Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

To the Casbah - Lewes 23rd October 2011

T he beginning, in the Square, was quite ordinary. We assembled, in the sun, stood around and talked, and when there were no further reasons to postpone the cycling, we set off. Up Priory Road, of course. The familiar incline for a mile or so is always sufficient to overcome what remains of the torpor of the morning. On this occasion it also exposed to the warmth of the day and to the colours of the Forest. At the top, on the Forest, we had grown to ten colourful cyclists. It was the time and the opportunity for a photograph.

Along the top towards Sharpthorne, down Chilling Lane towards Horsted Keynes. Over on our right, on the adjacent ridge, was the spire of the church in .... . In between were the autumnal trees and the sheep. What a pleasure to be on a bike, in such country, in such company. We cycled along the familiar route towards North Chailey. An unexpected couple of turns though made it clear that the Leader was taking a more interesting route to Lewes, by way perhaps, mused one follower, of Birmingham. It emerged, just Balcombe and the pleasant back-roads from there to Hamsey, the level-crossing, and the short incline to the A22. In single file we followed the road to Lewes, where we crossed the Meridian line, to the pleasures of the Casbah.

Ten of us took our lunch in the Casbah cafe where we were ably and amiably accommodated by the woman who was running the cafe on her own. The re-arrangement of the tables and chairs, the taking of the individual orders, the greeting of new customers who would have to wait, the supply of the teas and coffees - all was ably and smilingly done.

We had time to admire the menu-banner which stretched above the counter. Lasagna was on the menu; so were different confections of chicken. And a cartoon of Ribena could be bought, so too could milk though in an unspecified quantity at an unlisted price. So we talked about language, about being able to discern exactly what was on offer (save for the milk). Mis-spellings? Yes, there were plenty of them. They caught the eye, and we talked about them. As well as coping with the customers as they arrived, the able and amiable woman had found a way to occupy the customers whilst she was busy over the stove.

We remained in the cafe for 90 minutes; the café has remained in our thoughts for much longer. We idled our way out of the town to the Uckfield road, to Isfield station, to the familiar route back to Newick, to Nutley. Ah, and then we cycled the road from Nutley to Chelwood Gate. We didn't stop though we should have done. On the left were the South Downs. On the right were the trees of the Forest, those glorious trees in their autumnal livery. There should be a compulsory stop so that everyone can see this free-to-view glory.

No, we continued to Forest Row, the end of the ride. What a fine, companionable ride. Yet some of us wanted more. We wanted to complete the 50 miles. So up Wall Hill, through the village and beyond to the Tunbridge Wells road. A turn towards East Grinstead. And completion.


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