Sunday 23rd August 2015
Catsfield – East of Normans Bay
Jim, Julian, Anne, Tessa, Sikka and Rob braved the weather forecast and started off from Cooden Beach station in light rain. Angela was to meet us at lunch but was unexpectedly delayed and couldn’t make it after all.
Julian surprised us all by turning up in a bright yellow hi-vi cycling jacket – but assured us it was large enough to accommodate his traditional tweed jacket underneath!
Pear Tree Lane was a small, winding road with trees on either side, which led on to Potman’s Lane. Here we entered the carpark in High Woods and had a look at the noticeboard telling us that it was one of the few traditionally coppiced woodlands left in the area, offering guided walks and tended by a team of volunteers. (There was also a sign saying NO CYCLING!)
At High Woods: L-R Rob, Julian, Sikka, Tessa, Jim
We had time here for a general changing and adjusting of wet clothing, with Anne finding she was soaked through as her cycling jacket was a long way off waterproof. Although doubting whether she should continue in this state she did carry on for a while, but the weather soon got the better of her and she decided to turn back as she was keen not to catch a chill. We were all sorry to see her go. [See Anne’s addendum below – Ed]
We had various stops to look at items of interest such as the Ninfield Transforming Station from which a series of electricity pylons radiated in all directions. (This was Jim’s contribution to any ‘Techies’ on the ride.) There were roads like tunnels, with large trees soaring over the route, creating a twilight world occasionally brightened by the headlights of passing cars.
Then there was the brick works with giant stacks of newly minted bricks rising skyward like narrow houses.
And of course, the 4-horned black and white ram, happily grazing in the company of his two peaceful ewes. Why did one set of horns turn backwards?!
Four Horned Ram (believed to be a Manx Loaghtan)
There were two churches on the way into Catsfield, and we stopped to admire the very elegant but rather newer one that presented itself in our path. However, the older, well advertised church of St Lawrence’s was passed by until after lunch as we were all wet and keen to take shelter in the pub. The White Hart turned out to be spacious and warm, and the food was good and reasonably priced.
Over lunch the conversation ranged as usual over various topics, including a story about Robert Blatchford who apparently initiated the Clarion newspaper which influenced the creation of the Clarion Cycling Club. As a soldier, he was wont to tell stories in the dormitory, and every now and then he would call out ‘boots’ to check if anyone was still awake. As long as he heard someone call out ‘spurs’ he would continue talking. I am so pleased to know there is a rationale for the use of this seemingly bizarre word!
After lunch out came the sun and we cycled up to examine St Lawrence’s. Julian was disappointed to find the architecture inconsistent, with Norman windows and arches modernised into pointed arches. The site dated back to Saxon times and some of the church building was from 1100.
It was here we managed to lose yet another of our number as Rob stopped to check his bike and then cycled on past the church – although Jim blew his whistle and tried to catch him up, we did not see him again. So we hope he had a good ride back to Heathfield.
After the damp of the morning it was delightful to be out in the sunshine again. We had a lovely ride along winding, slightly undulating lanes, and though Tessa had noted before lunch that there appeared to be more than one ‘hill’, after a good meal in the pub Tessa stormed up the next ‘undulation’ passing us all! Jim assured us that when he researched the route, it had been quite flat!
We had time to spare before our train back, so to satisfy Julian’s yen to see the sea, we sat in great comfort in the Cooden Beach Hotel, consuming chocolate cake and tea.
Thank you Jim for a very enjoyable day.
Hi Jim & Sue & other Clarionettes. Finally got home about 5pm as headed back to the Highwoods & found out that I was not soaked through, & thought I would miss the 1.27pm train [or 37] so decided to cycle on to Bexhill, where it looked lighter sky anyway. Rain had stopped by time I reached the De La Warr & could have eaten outside. Had good lunch & saw the 3 exhibitions, preferring the one on the top floor.
De La Warr exhibit
Bought some cards & a Wire magazine, as our Bobby had an article in it & review of his newest group – Far Pavilions. Came out to bluish sky, mounted bike, which wobbled, then realised I had a puncture! Decided to push it to Bexhill Station. Got straight on Victoria train & off at Lewes. Had hour wait there as Seaford train was cancelled.. Arriving at Brighton I carrried the bike down to Baker Street bikes. By now it was 4.25pm but disappointed to see that they closed at 4pm! Leaned bike against bike stand intending to try & phone Mick to rescue me, when I noticed the young New Zealander about to leave the shop. I knocked on the door & they let me & the bike in, much to my relief. Have to pick it up tomorrow & struggled home with the heavy panier & wet clothing. Can’t find the bag of goodies from De La Warr, so am hoping that I left it in the bike shop, but it could be anywhere!
Thanks for all your efforts Jim. Hope it cleared up for you all too. Mick said it cleared up in Brighton by 1pm. Lovely to see everyone & glad I didn’t burden you all with a puncture.