|The river Cam|
|Tour de France sign|
We consulted the map and decided that Haverhill looked sizeable enough to meet our needs - and not too far away. This was to be our first disappointment on this trip. A market town but with the market long since moved on, this shabby, tired outpost demonstrates so much that is depressing about Britain today. Cheap, tacky shops, burgers and kebabs, amusement arcades, betting shops, charity shops, lager louts effing and blinding and piles of rubbish bags. We passed along the high street deciding that the first pub looked uninviting. The next one looked okay and we rolled our bikes into the small decking-clad courtyard. The tables were all taken by groups of young people, drinking and chatting - the pub was busy, people playing pool, horse racing on the TV. I ordered a couple of drinks and then asked what food they had. Unfortunately there was no food - just beer and crisps.
|Buckleys Tea Room|
We hit the road again and on a short climb up through another village, a strange noise began emanating from somewhere on my bike - Gary heard it too - we both stopped, I messed around with the bike, flipping it over and poking around at the chain and gears - whatever it was it seemed to have disappeared - we set off again, a windy, twisting road, up and down, sweeping through lanes darkened by overhanging trees, then back out into the heat of the open fields - I reached for my sunglasses... I didn't have them. I remembered taking them off when messing with the bike - I'd put them on the Church wall. These are Oakley Jawbones - I had to go back!
Six miles or so later I rejoined Gary and we pressed on. We approached a crossroads and spotted a cyclist moving quickly in the same direction as we were heading. He was on a mountain bike , but definitely no slouch. Gary decided to take chase. With hindsight this was a mistake - in fact with any sort of sight - it was clear this chap was shifting - we were moving at 20+mph and making no headway. We stepped on the gas, gradually reeling him in, 24, 25mph and still it was taking time. By the time we caught him I was totally spent - Gary chatted about he had taken some catching - I just tried to get my breath back. Then he invited us to go on. We blasted off again, me in front, pushing, pushing as hard as I could - 25, 26, 27mph, faster on the downhills - I glanced round hoping to have opened a gap - Gary was about 20 yards back and the mountain biker right behind him. I carried on a bit longer and we approached another village with a nasty looking hill - the mountain biker pulled level - he glanced over - "This is a bit of a tester" that was all he said and he was gone - dancing up the rise at more or less the same pace as he held on the flat. We gave in. It was a steep hill.
Next stop for us was East Bergholt. The name might not mean much - but I guarantee that you'd recognise the scene at Flatford Mill, hidden away in the village, the setting for John Constable's renowned painting, The Hay Wain. We pithered around the village looking for signs - none. We asked three or four people for directions, none of them seemed capable of giving us clear guidance, it seemed that Flatford Mill was East Bergholt's best kept secret.
The place is immediately recognisable as the scene from the painting and there were plenty of people milling round (no pun intended). We climbed back up to the village and stopped for a pint of beer before setting off on the final leg to Harwich - maybe 10-15 miles away.