28 September 2014

28 Sep 2014: Wheathampstead to Royston

The strangely clad figures loitering around the toilets at Wheathampstead car park turned out to be the South Herts CTC riders preparing for the last ride in September. The lingering mist and bright colours in the foliage confirmed that we were now well into autumn as we passed the former golf club on the road to Codicote, once rumoured to have been purchased by David & Victoria Beckham (a recently appointed UN ambassador), but now evidently planted with trees and landscaped to incorporate a new lake, and no doubt owned by a multi-millionaire currently subdividing his properties to escape any future mansion tax. We skirted Codicote and were heading towards St Paul’s Walden along a very narrow road when we were overtaken by a group of about ten maniacs cycling furiously, only one of whom was daring to wear the blue-and-yellow strip of a well-known St Albans racing club. Proceeding at a more civilised pace we wended our way through Willian and the back streets of Baldock to Cafe Plus. 

Cafe Plus, Baldock
David and Victoria
David & Victoria
Other cyclists had inconsiderately occupied all the outside tables so we huddled together in the rather cramped interior. The subsequent trek out of the town took us along a decommissioned road, now reduced to half its former width to become a cycle route with a bridge over the new A505 bypass, to Wallington where there was the obligatory stop at the former post office. Here a plaque claimed Eric Blair (George Orwell) had lived from 1936 to 1940. As most of this period was occupied by the Spanish Civil War in which Orwell had participated, maybe there was some poetic licence. The plains of Cambridgeshire seemed to have disappeared as we tackled a hilly route into Royston and arrived at the sumptuous interior of the Manor House, now owned by J D Wetherspoon. This is a recent acquisition and certainly had a better ambience than most of their establishments, being a former hotel. 

Orwell's Cottage in Wallington
manor house
Wetherspoons in Royston
Conversation inevitably drifted into the recent resignation of the Minister for Civil Society, and all the riders agreed that they would be more careful in future when sending pictures of their private parts to members of the opposite sex, and particularly avoid wearing paisley pyjamas. We then headed south, avoiding the A10, to the reliable golf club at Dane End, where ignoring the rules about wearing white socks with shorts, we feasted on highly calorific cakes while making disparaging remarks about the profiles of some of the pub's lunch-time customers, and noting with satisfaction the Ryder Cup was not going America’s way. We then made the usual route home though Watton-at-Stone, the long drag up to Datchworth being the least enjoyable.

Steve 28/09/2014

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