The Last Ride: Sunday 5 March 2017 – Marrocco’s, Hove, to the Sea Lane Cafe, Worthing Beach, and back

8 March 2017

This ride was suggested by Alex Southern – he arrived with four other London Members just after 10 am at Marrocco’s. Here he was met by his father who lives in Hove (but just for a brief hello) and only Julian – which must have been a disappointment, which he nobly did not show. It was cloudy and there was quite a strong wind, which two surf gliders were enjoying by racing among the large waves. We rode past Hove Lagoon and on past the Shoreham Power Station to the harbour lock gates. After Southwick we followed the NCN2 route, where a brief rain shower soaked us by the allotments, until we reached the Shoreham swing bridge. Here David and Chris joined us. 
Then over the bridge and past Widewater in a strong headwind that made the seaside cycle track feel as if it were going uphill until we reached Worthing Pier. Linda had joined us a little before, but decided to move on at her faster pace, as we waited after 12 for Alexander, Joan and their three-year old son Nye to join us. These three and Julian went straight on to the Sea Lane Cafe, battling against a strong headwind, of probably up to 30 mph, and for a while the drops of sheeting rain felt like hailstones on their faces. 
The other seven had a coffee pick-me-up opposite the Pier and rode a ‘Goring Loop’ before reaching the cafe somewhat later. The cafe was teeming with customers with a queue first to book a table, then another to order food: – though it did arrive quite promptly. 
For the return journey, Chris and David decided to start back earlier, while the rest of us set off after 2 pm. The  ride back with the wind behind us felt as if we had electric bikes, so fast and smoothly did we glide, even in some sunshine! A little before Shoreham the parents and child peeled off to their new home, having finally moved in last Tuesday. At Southwick Green Julian led an alternative route along Manor Hall Road (passing near St. Julian’s Church!), then under the railway at Fishersgate, and round to the traffic lights at Boundary Road, and then along New Church Road, where, in Church Road, he turned off at The Drive and waved goodbye. He had biked about 26 miles and got home at 4 pm. The others had probably added another 5 miles or so and I expect visited the Brighton Beer Dispensary before boarding the train to London.
Our thanks to Alex – and how he must have wished for another surname given the recent troubles on Southern (rail)!

The Last Ride: Sunday 24 August 2014: Shoreham Beach and Lagoon – or A Bridge Not Too Far

27 August 2014

Ist start at the Palace Pier

Waiting at the Palace Pier were Ian, Leon, Joyce, Linda and Rob (who volunteered to be back stop) and after a quick group photo we set off westwards along the sea front, taking a detour onto the main road as we passed where the i360 will stand.

2nd start in Hove

Into Hove and at Marrocco’s we picked up Tessa, Corinne, Prudence and Richard. Another group shot and we were on our way, past Zippo’s circus (that use chip fat to power their wagons) and swathes of poppies and other wild flowers along the Hove cycle path.

Hove poppies

At Hove lagoon we turned onto Basin Road towards the power station. The sea was as still as a mill pond and the weather pleasantly warm and dry.

Shoreham locks

We by-passed Carat’s cafe, crossed the lock gates and headed into suburban Southwick passing various schools and churches (see Ian’s description) until we reached the new shared-space bridge at Shoreham.

New Shoreham footbridge

There was a festival of sorts going on but we didn’t have time to investigate. We headed back towards the power station, but this time on the opposite side of the Adur following a line of flying swans, until we reached Shoreham Fort, which was undergoing some restoration. Then it was west again past the rows of houses with balconies and bungalows that constitute Shoreham Beach, once home to an actors’ community living in railway carriages.

Widewater lagoon

At Widewater Lagoon, we walked (or cycled) across a causeway and onto the busy Brighton Road, before turning off to the airport, where we had lunch. Coincidentally Roger and Suzanne were there at the bar and with one section indoors and another outdoors, we compared meals and the changes since the cafe became Hummingbirds.

Shoreham airport

I also had a pint of Spitfire to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

Then it was round the airport periphery, over the wooden Old Toll Bridge, which we helped to save all those years ago, and briefly along the riverside cycle path before plunging into housing estates on our way back to Brighton, losing people along the way, until back near Zippo’s in Hove, we bumped into John coming the other way, and Ian declared the ride at an end.


More photos on Flickr.

Leon's T-shirt

I must just add that originally Linda had volunteered to write the report but felt unwell when we got to Shoreham fort. Hope she recovered quickly. Ian

The Last Ride: Sunday 7 October 2012 – Hove to Shoreham

8 October 2012

Tessa kindly welcomed us all to morning coffee at her studio, so by the time we got to the photoshoot in Lorna Road we had all had time to begin to get to know our welcome newcomers Chris, Suki, Pauline and Nina and Carole. Sue/Sikka, Joyce, Jim, Angela, Marylyn, Roger, Sean and Suzanne were out in force, and it was good to see Elaine with the group for a second outing with Clarion.

Start - 15 Clarionettes blocking Lorna Road

Tessa, still suffering from laryngitis, led us on the first part of the ride to bowl along the new cycle lane on the Old Shoreham Road. She then sensibly left us to nurse her poorly throat. Sue/Sikka then took over the task of (quote Jim) “herding cats” (unquote Jim) to wend our way around Hove Recreation Ground. Yes, it’s quite a hill up past the Engineerium, along Nevill Road, up Downland Drive (no pun intended) and then that annoying “down” towards the bridge over the bypass before “up” (Regional Cycle Route 82)

On the Downs

to join the old Aldrington-to-Devil’s Dyke railway track (line closed 1938). Once on our way the fatigue of the climb was far outweighed by the spectacular views across toward the sea … and even more so by the long sweep down towards Saddlescombe Farm and coffee, cakes and glorious sunshine. Nice to see the café so busy with at least two cycling groups and many weary walkers.

The Hikers' Rest

We then continued down to the “under down” villages, Poynings, Fulking, Edburton – a halt being called when some horses were spotted in a field – not just any old horses but a magnificent Shire horse who must have stood 18 hands and several smaller versions of the species. Suki sacrificed half of her lunch in the form of an apple (by the way, Angela, I have never seen anyone split an apple in two with her – or even his – bare hands). The two halves of the apple were promptly snaffled by said 18-hander who then proceeded to investigate Suki’s pannier in the hopes of more goodies.


It was decided it was time to move on – our own lunch was calling – although Jim could not resist a little caméra vérité on the way.

Arty shot - Angela and my right elbow

A nice little side road brought us safely to Upper Beeding, over the bridge and to an excellent lunch at the Castle Hotel at Bramber. Despite aching legs and full stomachs we wended our way along the Downslink Cycle Route (rail line closed 1966), with Jim doing some bird-spotting as we rode.

Downs Link

Crossing the river Adur we continued on our way to Shoreham where the party went its separate ways: Suki to pick hedge berries, Chris to the comfort of home in Shoreham itself, Sean, Angela, Nina, Pauline, Jim and Carole to en-train for Hove and points east, whilst Sue, Joyce, Roger and Suzanne pedalled off Brightonwards, Joyce and Sue being detained by a cup of tea at Carats’ Café.

A beautifully crafted ride of all the 7s – no, not 777 miles, but 7 miles to refreshment, 7 miles to refreshment and 7 miles to possible refreshment. Three refreshment stops in one ride – this is a record that we must certainly attempt to equal on a regular basis.

Many thanks to both Tessa and Sue for planning such a good ride (and good weather, of course) and to Sue to her skill in making it all happen so enjoyably.

PS: The Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe Farm is offering music, food (carnivores and veggievores catered for), and soft or hot drinks (take your own glass and wine if you want something stronger) 6pm until 10pm Thursday 11 October – in the pergola if wet. Tickets on the night £12.00.


More photos on Flickr.

The Next Ride: Sunday October 7th: Hove to Shoreham via Devil’s Dyke

30 September 2012

Meet at Tessa’s house – 38 Lorna Road, Hove. (5 minutes ride from Hove station and 10-15 minutes cycle from Brighton station). Free parking in Lorna Road and surrounding streets – those in the ‘O’ zone (no pun intended?) on Sundays.

Tessa is providing coffee for anyone prepared to arrive for 10am! And then we will start out at 10.30 making our way to Route 82 which takes us along the new cycle track on the Old Shoreham Road. The 82 then takes us legitimately through Hove Recreation Grounds and Hove Park linking the two via Hove Park Road. After the parks there is a short sharp hill to the main road and briefly along this  past Blatchington School. Bypassing the windmill, we join the old railway track to Devil’s Dyke. So a long slow haul up to the Dyke.

Then the good news. A long downhill run alongside the Dyke itself,  stopping at Saddlescombe for a pause and/or a drink at the Hikers’ Rest. Then up a short hill and down to turn left  through Poynings and Fulking, following a softly undulating road at the foot of the Downs. On through Upper Beeding to Bramber for lunch at The Castle Hotel.

Back along the Downs Link  to Shoreham, (or deserting the Link and detouring along Coombe Lane past St Botolphs if the ground is soggy). Possibility of tea at the airport if desired. Option of cycling back to Brighton or taking the train from Shoreham.

Distance: approx. 7 miles to coffee; 7 miles to lunch and 7 miles to Shoreham station with the option of a further 7 miles cycling back to Brighton. Total:  About 21 miles, or if cycling back to Brighton 28.   All distances approximate as my cycle computer does not work properly.

It would be helpful in booking lunch to have an idea of numbers so if you could leave a message on Sue’s phone if you are coming that would be great:   01273 697412.   Thanks.

Trains back from Shoreham 15.09, 15.39, 16.09, 16.39, 16.52, 17.09, 17.39  etc…

SueP/Sikka and Tessa

PS:   Fred – will we see you on your new electric bike??

The Last Ride: 18 March 2012 – Aldrington to Shoreham

20 March 2012

Thirteen riders met at Aldrington on Mothers’ Day just as the sun was slipping behind a large grey cloud. They were Angela, Ann, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Mick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue (our leader), Suzanne and Tessa. Would we be lucky with the weather?

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 001

We set off through suburban Hove passing the impressive West Blatchington Mill. Then came the first of the various choices that Sue would be offering us during the day. Should we take the off-road track with its risk of mud, or stick to the slightly longer road? Some wanted one and some the other so we split into two groups, and met up again at the footbridge over the A27.

Discussion on (en) route

From here it was (fairly gently) uphill all the way to a spectacular view of the English Channel and our next choice: coffee inside at the Devil’s Dyke, or outside at the Hikers’ Rest Café at Saddlescombe with its home-made cakes? A quick glance at the sky and the vote was unanimous – the home-made cakes had it.

Hikers' Rest

Thoroughly refreshed we resumed our journey, plunging down to Poynings, where Sue’s next question was posed: was Helen ahead of us or had we left her at the café? Blank looks all round, so Jim volunteered to ride back and look for her. Needless to say we were all soon reunited and Jim was pleased to learn that Helen had not been abducted by the hairy, vintage motorcyclists he came across during his search: she had been ahead of us all the time.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 005

Onwards to the King’s Head at Upper Beeding for lunch. As it was Mothers’ Day all the inside seating had been reserved for those accompanied by their bona fide mothers. As a result we had to sit outside, as Sue had forewarned us. Well, there is outside and outside. We were soon seated around a magnificent table in an open-sided barn overlooking the garden and staring intently at the hi-tec gizmos we had each been given when ordering food. Whenever anyone’s meal was ready to collect, their gizmo turned into a festival of flashing LEDs. The meals were pretty good too.

Clarion Dyke to Downslink Ride 015

The weather was still being kind as we started the final leg of the journey along the Downs Link to Shoreham and the next decision point: train or cycle back to Brighton? Four of our number peeled off to catch a train and the rest hurried on to Shoreham Lock for the final choice of the day: a cup of tea at Carats Café or straight home? Two more peeled off for tea and the rest pushed on along the coast.

Thanks for a great ride Sue – and for all those choices!


[More photos on Flickr]

Cycling the Pioneer Run

Roger’s report mentions seeing vintage motorcycles (or was it vintage motorcyclists? Probably both …) on Sunday’s ride. They were taking part in the annual Pioneer Run from Epsom Downs to Brighton – and I wasn’t on the Clarion ride because I was cycling the route in among the motorcycles with some friends. It was great fun! I had to get a very early train from Brighton to meet my friends at East Croydon, then we rode from there to Tattenham Corner, Epsom, and stopped for a while to admire the organised chaos of hundreds of very unusual motorbikes getting ready to depart.

The start at Epsom

Despite forecasts of rain at some point we had a dry ride under largely blue skies, and the atmosphere was very merry with motorcyclists and passengers (in some very uncomfortable-looking sidecars including a wicker one) waving and hallooing to us as they passed us – we were very careful to keep out of their way as their brakes are often not that brilliant, in fact we saw one guy stopping by simply putting his feet down! Several of our number abandoned their bikes at one point to help a poor chap push his stalled three-wheeled vintage number up the hill at Handcross.

Stopped for a Woodbine and a chat

No closed roads for this run, unlike the version for the vintage cars, but we had an excellent 58-mile ride with one coffee/snack stop at Pease Pottage. We were on the main roads a lot of the time, but the presence of the old motorbikes made the traffic behave very well all day and we sailed down the A23 on the cycle path. We got to Madeira Drive at about 2 pm, after most of the motorcycles had departed, so we could find some room at the Madeira Café to enjoy tea and chips – a grand day out!


Clarion Christmas Social 2011: 10 December 2011

19 December 2011

We had to battle a wild West wind along the seafront bike track, by a roaring sea, to arrive at the venue. Heads down & envy the cyclists flying towards us, wind-assisted, be grateful that it’s not raining or snowing, or icy, as it has been in previous years for our Xmas Social, some wintry weather rendering travel, even within Brighton, dangerous or impossible, especially because of our hills, which became ice-rinks two years ago.
Hove’s flatter & has a delightful smaller museum, housed in an impressive Victorian villa with unusual Indian gateway in the grassy grounds, where we parked the bikes, before entering  the tea-room where the Clarion was assembled and awaiting their lunch. Jenny, host and organiser, after volunteering at January AGM, welcomed us warmly. We had a splendid, long table, with tall windows on two sides and charming woven decorations overhead, like an icy spider’s web, with hanging eco decorations rather than a nasty black spider! Jenny had invited us to arrive before 1.30 in order to visit the Robot Invasion Exhibition first and some Clarionettes had, as well as the other galleries of film, toys and craft. Amanda had travelled all the way down here from East London, but by train. We were able to present her with a trophy for the most miles travelled to reach the meet, even though she hadn’t cycled. It was a squeezy plastic cat bike-hooter for her new bike, Bluebell, as she acquired two naughty little kittens, along with the bike this year. We got it in a fab bike shop in Aigle, near the World Cycling Union Centre [UCI] in Switzerland in October & I have a panda, which does look a bit like Ed Milliband, but doesn’t often have a chance to hoot over the background roars [ie of traffic in panda’s case].

Tea time in Hove
Suzanne, Roger, Sue, Ian, Jim, Angela, Amanda & Jenny were awaiting, somewhat anxiously, their ordered meals. Jenny had tempted us all with the tasty online menu, but, there had been embarrassing disappointment as chosen delights had been declared unavailable & substitutes had to be reordered, only to have those cancelled too, in near farcical pantomime. I was able to order a vegetable soup. Our stalwarts, Joyce and Leon were missing & Suzanne explained that she had thought Joyce had said she was to address the United Nations, but it was the United Nations Association [Brighton & Hove District Branch] which had claimed her & possibly, Leon too. Considering everything had seemed to be “off” today, when the food arrived it was a brilliant surprise; lambs’ kidneys for Roger, fishcakes for Suzanne, “sumptuous” tiered cake-stand of dainty salmon & cucumber sandwiches, scones, jam & cream for several to share and three vegetable soups. By now Fred had arrived from his stint invigilating at The Dragonfly House Xmas Open House and took some snaps of the fine food and festivity.

Clarion tea
Talk turned on Cameron’s stomp out of Europe early in the day and the dark days of austerity imposed by the Tory Coalition; sharp contrast with the museum itself which had reopened in 2003 after extensive refurbishment under Labour administrations with some help from European money, as had our other museums & the Dome Concert Hall. At Mick’s end of the table Ian‘s new book, Romancing the Revolution and Labour Party history was revealed and discussed. At my end, Jenny was trying to convert me to the dark side by praising the magical delights of night cycle rides, along with some of her other long trips of 2011. There were three separate Clarion Loire trips during the sunnier months & we swapped memories; Jenny filling me in on Amboise & Leonardo’s last home there, which we 5 [Joyce, Jo, John, Mick & I] had only briefly visited & she had explored more extensively on a CTC trip.

Luxury afternoon tea
Helen arrived at Mick’s end of table, then Wilma arrived at mine and ordered some more of the festive fare and soon another party assembled in the other half of the room – we wondered if there was any food left for them, though the museum certainly makes a fine venue for a party. As we all started to leave Amanda and I were charmed by the decorations provided by Brighton’s Stitch and Bitch Group, including the web & an icy-looking, sparkly tree. There remained a chance to buy some Xmas gifts in the shop with its robot toy & books display & final peep at the robot exhibition’s film, toys & models & enjoy the reactions of the young visitors.  Thanks to Jenny for organising and to the museum’s staff for making super food in beautiful venue.

News and Xmas social

8 November 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

I’m sure that all our fingers are crossed for a mild winter – especially on the days when we’ve got rides scheduled. But I think it’s time to bring back into play the system we tried out last year whereby the ride leader can – if the forecast looks really awful – cancel (or postpone to a slot later on) the ride by 5 pm on the Saturday before.

This can be done in two ways – and I’m happy with either. Either the ride organiser (which apart from me is just Sue P at the time of writing) can let me know before the deadline and I’ll send out the appropriate message to the mailing list, or I can supply the latest version of the list to whoever is leading the ride and s/he can send out the message. I don’t think we need to bother about confirming rides unless there’s been some prior discussion about whether a ride should go ahead or not. In the normal way, if you haven’t had an email by 5 pm on the Saturday you can assume that the ride will go ahead the next day.

No one has volunteered to take on the 4 December ride so, in my role as “back-stop”, I’ve put myself in for it. But we can always change that if anyone is really keen to organise something for that date but hasn’t got round to letting me know yet. Probably, given my extreme susceptibility to cold weather, I’m not the best person to offer two rides in December – but my fingers are firmly crossed!

And it’s not too early for offers for rides in the New Year – starting with 8 January.


Clarion Christmas social:
Lunch or afternoon tea at Hove Museum & Art Gallery

Saturday 10 December, 1.30–4.30 pm (but do come along earlier!)

The museum is at 19 New Church Road, Hove BN3 4AB. Entry is free. The permanent collections are based around ‘Toys, cinema, local history and fine art’ and the special exhibition (also free) on 10 December will be ‘Robot Invasion’ – a vast range of robots and space toys from the collection of Sussex artist and illustrator Chris McEwan. Sounds fun!

On Saturdays the museum is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm. Our booking in the tea room is at 1.30 pm, but I hope people will want to turn up earlier and have a wander about first. Buses to the museum are numbers 1, 1A, 6, 6A, or 49 from Brighton North Street or Churchill Square stops, and Hove station is a short bike ride or a 20-minute walk away.

The tea room offers a range of afternoon teas, from cream tea (£4.50), or cream tea with sandwiches (£7.95), to a sumptuous-sounding three-tier cake stand loaded with cakes and sandwiches at £10 a head. The light lunches include rarebits, omelettes, jacket potatoes and fillings, lamb casserole or veggie options, etc., and should cost no more than about £9.

For more information about the museum go to the website at and select ‘Museums‘. Then from the side bar on the left choose Hove Museum & Art Gallery.

The tea room will need some idea of numbers nearer the time, so please contact me as soon as possible this month via the Google Group or text me on 07527 119 736 to let me know if you are planning to come.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!