This was my first ride for some time so, keen to get back on the saddle, I was lured by the promise of it being “as flat as possible”. I was therefore determined not to be put off by the forecast which promised heavy winds and frequent showers, and decided to do the traditional Clarion thing: – turn up to the station and then see. At Brighton station I found no-one to confer with but I then thought people had taken their cars to Hassocks. Arriving at Hassocks (with no sign of rain) I found Ian and, emerging from the other end of the train, Nick who had caught the train at the last minute.
So we were three. Everyone else must have been busy and perhaps the weather forecast had put them off. But sometimes one does win and as it turned out the weather was near perfect – warm with the sun showing frequently and no gusty head wind, for the whole day (well up to the last mile or so into Hassocks anyway).
So after our photo at the station off we set through Hurstpierpoint, and, foregoing the London Road, made our way through quiet lanes to Shermanbury.
It was noticeable how green the vegetation still is – but now dotted here and then with the wonderful bright yellow, orange, and bronze of autumn foliage. (See Nick’s great photos.) It was indeed fairly flat with just a few small hills but with lots of lovely long downs.
After the bit of main road we hit the long bridleway through Shermanbury, which Nick said he remembered from his first ride with Clarion. This turned out to be a bit slower than expected (for me anyway) because it was very muddy with very deep looking “puddles” which I preferred to skirt round rather than sail through as the other two did. But it was nevertheless a pleasant interlude with beautiful straight trees lining it leading us to Winehan and the Royal Oak. The food was very good indeed – I had tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, Ian – pie (can’t remember what might have been in it but it looked very good )… And Nick a soup that he insisted on painstakingly photographing.
Happily (for me anyway) the route back was much shorter – Bob Lane (is it the lane belonging to Bob?– but no “apostrophe” – does it mean Mr. Bob Lane, and who was Bob anyway. (?) Then to Twineham … Wineham and Twineham which we had sailed through called out for a bit of doggerel but sadly none of us were up to it.
By the time we got to hailing distance of Hurstpierpoint the rain had started – gently at first but we reached the bus shelter just in time to beat the downpour. We spent a happy half hour, dissecting the strange little house, opposite, whilst Nick was “checking in” with his mysterious game of which I understand zilch.
Then on to Hassocks where Ian left us for his car and Nick persuaded me to see the local pet shop. Well worth it, a great place with a tame fox and endless beautiful cats in every corner and I was able to get some food for my cats. As we left the shop the rain came down again – but once again shelter was there – just across the road a Costa. Don’t think I have ever been in a Costa before but needs must so Nick had a coffee in a cup as big as a washing up bowl and I had tea and complained about the vast size of the cup they gave me. I ended up with an espresso cup. Why is we have to have tea in great shallow coffee cups now? By the time one has taken two gulps the tea is cold and I hate cold tea – The response was “this is a coffee shop”. Well no it isn’t they sell tea! The tea cup has its shape for a very good reason and I shall continue my campaign to insist I do not want my tea in a cardboard cup, nor an overlarge coffee cup. (And by the way the tea shops in Hassocks were closed even if we had braved the downpour to get there). But we were sheltered and had a warm drink and cake before getting the train. A great ride – thanks Ian