Judith, Ruth, Peter and John pedalled out of CH and down the hill towards Eyethorne. Ruth knew a shortcut along a shady lane, which eventually opened onto open fields and a colourful display of wildflowers, predominantly a purple one with four names which even after four repetitions, John could still not get right, let alone memorise! Passing through Barfrestone and its Romanesque church and magnificent voussoirs, John and Peter were reminded of a recent visit to its 'sister' church in Civray France. The French call them 'voussures' by the way.
The Yew Tree Inn is still boarded up, and Ruth wondered whether we might buy it. A lottery project perhaps?
On to Chillenden and we ride past the Griffins Head, which previous experience tells us is the best thing to do! Luckily there are some really good pubs in Kent; read on!
Wingham is a pretty village spoilt by the roar, hiss and rasp of the constant flow of heavy lorries trundling through the little streets. Up the hill now towards Preston, after which a refreshment stop at the delightful Rose Garden Tea Rooms at Westmarsh. What's this? Another cyclist already here. It is one of John's former colleagues who is pioneering a Hythe Rotary ride a week or two hence. Sadly none of us will be able to go.
Tea, coffee and cream teas are partaken (not all by everyone!) accompanied by a medley on the piano by a latter day Semprini, who in turn is watched over by a life size image of Elvis. In tune with the Palm Court atmosphere of this little oasis of gentility in the midst of rural Kent, the conversation turns to arson, brothels and loose morals.
After a minor route correction (these OS maps can be so hard to read) we are soon approaching Eastry and the legendary Five Bells. Sadly Peter and Judith must leave us here as both have urgent post prandial business elsewhere, so Ruth and John are left to enjoy the delightful hospitality and delicious food for which the Five Bells has become legendary.
An interesting chat with the landlady gives us an insight as to why this pub works so well. As long as this lady is in charge, we have no hesitation in giving the Five Bells Five Ragstone Stars.
We pass Ray's farm on the way back and Ruth (knowing John's prediliction for the oval shaped alimentation produced by our domesticated fowl population) suggests that we call in with the car and buy some.
A moment of embarrassment ensues in the vegetable garden when Robert returns to find John begging Ruth for a few spinach leaves with which to feed his hungry family. Robert is a compassionate man, and offers some salad leaves as well.
Ruth accompanies John to Ray's farm. Past a herd of splendid cattle, we cross the field to the house. Ray is in the kitchen dealing with paper. With the eggs duly purchased, Ray shows us his most recent livestock acquisitions; two duck chicks and some invisible kittens.
Take my advice; get on your bike, there's another world out there.