Sunday, 23 October 2011

Chevening Church

In the churchyard at Chevening enjoying the long shadows and the tea.
I never thought - and nor did Andy - that we'd be cycling along early on a Sunday morning discussing the X Factor... but we were! And the worst thing of all? We weren't discussing it ironically!

"I think Frankie Coccoza is definitely walking."
"Yeah, he was rubbish, even Gary Barlow admitted it."
"But they were having a right go at Misha B, weren't they?"
"Yeah, but I think that Kitty's mad, don't you?"
"Yeah. The gay bloke was good, though."
"Yeah. Don't think much of the bands."

And that little diversion took us half way up the B269 towards Botley Hill. We were on a long ride today and had met at the Green at 7am, not the usual 7.30am. This was not good for the soul. Why? Because normally, we get up at 6am, hang around the house for an hour drinking tea and checking emails and then leave, having at least woken up a bit. Meeting at 7am, however, means getting up, getting dressed immediately, trotting downstairs and making the tea and then zooming off on the bike. Admittedly, I had time to upload the blog post before this one (having written it the day before) but that was it - and it was pitch black outside, which meant riding on the path to the green as I only had a front light.

The long shadows of an early October morning caught in this shot by Andy.
We were headed for the lakes, the Longford Lakes at Chipstead in Kent - a good 32-mile round trip, but we didn't want to get home around 11am (it causes friction) so we left earlier.

"Talking about the X Factor means we're bona fide couch potatoes. You realise that, don't you?"
"Yes, I know; that and Strictly Come Dancing on the other side."

The two programmes are chalk and cheese - Waitrose and Tesco - but what to do on a Saturday night? And even that, of course, is a sad admission as there's plenty to do. Play a game! Read a book! But no, it's  Strictly and then X Factor.

"I can't stand Frankie Coccoza."
"Coccoza by name..."
"Yeah, right..."

And by now we'd reached the Hill and were hurtling down Clark's Lane and past the legendary Tatsfield Bus Stop.

On Saturday, the 'old geezer' with the Dawes Galaxy told us about a time trials on White Lane (a road that links Titsey Hill with Clarks Lane). Apparently, there's an organised event that involves cyclists seeing how fast they can cycle up from the Titsey end of White Lane to the finish on Clarks Lane. The event attracts a big crowd. Now this had fired us a little and we resolved that the next time we headed towards the bus stop, we'd go down Titsey Hill, hang a left into White Lane and then across to Clarks Lane before breaking open the tea and cereal bars.

Chevening Church is covered in scaffolding and surrounded 
by corrugated iron, so we took this shot before heading home.
Right now, we were in Pilgrims Lane, arguably the best road ever for cycling. The last time we were here was April when we all had a little too much Harvey's commemorative Royal Wedding ale, the name of which escapes me. Andy rode into a hedge on the way back and now, at the very same spot and having taken my eye off the ball, so to speak, I almost did the very same thing, but instead cut Andy up before regaining control and heading down the last stretch towards Sundridge Lane.

We decided to go to Chevening Church instead of Longford Lake and it proved to be a good decision. Chevening House is the official country retreat of both Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, and the foreign secretary, William Hague, but, as we unpacked our rucksacks and made ourselves comfortable in the churchyard at just gone 0830hrs, we couldn't for the life of us remember Hague's first name.

"Andrew, Brian, Christopher, David, Eric, Fred, Graham..."

I went through the alphabet, quietly to myself.

"....Peter, Robert, Stephen, Ulysses, William!"
Andy measures the ride from Caterham and back, which is 28.53 miles,
but I know that the same route from Sanderstead and back is roughly 32

"William. It's William Hague," I said, as Andy fiddled around with his camera and I sipped my tea.

We had visions of Hague and Clegg, lounging in novelty socks and polka dot boxers on opposing sofas, watching the X Factor amidst the baronial splendour of Chevening House and then extinguished the image by concentrating on getting the right shot for the blog.

As Andy pointed out, we hadn't included Chevening Church in our list of destinations – something that would have to be rectified. After 30 minutes of taking photos, munching cereal bars and drinking tea, we prepared for the gruelling journey home - 16 miles or so of climbing. Well, actually, it's 16 miles in total, but I reckon a good half of it is uphill. I managed to reach home at 10.30am so leaving early proved to be the right decision.

All pix taken by Andy Smith.


  1. the x factor??? yoiu sick puppies.... ( guess what I was wathcing here in aus??) lol!!

  2. Whatever you're watching, is it as tacky as the X Factor?