Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  




Dear fellow members and friends

10 March 2010

Jim has passed on this message from Donald Lever, the national membership secretary: 'I am sorry to hear of the death of Sheila Schaffer. Please send my condolences on behalf of the National Clarion.'

The Next Circular, the next ride report and the Easter Meet ride

Since I'm going to be away at the crucial time, I shall have to send out the next circular before the ride on 21 March. This will include details of the special ride - it doubles as a 'leisure ride' for those attending the Easter Meet - but not, obviously, a 'last ride' report. I will be asking people - Meet attenders and 'locals' - likely to be coming on the Easter Sunday ride to let me know by the previous weekend - 27 March. This is so I can give some advance warning to the Kings Head where we are planning to stop for lunch. Soon as you like, folks!

I will try to get out a sort of interim circular that weekend which can include the report for 21 March. This gives an opportunity to any potential raporteur(se) who has found our normal schedule too demanding. As long as I have it by 27th March that will be fine this time.

Longer, Faster Rides? A Response!

In the last two circulars I've asked anyone interested in doing longer and/or faster rides to let me know. So far I've had one response. John Clinton writes:

I've been a reader, not a riding participant for some time now and keep thinking I must join the rides, particularly as I have booked on the Dieppe tour.  I am interested in the longer rides you mention in your notes so would be interested in hearing from anyone who thinks similarly.  I'm retired so could manage to ride at times other than the weekends. Let me know.

Please do that if you're interested. John is on

Anyone interested in racing should of course contact Bob at

Still Time to join us

We have many more people on our three general mailing lists who have not yet joined us, and while we wouldn't dream of pressurising anyone into doing so new recruits are always very welcome. If you would like to, follow the instructions at the bottom of the home page.

Future Rides … for the rest of 2010

Sundays 4 April (Easter Sunday - This will be combined with a 'leisure ride' for people coming to the Eastbourne Meet who are not involved in the racing events. I've already planned this one.) 18 April, 2 (Jim), 16, 30 May; 13, 27 June; 11, 25 July (Leon?), 8, 22 August; 5, 19 September; 3, 17, October; 7, 21 November; 5, 19 December.

Offers to organise/lead rides are more than welcome.

* * * *

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s latest episode, as usual, at the end of the circular.


The Next Ride

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 21 March 2010
Berwick Circular: featuring Laughton Place

'Not ANOTHER Berwick circular!' I hear you cry. Well, this ride will undoubtedly cover some well-pedalled ground - but then I see these quiet, flat lanes as our heartland, and you can't have too much of a good thing. Besides, there is one feature that I don't think we've 'done' yet - Laughton Place, or rather the sole remaining bit of it, the Tower. The Tower is now owned by the Landmark Trust, and I had the pleasure of staying in it for a weekend last autumn and have been scheming ever since to include it in a ride. Unfortunately we cannot simply ride past it on the way to somewhere, since the track runs out at the Tower and you have to ride back to the road to continue. But it will be worth it. Here is an extract from the Landmark Trust's blurb:

'From about 1400, Laughton was the chief manor of the Pelhams, without whom eastern Sussex would not have been as it is. In 1534 Sir William, who had attended his king at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, remodelled the house on a grand scale, round a moated courtyard and with terracotta decoration in the newest Renaissance fashion. All that has survived is this bold brick tower, which stood close to the main hall, an outlook post and set of secure private rooms combined. By 1600 the family had abandoned Laughton, driven by the damp, to build again on higher ground, and slowly the house decayed.

'Then, in 1753, Henry Pelham, politician and brother to the splendid Duke of Newcastle, had the idea of surrounding the tower with a new Gothick farmhouse. The result was very charming, with a pediment between crenellated side-wings, and pointed windows. Thus it continued until sold by the Pelhams in 1927. The new owner pulled down the wings, leaving only the tower.'

We may also have a look at All Saints' Church (13th C), where there are plenty of dead Pelhams, including a couple of Prime Ministers, and some nice stained glass.

We return to Berwick Station via Ripe and Chalvington.

Length: 19-20 miles; no hills.
Terrain: Tarmac roads, with an optional 1-mile section via Vert Wood on a track if not wet.
Lunch: The Roebuck at Laughton. Harveys, reasonably priced food, plenty to choose from, garden.
How to Get There: 10.20 train from Brighton to Berwick or meet at Berwick Station at 10.45. (Be at Brighton station by 10 if you want a half-price Groupsave ticket). For Londoners, unfortunately there are no trains from London to Brighton or Lewes, but you may be able to get to Berwick via Hastings - contact me ( if you need help with this. (NB I will probably join the train at Lewes as usual, so someone else will have to do the cat-herding at Brighton.)

Return train at 15.48, arriving Brighton 16.12.

My Mobile: 07742-963239. And it will be switched on!!!


The Last Ride - Anne's Report

Sunday 7 March 2010
Bikers' Dozen Battle Beastly North-Easterly.

[More photos on Flickr]

Gorgeous sunny day promised and dawned, but as we set out for the station icy winds chilled our tootsies and icy roadside puddles warned that Spring had not yet sprung. Six other Clarion cyclists gathered on the concourse; Joyce, Alice, Tessa, Suzanne, Angelica, Mick & me [Anne]. Mick felt out-numbered by women, but then Richard arrived, so Joyce decided to buy 2 groupsaves as 4 costs the same as 3. Soon Sue arrived and took up the 2nd 4th, as Richard didn't need a ticket due to commuting to London for 5 months. As we proceeded through the gate I was ticked off by the guard for cycling 5 yards on the station concourse on my way in and I vowed never to transgress again.

It was easy to stash the bikes on board as the train went straight to Hassocks with no stops. Unfortunately Jim was waiting at Preston Park station as every other day of the week it did stop there. He phoned to say he would catch the next train and cycle hard to catch us up. Alice was the only person with a proper camera and she took a photo of the 10 of us, as Leon and John were at the station. We had a chat about where we'd all been when we missed previous rides and it seemed the years and the hard winter were taking their toll on our crumbling bodies [speaking personally anyway]. John joined us after being a member for almost 18 months and not appearing; - good to see him and off we go, after another quick photo of all 11 of us by a passer-by on the platform, who took a very quick shot, as Angelica and Sue, or Tessa basked on the bench in the sunshine.

Out into the wind again and Suzanne set a cracking pace. I'm thinking Jim will really have to hurry to catch us up before lunch time. We got warmed up as we climbed through to Hurstpierpoint and then hit the back lanes, holding up the motorists. The pretty village of Blackstone was admired for its interesting tile-hung cottages and one with clambering quince with fruits, and buds. As I was enjoying the fresh country air and rich molasses smells, listening to the birdsong from the shelter of the hedges and admiring the Downs, I noticed 4 deer watching us from a field on our left. Two were sitting down and two standing fairly near to us and they didn't flee at our approach but continued to stare at us over the hedge.


Further along the same lane we stopped to photograph 4 little ponies [Shetlands?] in 2 pens opposite each other, with a group of chickens in the background. We thought each pair was a mother and foal, but one mother had a very naughty boy. At first we thought he was just a bit frisky, but his behaviour deteriorated into biting, kicking, rearing up and chasing. We had to leave in case we were upsetting them and in case we got too far behind and caused our leader Suzanne to have to wait too long in the cold for us.

Anne & ponies

The delay was good news for Jim, as we soon heard the honk of his bike-horn and he joined us for the last leg to the pub. On the way we saw the emus that we had often cycled by in the past. This time we all stopped and Mick ventured over a ditch and nearly into barbed wire fence, to capture them on his phone's camera.


They made a booming noise like a bittern. [Coincidentally, in last night's Argus there was a report of a woman bumping into a bittern in this area.] Now we were the dozen that Suzanne had booked for the pub lunch.

Lunch at the Royal Oak (1)

The sun was still shining and the garden looked inviting but a large table was reserved for us inside and doubtless, was the best place, though some brave souls were seated outside for lunch. There was an exciting choice on the menu, with exotic dishes and dishes of the day, but at gourmet prices, as Suzanne had warned. After extensive soul-searching 6 soups, 1 shared nutroast, 1 risotto, 2 salmon fishcakes with mango and chilli salsa, and a plate of 3 sausages with mash were ordered and, eventually, arrived. Food was good, with the nut-roast that Sue and Alice shared having the most plaudits and possibly, Leon's 3, not particularly nice, sausages for £11, being the worst bargain. Leek and potato soup at £6 was not copious, nor memorable, but certainly, palatable, with tasty bread and sufficient for cycling. Mick said his fishcake gave him a nasty aftertaste, but, then, he could have allowed me more than the tiny morsel he swapped for a bit of my bread. Surveying the other pub diners' food, I wished I'd been more adventurous as the shared fishplate did look delicious and Joyce and I had dallied over whether to share a hummous plate with roasted garlic bulbs and tomato and mascarpone dip; finally opting for the soups, as doubting our ability to share fairly. Sue thoughtfully provided a large bar of Lidl's chocolate, which we shared in fellowship, perfect pud for pedallers.

Lunch at the Royal Oak (2)

Before the next café in Preston Park, we faced the daunting prospect of heading East, uphill [slightly] to the M23. The wind was horrid without the previous protective hedges, till we reached the NCN route by the M23. Poor things cabinned, cribbed and confined in their noisy metal cars, where we had the freedom to observe the land around us, stop when we chose or whizz along with a strong tail wind. There were three cyclists heading North and they had a harder task, as the wind pushed us homeward. Generally agreed that it was better than the Btn to Lewes bike track which is so close to that v. fast road. We regrouped by a sign to the Chattri, with its Dally on the Downs walkers signpost and we recalled the wondrous C-Curve of Anish Kapoor that graced the hill last May for Brighton Festival, reflecting landscape, skyscape, cows and delighted people of all ages.

Rotunda Cafe, Preston Park

We twelve were joined at the Rose Garden Café in Preston Park, by Roger, who'd had a little leg op and been forbidden to cycle for a spell, making 13. Then who should join the cake queue but Fred, who'd been ukuleleing in Margate the day before and worn himself out. Soon, Sally and her sister Mary, arrived too, so we reached 16, a bumper number and a happy band. Joyce led a group of Alice, Tessa and Angelica off for a warming sauna and Mick and I arrived home by 4.45. It was a great ride for a chilly day, with a raw wind, but well paced, varied, peaceful in parts and with the wind behind us when it mattered. Thanks for all the fun and care, Suzanne.

Tea time!

Greetings to Nick, Amanda and Angela , who either sent their apologies, or had last minute car problems; - see you all in Dieppe, which we did discuss over lunch, mainly how to reach the harbour by 8.30am.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club 'Beery Person' re-emerges)

This - at last - is the final instalment of 'The Easter Meet. The Evolution of the Cycle.' From the Clarion 20 April 1895. I began to transcribe this back in episode 50 so it will be as well to remind you how the piece began:

It was the great sight of the century. Even the Beery Person admitted that after Whiffly had endeavoured to wipe the floor with him. We couldn't convert him because he disarmed us by his artless and ingenuous admissions.

"Aw don't know owt," he said, when pressed by the Scouts. "and aw don't want to know owt."

Such a line of defence was impregnable and worth in every respect of Ashbourne which is, perhaps, the sleepiest hollow in England. But I anticipate.

And now - to the final paragraphs of the article.

The next morning, Easter Sunday morning - we marched, two hundred strong, to Dove Dale. Preceded by the Clarion Bugler, the Clarion Scouts took the open road in fine style, and as they passed the market place raised a Clarion whoop which so alarmed the Yeomanry, who were preparing for church parade, that one or two dropped off their perches.

It was a faultless morning, with a wide sweep of pale blue sky without the suspicion of a cloud, and a great strong English breeze which invigorated everybody. Of the meeting, to form a National Union of Clarion Cycling Clubs, which was held at one o'clock on the lawn outside the Izaak Walton Hotel, it is Dangle's part to speak [He's already 'spoken' - see episodes 44 and 45, IB] as he was the chairman thereof, the which office he carried out to the satisfaction of everyone lying down on the flat of his front elevation.

But perhaps the greatest feature of the function was the great meeting in the market-place on Sunday evening, which stirred Ashbourne to its very foundations. And sooth to say it wanted stirring badly.

For it was upon this occasion that the Clarion Scouts unearthed the "Beery Person", who is such a conspicuous light and adornment of the Duke of Devonshire's tenantry. A person whom we Clarion chaps intend to make famous by our pen and glorious by our propaganda. A person who shall make history for us, and who shall be handed down the 'ring grooves of change' for our children and our children's children to wonder at. A philosopher, in short, who must be ranked as one of the most remarkable men of the century, and one whose historic utterance shall live for aye!



Next time - Cycling accidents and some rather alarming advice on bike management from Swiftsure.

^ top