was an uneventful, pleasant ride on quiet roads with only a Red Kite for company at one stage as it cruised alongside us urging us to speed up a bit. Could it have been the same bird that nicked a golf ball from the fairway of the 10th hole on Royston golf course recently, belonging to one of Rod’s friends, we wondered?

Charles and Alan peeled off at Barkway Golf Club leaving those stalwarts in the photo above to perch on stools in the Tally Ho! and swap stories in front of the roaring fire – a very good end to a very good ride.

Thanks to Maurice for planning the ride, absent Andrew for organising us and of course our photographer Charles.

Martin

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6 January. Nice icy ride. 29 miles.

What a difference a week can make to our English weather. No more balmy rides like last week; instead a 19° drop in temperature for Graham as he set out from Ickleton in -4°C at the unearthly hour of 7.30am in order to reach the start in Moulton by 9.30am. And the result? A frozen water bottle, as above, and probably other frozen bits as well. At least his face was well protected.

Meeting at The Packhorse Inn provided a chance of seeing that splendid sight of racehorses being exercised on Newmarket Heath in the crisp, frosty, sunny weather with steam pouring from the nostrils of both the horses and riders.

Image
If Graham got cold, how about these guys?

The Packhorse Inn staff provided good coffee whilst orders were being placed for lunch but it was still -1°C when Group A led by Maurice set off, followed by Andrew’s Group B and then Martin bringing up the rear with Group C – 15 Windmillers in all, the others being birthday-boy Victor, Alan, Brian, Rod, Sandra, Hazel, Tom, Ken, Roger, Howard and Deborah. Charles was to join us later for lunch along with Suzanne who cycled up from Abington with her son Peter.

This is where we went, the first hill out of Moulton being a warm-up bastardo:

There was some hesitancy about the conditions but, as it turned out, the roads were mainly open and dry with only a few icy patches which were easy to spot. The main problem was keeping warm but two layers around the extremities seemed to do the trick, not to mention the hills.

Maurice’s route took us through some lovely Suffolk lanes and rolling countryside with fine views. There were only a couple of his famous dead ends but at one point Andrew’s group was completely foxed as to whether to head up a no through road or continue on bike route no. 51. A phone call to Maurice and the appearence of Group C soon got them heading in the right direction. There’s a new book just published called Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way, which might make a good prize for the 2022 Not the Navigator award at the Christmas lunch.

More coffee was dispensed at The Plough in Rede, whose warm welcome filtered through to still-cold extremities for some but by the time we left the temperature had crept above freezing level.

Group C warming up with some old fashioned ploughing, led by birthday-boy Victor

The return leg took us through more villages including Dalham where a fascinating looking building was spotted next to the road.

Is it an ice house? Is it a large beehive? No, it’s a Georgian malting kiln in Dalham, 8 metres high with a diameter of about 4m at base and has a l metre diameter at the head. Once a common sight across Suffolk, malting kilns such as Dalham’s are now only to be found at two locations in this county. Not surprisingly therefore this kiln at Malt Kiln House now appears in the Register of Historic Buildings.

Groups B&C intermingled a bit on the way back, culminating with a fast descent down to the bridge at Moulton, said by a local dog walker to only take the weight of four people, for the traditional photo call:

Groups B & C pause awhile for a photo call. From the left, Andrew, Sandra, Howard, Tom, Victor, Graham, Hazel, Roger, Deborah.
The River Kennett at Moulton, not the river it once was

The Packhorse Inn did us proud at lunch, giving us exclusive use of a banquet-style dining room with a long table set out with a seating plan containing the names of those who were dining, or so it seemed. Who was Dedra, for example, and who was Morris? They weren’t members, surely? And Andy can’t surely be Andrew? But, yes, it was only a few misspelt names by the staff, and given his love of cars wouldn’t Maurice prefer to be called Morris from now on?

The room also provided us with the space to sing a hearty Happy Birthday to Victor, who very kindly bought the drinks. Thanks Victor! We look forward to more birthdays being celebrated during the year, with yours truly’s being next – so roll up, roll up for the 13th.

The seating plan:

It was surprising to see how popular beetroot and chips was, or beetroot and truffle chips in the case of Sandra who clearly has expensive tastes, but, for some, beetroot was just another name, for example, for spare rib of beef. But the kitchen seemed to get the message ok and the food was very tasty, albeit not terribly filling after a long ride (and yet another long ride home for Graham, accompanied by Suzanne as far as Abington).

Victor receiving a cheque from Morris, sorry Maurice, for £500 for Marie Curie

And here is the assembled gathering:

Thanks to Maurice for this memorably cold ride, to Andrew for organising us and to photographers, Hazel and Graham.

Martin

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What time to cycle?

Duxford 19.2 miles.

That was the question occupying the minds of the Windmill cycling group over the weekend of the 8th and 9th of January. We may have officially retired from work but with grand father duties, committee membership plus the many other things of everyday life getting a time to ride on Monday the 10th of January was proving problem After many what app messages a time of 12:30 was agreed which would allow Grandfather duties to be completed and if we rode fast meetings to be attended.

At the appointed time Alan, Andrew, Charles, Debra, Graham, Martin, Rod, Sandra and Victor met outside The Plough at Duxford.

Once agreeing that we should cycle as 2 groups we set of on route in a snake like fashion. However within a few miles we managed to sort ourselves into 2 groups.

Like the previous Monday in which the route seemed to encompassed every hill in the North Essex Hertfordshire boarder, which were many. The route took in all the hills in the South Cambrideshire area which were few. In fact there was only one hill of note on the planned route. That was Chapel hill at Haslingfield which is steep, but short

The route took in Whittlesford, Newton, Harston, Haslingfield, Barrington, Shepreth and Fowlmere.

There were no incidents of any note to report. In fact for a change the only wildlife of note which was identified by Sandra was a Fieldfare, and that was only its call.

I am glad to say with a combination of start time and cycle pace that we managed to accommodate most people for the ride.

Thanks to Martin for the route and to everybody who rode for another enjoyable ride.

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3 January. Masochistic start to the New Year. 21 miles.

Windmillers must love their hills. What else could be the reason for a record turnout on a winter Monday, given that a warning of hills had been announced beforehand? Or was it just an opportunity to slice a few inches off Christmas / New Year expanded waistlines? Probably not – Windmillers love expanding their waistlines.

So 12 masochistic Windmillers gathered at The Red Lion in Hinxton at 12.00 noon to climb 350 metres around local lanes. The first ride of the New Year included Maurice, Deborah, (New Year’s resolution – DDD – Don’t Dither Deborah), Ric, Rod, Ken, Sandra, Hazel, Charles, Alan, Geoff, Graham and Martin. The intention was to end at The Red Lion for refreshments but it had just closed for a fortnight and so, before setting off, orders for lunch were phoned through to The Plough in Duxford instead.

This is where we went:

The start and finish were the easy bits
It was great to have Hazel join us again after time off to rest a wounded knee

The first hill was a steep but short bastardo from Ickleton Grange on the poorly surfaced Cambridgeshire lane towards Strethall followed by a fast descent on smooth Essex tarmac and then a steady climb towards the M11 bridge above Littlebury and a fast descent into the village, where it is always satisfying to be exceeding 30mph as the speed sign is passed.

No need to reduce speed here with Maurice waving Windmillers safely across the Strethall crossroads before ascending the next hill towards Littlebury

Then it was back up towards Littlebury Green and down past the badgers to the B1039 where it was noted that two Windmillers, who shall remain nameless, took the easier route up to Duddenhoe End instead of the intended bastardo. There was only one climb left up to Chrishall, except for Ken who chose to peel off back to Ickleton via Elmdon, thus having to endure yet another steep hill before the descent to Ickleton. He must already be up for the Masochist of the Year award, unless yours truly is a candidate having planned the route.

Phew! The top of the final climb up to Chrishall

Alan and Charles also peeled off, having set out from their homes to begin with, and the remainder made their way back in relaxed style to The Plough in Duxford, where Ric set off back to Harston having clocked up the longest distance for the day. Others enjoyed an excellent lunch at The Plough where we received a warm welcome.

Thanks to Charles for some of the photos.

Martin

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30 December. Balmy last ride of the year. 31 miles.

Global warming? Bring it on is what one Windmiller who shall remain nameless was heard to say whilst pondering whether to go for bare knees or not on this exceptionally warm day for late December, with 15.5 C being recorded at one stage. All due, apparently, to a hot stream of air coming up from the Canaries and so perhaps Prof Simon, currently sunning himself there, had something to do with it, maybe with antique bellows knowing him.

Meeting at our Pub of the Year, The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting, was an opportunity for Maurice to present cheques to Deborah and Charles in respect of the charities they work for – £500 to the Samaritans and £250 for Pets as Therapy – as part of the overall distribution of £7,000 for 2021, a record sum in the history of The Windmill Club. Deborah and Charles are shown receiving their cheques in the above photo. This is an amazing feat during a time of on / off lockdowns due to Covid but wouldn’t it be good if we could match or better it in 2022? Thanks are due to all members for their great generosity in 2021.

Getting in a caffein fix before the start

Setting off after coffee and having ordered their lunches, Maurice led Group A with Andrew, Rod, Charles, Suzanne in tow whilst Martin was accompanied in Group B by Deborah, Jenni, Howard and Brian – 10 in total wanting to reduce their post-Christmas waistlines – although there was a fair amount of mixing and matching at times on the return leg.

The route took us through familiar lanes down to Finchingfield, passing Jamie Oliver’s smart new residence on the way, and back via Radwinter and Bartlow:

Although pleasantly balmy there was a strong head wind on the outward leg but a blissful tail wind to shunt us up the long climb from Bartlow to West Wratting (the second highest village in Cambridgeshire at the giddy height of 120m).

Our leaders, Maurice and Andrew, showing us the way – there or back? Not quite sure.

Not only were we starting from our pub of the year but we also stopped at our coffee stop of the year – Winners Tearoom in Finchingfield where, once again, we were given a warm welcome and enjoyed excellent coffee and cakes. This certificate was awarded to them in recognition of the service they provided to hungry and thirsty Windmillers in 2021:

Brian peeled off in Bartlow to head back for a lunch appointment and Andrew also couldn’t make lunch, leaving 8 Windmillers to enjoy another excellent meal at The Chestnut Tree, washed down with great beers and softdrinks.

Maurice with Rachel and Peter of The Chestnut Tree, winners of the The Windmill Pub of the Year

And here endeth the year. That was the year that was, it’s over let it go and let’s look forward to a Covid-free New Year.

Huge thanks, once again, to Maurice and Andrew for organising our rides and the all important hospitality venues that go with them. We are lucky to have them. Keep it up, chaps, you’re doing a good job!

Martin

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20 December. Nearing the End with the Ends. Ho ho. 20 miles.

It was the last ride before Christmas and we half expected to see a fat, white-bearded, jolly old man in a red suit, who normally lives at the North Pole, screeching round a bend towards us on a sleigh, full of presents and pulled by galloping reindeer, for delivery to children in Uttlesford and South Cambridgeshire. It wasn’t to be but we did have our very own Father Christmas look-a-like with us, Graham.

Graham in go-faster Christmas jumper mode

Maurice had a special purpose in mind for this ride – to call in at Simon and Ollie’s house in Elmdon and to present a cheque for £1,000 to Simon for sending on to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust in recognition of the treatment that both he and Lawrence had received recently.

Starting once again at noon from The Red Lion in Hinxton, Maurice was accompanied by Andrew, Ken, Ann, Rod, Graham, Alan and Martin on an anti-clockwise circuit taking in Duxford, Chrishall Grange, Elmdon, Duddenhoe End, Newland End, Catmere End, (no end to the Ends on this ride) and Ickleton.

12.30 was Maurice’s expected arrival time in Elmdon and sure enough it was, with Simon and Ollie waiting to greet us outside their lovely house, laden with beers. It was great to see Simon looking so well after his operation. Maurice then presented the cheque:

Maurice presenting a £1,000 cheque to Simon for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, accompanied by (from the left) Graham, Ken, Martin, Rod, Andrew, Ann and Alan. And thanks to Ollie for the photo.
Simon and Ollie

After chatting for a while, and declining the beers as it was a bit chilly (deciding instead to consume them on a warm spring / summer evening ) the 8 Windmillers wished Simon and Ollie a Happy Christmas and continued on their circuit around relatively quiet lanes, and not too muddy for a change. Hill Bastardo was taken in its stride, with a tail wind which helped, and we stopped in Catmere End to bid farewell to Alan who had started from his home in Great Chishill.

Back at The Red Lion in Hinxton we enjoyed good sandwiches and beers before a roaring fire, the local riders feeling quite sleepy by the time they eventually left.

This is where we went, right to the Ends:

Thanks, as always, to Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.

Martin

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13 December. Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it. 18 miles.

No one in their right mind would attempt to cycle down the Southern end of Violet’s Lane between Brent Pelham and Furneux Pelham, even when it is open, although there was a photo of Graham being ankle deep in water in the same vicinity recently, albeit on his mountain bike. Claimed to be the longest ford in the UK (1km) it is thick with mud even when dry, which is not very often as it is actually the course of the River Ash.

Starting from The Black Horse in Brent Pelham for a change, seven Windmillers comprising Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Nick, Graham, Simon and Martin set off at noon in a clockwise direction to experience copious amounts of winter mud and filthy bikes at the end of the ride. But it was a fairly mild, dry day and so we should be thankful for small mercies, says the Rev.

This is where we went:

Simon, Andrew, Maurice, Sandra, Nick and Graham stopping for a breather outside All Saints Church, Rickling – a Grade 1 listed 13th century building constructed almost entirely from flint.

The mud on the narrow lane between Rickling Green and Manuden was so thick in places that a tractor with a Heath Robinson sweeper attached to its front bucket was making hard work of scooping it up as it reversed down the lane. Eventually it gave up and let us pass.

This strange looking machine struggled in the match against Essex Mud, losing 5 – 55.

By the time we got to Manuden, the locals were warning us that we might not get through on the section of road between Maggots End and Furneux Pelham but, as it turned out, there were only a few puddles and so no need to raise legs in the air to traverse floods.

Heading down the steep, bumpy concrete track from Furneux Pelham to Violet’s Lane, the mud at the bottom by the closed road was also thick but passable with care and so we escaped unscathed except for the need to give our bikes a good hosing down.

Nick taking it steady on approaching Violet’s Ford

Back at The Black Horse, those who called in for a refreshing pint reported a quiet atmosphere and nothing to eat and so not quite ticking the Windmillers’ boxes it seems. Having cycled from Ickleton to join the ride, and cycled back again, Graham hopefully found some sustenance elsewhere.

Thanks go as always to our stalwarts Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.

Martin

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2021 Awards and charity distributions

The following distributions to charities were announced at the Christmas lunch, following a record breaking raising of £7,000 by The Windmill Club in 2021:

And the Awards went to:

Clubman of the Year – Charles

Golden Pedal award – Prof Simon

Unsung hero of the year – Andrew

Favourite pub – The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting

Favourite coffee stop – Winners, Finchingfield

Best shepherd – Maurice

Knobbliest knees award – Charles

Best Father Christmas – Graham

Spot the Song competition – Alan

Not the navigator prize – Prof Simon

Best chimney sweep – Prof Simon

Pigeon Poet Laureat award – Prof Simon

Hosiery award – Charles (2nd year running)

Best pies – Pat, Pig and Abbott, Abington Piggotts

Puncture prize – Jeremy

Fastest puncture repair award – Brian

Longest distance award – Graham (2nd year running, 13,000+ km)

Biggest smile – Roger

Involuntary dismount prize – equally to Rod, Mike, Geoff, Charles, Deborah and Martin who all fell off on the same icy day

Good Samaritan prize – Deborah (2nd year running)

Gutsy prize – Lawrence

Wildlife award – Sandra

Garmin GPX perseverence award – Andrew

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9 December. Time just pedals by – 501st Windmill Club blog features 30 mile Therfield ride.

It came as quite a surprise a week ago to be notified that 500 Windmill Club blogs had been published since the inception in May 2015. Doesn’t time just pedal by? This is therefore the 501st and what better way to celebrate than for 12 Windmillers to cycle around some of our quiet lanes, or so we thought, on a circuit from The Fox & Duck in Therfield, with coffee to look forward to at The Golden Fleece in Braughing – two of our favourite pubs in one day. Is this a record?

Group A – Maurice, Victor, Charles, Brian and Howard set off promptly at 9.30am followed a few minutes later by Group B – Andrew, Rod, Simon, Graham, Sandra, Martin and, finally, Geoff who arrived just as we were setting off but who soon caught us up – did he switch to turbo mode on his e-bike we wondered?

This is where we went:

Quiet lanes? Usually, yes, but Group B witnessed three crazy drivers after only a short distance – one in Reed who screeched past with cars coming in the opposite direction, only to stop shortly afterwards, and then two in Barkway, one of whom scraped past Andrew before pulling into a petrol station. Maurice later reported having a similar experience in Group A. What’s happening? The start of the Christmas rush perhaps? All the more reason to cycle carefully, wear hi-viz, use lights on these dark days and keep a beady eye open for daft drivers.

Pulling in at The Golden Fleece for coffee provided an opportunity to warm up on what had been quite a chilly ride so far. The coffee and lemon drizzle cake were excellent but we were sorry to hear from Peter of several cancellations due to the latest Covid scare. What a tough time it is now for those in the hospitality business, with no Government support any more. Let’s hope they all survive. But Peter can rely on the support of The Windmill Club on 15 December, thanks to all taking a lateral flow test before attending.

Happy Windmillers at The Golden Fleece

Emerging from The Golden Fleece after a longer than usual coffee break saw the sun emerging too from its slumber and so the return leg was delightful. Both Groups stopped at different places to admire local sights – Group A at Cromer windmill, where the centre of attraction was not the windmill but a fine lady on a fine horse called Charlie.

Victor, Charles, Howard and Brian all chatted up Charlie and his owner – on their way across country to Mill End according to Victor, not Banbury Cross. No signs of rings on her fingers or bells on her toes.
The lady said she wouldn’t swap her horse for a bike, not even Maurice’s e-bike.

Group B, meanwhile, stopped to admire St Nicholas’ Church in Great Munden which was looking splendid in the winter sunshine with its Norman North wall and a 13th century South facing aisle:

Andrew leading the prayers for forgiveness outside St. Nicholas in Great Munden, but God wasn’t listening. It turns out the church is a private building owned by a mate of Maurice! It’s in fine condition – good place for a Windmill Club party? https://hertfordshirechurches.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/st-nicholas-great-munden/

Charles reported a near collision with two birds of prey, which he regretted not being able to video, but that would have been preferable to meeting another impatient motorist. As it was, the return leg to Therfield was peaceful and quiet with time to soak up some nice views:

The vast expanse of Moor Green
Maurice deep in his beloved North Hertfordshire

Back at The Fox & Duck, having negotiated the familiar flooded dip just before Therfield, we were afforded a warm welcome and tucked into the usual excellent fare.

Graham set off back to Ickleton after lunch, having started at 7.30am, mentioning in passing that he had clocked up an amazing 13,000km so far this year. Well done, Graham! You’re up for at least one award at the Christmas lunch.

Thanks as always go to Maurice for planning the route and to Andrew for his organisation.

Martin

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2 December. Christmas dress rehearsal and corny jokes. 31 miles.

Christmas came early for Windmillers this year following Pat’s offer to cook us a turkey with all the trimmings at The Pig and Abbott in Abington Pigotts, and supply crackers too. What a tasty turkey it was too, for those who took advantage of her offer, and even those who didn’t still got the chance to pull a cracker, put on a hat and tell corny jokes. ‘What do you call a detective crossed with a skeleton? Sherlock Bones of course!’ As if we didn’t all know that one………………

Gathering at 9.00am for a warm up coffee and to place lunch orders, 11 Windmillers set off on another chilly but sunny day on a pleasant circuit of South West Cambridgeshire, taking in Bassingbourn, Barrington, Haslingfield, Harlton, The Eversdens, Kingston, Bourn, Longstowe, Hatley St. George, Shingay and back to Abington Pigotts.

Group A comprising Maurice, Howard, Roger, Charles and Ken set off at high speed whilst Group B comprising Martin, Deborah, Simon, Sandra, Graham and Rod set off a few minutes later, for greater safety and to avoid potential road rage but that didn’t stop a lady driver shaking her head angrily at Group B on the narrow road leading to Abington Pigotts, having presumably thought that Group A was enough cyclists on the road for one day.

Not long afterwards, entering Bassingbourn, Group B encountered e-bikers Charles and Ken poring over digital displays trying to work out why Ken’s bike seemed not to be working properly. But a few more stabs of his display with a fat finger cured the problem and so Group B then comprised eight temporarily until they rejoined Group A who were waiting patiently for them near Shepreth.

Group A picked up Brian and Victor in Haslingfield, who had ridden over from Shelford, and who gave good reports of the new Mohak Café (ex-Moringa Tree). Group B decided to have a breather after the climb from Barrington and had a lengthy discussion at the top of Chapel Hill about the pros and cons of the proposed East West rail link between Cambridge, Bedford and Oxford, and in particular whether it should cut Chapel Hill in half. There was nothing for it but to take a vote:

Thumbs up or down for the East- West rail link and its route across Chapel Hill, the lines of which are shown on the vertical boards? Deborah abstained, Graham and Sandra can’t seem to make up their minds, whilst Martin and Rod are distinctly pro. Photographer Simon thought it would happen too but after subsequent discussion with Brian over coffee / lunch pronounced that we would all be much better off if a new land value tax was introduced when new infrastructure projects are created, as in more modern economies such as Canada and Singapore. Hear hear! Why should landowners / property developers be the only ones to benefit when a new motorway or bypass is built? Tax ’em!

Trundling on, it wasn’t long before we descended on the swanky new Cambridge Country Club, the new name for Bourn Golf Club, where we were given a warm welcome and sat in the clubhouse drinking good coffee but, sadly, no cakes and Deborah’s request for toast would have taken 20 minutes. How would Windmillers ever have the energy for the return leg we wondered? Luckily it was mainly downwind and so not as difficult as, say, returning to West Wratting with a Force 5 on the nose.

Simon’s new best friend

The return leg through empty Cambridgeshire countryside was easy and warmer than the way out. It was good to see Hatley St. George again with its parkland and fine church, known as the Chapel of St James the Greater. Next door is East Hatley, the population of both villages being just 200.

St Denis' church, East Hatley, Cambridgeshire – the newly cleaned Downing plaque, 13th April 2018. It's in the porch, above the door. Above the date is a cartouche of the arms of Sir George Downing, then owner of the estate of East Hatley.
The newly cleaned Downing plaque in St Denis’ church in East Hatley. Sir George Downing, 1623-84, was a minor politician, diplomat and several times a Member of Parliament (but not in Cambridgeshire).
His house in London gave its name to the street now best known for Boris’s newly decorated residence in which he holds big parties.  It was Downing’s fortune, following the death of the 3rd Sir George, grandson of the first, which led to the foundation of Downing College, Cambridge.

Back at The Pig and Abbott, where it was great to be joined by John Bagrie, Christmas seemed to be in full swing with other diners also tucking into turkey whilst sporting their best Christmas jumpers or smart attire. The Windmiller contingent of 11 diners, Deborah and Roger being unable to make lunch, lowered the tone a bit but will surely look the part when the Christmas lunch proper takes place on 15 December, even if crimson trousers are in evidence.

Graham practising his Father Christmas spiel – ‘And have you been a good boy this year?’

And this is where we went:

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route, absent Andrew for his organisation, Pat and her staff for their wonderful food, Mike for his good beer, and photographers Brian, Charles and Simon.

Martin