Friday, 15 April 2011

12 - 15 Apr: Club tour around Brantham, Suffolk

Mike writes: Adrian took the club to the Ouse Valley Bunkhouse at Brantham in Suffolk. Fourteen of us went on this memorable holiday.

We were faced with a problem from the start with the terrible news of Joan's death. We decided that we would still go on the holiday as that was what we thought Joan would have wanted us to do. We wanted to attend the funeral which was on the second day so it was decided that eleven of us would return to Haslingfield on the Wednesday to show our respect for her and support David her husband. While this was a very sad part of our holiday we were glad we made the effort to attend as Joan was so much a part of our lives.

We still managed to do two cycle rides and several people walked out to the River Stour which was about half a mile away from the Hostel. The Bunkhouse is in a fantastic setting in the middle of the Brantham Hall Farm.

It is surrounded by farm buildings on one side and just across the meadow behind is the Hall. It is about half a mile from the River Stour, which is tidal at that point. There are wide views across the river and there are the sounds of wading birds on the mud flats at low tide.

On the first day we rode out to the local reservoir which is in the middle of the Shotley Peninsular. It is relatively small but is beautiful. There are lots of Geese and other birds all around it. We cycled on the cycle path along the West side of it until we reached the causeway where the road crosses the water. We then circled around the eastern side to Holbrook and then round to the Royal Hospital. This is a large site with houses and the main hospital buildings. The centre of the site has a large building with a clock tower that can be seen for miles around. Then Adrian took us through the hospital ground and back to the reservoir. He took us to the cafe before we had to hurry back to leave to return to Haslingfield.

On the second day Adrian had planned an ambitious ride. First he led us along the peninsular to Shotley Gate at the end overlooking the container port at Felixstowe and across the river to Harwich. Shotley was the home of the training ship HMS Ganges back in the 18th Century and was only closed in about the 1970s. The main mast which was used for displays by the cadets is still standing. He took us into the big cafe, called the Wreck, in the Marina. Of course we stayed for some time. Finally he got us going again and took us along the Orwell towards Pin Mill. We found a very interesting graveyard near Shotley where Naval Personnel who had been killed in the Second World War had been buried. It was very nostalgic and showed just how hard it had been for the navy on the east coast during the war.

Adrian continued along the coastal path to Pin Mill which is famous for Thames Barges. There was only one barge in port, the May, but she looked magnificent. There is a pub at Pin Mill, the Butt and Oyster so we stopped for lunch. It was such a nice place and the food was so good we stayed awhile. After lunch we continued west along tracks and the local roads until we found a bridleway at Freston which took us a couple of mile across to Jimmy's farm. We have all seen it on TV and it was surprising at what there was there. Of course there is a farm shop so Adrian and the girls went shopping for our supper. We then had to adjourn to the cafe for drinks. When we went to leave we found that Jimmy's sheep had been trying to get at our saddle bags but had not done any real damage. Finally on the way out we met Jimmy coming into the back entrance in his Land Rover against the flow of traffic! He let us out with a wave.

When we got back to the Hostel the girls set about preparing an evening meal. They had made us a very nice meal on Wednesday and there were some left over potatoes so they made us a fry up with sausages from Jimmy's and apples which they made into a lovely crumble. Once again a first class meal far better than that we had on Tuesday night at the Pub! We were very grateful. Tina said they loved making meals for a big group.

All too soon it was time to head for home. We gathered in front of the Hostel for one last picture before setting off. Thanks to Adrian for organising the holiday and everyone who came for being such good company.

I added below a picture of the front of Joan's Order of Service. I also have pictures taken at the funeral which I am very happy to share with anyone who is interested. Most of them show the mourners including a considerable number of club members. Mike Stapleton

Additional photos from Adrian Lee:

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