The day began cold and misty, one of those days that you hope the sun will burn through and that then it will be a bright day. We set off for the coast and as we travelled there were a few fog patches but the weather gradually improved and it became sunny. Rob had asked us to delay our start for a few minutes so that he could catch the train and meet us at Havant Station which he did. We set off along the lovely cycle path to Hayling thinking about what it must have been like when this was a steam railway line and what must fun it would have been to travel it. British Railways surely missed a great marketing opportunity here. If this line had been kept in steam hundreds of thousands of people a year would probably use it for the pleasure of travelling to the Hayling beaches on it. The restored steam line at Swanage shows what can be done and no doubt what could have been done at Hayling given some vision. The views over the harbour from the cycle path were lovely with the Spinnaker Tower clear in the distance and also Portsdown Hill. Lunch in the Ferry Inn was good pub food and Rob took the opportunity to plug his electric bike battery in for a charge. No payment required for this! As he explained he lives on the top of the South Downs so he likes a bit of help with the last few miles to get home. On the way back Stephen got a slow puncture so he had to stop and pump up his tyre every couple of miles or so, but he made it back without having to do a repair on the side of the track. This was a very pleasant ride in good company. Jacki and Stephen stopped on the way home for a mini picnic overlooking Frensham Great Pond which looked lovely in the setting sun. This was a fine day to add to the Cody Social programme memories.
Hampton Court – 31 December
We set off from a free car park on the bank of the Thames in Weybridge and cycled eastwards towards London. The towpath is in good condition and is a mixture of tarmac, gravel and some muddy bits. It is also flat which is welcome for cyclists!
There were lots of interesting sights as we cycled along. We were surprised by how many rowing and sailing clubs there are on the river and we did see a few rowers out practising. There are also some very nice houses on the river side and we were impressed by the undoubted cost of many of these. Lunch was at the Anglers pub at Teddington Lock which served very good food. A curiosity: all the men had the same lunch and all the women had a different but same lunch and all this was done without any consultation! What big psychological processes were at work here? This was pub food at a very high standard. On the way back just before we got to the cars, we took a ferry over the Thames to a café on the other side for tea and buns. We just had to do something nautical since this was a Cody SC social outing!
West Dean Cycle to Chichester Marina – January 4th
Saturday 5th January was cold and dry with only a light breeze and therefore good for a day’s cycling by Cody members. There were five of us including Joshua, aged six, who was riding as the “stoker” to his Dad who was in front of the tag along assembly pedalling away aided by Joshua. Joshua was man of the cycle ride since he kept going really well even though his toes got a bit cold!
It really was a lovely ride, we went down the old railway line from West Dean and eventually found the Chichester Ship Canal basin where we transferred to the towpath. Chichester was pretty as usual and we were treated to some, wonky, bell practice as we cycled slowly past the Cathedral. Nevertheless, the bells added to the City atmosphere. The Ship Canal towpath is a bit bumpy in places but we all managed to get safely to the café at Chichester Marina for some hot soup. We tried a slightly different route back, cutting out the Canal and travelling on the Salterns Way cycle route which we found very useful. Steam trains had to climb over the South Downs and although the incline upwards was only perhaps 5 degrees of so we did notice it as we cycled up the old track. Getting rid of mince pies eaten over Christmas was a big motivator at this point. We found an extra two miles of cycle railway line as we neared West Dean that took us almost directly to the quiet spot where we had parked the cars. Then, a glorious find, a tea shop just around the corner from where we had parked. Not only a tea shop, but a tea shop with a log fire! We sat in front of it for probably an hour or more putting the world to rights and warming up after our chilly ride. This was such a lovely day that we all agreed that we would like to do it again soon and that we could use our newly discovered better route to get to West Wittering beach café next time. (All Cody cycle rides revolve around cafes…) Cody and friends are welcome to join these social rides. The rides are really great fun and not too physically taxing. No special bike is required, just one that works ok and has strong tyres. Buying some padded cycle shorts to go under trousers and some padded cycle gloves adds to the enjoyment.