Author Topic: A Weekend in Suffolk  (Read 1691 times)

Wowbagger

  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
A Weekend in Suffolk
« on: June 20, 2011, 12:40:41 am »
After our curtailed Danish trip, Mrs. Wow, Woolly, Peli and I were determined that we would waste little time before arranging our next camping expedition, and this weekend was it. Peli and I had a nice ride round last weekend and Peli noticed something I had overlooked, despite having ridden the road between Nayland and Bures on numerous occasions, and that was a camp site at Rush Banks Farm, on the banks of the Stour. A telephonic investigation set my mind at rest vis à vis lavatorial facilities, and a plan was formed.

Jan and I made our escape from Southend shortly after 2 p.m. on Friday, arriving at the site in rather iffy weather, but put the tent up, made some tea, ate the sticky cakes we'd bought at Wormingford and then mostly sat in the tent, out of the rain, exchanging the occasional communication with the others to check on progress. Woolly was working fairly late on Friday and, what with bicycle restrictions on trains out of London, the earliest train they could manage was the 6.38, arriving in Marks Tey at about 7.30. We had agreed to meet at the Bures Swan, a fine pub which has featured on several forum rides, most notably in the inaugural Frosty WARTY of January 2009, when 19 very cold cyclists arrived unannounced and were made extremely welcome with lots of well-prepared food and blazing fires. We had booked a table for 8.30, but difficulties in purchasing tickets at Lpoo St, when the machine refused to offer the £19 return that the internet stated was available, and there being a massive queue at the ticket office, combined with a very unreliable mobile phone signal, meant that I was under the misapprehension that we might be putting the meal time back a little.

My fears were unfounded and shortly after Jan and I arrived at the pub and hung our wet clothes out to dry, two texts arrived at once and I phoned Peli who told me that they were just alighting at Marks Tey. They too arrived in soggy mode, but it wasn't long before we were ordering food and consuming beer or an alternative, and the next couple of hours passed very enjoyably. What was more, we delayed our departure until the rain had stopped, so W & P managed a dry erection.

The rain fell intermittently throughout the night, but we hadn't planned anything specific for the Saturday, and in the end a short ride to Boxford, where I knew there were two pubs, and a visit to the newly-open tea room at Assington on the return, would give us a total of about 12 miles and plenty of calories, so this is what we did. The route vie Arger Fen was fairly hilly (that part of Essex and Suffolk is far from flat, even though none of the hills is high) and involved a treacherous ford. It was clear that the cobbles that the stream flowed over were covered in algae, because some large vehicle had recently been through and left tracks in it, so whereas Woolly chose to ride through, and was unscathed, the other three of us negotiated a small footbridge, which also turned out to be very slippery.

At once point on the ride we saw a fallow deer, which was standing up to its flanks in a green wheat field, watching us from about 300 yards away before it ran off towards some woodland. In almost exactly the same spot, a year or two ago, Auntie Helen and I observed the idyllic rural scene of the hunt, the saboteurs, and a couple of police vehicles, whose occupants were presumably fulfilling their roles as referee and linesmen. On that occasion too a fallow deer was involved, and it was gratifying to think that the huntsmen were probably gnashing their teeth at the presence of the sabs and police, as otherwise I have no doubt that the dogs would have been unleashed upon the creature.

When we arrived in Boxford, this time I didn't knock Peli from her bike, as I had done the previous week when I failed to point out that I was leaving the road for a hole in the hedge which constituted one of the Suffolk Cycle Routes. We also noticed that one of the pubs, The Fleece, had ceased trading and was for sale. I was disappointed by this as I'd never actually tried it and rather wanted to do so. The White Hart, immediately across the road, seems to offer a good range of beers and they had a deal on in which a panini and a pint could be had for £6.50, so that was where we went. It rained heavily while we were inside, but replete from good food and beer, we set off towards the tea room in Assington, which was an indecently short distance away, for some more calories. When we got there I had sort of decided that I didn't want any cake but when I saw it I caved in and had some anyway.

Woolly and I were admiring some livestock prior to setting off again when a very ominous looking cloud started to empty itself over Assington, making a devil of a noise on what appear to be metal tiles on the roof of the modern barn in which the tea room resides. We delayed our departure for a good 20 minutes while we waited or the rain to subside, but eventually returned to the camp site via the same route that we had taken. There was a bit of evening sunshine to be enjoyed, and Woolly decided that he was going to try out the rope swing that dangled from an alder tree, the express purpose of which was to allow the swinger to drop off the end into the river. There were jetties and ladders leading out of the deep water, and after a couple of swings back and forth Woolly let go and entered the water with a spectacular splash. I was quite tempted to join him, but the water wasn't all that warm, but more to the point the air was pretty cold as well, so I decided that I will have to return to that camp site some time when the weather is warmer and have a lovely refreshing dip in the Stour.

On the opposite side of the stream a herd of attractive dark brown beef cattle were alternately grazing or snoozing, and amongst them was a very impressive bull, a darker brown that his harem and offspring. I spent a fair bit of time watching him. On one occasion he thrust his snout into a stream of piss from one of his concubines, and then stood transfixed for about a minute, mouth open, looking for all the world as though he were gargling on this nectar. I assume that this is his method for assessing whether the cow in question was ripe for impregnating. Occasionally he would emit a series of loud bellows, and many of the herd would gather round him obediently. I couldn't see the purpose of this other than to massage his ego. At other times, when he was wandering alone around the pasture, he would stand and paw the ground in the manner that angry bulls are supposed to do before charging.

There were quite a few other campers around, and a pair of small girls were operating an inflatable kayak designed or three people. They were having a delightful time and their parents told me that it takes about 20 minutes to inflate, using the purpose-built foot-pump, but a lot less using an electric compressor attached to a car battery. For some time I have considered the possibility of getting a kayak that I could tow behind the bike, and this seems to be a more and more attractive proposition.

I slept rather better on the second night than the first, partly because I didn't hear any rain - either it was a dry night or I was so tired I just slept through. The tent was still pretty damp when I emerged at 7 a.m. but with the brisk breeze and early morning sun it was not long before it was dry. As ever, W & P were ready to leave before we were, but we were away at exactly 10 a.m., which was the time I had suggest we ought to aim for. We headed for Sudbury, where there are cash machines, and then onto a pub at which we had had the foresight to book a table, it being Father's Day. We had an excellent meal at the establishment concerned, which I am loath to identify because it seemed that there was something dodgy about their alcohol licence. They wouldn't sell us beer but were prepared to give us some in exchange for a "donation". Woolly and I thus imbibed three pints each of the very good Essex Border ale, a Golden ale out of the same mould as Crouch Vale Brewer's Gold. I'm sure it was all very irregular and that HMRC would definitely not approve.

When we left, I felt less like cycling that at any time or ages, mostly down the the 3-course meal and the beer. It was a real effort but gradually we winched ourselves back to Marks Tey through some very pleasant countryside, mostly along a very similar route to one I took last year with Clarion, Butterfly and TGL as we returned from the Mildenhall Rally. When we arrived at the station, Peli and I had but one thought: to evacuate. Liquids had been disposed of along the way, but not solids. Much to our intense frustration, the bogs at the station were locked (presumably National Express management don't need to go to the lavatory on Sundays), but fortunately the train was graced with a functioning kharsi. Pure gent that I am, I invited her to go first, and she succeeded in her task relatively quickly, but I was sitting there from Kelvedon until well past Hatfield Peverel and felt a good deal better when I had finished than I did when I started.

Jan and I arrived home around 8 p.m. after another weekend in the best of company. When's the next one?
Bach without a doubt.

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2011, 04:24:50 pm »
What a marvellous weekend it was too. A bit of a mad rush for us to to start with, might think about getting another set of panniers so packing will be easier on days like this. A very wet start for us but a it turned out to be two dry great days of pootling about with good company.

Plenty of ale, yummy food and cakes along with a great route around the Suffolk country side. Here is a picture of me jumping in the drink, nono it was not the ales that made me do it, it just the inner child and the swing that talked erm screamed do it!



Full write up here Touring with the Wows | a pootling cycling tourist point of view on cycle touring and all the photos here https://picasaweb.google.com/woollypigs/TouringWithTheWows17190611#
Current mood: AARRRGGGGHHHHH !!! #bollockstobrexit

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2011, 07:30:04 pm »
Please can you post a link to a map of your route?

Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 08:19:47 pm »
Having read a few of these 'ere Wowbaggery things, I am beginning to suspect the whole cycling thing is a thinly veiled front for food indulgence. Wall to wall food and associated descriptors are proffered at every turn, who could forget those danish paving slab pastries, interspersed with descriptions of rain, tents keeping out rain and bowel evacuation with or without hi-vis vest.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 08:21:43 pm »
Having read a few of these 'ere Wowbaggery things, I am beginning to suspect the whole cycling thing is a thinly veiled front for food fests. Wall to wall food is proffered at every turn, interspersed with descriptions of rain, tents keeping out rain and bowel evacuation.
And your point is ?

:)
Current mood: AARRRGGGGHHHHH !!! #bollockstobrexit

Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 08:25:59 pm »
Well if ever a description for joie de vivre was needed    ::-)
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Wowbagger

  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 06:26:40 pm »
Bach without a doubt.

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: A Weekend in Suffolk
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 06:34:11 pm »
Smashing!  Thanks.