Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday 23 April

What a weekend. I made the most of the nice Spring weather and got out on the bike twice. The first ride was on Friday night after work, up from B's home to the ski club, to be treated to a Japanese meal out afterwards - yummm! 15 miles in glorious sunshine (gloves still needed though) and a bit of a push at the end to get there before it was completely dark... oops.
On Saturday after a bit of housework in the morning I got on the bike after lunch. I had found a few nice bike rides in South Norfolk on the internet and decided to explore one around the river Waveney. I had to cycle to the starting point near Earsham first, adding a few miles to the overall distance, but it was such a nice day and it wasn't very far.

You can see here how blue the skies were! This is Alburgh Church, I love the top of the tower, it's just a little different from what you normally see.

A tree in the overgrown, neglected graveyard just bursting into leaf

Interior of the church with two different white balance settings. The bottom photo is the most true to life.

When you click on the photo to make it bigger, you can see the window is dedicated to a young man called Malcolm George Lohr. In the same village, there is a row of bungalows called Lohr Bungalows (I think) and when I cycled past, it did make me wonder why they were called that. Sad to think they were named after this man who lost his life so young.

A few more pictures of the interior. There is always so much to see in even the smallest country church, and I love the light that comes through stained glass windows.

Another name that comes back time and again in the village (another row of cottages named after this family). I couldn't quite work out all the family connections - the church has a leaflet with all the names of all the gravestones but even that didn't make it any clearer. What is clear though is that this family suffered several losses, be it through war or otherwise. Another sad story.

Time to leave the church behind and be on my way - I haven't even made it to the starting point of the cycle route yet. 

This is a house in Earsham, on the way to Bungay. I liked the way the extension was done. Wonder if that would be approved with today's strict planning regulations...

Almshouses in Bungay

Cycling out of Bungay on the way to Ditchingham, I stopped on a little iron bridge and noticed the colourful houses behind me. One of my favourite pictures of this ride.

Old mill buildings on the banks of the Waveney, and a very unusual house. When I saw the tower on the horizon, I assumed it was a church. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a private house.

Ellingham Mill, again now a private house.

The church at Ellingham. I like the photo of the window where you can partially see inside and partially see the reflection of the stonework. The house next door is presumably the rectory - quite a large house, obviously a well-to-do church! Unusually this church was locked.
Onwards towards Geldeston Locks, which marks the turning around point for my ride.

This was a lovely spot. You turn off the 'main road' in Geldeston, which is pretty small anyway, onto an unsurfaced track. You're surrounded by flat landscape, very marshlike, with no visible signs of human habitation - only there had been a sign for a pub down this track. After a mile or so you suddenly spot the pub right on the banks of the river. The garden was filled with happy pub customers having their first drink of the year outside. 
Apparently in the sixties the landlady of the pub used to live upstairs in the winter, as the river regularly burst its banks and presumably still so. B. knew about this pub and said they have their electricity by generator as they're too far out. In the first photo you can see where wherries used to dock (lower left corner).

I've cycled back along an old railway line, I've crossed the busy A143 and am now heading north and west back home. I like spotting unusual road names on my rides. Hollow Hill Road made me smile. The picture below that is All Hallow's in Ditchingham, now a Christian retreat but a school in the past - in fact, this is where B's sister went to school.

Ditchingham Church was a little jewel. In the description of my bike route it said that the church reflected how rich Ditchingham had been through farming. There were several Victorian 'improvements' (depending on your point of view - I like them as I think a building shouldn't be static but move with the times) and there was so much to see. The ceiling was amazing.

I took this photo because I thought the first name on the list was so unusual. Not something you'd see much these days.

The church exterior. I like church towers with a clock. I have been known to jump out of my skin if they chime just as I'm walking past them, as most of these are in such rural and quiet settings that you don't expect much noise.

And another unusual road name. I made a short detour here, wanting to see Hedenham Hall which is just up the road from Ditchingham - but it turned out I'd done a route there before. After trying and failing to find my way home on a little countrylane that started off in a westerly direction but turned out to be a dead-end, I spent another half hour riding along roads I knew would get me home. Fortunately the last bit was all with the wind in my back as my legs were beginning to let me know this was a longer ride than usual, but even I was surprised to find that I'd done 32 miles when I got back!
The following day was a day trip to London with 14yo (which deserves a blog post of its own) and we managed to walk 8 miles... I definitely did more than my fair share of exercise last weekend!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday 16 April

This last Sunday was my last bike ride in and around Norwich for a little while. B's ski race training is moving to Friday nights from this week, as in the summer the race team takes part in regular races which are usually held on Sundays. Although I'm looking forward to having a bit of a lie-in on Sunday mornings again, I'm also going to miss being up early and spending several hours in the fresh air while the rest of the world is still waking up. I had also only just discovered Norwich itself. It's only for the summer though, because the ski club's timetable changes back again in October.

This Sunday I wanted to make the most of my last bike ride. The rides I enjoy the best, tend to involve water, so I decided to try and follow the Yare westwards, having discovered on an old map that there was a riverwalk part of the way, past the UEA campus, up north to meet the Wensum and follow this river eastbound back to the ski club, where the Yare and the Wensum join. It involved a lot of stops and consulting of the map, getting lost on several occasions and some moderate swearing as I found on my return that my phone had stopped tracking my route about halfway through, probably when a call came through. But, it was still a good route with several little gems discovered, and one that I'll definitely return to in the future.

Some photos:

The brickwork of an old railway bridge

This is one of the most unusual little churches I've ever seen on my bike rides. It's All Saints Church in Keswick, which is just south of Norwich (yes, also in the Lake District!). At first I thought perhaps the middle part had been damaged by a fire in the past, but when I later looked the church up on the excellent Norfolk churches site, I found it had just fallen into ruin after Britain changed to Anglicanism and there were far too many churches in Norfolk. It was restored in the late 19th century and the round apse is actually from the 1950s. Unfortunately it was closed, quite unusual for a Norfolk rural church. I would have enjoyed having a look inside.

(on the left of this window is a rather ugly concrete wall, which is why the angle on this photo is a little odd!)

A last look back at the church sitting isolated on top of the hill. Quite a special find.

By now I have cycled miles through the middle of the city, getting lost several times over and with no sign of the river, but a little further down from the church I finally find it back and along with it a fabulous old mill building. Another isolated location, must be lovely to live here.

I cycle on along a bridleway and come to a railway crossing

There were extensive instructions on how to cross - check the light, open both gates, check the light again, cross quickly, check the light, close both gates. While I was reading, a train came rushing past and you realise how fast these metal monsters are. I have to admit to having slight jelly legs when crossing!

I now follow the river for a long stretch along a public footpath, very muddy in places due to the rain we'd had overnight. I'm not really an off-roader, despite my bike being a mountain-bike - I prefer little quiet country lanes. At the end of the path I come to a large 'broad' opposite the University of East Anglia campus. It is very busy here with dog walkers, joggers and families with young children. It is interesting to see the campus but I'm glad to get away from the crowds again.

Another off-road stretch. B. and I think these are parts of an old bridge.

When I come to the Watton road, I decided to leave the Yare behind and aim north towards the Wensum, as it is time to start heading towards the ski club again. 

A last look at the river Yare and a little building in the park that I've just cycled through.

Trying to find the right route, I end up in a little close with student accommodation. I giggle to myself as I think 'anybody here will just think I'm a student' only to immediately realise that really, my student days are long over and I am more the same age as the lecturers... A few miles on I have to climb quite a steep hill in the city center, and an elderly lady on the pavement who sees me puffing calls out 'my, you must be fit!' which made me smile again.

This is the first bridge over the Wensum. One of the things I have enjoyed about Norwich is finding all the different bridges.

This one is part of a cycle path which has been made along an old railway line. It is also National Cycle Route number 1, which I know is quite scenic and passes the ski club, so I follow its sign from here on.
As time is pressing, I don't stop for any more photos. I get back to the ski club just as B is coming out and we have our usual moccha up in the bar. As I said, my phone stopped tracking my route around the point where I started heading eastwards again, but I did about 20 miles.

Before B started skiing, I used to cycle a lot at weekends with his house as starting point. The drawback of my bike rides on Sunday mornings has been having to keep an eye on the time, and I'm quite looking forward to doing longer rides in South Norfolk again. Nothing much can beat keeping fit in the fresh air while you're discovering your neighbourhood!