Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



Reports from Winter 2010-2011

[Many more photos on Flickr - click on the pic for a bigger version]

Sunday 23 January 2011
Lewes - Barcombe - Lewes

'For whom the tolls?'

[You can find our Flickr group, containg more photos here]

Jenny described her ride as short but sweet and that is precisely what it was. Lewes Station car park made an excellent meeting point for both train and car-borne members, despite the shock of a new £1.00 fee being expected on a Sunday for actually parking a car there. Jenny set off in a north-westerly direction happily followed by Tessa, Ian, Richard, Angela, Roger, Suzanne, Fred, Janet and Sue. From the quaint delights of Cliffe High Street we quickly found that Tesco's car park made a quick and easy escape from the bustle of the town centre. Suzanne and Fred vied for 'Straggler of the Week' by preferring Shanks's pony to get them up the hill at Mayhew Way - so much better than these new fangled bi-cycle machines. In no time at all we were strung out in Indian file, along the pavement along Malling Down … and where the pavement narrowed we skimmed past our first toll house.

The start at Lewes station.

It was lovely to get off the busy A26 to amble along Wellingham Lane and left into Barcombe Mill Road. Jenny made sure we had plenty of time to admire the fish ladders at Barcombe Mills and then on to the toll bridge. Four wheels and one horse would have cost a whole 1/6d, so our 20 wheels would have cost us the whacking sum of 7/6d, but as we were not in the company of an equine we managed to cycle over for free.


A quick whiz past the late lamented station (1858 - 1969) -> café (1969 – 1980?) -> restaurant (?) and the even lamenteder pub still nostalgically remembered in its heyday as the Anglers Rest (the pub formerly known as … wait for it … the Railway Inn) was followed by a slow struggle up the hill to Barcombe Cross. This brought us to the delights of the Royal Oak and its brand new publicans. After the traditional Clarion 'moving of the tables' (not an attempt to get in touch with the supernatural, merely a natural desire to sit all together) we settled down to wait for our selected meals when our Carshalton contingent TJ and Joan joined us. Chat ranged from that nice man Mr Portillo, to plans for future rides, to the vagaries of the English language (according the Americans, the Canadians and the Australians).

Joan and TJ

After a long, leisurely lunch it was off again through the quiet lanes. It was overcast. It was cold. The wind tended to whip. But how lovely to be able to see through the newly trimmed, winter-bare hedges over to the swell of the Downs ridge to the south and across rolling countryside in almost every other direction. Brown and grey were the predominating colours, but what a huge variety of browns and greys they were. (End of purple passage - Stella Gibbons, eat your heart out.)

And whither did Jenny lead us? Very kindly, it was to her own home, where those who could stay were plied with tea, biscuits and probably sympathy for those with overstrained muscles. A welcome end to a welcome bit of exercise with friends.

A big thanks to Jenny for organising the ride and 'going the extra mile' by providing afternoon tea.


Tessa adds: When we arrived at Jenny's house in Cooksbridge, our numbers diminished. Roger, Suzanne and Janet had work commitments to get back to. The rest of us fitted nicely into Jenny's dining room to drink large mugs of tea and eat biscuits. We formed a circle of chairs and conversation bounced back and forth, ranging from anecdotes of Berwick Church frescoes to stuffed badgers.

As the light began to fade, we set off on the busy A275 with our new leader Sue. We forked left to Lewes where Ian left us to ride fast to the station to drive back in daylight. Rather than follow the streets, Sue led us through a series of tiny lanes and snickets, past the Pells pools, over a steep bridge ('Another hill!' said Fred) through the park alongside the Ouse. At the station, Angela, TJ and Joan left us and our groupsave of 4 did not have long to wait for the Brighton train. We all decided we had cycled the perfect distance that day.

Thank you Jenny!


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Sunday 9 January 2011
Boots, Spurs & Thorns, or 3 Punctures & a Chain Problem

[More photos on Flickr]

A sunny Sunday had been forecast for a week and it duly dawned. What a treat at this cold, dark time of the year to have a Clarion ride planned. Powering down to the station I guiltily remembered that I'd forgotten, yet again, to oil my shamefully neglected bike & wished I'd asked for a vice scribe to stand-in for me, should my chain break, or any other rusty part let me down. Arrived a fraction behind Sue/Sikka, but before Richard. One set of four groupsavers had already bought their ticket and so Joyce now bought a return for us. It was a new system to me that only one ticket given for the group of four, instead of the four individual tickets that we used to be given. Jenny and Janet were planning to cycle back to her Hangleton home and Roger & Suzanne to ride home. So eight of us piled onto to the Victoria bound train and spread our bikes out among the much luggage and many passengers. We set off sideways to Hove, then back through more tunnels than scenery to the London line and Hassocks station, where John and Sean met us. John had cycled from Brighton, and Sean from Plumpton but on his partner Jane's bike, as his had a puncture.

Hassocks station 9th Jan

Joyce pointed out that there was a great deal of happy chattering as we regathered at the station, but eventually we exited and took some photos by the recycling bins. There were no passers-by, so Jenny and John took turns to take the other nine.

All went well until we reached the Hurstpierpoint mini-roundabout and found we were now only six. Soon Suzanne, acting as backstop, came rushing along the pavement with the bad news that Joyce had a puncture. John donned his surgical gloves and his team helped with the operation to insert a fresh inner tube. John and Joyce carefully examined the tyre and removed a thorn from its side [recalling Hazel O'Connor's song]. A convenient sunny spot had been found and there was not enough time for Sue to go for a coffee. We were quickly en route again.

Turning left towards Henfield the familiar undulating road was quiet and gave sunny views of the Downs we had passed beneath on our train. Successfully crossing a busier road, we then took a quiet lane and left the noise and smells of oily engines behind, swapping them for birdsong and bushes, draped with old man's beard. The lane became more puddly and stony, and our leader John left us to explore the paved road track to Newtimber Place, which "is a Sussex moated house, built of flint and brick with a roof of Horsham stone. The original house was probably built by Richard Bellingham's son, who was Sheriff of Sussex in 1567. A special feature of the house is the 18th-century Etruscan style wall paintings in the hall [which we didn't see] and the moat which is fed by natural springs and is 50 foot wide in places" with Georgian dovecot and ancient trees in the gardens. A passer-by told us that in a month hundreds (or thousands?) of snowdrops would decorate the borders of the path where we now paused. Richard's chain had come off and he was repairing this, but more extensive surgery was necessary as the chain hung loosely. It was a beautiful spot for more surgery in the sunshine with John's disposable gloves and indispensable skills again deployed.

At Cora's Corner, Poynings

Off again down a narrowing path of puddles, mud and brambles. Eventually most, if not all, dismounted and pushed, before anyone came a cropper. Back to real roads again and more pleasing undulations, with the Downs to our left. The previously mentioned passer-by had informed us that Newtimber Hill, on the horizon, had extensive mistletoe, though he could have meant the next hill to the west, all within the SSSI & AONB of the "spectacular Fulking Escarpment" looking lovely in the sunlight. As Joyce and I juggled for position climbing the hill together she mentioned a noise coming from her front wheel, and then stopped on the summit and sighed - yet another flat tyre. Sue returned from the front and reported that a better spot than the verge lay a few yards ahead, so we proceeded there for more repairs.

Puncture no 2 at Poynings

This was "the unusual shelter, built as a dedication to Cora by the impresario Sir Emile Littler. He and Cora his beautiful wife, herself a famous stage star, adopted two daughters who are also mentioned on the shelter seats. Before leaving, look around for a plaque and take note of the verse depicted" - a lovely brick building opposite Fulking Church, which I think some Clarionettes visited while others watched, and tried to learn, as bike doctor John donned the surgical gloves, Jenny gave up her spare inner tube and Joyce's tyre was replaced yet again. I didn't take note of the verse, mentioned on the village website, unfortunately, but will do next time. I passed around some almonds and Jenny dispensed some wine gums, as by now all were about ready for lunch, and explanations were given to Janet and Sean, relative newcomers to Clarion, that not all our rides had so many interruptions. Since the sun still shone no one complained as we all enjoyed the pleasant resting spots and now returned to the open road.

Heading off to puncture no 3

On the next undulations we were joined by our London Clarion friends TJ, his son James, and eventually his partner Joan, aka Butterfly. How lovely to see them after long absence. Teenaged James had overslept, making them 2 hours late for the meet at Hassocks station but they had now managed to catch up with us! A short ride brought all thirteen of us to The Castle Inn at Bramber.

After having rearranged all the tables in the conservatory, we were offered their splendid dining room for our exclusive use. Now we had a large book- and window-lined room all to ourselves and an excellent menu from which to choose. Soups, sandwiches and pies soon arrived, but a bit of "and the last shall be first" meant that our leader and saviour, John, had to wait for his soup till sandwiches and pies at my end of the table had all been eaten. The food was super, with the pie winning my prize for best plateful as it had a full array of winter vegetables, enough to satisfy veggies if the pie had been removed. Conversations ranged from the convoluted arrival of our Boots & Spurs and the several ways we had reclaimed them from the annoying postal services, due to the large letter premium which is a pain, and Tory privatisation plans for Royal Mail, resulting in huge pressure on posties, to the latest Tory plans to re-organise the NHS. News headlines were of the shootings in Tucson, killing at least six people, including a 9-year-old girl, born on 9/11/01 and dubbed a "Child of Hope", as she went to her Democrat Congresswoman's street surgery, whom the 22-year-old killer shot through the head. A sad start to 2011 in USA for 9/01/11.

Our London late arrivals had picked up leaflets in the pub about the local attractions in Bramber, but no time to visit now on short winter days. However, St Mary's and Bramber Castle were glimpsed, and our bikes parked in the pub garden by a pretty stream doubtless heading for the River Adur, to which we now cycled on the Downslink trail, which was moist and devoid of other cyclists, unlike my last visit there when I'd collided with two on a blind bend. Due to the puddles we all voted to take to the road at Botolphs, even if it meant a few more hills. We passed under many leafless trees and by many old man's beard-strewn hedges, up and down several hills, seeing the River Adur below us, before, unfortunately, Joyce's third inner tube started to deflate and required pumping. Once all thirteen of us had crossed the busy, roaring A27 it was time, being past 3 pm, to decide whether to take tea at the airport or head for home, by train or pedal power.

Joyce, Sean, Sue and I decided to rush to the station while there was still air in Joyce's tyre and strength left in our legs. I think the Londoners were going to the airport, as it is well worth the visit and they are very fit. I think that left six to cycle home at sunset and I hope they arrived before the bright new moon appeared. The guard came to see our ticket on our train home and said that we needed four people for the Groupsave, and by now we were only three, having left Sean to take the following London train back to Haywards Heath and change there for home. As it was a Sunday he said he'd overlook it, but Sue feared the stricter exit regime at Brighton station and so when we arrived she talked a puzzled young Spanish woman cyclist into joining our group to make up four. International solidarity prevailed, but Joyce's tyre's air had not. We tried our various pumps, valves and connectors to no avail, and thus left Joyce to push her bike downhill to its bike shop, hoping they were still open at 4 pm on a Sunday.

In spite of all the bad luck endured by Joyce, it had been a brilliant day out for all thirteen. Great thanks are due to John for all the leading, repairing and preparing, and to Jim, who had devised the ride, planned and prepared it originally, but was now busy researching for us a New Forest Clarion trip, soon to be revealed.


John adds: Thanks for writing the notes. I was going to research the house at Newtimber but you've managed to do it so beautifully. One thing you did miss was a further puncture, Roger's, on the Hove promenade. This one was slow so needed just a quick pump to get him home. That should be the quota of punctures for the new year, what do you think? And Joyce, I hope she made the bike shop. I did think as we all stood on the corner of the noisy A27 that she may not make it home and should have got the trusty gloves out yet again. This time it would have been a repair and not an exchange of tubes. Sorry about that Joyce. It would have taken me less time to fix the thing than the time possibly taken by yourself to push your bike up the hill!

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New Year's Day Brunch Ride - Suzanne's Report

Ride report 01.01.2011 (twenty eleven / two thousand and eleven?) Palace Pier to Carat's Café, Southwick

[More photos on Flickr]

Outside Carat's

Tessa, Suzanne, Sue S, Sue B, Sue P, Roger, Mick, Leon, Joyce, John, Jim, Jenny, Janet, Ian, Fred, Bruce, Angela, Anne, Alice managed to squeeze themselves onto three adjoining tables at Carat's Café. The noise level rose considerably thereupon. All that shouting "Oil" and having "rolling" conversations along country roads, as well as the invigorating ride from the Palace (sic) Pier had put the Clarionettes in good voice - well honed to combat any competition from babies, small children, dogs (all of which were very quiet, as it happened). The queue looked endless and yet meals were served quickly and cheerfully. Christmas tales were exchanged. New Year's resolutions revealed - let's hope the main one is "To go out more often with the Clarion Club."


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Sunday 12 December
Clarion Get together
- Joyce's Report

Joyce and Brian's end

After some last minute apologies, Angela, Anne, Brian Fred, Leon, Joyce, Mick, Roger, Suzanne (and Jim who joined later with Sally and friends), gathered together for our end of year meal. Prior to that there had been the 'non-swimming', when Joyce, Leon, Mick, Anne and Roger turned up at the pool only to find that it was 'closed for maintenance'" for a few days. (Not signalled when asked if the pool was open on Sundays, but maybe I (Joyce) should have been more careful and given a precise date)... Never mind, it was a lovely sunny cold winter's day and the decision was to go for a walk to the seafront and on the pier, which turned out to be a lovely way to spend an hour. The sea was miraculously smooth, with a silver glint, so beautiful that we toyed with the idea of having a quick dip (well we mentioned it ...) but the excuse was that there was 'nowhere to change' ...

Late comers

In any event an hour passes quickly and we were soon seated , very hungry, at a table together. It was good to see Brian and we were sorry that Mary had a cold which stopped her coming. Brian too had previously slipped on the ice and hurt his back, but that did not stop conversations on recent political events and hearing from him the lessons from previous situations and history.

After wining and dining a few us went on to Tessa's for mince pies and mulled wine. A very nice end to an amicable day.


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Sunday 5 December
West of Hove

On a cold, sharp, clear day Angela, Jenny, Joyce, Roger, Suzanne and Sue met at the Pier, to be joined by John at Marocco's . This was a ride destined to be stop and go, either of necessity or for cultural interest. The first stop was at Marocco's when we realised that Roger was not with us. After what became a long wait and much stamping of feet, Suzanne went off to find him. When she did not come back John went and we were wondering whether we should not all go when it was determined that Roger had a puncture and we should go on and he would meet us at the pub (Not surprisingly, he arrived there before we did!). On this ride instead of 'water stops', or 'taking off jumpers stops', we had 'nose-wipe' stops. And then, the stop when Angela's chain came off and proved very difficult to put back. In the mean time John and Sue had sailed up the next of the frequent hills and only made it back when we women left behind had triumphantly succeeded.

Blatchington Mill

But there were also the 'interest' stops - a discussion about the history of the old windmill and the church. All this time climbing up - I for one never realised just how hilly this area is , but no bad thing as it happened - kept us warm ... A look at Hangleton Manor but we did not cede to the temptation to go in though it is now a public house. By this time the sun had shown itself and it was a glorious winter's day - if very very cold.

Red Lion, Shoreham, 5th December 2010

So it was with some relief that we coasted down into Shoreham and the Red Lion to find Roger, and a really great menu at reasonable prices. A long lunch with conversation moving from China, the Dalai Lama, to cycle lanes. The ride home was the familiar one from Shoreham. Some went on to call in to see Tessa, others went straight home and I went to the sauna.

Tessa dishes out the mulled wine

A great ride really glad we did it despite fears about the weather, thank you Roger.


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Sunday 21 November 2010
Gatwick Circular

[More photos on Flickr]

Four cyclists came to Gatwick station by train: Jenny, Roger, Suzanne and Tessa. On the main airport concourse we met Jim, who had travelled up on an earlier train, and Nick, down from London after a long absence. We encountered a rare brusque refusal by a passer-by when we asked if he would take a group photo - perhaps he was late for check-in or intimidated by the bizarre sight of fluorescent-clad cyclists and their bikes in the airport crowd.

Jim led us through the melee and out onto a cycle route that went through an underpass and over the Gatwick Stream before entering Riverside Garden Park, an oasis in the noise that looked lovely and included a lake and a Millennium Walk. However we were all too cold to stop and admire the view, so sped on and through minor roads to Horley station where Angela was waiting for us, wearing her cycling helmet in a new experimental way. Here we were to rendezvous with John, who had valiantly cycled all the way from Brighton, but he had been delayed along the way by helping a foreign visitor to understand his satnav - we Clarion members are a bit like boy scouts sometimes, aren't we?

Angela and the new helmet style

Eventually John appeared, and we didn't allow him much of a rest before we set off down a route that involved some off-roading. Not too much mud but some very large puddles, and underwater obstacles led to poor Roger and Tessa getting wet feet. Some attractive and remarkably quiet lanes followed. We speculated that all the traffic uses the motorway, which was rumbling loudly nearby and must make sitting in the garden in the summer round there really horrible.

Roger and Tessa get wet

We paused briefly to admire the lovely Smallfield Place, a Jacobean manor built in 1600, and to wonder about the roots of the term Jacobean. Apparently, ahem, it derives from the neo-Latin used in science and literature after the Renaissance, and arises from the Hebrew name Jacob, which is the original Graeco-Latin form of James, for James I of England. (Thanks Wikipedia.)

Redhill Aerodrome Nov 21st

At the Bell lunch stop in Oakwood the staff had laid a large table for us and we enjoyed the very good food, the warmth, some lively conversation and the sight of Tessa's socks steaming gently on the radiator. Rather later than planned we got on our way again and headed for Redhill Aerodrome, which would have made a good tea stop on a sunny summer's day. Today it was too cold, too soon after lunch, and the café was closed, so we didn't linger after a photo-opportunity, but headed briskly back to Gatwick with lights switched on now as dusk was approaching.

A very interesting route and a lovely chilly winter ride - thanks Jim!


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