Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Cycling Break


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Having done north then south Suffolk so far this year, this outing went more down the middle, to Framlingham and Woodbridge. Now the distance to Framlingham is quite short, so I started off retracing the first miles of the route I did a month earlier, to catch a marvellous garden which I'd passed in the rain, and before it was at its height -- but now it was prime season and a warm sunny day

And pretty maids all in a row

And pretty maids all in a row

before looping back to cross under the A14 at Claydon. From there, I sort-of follow the alternate route for the trip if one happens to start from there in one of the overflow hotels (as I did on my first holiday) to Debenham -- but then, checking the time, it looked like I'd be able to get to Earl Soham before 1pm, and so I swung back to get there for lunch. Alas the cafe was determinedly closed, so I went along to the Victoria, where over a couple of pints of the Victoria Bitter, I had a serious prawn and avocado salad which was excellent; and then some raspberry cheesecake that looked a little fridge-worn, though the fruit on top were perfectly fine.

Having only covered 30 miles and being so close to Framlingham so early, the afternoon was a wander up to Stradbroke, to take in reverse part of the route the satnav decided to send me down when I took the wrong turning on the way to Laxfield in March; and then down part of the very flooded route I cycled last summer, before curling back to the Crown for the night having done 60.14 miles, where I found I'd got a free upgrade to a double room!

Under new owners, the restaurant is back where it used to be, the menu is great -- I had crayfish chilli lime salad, sundried tomato, asparagus and goat cheese gnocchi, pancakes with gooseberry and maple syrup; and from the exotic tea selection in the room, a green tea for digestif; then in the morning as well as toast and cereal, their "posh beans on toast" -- with slices of tomato, chilli and spring onion in with the beans.

Monday started cooler and cloudy, but quickly brightened up; the early forecasts of rain all afternoon had reduced to maybe showers lunchtime; so I thought that it would be a good route to head up to Southwold for lunch before going south to Woodbridge, plus another bit of inadvertent retracing of the route I'd driven in the snow and ice in March.

The snow has gone

Snow has finally melted

And the weather continued fine with sunny intervals right until I'd got to within a few miles of Southwold, whereupon there was the most torrential shower, which ended just about as I was anchoring up, and which brought enough rain to create significant torrents in the gutters. So I was rather soggy when I finally got to table at the Blue Lighthouse -- and a well timed visit, as this was their last week of trading, as the owner of the property has sold out to a coffee chain; though the proprietors are taking over the Blyth Hotel, so I'll have to check that out next year.

Water hazard

Water hazard

After a lunch of brie tempura, tiger prawn red curry, and fudge brownie, I set off the same route as in the spring, only without the Dunwich detour, but choosing a new route to Snape via Saxmundham, avoiding the A road out of Aldeburgh, before taking the well beaten trail to Seckford Hall and my usual room there, for a cumulative distance of 121.12 miles.

Building works affecting the restaurant meant that food was relocated to the function rooms and the verandah; from a menu high on helpfully labelled comfort food I ended up with chilli king prawns, bangers and mash, and rhubarb crumble.

After coffee on the verandah, I wandered up to the A12 junction to check out what exactly had been done with it to close off the right-turn gap -- which was close everything but the foot-way; and on the return, from the vantage over the hotel, a glimpse of Mercury, well paced low in the twilight.

Pedestrian access only

Scope to run like crazy


Tuesday started grey and cool, but the weather forecast suggested rain mid-afternoon -- so I planned to cut through Ipswich, meander around a bit to get to Tattingstone White Horse for lunch, then belt back ahead of the rain. Alas, it started sprinkling while I was still heading through California, at around 09:30, and by the time I got to Belstead, it was raining in earnest, so I just bailed, taking a route that as much as possible avoided both major and very minor roads, getting me to Claydon not long after 11:30, at which point the problem of lunch needed to be solved.

Passing the Sorrel Horse, where I'd dined on the very first evening of my first cycling holiday here about ten minutes later, I decided to do a loop to loiter and get back there by midday, where I took refuge for a couple of hours, over sweet and sour pork, a much nicer cheesecake, and a hot chocolate, until the rain eased a little for the last few miles, taking advantage of the bicycle friendly paths around the A14/A140 junction, to a total of 155.75 miles covered in the three days.

And at that point my usual precautionary over-packing paid off, and I could change into clean dry clothes for the drive home.


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