|Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club|
Reports from Autumn 2009
[Many more photos on Flickr - click on the pic for a bigger version]
Sunday 1 November
Wet and windy weather all last week and more forecast for next, with 100mph gusts over the Needles on the Isle of Wight yesterday and a photo of huge waves crashing way over the top of the lighthouse in Newhaven Harbour adorning this morning's Observer - bit of a daunting prospect for Suzanne's Clarion Ride to Worthing today, especially with her warning that there were to be no trains to rescue us should the heavens open up. Rain started around 9am and I first feared for my neighbours who were to run in the 10k race along the seafront timed to start just before we were to meet at the Palace Pier at 10.15. However, I was keen to try, especially as some weather websites at some times, had predicted sunny intervals. It had stopped by 10am and I packed a few changes of clothes and Mick gamely agreed to accompany me.
We would have made the meet at 10.15 had I not chosen the off-road lane route, ending up at Duke's Mound, which was gated. I asked the race stewards if it was alright to cycle down among the runners and they said yes. At first it was, but there were 2,500 runners and they were running in both directions on the sea-front, from Pier to Marina, to King Alfred and back to pier and although they were avoiding the bike track, their fans and other pedestrians were flocking down and their flocks became denser as we neared the pier. We climbed back up to the A27 road and arrived at the pier 5 minutes late, with no sign of Suzanne, who had said she would be moving off promptly to avoid the runners, only pausing for photos at the ice-cream shop in Hove. Parts of the sea-front bike track are too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians in normal times but today runners had congregated from all over the country for the 10K and so Mick and I switched back to the A27 until we passed the old West Pier, from where we soon caught up with Suzanne and Joyce. At Maracco's Tessa and Wendy were waiting for us and the first of two dog walkers took our group photo while Joyce held their dog.
We proceeded westward against a strong west wind, pausing only at Carat's Café for Suzanne to ask if any respite, or toilet break was necessary. None was, so we heeded the sky and clouds and hoped to outrun them to lunch on Worthing Pier. At the locks Suzanne spotted a photo opportunity and I asked a man walking his handsome husky to do the job. He took some trouble and Joyce held the powerful, beautiful beast.
As we approached the outskirts of Shoreham I noticed the classic storm cloud formation which seemed to hover west of the town. They must be having some rain there, I said. As we reached the allotments and crossed the traffic lights it began to gently rain. We put on our waterproofs and huddled against the poor protection of a chain link fence as the rain really pelted down upon us. I tried a brief foray 10 yards ahead to the protection of a tree, which did help, but, in so doing, trod in a huge puddle and soaked my feet and shoes. Things were looking grim, but, lo and behold, it only lasted 10 minutes or so and our waterproofs, were indeed, waterproof.
We sailed through Shoreham, not stopping in the many dear little cafes for warmth and refreshment and, once over the other side of the footbridge, were able to remove the wet waterproofs and continue westward, only stopping at the public conveniences, conveniently placed to the west of the town's beach sea-front path.
We enjoyed the birds in Widewater Lagoon behind Lancing. There were cormorants and a group [bevy, gaggle] of cygnets. We arrived at the pier at 12.45, so we'd taken nearly 2 hours to do the twelve miles. The fastest runners in the 10K took 29 [man] and 33 mins [woman], which was pretty good for such a blustery day.
The sun now blazed down on the glazed windows of the art deco restaurant on Worthing pier. It seemed hot enough to sit outside, but not many were doing so and we decided not to, though the sea and beach looked inviting enough for a paddle and the sky was brilliant blue. Our coats, my socks and shoes and various other garments were arrayed in the sunshine and soon dried. Food was super; Joyce and I had a very tasty mushroom and sage soup each, Suzanne had a baked potato oozing with tuna and salad and the other three had Sunday roasts, all accompanied with organic lemonades or similar ilk.
At 2pm we made our several ways back to the bikes, just as the blue sky turned grey and rain started to patter. Fortunately, this didn't last and we set out towards the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters which gleamed ahead of us, especially after I'd cleaned my glasses, which had become misted over in the storm und drang of the wild weather heading west. Now we thought we'd have payback after the struggle westwards. The flags on the pier as we ate had said due West, but now we certainly still had to pedal and put that down to the changing of the tide. As we flew easily East through the lagoon we enjoyed seeing the cormorants stretching their wings. Were they drying off their feathers, as we had done in the restaurant, or merely enjoying stretching their limbs, as we were on our bikes? To the right of us, on the sea, eight kite surfers raced and a couple of wind surfers plied the white waves.
[In the Argus it was reported that two kite surfers had actually jumped over Worthing pier - do not try this at home!- Fred]
We headed inland at Shoreham and went for tea at the airport, enjoying the planes, the cakes and chocolate bars, complete range of herbal teas and shopping opportunity of small, but perfectly formed toy-shop. The talk at our table, underneath the WW2 bomber picture, turned, uncharacteristically to our beloved first cars; Citroen Deesse, Morris Countrymen, minis and minors; enticed by Wendy's love of the internal combustion engine.
Back on the [little] road again, we crossed the Shoreham Tollbridge, Mick spotting a lapwing on the airfield and me seeing an egret on the Adur. Suzanne chose an inland route home and subtly chose the roads above the marked National Cycle Route. This was much more scenic, with more trees and higher class housing. One would have thought that a national cycle route would have the best of scenery, but we'd been told before by parents of friends who worked for Sustrans, that local authorities kept the best bits private.
We went back to the sea at Wish Road, by which time Tessa and Wendy wended their way more slowly, as Wendy was new to Clarion and had a Dutch bike with no gears. We seem to have missed the starlings flocking over the old West Pier but several people were photographing the sunset, though we were facing the opposite way, which was the Christmas fairy lights of our city and its Palace Pier.
We said goodbye and grateful thanks to Suzanne at the Metropole, for bravely leading a breezy, bracing ride on an inauspicious day. Joyce left for her choir and we had the only 3 hills of the day as we toiled back up Duke's Mound, Sussex Square, Manor Road and our lane home by quarter to five.
Sunday 1 November
So we took the slow train to Chichester, with plenty of time to chew over a range of topics including the difference between 'defamation' and 'libel', the need for 'quiet spaces' and Schopenhauer. Angelika was patiently waiting at the station and after the regulation photo we were off. Through Chichester town centre (because we thought the underpass would be flooded) and still in the rain and wind. We were soon on the Centurion Way and hailed the Centurians who really did look life-like as we turned the corner and lo and behold the weather did start to clear. By 12.15 the rain had stopped and soon after the sky began to clear until the rest of the day was under a sky with white skudding clouds and the intermittent sun peeping through. It was also very mild so we were soon stripping off.
This was really autumn - a carpet of red-gold leaves on the ground and enough left in the trees to please the eye, we were sheltered from the wind, but its rustling and swooshing through trees accompanied us, and there was a wonderful moment when, going along a large field full of crows feeding, Roger's approach sent hundreds of them swirling and turning in the air.
On past Fishbourne to the Crown and Anchor, with the sun glinting on the sea (hope Angelika's photos are successful) ... A very good meal and more good conversation. This time about books we have read , past rides and a long discussion on 'that' Question Time ... Back along the Salterns, this time with large vistas of fields and the wind - a stop on the way for more admiring at the Marina and a look at where the canal joins the sea, and finally along the lovely canal ride - familiar but always a pleasure - this time we saw loads of moor hens and fishermen, to the basin cafe for tea and cake, happily sitting outside in he mild weather.
A lovely ride – thanks Ian and Roger.
[Mick adds: Just in case anyone who has read the report is interested in the discussion about defamation and libel and it was not resolved on the train, the answer is that there are two kinds of defamation, libel and slander. Both are torts or actionable wrongs. Slander is oral, libel is written. My blue baseball-type cap with the slogan 'Wonderful World' is one of the fruits of a successful libel action against the Sun or the Mirror (I forget which) on behalf of a client.]
[Many more photos on Flickr - click on the pic for a bigger version]
Sunday 18 October
Ten met at Brighton Station to catch the train to Polegate. Alice, Anne, Joyce, Mick, Richard, Roger, Sue, Suzanne, Terry and Tessa. After a bit of ticket confusion we boarded the busy Ashford train and were not able to sit together.
Our small group's conversation focussed on the number of recent retirees we now have. We talked of gammy legs and dodgy knees, but decided that when the time came, our motor scooters would be Harley Davidsons and our hearing aids studded with fake diamonds. It was a sobering thought that we will have this window of good health and the time to enjoy what we want to do, before old age and infirmity get us!
Ian was relaxing in the sun at a café table when we emerged from the station, also waiting were Kevin and Annette. For a moment we thought there was no camera but Terry had one which he set on self timer and the photo was duly taken.
We took the Pevensey road out of Polegate and joined Route 21/Cuckoo Trail. It was not the track we are familiar with. This one was open countryside with bulrush fringed ponds. The sun was warm and the air was still. A slight incline took us over a river and we continued on the track alongside the busy A22, then joined a small road past an area of wildlife called Shinewater Lake. We joined the A259 for a short distance and over 2 roundabouts that led us into the scrubby sand dunes that were the edge of Sovereign Bay. These gave way to Harbour suburbs and cul de sacs, several of which we explored in trying to find our way to the coast path!
We headed towards Pevensey Bay, then Normans Bay, a few caravan sites on our left, the Levels beyond, stopping briefly at the man-operated level crossing for a train to pass.
Though busy, our lunches arrived promptly at the Star. It was warm enough, indeed preferable to sit outside. Our table of 4 certainly liked our meals though no photos were taken due to Fred's absence.
Inside the pub there is a sign saying that in 1865 a 72 ton whale, 60 ft long, beached itself at Normans Bay. So many spectators came to see it that the station was hastily built to accommodate them!
After lunch we set off into a slight headwind heading inland on a small road through the Levels. This took us to Pevensey where we walked through the castle grounds. We continued through Westham, Hankham, Rickney, though I don't recall a village there. Truly delightful small roads fringed with the beginnings of autumn. Rickney Lane became a wooded track with a number of inclines (I won't say hills!). Anne and Mick left us at some point to set off on their journey to Switzerland. Saltmarsh Lane led into Summerhill Lane and suddenly we were on the familiar part of the Cuckoo Trail, knowing that tea at the Old Loom was only minutes away! Tea and cake was a leisurely affair due to train times so we had time to wander round the Craft shop.
Our leader left us knowing we couldn't get lost on the last part of our journey, we have done it so many times!
Most caught the busy train to Brighton and slumped in a healthy tiredness if they were lucky enough to get a seat.
Thank you Ian for a glorious autumn day out!
[Can I just add my thanks to Roger, who – as well as very briefly taking us down the wrong turns Tessa mentions led us around the Sovereign Harbour area on a much more attractive route than the one I'd planned. Ian]
Sunday 4 October
[Many more photos on Flickr]
Seven set out from Brighton station on a 4 and a last minute 3 groupsave, Anne having raced up to Joyce who had just reached the counter at the ticket office; our leader Roger, Suzanne, Fred and Tessa, having arrived in good time for the 10.16. All able to put bikes in the designated area on Southern train, although one bike and cyclist were already there. Minor panic at Hove when a wheelchair was boarded into the carriage and we thought we'd have to be displaced. All was happily reorganised as the occupant was able to walk a bit and we 7 moved along a bit so their group could be seated together and near the wheelchair, bikes safe by themselves, next to the toilet, as is their wont.
Nice surprise to see Angela and David at Barnham station with a hot cup of coffee each from station buffet. Station guard took an excellent photo of all 9 of us on the platform. No Ian, as he had emailed Roger that he had a knee problem; or kneemailed him, as Suzanne punned it. Bus replacement service onwards from Barnham, due to suicide on the line, was perversely called Salisbury buses. We thought they must have got the cathedrals in a twist and Fred went to investigate. Apparently they don't usually get suicides on a Sunday and had to find bus replacement wherever they could. The guard on the homebound train described to Joyce and me the horror and trauma for the drivers and staff when such a suicide happens and how they seem to be occurring more often this year with great disruption to train services.
We set off along the roads of Barnham, but soon turned off onto a bridleway, through hedgerows and along field edges. We crossed a familiar-looking plank-bridge, which had featured, backwards, on a previous trip. Fun to follow a furrowed footpath on a bike; quite a test of skill and fortunately, no falls. The land was very dry and hedges bright with hips and a second crop of blackberries. Fred and I refeshed our palates with the juicy blackberries and soon the cry went up 'Are we nearly there' and 'where is lunch?' There was a way to go yet, but the spire of Chichester Cathedral could be glimpsed from time to time on the western horizon, with the Halnaker windmill atop the Downs to the north of us. We passed the tempting-looking 'Gribble Inn' and Fred asked 'What's a Gribble?'- a challenge to google later.
We reached Chichester by an unfamiliar route and met the only traffic jam of the journey, easily wending our bikes into the pedestrianised zones.Our lunch-time date with The Dolphin and Anchor was in prime position opposite the cathedral. It is a fine Georgian building itself, with golden dolphin and anchor on top of its several storeys; plenty of bike parking and plenty of dishes on the menu. The roast dinner special was most popular as great value, but the vegetarian options were very tasty and interesting, even if my chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry was lacking much of the latter greenery. Food having arrived promptly Roger gave us half an hour to explore the cathedral and surrounds.
We were welcomed into the cathedral by a red- robed lady who handed out leaflets and information, warmly enquiring about our Clarion Cycling Club. 2009 marks the centenary of Walter Hussey, dean from 1955-77, who commissioned many of the 'jewels' of modern art within: the Chagall stained-glass window, Piper's high-altar tapestry and a painting by Graham Sutherland. In September they celebrated Holst in Chichester with concerts, lecture and fine sculpture. Another Friend of the cathedral proudly pointed out to me the Holst memorials.There was an exhibition on Anne Frank, the holocaust and racism today, with a thoughtful interactive questionaire. I raced back to the bike racks as the clock struck two.
We now headed north towards Goodwood, making use of another new [to me] cycle track with a fine bird scupture, which Fred captured and we missed spotting at the time. As we passed along the walls of the Goodwood estate and neared the posh hotel Roger revealed that it was Maserati Day at Goodwood. Not many of them were whizzing around us, but Fred and Suzanne managed to overtake one [photo] and hold it up as they caught up with the rest of us, up a country lane.
I noted that both the Maseratis we then saw had italian numberplates , so they'd come a long way for their breakfast. Although we'd all eaten a large lunch, by now we were needing more tea and after the sylvan delights of Linwood Lane, which included birdsong, Mick thought of a woodpecker, among many others, crunch and scrunch of tyres over beechnuts, acorns and chestnuts, peaceful green leaves of overhanging avenues with just a hint of autumnal hues and bright hips, old man's beard and berries of the season.
Roger had chosen well in Aldingbourne Country Park, for our tea;- fine array of cakes , pies, teas and pleasant seats amid the garden centre's flowers and wooden furniture. Again we had half an hour to explore. There was a woodland walk, a shop with squashes, cards, wooden toys etc and outside an intriguing wooden house, but whose intended home it was we tried to guess. The label eventually revealed it to be for an owl, with copious space below it for owl droppings. A ten minute walk away led me to the free range piggery with dozens of squealing piglets - all white[ish] with black spots. Think they must have been Gloucester Old Spots. A very muddy old boar was said to be particularly grumpy and a sign warned 'Beware, Pigs can bite' there was an electric fence around them all, but it looked a bit low and they all looked a bit lively!
We strung out a bit as we left as we had plenty of time to catch our 5.06 train home from Barnham, but disaster struck David's bike. The chain locked, and not having our top bike engineers, Leon or Jim with us, we weren't able to help much. As Angela and David had come by car to Barnham and didn't need to catch a train they said they's manage between them and urged us on, as it was only a mile or so.
We rushed onto the platform as a fast Brighton train arrived, but it was only a 3 carriage Great Western and Roger had discounted it anyway as not being likely to take 7 cyclists. The next one arrived within 5 minutes and involved a change at Littlehampton, which went smoothly and we all arrived home by 6pm after a fine day in grand surroundings and company.
A gribble is a small, woodlouse type marine creature which could be a bio-fuel wonder.
So now you know, as Ian says. Thanks, Roger, for a jolly, interesting excursion and to Suzanne for patiently shepherding us safely there and back again.
[Again, even more and bigger photos on Flickr. ]