The Last Ride: Sunday 8 March Lewes to Berwick

15 March 2020

Nick’s Report

International Women’s Day 2020 found Joyce, Angela, Sally, Doris, John, Jim & Nick at Brighton station waiting for a train to Lewes for the day’s bike ride to Berwick. The 20 mile linear route included plenty of daffodils and only a little rain.

Jim had devised a route which avoided any steep hills when leaving Lewes. After looking at some impressive graffiti, reminding us of the potential imminent extinction of the Blue Spix Macaw, we cycled through the town centre and turned left to follow the river Ouse past Harvey’s Brewery. It was then a short cycle ride to the morning’s coffee stop at the Ringmer Cafe.

While the other Clarionistas drank coffee, I attempted some emergency bike maintenance and removed a rubbing brake block. The coffee break was also an opportunity to take in the first daffodil moment of the day.

The route from the coffee stop to lunch at the King’s Head was perfect for cycling. We all agreed with Joyce that we enjoyed the long, straight, car-free B-road, which took us most of the way to our lunchtime meal of crisps & chips (the Mediterranean vegetable tart looked good too). Jim provided us with a copy of XR’s latest Hourglass paper to read while we waited for the chips to be served.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

Interesting signage has featured on quite a few Clarion rides. There were three particularly intriguing signs on Sunday’s ride, which were worth reading and photographing.

The punctuation on the ‘Very Slow. Cats!!!’ warning sign to motorists had been amended to give the impression there were some very slow cats wandering through the village. We also passed a sign which marked the graves of two soldiers who had died in a dual ‘circa 1800’. The third sign of note was the ‘Warning – Dogs Running Free’ attached next to a ‘Keep Out’ sign on a barbed wire gate outside the High Cross estate of violent thug Nicholas Van Hoogstraten.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

Most of the day’s rain had coincided with a 20 minute cycle ride to the pub lunch stop. The afternoon weather was dry and cool and it didn’t take too long to reach Berwick station, following some useful amendments to Jim’s route from Angela. We were slightly annoyed to have just missed the return train to Brighton, but it’s good to know that the Berwick Inn always seems open for people like us who have just missed trains.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

An excellent day of interesting signage, daffodils, chips & cycling. Thanks to Jim & Angela for pointing us in the right direction.

Nick


Clarion Latest: 9 March 2020

15 March 2020

 

Dear All

As yet we have no details of the ‘Next Ride’ which I understand (from an email from Jim) will be a ‘mystery’ one ‘facilitated by Angela D”. In the nature of things you can’t have details of a mystery ride without defeating the whole object, but participants will need to know when to meet at Brighton station or wherever the starting point is. I’ll let you have these vital bits of info as soon as Angela has had a chance to work out where she intends to take the ride and the when and where of the starting point.

Section Report for Boots and Spurs.

We had a really excellent report in the much delayed last issue and Joyce has volunteered to do a new one for the next Boots and Spurs which I feel sure will be equally interesting and reflect our activities in the latter part of last year really vividly.

Centurion Way Extension

You’ve probably seen Jim’s message about this on via the google group. Of course we used the southern bit of the Way as a means of getting out of Chichester on our Dell Quay rides which became a favourite with Julian. But early on we also had a ride that started on the Way and broke for lunch at the excellently- named The Fox Goes Free at Charlton. We didn’t do this one more than once or twice because of having to use a rather dangerous bit of the A286 for the last bit of the outward journey. But it may now soon be possible to think about reviving something like this.

Our AGM Wed 25 March 2020

It has become evident during the last week that going ahead with our plans to hold our AGM on 25 March was not such a good idea.  But I didn’t want to take a unilateral decision to postpone without consulting anyone – perhaps it was just me that was having serious doubts.  So first I got in touch with Anne and Mick who were going to host the meeting.  Mick replied quickly saying ‘‘I am getting more and more convinced that non-essential meetings in confined spaces are not a good idea for people of our age profile.’  Then I sent a message to our various office-holders, quoting Mick’s response and asking whether we should postpone the AGM. The replies were unanimous that we should.
So we will postpone the AGM until such times as it seems safe to go ahead.  There were no really urgent decisions to be taken.  At some point we will have to take a decision about he 2021 local subscription (the national one is staying the same) but there’s plenty of time to do that.
Sorry to have to send out a message like this – but I hope you’ll agree that it’s the sensible thing to do.

 

Ian


The Next Ride Sunday 8 March 2020

27 February 2020

The Back of Beyond” (Lewes to Berwick)

Ringmer – Palehouse Common – East Hoathly –

Whitesmith – Vert Wood – Ripe

It’s nearly three years since we did this ride; if it was left to me we would do it at least once a year, as it features some wonderful cycle-friendly lanes. The “nickname” comes from an exclamation by a Clarionista (confusingly, NOT Nick) on a previous version of the ride.

If you’ve never seen Charles I’s death warrant, now might be a good time to join us for lunch at the King’s Head in East Hoathly, where, on our last visit, a photo taken after lunch appeared to show Tessa stealing Chris’s right arm, but apparently it was just a trick of the light.

Hopefully there will be many stops to admire the Sussex countryside. Readings from T S Eliot are optional (even in Hollow Lane).

Vert Wood is, as before, an option if not too muddy.

Practicalities:

Start at Lewes Station (car park) at 09:40.

Trains: Get the 09:17 Seaford train from Brighton to Lewes.

Length: 25 miles.

Duration: 6 hours including lunch and cat herding.

Getting back: Trains leave Berwick hourly for Brighton at 55 minutes past the hour. The Berwick Inn does a very nice apple crumble and ice cream. Sun sets at 5.53 pm.

Terrain: Flat, with some gentle undulations. There is a very short section of the B2192, but otherwise quiet lanes and a reasonably hard track through Vert Wood.

This is a linear ride; anyone arriving by car can park at Lewes Station and get the train back there from Berwick; or park at Berwick and get the train to Lewes. Get a return ticket to Berwick.

Jim.


The Last Ride – Sunday 23 February 2020

27 February 2020

Tessa’s Report Hassocks Circular

It wasn’t the ride Nick had planned.

Adverse weather and the prospect of negotiating Wivelsfield Station steps made Angela D, Jim, Sikka, Sue ( from Farnham) and Tessa rebel. We decided to alight at Hassocks and make our way to Wivelsfield to have lunch at the Cock Inn. Then decide whether to continue to Shoreham via the Downslink and Nick’s beloved cafe , Stan’s Bike Shack?

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Waterproof trousers were on and off as we headed through a little drizzle and strong and gusty winds through Ditchling, left down Spatham lane, right at the crossroads, heading towards Plumpton before turning left to Wivelsfield Green.

We were early for an unbooked lunch but were given a warm welcome even though all tables were fully booked. We all squeezed onto a small table in the bar. Food was good except for a runny fish pie and not very cheesy cauliflour. The expected rain started to fall outside making us feel extra cosy.

Leaving the pub was a small challenge. Our bikes had been boxed in by a parked car. Angela, in full voice went back into the pub asking whose number plate ended WEA?. He was reluctant to come out at first but Angela was persuasive mentioning possible scratches to his car. The incident ended amicably with some good humoured remarks from the car driver about us not exceeding the speed limit. As if Clarion would!

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Again it was waterproof trousers or not, and where do we go? Angela planned a return to Hassocks by careful map reading as we felt Stan’s Bike Shed and too far a destination with such uncertain weather.

We headed into the wind towards Burgess Hill. The sun came out illuminating lilac and white crocuses that bloomed on the grass of Burgess Hill’s suburbs. Birds were singing and earlier we had seen celandine, snowdrops and primroses blossoming.

The suburb roads were full of traffic and potholes so we were pleased to leave and join a small quiet cul de sac that led us to Goddards Green.

Soon we had reached Hurstpierpoint College. The lane leading to the main Hurstpierpoint – Hassocks road was a deceptively uphill haul so at the junction we all felt the need of a tea stop in Hassocks.

We said goodbye to Nick at the junction , the lure of Stan’s being too great and headed into Hassocks to have tea, hot chocolate and delicious chocolate brownies at Proper Cycling and Coffee, the perfect cafe for weary Clarinistas.

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Thank you to our two leaders Nick and Angela for a lovely weather defying day out.

Tessa.


Clarion Latest 24 February 2020

27 February 2020

Dear All

Coming back down the M1 from Nottingham yesterday in pretty appalling weather with parts of the motorway partially flooded– following the national committee meeting on Saturday – I kept wondering how the ride to Stan’s Bike Shed was going and hoping those on it were having a bit better luck weatherwise than us. Sorry that Stan’s turned out to be not ‘on’ for all but Nick and that he arrived after it was closed. Better luck next time!. I think I’ve included everything suggested in the Future Rides grid – but please let me know if I’ve missed anything.

Norfolk Trip

I gather things have progressed a bit since the last newsletter. But anyone still thinking about it or having views about the best time of year to do this please let Jim know ASAP at j.r.grozier@btinternet.com

Our AGM Wed 25 March 2020

Thanks to everyone who responded to my plea in the last newsletter (and ‘last chance’ message).

If you intend to come do print out the agenda and any other papers you think you’ll need. In order that we can take a view and instruct delegates at our AGM I hope to be circulating the agenda for the national conference and the list of motions to be discussed fairly soon- once the final versions arrive.

Similarly, I’ll circulate any reports I receive from the other office-holders and any motions or general proposals you’d like discussed before the meeting.

The Warwick Meet, 10-12 April

We’ll all be getting info soon about this year’s Easter Meet – the 125th one. Earlier last year I actually suggested that Warwick might be a suitable place to hold it and wrote a little piece about the attractions of the area for those not involved in the various cycling activities. I’m putting it in this newsletter at the end after Tessa’s report (delivered exemplarily early as usual) of yesterday’s ride. Even if you’re not tempted to come to Warwick I hope you’ll find the bit about the Clarion connection with Daisy (aka the Countess of Warwick) and her exploits an interesting bit of ‘Clarion history’

Ian

Warwick Attractions and the Clarion connection

As with last year at York, the 2020 Meet will take place in one of Britain’s the most interesting county towns. There are plenty of possibilities for exploration in the area– Stratford-upon-Avon is not too far away and even the Cotswolds are not that distant.

But with the spa town of Leamington just a couple of miles away and the still impressive Kenilworth Castle within five there is really little need to stray that far. In Warwick itself St Mary’s church cannot rival last year’s York Minster but is still worth a visit.

But the main attraction is Warwick castle. Dating in part since before the Norman conquest, the castle was deemed the best in Britain by the 2003 Good Britain Guide. The castle is worth visiting for the setting alone – perched on a hill above the Avon. Owned and run nowadays by the Tussauds Group there are two impressive towers, dungeons and lots of displays and events going on throughout the day.

One feature of the more modern apartments is a sort of reconstruction of a 1898 weekend party hosted by Frances Countess of Warwick – better known as Daisy. It features wax figures representing the chief guest the Prince of Wales – future Edward VII – with whom she had had quite a long-running affair, her husband the Earl of Warwick and other guests including the young Winston Churchill.

Daisy (1861 -1938) was the inspiration of the 1892 music-hall song ‘Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do’ by Harry Dacre – still well-known. She was famous for her colourful, not to say scandalous, lifestyle, her lavish entertaining which eventually got her into serious debt and very nearly prison, her philanthropic activities, and her Left Wing politics which grew out of a connection with the Clarion.

In 1894, the year that Tom Groom wrote of the cycle tour that led to the foundation of our National Clarion Cycling Club, the paper published an article by its editor, Robert Blatchford, which criticised one of the extravagant Warwick castle parties put on by Daisy. Someone must have made her aware of this. She was incensed. She believed that she was doing a good deed by hiring lots of local people to help her to entertain her guests as temporary servants and so on. So she set off for London and confronted Blatchford in his office.

However, far from apologising abjectly, Blatchford explained his socialist beliefs and principles – and, surprising, converted her to his way of thinking. There was no looking back. Later she joined the Social-Democratic Federation (SDF) – generally regarded as the most radical of the socialist organisations. She was rumoured to be the only delegate ever to arrive at of its annual conference by private train. In August 1923 the SDF’s paper, Justice, described her as being ‘intellectually and sympathetically with the working classes’ and a few months later she stood as the Labour candidate in the general election against the future Tory PM Anthony Eden for the Warwick and Leamington constituency.

However you look at it she was pretty unforgettable. If you want to know more, there is Sushila Anand’s 2009 book Daisy. The Life and Loves of the Countess of Warwick and there’s lots about her on the internet including a video documentary and Nell Darby’s article from 2018 ‘Daisy, Daisy the Cycling Countess’ which looks at some of Daisy’s adventures and misadventures connected with bikes. She did cycle though whether she ever had a tandem as suggested in the song or whether she ever joined our club is not known.

In contrast to all the razzmatazz at Warwick, Kenilworth castle is relatively peaceful. It is ‘one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit’ as Marie Lloyd once sang. It was deliberately ‘slighted’ in 1649 to prevent it being ever used as a royalist stronghold in the Civil War. But though mainly ruins it is still one of the most impressive castles in Britain. It was put back on the cultural map in 1821 when Sir Walter Scott’s novel Kenilworth was published. This was set in the Elizabethan period and one of the main and most attractive features of the castle today is its reconstructed Elizabethan knot garden.

So, no shortage of things to do and to see in and around Warwick. The problem will be fitting them all in!


The Next Ride: Sunday 23rd February

14 February 2020

Wivelsfield to Shoreham, via Stan’s Bike
Shack (or the Partridge pub in Partridge Green)
The ride on Sunday February 23rd will start at Wivelsfield station. We will have a
choice of lunch stops (Stan’s Bike Shack or the Partridge pub in Partridge Green).
I’ll be heading to Stan’s Bike Shack to sample their coffee for the first time, but
others may wish to have a break in the Partridge pub instead.
We’ll all meet up after lunch to cycle along the Downs Link to Shoreham train
station. Those with more energy may also want to cycle from Shoreham to
Brighton.
Train from Brighton to Wivelsfield is 10.08.
Ride concept by Nick. Fine-tuning by Jim.


The Last Ride: 2nd February 2020.

14 February 2020

The Last Ride –Sally’s Report 

 

 Berwick Circular 18 miles

 

Angela D., and Nick, co-leaders. Followed by Jim, Sikka, Richard Carroll, Sally.

 

It was a mild greyish February morning lightened by gleams of sunshine through the misty fields and on the scarp edge of the downs. There was a lot of water lying in the pastures after heavy overnight rain, filling the ditches to several inches up the hedgerows, and pouring into the drains. We pedalled along happily at an unfashionably slow pace, pausing to admire, at Angela’s instruction, manor houses and cottages—mostly 18th century, Ripe church (formerly known as Eckington, given by Henry VIII to Thomas Cromwell after the expropriation of the monasteries), and a lovely timber-frame and brick house in the village that looked Jacobean, with carved wooden people on the doorposts (see picture).

Detail from porch of old house

On the return from a detour to Laughton Tower, down a lane pitted with spectacular rashes of pot-holes, circular like the ones made by meteorites on the surface of the moon, I got a puncture. Luckily it was not too far to walk to the Roebuck Inn for lunch.

February 2, 2020: Berwick circular

 

The cognoscenti had advised in advance that this was a cog-themed establishment, in honour of “steam punk,” whatever that may be. The décor was largely characterised by interlocking wheels of assorted sizes with teeth on them. Apt for a cyclists’ pub. It could have been named “The Derailleur Inn.” After lunch, Jim helped me to fix the puncture and I vowed in future to bring a spare inner tube, and a selection of adapters suitable for different valves, since the pub offered a foot pump which, however, was incompatible with my tyre.

 

We set off back, rather later than intended because of the delay caused by the pneumatic mishap. Richard raced ahead to catch the train. Nick just missed it. The rest brought up the rear, and the 5 of us had time for a pot of tea, and in Jim’s case an apple crumble with ice-cream, at the Berwick Inn. We were home at Brighton soon after 5.30.

Laughton Tower

Snowdrops

Sally.