Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday 16 March 2015

After all the emotional upheaval of the last month or so, at some point it was bound to happen that tiredness would hit me. Apart from a few days' sick leave back in February and a day off work for dad's operation, I've carried on working. And although it's not always been easy and my concentration hasn't always been what it should be, being at work provides a sense of normality and routine that I've very much needed. However, there is only so strong I can be, and by Friday afternoon I was completely shattered. I could just about face the commute from Cambridge back home, but for the next 48 hours or so I had no energy for anything else. I'd made a list of things I wanted to do over the weekend and did the bare necessities, but apart from that, did little more than sit on the sofa.

One of the things on my list was a bike ride on Sunday, but the weather forecast wasn't particularly good. By Sunday morning I'd managed to catch up on some sleep though and when I went briefly outside to the wheeliebins, I noticed it wasn't a bad temperature at all. It didn't take me long to find my cycling leggings and merino top and twenty minutes later I was out in the fresh air, intending to explore the Towers and Spires cycling tour. I'd picked up a leaflet in a church a while back and as the starting point for the ride wasn't that far away from me, plus plenty of options to shorten the route should the weather turn horrible, it sounded like a good one to try out.

Only two miles down the road I turned off and found myself on a little countrylane I'd not known before. I've lived in Suffolk 20 years but have never really cycled here, and it's the perfect way of getting to know my own county a bit better.

The first church, St. Nicholas in Rushbrooke, wasn't actually part of the tour but it was one that was worth visiting anyway. From the outside it doesn't look much different from so many other churches in Suffolk, but the inside was a real surprise...

 I've never seen a small country church before where the pews were 'collegiate' style. Apparently a lot of work was done by a Captain Rushbrooke in the 19th century - he lived in the Hall that burnt down in a mysterious fire. At the western end was what looked like an organ, but apparently all the pipes are made of wood and painted - I had no idea until I read up about this church on the fabulous Suffolk Churches website!

Onwards towards Bury St. Edmunds. The route was a combination of National Cycle Route 13 and 51 - part of which 12yo and I had done a few weeks ago in Felixstowe. I was pleasantly surprised to find that around Bury St. Edmunds, there are several dedicated cycle paths. The UK has a long way to go where cycling safety is concerned, but Bury is doing a great job.

The route took me through the Abbey Gardens and past the cathedral, where I've walked and driven countless times before. It was very quiet, only about 10am, and lovely to ride where it's normally busy with people.

Left Bury by re-tracing my 'steps' and then rode towards Great Barton which has a very large church. I'd meant to go and have a look but as there was a service just finishing and I was in my cycling clothes, I didn't feel comfortable enough to go in. Onwards towards Pakenham - this was a hard part of the ride as it was all open countryside, heading east into a bitterly easterly wind. The church there was well worth the effort though.

Another first for me: a cruciform church - the tower in the middle rather than on the western end. It also sits high up on a hill, overlooking the village. Entrance was through the north porch which along with the position of the tower confused me a bit!

The interior was having work done and unfortunately a lot of the interesting parts were covered up. I really liked the colours in the chancel, it created a very different atmosphere and blue and yellow are my favourite colours anyway.

From Pakenham the route led down to Tostock but as the weather was turning colder and threatening with rain and my thighs were beginning to protest at the Suffolk hills, I decided to ride home from here. 27 miles in total, and plenty of the route left to see, so that's another ride sorted out.

The fresh air had done me good and with it my interest in cooking, which had disappeared in February, returned. It was Mother's Day in the UK yesterday, but rather than expect my two to cook, I quite enjoyed cooking a meal for them.
I'd read the Observer magazine on the ferry a while back, which had an 'easy midweek' supper by Nigel Slater - baked camembert with hasselback potatoes.


Not sure why I've never tried baked cheese before! I suspect that I have to cycle another 27 miles to work off all those calories...
And I'd promised 12yo that I'd make the cinnamon swirls from the latest Tesco magazine, so that's what we had for afters. Quite a lot of work but good fun and according to 15yo, they could have come straight from a bakery. In fact, she said straight from Wholefoods - well, if that isn't a compliment :-)