The Next Ride: Sunday 6 November – London Parks

20 October 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Battersea, St. James, Green, Hyde and Holland Park, a bit of the river Thames and an optional visit to the Leighton museum.

This is going to be a flat ride starting at Clapham Junction from where we head towards Battersea Park. The first part of the trip will include some main roads, which tend to be quiet on a Sunday morning. But even on a busy day we can safely cruise along the generous, wide, glowing-blue cycle highway from Albert Bridge to Westminster. After that we will glide from one park to the next. If the weather is good we will have to weave through groups of tourists and ‘Sunday cyclists’ (the ones who are oblivious to the world around them and have forgotten about any rules; including happy tourist cyclists who come from countries where one drives/cycles on the right, very good cycling skill practice).

Certain aspects I have not worked out: for instance the distance. That is going to be the challenge for the riders with the gadget. Where we eat will depend on when you are going to be hungry. One option is the cafe in Hyde Park. There we would have a great view of the lake, and a lighter purse. It is expensive! Soup £5, Pizza £13.

If no refreshments are needed at that point and energy can last for another 30 minutes one can have lovely food for more reasonable prices in the Holland Park Cafe.
Some of you might like to pop into the nearby Leighton museum. He was a Victorian painter and his house has been fully refurbished. It has the beautiful Arabian Hall. Unfortunately they charge £5 entrance.

The return will be to Victoria Station, unless you feel energetic enough to cycle all the way back to Clapham Junction.

Time and interest permitting we can have a look at the Elfin Oak tree in Hyde Park: Elfins carved by the sculptor Ivor Innes in 1911.


Meet: 10.40 am at Clapham Junction, BACK ENTRANCE, GRANT ROAD.
Train from Brighton leaves at 9.34 am arriving at 10.30.

Cycling distance: ??????????? But definitely not more than 20 miles, if that.

Not a single hill. Sometimes walking instead of cycling.

Refreshments: Either Hyde Park cafe or Holland Park cafe.
(Just in case, bring a little something to eat with you.)

Getting home: From Victoria Station
Best return times without having to change are by the hour 16.02,
17.02 etc.

My mobile: 07864 832 048


The Last Ride: Sunday 15 October 2011 – Brighton to Seaford

20 October 2011

Belying the early morning frost, the sky was blue, the sun warm, and the sea smooth when nine eager Clarionistas met at the Palace Pier: Fred, Ian, Joyce, Leon, Rob, our leader Roger, Sikka, Steve and Suzanne. After wending our way through the Marina and along the Undercliff we were soon to be met by Angela and Helen at Saltdean, so now we were eleven.

Group photo

Once off the Undercliff, where the weather had already required a great deal of disrobing, there was what Roger had described as a ‘short sharp climb’ – sharp yes, but short? It certainly didn’t feel like it to me, nevertheless, we all heroically made it still on our bikes, if hot and panting (I was anyway). This meant more disrobing before crossing the road onto the Tye.

Glorious day on the Downs

The theme of this ride surely must be gratitude: grateful to have this perfect autumn day, the magnificent views as we crossed the Tye with more to come, and being with amiable companions. Once across the Tye there was the thrill of the long steep descent. I am afraid we all flew through at high speed and missed the former judges’ lodgings – still it was good to know it was there … Another hill to climb, so this was turning out to be a question of perception of the ‘mostly flat’ description. On the other hand the ‘ups’ were manageable and the downs were wonderfully long and steep, as was the descent into Southease – and the ‘downs’ did seem to outnumber the ‘ups’ (I don’t know if that can be the case).

Southease swing bridge

By now a bit of dawdling was called for, provided by a long stop on the bridge over the Ouse, contemplating the river and recalling the tragedy of Virginia Woolf. On then to Newhaven and, pedalling round the harbour, the perennial discussion about shags and cormorants. The final consensus seemed to be that there were five cormorants and one shag sunning themselves and spreading their wings. Checking, it is clear there were definitely five cormorants, but whether the other bird was a shag I leave open.

Group photo at lunch stop

At the Hope Inn it was nice to have Sue Bullock join us. Again we were fortunate, seated on the first-floor closed veranda with a great view across the harbour to Seaford and what was finally agreed to be Bishopstone. Discussions ranged around, at one end of the table, democracy, and at the other, the differences between pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans etc. This was in some way brought about by the fact that Rob had to wait a very long time for his fish pie, which never materialised, leaving him to settle for a vegetarian curry instead.

St Andrew's, Bishopstone

After lunch the merry band began to disperse on their separate ways: Ian to go back with Sue in the car; Angela, Helen, and Steve to make their way back to Saltdean, potentially joined by Sikka, except that she missed their turning off and failed in her attempt to catch up with them – so as she reported later she had a solitary journey home. The rest of us, Roger, Leon, Fred, Suzanne, Rob and Joyce, continued on to Seaford, with a diversion to Bishopstone and the delightful church of St. Andrews, where we spent time in the sun pottering around the amazingly well-kept churchyard in which even the carvings on the impressive gravestones had been redone. We pondered over the grave of Baron Asquith, whom I now know to be the fourth son of H.H. Asquith – later Prime Minister, eventually Lord Justice of Appeal, and made a life peer in 1951 as Baron Asquith of Bishopstone.

Bishopstone art deco station

On then to Seaford, noting as we went the intrusion of the incinerator, clearly visible from several points on the Downs. (Some like to call it ‘Energy from Waste’ but until I see evidence of the energy produced and who gets it I will continue to call it the incinerator – but then I hate it as much as I always did …) Another short diversion and excuse for dallying, at Fred’s request, was to the station of Bishopstone, which was very well worth it. A charming Art Deco design by Charles Holden, a Grade 2 listed building (now on the English Heritage at-risk register). It was opened in 1938 and was meant to serve a residential development that never happened because of the outbreak of the Second World War. The war explains the pair of pillboxes on the roof of the main building, which puzzled us, and it is said that considerable effort was made to blend them in to the original structures. The line was singled in 1975 and there are no staff, which explains English Heritage’s concern.

Tea and scones stop

Finally to Seaford for a well-needed cup of tea and scones, the mystery of the trembling pole, the truth about short cycle lanes, and the train home. Many thanks to Roger for a wonderful day.


[More photos on Flickr]

Future rides until the end of 2011

20 October 2011

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

6 November Central London Parks (Angelika)
20 November Glynde to Chiddingly, Berwick (Sue P)
4 December
18 December Berwick circular (Ian)
1 January 2012 New Year’s Day ride to Carat’s Cafe
8 January 2012
22 January 2012
4 February
19 February
4 March
18 March

*Ian definitely not available

News and Bath trip

20 October 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

Any takers for 4 December – the last unspoken-for ride of the year?

This newsletter would have been out on Monday, but for some strange reason I didn’t get Joyce’s report that day – nor yesterday when she made several attempts to send it to me again. It has finally reached me via Fred who has forwarded it to me. What a weird thing! Anyone got any ideas about what might have caused this?

Looking further ahead, if you might be interested in the Bath–Bristol ride that Joyce is suggesting for next spring – and you haven’t already done so – please get in touch with her at

We all know how good Fred is when it comes to website design. His latest book on the subject is now out. For full details see: 

Fred writes, in response to my query asking him for details and muttering about lights and bushels, ‘It’s called How to design websites and does what it says on the cover!’ 

I recently received the email below. The photos, now on our ‘history’ page, are of signs for the NCU ‘Official Quarters’ and – of particular interest to us – for ‘Official Caterer’ or the Clarion CC, both of which the Corner House at Bampton must have been.

While I’m on the subject of Clarion history, I asked last time if anyone could throw any light on the word ‘zingar’ that Swiftsure used when describing the casual workers he encountered in Kent as ‘Half zingar, half labourer’. TJ suggests that ‘Zingar’ is probably a cognate or derivative of ‘Zigeuner’, which is German for gipsy. That sounds right to me


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 94. Swiftsure’s thoughts on his Manchester to Hastings to London ride (on his wife’s bike)

20 October 2011

From The Clarion. 10 August 1895:

To sum up, let me say that such a little jaunt as the one I have slightly described is an education, such as all who have an inquiring mind can profitably undertake.

It is not expensive. Five shillings or six shillings a day is as much as one need spend.

A speed of ten miles an hour for eight or ten hours can be comfortably maintained provided one is in moderate training. A low gear (my wife’s ‘Bradbury’ is 55″ and an efficient brake make the going easy and certain. To scoot down the hills with feet up and hand on brake, is to feel the joy of living.*

The route is quite easy to find, signposts being abundant, and Dangle’s ‘white spots’ or milestones are often guideposts in themselves. But oh! how far apart they seem when one is tired!

Main roads can usually be distinguished by the telegraph or telephone wires running along them. In fact, to tour awheel beats any other mode of progression, and is a means of enjoying a holiday which can only be appreciated by those who are penned up in our large cities from year’s end to year’s end.

Next Time: ‘Sumptuary laws’ for Chicago cyclists

*Bikes were still of the fixed wheel kind – which only needed a front brake, hence the singular ‘brake’ in this sentence. According to the website ‘Bicycle History‘ the freewheel began to come in – first in Germany – just a few years later. Here’s the entry:

First major commercialization of the freewheel by Ernst Sachs. William Van Anden had obtained the first freewheel patent in 1869.

Clarion sign

12 October 2011
Clarion caterer sign

Clarion caterer sign

Ian recently received the following email:

My wife’s family ran the ‘CORNER HOUSE’ [a guest house, cafe and shop] in BAMPTON, Devon for a several generations and the sign I attach a picture of has been in our safe keeping since we sold up there when my wife’s father died. We were just sorting through our barn and came across it again. With the internet I was of course able to find out more about it… it is almost identical to a sign on your website which sold on EBAY for more than £100. I also attach a picture of a second sign I am about to research! Just thought you might be interested!

Kind regards,
Stuart Farmer


Enamel NCU sign

Enamel NCU sign

The Next Ride: Sunday 16 October – Brighton to Seaford

4 October 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

This is a linear ride, which has two serious hills that go up and two that go down. We start at the former Palace Pier in Brighton and cycle along the Undercliff Path to Saltdean, then on a cycle path up the hill to Telscombe Tye, a common owned by Telscombe Town Council. (Yes, Telscombe does claim to be a town, but when we cycle through it, we may think otherwise.)

Here we will turn inland – watch out for traffic as we cross the main road! The track across the Tye to Telscombe is a bit rough. Admire the mystic concrete standing stones at the start.

There is a steep descent into the village itself with a temptation to fly straight through at high speed. It might be worth stopping to see the houses in the village centre; look out for the former Judge’s Lodgings on the right, used by judges visiting Lewes until a few years ago. There’s also a graveyard behind the church of St Laurence where Gracie Fields’ brother is buried.

Most of us will walk up the hill out of Telscombe and then jump into the saddle for the delightful run down to Southease, one of my favourite bits of cycling in Sussex. I’ve been trying to fit it into a Clarion ride ever since I started planning them.

At Southease we can revisit the old swing bridge over the Ouse, which we looked at last year; it should have been refurbished by now. Then there’s a bit of a climb out of the village onto the rather busy road to Newhaven for lunch at the Hope Inn by the harbour entrance.

After lunch those who want a slightly longer and hillier ride can make their way back to Brighton along the cliff top (reversing Mick’s recent ride). The rest can follow me to Seaford for a cuppa at the Salts Café on the seafront and a train ride back to Brighton via Lewes. We could take a short diversion on the way to visit the tiny village of Bishopstone and see the church of St Andrew, built between AD 600 and 800.

Meet: At the Palace Pier at 10:30 am.
Cycling distance: Approx 20 miles or 23 if you cycle back to Brighton from Newhaven.
Off-road / traffic: Lots of traffic-free cycling on the Undercliff Path and the cycle path to Seaford. The road from Southease to Newhaven is rather busy.
Hills: Yes – two short sharp climbs out of Saltdean and Telscombe. Otherwise mostly flat.
Catering: Lunch at the Hope Inn, Newhaven (01273 515389). Tea at the Salts Café, Seaford.
Getting home: Trains leave Seaford for Brighton at :27 and :53. The fare is £3.60 (£2.40 with a railcard). We’ll probably need to buy tickets from a machine at Seaford station or from a train manager.
My mobile: 0789 985 1172. Please let me know if you plan to join us en route.