It was a somewhat cloudy but warm morning as our little band of four, Roger, Suzanne, Linda and me, set off from Chichester station in a south easterly direction to begin our 20 mile circular ride. I often have difficulty remembering many details of rides that I have done before, but I did remember the lovely track that goes alongside the lake as you leave the city. Autumn is not yet really apparent in the trees but the abundance of blackberries along the track definitely indicates the beginning of the change to the new season.
As we cycled out of the city towards North Mundham, the large fields of corn had not yet all been harvested and it always amazes me how the corn grows out of the side of the plant and never looks particularly edible. In fact, to be honest I’m not over keen on corn and Suzanne, who told me she loves it with blobs of butter, also told me that the French certainly do not eat it because the vegetable is fed to animals! I did not know that.
Somewhere along the route between North and South Mundham we stopped to look at a rather lovely and large house that had a beautiful Monkey Puzzle Tree in its garden. But there were, disappointingly, no monkeys doing puzzles in it. So why are they called that, then?
From there we cycled along the canal, where there were even more blackberries, through Runcton (I think, if my memory is correct) and out onto a road back towards the city to get to the pub for lunch. We had to negotiate a seriously challenging roundabout at North Gate, for we were indeed at the northerly point in our circular ride, and got to the Bell Inn, having done about ten miles.
Being a warm day we sat out in the garden and if Fred had been around to take pictures of our food, he would perhaps have found the composition of his pictures rather uninteresting as Roger, Suzanne and me all had the same thing! Linda, being vegetarian, made a different choice and said that her bread crumbed brie with salad was very nice.
The second part of our ride took us through a very pretty place called Lavant and out onto the Centurion Way, which we have cycled many a time and if my memory serves me ok, as we left the Centurion Way, we emerged onto a road by a housing estate where, through the trees we had the most wonderful view of the cathedral and its spire. This prompted Linda to tell us a story about a church that she visited abroad (and I’m sorry Linda, but can’t remember which country you said it was in) where you could pay to stay in its tower for up to three months with your food brought to you but not come out! Imagine that and having to pay for the experience too!
After this little stop to view the cathedral we cycled on through Apuldrum (what a lovely name) and Stockbridge before rejoining the canal path back to the city where we stopped for tea at the little cafe where the canal itself comes to an abrupt end. A nice pot of tea and a piece of cake for £1.70 (how come in Brighton it can be more than double that?) with more swapping of stories about what we had been up to over the last few weeks, and then we set off for the short ride back to the station and home.
Thank you, Roger, for organising this very pleasant and gentle ride and I hope my memory of the ride is not too out of ‘synch’ with my fellow riders. I had a lovely day out and the rest of you were missed and we hope to see you all soon, hope you are all well and are enjoying this lovely September.