Categories
Newmarket Pig & Abbot The Chestnut Tree West Wratting West Wratting

At last! A dry Thursday

Graham’s plan to meet everyone over coffee in The Chestnut Tree took a knock when he sustained a puncture just outside West Wratting. So instead of warming himself with a hot drink in the pub, he was seen wrestling with tyre levers out in the garden.

How many Windmillers does it take to mend a puncture?

Pesky puncture repaired, we set off towards Dullingham and Newmarket, thirteen Windmillers looking forward to Graham’s new route and enjoying our first dry ride in a month.

Victor, feeling particularly welcome in Newmarket

It was in Newmarket that Graham introduced us to a new (to us) café in the town centre, albeit one hidden away up a side street, called Victor Victoria. The coffee, cake and, according to Jeremy, the porridge too, were all top notch. We must make a return visit soon.

Newmarket, by Bill Tutte’s memorial

Before resuming our ride, we paused to look at the Memorial to Bill Tutte, 1917 – 2002. A Newmarket man, Tutte is commemorated for cracking the code used to communicate with the German navy during WW2.

Back on the bikes, we headed for Moulton and thence Cheveley, Saxon Street and Kirtling – where we encountered the surprise of the day, a pair of emus peering at us through a wire fence.

Suffolk is full of surprises; a pair of emus photographed near Kirtling

Returning to the The Chestnut Tree having clocked up 32 miles and looking forward to a well deserved beer, we were warmly received by Landlords Peter and Rachel – and delighted to be joined by Maurice, Martin and Ken for lunch.

Victor leading the way, snapped by Charles

For the record our peloton comprised: Alan, Brian, Charles, Chris, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Jeremy, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon and Victor

Thanks go to Graham for organising things, devising an excellent route and finding a really good venue for future coffee stops.

32 miles clockwise from West Wratting

Earlier in the week we were saddened to hear of the sudden death of Mick Thompson who, alongside his wife Pat, ran the Pig & Abbot, one of our favourite lunch spots. Our thoughts are with Pat at this difficult time.

On behalf of the Windmillers, Maurice will be making a donation to Cancer Research UK, Pat’s chosen charity.

Brian

Categories
Cambridgeshire

Wet at Wimpole

Into each life some rain must fall, so goes the song. But we’ve had more than our fair share of the stuff this past month and it’s becoming difficult to write a blog without tedious repetition of ‘stair rods’, ‘cats & dogs’, ‘drowned rats’, etc.

El Cafecito, Fowlmere

Yet here we were again; another wet Thursday and a tricky go / no go decision for Simon, this week’s ride leader. On the one hand he wanted to avoid getting everyone soaked and – it goes without saying – to keep us all safe. On the other hand he’d booked 18 people in for lunch at The Chequers. It was quite a dilemma.

Being a ballsy sort of guy, Simon confirmed he would be waiting patiently at the start – where he was delighted to be joined by a foolhardy foursome, namely Sandra, Graham, Jeremy and Brian.

Wet at Wimpole

Rather than meet in a rain-lashed pub car park, we got together a little further down the road at the excellent El Cafecito – where Graham was already enjoying a hearty breakfast – before steeling ourselves for the ride.

Of course, once we got going there developed a sort of all-in-this together camaderie – resilience in adversity and all that – and before we knew it, sixteen miles had gone and we were pulling in at National Trust Wimpole for coffee.

Refreshed (and quietly leaving behind us five sodden NT chairs), we took to the bikes once more for the return leg. It was only 11 miles but the rain was heavier and the puddles bigger. Indeed, Jeremy endured a complete soaking when a passing truck sent a tidal wave of water his way.

So it was with much relief that we tumbled back into the warm embrace of The Chequers where we were greeted with a cheer by our drier, more sensible friends. Sitting down with Andrew, Chris, Howard, Maurice, Rod and Roger, we enjoyed a well deserved lunch.

Lunch at The Chequers, Fowlmere

Our thanks go to Simon for instilling in us his gung-ho spirit of adventure.

27 miles clockwise from Fowlmere

The very next day, many of us were back at The Chequers raising a glass to our dear friend, Lawrence, having earlier attended his funeral at St Mary Magdelene’s Church, Ickleton. The service was memorable both for Windmiller Ken Worthing’s excellent eulogy and for the wonderful voices of the Cambridge University Musical Society Choir.

Very fittingly Maurice donated £1000 of our charity collection to the Arthur Rank Hospice where Lawrence spent his final weeks.

There’s a very good account of Lawrence’s life here in the Cambridge Independent.

Lawrence Wragg, 26th November 1943 – 29th October 2022

Brian

Categories
Pig & Abbot

Another wet one

It was more of a steady drizzle than the stair rods of a couple of weeks ago, though the result was much the same; eleven soggy Windmillers drying out over a pint.

Ken had planned a 30-mile outing but, given the forecast, very wisely decided to put the start back an hour, knock ten miles off the thirty and, much to Deborah’s chagrin, ditch the coffee stop too.

So it was that an all-weather team comprising Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Ken, Rod, Roger, SimonT and Tom, having fuelled up on Landlady Pat’s coffee and biscuits, set off from the Pig & Abbot for a soggy Thursday outing.

It was one of those we’ve started so we’re jolly well going to finish it sort of rides, heads down into the rain, only interrupted by Brian sustaining an early puncture. But that was soon fixed and we were underway once more, completing the course at quite a lick.

Back at the pub we were delighted to be joined by Andrew, SimonO and Maurice who, two weeks on from his knee op, was looking very chipper, hobbling around with the help of a stick.

Just before sitting down to lunch we received news that Martin would be going into Addenbrookes for major surgery the very next day. Good Lord, Martin! We duly raised a glass and wished him well.

As ever, Pat served up her splendid pies in all their many varieties (steak & kidney being my personal favourite, Ed) and we looked on aghast as our legendary trencherman Charles went the whole hog, following up his pie with sticky toffee pudding and custard. He is such a skinny whippet, where does he put it all?

Thanks go to Ken for organising everything and for his doggedness in getting us all to turn out in such character building weather.

Brian

PS: We are glad to hear that Martin’s op went well and we look forward to seeing him back in the peloton soon. As Rod quipped, he is now a semi-colon publisher.

21 miles clockwise from Abington Pigotts
Categories
Henham

Wet, wet, wet

The weather forecast was a tad deceptive. Occasional showers? Humph, it was raining stair rods! Having waited in vain for a “Let’s call the whole thing off,” message from Andrew, ten Windmillers arrived in Henham hoping for a lull in the downpour.

Andrew had, quite understandably, been loath to cancel yet another outing from The Cock Inn, having already cancelled three in the past due to bad weather.

It’s warm, it’s dry, let’s stay here

So there we were at 9.30, sipping coffee in the pub while the rain hammered down outside. Graham, having arrived on two wheels, was looking like a drowned rat and leaving puddles wherever he stood, while our remarkably understanding landlady trailed around after him with a mop.

Alan does his bit mopping up Graham’s puddles

Mulling over our options – it was still tipping it down outside – opinion was divided. The wimps – Andrew, Brian, Jeremy, Rod, Roger and Victor – formed a majority and just wanted to go home. But there was a gung-ho gang – Alan, Deborah, Graham and Sandra – gagging for a ride come hell or high water.

Sandra laughing off the rain

So it was that the wimps headed home while the gang of four stalwart, nay foolhardy, Windmillers headed out. And by all accounts they had a jolly time. The rain did eventually stop and they clocked up a respectable 19 miles on some very flooded roads.

The all-weather gung-ho gang drying out in the Chameleon Café, Great Dunmow. Well done Deborah, Sandra, Alan and – behind the camera – Graham.
19 miles

Well done you guys. Respect!

Brian

Categories
Uncategorized

Who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters? No.

Sandra? You betcha! With her capacious van, the Windmillers equivalent of Thunderbird 2, she can pick up and transport pretty much anything, anywhere. No job is too big – and we hear an HGV is available for exceptional loads.

This time it was Iain and his monster of an e-bike requiring salvage. It was only a puncture but, for want of a big spanner, we were unable to remove the rear wheel and effect a repair. More to the point, it was nearly pub-time and we were late for lunch!

So there was Sandra, already at the pub and enjoying some well earned refreshment, when she took the distress call from Brian, “Sorry, but please could you rescue Iain?”

“OK but where are you?” was her very reasonable response.

“Er, dunno. Suffolk somewhere.”

This was the first time we had cause to use what3words in anger – and it worked a treat – referencing our location (to the very square meter!) as prep.somewhere.extend and texting that to Sandra, lo and behold, some 20 minutes later there she was, scooping up Iain and his machine for safe delivery to the pub.

Ken, Iain, Deborah and Geoff enjoying the Suffolk sunshine
Coffee and cake at Platform One, Clare

That aside, it was a very successful and enjoyable outing: Alan, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Howard, Iain, Ken, Roger and Sandra completing a 28 mile circuit, the highlight of which was a meander through the gardens of Clare Priory before stopping for coffee and cake at the nearby Platform One café.

Clare Priory

Another good find was The Bell Inn at Castle Hedingham, a lovely old coaching inn full of wonky, period fittings and a perfect lunch venue for wonky, period Windmillers.

Thanks go to Maurice for researching a delightful route, Howard and Brian for leading the two groups, and Charles, Sandra and Alan for the photographs.

The Bell Inn – it’s a proper pub

Spare a thought for Maurice next Thursday as he will be in hospital having some worn out parts replaced; our thoughts will be with him.

Finally, Windmillers, we recommend you install what3words on your phone – and maybe put Sandra on speed dial.

28 miles clockwise from Castle Hedingham

Brian

Categories
Heath Café and Bar Royston

“Good God, Rod . . . ”

. . . that wasn’t arf a hilly ride” was the general consensus as we supped our pints at the end of Thursday’s ride. The day had kicked off with a stiff ascent to Therfield on top of Royston Heath – and from there on it seemed we were always either climbing or freewheeling back down.

Thirty two miles and umpteen hills later, we slaked our thirst while the pedallers amongst us mentally added ‘e-bike’ to our Christmas wishlist.

Nevertheless, we thanked Rod for devising a lovely route; traffic free and with some fine views across the Hertfordshire countryside.

Breakfast at Heath Café and Bar . . .
. . . and lunch

Another revelation had been the Heath Café and Bar. Relatively local but little visited by the Windmillers – probably because it’s not a proper pub – we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and beer, not to mention the attentive service. Not only did they do a good breakfast but, come lunchtime, their venison ragu and Timothy Taylor’s bitter went down a treat.

Brian and Ric
Coffee and cake at Buntingford
Roger feeling the burn
Ric making full use of his 5 gears

It was another good turnout: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Jeremy, Keith, Ken, Nigel, Rod and Roger – with Maurice joining us for lunch. There would have been more riders but for yet another outbreak of covid and various other autumnal lurgies.

Thanks to Jeremy and Charles for the many photos, more of which can be seen here in the club album.

32 miles clockwise from Royston

Brian

Categories
Cambridge Cambridgeshire

A Space Odyssey

The club website says we’re all about exploring the quieter lanes of East Anglia – to which we can now add . . . and the solar system.

A blue planet on a very brown Midsummer Common

Curiosity about Thursday’s ride had been piqued by Brian’s invitation saying we would be . . . visiting every planet in the solar system before stopping for refreshments at a pharmacy beyond Pluto. We thought he’d just had too much sun.

Windmillers feeling the heat

Come Thursday and there was indeed lots of sun – not only the usual one overhead but another one in the middle of Midsummer Common, Cambridge; as if we weren’t hot enough already, having cycled into town from Stapleford in the middle of a heatwave.

We were at the start of the Our Place in Space trail featuring scale models of the sun and planets recreated as contemporary art sculptures strung out along the River Cam and extending some five miles to Waterbeach (aka Pluto). Confused? Have a look at the pictures and you’ll get the general idea.

Simon, boldly going . . .
. . . to Saturn
Deborah does Jupiter
By Jove, we’re a long way from home
Chris does Neptune

As for the pharmacy beyond Pluto, that turned out to be a café in Waterbeach called, well, Pharmacie.

Coffee in a pharmacy beyond Pluto

Some Windmillers got quite carried away with their adventures in space. Rod and Victor experienced weightlessness, albeit fleetingly, as each was seen to fly from the saddle only to crash land somewhat painfully on planet earth.

Victor experiences weightlessness in the confined space of the Carter Bridge, Cambridge

Despite the immense distances covered, we got back to the Three Horseshoes in time for lunch and a few beers – and we were delighted to find Maurice waiting for us at the bar.

And for the record the space travellers were Alan, Brian, Charles, Chris, Deborah, Graham, Ken, Martin, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon, Tom and Victor. Back on planet earth we clocked up 28 miles.

28 miles: Stapleford – Hauxton – Trumpington Meadow – Grantchester Meadow – Newnham – The Backs – Midsummer Common – all the planets – Waterbeach – Landbeach – Milton – Cambridge North – Chisholm Bridge – Stourbridge Common – Cambridge Station – Shelford – Stapleford

Rest assured, next Thursday’s ride will be restricted to East Anglia.

Brian

Categories
Braughing

Happy birthday, Ric!

Thursday morning saw the Windmillers gathering at one of their favourite watering holes, The Golden Fleece in Braughing. With some arriving on two wheels, others on four, soon there were a dozen cyclists milling around the car park, perusing menus, ordering lunches, applying suntan lotion and generally getting ready for the ride ahead.

Pausing for a breather near Much Hadham – on the bridge over the long disused Buntingford Branch Line

And then we were off – Maurice leading the first group, Martin the second – heading for Puckeridge and thence Standon where, ignoring the Road Closed signs and taking the security guards by surprise, we skirted the Standon Calling festival venue. With the music kicking off tomorrow the organisers were busy putting the finishing touches to the site ahead of an expected 15,000 visitors and a line-up including Madness and the Sugar Babes.

Jenni, Jeremy, Simon, Martin, Tom and Nigel on the bridge by Amwell Nature Reserve

The other highlight of our outing was the delightful 5 mile riverside ride along the towpath between Stanstead Abbotts and Hertford – which included our midway stop for coffee and cake at the excellent Ware Café.

Refreshed, we made short work of the return leg to Braughing, looking forward to a beer – courtesy of Ric, this week’s birthday boy – and a fine lunch at the Fleece.

Happy birthday, Ric

For the record the turnout was: Brian, Howard, Jenni, Jeremy, Martin, Maurice, Nigel, Ric, Rod, Roger, Simon and Tom – and we clocked up just over 33 miles.

Howard, Maurice, Roger, Ric, Rod and Simon – deep in their cups
33 miles clockwise: Braughing – Barwick – Hadham Cross – Perry Green – Widford – Hunsdon – Stanstead Abbotts – Amwell – Ware – Hartham Common Park – Bengeo – Sacombe Green – Great Munden – Braughing

Thanks as ever to Maurice for planning the outing, to Martin for the many photographs, more of which you will find here in the club album, and to Ric for the beers. Happy birthday, old timer!

Brian

Categories
Uncategorized

Henny Swan to Kersey Mill

With so many of our pals away on holiday, Thursday’s peloton was a relatively small affair of just six Windmillers: Brian, Geoff, Howard, Ken, Maurice and Sandra.

Setting off from The Henny Swan – that’s in Henny Street, near Sudbury – it was only a few miles before we left the road to follow the old Stour Valley Line. Originally connecting the London to Cambridge and London to Colchester lines, the railway ran from Brian’s village of Shelford, South Cambs, to Marks Tey in Essex. Alas it closed in 1967, but its legacy is an excellent off road cycleway.

Leaving the trackway at Melford Country Park, we took to the roads again and headed east via Great Waldingfield to Kersey where, rather than visit the village, we carried on half a mile and pulled in at Kersey Mill for refreshment.

Back on the bikes we made the return leg via Stoke-by-Nayland, Bures and Lamarsh, arriving back at the Henny Swan for a slap up lunch in the garden.

Lunch at the Henny Swan

To cap it all, Sandra – with her big birthday only days away – bought us all a beer. Cheers, Sandra, and many happy returns.

32 miles clockwise: Henny Street – Stour Valley Railway – Acton – Kersey Mill – Stoke-by-Nayland – Nayland – Bures – Lamarsh – Henny Street

Thanks, Maurice, for planning and leading the way on such a delightful, traffic-free route.

Revisit the last time we did this route, way back in May 2019.

Brian

Categories
Suffolk West Wratting

Missing Rod

It was one of those outings when we didn’t quite all manage to meet up. This week’s loose canon was Rod who, arriving late at the start, quite reasonably assumed the best way to intercept the peloton would be to set off in the opposite direction and catch us coming t’other way. Alas, we were not privy to Rod’s cunning plan.

So there we were, sipping coffee at Café 33, next door to HMP Highpoint, when there was a fleeting glimpse of a yellow and black-clad cyclist speeding past, but heading east.

“Was that, Rod?” asked Maurice.

“Can’t be – he’s going the wrong way,” replied Brian.

Back at West Wratting and checking our phones over a beer, we realised it had indeed been Rod we saw earlier. He did eventually return to the pub only to find most of us had had our lunch and gone home. And the poor guy also missed out on a free beer, courtesy of Geoff, this week’s birthday boy.

Many happy returns, Geoff

That aside, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Maurice, Ric, Victor – and even Rod – enjoyed a splendid, 30-odd mile outing in delightful Suffolk countryside.

And Rod did at least get back to West Wratting in time for a drink with Graham, who had dawdled over his beer, and Ken, who had driven over for a late lunch.

31 miles clockwise: West Wratting – Dullingham – Cheveley – Gazeley – Dalham – Dunstall Green – Lady’s Green – Meeting Green – Attleton Green – Farley Green – Little Thurlow – Carlton Green – Weston Green – West Wratting

Thanks, as ever, to Maurice, for planning everything – and to Geoff for the beer.

Brian

PS We are always on the lookout for windmills, interesting old churches and the like. But did you know there was an ancient cattle pound right under our noses in West Wratting? Me neither. Ric and I stumbled upon it while riding back from Thursday’s outing. It’s not much to look at – and I can’t find anything about it on the web – but in the absence of a windmill it will have to do as this week’s curiosity piece.

West Wratting’s ‘Ancient cattle pound.” Not much room to swing a cat, let alone a cow
Categories
Braughing

Jubilee shopping trip

Another Thursday – and the Windmillers had many reasons to be cheerful. Not only was it Ken’s birthday and he’d be buying us all coffee and cake, but it was also Graham’s birthday and he’d be buying the beers.

News had clearly got around as Keith chose this very day to return from a long medically enforced absence. And to cap it all, today was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, so the roads were likely to be quiet. We were counting our blessings!

Keith! Welcome back

So there was a general feeling of bonhomie in the air as twelve Windmillers set off from the Fleece. We should have been fourteen but Hazel and Graham had messaged to say they were still breakfasting in Puckeridge and would catch us up. Thursday outings are all about food.

The ride was a reprise of the one we did a fortnight ago, only t’other way round, and featuring a repeat visit to the Brewery Tea Rooms in Walkern.

Scrumptious meringue at The Old Brewery Tea Rooms

This is fast becoming one of our favourite refreshment stops; not only for good coffee and fabulous cake – but also for frocks! Yes, indeed. Rach came away carrying a rather tastefully wrapped package which Maurice, ever the gent, offered to transport back to Braughing in his bike bag.

Rach subsequently sent us some pics of her purchase.

So, hitherto known for our appreciation of local eateries and alehouses, Windmill Club outings now also provide shopping opportunities. Maybe next week we’ll call in at Bluewater and, who knows, if Maurice gets a cargo bike1 we’ll do Ikea.

Oh, and we did a bit of cycling too, clocking up some 30 miles and with the peloton comprising: Alan, Ann, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Jeremy, Keith, Ken, Maurice, Rach, Roger, Sandra and Tom.

Our thanks go to Maurice, for yet another wonderful outing, and to Ken and Graham for the birthday treats; many happy returns both.

A 30 mile figure of eight: Braughing – Puckeridge – St Edmund’s College – Nasty – Great Munden – Haultwick – Whempstead – Benington – Walkern – Ardeley – Wood End – Great Munden – Nasty – Braughing

Brian

PS . . .

. . . a cargo bike would be a useful addition to our club vehicle fleet.

Categories
Braughing

Laughing in Braughing

“Can you sleep in it?” enquired Deborah pointing to Sandra’s big shiny van, “and what’s in there anyway?” Whereupon Sandra, sliding back the door, pulled out an alpaca, albeit a large cuddly one. Talk about Aladdin’s cave.

Sandra, “Any more questions about the contents of my van?

Then there’s Ann and Martin who, for reasons best known to themselves, gave an impromptu rendition of “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do” during lunch. They only knew the chorus so we have helpfully included the complete lyrics below in the hope that they will give us the full version soon. The Windmillers are indeed an eccentric, some would say slightly mad, bunch.

Not as worrying as it looks; just Graham helping Deborah adjust her saddle height

So it was that thirteen Windmillers gathered at the Golden Fleece for a 30 mile jaunt around the lanes of East Herts; Ann, Brian, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Martin, Ric, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon and Victor raring to go on a figure of eight route devised by Maurice. And what a route it was, affording magnificent views across the Hertfordshire countryside, the roadsides abounding in May blossom. Views naturally only come with hill climbs, of which there were a fair few, so it was with some relief that we pulled up for a breather and some refreshment at the Brewery Tea Rooms in Walkern.

The Brewery Tea Rooms

Set in a beautiful house, a former brewery to be precise, it serves excellent coffee and fabulous cakes, and we were very warmly received by the ladies who run the place. Why have we never been here before? We must return in the near future.

Topping up our caffeine and glucose levels

Back on the bikes we puffed our way around the remaining 18 miles, pausing occasionally for the pedallers to catch up with the electrically assisted. Cresting the final hill between Puckeridge and Braughing, we returned to the Golden Fleece looking forward to a beer.

Maurice, Ken and Andrew were there to greet us and, as ever, our hosts Pete and Jess served up an excellent lunch.

Cheers!
A 30 mile figure of eight: Braughing – Nasty – Great Munden – Wood End – Ardeley – Walkern – Benington – Whempstead – Haultwick – Nasty – St Edmund’s College – Puckeridge – Braughing

Thanks go to Maurice for devising yet another superb route, also Graham, Martin and Simon for the many photographs which are all available in the club photo album.

Brian


Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” is a popular song written in 1892 by British songwriter Harry Dacre. It is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII.

There is a flower within my heart, Daisy, Daisy!
Planted one day by a glancing dart,
Planted by Daisy Bell!
Whether she loves me or loves me not,
Sometimes it’s hard to tell;
Yet I am longing to share the lot
Of beautiful Daisy Bell!

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer, do!
I’m half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’ll look sweet on the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!

We will go “tandem” as man and wife, Daisy, Daisy!
“Ped’ling” away down the road of life, I and my Daisy Bell!
When the road’s dark we can both despise P’liceman and “lamps” as well;
There are “bright lights” in the dazzling eyes Of beautiful Daisy Bell!
(Chorus)

I will stand by you in “wheel” or woe, Daisy, Daisy!
You’ll be the bell(e) which I’ll ring you know! Sweet little Daisy Bell!
You’ll take the “lead” in each “trip” we take, Then if I don’t do well;
I will permit you to use the brake, My beautiful Daisy Bell!
(Chorus)

Categories
Ely The fens

Goosed in Ely

Fenland can be a disorienting place – with its 360° horizon, black earth, wide waterways and immense skies – but the National Cycle Network’s Route 11 is there to guide you from Cambridge to Ely on traffic free lanes and byways. So it was that eleven hardy Windmillers set off for Ely, a return trip of 40 miles or so, on a cold Thursday in April.

Cambridge Park & Ride: ready for the off

There was plenty to see along the way. Not only do the fens contain around half the grade 1 agricultural land in England but they are also home to herds of deer and rare breeds of cattle and ponies, while the numerous locks, sluices, pumps and dykes keep the waters of the Great Ouse and the North Sea at bay.

Along the way we pulled in for refreshment at Wicken Fen, the National Trust reserve where herds of free roaming konik ponies and highland cattle help create new habitats for wildlife. Their grazing keeps the landscape open and encourages the growth of wetland and grassland plants.

Windmillers stress testing a fenland bridge

It was here that Charles, Chris, Geoff and Ken peeled off and headed for home, leaving Andrew, Brian, Deborah, Howard, Martin, Sandra and Simon to continue on towards Ely.

We enjoyed a splendid lunch at Peacocks Tearoom and Howard, this week’s birthday boy, bought the drinks.

Sandra cringes while Simon struggles with tearoom etiquette . . .

It was as we were putting our helmets on for the return trip that Deborah got goosed – quite literally – by a goose that crept up from behind and pecked her on the bum, to much hilarity all round.

Never turn your back on a goose, Deborah
All set for the homeward leg

The return leg was thankfully somewhat warmer and Martin, Sandra, Brian and Howard pulled up for yet more refreshment at Anglesey Abbey, while Andrew, Deborah and Simon headed on back to Cambridge.

Martin ahead of Simon, with Ely Cathedral in the background

Thanks are due to Andrew for planning the outing and Howard, top chap, for buying the drinks.

Best wishes also to Simon as he is taking his Spanish GCSE exam later this week; good luck!

Simon, distracted as he mutters Spanish irregular verbs

There’s lots more photos here in the club album and, if you’re into horses, there’s further information here about the konik ponies.

Konik ponies as photographed by Deborah

And finally, if you want to read about our last visit to Ely, some three years ago, see here.

Brian

40 miles to Ely and back
Categories
Essex Ridgewell

Fifteen go watermilling

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

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

Alderford Watermill, Sible Hedingham

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

Owen’s guided tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A low key St Patrick’s Day

It was a St Patrick’s Day outing so, by rights, Brian our resident Irishman should have been wearing green and buying the Guinness. Alas, he forgot to wear green – and he kept pretty quiet about the Guinness. Nevertheless, we were cheered by the prospect of free beer at lunchtime, courtesy of Roger, this week’s birthday boy.

It was a glorious spring morning with daffodils and blossom much in evidence as thirteen Windmillers set out from Therfield for a 30 mile tour of NE Herts. The gang comprised Alan, Andrew, Brian, Deborah, Graham, Howard, Ken, Maurice, Nigel, Ric, Roger, Sandra and Tom. Apologies / cast iron excuses had been tendered by Simon (covid), Martin (skiing) and Rod (Australia).

Ken, Roger and Graham at Cromer Mill

Mid-way around, we pulled in at Braughing where Jess opened up the Fleece specially for us and served coffee and cake in the garden.

Tom, Deborah, Sandra, Maurice and Nigel on top of the world

Back on the bikes we took the return leg at quite a lick, spurred on by the prospect of free beer. We were delighted to find Suzanne waiting for us at the pub; having cycled from Abington she was just as thirsty as the rest of us. But thirstiest of all were Graham and Victor who had also cycled from home, then done the 30 mile circuit and had yet to make the return journey. Well done, all

Ken, Howard, Graham, Tom and birthday boy Roger
Ric, Sandra, Maurice, Nigel, Suzanne and Victor

Thanks are due to Maurice and Andrew for getting everyone organised, plus, of course, Roger: thanks and happy birthday!

Brian

30 miles anticlockwise: Therfield – Kelshall – Sandon – Rushden – Ardeley – Great Munsden – Puckeridge – Braughing – Dassels – Great Hormead – Nuthampstead – Barkway – Reed – Therfield
Categories
Pig & Abbot

Happy Birthday, Maurice!

It’s a tricky time of year for the fashion conscious Windmiller. What’s one to wear on these between-the-seasons outings? With the exception of Victor, most agree it’s a little early for shorts and opt to retain winter leggings and layers. But then there’s Simon who, disdainful of cyclewear, nails it with white cotton twill shirt, cashmere cardigan and flannel trousers, making the rest of us look positively dowdy.

Deborah, Sandra, fashion influencer Simon, Alan and Geoff

So it was that Thursday morning saw the Windmillers heading out from the Pig & Abbot in various states of attire. Fuelled up on landlady Pat’s coffee and biscuits, Maurice, Charles, Howard Ric and Victor set off at a cracking pace, followed some five minutes later by Brian, Alan, Deborah, Geoff, Sandra and Simon.

Lounging around at Cockayne Hatley: Howard, Maurice, Ric and Victor

Seventeen miles in, we were eager to top up our caffeine and sugar levels and pulled in for coffee and cake at Waresley.

Stop pointing that bloody phone at me, Charles!
Simon making friends with the local wildlife

Back on the bikes, we headed for Great Gransden before turning south for the the return leg to Abington Pigotts.

Arriving at the Pig & Abbot, we were delighted to be joined by Lawrence. Birthday boy, Maurice bought the beers and we settled down to enjoy Pat’s excellent pies and the beer is excellent, especially when Maurice is buying.

Happy Birthday, Maurice!
30 miles clockwise: Abington Pigotts, Guilden Morden, Wrestlingworth, Cockayne Hatley, Potton, Waresley, The Gransdens, Hatley St George, Wendy, Shingay, Abington Pigotts

Thanks, as ever, to Maurice for the route – and the beer. Also Charles and Simon for the photographs; there’s many more here in the club album.

Brian

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
Braughing

Odd sock shocker

Did he get dressed in the dark? Does Fiona know he’s out? Will the polo club turn him away? Such were the questions troubling the Windmillers on seeing Charles – normally the acme of sartorial elegance – turn up in odd socks.

That aside, it was another good turnout; 18 riders, some arriving on two wheels, others on four, as we gathered in the car park of the Golden Fleece, Landlady Jess taking our orders for lunch.

Maurice led the way northwards out of Braughing, momentarily confusing those of us whose GPX devices advised heading south. No matter, within half a mile both Maurice and satnavs were in agreement as we headed for the Pelhams and Rickling.

It was a longish first stage, Maurice having planned our refreshment stop at the Silver Leys Polo Club some 20 miles distant. The polo season was long over – but there was a dressage competition underway in the arena. Simon, ever keen to get in on the action, got a little too close and was asked to step back lest he spook the horses. He has a similar effect on car drivers.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were enjoying coffee and some very fine cake, made specially in anticipation of our visit by the lovely lady who runs the clubhouse. She regaled us with stories of horrendous polo injuries, her own included. It’s not just falls, they can suffer some nasty facial injuries when struck by the ball. Apparently it is impractical to wear cricket-style helmets and face guards as they raise the risk of a broken neck when you fall. This summer alone, the air ambulance has paid the club two visits. And they say cycling is dangerous.

Back on the bikes, we headed for Standon and Puckeridge before returning to Fleece where Pete and Jess served up another excellent lunch. This week’s birthday boy was Chris, who duly bought us all a beer.

Happy Birthday, Chris!

For the record, this week’s team roster was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Chris, Geoff,Graham, John, Ken, Martin, Maurice, Ric, Rod, Roger, Sandra, Simon, Suzanne and Victor.

Good to see John again

Thanks, as ever, to Maurice for planning the route and arranging things at the polo club, Andrew for getting everyone organised, Chris for the beers, and Martin, Graham and Simon for the photographs (too many to include here but they’re all in the Windmill Club Photo Album).

Martin’s new haircut; it’ll look good when it’s finished
28 miles clockwise: Braughing – the Pelhams – Rickling – Rickling Green – Manuden – Hazel End – Upwick Green – Little Hadham – Silver Leys Polo Club – Standon – Puckeridge – Braughing

Brian