Sunday 28th June Ride to The Boulevard Café East Wittering

This is a report on the short ride today. There were four of us out today Arthur, Lynn, Maureen and Graham for a very windy ride to East Wittering stopping at Chichester Marina for a coffee.  Then it was on via the Salterns Way to East Wittering.

We met Arthur’s cousin at Birdham Pool on the way back, that’s his boat in the background of the picture.

East Wittering 28June20

Another stop at the Marina on the way back this time for an ice cream, 21 miles in all after a lovely day and lots of catching up chat.


Sunday 21 June Ride to Salt Shack Cafe Hayling Island

Five of us met at the Cross on Sunday 21st for a midsummer’s Long Ride to Hayling Island, there to meet up with the Short Ride starting an hour later. Sam was leading, with myself (Bob), Mike, Russell and Harvey. Rain had stopped, and cloud was beginning to dissipate.

Off we went down West Street and over the Fishbourne bridge to take the Clay Lane route to Rowlands Castle, and up through Finchdean and Idsworth, and we stopped just over the railway bridge to take the air and flapjacks, plus coping with the remnants of Lockdown by piddling in the fields, in a Socially Distant manner. We fairly stormed up towards Buriton, but in the dip in the middle of Queen Elizabeth Forest we had to splash through a deeply flooded bit which is often boggy, but hasn’t been flooded before to my memory, or at least not that deep. The result was Near Catastrophe, in that my socks got wet, but I Steadfastly Carried On, determined to keep a Stiff Upper Lip, and in doing so Nobly Hide this calamity from the others, bravely and modestly brushing it aside as if it were of no account at all.

“My socks got wet” I said as we stopped at the top of the hill, but the others brushed it aside as if it were of no account at all, preferring to talk about the route ahead, and other trivia. I reflected philosophically that it was ever thus; pioneers rarely receive the honour that is their due in their lifetime. So I willingly accepted the role of Silent Martyr with Slightly Damp Feet, and we shot down the hill and thus to Petersfield Market Square. There we encountered a massive queue for the Laura Ashley closing down sale, and had to  squeeze past, in a Socially Distant kind of way, to get a coffee at the Cloisters, where the courtyard was also getting quite crowded with coffee drinkers, which combined with the Laura Ashley queue made me feel a bit crowded and led me to fear an imminent Drone Strike.

21June20 Petersfield

Over coffee we formed a committee to reflect on the management of the pandemic. This involved various phrases such as “pig’s ear”, ‘government” etc, while Sam looked at the sky, but even he was heard to mutter “We’re dooomed” into his coffee. As before Russell took the chair, and said we should be worried about India and meat processing plants mean instant death. This reminded me that a major employer in Petersfield is the local abattoir, and as we were surrounded by the good denizens of the aforementioned metropolis we immediately formed a defensive ring and threw our empty coffee cups at them, Sam wired his batteries up to a generator, giving us 3,000 volts to throw laser beams, Harvey  produced a pitchfork and lunged at the enemy with bloodcurdling cries of “Garden services available at very reasonable cost”, while I threatened to make them smell my slightly damp socks.

Luckily this Sterling Action allowed a graceful retreat down Sheep Street, at the bottom of which Sam saw the signs for the Shipwrights Way, and had the Bright Idea of using that route. I had used the Shipwrights Way the previous week, albeit near Liphook rather than Petersfield, had ended up pushing the bike for about a mile, and reflecting that last night’s rain would have made it even worse, I felt the proposition before us, while interesting and superficially sound, contained a flawed premise of which my cycling companion may not have been aware, so I contributed a reasoned counter argument to the Discourse on the matter by  shouting “NOOOOOOOOOO”, in a measured kind of way. So instead we went up past Butser Quarry to the Hampshire Hog, and down through Charlton. Sam took us up Netherley Down instead of the usual route to Finchdean, stopping for a widdle while we climbed. Catching me up we conversed:

Sam: “Do you come here often?”

Me: “Only when some git with a battery forces me to”

But in fact it is a nice hill and he did have a good excuse, cutting out Rowlands Castle and Horndean. Russell left us at the top of Netherley Down, as the rest of us took the Havant road in an attempt to get to Hayling Island by 12.30. Much of the route was off road, especially nice as the bits that weren’t made me yearn greatly for the Blessed Days of Lockdown. The last of the off road bits was the Billy Way, and then the horrific Armageddon known as the Hayling Island bridge, partially blocked by a family trying to cross who got shirty about us using the pavement (which we obviously did on a selfish whim as a result of having one of those strange “not feeling suicidal” moments). It was about 12.45 when we got onto the island, where we met the Short Ride led by Arthur, with Lynn, Graham and Gill, coming away. They had apparently been there since 11.45, so I suppose our Dash from Petersfield at least meant we had a couple of minutes chat with them before they Braved the Bridge.

We went on to the Salt Shack Café anyway, where they were very organised to provide a good takeaway service. I must admit the Short Ride had done well to last an hour; we had to perch on some boat trolleys which wasn’t over comfortable, and the scenery was….lots of boats. This provided several seconds’ conversation (“There’s a big boat. And there’s a small one.”). but we eventually returned to the Bridge of Death to come back via the direct route through Westbourne.

Lovely ride, even though the Meet Up with the Short Ride bit wasn’t overly successful. About 50 miles I think, back to Chi.


Sunday 7 June Ride to Four Marks

Three of us met at the Cross at 8.00 last Sunday (7th June) for the World Premier screening of:

The Bognor and Chichester CTC Ride Again

Starring Sam, Paul and myself (Bob). We each carried a fly swatter so we could Stay Alert and swat any Covid 19 viruses that came along. Sam and I also had suitably lockdown length hair, but Paul had obviously been wielding some scissors at some point.

So we measured out 10 metres and in a suitably distant manner Sam led us down West St, Four Marks bound. We went over the bridge towards Fishbourne, which I’d been avoiding as it’s hard to socially distance yourself from other users without throwing them onto the railway tracks, which might be less healthy for them than catching The Plague. But the bridge was OK except the buddleias had heard about nature recovering during lockdown and had taken this obligation very seriously. We went the usual way to Rowlands Castle as there is a convenience shop there open early, so Paul and Sam bought a coffee while I had my flask. That didn’t take long, and we continued via Buriton to Petersfield and then Steep, and so up through Hawkley. It is pretty steep round there but really lovely, and you go through delightfully named places like Newton Valence, where we went past a family out for a spin in their horse drawn carriage.

I wondered if we were, in fact, still on the map or if the area was just marked “Here Be Dragons”. Just to encourage us, every 5 miles Sam said “only another 2 or three miles”, and Paul and I began to feel Somewhat Sceptical of Sam’s Geographical Acumen, though the actual explanation was probably that we had entered a time loop, where horses and carts were the up to date transport option, and the last 2 or 3 miles were being endlessly replayed. Fortunately we know from Einstein that space-time is curved, and thus we veered round westerly to arrive at the garden centre at Four Marks in pretty good time, well before 12.

Paul and Sam braved the queue to get something to eat, and joined me as I ate my sarnies at the picnic tables, Paul and I sat at opposite corners and Sam stood to make a triangle. Social Distancing actually takes quite a bit of sorting out, but it was quite noticeable how automatically people are adjusting to each other. Afterwards we continued westerly then down through Hawthorne and the A32 for a bit, the traffic still reduced enough to make it more bearable than usual. Thence down to the Meon Valley and East Meon, so we could have a coffee, arriving at 1.20. at the shop. Which closes at 1.00 on Sundays.

So we didn’t have a coffee but took a Socially Distant Selfie instead (pic)

East Meon Stores7June

and continued up to the Bat and Ball. As we went Sam’s e-bike started to play up, and he got stuck some metres short of the top of the hill above East Meon, having to push it to the top. It continued being a bit flaky, and we were in quite hilly territory, down from the Bat and Ball, then up the hill to Catherington and thus Rowlands Castle. So we arrived triumphantly at the Beehive, which is open for takeaways, at 3.03. And it closes at 3.

So we took another selfie. (Pic)

Rowlands Castle7June

Sam wheedled the owner into serving us anyway, and then having got them to make coffee for us when they were shut cheerfully presented his loyalty card to them. I was braced for him asking them for a discount for bulk purchase, but fortunately things didn’t get that bad and we had some nice coffee. Sam examined his faulty bike. He seemed to think the problem lay in the switch. I forget the technicalities, but the gist of it was that the switch had got wet recently and was sulking, so wouldn’t let the motor go at more than 7 miles an hour.

This required some innovative thinking on Sam’s part, and he solved it by taking the e-bike concept to a new level, inventing a means of electric propulsion called Turning The Pedals With Your Feet. Thus we took the usual route back, Sam I must say not being delayed by this sudden need for a manual method of travel.

A really nice re-start to riding again after so many weeks, 68 delightful miles.