Four of us met at Chichester Cross on a disturbingly warm Easter Sunday for the long ride to meet up with the short ride at West Marden: me leading, Russell, Sam and Roger.
My carefully laid plans to have coffee at Horndean, followed by a pleasant ride through Blendworth, Chalton and possibly Up Marden if time allowed were shattered before we even started as Russell pointed out that the Garden Centre at Horndean would be shut as it was Easter. I said “goodness gracious what a nuisance” or words to that effect, and we set off with a vague plan in my mind to go to Rowlands Castle and possibly salvage much of the original plan after that.
However when we got to Westbourne the ranks started to become revolting and wanted to go to Emsworth. So we went to the Greenhouse cafe at Emsworth where Sam and Russell gorged themselves on breakfast, while Roger and I behaved in a more restrained manner. Afterwards we returned through Westbourne and went the usual way to Rowlands Castle, where Sam left us for more coffee and a piddle at the Bumble Bee cafe, having gleaned our intended route up through Finchdean and Idsworth and down through Compton to West Marden. However Russell and Roger had decided not to come for lunch, so when we got past Idsworth I saw the chance to resurrect a bit of my original plan, and the three of us turned left off the South Harting to Compton road, up the steep hill towards Apple Down, where I turned off to Up Marden while Roger and Russell carried on to return via East Marden and Chilgrove.
I got to the Victoria at West Marden to find Sam, slightly miffed at my change of route, plus the short ride led by Arthur, with Lynn, Andrew and Chris.
After a very satisfying lunch I half heartedly offered to lead a longer way back if anyone really wanted. Chris showed unnerving signs of taking my up on this offer, mentioning alarming words like “Kirdford”, but fortunately Lynn explained to him that I was only offering for show and didn’t really want to. So the danger passed and we followed Arthur who, being a man who knows the value of tradition, took us through Funtingdon for tea at the Fishbourne Roman Palace, though we had lost Andrew by that stage.
And from there back to Chichester. My mileage from and to Chichester was 39.