What a pair of lazies we are! What a slow day we had!
This grand land once again turned on an absolutely splendid day for us, with the sun shining right from the off. It was so warm, not only did I ride in a t-shirt right from the start, but I was in a t-shirt and shorts. SHORTS! It was time to scare the wildlife by baring my legs, the day was such a sunny pearler.
As we left the campsite on the cliff top at Hastings, it was to quickly discover, that while we were on top of a cliff, we weren’t actually on TOP of the cliff…there was still some more climbing to do. The legs and lungs had their early morning tester, with a gradual hill, then some steeper bits, as we rode on from camp and through the Hastings Country Park. The reward once again though, was a lovely view from the top, across the countryside and out to sea, with the sun shining and giving the landscape that beautiful summer’s glow.
Being at the top of a hill, brings with it, a downhill and we were given some free miles as we coasted down the long “other side” of the hill we had climbed. The road became a coastal route and we had the pebbly shores and ocean beside us, with a sea breeze and it was glorious.
I actually did something I hadn’t done for a long time, not since the canals of France. Yep…I sang! It was such a beautiful morning, the route had become nice and flat, the sun shone and I couldn’t help myself. I figured the wildlife were already scared into hiding by the sight of my “not for public viewing” legs, so there wouldn’t be any around to be scared by my tuneless warbling, so I let rip!
Here comes the sun
Doo, doo, doo, doo
Here comes the sun and I say
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Little darlin’ it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darlin’ it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Doo doo doo doo…
Even though I am no Beatles fan, this is the song that sprang to mind, so I pedalled along, singing away into the world around me. I called out to Steve ahead of me to join me in a duet and chime in on the “doo doo doo doos”, so what a pair of complete pillocks we must have looked, pedalling along on bikes loaded with gear, in convoy, singing away to nothing and no one, in duet. A pair of crazies having fun in the sun!
We stopped by the side of the road for Steve to check the map on his phone to make sure we were heading in the right direction. Oh dear, the phone was flat, so we needed to wait while we plugged it into our little portable battery and wait for it to get some juice. We happened to be across the road from a roadside, beachside cafe with outdoor seating, so rather than stand on the side of the road waiting for the phone to charge, we thought we might as well demonstrate our occasional Hobbit like behaviour and partake of “second breakfast”, have a sit down and let the phone and map fire up. We sat in the sunshine at a table, enjoying our drinks with toast for me and a toasted tea cake for Steve.
“We’re not supposed to be doing this,” I said to Steve, “we haven’t earned this! We aren’t supposed to ride for 10K and then stop and have a cuppa!” I was feeling a tad guilty.
“We can do it,” he said, “we’re in no hurry.”
It was nice, sitting in the sun enjoying a pot of tea and I tried not to worry about sitting, rather than pedalling and making constant forward progress. Stop and smell the roses, take it easy, enjoy things, it’s OK, I tried to tell myself. So I stopped and enjoyed my Earl Grey and sunshine and let my guilty conscience melt away. I even loved it when the man brought out my toast. He delivered Steve his toasted tea cake and said, “The toast’ll be out in a minute, it got stuck in the toaster and went all funny, so we’re doin’ yer some more.”
“No problem,” I said.
When he brought the intact round of toast out to me, he sat it in front of me with a “There yer go darlin’” Aaah, I just love how that friendly tone and words just roll off the tongue. “Darlin’.” Gorgeous.
When we finally ended our “second breakfast” and rode on, we were on an off-road path that ran right along the side of the pebble beaches. It was fantastic. We rode along Winchelsea Beach, where we saw a pillbox, another one still standing since World War II, when Rye Bay was being defended against possible invasion.
The defence of the coast didn’t start there though. In the 1500s England was vulnerable to attack from France and Spain, so Henry VIII built Camber Castle to protect the port of Rye. We could just see the remains of it in the distance.
As we rode along the path, we joined the many walkers and cyclists strolling or pedalling along, enjoying the beautiful day and the coastal scenery. As I rode up behind a couple on the path, the man stepped to the side and apologised as if he were in the way.
“That’s OK,” I said, “I was going to stop and ask you about your shirt anyway.”
He was wearing a running event t-shirt with 100K on it.
“You’ve done some ultras then?” I asked.
He told me about the 100K event he’d been in, organised by the Blind Veterans Association. He said he made it to the 50K half way point and pulled out, “because my feet were all beat up. I didn’t have the right gear, you’ve gotta have the right gear. I hope to do it again next year and a half marathon and maybe the London Marathon. I’ve got the right gear now!” He held up his foot and showed me the new running shoes he had, which he said were great and he’s ready for the next race now!
I said what he’d done was fantastic. I said I’d run some marathons but had not yet stepped up to do an ultra, so his achievement was super impressive. He told me all about the Blind Veterans Association and what a great support and organisation they are. He was ex-military and going blind, so he said what they do and what they organise for military veterans has been brilliant. I said how good it was to have organisations like that which offer that kind of support. We chatted for a while longer about running, I asked what he used for fuel during the 50K and what sort of time the runners were finishing in, given it was a mixed terrain event and we just chatted away on the path, with me apologising to the lady with him, for holding up their walk. She didn’t mind. After a nice chat, I wished him luck and happy running and he said, “Nice talkin’ to yer” and we went our separate ways. Another lovely chat with a delightful local.
We had intended to ride into the smallest town in England, Winchelsea, which was on our route, but the next thing we knew, we were in Rye. We had completely missed Winchelsea! It can’t have been that small! I think by taking the cycle path, we inadvertently bi-passed it. Sorry to have missed it.
We stopped in a park for elevenses and thought about where we might end up for the day and how we might look around Rye.
We rode into the centre of Rye and began to have a look around. It was a lovely town, utterly charming with its old buildings, cobbled streets, tiny laneways and small shops. We rode around the streets, then walked and pushed the bikes to have a better look along some of the pedestrian areas. It was busy and bustling, but really nice.
Sunday of course meant tradition day, so after our bike-accompanied roaming, we went in search of a pub for our lunch. We ended up in a narrow cobbled street, at Fletchers, so named because a dramatist from the 17th century, John Fletcher had been born in the building. He was also pals with Shakespeare. We parked the bikes outside, where we could see them from our table by the window, and sat down to see what Fletchers had to offer. Well, this little place really delivered. We had the most fantastic lunch and both declared it the best we’ve had since our very first one all the way back in Branscombe, when we’d first arrived in England. Steve had sausages, mash and veg washed down with a couple of beers. I had the most delicious and tasty lentil and chickpea patties, salad and gloriously golden, sticky and caramelised oven baked wedges of sweet potato. Everything on my plate was a ‘joy bite’! I couldn’t decide what to save for that final, perfect, ending mouthful, it was all so good and I didn’t want it to end! We sat back in our chairs, satisfied and happy and said that our onward journey would probably be even slower now, with our full bellies!
Being the slow coaches that we are, having a lazy, slow Sunday, we settled on a small campsite just outside of Rye and set off to find this small, tents only, family run site in a field. That big lunch came back to haunt us as we discovered the only way out of Rye in our direction was up more hills. We hauled the extra weight of sausages and lentils up those hills, before cruising into the Hare and Hounds, our campsite for the day. We pitched in the field, enjoyed the sun and had a cuppa in the tent, because we were actually seeking shade! Fancy that! Needing SHADE! Brilliant!
What a lazy effort for the day! Only 28km of riding, a stop for second breakfast, a stop for elevenses, a roam around Rye, a stop for a hearty lunch and then a mere 5km ride from there to our campsite. I’m almost embarrassed to recount the day. I guess days like this are OK sometimes though. Days when there’s no rush. Days when the weather is so grand, it begs to be enjoyed at leisure. We’ll pull our socks up next week, put in some extra effort and make some more forward progress. It was nice though, a slow day. A slow Sunday. I won’t feel guilty, I won’t feel that a day of anything less than 50km is somehow not a proper riding day. I will just sit back, having enjoyed everything we did today, on a beautiful, sunny, summer’s day in Sussex. We are soaking up every experience that comes our way and today, even if it was slow and short, was an experience I will remember. I’ll remember the sunshine. I’ll remember the scenery. I’ll remember the man running ultra marathons as a blind veteran. I’ll remember lunch in an amazing little eatery that offered super delicious food with a smile. I’ll remember riding along and feeling such joy in my surroundings that I sang out loud. A lazy day, but a lasting memory day and lasting memory days are, without doubt, the best ones to have. Loved it.