Off her Egg, Blue
This week, Ann led Ride F to the Blue Egg. We welcomed a new rider, Gillian, to our group (the two Julies, Benita, and me).
As we pedalled up the Flitch Way, I was chatting with Gillian and discovered she’d been brought in a Forces family, which meant she’d lived in several different countries and attended boarding school.L ater in the ride we discovered we both had a connection with Shrewsbury – I have an aunt living there (who I will visit next month), and Gillian originally trained as a physiotherapist and did part of her training at Shrewsbury hospital. We discovered another mutual connection, with the Whitechapel area. Gillian also worked extensively at the Royal London Hospital and has an affection for that part of East London, whereas I used to work at Whitechapel station.
Health & safety tip for the day is about wearing earphones. Basically – don’t! I’m always amazed at how many cyclists (and runners/walkers) wear earphones – thereby disabling themselves! If you can’t hear people/vehicles coming up behind you, you are really vulnerable to being startled (at best) or mugged/run over (at worst).
Ann took us up the Flitch Way to Graunts Court, where we turned right and headed over the A120, turning left then second right towards Stebbing. It was a glorious, bright day and we were all shedding layers as we warmed up. We skirted Andrewsfield aerodrome then headed north past the church of St Peter and St Paul.
This is an interesting church, with a peaceful bench beside the tower, suitable for an exhausted cyclist (I know, because I’ve used it!). However it is one of only 6 churches in Essex with a round tower. It’s from the 14th century, and is the youngest of the 6 round tower churches in Essex. Round tower churches tend to be built in areas that do not have quarries with natural building stone in the area. Circular towers don’t need corner stones but have a round surface, finished with knapped flint.
We turned left onto the road to the Blue Egg, where we saw one of the faster groups from Braintree Easy Riders were already there. We fell on hot drinks and buns.
Pedalling back through Bardfield Saling, we were riding up the hill on Pods Lane alongside a field of rapeseed in blossom, where I noticed many small flies along the hedge. They were a very distinct shape, with spiky legs hanging down, about 1cm long. I’d seen these before and thought they were St Marks flies which are seen around the edge of wet woodland and hedges. St Marks day is on 25 April and these flies they tend to hatch all together and only live for a few days, when the weather conditions are optimal This year the weather conditions have delayed them. They are prolific pollinators of fruit trees and crops, so were probably attracted by the rapeseed.
As we returned via the Flitch Way, Ann and I were discussing plants with Benita. I’d given Benita some of my spare herbaceous plants last year, and we dropped into Benita’s garden to see how they were getting on. Benita was delighted that the peony was coming to blossom (with marble-size buds) and all the other drought loving plants (hellebore, brunera, pulmonaria) were establishing nicely. Peonies grow like weeds in my garden and my well-established plants have golfball size buds.
From the Flitch Way we returned to Braintree, dispersing to our various locations.
20 miles, average 9.8 mph. Conducive company, bright sunshine and a breeze, and a great ride.