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 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.


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.


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



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!


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.


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.



The Last Ride: Palace Pier to Berwick 8th December 2019

13 December 2019

Chris’s Report

Sunday 8 December 2019 The Palace Pier to Berwick

Four keen riders, Anne, Doris, Prudence and Angela assembled at the Palace Pier at the appointed time. The fifth rider was late and I was grateful that the others waited 10 minutes for me. To atone for my sin, I “volunteered” to write the report. My excuse was that, knowing I had a slow puncture in the rear tyre I decided to add a little more air. As I was putting the pump away a loud bang indicated that my “slow” puncture had become “fast” necessitating an inner tube change!!

We set off in good spirits along Madeira Drive. Anne, wisely, switched us to the clifftop cycle path at the Marina, the tide was in and there was a strong onshore wind. Once on the clifftop and with the wind behind us we made rapid progress to our coffee stop at the Gateway Café. Over coffee we discussed the complications of restoring traditional habitats and specifically what does “traditional” mean should the South Downs be restored to Forests???


After coffee we followed the NCN Route 2 to Newhaven much enjoying the down hill section to the river and arrived at The Ark for a welcome but briefish and enjoyable lunch. At this time of year, we were all aware of fading light and that it can get a bit chilly in the afternoon. Over lunch Angela kindly shared her maps with me as I was proposing to complete the ride to Berwick on my own.

Again, with the wind behind us Seaford seafront was soon reached, as we cycled along we could see Tide Mills in the distance. On a warmer spring or summer’s day a diversion to the old village and a coastal ride into Seaford would be appealing.

Halfway along the seafront Anne, Doris and Angela turned inland and headed for the Railway Station. Prudence made a last minute decision to join me on the final leg to Berwick. As we turned off the seafront to follow the NCN route 2 we were sheltered from the wind and the sun made an attempt to shine.


Approached Cuckmere Haven be decided not to follow the route across the fields but to use a short length of the A259. Fortunately, the road was not very busy and the light was still good.

Back on the country lanes we followed the cycle route to Berwick reassuringly spotting the landmarks, landmarks Angela had referred to over lunch. We arrived at Berwick and having just missed a train, retired to the Pub for a well-earned coffee before catching the next train.

My thanks to Anne for leading the ride and Angela for her help with the navigation. As I will be away for the New Year I will not be able to join you on the 2nd so can I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy New Year.



The Last Ride: Westbourne and the Ems Valley – 24 November 2019

30 November 2019

This was another ride from the archive. Moving the start to Emsworth from Warblington was definitely a good idea: we very soon got off main roads and into quiet lanes with lovely autumn colours, and marvelled at the number of old flint houses in the valley. We also saw two 12th century flint churches, but did not go inside, preferring to save our churchgoing for the 11th century St Hubert’s at Idsworth, with its wall paintings.

Ride 19.11.24: St Peters Church at Lordington

Wells are not as frequent a feature of our rides as churches, but there were two on this ride – as well as the promised thatched one at East Marden, Angela C pointed out a smaller well near our lunch stop at Compton. I wondered whether a preponderance of wells could be connected to the dryness of the river bed in some way – it’s a pity neither of our retired water engineers could make it for this ride, as they’d no doubt have had a ready answer to that question.

Ride 19.11.24: the river Ems at Westbourne

Angela D pointed out that the geography of the area would have made settlements such as Stoughton and East Marden easily defensible. It also helps, along with the narrowness of the lanes (some of which have grass growing in the middle) to make it a natural “backwater” for motor traffic, and hence very popular with bikes and other less common forms of transport. On the recce ride I had overtaken a little pony trap at Westbourne, but there were few horses in evidence on the ride itself, and thankfully, no tractors. Also no motorbikes, which had plagued an earlier recce.

The sky was overcast, and quite gloomy by the time we reached Idsworth, so St Hubert’s was put on hold for another occasion, and we pressed on. Wilma and Angela C opted to return home from Rowlands Castle station, while Angela D and I took Woodberry Lane where, half way to Westbourne, Angela noticed a newish-looking cycle path leading off through the woods, and signposted to Emsworth, so we decided to try it out. Despite a paucity of signposts further on, by astute use of the compass we eventually found ourselves back at Emsworth station with just under 20 miles on the clock.

The unexpected cycle path

Angela and I agreed that further adaptation of this ride would be possible, perhaps linking it up with one of our favourite cycle paths, the Centurion Way, which now seems to be called the New Lipchis Way. Perhaps whoever takes it on next could have a think about that.


The Last Ride: Sunday 10 November 2019: Gatwick Circular via Leigh

15 November 2019

Nick’s Report

Just beyond WH Smith and the International Arrivals area, there are lifts enabling passengers and cyclists to leave Gatwick Airport. It was a team of four Clarionistas (Tessa, Doris, Jim & Nick) who pushed their bikes past armed police, uniformed plane crews and confused plane passengers to find the lifts to leave the airport.

November 10, 2019: Gatwick Circular via Leigh

Before locating the exit lifts, we gathered on the Gatwick Airport concourse for a brief photo opp in front of WH Smith and took the opportunity to visit the airport’s luxurious loos. Sunday’s bike ride was particularly memorable for the backdrop of trees and autumn sunshine which accompanied visits to Riverside Garden Park, Hammonds Copse Nature Reserve, an intriguing bus stop and some eco protest solidarity.

November 10, 2019: Gatwick Circular via Leigh

Riverside Garden Park is a very short bike ride from Gatwick Airport. The Garden Park lake, surrounded by vivid autumn tree colours, was worthy of a brief stop to take a few photos. We then followed Cycle Route 21, Surrey Cycleway Link and assorted twists and turns in a nine mile journey to the Plough pub lunch stop in Leigh

While waiting for our lunch in the Plough we all agreed that cycling in the morning, with low sunlight and autumn leaves, had been picturesque and enjoyable. My lunch consisted of a plate of chips and pint of lime & soda. Other food options were available though.

Tessa handed out flyers over lunch to remind us that she would be busy with her artists’ Open House from late November to early December. I must try and go along.

As we left the Plough after lunch, we noticed an ornate and distinguished looking wooden bus stop on the village green. We didn’t see anyone waiting for a bus, so perhaps this was another rural location without a Sunday bus service.

November 10, 2019: Gatwick Circular via Leigh

It was Remembrance Sunday and we saw quite a few outsized poppies attached to traffic signs, as we started the post-lunch leg of the day’s cycle ride.

November 10, 2019: Gatwick Circular via Leigh

Dramatic autumnal colours were on display as we cycled through Hammonds Copse Nature Reserve. The muddy conditions caused by the recent heavy rain weren’t particularly welcome, but the waterlogged path we found ourselves on didn’t last for very long.

It was a delight to meet two activists from the Horse Hill anti-fracking camp on our way back to Gatwick Airport. Jim was given a big hug when he explained that we were part of a socialist cycling group which had been founded more than a hundred years ago.

We were given leaflets on drilling, acidisation & fracking in the South East, which Surrey County Council has encouraged. I tended to agree with the Horse Hill campaigner who said the recent moratorium on fracking from the current Tory government was nothing more than an election ploy.

After our brief spell of Horse Hill eco-warrior activism, it was time to cycle back to Gatwick Airport train station. Thanks to Jim for a perfectly planned and rather glorious autumn cycle ride.