Hi all Ragstoners
By popular request here we go with another blog.
By the way, those who were not with us on the ride do like to know what's going on and (so I've heard) do enjoy reading about our adventures. So, to all of you, please feel free to add in any odd tid bits of interest and humour no matter how brief, I'm sure they will be devoured with relish, unless of course Tim gets there first, relish or no relish.
We all arrived at John and Dydiane's sharpish except for Alan who had been beset with a bout of deflation overnight and had to change his front inner tube. He really should have seen that coming, him being in the financial business and all. But never mind it gave us all time for a chat and some of Dydiane's nice coffee. She was most apologetic that she didn,t have any Nescafe left, would we mind putting up with a steaming cafetierre of lovely aromatic ground coffee instead.
I don't remember there being any complaints. It was lovely.
And then we were off, across the main road to pick up the cycle path opposite Tom Stafford's house. First I knew that it was a cycle path. There we go, we live and learn. It took us past Victoria Park, quite lovely in the morning sun, quite a surprise, and then past the old ford from which Ashford gets its name. John G informed me that he had recently been speaking to our current Mayor of Ashford and he didn't even know where the old ford was. Can you believe that! I reckon he should be hung upside down by his medals and chain and dunked head first into the river. Mind you, it's only about 4" deep at this point, but even so it should get up his nose a bit.
Onwards past Singleton lake, which was also a surprise to me, not having been there before, (it's a quite recent addition) and was really quite charming. Well done ABC, they get some things right. Then down Singleton Road to Great Chart, from whence my beloved comes, then down Ninn lane, Etchden Woods, to Bethersden. Turned right at the Bull and wended our way to the loverly village of Smarden. Turned left at The Chequers(another good pub for a possible Ragstoners watering hole) and onwards towards Munday Bois. Where does that name come from? Anybody got any ideas? Somebody please do a Google search , and let me know. On reaching a T junction, we knew that the pub was not far away but we were not sure which way. We opted for left, and after about 3/4 mile came to a junction and decided this was not right. John G waylayed a yokel on whose hedge we were leaning and sought his advice. He said there was a pub about 3/4 mile back the way we had come but was not sure of the name as it changes quite frequently. So back we went, and there it was. 50 yards around the bend at the junction!! Voila!
Another biking gang had also booked lunch there and were already ensconsed at their table and ordering their fare and we milled in amongst them and really confused the ordering system. But it all worked out OK, the hard working waitress calling out names like Bill cod and chips, Jim ham and eggs, etc so everything got sorted eventually. Bill, Jim and co were obviously in some sort of time warp of previous Tours de France and were all wearing aged memorabilia T shirts of previous heroes. At another table ther was another family of 8 or 10 (busy little pub this) who looked liked they had all just arrived from Sicily. The main man was flamboyantly dressed in white shirt and bright red braces and Alan recocnised him straightaway. Think he said his name was Soprano or something like that.
He came over later and tried to shake Alans arm from his shoulder socket.
John G was fascinated with the waitress' legs, and was eager to try out his chat up line and asked "are those bikers legs you've got there". She took it in good humour and replied that her well defined calf muscles were from horse riding in the Egerton and Environs Bucking Bronco club, or similar.
Judith, Denise and Peter thought this was a good time to leave as Judith had important things to do later.
The rest of us had another drink or two and polished off the rest of the food. Tim would have been proud of the empty plates.
Just about then a man looking just like Robert but with more stubble turned up and announced that he had just started a new venture of mass production of vegetables and had a boot full in his car in the car park. So we decamped to the car park where several suggestions were made as to a suitable place for his prize cucumbers. John G relieved him of a good number of broadbeans. Job done, Robert departed with a parting well tried and tested joke, which I'd rather not repeat here.
Off again, we ventured back toward Etchden Woods with only one U turn where Alan was beset with repeated bouts of flat front tyre, doing about 1/2 mile between pump ups. He made it to about Ashford station when John G gallantly volunteered to forge ahead and get his recovery vehicle and come back and pick him up, which he did.
Hey, I'm running out of ink and it's past my bed time, so I'll wrap up here.
Many thanks to John and Dydiane for their hospitality. A lovely ride and good company. Oh, and we won't see Roger for a week or two, he's off to Malawi to save the world or something. Good luck.
Looking forward to next weeks ride from Marys house, see you all then.
ps I can't guarantee 100% accuracy due to a couple of beers and a large whisky. Cheers.