24 September. Russian spies on their bikes. 20 miles.

It was good to have two newish members, Simon and Deborah, join Andrew and Martin on this Monday evening ride around the lanes. But given their interest in stopping to examine a nuclear fall out shelter near Brent Pelham, were they in fact Russian spies we wondered, or is this just fake news?

Starting from The Bull in Lower Langley, where a large beer festival had been held over the weekend and luckily for us there was a lot left over, our ride took us through stunning lanes just as the sun was getting low in the sky. Here is the route taken:

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Avoiding all off-road alternatives, we sped along thinking of the beer to be sampled back at the Bull until we pulled up near the aforesaid nuclear bunker, built during the height of the cold war when it was feared the Russians could have been overhead at any time.

Three Russian spies
Generals Simonski, Martinski and Deborahski in front of the nuclear shelter in Brent Pelham (well camouflaged by undergrowth)

Then it was on to Anstey where one bright spark who shall be nameless suggested we might call on Keith, but not knowing exactly which house he lived in we just rode up his driveway, hung around making a few noises and then departed without seeing him – just as well as he had a rotten cold. But the security system of thorns / flints on his driveway succeeded in giving Martin a puncture at a time when the light was beginning to fade but it was repaired in a reasonable time thanks to a team effort.

When we finally reached The Bull it was great to see John B who had been out riding in the same area and maestro Maurice was propped up on a bar stool too with an indecent suntan having just got back from sailing around Majorca. The huge range of beers left over from the festival were priced at just £2.00 a pint and so we just had to take advantage of that, and take some home too for good measure.

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Heresy bitter and Nethergate Mild were looking for good homes, and found plenty

Thanks to Andrew for organising a great ride and to the staff of The Bull who always give us such a warm welcome.

Martin

 

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20 September. Down under in murky Essex. 32 miles.

It was a murky Essex day as 6 Windmillers gathered at the Fleur de Lys for a ride to Finchingfield and back, not even bearing to think about Maurice soaking up the sunshine and drinking gin and tonics on his friend’s large yacht in the Mediterranean. So Andrew led the way, followed dutifully by Sandra, Chris, Lawrence, Roger and Martin via Henham, Thaxted, Great Bardfield, Sydney (only joking) and Waltham’s Cross (no joking).  Here is the route taken:

Widdington to Finchingfield and back

The first stop on what was quite a brisk ride was Henham where large fish were seen swimming in the village pond, which never seems to dry up. Sadly they were not seen on camera:

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Invisible fish in Henham village pond

Thaxted came and went in a blur and on we sped towards Great Bardfield with thoughts of coffee beginning to become uppermost in one’s mind.  But then came the hypothetical Sydney, a field full of mini wallabies munching happily away but almost as invisible as the fish in Henham:

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Spot the wallabies

Coffee was had at the delightful café in Finchingfield where we have stopped many times before, Bosworth’s Tearooms. Several scones were consumed, some with clotted cream (on top of the jam of course) and there were thoughts of why Keith was not with us. That soon became clear when the murk turned to heavy rain and we had to sit it out until it cleared, so Keith had clearly read an accurate forecast.

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Fuzzy Windmillers in the murk outside Bosworth’s
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Dracula rode with us too

But the rain soon stopped and other than a spot or two on the way back (badly judged by Martin who stopped unnecessarily to don a waterproof only to remove it again shortly afterwards) we returned in the murk via Thaxted and were soon taking the off road route behind Debden to reach Widdington in time for a splendid lunch at the Fleur de Lys.  Chris was celebrating the arrival of his second grandchild, Ethan, and so we had great pleasure wetting the babe’s head courtesy of Chris. Thanks Chris!

Wetting Ethan Bow's head
Wetting Ethan Bow’s head

Thanks to Andrew for organising a great ride.

Martin

 

13 September 2018: Thin Beer and Crinkle Crankle Walls

20180913_122459“It’s alcohol-free!”, choked Keith, mid mouthful. Maurice had invited us in to his Aldeburgh cottage for refreshments. “It was a bargain; eight bottles of Ghost Ship for a tenner – and now I know why”, he admitted bashfully. Much leg-pulling – of his good leg, of course – followed.

20180913_113715Mid-way round a 37 mile route from Framlingham to the seaside and back, Andrew, Lawrence, Roger, Keith, Ken and Brian had followed Maurice to Snape Maltings for coffee and then on to Aldeburgh for lunch. Along the way we had bumped into John Bagrie; though we seemed to lose him at coffee time. Strange that.

Crinkle-Crankle_Wall_in_Bramfield_-_geograph.org.uk_-_108876At Easton, we rode past Britain’s longest crinkle crankle wall. That’s a wavy wall to you and me; look at the picture and you’ll get the general idea. Dating back to the 18th century, crinkle crankle walls were cheap to build as they were made just one brick thin, they didn’t need buttressing and, no doubt, with the money saved the owner could treat pals to real beer instead of that cheap non alcoholic stuff.

20180913_134151Meanwhile, back in Aldeburgh and a few doors along from Maurice’s place, we enjoyed a fine seafood lunch before mounting up and heading back to Framlingham. Throughout the day we had been blessed with fine weather, good food and excellent stewardship, all thanks to Maurice. Thanks too, to Andrew, for getting us organised.

Brian

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37 miles anticlockwise from Framlingham

 

3 September. Speedy Steeds. 20 miles.

Sandra’s report of trusty steeds on 17 September reminded me that speedy steeds had an interesting circuit from The Bull in Lower Langley on 3 September, which had not been blogged.

Here is the route taken:

Bull circuit 3 Sept 18

It was Andrew, Keith and Martin who set off on yet another glorious evening circuit only to find at the end that John B had been doing much the same in the opposite direction, having started a bit later, but never the twain did meet until back at The Bull. Instead of going directly from Heydon to Elmdon, Martin introduced a new off road but relatively smooth path from Chrishall to Elmdon which runs through the woods (wonderful smells at bluebell time).  Interesting to see that the trusty steeds did it again in reverse.

Whilst climbing up to Catmere End, Martin noticed a sprayer busy spraying and in the interests of photography and sprayer identification by Tom at some future stage, he stopped to take pics, whilst the others went ahead and waited. It wasn’t long before the driver stopped his sprayer and sauntered over to ask if there was anything wrong. ‘Nothing at all’, wimpered Martin, thankful that he was not about to crush his bike and as soon as Tom’s name was mentioned he melted into a long discussion about nozzles and weeds, demonstrating what he was trying to eradicate. Meanwhile, Andrew and Keith were worrying about Martin’s safety but showing no signs of intervening.

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Sprayer at Catmere End in need of identification by Tom

Then the speedsters got going, Andrew and Martin recording their best ever top speed of 33.4 mph descending the long hill from Littlebury Green.

Not long afterwards, we came across a recently torched / burnt out Land Rover Discovery on the side of a field leading up to Duddenhoe End. The heat had been so intense that all the glass had melted into pools and nothing was left except the shell. Quite a sight:

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Andrew’s new car has seen better days

Finally, we wended our way through the lanes taking a left at Langley Upper Green which meant delaying a pint by another 10 minutes but adding a couple of miles to the ride and enjoying the countryside.

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Quiz: How many bales in the 5 thick stack? Answers on a postcard please.

And then we were soon back at The Bull sampling a pint of Benny’s Best, still not knowing where it is brewed and all the staff refusing to tell us. But it’s a fine pint.

Thanks, Andrew, for organising a great circuit. Apologies for the delay in reporting.

Martin

 

 

 

 

10.09.18 – Trusty ‘Steeds’ !!!

The Bull, Langley Lower Green would be the meeting place for this evening ride, 17.00 would be the start time. Assembling in the car park were Maurice choosing non electric cycling to push those muscles, Andrew, Sandra and a newby Simon, whom we welcomed to the group and hope to see again on many a ride.

Setting off across the ford towards Meesden Bury before cutting down towards Roast Green and then along back up to Langley Upper Green passing ‘The Olivers’ residence, on to Duddenhoe End, where we circled to incorporate a little off road section through Rockells Farm, a little stoney for some of us!! Back on tarmac we headed to Littlebury Green, passing Simon’s residence on to Catmore End and Strethall (Thankfully no angry looking farmers spraying tonight but we know how to calm them now, “Just mention Tom Robinson and all will be well!!’)

Onwards towards Elmdon on the lovely smooth tarmac, this wouldn’t last long as Andrew had plans for another off road section from Elmdon to Chrishall, through a lovely wooded area, much smoother than the previous off road section. Weaving our way through the lanes and passing The Red Cow, sadly not open on a Monday, we headed back through Heydon, Gt Chishill, Shaftenhoe End and Little Chishill to a warm welcome at the Bull and welcome refreshments. We were soon joined by John B with a rye grin on is face – “That was close” he said, assuming he meant the fading light but no, dusting off his knees, he told us of an off road section close by, a bit like being on a roller coaster ride. While relaxing and enjoying himself, his ‘Trusty Steed’ decided otherwise and catapulted him into the verge, thankfully no major damage, dusty knees and dented pride and he was on his way to the pub for a well deserved beer.

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22.25 miles anticlockwise

Thanks Andrew for organising us and the ride.

Sandra

6 September 2018: Tricky wardrobe decisions

20180906_113521What to wear when the mornings are autumnal but summer lingers at lunchtime? The turning season poses a dilemma for the fashion conscious Windmiller.

It was a chilly Thursday morning and our wardrobe choices were many and varied. Bare knees were still in the majority, Ric alone opting for winter leggings, and Lawrence, sporting ski gloves, clearly wasn’t taking any chances. Then there was John B toughing it out in skimpy retro shorts and T-shirt; those of you familiar with the 118 118 ads on the telly will know the look.

20180906_095032So it was that twelve randomly attired Windmillers headed out from The Fox & Duck for a 30-odd mile circuit of the lanes south of Therfield. Maurice – followed by Ric, Lawrence, Roger, Brian, Andrew, Ken, Keith, Victor, Chris and both Johns – led the way towards Buntingford and thence on to Puckeridge, where we pulled in at the Something Lovely tea room for refreshment. No coffee for Victor though, as he set about mending a slow puncture.

20180906_103505Back on the bikes, we dodged the speeding traffic on the A10 roundabout and headed west towards Dane End before turning north for the return leg via Cromer and Sandon.

Arriving in Therfield, and with the pub garden now bathed in glorious sunshine, we enjoyed an excellent lunch while Roger – pint in hand – entertained us with his falling backwards off a bench without spilling a drop trick. He promises to do it again at the Christmas lunch.

It was a well chosen, scenic and mostly traffic-free route, thanks again to Maurice. Thanks also to Andrew for getting us organised.

And let’s hope we can keep the bare knees going – at least until the clocks go back.

Brian

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31 miles clockwise from Therfield

30 August 2018: Seven do Shotley

20180830_110314A sunny Thursday morning saw seven Windmillers setting off from The Carriers Arms, East Bergholt, for a 34 mile circuit of the Shotley Peninsula.

Maurice – followed by Andrew, Lawrence, Roger, Ken, Keith and Brian – led the way eastwards towards Shotley Gate at the tip of the peninsula, where the rivers Stour and Orwell meet.

Along the way we stopped to admire Erwarton Hall, a 16th century stately pile with a particularly imposing gatehouse.  Legend has it Anne Boleyn stayed at the house and that her heart is buried at the nearby church.

20180830_103925Looking out from Shotley Gate we could see wind turbine installation vessels moored across the Stour at Harwich and – across the Orwell – giant container ships docked at Felixstowe.

20180830_105928Turning westwards for the return leg, we stopped off at scenic Pin Mill for coffee at the Butt and Oyster. Back on the bikes we continued westwards, crossing the causeway at Alton Water before heading back to East Bergholt for lunch at the Carriers Arms.

20180830_113920Thanks, Maurice, for another delightful route – and Andrew for getting us all organised.

Screenshot 2018-08-30 at 17.32.55Brian

PS: Here is this week’s caption competition . . .

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