[ More photos on Flickr]
The happy band at Brighton station (Corinne, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne) learned that the 10.44 would not be stopping at Hassocks and that they would have to get the 11am train. Happily, the rest of the band (Angela, Ian, Jim, Leon and Rob) had not pedalled off without them, having been forewarned by Joyce and her trusty mobile phone. For once, no hapless passer-by was stopped to take a photo, so the group mug shot was duly taken by Leon who had not forgotten to bring his camera. And then it was off through Hurstpierpoint where not one single puncture was experienced (not like Hurspierpoint 9 January 2011 – what a joy it is to read those old ride reports on the website – thanks Fred).
A not-at-all-slow sweep down Wickham Hill and College Lane brought us to Hurstpierpoint College where we were not able to watch the lads playing soccer as they had just packed up for the morning and were being whisked away in the parent’s giant 4x4s. Along the meandering lanes until we crossed, from east to west, the roaring A23 (where we definitely did not want to be) and along Bob Lane (not to be confused with Jobs Lane east of that mighty highway). Jim pointed out that, both before and after lunch, the meandering river we crossed was not the West Adur but the cunningly named East Adur.
Although we were not expected by Mein Host when we arrived at The Royal Oak in Wineham (not Twineham, of course) he was not at all fazed and found a niche for us. There were definitely no “nots” about the lunches – pumpkin soup was supped, platters of ham, beef, salmon and pork pie were eaten clean. At one end of the table, no definite conclusion was reached upon how sea mist differed from land mist, and at the other end, there was no consensus of opinion on the best aspects of the Avenue Verte from Dieppe. We were not the quietest of guests – a crescendo being reached when we could not agree on the pronunciation of … well large chunks of the English language. So with some of us saying “potato” and others insisting on “potaaato”, we called the whole thing off (mainly as by then the landlord wanted not our company but our room for his 1.30 booking for 9 people) and creaked out way back on to our machines. Muscles were not reacting particularly responsively by now: the December temperatures were not as low as usual, but low enough to cause a few twinges here and there, Suzanne, and occasionally Angela, deciding that not cycling up the hills was preferable to cycling up them: Shanks’s pony coming into his own.
It did not rain.
And not forgetting to thank Ian for being our Good Shepherd for the day. Many thanks