A splendid first ride of the year for CTC Northampton. Five of us met at the Brampton Valley Way in damp but mild conditions for a ride led by Bill. Having wished each other a Happy New Year, we went at a brisk but comfortable past north on the A5199 to Creaton and then onto country lanes through Naseby and Clipston before joining the A508 just south of Great Oxendon. We soon entered the Waterloo Farm café and met up with Max and our friends from CTC Kettering.
After refreshment – bacon sandwiches went down a treat – there were only five more miles to Sibbertoft where an excellent welcome awaited us not only from our CTC Leicestershire friends but also from the ladies of the parish church committee! This was the annual New Year’s Lunch in the Sibbertoft Village Reading Room.
This room was erected before the First World War by the local lady of the manor, Elizabeth Mansel of Sulby, in memory of her brothers who were officers in the HIghland Light Infantry and the Durham Light Infantry. (Sulby Hall was demolished over sixty years ago but the name lives on for students of the English Civil War – the parliamentary dragoons hid behind Sulby Hedges at the start of the Battle of Naseby in 1644 to emerge at a crucial point in the battle.)
Today her reading room was set out with tables for fifty cyclists to be served lunch by the ladies who are responsible for Sunday afternoon teas in the summer. Brilliant: shepherd’s pie, apple crumble and tea/coffee. And seconds, too!
After a lovely lunch, it was a pleasure to cycle home. Bill led us via Naseby and Cottesbrooke to Brixwoth (and the A508 south to Northampton) but by different lanes so that we completed a figure of eight. Route here.
And there was a final treat of the day. At an extensive hedge being layered at the edge of the Cottesbrooke estate we stopped and John gave us an extempore lecture on the craft of hedge layering. The hedge we studied was typical of the “South Midlands style” and was clearly “bullock-proof”. We could easily see its advantages over an adjacent hedge which had merely been strimmed.
Big thanks to Bill for sorting out our route, to Max for reminding us about the event, to the Leicestershire committee for the organisation, and to the Sibbertoft parish ladies for their hospitality! Splendid!!