The Last Ride Sunday the 18th July Chattri Circular

24 July 2021

Ride report: Chattri circular, July 18th, 2021 by Nick & Sikka

The day before the government launched its idiotic July 19th Covid ‘freedom day’ celebration, five of us (Angela C, Doris, Sikka, Dave & Nick) gathered in Preston Park for Dave’s off-road Chattri circular ride across the South Downs.
The twelve-mile cycle ride didn’t seem too much of an ordeal on paper, but the warmest day of the year did make it more of a challenge than I had envisaged.

Sikka describes the alternative route, devised with Angela & Doris, which they planned to take:

‘Thanks to Dave for leading this ride yesterday. And to Nick for great photos. I believe we all enjoyed a wonderful day. Nick and Dave on an outdoor adventure trail and Doris, Angela and myself on a leisurely on-road reduced length cycle ending with coffee in Hove Park cafe.’

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

The plan was for Dave & myself to meet the rest of the group at the Wildflower Cafe, when we had cycled over the Downs. My newly refurbished bike (thanks G-Whizz Cycles!) coped admirably with most of the uphill paths, although there was one steep stretch which was too overgrown for cycling.

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

The five of us did eventually meet outside Wildflower Cafe. We were surprised to see the cafe had closed for a few days for a summer break. We found time to use the drinking water tap & heard about Angela’s conversion to electric bikes.

July 18, 2021: Chattri Circular bike ride

Dave & myself cycled to Pycombe Churchyard for an afternoon picnic. The Chattri memorial was only a few minutes away, then it was downhill all the way (hurrah!) to Brighton.

Thanks to Dave for an exhilarating day out in the July heat. Covid third wave permitting, it would be good to do something similar soon.


The Last Ride Sunday the 23rd May Egrets Way Circular

30 May 2021

Following the recent easing of many Covid pandemic restrictions, it felt slightly strange to be joining the first Clarion ride of 2021. Jim had adapted Sikka & Tessa’s Egrets Way circular route with a similar cycling experience, which excluded pub stops & train travel.
The Clarionistas who gathered at Brighton’s Palace Pier for the circular ride along the Undercliff & Egrets Way were Angela D, Jim, Sally, Sikka, Doris, Graham, Chris, Dave & Nick.
Jim suggested that the nine cyclists could be represented by the report writer in a Lord of the Rings narrative style. As I’ve not read the book, or seen the films, I didn’t really know what Jim was talking about. There will be no further Lord of the Rings references in this ride report, although I hope to find time to mention Ben & Jerry’s new peace pop ice cream.
It was overcast for most of the day. Apart from a couple of brief showers, none of the forecast stormy weather materialised. This was a relief to all of us.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


We set off along Madeira Drive, next to the impressive, but unfinished, new cycle lane. It would be good to return to Brighton’s latest Covid cycle lane when it’s finished.
There was a vague plan to stop for a coffee in Rottingdean. It was unfortunate that the seafront cafe was only offering a takeaway service, so we decided to continue with the ride. It was a good opportunity to stop & marvel at the majestic butterfly mural on Rottingdean’s public loo though.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


Our first coffee stop of the day was at Yemeni Coffee in Peacehaven. All of us were impressed with the nine cups of coffee served. They offered us a completed loyalty card for our next visit, which was a very nice gesture. Although grateful, I don’t think we accepted the Yemeni Coffee freebie. I look forward to returning soon though.
It was great to leave the decidedly noisy South Coast Road in Peacehaven and head along the much quieter Egrets Way towards the proposed picnic stop, outside the church in Southease. Some of us also had a look at the nearby Southease youth hostel to investigate lunchtime cafe options for future rides.

May 23, 2021: Palace Pier circular via Peacehaven, Southease, Telscombe & Saltdean


The Southease church picnic stop was so calming and relaxing, I found myself nodding off on the grass after lunch. I’d like to suggest optional siestas on future Clarion rides and may pack an inflatable pillow for a future post-lunch snooze.
Sikka & Doris left us after lunch. They had a cycle route via Newhaven they wanted to investigate. The remaining seven cycled back to the Undercliff via Telscombe.
The afternoon tea stop was the busy Molly’s cafe on the Undercliff route. Graham & Chris had cycled ahead & were quite possibly already in Brighton by the time we reached the cafe. I was tempted with Ben & Jerry’s new cookie dough peace pop ice cream, but decided against it when finding out it wasn’t vegan.
An excellent day of cycling with plenty of coffee, tea & ice cream opportunities. Thanks to Jim for adapting Sikka & Tessa’s original route for our first post-lockdown ride. Let’s hope Covid doesn’t stop us from meeting again soon.


In between lock-downs 2020

23 February 2021

Early August 2020.  Ten Clarionistas assembled at the pier: Angela D, Doris, Joyce, Jim, Richard S, Sally, Sean B, and Wendy T, together with our joint leaders, Sikka and Tessa. Because of restrictions on numbers travelling together we were divided into two groups. Sikka took Group 1 (Doris, Richard, Sean and Wendy) while Tessa led the rest.

Group 2 left first, but confusingly arrived last at the picnic spot on the Egrets Way. We had a change of Angelas at Saltdean, with Angela C replacing Angela D who disappeared in the general direction of Newhaven. Angela C departed after lunch, along with Group 1. After a suitable delay the reduced Group 2 followed their speedier comrades to Telscombe and Saltdean, with wonderful views of the Downs and surrounding countryside; then back along the Undercliff to Brighton after a welcome tea stop at Rottingdean.

Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for a wonderful ride, the first for so long; let’s not wait too long for the next one!  

Richard and Jim.


Back in the saddle soon

9 February 2021

No ride reports at the moment — but we’ll be back.

Image courtesy of Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton and Hove

The Last Ride Sunday 27th September 2020. A Brighton Circumnavigation

27 September 2020

Doris,Jim, Joyce, Richard, Sally, Sikka and Tessa gathered outside the Level cafe.  As we were more than six, Richard led Doris, Sikka and Tessa off first, the remaining group stayed to wait for Nick to join them.

The first part of the ride was daunting: uphill with much traffic and many turnings. We journeyed east through Queen’s Park area up to the Racecourse ,battling cold strong winds. I started to enjoy the ride when we sped downhill along Tenantry Down Road fringed completely on either side by allotments, full of autumn produce.

Bear Road was a bit hairy but we soon turned into Bevendean Road. We travelled through Bevendean streets, finding large communal grassy areas in front of houses with some roads where whole streets faced woodland and wild spaces rather than other houses.

We arrived at Stanmer Park where we hunkered down in the wind to eat our picnic lunches beside the cafe. About to leave, we spotted Jim and Nick and as a group of 6 headed uphill to Stanmer Woods. At the top we cycled south through the woods to join the horrendous junction Ditchling Road/ Coldean Lane.

Negotiating busy roundabouts we came to a gap in the hedge and onto Ladies’ Mile Nature Reseve. Beautiful relief! Wonderful views on our downhill grassy descent into Patcham where we continued till we reached Mill Road . Uphill again until a discreet turning that took us to Green Ridge where we headed west along a delightful grassy path to Dyke Road.

At this point I left the group to head home.

Thank you to Jim for this voyage of discovery. Over lockdown I have cycled and walked all over Brighton, but have never discovered Bevendean.

Thank you also to Richard for leading us and to Sikka for helping, due to her encyclopaedic knowledge of the area

Tessa


The Last Ride: Sunday 8 March Lewes to Berwick

15 March 2020

Nick’s Report

International Women’s Day 2020 found Joyce, Angela, Sally, Doris, John, Jim & Nick at Brighton station waiting for a train to Lewes for the day’s bike ride to Berwick. The 20 mile linear route included plenty of daffodils and only a little rain.

Jim had devised a route which avoided any steep hills when leaving Lewes. After looking at some impressive graffiti, reminding us of the potential imminent extinction of the Blue Spix Macaw, we cycled through the town centre and turned left to follow the river Ouse past Harvey’s Brewery. It was then a short cycle ride to the morning’s coffee stop at the Ringmer Cafe.

While the other Clarionistas drank coffee, I attempted some emergency bike maintenance and removed a rubbing brake block. The coffee break was also an opportunity to take in the first daffodil moment of the day.

The route from the coffee stop to lunch at the King’s Head was perfect for cycling. We all agreed with Joyce that we enjoyed the long, straight, car-free B-road, which took us most of the way to our lunchtime meal of crisps & chips (the Mediterranean vegetable tart looked good too). Jim provided us with a copy of XR’s latest Hourglass paper to read while we waited for the chips to be served.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

Interesting signage has featured on quite a few Clarion rides. There were three particularly intriguing signs on Sunday’s ride, which were worth reading and photographing.

The punctuation on the ‘Very Slow. Cats!!!’ warning sign to motorists had been amended to give the impression there were some very slow cats wandering through the village. We also passed a sign which marked the graves of two soldiers who had died in a dual ‘circa 1800’. The third sign of note was the ‘Warning – Dogs Running Free’ attached next to a ‘Keep Out’ sign on a barbed wire gate outside the High Cross estate of violent thug Nicholas Van Hoogstraten.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

Most of the day’s rain had coincided with a 20 minute cycle ride to the pub lunch stop. The afternoon weather was dry and cool and it didn’t take too long to reach Berwick station, following some useful amendments to Jim’s route from Angela. We were slightly annoyed to have just missed the return train to Brighton, but it’s good to know that the Berwick Inn always seems open for people like us who have just missed trains.

March 8, 2020: Lewes to Berwick

An excellent day of interesting signage, daffodils, chips & cycling. Thanks to Jim & Angela for pointing us in the right direction.

Nick


The Last Ride – Sunday 23 February 2020

27 February 2020

Tessa’s Report Hassocks Circular

It wasn’t the ride Nick had planned.

Adverse weather and the prospect of negotiating Wivelsfield Station steps made Angela D, Jim, Sikka, Sue ( from Farnham) and Tessa rebel. We decided to alight at Hassocks and make our way to Wivelsfield to have lunch at the Cock Inn. Then decide whether to continue to Shoreham via the Downslink and Nick’s beloved cafe , Stan’s Bike Shack?

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Waterproof trousers were on and off as we headed through a little drizzle and strong and gusty winds through Ditchling, left down Spatham lane, right at the crossroads, heading towards Plumpton before turning left to Wivelsfield Green.

We were early for an unbooked lunch but were given a warm welcome even though all tables were fully booked. We all squeezed onto a small table in the bar. Food was good except for a runny fish pie and not very cheesy cauliflour. The expected rain started to fall outside making us feel extra cosy.

Leaving the pub was a small challenge. Our bikes had been boxed in by a parked car. Angela, in full voice went back into the pub asking whose number plate ended WEA?. He was reluctant to come out at first but Angela was persuasive mentioning possible scratches to his car. The incident ended amicably with some good humoured remarks from the car driver about us not exceeding the speed limit. As if Clarion would!

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Again it was waterproof trousers or not, and where do we go? Angela planned a return to Hassocks by careful map reading as we felt Stan’s Bike Shed and too far a destination with such uncertain weather.

We headed into the wind towards Burgess Hill. The sun came out illuminating lilac and white crocuses that bloomed on the grass of Burgess Hill’s suburbs. Birds were singing and earlier we had seen celandine, snowdrops and primroses blossoming.

The suburb roads were full of traffic and potholes so we were pleased to leave and join a small quiet cul de sac that led us to Goddards Green.

Soon we had reached Hurstpierpoint College. The lane leading to the main Hurstpierpoint – Hassocks road was a deceptively uphill haul so at the junction we all felt the need of a tea stop in Hassocks.

We said goodbye to Nick at the junction , the lure of Stan’s being too great and headed into Hassocks to have tea, hot chocolate and delicious chocolate brownies at Proper Cycling and Coffee, the perfect cafe for weary Clarinistas.

February 23, 2020: Hassocks circular w/ South Downs Link to Shoreham optional finish

Thank you to our two leaders Nick and Angela for a lovely weather defying day out.

Tessa.


The Last Ride: 2nd February 2020.

14 February 2020

The Last Ride –Sally’s Report 

 

 Berwick Circular 18 miles

 

Angela D., and Nick, co-leaders. Followed by Jim, Sikka, Richard Carroll, Sally.

 

It was a mild greyish February morning lightened by gleams of sunshine through the misty fields and on the scarp edge of the downs. There was a lot of water lying in the pastures after heavy overnight rain, filling the ditches to several inches up the hedgerows, and pouring into the drains. We pedalled along happily at an unfashionably slow pace, pausing to admire, at Angela’s instruction, manor houses and cottages—mostly 18th century, Ripe church (formerly known as Eckington, given by Henry VIII to Thomas Cromwell after the expropriation of the monasteries), and a lovely timber-frame and brick house in the village that looked Jacobean, with carved wooden people on the doorposts (see picture).

Detail from porch of old house

On the return from a detour to Laughton Tower, down a lane pitted with spectacular rashes of pot-holes, circular like the ones made by meteorites on the surface of the moon, I got a puncture. Luckily it was not too far to walk to the Roebuck Inn for lunch.

February 2, 2020: Berwick circular

 

The cognoscenti had advised in advance that this was a cog-themed establishment, in honour of “steam punk,” whatever that may be. The décor was largely characterised by interlocking wheels of assorted sizes with teeth on them. Apt for a cyclists’ pub. It could have been named “The Derailleur Inn.” After lunch, Jim helped me to fix the puncture and I vowed in future to bring a spare inner tube, and a selection of adapters suitable for different valves, since the pub offered a foot pump which, however, was incompatible with my tyre.

 

We set off back, rather later than intended because of the delay caused by the pneumatic mishap. Richard raced ahead to catch the train. Nick just missed it. The rest brought up the rear, and the 5 of us had time for a pot of tea, and in Jim’s case an apple crumble with ice-cream, at the Berwick Inn. We were home at Brighton soon after 5.30.

Laughton Tower

Snowdrops

Sally.


The Last Ride:  Sunday 12 January 2020

17 January 2020

The Last Ride –Nick’s Report

Hassocks to Lewes

‘We have the right of way here too, you idiot!’, I yelled as the car accelerated
away from us. Sikka joined me in admonishing the unpleasant 4×4 driver,
who had stopped briefly to tell us why he thought roads were for car drivers
only. The unhinged motorist may not have heard our disapproving shouts
as he sped away, but yelling at this narrow-minded fool was certainly
therapeutic for us.

We were relieved to find that the example of car driver road rage was an isolated incident in an otherwise blissful 18-mile cycle ride from Hassocks station for lunch in Lewes, on a mild day in January. As well as ride leaders Tessa & Sikka, it was Angela D, Angela C, Joyce, John, Doris, David & Nick who comprised the Clarionista nine for Sunday’s ride.

It was a short cycle ride of only a few miles to the coffee stop at the Plough Inn, which opened at noon. We arrived a few minutes before midday, so had time to sample the vegan biscuits Tessa & Sikka had generously brought along to share with us.

Although I had visited the Plough Inn before, I’m not sure I had ever ventured inside. The pub decor consisted of a spitfire & biplane hanging from the ceiling, motorbike illustrations, a bus stop sign and pop music ephemera from the 1970s (Bob Marley, The Clash & Marc Bolan). I was particularly interested in the Marc Bolan ‘Say it loud’ promotional poster for the NME (circa 1970?) displayed on the wall.

January 12, 2020: Hassocks to Lewes

As we drank our coffee, the room was warmed up by a blazing coal fire next to the table we were sitting at. The pub jukebox treated us to a UB40 track (So Here I Am), followed by St Etienne’s version of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart.’ I thought the coffee we were drinking was a little weak, so appreciated Frankie Valentine’s lively syncopated electro Latin grooves (identified by Shazam as the track ‘Spanish Dance’) to help us get in the mood for the ride to Lewes for lunch.

Tessa was right to warn us of the badly cracked concrete path which formed part of the route to Lewes. Recent heavy rain had left the path waterlogged in places and was potentially treacherous for cyclists. We all concluded that walking our bikes along the disintegrating path was the best approach, even if we had to cope with wet feet when walking through the occasionally deep puddles of water.

The route to Lewes was fairly straightforward (via Cooksbridge & part of the A275). Although Tessa & Sikka said they had cycled it many times, it was all new to me. I think I counted only one or two steepish hills we had to cycle up, which is quite rare in East Sussex.

Crossing the River Ouse towards Lewes, it didn’t take long for the familiar Harvey’s Brewery building to appear. Our lunch stop (and ride end) was across the road from the brewery in the John Harvey Tavern. I had visited this pub for the first time earlier in the week and sampled what I thought was an alcohol free beer for Dry January. Their ‘low alcohol’ beers do actually contain some alcohol, so I opted for a pint of lime & soda this time.

January 12, 2020: Hassocks to Lewes

I had a bag of chilli peanuts to accompany my pint of lime & soda for my Dry January/Veganuary lunchtime experience. Most of the other Clarion cyclists had a more substantial meal though. Joyce’s vegetable curry option looked particularly appealing.

The CND t-shirt I was wearing prompted Joyce to recall the anti nuclear demo she went to outside Faslane nuclear submarine base in Scotland a few years ago. Other topics discussed over lunch included the inevitability of Scottish independence, HS2 and how we all hoped to be flying around with jet packs very soon.

Thanks to Tessa & Sikka for an efficiently organised cycle ride with plenty of memorable moments. None of us got lost either, which must be a Clarion first!

Nick


The Last Rides: Xmas Beano and New Year Ride

17 January 2020

Clarion Gastronauts Xmas Beano 21 December

Anne’s Report

The chalice of the Xmas Lunch was handed to Sean from Wendy & he rose to the challenge, picking ”The Walrus” on what turned out to be  a wet & windy day, though warmer than previous seasonal celebrations, organised by Jim, Angela, Jenny & me.

Clarion Xmas lunch 2019

Wetter & blighted by Brexit, which we all deplored & by Labour losing the disastrous December 12th General Election & Friday 13th living up to [down to] its reputation as a very dark day.

12  of us made it to the table on top floor of the rambling Walrus, in its Xmas decor. There are some super snaps on Flickr of all of us & most of the tasty food.  Sean, Mick & I had chosen the mysterious ”verinne ”-mainly out of curiosity- salmon eggs atop smoked & steamed salmon mousse atop cucumber & watercress jelly.  Neither Sean, nor I ,got through to the jelly, as both had tender tummies & none had spoons, but Mick did & was underwhelmed by the bottom. Would have been easier to reach its depths with a spoon, but too tricky with knife & fork

Next course was light & juicy-cod with samphire, mussel[s] & potatoes which looked like scallops but were even nicer [especially for tender tums.]   Traditional turkey & vegan options were provided but I was surrounded by fish eaters.& we were all charmed by the dish.

By dessert course my tum was delighted to receive both a chocolate tart & a plum & vanilla cheesecake-having agreed to go halves with Mick.  Joyce got her vegan custard for a not very fruity crumble &  Angela D. said custard better than the traditional Xmas pud proffered. Sean’s cheese & biscuits looked pretty & he told me charcoal biscuits were good for the blood, so I’ve been chomping on the ones I bought recently from Lidl wondering why they were black & thinking maybe ”having coal for Christmas”.

Angela Coulter challenged us to say what was our favourite Clarion Ride of 2019  & I plumped for the Ride for Leon, organised by Joyce, David Jezeph & John Clinton.  Fred said he’d missed Joyce’s speech but Joyce replied that it hadn’t really been a speech, more happy recollections of wonderful times together with Clarion & others had chipped in. She mentioned the photos she’d chosen for the grave & the frames that they found in India on their trip there together.  She told us about her time working in France  for UNESCO & about French pensions[in the news again as Macron tries to”reform”] & the better childcare facilities there.                                                           

I thanked her for pointing out to us all the Interegs money that EU gives us for  benefits to the environment-such as Cuckoo Trail/Avenue Vert & NCN linking Channel Ports.  All saddened that most people don’t seem to have known ”what the EU ever does for us”.   Misled by Boris’s lies we’re now at the mercy of US Vulture Capitalism. Shame that John Pilger’s documentary on NHS was suppressed until after the General Election. Scales may have fallen from some voters eyes, had they seen that before the vote.

Ian thanked Sean for organising the event , at short notice,  & to everyone’s acclaim & enjoyment.  Mick & I were the only Clarionistas to cycle there, I think, &  had the strong West wind to push us home, before more winter storms began.   Angela Devas had encouraged us to join  her ride from Hove Park on the next day & we did, when it was sunny & bright all day long

Shortest Day over but Burning of the Clocks must have been  a washout on  21st, whereas our Christmas Beano  was jolly good fun..  Thanks to Sean for organising & for turning up on the day, since he’d been out late in London on night before & trains were disrupted by.floods, in spite of engineering works having been carried out to prevent floods to tunnels.  The election disaster can only make climate chaos worse as Tories plan to build more roads & more concretisation , whereas Labour had an ”oven-ready” Green New Deal” which FoE  applauded.    Hope the New Year heals some wounds  & that all have a healthy, happy Yule etc.      See you all on the annual Carrats Cafe Ride on Jan 2nd.

Anne

The New Year Ride 2 January

Suzanne’s Report

There was Tessa and Sikka. There was David and Fred. There was Ian and Anne and Suzanne. There was John and Ian with Mick and Nick and last but not least Roger and Joyce. There were old bikes and new bikes, helmets and headscarves, socks and cycle clips.

January 2, 2020: Clarion cycle ride to Carats

There was cycling from Palace Pier to Carat’s Café. There was a wardrobes-worth of (peaceful and peaceable) yellow jackets. There was a stiff sou’wester but the rain didn’t date put in an appearance.

There was laughter and chat and debate: politics, personalities, planning, postulations and even some expostulation of the very best kind … that between friends.

A lovely way to start the New Year and thanks to Ian for getting all 13 of us together. Obviously 13 is now our lucky number.

 Boots!                                                          

Suzanne