Sunday, 28 March 2010

Meeting Jon on Woodmansterne Green

View across the green to the parish church.

Thank God for the iPhone. Why? Because, when it comes to clocks going backwards or forwards, as they did today – they went forward – the iPhone did it automatically, I discovered as I went to check the time. In other words, had I set my alarm for 0600hrs (which I didn't) then I would have been woken up at the real 0600hrs, the 0600hrs of BST (British Summer Time). This, of course, is all academic as I woke up at '7am' (according to my less sophisticated clock radio), Andy wasn't going cycling today and, while I thought it was going to be crap weather, I drew back the curtain and discovered a clear and fresh looking day.

There are things to do on Sunday so, rather than a long one, I resolved to call Jon and see if he fancied meeting up on Woodmansterne Green. I'd forgotten all about my gear problem, but remembered it as I pumped up my slow puncture. The last time I'd been on the bike, the problem had resolved itself and I figured the reason the gears started working again yesterday had something to do with giving the bike a good shake.

I had to physically pick the bike up and put it on the train at Merstham railway station yesterday. I had to pick it up again to haul it over the railway bridge at Sanderstead and I bounced it down the stairs on the other side of the platform. Such shaking must have shifted something as the bike was working fine from Sanderstead station to home, so out I went this morning, confident that the problem was solved and that, if it occured again I'd just ride the bike over some rough ground and shake it to its senses.

After yesterday's mammoth ride (mammoth in the sense that it was new and unexplored territory, not mammoth in distance terms) Woodmansterne was fine for me and Jon said he was quite happy to ride to the green. So we met around 0930 hrs, later than usual, had a bottle of Vittel mineral water and a Kellogg's breakfast bar each and then cycled back to our respective homes.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Down Ganger's Hill and into the unknown...

Today was arguably one of the best cycling days for a long time. Why? Because we explored new ground and found it to be just what the doctor ordered. Years of riding the same old routes – Woodmansterne (yawn!); the Tatsfield Bus Stop (yawn!); Merstham via Woodmansterne (yawn!); Westerham (yawn!) – they're all 'okay' but we've just been stomping over the same old ground, week after week after week. And quite frankly, it was beginning to get very, very samey. Well, not today!

Alright, the first leg of the journey was the same: the route we'd take to reach Tatsfield or Westerham; but once we'd passed the 'off road bit' on the way to Botley, we turned right, not left, and made our way down to Ganger's Hill. We didn't know what to expect, but what we found was heart-warming. Not only a new route, but a picturesque one too.

As for complaints that Ganger's Hill needed a good tidy-up, there was no evidence. What we found were woods and off-road tracks (to be explored at a later date) and, lo and behold, other mountain bikers, people we tended not to see on our normal routes where the Lycra-wearing, PC using riders of bikes with dropped handlebars seemed to rule the roost. But not today! Polite, Apple computer-using mountain bikers passed us by as we travelled down and up and around Gangers Hill, which eventually became Flower Lane, through Flowers Wood and down to the A25, which I think we went over when we reached the end of Church Lane.
Then, the hard bit. Up until this point, it had been easy enough, but now we had the Enterdent Road to contend with and it was far from easy: a big uphill climb, through some amazing woods. We crossed Tilburstow Hill Road and found ourselves in Rabies Heath Road and at this point we started to wonder whether it was possible to reach Hunger's End in Merstham by 9am, our stated goal.

We pushed on, through more woodland on either side of the road and soon we found ourselves in Bletchingly. It wasn't long before we encountered the A25 again for a short burst of traffic-heavy A road and then a devil of a job trying to cross into Church Lane before continuing north through Bletchingly Golf Course and then on a track that skirted its way around a menacing looking quarry (loads of 'Police Keep Out' signs, the mention of guard dogs and plenty of barbed wire fencing). But it was good to be off-road and the track led us under the M25 and out on to Hextall's Lane before we started seeing road signs to Chaldon and Merstham.

We hung a left into Spring Bottom Lane and then crossed the Warwick Wold Road and into the final straight of Rockshaw Road. Unfortunately for me, my gears had decided to play up and remain in a very very low gear. Progress was slow and it was now 0925 and no sign of Merstham, although we knew that Rockshaw Road led us on to the A23 just short of the village. It was slow going but we made it at around 0930hrs and I ordered my scrambled egg on toast and Andy's four-sausage bap (with lashings of brown sauce). We both had a mug of tea and reflected on our journey.

Yes we were half an hour over schedule, but that was easily solved. For a start, I'd have to arrive at Warlingham Green at 0730hrs on the dot and not 0740hrs and we'd just have to push on or even leave the Green at 0715hrs to be at Hunger's End when it opens at 0900hrs.

My gear problem really was a pain in the proverbial. So much so that I decided to catch the train home from Merstham. I jumped on the 1011 London Bridge train, changed at East Croydon and took a Caterham train, alighting at Purley Oaks and cycling the rest of the way. And guess what? When I got on the bike the gears were working again! I've got a slow puncture too, but having pumped it before leaving the house, it was still as solid as a rock when I reached home.

Happy Days, as they say. Happy Days.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Some pix of Ganger's Hill

These pix of Ganger's Hill courtesy of

Ganger's Hill, in case you've not read previous posts, is part of a new route we've discovered.

Sunday 21 March 2010 - the Tatsfield Bus stop

The rather uninspiring view from the Tatsfield bus stop. This is exactly what we see as we sip our tea and munch on our cereal bars. Nice, innit?

Going the slow way to the Tatsfield bus stop is no mean feat, as I always tend to say when we reach the off-road stretch in Woldingham, near the golf course there. It's quite a haul, actually, and that's why it's great to reach the bus stop and break open the flask of tea.

Andy and I sat there discussing a new route for next week (which I've detailed on

I love it when we discover a new route and this one is a real humdinger as we manage to end up in Hunger's End at Merstham in Surrey, probably just in time for when it opens at 0900hrs.

How to describe the route? Well, actually, I'll say no more, just go to the link above and you can read all about it. It is, however, slightly ridiculous how excited I get over things like this, but I just can't wait until next weekend.

Saturday 20 March 2010 – Woodmansterne Green

Dad with the Moggridge piano from Oklahoma City, USA (top) and with the LA piano (centre). Bottom shot is what we can see from our shelter under the gatehouse.

I awoke early, around 10 minutes to six. If the truth be known it was 0536hrs, but I lay there wondering what to do: get out of bed or loll around until 0600hrs, but then I remembered the alarm on my iphone that was due to go off at six on the dot and once I'd got out of bed to turn it off, why bother going back?

Outside it was murky. The clouds grey, the ground wet and signs everywhere that it had only just stopped raining. We were due to go to Merstham but there were things going on. My brother Jon and cousin Philip had both managed to ship over Moggridge pianos from the USA (one from LA and one from Oklahoma City) so Jon had arranged it for mum and dad to see them and it was a surprise.

In a nutshell, dad's been compiling a history of the Moggridge family and in the process has discovered (actually, he knew already) that there were pianomakers in the family. Dad's grandfather and his brother both made Moggridge pianos and managed to get a contract from the King of Persia. Apparently, some kind of dispute arose between the Moggridge family business and the Persians, which the Moggridge family won, and dad remembers talk about 'the Persian money', which was sent over on a regular basis once the dispute was resolved. I'd imagine there are plenty of Moggridge pianos out in Tehran. Perhaps President 'I'm a Dinner Jacket' has one, who knows?

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Jon and Philip traced the pianos down and shipped them over here and they arrived last week. These are old pianos, made in 1891, so they're not in the best of nick, but I know that Jon is going to restore his one. Philip's is not in bad nick compared to Jon's but I think he'll probably have it restored too.

Andy had things going on too so the suggestion of riding to Woodmansterne instead of the 30-mile round trip to Hunger's End, fitted everybody's agenda.

The weather wasn't too bad: a bit of rain here and there and yes, we did get wet, but not drastically so like in the past; but either way we sought refuge underneath the gatehouse of the church on the Green (a regular haunt if it's raining).

We drank tea, ate cereal bars and generally chewed the fat and then cycled home. It was great seeing those pianos, by the way, and Dad was chuffed about it.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Simon Cotter's blog

Simon has traded in his Subaru and bought this Mitsubishi Evo. Nice car, Simon.

I've added a link on the right hand side of this page to Simon Cotter's blog. If ever you want to see it, click the link or, if you're reading this post, click here!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Advice from down under on punctures....

Our friend Simon Cotter in Australia seems to have sorted out the puncture problem. He told me, "I used a chemical that you add to the air in the tyre which stops leaks. It works a treat. However if you use tubless tyres the stuff reacts to the tyre itself and causes huge blisters! So the bike shop fitted tubes and the chemical and hey presto! no more punctures!"

Whatever it is, it's available here too so perhaps we ought to enquire about that, just a thought.

Thanks, Simon, for the pointer on that one.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Through the smallholdings

Top: the road to nowhere? Nope, it takes you back through Wallington. The other shot is my bike resting against a fence along the same stretch of road.

Jon and I commented on a walk we enjoyed years ago when living at home with mum and dad. It was along an isolated road running through the smallholdings at the top of Wallington over the Christmas period, probably Christmas Day, as these were in the days when everything was closed and if you were suffering from cabin fever the best thing to do was go for a walk.

I stumbled across the lane again on Saturday and here's the evidence. It's amazing, looking at these photographs, to think that I was in Wallington in Greater London and not somewhere a little more remote.

Mum & Dad's and then Woldingham

From the top: our bikes at the rest point in Woldingham plus the view and a shot of Andy on Warlingham Green just prior to setting off and taken on the iPhone.

Andy couldn't make it on Saturday, meaning a later start than usual for your truly, which meant that a trip to Merstham was kind of out of the question as Jon and I had things to do back home. In the end we decided to visit mum and dad in Carshalton for some Shredded Wheat and a cup of tea – you can't beat a free breakfast, especially one prepared by mum.

Jon and I then cycled around the Poets Estate (where all the houses are named after poets: Milton Avenue, Browning Avenue, Coleridge Avenue) and then went our separate ways. I found an interesting short cut to the top of Wallington.

Sunday saw Andy and I head out to a resting point in Woldingham, not a million miles from Botley Hill Farm. We were originally going to the Tatsfield Bus Stop but decided to cut it short and stop where we stopped – there was a bench there and some amazing views as we were high up and overlooking the M25 – pity they were partly obscured by a barbed wire fence, but then there is a sheer drop of a few hundred feet just a few yards from the fence.

Andy and I both have new iPhones so we chatted about them more than anything else and then headed home. The pic of Andy above was taken on my iphone.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

News just in!!!!

Photo credit: Jill Torrance, Arizona Daily Star.

We're on our bikes for what? A couple hours? Something like that, but hey! Check out the Kona 24-hour mountain bike race! Click here!

Jon's slow puncture

Jon pumping up his slow puncture outside the Hunger's End Café in Merstham on Saturday 6 March 2010. He needs to fix it properly before it becomes a fast puncture.

6 & 7 March 2010 – to Merstham for breakfast!

Andy's bun – but as you know, precious grams mean nothing to us and what's a sticky bun among friends?

I think the phrase 'variety is the spice of life' is key in cycling, and now that we have a new default cycle route (to Merstham in Surrey) we've kind of moved on from Woodmansterne Green, which is now there as a quick route should we not have time for anything else. Having said that, of course, if we keep going to Merstham for breakfast at the Hunger's End cafe, then it's soon going to become boring and we'll start yearning for new destinations. The key, then, is variety.

Okay, on to this weekend. Saturday was a full house: Andy, Jon and yours truly; and we all headed off for Merstham and Hunger's End where Andy had a cream bun, I had scrambled eggs on toast and Jon had a smaller version of the Full English he had last week. We all had mugs of tea and I had two and then headed back home – Andy along the A23 and Jon and I through the quiet lanes that weave their way under the M25 and back towards Chipstead and Banstead.

The Merstham run is good because it's fairly long. All told, the trip covers 30 miles or thereabouts, so it's equivalent in work-out terms to our Chevening Lake route. Merstham is okay; a little eccentric, what with the shaving man, who is there EVERY Saturday. Apparently he likes watching Merstham FC, the local team. The women who run the caff all smoke, which is not good, but they're a friendly bunch and they can rustle up a decent breakfast. That, of course, is the great thing about cycling to Merstham. It's a long way and there's a nasty hill (from the bottom to the top of Hazlewood Lane) but that makes the notion of a big breakfast even more exciting. The problem is getting back off our arses, on the bikes and home again. To be honest, I could sit there all day drinking tea, watching the shaving man and chewing the fat with Andy and Jon. Still, you can't everything.

I was out late on Saturday night and didn't turn in until 1am in the morning so the prospect of a Sunday cycle was not good. Having said that, I did wake up around 0630 and wasn't feeling that tired, but I stuck with my abort message sent to Andy very early on Sunday morning. He didn't go cycling, but Jon called me from Woodmansterne Green. I felt a little envious as I stood in the conservatory chatting on the mobile as the sun shone brightly outside. And here I am now, Sunday morning, just gone 1030, the sun is shining and I'm still in my dressing gown, wishing I'd gone out in the fresh air. My only consolation? That Andy was still in bed when I called him, about 30 minutes ago, to see if he'd gone out.

Now I feel tainted by not having gone out, but that's the way of the world and I shouldn't beat myself up over it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Retro Kona website – worth a peek!

Check out this amazing site all about retro Kona bikes. There's old catalogues, all sorts. Yes, I know it's a bit 'anoraky' but who cares? Click here!!!