Sunday, 20 December 2015

Burton Manor at Burton

Final Sunday ride before Christmas, and an excellent turn out for Hazel of 14; in the sunshine and remnants of the Christmas market.

Ray captured some moments before the group set off, tinsel on bikes etc.

I met the group on route 56 (had to drop daughter off at work first) so was heading to the Hosta Cafe but met them by the gate (had to man-handle all the gates alongside the railway on my own!)

The lanes were full of puddles (on account of recent rain) but we had a fine bright day as we headed through Capenhurst.

The distinctive steeple of Capenhurst church

The penfold a little further along the road

Panoramic shot in the cafe after a few attempts - but don't look too closely!!!
We even met a wandering Two Mills rider (Sylvia) who was not on her bike due to a shoulder injury - she had been left whilst they had done their ride and was going to meet the group back at Eureka for lunch.  We invited her to join us for a coffee.

Packing up and setting off again, we continued to cross the Welsh Road, and towards (but not along) the 'missing link'.

We had to cross the Chester High Road one more time, with the aid of pedestrian crossing, and it was all downhill to Burton.

Parking up at the cafe
The cafe was on it's last day open before a few months shut (due to lack of custom in the winter months).  So a bit of a limited menu, although plenty for us.
novel helmet rack - I think...!

Santa's little secret

And then it is time to leave, back across Burton Marshes, enjoying views across the Dee estuary and our own shadows.

shadows across on the boardwalk

Final furlong back to Chester

When the few of us that were left got back to the Town Hall square, there were three options open to us - go home, go to Stewart's house with the offer of free beer, or the Carol service in the Cathedral.  I joined Hazel and Tommy for the latter (Stu went to the party and Bob went home)

A fantastic end to a Christmassy ride!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas at The Yew Tree (#2)

Alex posted on facebook last night for sunshine at 10:00, and to stay nice all day.

17 of us met in the wet

At the strike of 10, the rain started, gently at first, just as I was getting my camera out.  Undeterred, we posed after the last rider arrived, and we set off in two groups, Bob leading the second one a short distance behind.  The rain persisted; we were heading for O'Kells, and despite a very brief mistake on my part we arrived in good spirits, and very very wet!

We found a Sarah and a Jane [not in pic] here

We parked the bikes under cover (we guessed no-one would be sitting outside today!) and descended on the cafe for our morning refreshments - despite only having travelled 5 miles!

After coffee, we set off again under still gloomy skies and still raining - pausing briefly by a trolley so overladen with bits of mistletoe that there was quite a lot on the floor.  Some of us rescued a few sprigs before wending our way up towards Utkinton from Duddon, through Tarporley and out towards Tilstone Fearnall; managing a few little climbs to work up an appetite for our Christmas fayre.

Martin, who had given up at O'kells, had arrived and was waiting in our area; Richard also made a surprise arrival (I knew, as he was booked in); and soon 18 of us were sat around two tables, chatting, pulling crackers and being generally convivial!

The food was lovely, plenty of meat (but I had to ask for extra veg), the fire was toasty without being too hot.  

Stu discovers the delights of mistletoe....

...and Omry does not want to be left out!

As we came behind Peckforton, I kept an eye out for our very own Elephant and Castle, which I had not seen for along time.  I stopped the group, and noted a chap in the garden.  Despite a large thick hedge, I managed a conversation with him about the history of this magnificent garden ornament.

Originally sculpted by John Watson in 1859, who was involved in the building of Peckforton Castle, it stood in his garden, in a cottage which no longer exists.  It is carved from a single piece of sandstone, and is utterley majestic!

The group were treated to me bending over talking through the hedge to an unseen voice!

Still, the day was progressing, and it was surely time for afternoon tea and cake by now, so we made our way to Walk Mill, as is traditional, for coffee, tea and cake!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The White Bear at Whitchurch

A wet start to a late November ride - meeting again amongst the Christmas Market Village by the Town Hall.  I was not able to get to the start (as I had to take my daughter to work), but eight lined up for a photo by Ray.

Bob was leading us to Whitchurch, and the morning coffee stop was at Tillys in Bunbury; this is where I caught up with the group.  

Ray said on facebook "Initially a bit damp, but cool all day. Who cares, a very nice outing with spirits high. Cheers Bob (and everyone else come to that). Bit foggy in Tillys I thought !!"

The Combermere Monument:
For another day

To be honest, I was not on good form, and also had to be back in time to collect the same aforementioned daughter from work, so Dave and I headed back shortly after Tillys, near to a monument on a hill.  That is for another (not muddy) day as you have to trek across a field (here is a photo from a later ride)

Dave escorted me back as he also had to be in work, it was good to have company as we actually had a headwind.

Marbury Church

Here are more of Ray's photos from the day:

270 or 230 miles? Route 45 is called The Mercian Way.
I feel a tour coming on!

The Mercian Way is a 230 miles (370 km) long cycle path that runs from Salisbury in Wiltshire to Chester in Cheshire. Operated by Sustrans, it is part of National Cycle Route 45, but is also well used by walkers. The path is so named because it passes through what was once the ancient Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. To reflect its name a number of waymarkers depicting Saxon warriors were commissioned and have been placed along the route.  Here is one!

Lunch venue

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Lodge on Lark Lane, Liverpool

Roll up for the magical mystery tour...

After seeing the weather forecast for Sundays magical mystery tour I half expected to be on my own at the station; but Ray was already there and we were soon joined by eight other hardy souls. 

After a pleasant train journey we left James Street station in Liverpool to cycle along the waterfront into a lively little breeze??!! to have a quick look at the old garden festival site which has now been refurbished but on a much smaller scale than the original. 

big pink cow/buffalo/hippo thing
- votes please!

After turning into the breeze??again, we carried on along Otterspool prom and then went inland by the big pink cow/buffalo/hippo thing (you decide) and into Allerton. 

After a brief stop at the Robin Hood Stone that I had completely forgotten about  until Bob reminded me, we visited Paul McCartney’s childhood home in Forthlyn Road, then after a bit of off road, the house in Menlove Avenue where John Lennon lived with his Aunt Mimi, both houses now preserved by the National Trust. 

We then went through Calderstones Park and saw the stones that the park takes its name from and then headed towards Penny Lane and our breakfast stop. 

Spot the hump

On leaving the park we went down a cycle contraflow system similar to the one in Northgate Street but with stupidly large traffic calming humps which were hidden by mounds of fallen leaves, Geoff, from Wrexham Rievers unfortunately didn’t spot the first one and took a spill, but luckily was not badly hurt and was able to carry on, but it was a timely reminder to take care in the conditions at this time of year. [I hear you had to be told about this, as you carried on ahead, unaware and therefore talking to yourself?! - you did notice and come back apparently - Sue]

RayOmry's pickelhaube
has the biggest spike ever !!!

After our mega breakfasts and almost losing Bob to the model railway shop opposite we somehow managed to climb back on the bikes and pedal on to our next port of call Strawberry field; it was then on through Gateacre village and onto the Loopline Cycleway (similar to our Greenway).  

After a few miles of Loopline we took a slight detour to go through Springfield Park, where Kath used to play as a girl when she stayed with her aunt during the summer holidays. The park is now only half its original size, as Alder Hey children's hospital have built a huge new extension on the rest of it. 

A lap of the hospital and another short stretch of Loopline later we found ourselves crossing Queens Drive and entering Bankfield Road, the look on Kaths face was a picture as she realised where she was, she was born in this road and lived there until her family moved to Wales a year or so later. 

From her it was through West Derby, Childwall (past Elvis Costello’s mums house) back down Penny Lane, past Greenbank Park and through Sefton Park to The Lodge on Lark Lane, where cycle parking was actually in the bar, for more food and drink.  However, most just opted for a drink because they were still stuffed from breakfast.

We had by now lost the light so decided to cut the route short and after a lap of Sefton Park following the 2014 tour of Britain route went through Aigburth and back onto the waterfront to retrace our way back to the station, the wind had now turned 180 degrees,  so what should have been the nice tailwind we had all been looking forward to was now the same headwind we had battled against on the way out earlier that morning, except that this time it came with a good dose of heavy rain.  

Lesser cyclists may have been disheartened by this but we just had a good old sing song, a few chorus’s of “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside” and “In my Liverpool home” and we were soon on the train again heading back to Chester.

Thanks Stu for leading and for the write up; thanks to Ray for photos ('borrowed' from facebook)

Official photographer posing by Strawberry Fields