Testing the tent…Storm Katie


Had an eventful trip to Hertfordshire on Easter Saturday, with 50 miles – including some off-road sections on muddy tracks – into a powerful headwind that made progress difficult. It was another very slow journey and despite setting off from Bury at 8am, by the time we arrived at Malcolm’s (my step father-to-be) house in Braughing all daylight was gone. It was also cold, raining heavily and blowing a gale so I ditched the plan to camp in the garden.
But the next night Raisin and I did camp in the garden, with some bee hives standing sentinel, for our first time under canvas together. Despite the best efforts of Storm Katie our little tent survived the night unscathed, and we remained warm and dry, if a little traumatised by the wind’s strange roar.

There’s not much room in the tent for anything other than lying down, but it is lightweight and packs up small for carrying on the bike. Very cosy!

Malcolm has about 40 bee hives in various places; we went out towards nearby Furneux Pelham to check one of his apiaries for wind damage. All was OK. The bees are ‘cuddling’ in this chilly weather and hiding from the wind he told me. Sensible animals. We rode home the next day enjoying sunshine and a tailwind all the way.

Bury St Edmunds to Mersea: a tale of two aunts

Before setting off round the country, it seems wise to do some test runs so we can be confident: a) the bike and other equipment is fit for purpose; b) my legs are up to the job; and c) Raisin and I are going to enjoy ourselves.

With this in mind, we did our first major ride this week, which was 45 miles to visit my Aunt Rose in West Mersea on the Essex coast, and back the following day. It took ages. The speed was low and we had frequent stops for games of ‘balley’, which Raisin adores.

We went via Lavenham and took this photo of the plaque outside Little Hall, which commemorates another of my aunts, Aunt Eve, who was a volunteer there and did a lot to put it on the map. The bit about her says “This sign is dedicated to the memory of Eve Ranzetta who wanted people to know about this house and its contents.”

Little Hall was home to many families over six centuries from medieval clothiers through to the Gayer Anderson twin brothers who filled it with their collection of antiques and antiquities.

Since 1974, generations of volunteers have looked after it and shared its delights with thousands of visitors as the only medieval residential property in Lavenham open to the public.

Today it is the only Lavenham property in Simon Jenkins’ book England’s Thousand Best Houses and still retains the atmosphere of a friendly, family home. [Source: Little Hall website]

47 miles after setting off from Bury St Edmunds (we got a bit lost around Colchester), it was a relief to arrive at Mersea, to a warm welcome, tea and cake.  The tide was out, as it was 12 hours later (such is the way of tides) so no chance of a swim even if we wanted one. A lone cockle (or perhaps winkle) picker was out on the mud flats when Raisin and I took an early stroll the next day before heading back to Bury.  A successful test of kit, patience (canine) and legs (human).



Adventures by bicycle

We are planning a bike ride round the coast of Britain, starting later in April, from the Suffolk seaside.  There is lots to sort out but we have the bike and trailer already.

Others have helpfully written about this journey (eg Josie Dew and Anna Hughes) which is about 4,000 miles.

For the next month or so me and Raisin will be getting used to long rides and deciding what kit to take and how to carry it all.