The Two Last Rides: 21st and 28th July

9 August 2019

21 July 2019

Polegate to Pevensey via Herstmonceux and the Astronomical Observatory

Angela (D) Wendy (S) and Anne report

The Clarion crowd met at the station, David, Sean, Angela C, Wendy S and Angela D, awaiting their leader, but ever optimistic that something would turn up, assembled in the train. Just as it was departing, Graham dived into the train, followed by the Pru. Were they dallying in the waiting room? Dawdling in the coffee shop? No matter, we were off.

We scooped up Mick and Ann at Polegate Station, and cycled a few hundred metres to our first stop – Polegate’s conveniently placed public conveniences.

The first part of the ride was Arcadian bliss with bits of sunshine, lovely rambling through the Pevensey levels and an all-round state of expectancy and fun. This is never a good moment for Clarionistas, for it generally presages a doom-laden scenario of future disaster, and so it was this time.

As you all know, we are near the anniversary of the moon landing and we were threading our way through the back routes leading to the Observatory. The combination of possible space travel and a star-gazing mission, alas went to our leader’s head, and round about a disused sky tower he propelled us into a cosmic orbit which led us into one of those black holes we hear so much about. Stoically the Clarionistas followed while our leader must have faintly heard the strains of ‘Ground control to Major Graham’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYYRH4apXDo

 

Pevensey Picnic

And, as you know, it does not end well. Meanwhile, amongst the crew, there were stirrings of dissent and mutterings of ‘My cosmonaut outfit is at the cleaner’s!’ and ‘I am not convinced these protein balls are 100% vegan’ ‘I am not going without my little Laika’ https://www.space.com/17764-laika-first-animals-in-space.html

So our space-addled leader took his head away from the clouds and returned us to the ground and we were all instructed to back-pedal madly – we are good at this Clarionistas – especially if we think there might be a picnic at the end of it.

So the last part of the ride was a straight, no-nonsense road, entirely divorced from a fantasy life of orbiting astronauts and cosmic rings; we were all glad to assemble safely, with our more sedentary companions who knew nothing of our space travelling adventures, in the grounds of Pevensey Castle.

Mostly Angela (D)

Pevensey Picnic

On arrival at Pevensey Castle folk dispersed briefly – Pru and Graham hit the café, in need of coffee, David and Sean disappeared into the pub in need of beer, and the rest of us joined the advance party, comprising Joan, TJ and Nye – all the way from their new home in Wakefield, and Clarion National Chair, our own dear Secretary Ian, with Sue and Joyce. Some of us were surprised to learn of Joyce’s near election as our MEP for SE Region around 1992 and to hear more about her campaign, with help from Sheila Shaffer. The castle ruins made a picturesque backdrop for our picnic, and folk shared some delightful delicacies such as strawberries, beetroot cake, pork pies, home-made bread and choc and banana loaf.

Pevensey Picnic

Pevensey Picnic

Suitably refreshed, and the ride having officially finished at Pevensey Castle, ideas began to emerge as to how to spend the rest of the afternoon. Ian, Sue and Joyce returned to Brighton by car, Joan and family called in to the café for afternoon tea before continuing their ride, Angela D went off to contemplate a swim at Cooden Beach, Graham and Pru decided to return via Eastbourne and the remaining Clarionistas cycled off towards Polegate, with Mick taking over the yellow jersey. Our arrival at Polegate Station was perfectly timed, thanks to Mick who thoughtfully added in a short detour ensuring that no time was wasted hanging about on the platform! As our train pulled away from the Station, it was lovely to catch sight of Anne waving us off at the barrier, reminiscent of Jenny Agutter in the Railway Children.

Thank you Graham for thoughtfully planning this summer picnic, to include an enjoyable cycle across the levels plus options for arriving by car and train. It was lovely to see some of our Clarion friends who have been unable to join us on rides for a while. Folk seemed to appreciate the pub and café options, and there was no shortage of ideas for routes home from Pevensey.

Wendy ( S) and Anne

28 July 2019 Nick and (mainly) Angela report

Portslade to Withdean Woods via the Chattri

It was Portslade station where Tessa, Sikka, Angela, Marilyn, Wendy & Nick gathered for Dave’s mostly off-road cycle route, which took us along the Dyke Railway Trail to Devil’s Dyke, Rushfield’s Garden Centre Cafe, Pyecombe and along the South Downs Way to the Chattri Memorial. The route ended in Patcham & Withdean Woods.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial

Highlights included Wendy’s tomato soup in Rushfield Garden Centre’s cafe, the narrow path descent from Devil’s Dyke (which most of us considered far too treacherous to cycle down) and the always magnificent Chattri Memorial.

Sikka, Marilyn & Tessa had to leave the ride before the end, so we were reduced to a quartet for the Pycombe Church afternoon picnic. This was an excellent day of summer cycling, which avoided most cars and busy roads.

Nick

At Portslade our leader Dave, had a health and safety announcement regarding the importance of ICE or what to do In case of Emergency so we could all have our friends and relations know what had befallen a Clarionista en route. Now Dave is mister inventor and scorns conventional and ungainly methods in favour of his own, homemade devices.

It appeared that Dave had all our next of kin addresses and details invisibly tattooed on his forehead; to make these details appear all he needed to do was gently rub the site with a handful of Sussex grassland or a few leaves from the wild. All this information would be available to whoever needed it…except of course to Dave himself. Unfortunately the days when genteel Clarionistas would never go out for a ride without an elegant little device known as a powder compact which allowed lipstick and other fripperies to be discreetly applied en route with the aid of the mirror in the box (also helpful for signalling and making fires in the wild and many other uses which need not concern us here), as I say these days modern manners prevail and now everybody holds in their hands a mobile phone or suchlike. What to do in the event of a mass Clarion combustible incident, leaving Dave alone with the names and numbers of our loved ones and him unable to read them?

A resourceful, television addicted member of the Clarion team came up with the solution; there would be a Designated Survivor, similar to the television series (she recommends it highly). The difference would be the designated person would not be assigned the role but it would be left to chance; we, as Clarionistas, would make sure one member of the group (as well as Dave of course) would stay alive and well enough to read off the numbers inscribed on Dave’s forehead.

We all agreed this was an excellent idea and were able to set off. Dave is a hero straight put of The Perils of Pauline (1914)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perils_of_Pauline_(1914_serial)

A series from the silent era which I’m sure many Clarionistas will remember. Dave led some of us (others were too sensible, or too cowardly, or pleaded the sensitivity of their electrical bicycles) along a winding and perilous route down Devil’s Dyke, towards an abyss with a sheer wall to one side of the path and a drop of several thousand feet on the other. I am sorry to report that your narrator had an attack of altitude sickness; the world spun round; I dared not look down; going forward on the narrow path was impossible and reversing unachievable.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial

My companion on the path, far from wishing to help in any way, was poised ready with his camera to capture the exact moment when the photogenic fall took place. I believe he has form on this issue – but I am pleased to report I arrived at the bottom of this crevasse as he was suffering from a disruptive form of the bicycle bends. Dave, among his many gadgets, had a portable decompression chamber but pointed out Rushfields café was not that far Many other adventures befell us (as with The Perils each instalment will form part of a serial to be shown in cinemas weekly – enough of Netflix!) but we were all agreed that Dave was an excellent leader, very patient and calm and carefully keeping his scattered Clarionistas wonderfully together. Many thanks to him for leading this ride.

July 28, 2019: Portslade to Devil’s Dyke & Chattri Memorial

 

Angela (D)

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The Last Ride 7 July 2019 Palace Pier to Worthing

11 July 2019

Sikka’s Report

Nick, Mic, Ann, Wendy, Angela, Doris and Sikka set out from the Palace Pier on a cold, damp, misty morning, decked out in waterproofs.

July 7, 2019: Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier

The weather offered an excellent excuse however to stop for a hot drink and a long chat at Carats Café in Southwick.    The sun still refusing to emerge but the temperature warmer we moved off once again into the mist, crossing the walkways over the harbour locks as sailing boats were emerging to gain the open sea.

We followed Sustrans Route 2 through the back-roads of Southwick into Shoreham and crossed the Adur river on the glass-walled bridge.   Passing by Widewater Lagoon with its swans and egrets is always a delight – away from traffic and on smooth  tarmac.   Past the posh beach huts, static home parks and sailing club.  Today there were small yachts sailing on the water below us.

July 7, 2019: Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier

Ann was feeling tired and had an aching shoulder so she and Mic left us in Lancing.  It was then that Sikka and Doris were discovered to be missing and, assuming they were lagging behind, were waited for.   Thank goodness for mobile phones – after all!  A brief text revealed the missing pair, deep in conversation, had outstripped the rest and were waiting to have their lunch on Worthing Pier, puzzled as to what had happened to everybody else?

Happily reunited, with the weather still sombre but warmer, there was talk of a swim.    However, the lure of food triumphed and we settled down for soup and ciabatta in the art deco café at the end of the pier, sitting beside the windows looking out on a grey expanse of water and a wide sky.

July 7, 2019: Worthing Pier

Once fed and the temperature chilly again all thought of swimming vanished and we made our leisurely way homeward.   Sikka and Doris opted to take the train home from Shoreham and as I am writing this report I am unable to describe any adventures that later befell Nick, Angela and Wendy.

Thank you Nick for leading a lovely gentle ride, particularly suited to the day’s weather conditions.

Sikka

Having said our farewells to Sikka and our potential new recruit Doris at Shoreham station, Angela C and I followed Nick through the streets of Shoreham in search of the small blue signs marking the NCN2. We stopped briefly at the lock for snacks then Angela went on ahead while Nick and I sat on the beach to eat more snacks and watched a woman fishing off the beach. The prospect of a swim was mentioned several times on the return cycle ride as the sun emerged through the cloud cover, but the idea was swiftly dismissed remembering Mick’s recent encounter with a jellyfish – that and the lure of the vegan ale festival at the Cowley Club.

July 7, 2019: Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier

We purchased 3 different pints for a tenner and forgot which was which as they got moved around for Nick’s Flickr photo shoot.  No worries – we like to practice the art of discerning floral hop aroma from craft keg from golden pale ale.
Thanks Nick for organising today’s jaunt – very enjoyable, and lovely to see old friends and new.

Wendy S

Anne writes

As a footnote to Sunday’s Clarion Ride, Mick & I turned back at Lancing & lunched at the Italian Restaurant opposite  the church in Shoreham. I made a regretably unadventurous menu choice, as did Mick , & will have to sample their baked avocado with brandy & mozzarella &/or chicken livers with italian bits[forgotten] another time.. Mick had his perennial lasagne. We were just buying tickets at Shoreham Station when Sikka & Doris came along & all caught same train, then missed them on exiting Brighton station.  Hope Doris comes again. We found that she’s done the same Cuba trip that Mick, Fred & I had done.


The Last Ride 23rd June 2019

27 June 2019

Hove Park to Devil’s Dyke

Participating Clarionistas: Angela, Wendy, Richard, Dave & Nick

Angela’s Sunday cycle outing was planned as a short ride which wouldn’t take up the entire day. The route from Hove Park to Devil’s Dyke is steep, but a great way to reach the South Downs relatively quickly.

June 22, 2019: Hove Park to Devil’s Dyke

Both Angela & Richard fell off their bikes in unrelated accidents near the Devil’s Dyke summit, which luckily didn’t result in injury for either cyclist. I witnessed Angela’s fall into long grass and felt a little guilty that my first instinct was to take a few photographs. I have decided (so far) not to put my exclusive Angela accident photos on Flickr.

Our Devil’s Dyke pub lunch consisted of crisps, French Fries and double cooked chips. After discussing the merits of the pub’s chips, I was very pleased to find myself in a conversation about the work of Captain Beefheart when Richard mentioned it was 50 years since the release of the Trout Mask Replica LP (released June 16, 1969). Angela’s feminist critique of Killing Eve was also discussed before we started considering routes back to Brighton.

June 22, 2019: Hove Park to Devil’s Dyke

Angela and Richard decided to freewheel down the road from Devil’s Dyke towards Brighton. Dave came up with a more involved off-road cycle route, which both Wendy and myself were keen to try out.

Dave’s route took us on a diagonal path along the South Downs, dropping down to Saddlescombe (no time for a tea stop), then Waterhall and through Patcham old village. Dave pointed to the location where slide rules were manufactured in Patcham in pre-pocket calculator times before we joined London Road back into Brighton.

June 22, 2019: Hove Park to Devil’s Dyke

The off-road return was an occasionally steep (effective brakes required!), but enjoyable way to return to Brighton. I would be interested in doing something similar soon (perhaps a cycle ride across the South Downs?) during the summer months.

Thanks very much to Angela for organising the ride and to Dave for the ingenious post-lunch return.

Nick


The Last Ride 9th June 2019

14 June 2019

Hove Park to Shoreham

David ,Wendy, Sikka ,Mick ,Ann and Tessa all met at the Hove Park Cafe at 10am.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

It was a lovely sunny morn. Refreshed with coffees, breakfast baps( think that was just me!) off we went cycling up and up through many houses, in amongst them to my surprise was the Dyke railway trail bursting onto the green and lush downs. Still climbing up and up,we eventually swish down to the delightful Wild flour cafe, nestled into the South Downs way path. We left Ann and Mick there to enjoy an early tasty looking lunch.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

We rode up another hill to reach the Poynings turn off. A lovely cycle through country lanes to Henfield where we stopped in the Plough for lunch. While waiting for our roasts, the conversation turned to David’s experience of being involved in Morris dancing while living in Bangkok (!) egged on by the group, (hankies hastily found) he proceeded to give a demonstration along the path in the garden. Enthused by his talent, Tessa and Sikka     also took it in turns and danced along the path.

 

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

After being thrown out of the pub for being disorderly and frightening customers (not) we where all a bit tired and Graham decided it was good idea to shorten the ride and skip going on to Partridge Green. So we got on to the Downslink and headed to Shoreham.

Hove park to Shoreham 9th June

David and Graham decided they wanted more hills so they peeled off to ride up Coombe road. I peddled on only to have my battery conk out just under the Shoreham flyover ( do I hear some titters??!)

It really was a red run and lots of fun.

Wendy

I classified this as Red (Challenging) due the road section from Partridge Green to Shoreham.  On the day we chose to go south from Henfield on the downs link which made it a Double Blue Run (Moderate at 8-9 mph). 23 miles at an excellent average of 8.9 mph

Graham


The Last Ride 26th May 2019

30 May 2019

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.

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

We all disembarked safely and headed off to the Cuckoo trail.  Our nominated back-stopper – the one who has a picture of JC[1] tattooed on their chest, with JC[2] 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?[3]

Bebble's Garden

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.

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

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[4]) 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).

May 26, 2019: Cuckoo Trail & Pevensey Levels circular

At the tea shop we consoled our backstop who was distraught because they had not been invited to JC’s[5] 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[6] and the European elections.

Many thanks to Graham for planning and leading the ride and to Sikka for leading the last part.

Angela Devas

[1] 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)


The Last Rides: Two reports to read for Sunday 12th May

16 May 2019

Please scroll down to read both reports for last weekend


The Last Ride: Sunday 12th May Shoreham to Littlehampton

16 May 2019

Last Ride –Chris’s Report

David and I met Sikka, Prudence and Corinne at Shoreham Station and we all promptly set off for the coastal cycle path. I did wonder if such a prompt departure was a first for Brighton Clarion!!

Once the Widewater Lagoon had been reached David accosted an unsuspecting passing walker to take the obligatory group photo. I was also, thoughtfully, reminded by David and Sikka that I had promised to write the report for the ride, four out of the five members present agreed that this was a good idea.

Widewater Lagoon at start of ride to Littlehampton

Cycle track to Worthing

Without more ado we struck out for the Bluebird Cafe at Ferring for a well earned refreshment break. David, realising that we might be missing Nick’s presence, paused from time to time to take photos, we understood these were to be uploaded onto Flicker for the benefit of those on the Puttenham trip.

Coffee at The Bluebird Cafe

Start of last leg through Kingston Gorse Estate

Suitably refreshed we continued our ride to Littlehampton. Those who had taken part in previous rides were pleased to note that the pedestrian gates to the Kingston Gorse Estate had been modified such that it is now possible to push cycles through the gates rather than have to lift them over.

Littlehampton and our waterhole, The Arun View Inn, were soon reached, the lack of wind and the sunshine certainly aided our progress. We were made most welcome by the staff. The menu was extensive and catered for all tastes, vegan options were available and a good range of draught beers was on offer. A venue to remember for future rides.

Lunch at The Arun View Inn, Littlehampton

The roast lamb was excellent

Arun View patio and Littlehampton Bridge

Our lunch time conversation focused on environmental issues and in particular the problems of plastics and a throwaway society. The reports in the weekend papers on the rise in the number of public sector pensioners, primarily in the NHS, with pensions in excess £100,000 a year caused comment. It was also observed that Medical Staff were retiring early because under the new tax rules they are breaching the maximum amounts they can add to their pension pots and can no-longer claim tax relief.

Sikka and Corrine had intended to catch the train back to Brighton but, mindful that we had cycled to Littlehampton in approximately 2 hours and of the wonderful weather decided to cycle back.

The return journey was completed in one go, Sikka left us at Lancing to catch the train as she wanted to get home to prepare for an evening engagement. David, Prudence, Corinne and I enjoyed a relaxing coffee in Shoreham before departing for home.

It was very pleasing to see Corinne back with us after what she thought was a two year break and well done for tackling what was a 30 mile ride straight off.

On a personal note I find I will not be able to join you on our planned rides again until early July owing to other commitments although I might be able to make the odd pop up ride.

Chris