Mel called it “the long haul to Long Melford” and at 79 miles he was sort of right.
Nine starters enjoyed the bright clear morning coming out of Chelmsford via the well-trodden Leighs Road route and via Perry Green to Greenstead Green Post Office. John, Margaret and Ken made the numbers up to 12 for elevenses before we parted company in various directions with 6 going on to lunch. We took the small lanes via Gestingthorpe and Borley Green arriving at around 1:10 p.m. The George and Dragon wasn’t busy, (so service was quick) – but it was “Sunday Roast menu only” from which we selected various starters. The soup and whitebait offerings were reportedly good but my own prawn and salmon salad was tiny and not very impressive at £6.75. Never mind, we had got back onto schedule and set out for Coggeshall hoping to make it by 3:30-ish.
Going by way of Little Henny and Lamarsh was of course hilly, – you don’t need to go to Alton Towers to sample a roller-coaster; just ride the Henny Road. After tackling climb after steep climb, our arrival at Coggeshall was a fairly tired 4 p.m. Although the Clock Tower advertises “4:30” as its closing time, we were halted at the entrance by the proprietor hanging out of the 1st floor window above it like a sort of red-faced cuckoo clock. He was telling us we couldn’t put our bikes in, around or anywhere near the shop, that they were “very busy” that they had run out of cakes and that we were effectively, too late. All that, despite ushering other people in at the same time. The mistake of trying to use that establishment isn’t one I shall be repeating. “The Vineyards” nearby did us proud with good quality cakes and teas and even refilled our pot without being asked. Ok it’s a bit posh and a quid or so dearer but for me it was money well spent. The home leg went via Hatfeld Peverel completing despite everything a very enjoyable summer day, at 6:30 p.m.