Mike Stapleton writes: I joined the day ride at Phillimore Garden Centre, Melbourn for coffee. The cafe has been revamped and is rather nice. The prices have gone up a tad but are still very competitive. The location is far better than the rival Royston Garden Centre nearby and the staff are really friendly. We sat outside in the sunshine. Adrian brought the ride in from Cambridge and John and Greta arrived independently.
Adrian had a job to get us moving again but finally we set off and went via Shepreth and Meldreth. We passed the stocks at Meldreth but fortunately no one was being pilloried. Then on using the usual route to Ashwell where we skirted round the back by the Mill. We went out on the little lane which leads past Bluegate Farm and on to Hinxworth where we turned left. We had lunch at Farrowby's Farm Centre which we haven't visited for some time. It was good with a selection of main courses at reasonable prices. The staff were a bit doubtfull about the riders who were only buying drinks but as their trade was poor they regarded us as worth having. The garden area is very pleasant on a lovely sunny day. We watched several small animals and birds in the cages at the side.
After lunch people started breaking away and heading home independently, which I think is a shame, as the afternoon part of the ride is usually the best part - when we get to ride in new places. It seems to be a reflection on the extemely busy lives people lead these days. Today we were in a very relaxed mood and enjoyed the scenery and the sunshine. There was very little wind and the temperature was just right. We went up the lane past the TV transmitter at Sandy and then followed the path to Everton. The bluebells are just coming out in the woods at the top of the hill. Inevitably we got tempted by the cafe at Waresley and had yet another cup fof tea in the sunshine.
After tea we carried on through Great Grandsden and Caxton. Passing Caxton I asked if we could try the cycleway from Caxton Gibbet to the Elsworth Road. It's a very pleasant cycleway, some distance from the road. It will be really nice in a few years time when the trees have grown up between it and the road. Passing Elsworth we realised we had timed it all to perfection and had just ten minutes to get to tea which we did easily.
Tea was at the Swan at Conington. By the time the afternoon ride and a couple of independent riders had arrived we had fourteen, which is a good turn out. Sarah, the Publican's wife, had done us a great spread of sandwiches and delicious home made cakes. We were able to use the tables outside in the sunshine. A truey glorious ending to a near perfect day. I was very happy to thank Sarah for her efforts. Many thanks to Adrian for a first class ride to lovely places. Mike Stapleton.
Photos by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0