Andela (D)’s Report
Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels
Graham, Prudence, Dave, Nick, Sikka, Wendy, Angela D
Southern Railway had excelled itself in providing its usual Sunday dysfunction with rail replacement buses from Brighton to Timbuktu, but Graham had carefully organised the ride with a straight through trip to Polegate. Talk on the train was of leaks and bathrooms, and stress, with something about water entering the hips, or the head, I’m not sure which, and causing sciatica. Unfortunately I was called away because my bicycle handlebars were engaged in an unwanted embrace with the straps of a daytripper’s rucksack.
We all disembarked safely and headed off to the Cuckoo trail. Our nominated back-stopper – the one who has a picture of JC tattooed on their chest, with JC trying to ride two bicycles at the same time and falling off both – unfortunately lost any sense of socialist communality and headed out front in an attempted populist takeover. Perhaps they glanced behind and saw the rabble rousers that is Clarion on the go, and decided it was not much of a following, for they soon relinquished their place to our true leader.
Graham had planned a long ride – thirty miles it seemed! Though for those of us who completed the Downslink ride of forty miles in one day, we tried bravely to make it look like a bagatelle, but still anticipating it with dread and secret thoughts of toasted teacakes. To keep us in line, Graham issued us with patented Clarion Cadence Calibrators™. These are exquisitely designed to have all Clarionistas pedalling at the correct pace, with a uniform distance between us all and an auto-fitted device which prevents loitering, dawdling, chatting, the taking of photographs and all time-wasting activities whether or not they add to the enjoyment of the ride.
Unfortunately, somewhere near the beginning of the ride, mine fell off and I was held up for a while searching for it, and when I looked into the bushes I could see it being devoured by a passing wolf. I can’t say whether the same fate befell the others, because from that point onwards I was continually detained by said wolf who followed me menacingly with their yellow eyes and constantly blocked my way as it tried to spit out the indigestible gizmo. Perhaps it was the spirit form of JC?
We were all able to take a breather at Bebbles Langos café in Hailsham, where the more reckless amongst us consumed large portions of Hungarian food, especially the eponymous langos, deep-fried dough with different fillings and I was brave enough, considering the long and difficult road that lay ahead, to have a pudding, a delicious cold fruit soup.
The British wife of the Hungarian chef told us about the rise of racist micro aggressions she and her husband had suffered since Brexit – one of the many indictments of our country.
There seemed to be a lot of hills over the next bit – but I didn’t mind because me and the wolf (now nicknamed, of course, JC) kept amiable company – just as well because the others all disappeared far away and over the horizon though they patiently waited at the turning for the tea-shop (Tottingworth Farm Café).
At the tea shop we consoled our backstop who was distraught because they had not been invited to JC’s birthday party which was the same day. Tea cakes arrived and were distributed to the inconsolable, who soon revived. All our wearinesses semi- banished, we started off back home with a stop to buy asparagus.
It is well known that the Pevensey levels are a place of mystery and intrigue where the winding trails through the rushes cause a disruption of the senses; for some reason our leader, with a faithful companion, disappeared into the sunset – except it wasn’t a sunset but a cold, grey, depressing mist. I can only leave you all in suspense as to the reason for this precipitate departure because, as usual, I was trailing behind and missed any discussion about their evanescence. I did, however, see the wolf, who by now had deserted me, snapping hungrily at their heels.
However, we cheerfully re-grouped and Sikka took over as our excellent leader and guided us ably to Polegate, a sad and dispiriting sort-of suburb, that for once we greeted with delight, as it meant we had arrived at our destination.
Even a damp, chilly wait at the railway station did not dishearten us as we collected snackettes from the co-op and tactfully avoided discussing JC and the European elections.
Many thanks to Graham for planning and leading the ride and to Sikka for leading the last part.
 JC = Julian Clary (celebrated Brightonian)
2 JC = Julius Caesar (the Romans did have bicycles, so there)
3 JC = John Cleese (though I always thought Sybil (Prunella Scales) was funnier
4 JC = Jackie Chan
5 JC = Joan Crawford (yes I know she’s dead, but she still has a birthday)
6 JC = Jackie Collins (apparently in her spirit life she’s writing a steamy romance about Guy Verhofstadt and Theresa May)