No ride reports at the moment — but we’ll be back.
Ian Bullock, Secretary of the Brighton and Hove Clarion, writes in his February Update:
“I’ve been chairing monthly National Committee meetings via Zoom for what is starting to seem like ever. It’s now planned to have a National Conference on Zoom too.
We and other sections can of course propose anything we like but it seems likely that the main business of the conference will be to consider the rule changes concerning the structure and functioning of the national committee that the committee will be proposing. There will, of course, be elections (or re-elections) of officers. I’m hoping to be able to stand down as chair so if anyone would like to propose themselves for the post do let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01273 682133”
The Brighton and Hove Clarion hope to run an AGM via Zoom in the near future. We are seeking a new Secretary and a new Treasurer. If you are interested in either of these posts, Ian Bullock (details above) will be pleased to explain what’s involved.
Regular rides currently suspended … but watch this space.
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
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.
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.
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.
An excellent day of interesting signage, daffodils, chips & cycling. Thanks to Jim & Angela for pointing us in the right direction.
As yet we have no details of the ‘Next Ride’ which I understand (from an email from Jim) will be a ‘mystery’ one ‘facilitated by Angela D”. In the nature of things you can’t have details of a mystery ride without defeating the whole object, but participants will need to know when to meet at Brighton station or wherever the starting point is. I’ll let you have these vital bits of info as soon as Angela has had a chance to work out where she intends to take the ride and the when and where of the starting point.
Section Report for Boots and Spurs.
We had a really excellent report in the much delayed last issue and Joyce has volunteered to do a new one for the next Boots and Spurs which I feel sure will be equally interesting and reflect our activities in the latter part of last year really vividly.
Centurion Way Extension
You’ve probably seen Jim’s message about this on via the google group. Of course we used the southern bit of the Way as a means of getting out of Chichester on our Dell Quay rides which became a favourite with Julian. But early on we also had a ride that started on the Way and broke for lunch at the excellently- named The Fox Goes Free at Charlton. We didn’t do this one more than once or twice because of having to use a rather dangerous bit of the A286 for the last bit of the outward journey. But it may now soon be possible to think about reviving something like this.
Our AGM Wed 25 March 2020
“The Back of Beyond” (Lewes to Berwick)
Ringmer – Palehouse Common – East Hoathly –
Whitesmith – Vert Wood – Ripe
It’s nearly three years since we did this ride; if it was left to me we would do it at least once a year, as it features some wonderful cycle-friendly lanes. The “nickname” comes from an exclamation by a Clarionista (confusingly, NOT Nick) on a previous version of the ride.
If you’ve never seen Charles I’s death warrant, now might be a good time to join us for lunch at the King’s Head in East Hoathly, where, on our last visit, a photo taken after lunch appeared to show Tessa stealing Chris’s right arm, but apparently it was just a trick of the light.
Hopefully there will be many stops to admire the Sussex countryside. Readings from T S Eliot are optional (even in Hollow Lane).
Vert Wood is, as before, an option if not too muddy.
Start at Lewes Station (car park) at 09:40.
Trains: Get the 09:17 Seaford train from Brighton to Lewes.
Length: 25 miles.
Duration: 6 hours including lunch and cat herding.
Getting back: Trains leave Berwick hourly for Brighton at 55 minutes past the hour. The Berwick Inn does a very nice apple crumble and ice cream. Sun sets at 5.53 pm.
Terrain: Flat, with some gentle undulations. There is a very short section of the B2192, but otherwise quiet lanes and a reasonably hard track through Vert Wood.
This is a linear ride; anyone arriving by car can park at Lewes Station and get the train back there from Berwick; or park at Berwick and get the train to Lewes. Get a return ticket to Berwick.
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?
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!
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.
Thank you to our two leaders Nick and Angela for a lovely weather defying day out.
Coming back down the M1 from Nottingham yesterday in pretty appalling weather with parts of the motorway partially flooded– following the national committee meeting on Saturday – I kept wondering how the ride to Stan’s Bike Shed was going and hoping those on it were having a bit better luck weatherwise than us. Sorry that Stan’s turned out to be not ‘on’ for all but Nick and that he arrived after it was closed. Better luck next time!. I think I’ve included everything suggested in the Future Rides grid – but please let me know if I’ve missed anything.
I gather things have progressed a bit since the last newsletter. But anyone still thinking about it or having views about the best time of year to do this please let Jim know ASAP at email@example.com
Our AGM Wed 25 March 2020
Thanks to everyone who responded to my plea in the last newsletter (and ‘last chance’ message).
If you intend to come do print out the agenda and any other papers you think you’ll need. In order that we can take a view and instruct delegates at our AGM I hope to be circulating the agenda for the national conference and the list of motions to be discussed fairly soon- once the final versions arrive.
Similarly, I’ll circulate any reports I receive from the other office-holders and any motions or general proposals you’d like discussed before the meeting.
The Warwick Meet, 10-12 April
We’ll all be getting info soon about this year’s Easter Meet – the 125th one. Earlier last year I actually suggested that Warwick might be a suitable place to hold it and wrote a little piece about the attractions of the area for those not involved in the various cycling activities. I’m putting it in this newsletter at the end after Tessa’s report (delivered exemplarily early as usual) of yesterday’s ride. Even if you’re not tempted to come to Warwick I hope you’ll find the bit about the Clarion connection with Daisy (aka the Countess of Warwick) and her exploits an interesting bit of ‘Clarion history’
Warwick Attractions and the Clarion connection
As with last year at York, the 2020 Meet will take place in one of Britain’s the most interesting county towns. There are plenty of possibilities for exploration in the area– Stratford-upon-Avon is not too far away and even the Cotswolds are not that distant.
But with the spa town of Leamington just a couple of miles away and the still impressive Kenilworth Castle within five there is really little need to stray that far. In Warwick itself St Mary’s church cannot rival last year’s York Minster but is still worth a visit.
But the main attraction is Warwick castle. Dating in part since before the Norman conquest, the castle was deemed the best in Britain by the 2003 Good Britain Guide. The castle is worth visiting for the setting alone – perched on a hill above the Avon. Owned and run nowadays by the Tussauds Group there are two impressive towers, dungeons and lots of displays and events going on throughout the day.
One feature of the more modern apartments is a sort of reconstruction of a 1898 weekend party hosted by Frances Countess of Warwick – better known as Daisy. It features wax figures representing the chief guest the Prince of Wales – future Edward VII – with whom she had had quite a long-running affair, her husband the Earl of Warwick and other guests including the young Winston Churchill.
Daisy (1861 -1938) was the inspiration of the 1892 music-hall song ‘Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do’ by Harry Dacre – still well-known. She was famous for her colourful, not to say scandalous, lifestyle, her lavish entertaining which eventually got her into serious debt and very nearly prison, her philanthropic activities, and her Left Wing politics which grew out of a connection with the Clarion.
In 1894, the year that Tom Groom wrote of the cycle tour that led to the foundation of our National Clarion Cycling Club, the paper published an article by its editor, Robert Blatchford, which criticised one of the extravagant Warwick castle parties put on by Daisy. Someone must have made her aware of this. She was incensed. She believed that she was doing a good deed by hiring lots of local people to help her to entertain her guests as temporary servants and so on. So she set off for London and confronted Blatchford in his office.
However, far from apologising abjectly, Blatchford explained his socialist beliefs and principles – and, surprising, converted her to his way of thinking. There was no looking back. Later she joined the Social-Democratic Federation (SDF) – generally regarded as the most radical of the socialist organisations. She was rumoured to be the only delegate ever to arrive at of its annual conference by private train. In August 1923 the SDF’s paper, Justice, described her as being ‘intellectually and sympathetically with the working classes’ and a few months later she stood as the Labour candidate in the general election against the future Tory PM Anthony Eden for the Warwick and Leamington constituency.
However you look at it she was pretty unforgettable. If you want to know more, there is Sushila Anand’s 2009 book Daisy. The Life and Loves of the Countess of Warwick and there’s lots about her on the internet including a video documentary and Nell Darby’s article from 2018 ‘Daisy, Daisy the Cycling Countess’ which looks at some of Daisy’s adventures and misadventures connected with bikes. She did cycle though whether she ever had a tandem as suggested in the song or whether she ever joined our club is not known.
In contrast to all the razzmatazz at Warwick, Kenilworth castle is relatively peaceful. It is ‘one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit’ as Marie Lloyd once sang. It was deliberately ‘slighted’ in 1649 to prevent it being ever used as a royalist stronghold in the Civil War. But though mainly ruins it is still one of the most impressive castles in Britain. It was put back on the cultural map in 1821 when Sir Walter Scott’s novel Kenilworth was published. This was set in the Elizabethan period and one of the main and most attractive features of the castle today is its reconstructed Elizabethan knot garden.
So, no shortage of things to do and to see in and around Warwick. The problem will be fitting them all in!
Wivelsfield to Shoreham, via Stan’s Bike
Shack (or the Partridge pub in Partridge Green)
The ride on Sunday February 23rd will start at Wivelsfield station. We will have a
choice of lunch stops (Stan’s Bike Shack or the Partridge pub in Partridge Green).
I’ll be heading to Stan’s Bike Shack to sample their coffee for the first time, but
others may wish to have a break in the Partridge pub instead.
We’ll all meet up after lunch to cycle along the Downs Link to Shoreham train
station. Those with more energy may also want to cycle from Shoreham to
Train from Brighton to Wivelsfield is 10.08.
Ride concept by Nick. Fine-tuning by Jim.