Over the border to Kent
A merry band of citizens of Essex headed across the river to Kent to attempt to cycle some of the country lanes of that picturesque county. We had accommodation in some cottages in a village off the Canterbury, Hythe road. Wonderful accommodation and ideal for large groups because there was a shared communal room to bring and share our food and to sit and chat.
We arrived on a Monday afternoon and had a short ride down the lanes near our accommodation, a little hillier than what we are used to around Braintree but very picturesque with lots of woodland and wild flowers, especially bluebells. That first afternoon we went into the village of Layham and had a cup of tea or such like to refresh ourselves. A very pleasant ride, when we got back to the cottages the rest of the holidaymakers had arrived and cakes galore had appeared on the large table in the communal room. Total number of holidaymakers was 19 though not all 19 cycled. That evening we had a bring and share meal, with curry, lasagne , chilli etc.
Day 2, we headed off to Sandwich via the villages of Staple and Bridge. Staple had a challenging climb on our bikes, but the coffee shop in Bridge was excellent. It was called the Independent Pedlar, it was very efficiently run, great cakes and some fresh sausage rolls which were popular. Also visiting this cafe were a group of cyclists from Deal who a large majority were in their seventies but did their cycling on e-bikes and even occasionally took a ferry from Dover and did some pedalling in France. Leaving the cafe we followed cycle routes to Sandwich, we did not play golf there as we were only just below the standard required to play the open championship. I had chips in Sandwich but one or two might have had a sandwich!
We then headed home via the Independent Pedlar again and then back down the big hill in Staple back home. A good number of miles were completed that day. We got home safe and sound, looking forward to a bbq. A big thank you to Peter and Sue for preparing such a wonderful bbq for us all. All dietary requirements were fulfilled and full stomachs too after all the cycling.
Day 3 loomed very wet, it was decided to cycle in the afternoon only, so some people went to Canterbury in the morning and some stayed behind and drank coffee and ate all the cakes. It duly dry dried up at about midday and so we headed off to Canterbury on our bikes. It was really lovely with all the trees and bluebells. We did a circular route to Canterbury lead by Ian, we had a little time in the City and then headed out for the challenge ahead. We had done a few miles and we then headed into some woodland heading back to the cottages at six mile. We knew there would be some hills but there was a hill that was at least 20% gradient and it had us all beat, and we had to get off and walk the bikes, thankfully we then did not have too far to go to get to the cottages and a big cheer went up when we saw the petrol station sign near where we were staying. Thank you Ian for a great adventure. That evening we had a meal in a different pub in Layham.
Day 4, Rain and punctures galore. Thursday minus a few cyclists we headed off to Whitstable on the coast, via Canterbury again. Some cycled to Canterbury and some took bikes on cars to Canterbury park and ride and cycled from there. By bicycle we got to the other side of Canterbury and headed for the coast. This section to from Canterbury to Whistable made for great cycling because it was marked cycle lanes and relatively flat, but unfortunately Jim got a puncture and so did Alan, anyway the excellent engineers got them repaired and we got to Whistable and had lunch at the Bubble cafe there. After lunch we headed for the coastal path to Herne Bay and Reculver Castle. The ride from Whitstable back to Canterbury was quite eventful. We followed the coastal path to Herne Bay, when it started to rain, hail and some reckoned there was sleet. We took some shelter and waited for the shower to finish. Here we put on some water proofs to keep warm and dry. From Herne Bay we followed the coastal path to Reculver via a long descent through a field which was fun. According to Bill, Reculver was where Barnes Wallace did his very first testing of the bouncing bombs. As we were looking at the towers of the castle we heard a strange hissing sound, which we could not work out. Anyway we headed off inland following the cycle route back to Canterbury not soon after Ann said she had a flat tyre, we worked out what the hissing sound was, Ann's front tyre. It took some time to repair but thankfully shelter was found. As time was getting short Ian and Mick found a more direct route back to Canterbury, where we once more found the cycle route back to the park and ride and a rest. 3 brave cyclists managed to cycle back to the cottages. Once back at the cottages we washed and changed and headed to the coach and horses at Lyminge for a lovely meal.
It was a great time for us all as we got to know each other through good times and adventures. The local lanes were excellent for cycling, hardly any traffic, some beautiful lanes to make our way along and wildlife here and there, Bill and I managed not to run over a little vole which was a good thing.
Thank you to all who came along and contributed to everything to make things run smoothly. Thank you especially to Gwen and Ian for organising the accommodation, thank you to Mick for leading the rides and fixing punctures and Julia for driving the support vehicle. Thank you to Ian and Gifford for leading rides and giving us some great adventures. Thank you to Peter and Sue for the bbq.
Thank you to Bill who was able to transport five bikes and for leading the ride on Friday.
Thank you to Dick and Barbara for the cakes and to the girls for preparing the salads and setting the tables and loading the dishwasher.
We all did our own little bit to make things happen.
Braintree Easy Riders certainly have had some adventures recently and hopefully many more to come.