Three stalwarts on bikes, Jim, Angela and Sikka, left Berwick station on a freezing morning (snow flurries forecast). We started off with a birthday card for Jim from Clarion members (mostly absent) and a hearty singing of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ much to Jim’s embarrassment. We then cycled along quiet country lanes, through the village of Ripe with our fingers and toes becoming painful with cold. There was talk of stopping for coffee to thaw out, when we were fortunate to encounter a couple outside Laughton village hall.
They invited us to join their Bring and Buy Sale (babies, toddlers and maternity wear!) and warm ourselves up with hot tea and fairy cakes. No luck though looking for extra socks big enough for a grown-up!
We soldiered on refreshed and encouraged, past ‘Terrible Down’ and reached Uckfield, the Station pub, precisely as planned at 1pm. Here we were able to warm up once again and enjoyed excellent service and good reasonably priced food.
The afternoon felt warmer, perhaps the cold wind was behind us? I was personally not looking forward to cycling another 16 miles after lunch but we all managed the somewhat hilly cross-country section and reached our next refuelling stop at Chiddingly in time for another warming hot drink and some of Jim’s birthday chocolate. The pub was full and warm, a very pleasant sociable atmosphere. One of my favourite pubs. Lovely fires, dogs, bikers, etc.
The route was attractive, with lots of lovely distance views, we saw tiny new lambs in the fields, Angela saw a fox, Jim thought he saw a hare (or was it a rabbit?) and I noticed primroses, daffodils, wood anemones on the verges and Jim photographed a fine topiary duck and duckling.
The route back from Chiddingly was an easy flat ride and we reached Berwick station just in time to see Angela back to her car and to catch the 5.48 train to Brighton. (Coffee from Jim’s flask on the train to complete the alimentary delights of the day).
Jim’s computer registered 29.5 miles by the end of the day and Angela was pleased to have completed the longest ride she has undertaken with Clarion so far. Well done Angela and many thanks to Jim for coming out on his birthday to lead this very satisfying ride.