Categories
Ridgewell Suffolk

All’s well at Ridgewell

Glad to say, absolutely nothing untoward happened on this week’s Thursday outing; no thrills, spills, punctures, nor indeed, helpings of haggis – it was just a very pleasant 32 mile ride in the company of Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Maurice, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Tom and Victor; some twelve Windmillers in all.

Sandra and Tom getting their caffeine fix

Starting and finishing at White Horse Inn, Ridgewell, Maurice had led the way, via Stoke by Clare and Hundon, to Stradishall, before turning eastwards to Hawkedon and on to Rede, where we pulled in for refreshment at The Plough.

Then it was on southwards to Glemsford and Cavendish from where we took a delightfully quiet – and new to us – minor road bypassing Clare, before returning to Ridgewell for lunch. All in all, a grand day out!

The Three Amigos: Roger, Andrew and Geoff

Thanks, as ever to Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising everything; also to Charles for the many photos – too many to include here – but check them out in the club album.

32 miles clockwise from Ridgewell

Brian

PS Maurice reports our charity collection so far this year stands at £633; a flying start to 2022. Well done, all!

Categories
Uncategorized

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

Categories
Pig & Abbot

Haggis – and a tumble

Thursday’s ride was a memorable one for Hazel as, just a few miles short of the finish she took a tumble, sustaining some painful cuts and bruises, not to mention torn cyclewear and a damaged bike.

Hazel, before her involutary dismount

The mishap, at a tight bend on a quiet road, was most likely due to diesel spillage, a well documented hazard for cyclists and motorcyclists alike, and one we have experienced before; indeed, some of you may remember Chris suffered similarly, and at virtually the same spot, some three years ago.

We are glad to hear Hazel, while still feeling somewhat the worse for wear, is on the mend and we look forward to her joining us again soon.

A murky start to the morning

Confounding the forecast of fine weather, it was a fine drizzle that saw us heading out earlier from Abington Pigotts, a drizzle that stayed with us all the way to our refreshment stop at Waresley. Drying out over coffee and cake, some swapped stories of Burns Night suppers while others lamented they had never even tried haggis. Well today was their big chance.

Who’s for some Scottish offal?

The return leg was thankfully dry and sunny. Back at the Pig & Abbot we enjoyed a restorative pint before, summoned to our table, landlady Pat presented a magnificent haggis, prompting Andrew, our resident Scot, to rise and launch into – not just one – but all eight verses of Rabbie Burns’ Address to a Haggis. Mid-way through, and proclaiming, “An cut you up . . . trenching your gushing entrails bright” he waved a knife alarmingly close to Ken’s nose before slicing the beast open to rapturous applause, while across the pub vegans cowered into their nut roasts.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face

For the record, Thursday’s turnout was thirteen Windmillers, namely: Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Hazel, Howard, Ken, Maurice, Rod and Sandra

30 miles anticlockwise from Abington Pigotts

A special thanks to Maurice for scooping up Hazel and her bike after the accident and ferrying both home.


Address to a Haggis, by Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race! 
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 
Painch, tripe, or thairm : 
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace 
As lang's my arm. 

The groaning trencher there ye fill, 
Your hurdies like a distant hill, 
Your pin wad help to mend a mill 
In time o'need, 
While thro' your pores the dews distil 
Like amber bead. 

His knife see rustic Labour dight, 
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight, 
Trenching your gushing entrails bright, 
Like ony ditch; 
And then, O what a glorious sight, 
Warm-reekin', rich! 

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive: 
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive, 
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve 
Are bent like drums; 
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, 
Bethankit! hums. 

Is there that owre his French ragout 
Or olio that wad staw a sow, 
Or fricassee wad make her spew 
Wi' perfect sconner, 
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view 
On sic a dinner? 

Poor devil! see him owre his trash, 
As feckless as wither'd rash, 
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash; 
His nieve a nit; 
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash, 
O how unfit! 

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, 
The trembling earth resounds his tread. 
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll mak it whissle; 
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned, 
Like taps o' thrissle. 

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, 
And dish them out their bill o' fare, 
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware 
That jaups in luggies; 
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer 
Gie her a haggis! 
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race
Categories
Therfield

Pedal bikes, e-bikes, motorbikes and classic cars

A frosty start to Thursday morning prompted Andrew – very wisely – to delay the start of our outing, so it was nigh on 10 o’clock before the Windmillers were seen heading out from the Fox & Duck for a tour of the hills to the south and east of Therfield.

Pedal bikes, e-bikes . . .
. . . and motorbikes

The highlight of our ride was the refreshment stop at Heath Farm, where Maurice and Lyn had laid on coffee and hot cross buns. Plus, of course, it’s always interesting touring the barns to view Maurice’s collection of classic cars and engineering projects – the latest of which is a motorbike engine conversion. Owning not one, but two 1957 Douglas Dragonflies, he has replaced one of the original 350cc flat twins with a 400cc, four cylinder Honda engine. The man never sleeps! Indeed, word having got around about this latest job, the editor of Classic Bike Magazine will be visiting tomorrow to interview Maurice and take pictures of the Dragonflies.

Not just one Douglas Dragonfly, but two! This nearer one with a 1976 400cc Honda engine

The petrolheads among us were also very taken with the Aston Martin DB5 Vantage engine slung in chains from the roof beams. All fuelled up and ready to roar, it would have been good to see it start up. However, lacking a silencer, we feared for our eardrums.

Admiring the DB5 beast

Thanking Lyn for the hospitality, we resumed our ride, heading for Nuthampstead – where we tipped our hats to John Tarrington – and thence Buntingford, before turning northwards for the return leg to Therfield.

At 24 miles, our route was somewhat shorter than usual but, given the late start, low temperatures and hilly terrain, not to mention the promise of free beer courtesy of birthday boy Brian, we were looking forward to returning to the – hopefully warm – embrace of the Fox & Duck. Alas, the heating had failed and the place was decidedly chilly, so chilly indeed that we asked to move tables; not that that made much difference.

24 miles anticlockwise from Therfield

But our lunch was good and we followed up with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday for Brian.

Happy Birthday, Brian

For the record, our turnout of eleven Windmillers comprised: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Jeremy, Maurice, Rod, Sandra and Victor – plus Ken and Ann who had cycled out from Ickleton to join us for lunch.

Warm thanks are due to Maurice and Lyn for their hospitality at Heath Farm – the coffee and hot cross buns went down a treat. Also to Andrew for getting us all organised, as well as Howard for the photograph in the pub.

Could be our new club motto?
Categories
Ridgewell Suffolk

Eating well at Ridgewell

Two years on from our last visit, it was high time for a return to Ridgewell and The White Horse where, opening up early, the landlord welcomed us with coffee and took our orders for lunch.

So it was that eleven Windmillers set off from the pub, in some trepidation it must be said, given the mercury was barely above freezing and, to heighten our concern, within half a mile we encountered Graham coming the other way. Cycling out to join us, had been delayed by the icy roads. Oo-er, let’s take it steady, was the general consensus.

Le Grand Depart

That said, it was one of those sparkling, blue sky mornings and, wrapped up against the cold, it felt good to be alive, at least until the next patch of ice.

Eighteen miles in, and pulling up at The Blue Egg for refreshments, there was by now sufficient warmth in the sun for us to enjoy our coffee al fresco.

The return leg was just as lovely – and thankfully uneventful – as all riders returned intact and looking forward to a good lunch.

Back at the pub, we were delighted to be joined by Ken who, hearing rumours of free beer, had leapt in his car and driven across county lines to join us.

It was indeed Martin’s birthday and, toasting his health, we gave a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday before settling down to an excellent lunch. All agreed, the White Horse food was really very good and, at £11.95 for two courses, remarkable value to boot.

Lunching at the White Horse
Many happy returns, Martin
29 miles anticlockwise from Ridgewell

For the record, our team roster was Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Martin, Maurice, Roger, Sandra and Victor; plus Ken in civvies.

Thanks, as ever, to Maurice and Andrew for organising another lovely outing – and to the landlord of The White Horse for his hospitality; we shall return soon.

Thanks also Charles, Deborah, Graham, Martin and Victor for the many photographs; too many to include here but you can check them out in the club album.

Check out also our last visit to Ridgewell back in November, 2019.

Brian

Categories
Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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

Categories
Henham

Only 9 more sleeps ‘til Christmas

So it was that some fifteen Windmillers were seen milling about the car park of the Cock Inn at Henham, Andrew doing his best to bring a semblance of order and making a vain attempt to group us into three equal teams. But Maurice was already off and heading for Debden Green, a gaggle of Windmillers in his wake. It’s as good a way as any to start a ride.

Thaxted

It wasn’t such a good start, however, for Jenni who, within five minutes, had pulled up with a puncture. Standing aside, she let Andrew and Mike do their manly thing of upending the bike to wrestle with wheels, levers, tubes and pumps and effect a repair. Jenni very sensibly left them to it and, some 20 minutes later, was back on the road chasing to catch up with Maurice.

Gibraltar Windmill

We were on a 29 mile, figure of eight route taking in Thaxted, Finchingfield, Waltham’s Cross, the Bardfields and Broxted – and a lovely, scenic route it was too. Finchingfield being the half-way point, we pulled in for refreshments at Winners Tea Rooms, where Martin told the proprietor she had won the Windmillers’ Café of the Year Award. She waited expectantly, thinking he might pull out a trophy, maybe a framed certificate or suchlike.

“Er, that’s it, we thought we’d just let you know,” he explained.

“Righto, thanks,” she said, nonplussed, and returned to the kitchen.

Refreshments at Finchingfield

Back at the pub, we enjoyed a well earned pint and a good lunch while Maurice listed the various charities the club was supporting this year. Totalling just over £7000, the monies were distributed to:

  • Macmillan Nurses, at the behest of the model boat donor, £1,000
  • Arthur Rank Hospice, in memory of Vernon, at the behest of Moira, £500
  • Great Chishill Windmill, where it all started some 10 years ago, £250
  • Breast Cancer / Moon Walk, sponsoring Jess at the Golden Fleece, £200
  • Addenbrookes Charitable Trust, at the behest of Lawrence and Simon, £1,000
  • Marie Curie Cancer, in memory of Rose, Victor’s wife, £500
  • East Anglian Children’s Hospice, £1,000
  • The Eve Appeal for gynaecological cancer research, £1,000
  • Samaritans, at the behest of Deborah, £500
  • Pets as Therapy, at the behest of Charles, £250
  • Breast Cancer UK, at the behest of Penny Woodhead, £750
Nice halo, Andrew

For the record the turnout was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jenni, Jeremy, Martin, Maurice, Mike, Rod, Roger, Sandra and Simon.

A 29 mile figure of eight from Henham

Our thanks, as ever, are due to Maurice and Andrew, for planning and organising everything.

Brian

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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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

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29 November. Let’s go ice skating. 21 miles.

Starting at the earlier hour of noon on this ride produced several benefits, not least of which was being able to ride in daylight. Other benefits were that most of the ice had melted and not re-frozen on this cold day, there was good light for Sandra’s constant spotting of wildlife, plus the bonus of a good lunch at 2.00pm in front of a roaring fire at The Red Lion in Hinxton.

Despite the cold, seven Windmillers comprising Graham, Rod, Sandra, Simon, Charles, Alan and Martin decided to brave the icy patches and set off on an anticlockwise route in the hope of picking up Andrew, who was attending a Zoom funeral. But it was a sunny day and so it proved to be not so bad after all, certainly not as icy as the photo above showing Dutch children heading off to school, and probably warmer than the previous Thursday once the first hill up to Chrishall had been climbed. There was more than the usual traffic on the road to Duxford Grange due to a snarl up on the A505, requiring several stops to allow vehicles to pass.

Thanks to having eagle-eyed Sandra with us, there were constant sightings of buzzards and red kites and no less than four sightings of deer, one of which was a stag with his three wives in tow. It seems that female deer are some way off gaining the full legal, economic, vocational, educational, and social rights enjoyed by stags.

Graham suggested a wise modification of the route to avoid cycling up to Duddenhoe End under the trees, where the surface could be distinctly icy, and so we took a slightly longer, more open route via Pond Street. Heading down to Arkesden was sheer bliss, soaking up the warm sun as we cruised along thinking of Deborah the flower girl on the way. Deborah was due to join us but, sadly, her horse had been hurt following Storm Arwen and she was expecting a visit from the vet. Even more sad was the subsequent news that the horse had to be put down and so our sympathies go to Deborah on her loss.

The long hill down to Clanver End looked dodgy in places and so care was taken not to go too fast and all descended safely. Then it was time to call up Andrew to see if he could join us but the eulogies were running late and so we climbed Hill Bastardo up to Littlebury Green without him.

Alan and Charles both peeled off at Catmere End to head through the woods back to Chrishall and Great Chishill respectively, from whence they came, leaving the remaining five to take in the views towards Strethall Church and Ickleton before descending past Martin’s allotment and wending their way through to Hinxton for a well earned pint and some excellent sandwiches. Here they are warming their extremities in front of the fire:

Cheers! A Wherry good ride.

And this is where we went:

Thanks to everyone who came along.

Martin

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25th November West Wratting to Cornish Hall End (and back, just about)

By this point in the year, it was getting cold. The wind was fairly strong and from the north. It was going to make the return journey quite taxing as things turned out.

The Chestnut Tree has turned into one of our most popular pubs this year. Coffee was indoors since we’re all jabbed.

Getting ready for the off
Rod unloads the e-bike, gadgets and accoutrements

Deborah is assisted by Brian in last minute preparations.

Suzann is ready to go.

We are still attracting good numbers of people considering the time of year and very soon two groups had formed and the ride started.

Group 1. Maurice isn’t in it since he does not hang around at the start
Our circumnavigation of Haverhill. Anticlockwise, the wind behind us for the first leg, but oh dear getting back was painful into the wind.

You may not know but West Wratting is famous as the home of E. P. Frost who developed an early form of flying, using flapping wings, called an ornithopter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Wratting

The logic was that in order to fly one had to mimic the birds and insects who accomplish this feat rather elegantly. The notion of fixed wings was much less intuitive.

E. P. Frost’s ornithopter in 1910.
I attempt take-off in honour of E. P. Frost, but with even less success.

Larger, manned ornithopters have since been built and some have been successful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornithopter.

The first human-muscle-powered flight using flapping wings occurred on 20 April 2006, with a flight of 64 metres (210 ft). It’s all about power to weight of course, but then fixed winged aeroplanes, ornithopters and helicopters are all fairly hopeless without engines. In fact there are considerable advantages in not having fixed wings, these include; manoeuvrability, vertical take-off/landing and excellent slow speed energy performance, as the hawks demonstrate for us on every ride. It is fairly easy to build a miniature ornithopter that works well when powered by rubber bands or springs. The record flight time for an indoor, rubber-band powered, wing-flapping machine is 21 minutes, 44 seconds. So maybe E. P. Frost wasn’t so daft after all.

Coffee and cake half way round saw the two groups meet.

Brian demonstrates what may well be a paraffin pump? Might be petrol. Still in 20 years time we may have to explain to children what either one is (was).

A break before the hard ride back.

The return half of this route into wind turned out to be a struggle both for myself and some other Windmiller’s. A fit human can output 300 Watts for a few minutes (0.4 mechanical horsepower) an insect produces the equivalent, mass for mass, of 8000 Watts, which is why we can’t fly. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7810379/ This frailty became all too evident as I pushed on into the wind and towards the pub.

Having arrived and caught my breath, the Chestnut Tree staff were so organised and welcoming, which is why we keep coming back.

There we go soup and a roll delivered with smile, definitely one of our best pubs.
Graham continues to grow his Father Christmas beard but hopefully won’t scare the children.

All in all a very nice ride, especially considering the time of year. Thanks to Maurice, Andrew and all those photographers. Let’s hope we can keep cycling during this winter spell.

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18 November. Culture vultures circle Cambridge. 29 miles.

Captain Brian devised a brilliant route around Cambridge for this ride, assisted by Lieutenant Jeremy, which provided an update on some of the major developments taking place around this hotbed of science and technological research, with a cultural tour of Eddington thrown in for free.

Starting from The Three Horseshoes in Stapleford, Brian’s group A comprised Simon, Nigel, Howard, Roger, Charles, Victor and Martin, whilst Jeremy’s group B with Suzanne, Andrew, Graham, Chris, Rod and Deborah followed a few minutes later – 15 Windmillers heading out to soak up the sights of Cambridge.

This is where we went, anticlockwise:

Brian’s group sped along the multi-coloured DNA path towards Addenbrooke’s but Jeremy reports that his group stopped and he mentioned its significance: “In 2005, as a celebration of the 10,000th mile of the national cycle network, Cambridgeshire County Council and Sustrans created a DNA-inspired cycle path. The path is decorated with 10,257 colourful stripes, which represent the four nucleotides of the BRCA2 gene.” Brian’s group: Nota bene gene, and stop thinking about coffee.

The Cambridge busway created much discussion as Group A approached Cambridge, following the tragic death of a pedestrian when hit by a bus in October. This followed the death of a Sawston cyclist, Stephen Moir, in 2018, the investigation of which by the HSE has yet to be published. Another bus veered off the busway and crashed into the embankment in 2016, luckily missing cyclists and pedestrians. Whoever thought up such a crazy scheme? Scandalous!

Once through the back streets of Mill Road, the route took us up the side of the River Cam where precautions were taken not to do a Rod, Vernon, Martin or Charles, all of whom had crashed previously in one form or another whilst passing bollards or on the river path. Luckily nothing untoward happened but there was still a crash to come……….

Brian chose a fine coffee stop at the old station in Histon, alongside the busway, where Groups A and B met up momentarily. Both groups stopped to admire the new Chisholm Trail bridge over the Cam and this is what Jeremy said about it, “The Chisholm Trail bridge, which connects Abbey ward and Chesterton, was lifted into place by very large cranes in the early hours of November 8 2020. It is a key part of the Trail, which when completed will be a 26km route from Trumpington to St Ives. It is named after sustainable transport campaigner Jim Chisholm, who first proposed the idea more than two decades ago.”

On a less cultural level, knobbly knees were again in evidence on this ‘shall we, shan’t we wear long trousers day’.

Votes are requested for whose knees are the knobblyest. So far, the votes are evenly split between those in the centre and on the right.
Hot numbers? You must be joking
Group A hyped up after some excellent coffee

Not long after leaving Histon, the crash happened at the Oakington junction on the busway, but nothing too serious, when Nigel collided with Brian. Here is the evidence:

The route then took us through to Girton and down to the new University site of Eddington with its modern architecture and all the trappings of a new community – fields, footpaths, cycle paths, a lake, bus station, supermarket, an award winning community centre and sculptures. Skirting the lake the first sculpture was the Fata Morgana Teahouse, as above, an impressive tower of stainless steel mesh with steps up to the top level for good views over the lake (although opening the mesh in places might have afforded better views). The sculpture was designed by Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Horbelt and was presumably inspired by a trip to Japan.

Next up was the Pixel Wall, by the same artists, which was not dissimilar to the distorting mirrors on the Palace Pier in Brighton:

Group B also stopped to take a look at the award winning Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery, which is also a very impressive space for all community purposes – probably the best village hall in the UK.

Then it was a question of wending our way along cycle paths and alleys on the west of Cambridge, down to Newnham and along the bike path to Granchester before heading through to Trumpington Meadows, over the M11 to Hauxton, through what was Fison’s contaminated site and which is now a housing estate, and finally back to The Three Horseshoes.

Group B’s cultural tour took a bit longer than Group A’s but eventually we all sat down to an excellent lunch washed down by some fine ales.

Windmillers doing what they do best – replacing calories

Many thanks to Brain and Jeremy for planning and leading us around the delightful route, to Andrew for organising us and to photographers too numerous to mention.

Martin

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15 November. A devilishly good ride. 24 miles.

Meeting at Andrew’s house at the earlier time of 2.00pm, five devils comprising the devil himslf, Andrew, and his disciples Alan, Charles, Simon and Martin met up with a sixth, Jenni, in Saffron Walden to cruise around some pleasant lanes, taking in Debden, Radwinter and Sewards End and hamlets in between. The seventh would have been Maurice but he was catching sea bass in Cornwall.

We had no idea what a treat there was in store once the sun got below the cloud cover and began to set.

This is where we went:

Stopping for a quick breather in Radwinter, the sky still overcast
First sign of the colour to come
Looking towards Barkway radio tower on the far horizon
Bang! The sun emerged suddenly with a vengeance on the road back towards Saffron Walden. Here we have three Windmillers, Charles, Jenni and Simon reflecting on life.
Jenni and Simon ablaze in the setting sun. No, Simon is not wearing pink trousers.
Goodnight sun, yet it’s only 4.00pm.

Waving goodbye to Queen-devil Jenni in Saffron Walden, the remaining five devils headed back to Wendens Ambo where Andrew offered a hell of a good choice of beers but, sadly, the light was going and so Charles and Alan continued on their way back to Chrishall and Great Chishill, clocking up around 35 miles in all – well done, chaps – leaving Simon and Martin to partake of the devil’s brew, i.e. Abbott Ale, in front of a roaring fire.

Thanks go to the devil himself, Andrew, for devising the route and for his hospitality at the end, and to Simon and Charles for their photographs.

Martin

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Suffolk West Wratting

Remembrance Day Ride

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we will remember them. As did the Windmillers on their Thursday outing, pulling over in a quiet place to honour the service men and women who gave their lives – and to reflect on the freedoms we take for granted today.

A moment of reflection at a war memorial

Having set off some two hours earlier from The Chestnut Tree at West Wratting, we were mid-way round a 32 mile circuit, looping south and west of Haverhill as far as Cornish Hall End before turning north for the return leg via Baythorne End.

Ready for the off at West Wratting
All smiles on the B1054

It was here that we pulled in for coffee and cake at Tarka’s Café, all except Deborah who, having spotted the adjacent antiques and retro-tat emporium, sniffed a shopping opportunity. A vintage, if not visibly distressed, iron table took her fancy and, had friends not summoned her back to the café for refreshment, she would have bought the thing and lashed it to her bike.

Coffee and cake therapy
Retail therapy

Crisis averted and caffeine levels restored, we remounted and made light work of the return leg to West Wratting, where back at the pub, we were delighted to see Ken and Martin join us for lunch.

What’s this? A Victorian air source heat pump? Simon loves photographing mechanicals.

For the record, the turnout was fourteen Windmillers: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Graham, Howard, Maurice, Ric, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon and Suzanne.

32 miles anticlockwise from West Wratting

Our thanks go to Maurice for planning yet another delightful route – and to Andrew, of course, for getting everyone organised.

Brian

Simon and Andrew, perplexed on hearing Brian will be leading next Thursday’s ride