17 October. Pay attention! 28 miles.

What do Francis Crick, Mary Archer, the Guided Busway and Rupert Brooke have in common? Answer: They were all part of Simon’s fascinating educational tour of South Cambridgeshire on this fine autumn day which encompassed science, engineering, poetry and the Archers – an everyday story of Granchester folk.

Starting from Martin’s house in Ickleton after coffee and biscuits and a quick wizz around his field maze on their bikes, thirteen Windmillers comprising Simon, Sandra, Keith (celebrating his birthday), Brian, Roger, Ric, Lawrence, Graham, Nigel, Geoff, Charles, Neil and Martin set off in the direction of Duxford stopping briefly at the Ickleton Lion for any last minute arrivals.

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All lined up for an amazeing ride, birthday boy Keith on the right.

Navigating the maze

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…and the winner of a bottle of Spitfire for being first over the finish line was Geoff

 

…hotly pursued by Sandra, Keith, Brian, Lawrence, Simon and Graham

This is what Simon had planned for our enjoyment:

Bike ride 17 Oct 19

After crossing the A505 at Duxford, when Simon somehow achieved a Jesus-like parting of the traffic allowing all to cross simultaneously, we waited for Graham to catch up before taking the bike path from Whittlesford to Sawston and continuing along the newly upgraded bike path to Stapleford and Shelford, passing Tom’s house as we did so. Then the science bit started, with a ride along the now famous DNA bike path towards Addenbrooke’s Hospital:

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The DNA bike path from Great Shelford to Addenbrooke’s is decorated with 10,257 colourful stripes which represent the four nucleotides of the BRCA2 gene.

At the end of the bike path we stopped to admire the complex of buildings and roads on the Addenbrooke’s site and to hear Simon talk about Francis Crick and Jim Watson who discovered DNA in 1953, with the considerable assistance of one of their researchers, Rosalind Franklin, who was not credited to the same extent and who, some might argue, should also have been in line for a Nobel prize.

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Gathering outside the Anne McLaren building on Francis Crick Avenue to hear about the discovery of DNA – just a question of smashing a cell to bits and extracting the DNA, according to Prof. Simon. Just opposite is Dame Mary Archer Way. In Jeffrey Archer’s libel case in 1987 the judge famously described Mary Archer as being a vision of elegance, fragrance and radiance.

Next stop was the busway and bike path alongside to Trumpington, stopping to hear from Simon about its development and issues since construction, including a bus careering across the bike path and ploughing into a bank a couple of years ago, just a week before the Windmill Club passed the same spot………. Opinions are divided as to whether this represents progress in transportation.

 

The Cambridge busway at Trumpington

Granchester was the next stop, reached by a delightful path behind the Park and Ride car park, across a huge new country park and diving into thick woods leading to Byron’s Pool before passing the Archers’ Old Vicarage and entering the famous Orchard Tea Garden. Famous not only for Rupert Brooke and his poetry, quoted by Simon during coffee (the first verse of The Soldier is on the plan above) but also frequented by dozens of other famous people including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Francis Crick, D H Lawrence, A A Milne, H G Wells, Ted Hughes, Henry James, King George VI, Prince Edward and now a group of illustrious Windmillers too!

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Soaking up the sun and Rupert Brooke’s poetry at the Orchard Tea Garden in Granchester

Ken joined us during coffee and so we were fourteen as we started on the homeward leg via some off road tracks leading over the M11 towards Barton and then on to Haslingfield, Harston and Newton before taking another off road stretch to Whittlesford along what turned out to be a smooth track whilst some decided to take the direct route back to the Ickleton Lion.

True to the Windmill tradition, having owned up to having a birthday Keith very kindly bought a round of drinks and received a hearty rendering of Happy Birthday to You in return. Over lunch we thought of Maurice and his knee operation taking place that day and wished him well. Charles impressed us with his method of paying his bill – no cash, no credit card, just his smart watch and phone. Windmillers are always ahead of the game.

Thanks were given to Simon for planning and executing such a great ride and we are all looking forward to the others that are taking place during the absence of Maurice and Andrew – no pressure on the organisers!

Well done to the several members who clocked up considerably more than 28 miles on this ride due to riding to and from their homes, namely Sandra, Ric, Brian, Neil and Geoff.

Martin

P.S.  Maurice’s operation went very well and he is now back home on crutches and climbing stairs.

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10 October. Scones and clotted cream. 36 miles.

We could just as easily have been in Cornwall tucking into vast numbers of scones with butter, jam and great dollops of clotted cream (on top of course, Cornish style). But it was actually the coffee stop at Maurice and Lynn’s house where Lynn laid on the great feast for us all to enjoy. But where was two scones Keith we all asked? He would have been in his element.

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From the left: John B, Ric, Brian, Roger, Geoff, Andrew, Victor, Maurice and Martin. Sitting on the deck: Sandra, Simon and Maurice and Lynn’s labrador looking happy having scoffed some spilt jam and cream.

Before arriving, the 11 Windmillers had set off once again from The Golden Fleece at Braughing having placed their orders for lunch. The route took us through yet more of Maurice’s quiet Hertfordshire lanes which provide ample opportunities for chatting along the way. This is where we went, clockwise, except for the return leg which was via Barley and Nuthampstead:

Braughing ride 10 Oct 19

At Maurice’s, it was great to see (and hear) the progress he has made over the past 2 years renovating and converting his Douglas Dragonfly motor cycle to become Honda powered, complete with disc brakes and an electric start – a far cry from the original but making it very road worthy and safe. He has already completed over 200 trouble free miles with not even an oil leak. Well done Maurice! We are all looking forward to seeing what your next project might be, which will no doubt be starting soon after his impending knee operation.

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Ton up kid Martin astride Maurice’s Honda powered Douglas

During the feast of scones, Lynn’s large collection of medals for great feats of athletics were spotted in the loo and brought outside for all to admire, much to the embarrassment of Lynn. Maurice tells the story of how in the early days of the Windmill Club, five members including himself, Lynn, John Tarrington, Rod Kennedy and one other, cycled 100km during the night in London to raise money for Save the Children. They started from Crystal Palace at 11.00pm and went round the Isle of Dogs and across London to Alexandra Palace via a number of bridges including Tower Bridge and London Bridge, finishing at 5.00am. Lynn’s medals include one for taking part in this event.

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Lynn and her collection of medals. Well done Lynn!

Sure enough, the return leg to Braughing got us back to The Golden Fleece bang on time for an excellent lunch, thanks to Maurice’s impeccable planning and no incidents en route, despite having to ride along a lane of freshly cut hawthorn hedge at one stage.

During lunch Victor very kindly offered a spare cycling jersey which was the wrong size for him. Simon firstly had a go at getting his head through the opening, without success, whilst also declaring his chest size as being too big (well, he was a rugby player in his youth). Geoff then had a go and declared it a perfect fit and so we expect to see him sporting it on a future ride when, no doubt, we will mistake him for Victor.

Will it fit? Simon struggles to take possession of the spare jersey and gives up.

Voila! It fits Geoff like a dream.

This ride was possibly the last that Maurice would be able to take part in for a while due to his knee operation on 17th October (since confirmed due to bad weather on Monday 14th October). We therefore drank his health, wished him well and we look forward to seeing him again soon at a lunch. Knowing Maurice, it won’t be long before that new knee is pushing pedals again.

Thanks to Maurice for planning the ride, to Lynn for the coffee and scones and Andrew for organising us all.

Martin

 

3 October 2019: On Maurice’s home turf

Thursday morning saw 12 Windmillers set off from the Golden Fleece at Braughing, Maurice leading the way, followed by Andrew, Ken, Keith, Howard, Charles, Roger, Graham, Geoff, Lawrence, Simon and Brian.

Born and bred hereabouts, Maurice needs no map. He led the way south – through Puckeridge, Levens Green, Sacombe Green and Bengeo – to Hertford where we picked up the Lea Navigation towpath. Then it was a leisurely ride along the riverside to Ware and a welcome coffee stop at the café in the town centre.

Refreshed, we continued along the river as far as Stanstead Abbotts where, leaving the towpath, we turned northwards for the return leg – via Hunsdon, Barwick and Standon – to Braughing.

A puncture in Keith’s rear tyre entailed a small delay but, with Howard’s help, this was soon mended and we were underway once more, arriving back at the Fleece soon after 1 o’clock.

A delightful morning was topped off with an excellent lunch served up by Landlord Peter.

Thanks, Maurice for your intuitive, satnav-like guidance around the quieter lanes of North Herts. Andrew too, for getting us all organised.

Brian

31 miles anticlockwise from Braughing

26 September 2019: Milling around at Bourn

Bourn Windmill

We felt slightly giddy, standing on the mill floor as the entire structure – tower, sails, the lot – turned through all points of the compass. Propelled by our unseen friends outside, our little world was turning; twenty-odd tons of oak, cast iron and millstone creaked alarmingly about our ears as sunbeams and shadows danced across the internal walls.

Sandra and Lawrence doing all the pushing while Roger and Martin discuss Brexit

We were on another of Martin’s marvellous outings. You may remember the last one involved crossing an expanse of open water in a small boat. This time we were getting up close and personal with some 17th century heavy engineering.

Simon, Victor, Claire, Howard and Geoff showing how it should be done

Setting out from Abington Pigotts earlier that morning, Martin had led the way – via Hatley St George and the Gransdens – to Bourn where he had arranged a tour of the mill. Our host Kate plus volunteers Derek and Claire were expecting us and gave a warm welcome.

Built in 1636, Bourn is one of the oldest windmills in England and a designated Ancient Monument. Perched in lovely countryside to the west of Cambridge it is owned and cared for by local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future.

Derek and Claire gave us a fascinating insight into the ingenuity of millwrights – before splitting us into two groups: the innies who were to be whirled around inside – and the outies who did the pushing. Innies and outies then swapped over so all had a turn at pushing / feeling queasy.

Afterwards Kate invited us into her garden where we enjoyed tea, coffee and some wonderful home-baked treats. Delightful as it was, we had another 17 miles to go and so, thanking Kate, Derek and Claire for their hospitality, we saddled up and set off on the return leg.

Kate and Martin

Approaching Harlton, Martin led us off road and up hill on a rough track for a mile or so before before descending towards Orwell. Then it was on to Meldreth, Bassingbourn and eventually the home straight back to the Pig and Abbot.

Over a hearty lunch and a beer there was much talk of windmills followed by a fierce debate as to whether Landlady Pat’s meat pies were superior to her meat puddings; opinion was divided and we agreed to return and gather more data in the near future.

For the record our gang of cyclists comprised Martin, Andrew, Sandra, Ken, Howard, Roger, Ric, Victor, Graham, Geoff, Lawrence, Simon,  Vernon and Brian – and we clocked up 32 miles.

32 miles clockwise from Abington Pigotts

Thanks, Martin, for another excellent outing; Andrew too for the logistics. And a special thanks to Kate, Derek and Claire for their hospitality. Great cakes, Kate!

Checkout the CPPF website for further information on Bourn Mill – and there are more pictures in our 2019 photo album – including a video of us turning the mill.

Brian

2 September. Exploring new lanes. 23 miles.

Starting from The Tally Ho in Barkway, this ride took in both familiar and unfamiliar lanes. Maurice led the way followed by Andrew, Simon, Nick and Martin. Andrew was recovering from a major tooth operation a couple of days before and so got full marks for turning out. Spot the unfamiliar bit if you can:

Tally Ho! circuit 2 Sept 19

It was familiar territory as far as the 10 mile mark, where we sadly lost Nick who took a right at the bottom of the hill coming down from Elmdon instead of a left to follow the others but by the time we discovered this it was a bit too late. Moral of the story, wait at junctions after fast descents preceded by hills. Sorry, Nick!

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A toothless Dawg approaching the hill towards Duddenhoe End

The remaining four continued towards Arkesden but Andrew promptly took charge as we rounded a sharp bend and took us down a gravel track through delightful woods, emerging once again onto the Arkesden road. This can be seen above between the 10 and 15 mile marks. Definitely a track to do again on a dry day, perhaps with some clippers to cut through the odd bramble branch.

After Arkesden Andrew again took us off our familiar route up a lane to take a look at his brother in law’s new weekend pad which he had just taken possession of, a somewhat large barn conversion set in 2 acres with an easy walk down to The Axe and Compasses. What more could one ask of a country retreat?

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Drinking the health of Andrew’s brother in law Adam’s new weekend abode, in an imaginary style.

Then it was on to Clavering and Meesden passing Nick’s house on the way and hoping to see him back at The Tally Ho but it was not to be. The sunflower field opposite his house looked in fine fettle, clearly taking advantage of climate warming.

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7.15pm at The Tally Ho. The evenings are beginning to draw in.

Thanks to Maurice and Andrew for leading the way.

Martin

 

6 September 2019: Ahoy, shipmates!

How many Windmillers can you fit in a small boat? Well now we know: eleven, including bikes.

Room for 6 more

Martin had promised us a day at the seaside. So it was that eleven Windmillers set out from Brightlingsea for an outing to Clacton. It was an unseasonally chilly morning so we left our buckets, spades and bathing costumes in the car.

“Are we nearly there yet?” was the oft-heard refrain as we pedalled after Martin for some 16 miles – through Great Bentley and Thorpe-le-Soken – before finally seeing the sea at Walton-on-the-Naze.

The Naze Tower

We pulled in for coffee at the Essex Wildlife Trust café, adjacent to the historic Naze tower. It was a timely stop as Keith had just developed a puncture.

Puncture repairs

Refreshed and with Keith’s puncture mended, we set off along the promenade for 12 traffic-free miles taking in Frinton, Holland-on-Sea and Clacton. And what a blissful ride it was, under wide blue skies with a clear horizon and very little wind.

Clacton Pier

Pulling up at Point Clear, we could see our destination 500 yards away across Brightlingsea Creek. Martin made a call to check the foot ferry was operating. It was; which was just as well – the return by road would have meant an extra 20 miles and no lunch.

“About that ferry I ordered . . .”

It was at this point that we started having doubts about Martin’s plan – as we traipsed after him, pushing the bikes with some difficulty across several hundred yards of shingle and sand. There was no sign of a ferry – or even a jetty – and how exactly would we get off the beach and on to a boat? Wading with bikes held aloft? There was nothing at the water’s edge, not even a footprint – just an expanse of open water between us and Brightlingsea.

Brightlingsea – so near, and yet so far

“Mmmm,” said Martin as, pulling out his phone again, he made another call. Lo and behold, a little boat chugged out of Brightlingsea harbour heading our way. Reaching the shore, the skipper lowered a landing ramp and invited us aboard. What all of us? On that little thing? Bikes too?

Five minutes later and now fully laden the little craft was ferrying us across the creek. What larks!

Finding our sea legs
A motley crew
Galley slaves

Disembarking at the town jetty, we saddled up and rode the last few hundred yards to The Rosebud where we lunched in the garden overlooking the Colne Estuary.

Landlubbers once more

For the record the eleven Windmillers were Martin, Andrew, Maurice, Deborah, Graham, Charles, Keith, Lawrence, Roger, Ric and Brian.

Well done, Martin, and many thanks for a wonderful day. We never doubted you really.

Brian

Cheers!
36 miles clockwise from Brightlingsea

PS There’s lots more pictures in our 2019 album here

29 August. Nigel’s birthday bash. Record turnout? 30+ miles.

A large contingent of Windmillers gathered at Andrew’s house in Wendens Ambo on this fine late summer’s day with just a hint of autumnal nip in the air. And it wasn’t because we knew in advance that it was Nigel’s birthday and that he would be buying the drinks. So, led by Andrew and followed by Maurice (enjoying not being responsible for map reading for a change), Keith, Brian, Ric, Roger, Simon T, Geoff, Deborah, Lawrence, Nigel, Charles and Howard, the group set off in the direction of Hill Bastardo up to Littlebury Green and were met by Ken and Martin who had cycled up from Ickleton, making 15 in all. Is this a Windmill record? Brian and Ric, however, rode from their homes in Shelford and Harston and so clocked up 40+ miles.

This is where we went, clockwise:

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Other than crossing the busy A505 at Duxford, the roads were pleasantly quiet and so there was plenty of time early on to take in big views towards Saffron Walden and Ickleton and admire the neat harvested fields. We had to cross the same railway line three times, which could potentially have meant waiting up to 20 minutes given the new barriers in Ickleton and Sawston but, luckily, we were only held up once. Andrew’s route took us via the bridge over the A11 at Little Abington, where an archaeological dig was being carried out prior to some road changes, and then on to Linton via an off road track from Hildersham. Hoping to see the Jura Comtois horses in action again (having seen them on a previous ride), and the lady in charge, we were disappointed that there was no sign of either.

En route from Whittlesford to Sawston,  photos taken by Brian in his usual horizontal pose

The Linton Kitchen is a favourite coffee stop and once again they produced excellent coffee and cakes for hungry Windmillers, whilst imprisoning a few behind bars:

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Lawrence, Nigel, Keith and Howard happily imprisoned in The Linton Kitchen whilst Maurice looks on

The return leg involved a pleasant climb up through Hadstock and then a fast run down to Little Walden and on to Saffron Walden before enjoying an excellent lunch back at The Bell Inn in Wendens Ambo where we celebrated Nigel’s birthday with a fine rendering of Happy Birthday to You – a Windmill choir in the making, perhaps, but needing some training from choirmeister Lawrence before performing in public. Sadly, Charles could not stay for lunch but bid us farewell with his usual ‘Goodbye, you bastards!’.

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Lunch in the garden of The Bell Inn, birthday boy Nigel on the right with mouthful of pizza

A lunchtime bonus, particularly for those of us not having to drive, was to sample the barrels remaining from a beer festival held the previous weekend. And what fine beers they were too!

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Brian, Keith and Martin happily sampling

Thanks go to Andrew for planning and leading the way, Nigel for buying a large round of birthday drinks and Brian for the pics.

Martin