North London mooch about a bit
On 21st November a fine gaggle of our Branch left McDees and reconvened at North Weald Airfield. There we met other Branch members, predominantly Essex and Kent, and joined Roland in presenting a cheque to the Air Ambulance. Ten of us then partook of a Ride Out, this included Les and Mike from Kent and a chap from Essex on a fine CX500. The day was bracing but fairly dry and we went to Burnham on Crouch for food, by various routes, all going through the Burnham Bends. Unfortunately our favoured option, the Cabin Dairy, was full so we partook of chips at the place opposite. No salad available unfortunately! Most of us then took a lovely route around the sticking out bit of Essex we were in before a final stop on the Maldon sea front. The tide was in and it was very picturesque. Again our favoured place was full so we had light refreshments from a stall before heading home. It was nice to see some close bonding between two of the Team... Lovely!

North London Catch a Chill
Despite the very cold weather forecast we had decided to try for a Ride Out on 28th November, taking reassurance of the promise of some sun. Six of us met at Rose Cafe, Chelmsford, for a late brunch where we were not disheartened by a temperature of +1 degree on the way. We've never eaten at this cafe, a favourite of Essex, it was very good! Next I led the Team on a run through Braintree, Sudbury and Claire before a final lovely stop at Parrishes in Thaxted for coffee and scones. We stayed on main roads initially and the surfaces were okay, despite the fact that the temperature reached a max of only 4 degrees. Between cafes took us a good 2 hours and we were rather chilly on arrival at Thaxted. I was thoroughly castigated for going so far without a warm up. We then went home, most of us going via Dunmow and Ongar. It was a good day out, but yes, a bit too fresh! We were joined by Costas for his first Ride with us and he was great company.

North London Celebrate Christmas.
On Wednesday 1st December a lovely turnout of about 26 of our Branch met for our Christmas get together. We chose the Moorhen near Harlow where we had great food and company and a jolly good time all round. Thank you to Steve and Richard for organising. John was our esteemed photographer on the night. Thank you.

North London Brave the weather
On 5th December four of our Branch decided to brave the poor weather forecast and go for a shortish Ride. I met Richard, Robin and Chris (on his first Ride with us - welcome!) at McDees near Harlow. We went one stop up the M11 and then went via Saffron Walden, Steeple Bumstead (Tee Hee!..) and Clare before reaching Wally's Shed cafe. We have not been here for a while and the steak pie was its usual very high standard. We then drove through Sudbury and Sible Heddingham to Finchingfield. We had thought about stopping here but it was too soon after lunch, so we pressed on. It's the first time I have never seen any other bikes there! Home was via Dunmow. The forecasted weather was accurate but we all enjoyed the Ride and get together despite the rather inclement conditions. The route was nice and is a summer favourite.

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North London have a Jem of a day

Sunday 12th December turned out quite warm and dry, although the roads were soaking. A Ride could not be resisted. Eight of us met up and Richard took us on the A414 towards Maldon and up to Mersea Island where we had lunch at the very nice Blackwater Pearl. It's a little Jem of a place! After a nice lunch and chat we meandered back West towards Braintree where we started to split up, some of us using the good Dunmow to Ongar Road to get home. A fine day with great roads and company. Thanks to Richard, Keith for taking the picture and Bill for leading us home.

A North London Fairy Tale
Sunday 19th was wet and cold and the temperature never really went up all day. Four of us met at McDonalds full of tidings and joy and after a chat set off. The weather was cold and miserable, the route to Cafe 33 at Stradishall was mucky and awful. The food was dreadful and we all argued, telling Keith that his new Triumph, his pride and joy apparently, was a pile of junk. Even worse was the fact that non of us was on a Honda! We had a stop for afternoon tea at Finchingfield, what a dump that is! Keith forced cake and mince pies upon us to make us even fatter and more miserable. We then rode home via Dunmow and it was wonderful to get home, warm up and recover from the trauma of the day and the company.....
Well that is the Tale told! In reality it was a great day out! Great food, company and a nice route!
Merry Xmas!

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North London visit the sea. Twice!
The 9th January was a bit chilly, but dry, when five of our most resolute members met at McDonalds near Harlow. In jolly mood I led our Ride that took us along the A414 to Chelmsford and then Rettendon, South Woodham Ferrers and along to Burnham. We parked up to find the Cabin Dairy shut! From memory I remembered that we used to go to another place a short walk along the sea wall and went to the fine cafe illustrated which was very nice indeed! Same sort of food too. We then proceeded around the promontory via Southminster, Bradwell and St Lawrence to get to the Barge tea room at Maldon. This was full as the Captain was hosting a private party, so we had to sit outside and stay fresh. The roads and company were great. A surprisingly great day given the time of year..

North London visit Costa da Essex
On 16th January we started to meet at McDees Harlow for a trip to Sowfend led by Richard. We quickly had half a dozen bikers and by the time we left there were 13 of us, in mid January! Obviously I lack Richard’s charisma as my rides don’t get that many! We took a devious route there but traffic was quite busy and we’re glad to park up on the seafront. We ate outside ‘Ye Olde Chippy’ basking in the sun and enjoying the food and banter. Richard then took us on another devious route up to Braintree where we at last had some rural roads and bends. Tom Tom curvy route I suspect? After a final stop at McDees there we went home, some of us via the lovely bends through Dunmow and to Ongar. A lovely day where we felt that Spring was in the air.

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North London go Krazy
Sunday 23rd January was a fairly cold but dry day when seven of our most magnificent Riders met at Birchanger Services. Yul Brynner (Steve really) decided that we were up to the task of taking on some of the finest bendy roads in the area and a lovely route, Saffron Walden, Linton and Haverhill, took us up the fine A143 and to Krazy Horse in Bury St Eddies. Despite the damp and challenging conditions we made it for lunch here in good time and enjoyed the ambience of the occasion and nice food. Intelligent conversation was the order of the day… but we quickly ran out of that! Next we set off down the fine B1066 and through Clare to Finchingfield where we had nice afternoon tea and cake at the little cafe there. The one opposite the Pub and bigger expensive cafe! We split up slowly from here, some of us going on the fine route home via Dunmow and Ongar. A great day out!

North London go to Market
Sunday 30th January was a rather bracing day and two brave stalwarts of the Branch met up at Birchanger Services for a Ride. Richard and Dave P chose a pleasant windy route to St Neots where they lunched at the Market Cafe in the main square. Richard led them there and then Dave led an equally good ride homeward bound. The ride was done at pace on fairly good road surfaces. Good one

chaps!

North London play a duette
Sunday 6th February was predicted to be very wet until about midday so I tentatively arranged a Meet at High Noon at the renown Bikers Tea Hut at High Beech, Epping. The weather was looking good but only Richard turned up to join me! After a lovely breakfast baguette we set off and went to the very nice Daintees tea room in High Roding. The route was Abridge, Ongar, Kelvedon, Ingateston, Writtle, 1060 to Leaden Roding then up to the tea stop. We returned home via Ongar. A lovely short day with fairly dry roads and no rain. Quite windy and bendy too.

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North London have a cold six pac

Sunday 6th March was a rather cold, but dry, day and a mob of six of our finest decided on a Ride. From High Beech we took some nice country roads taking in the Hadhams, the A1368 and to Bury Lane farm shop through Melbourn. It’s always busy here be we have never failed to get a table and we had some good food and a nice chat. We then went down to Baldock and did the lovely bends to Buntingford before cutting across to Newport and going through Bishops Stortford before a final tea stop at Mayfields farm shop near Harlow. A very nice and fresh day.

North London poodle in the precipitation.
Sunday 13th March was forecast wet in the morning so we cunningly arranged a late Meet at Wings cafe at North Weald airfield. It was nice here, if busy and five of us set out with joy in our hearts and a spring in our suspension. We whooshed through Hatfield Heath, Takeley, Elsenham, Thaxted, Steeple Bumstead (titter titter!) and onto Finchingfield. The roads were great and, like the morning, the roads were dry. But then it rained. Proper like! Fortunately our tea stop was only about ten minutes away and we duly stopped to visit one of our finest chaps, Dave P, who was claiming to be injured. Guess what!, he was, you doubting Thomas’s. Maria made us a fine cup of tea and some cake and we had a lovely chat before setting off for home. No longer raining but very wet roads. A nice shortish day and Ride.

 

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North London mix with the locals.

We had a lovely day on Sunday 20th March and ventured on some great roads up into Suffolk. I ended up leading the fine route by Richard which was Bishops Stortford, Saffron Walnut, Linton, Newmarket, Brandon and then Browns. Six of us met Graham there and also lovely to see Mick and Colin who had come down from the backwaters of Norfolk. (Could be any of it). 

After a nice meal seven of us headed home but got a bit split up. Hey ho! It happens. A nice dry day. Great company…

Route home was principally Thetford, Bury Eddie and Sudbury. What fun we had!

North London Rise and Shine
On 27th March six us of us got up full of the joys of Spring and looking forward to the longer evenings. You could say we ‘sprung up’, but we don’t want to get confused with vegetables. I led John, Jim, Cliff, Robin and Richard on a lovely run up to Walkers at Barton Mills. We went via Dunmow, Finchingfield, Clare and Barrow. A fine and dry route. Walkers was surprisingly quiet and we sat in the weak sun and ate and chatted like old friends. Well certainly ‘old’.. ! We then went up the sublime A1101 through Fenland and left at B1101 to March and Chatteris, Huntingdon and Arrington on the 1198. The cafe there was no longer open. The Bounders! So we had a last coffee and chat at a petrol station. It was a great day with marvellous company. I do like the Fens too! 

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North London visit Pooh

The day was Sunday 3rd April. The weather was fresh and dry and we needed a change from our usual routes into Suffolk and beyond. Richard was the man who stepped up to the plate and after a meet at McDees five of us went sowf and crossed the Dartford Bridge. We came off the big roads and negotiated a fine route to Hastings via Tenterden. At Hastings we had fine fish and chips in Rock-a-Nore Road at the Mermaid. Lovely there. We got a bit lost next but some good roads, some tried twice!, took us to Hartfield. For me this was the highlight of the day as we had a fine afternoon tea with Pooh and his friends. It was a veritable pilgrimage of profound significance. Thank you Ron for treating us. In reflective mood we made our way home. You can find some nice roads in Kent after all I thought. A lovely day indeed.

North London form a Mob

The fine day was 10th April and the ever reliant Robin planned and led a great Ride taking in some great Essex and Suffolk roads. We managed to form a mob of nine riders and did our best to smile at others so as not to appear too intimidating. Apart from Steve J, of course, who looks mad at the best of times! I digress. We left McDees and back roads took us through Takeley, Dunmow and Sible Heddingham before our first stop at Sudbury. Here we had a morning break at TTT Motorcycle Village which we have never been to before. A great place for a stop and thoroughly recommended. More boundingly good roads took us through Stowmarket and across to Martlesham where we had lunch in the nice Douglas Bader Pub. I’m pleased to report that none of us got legless. Further fine roads took us towards Manningtree and we cut across to a last stop at McDees at Braintree. A most fine day indeed with a nice turnout. Thanks Robin and Richard for afternoon snack and coffee. 

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North London do the Double

Well we had a fine Easter weekend indeed! On Sunday 17th April our honourable chairperson (who looks nothing like a chair), led a nice Ride to one of our favourite lunch stops. This is the Lilley Arms near Luton. A great Ride with good roads and weather and it was lovely to meet Paul, Mark and Sue who we haven't seen a lot of in a while. After a pleasant leisurely lunch, where all but the fittest had pudding, we rode home via a fairly direct route. On the Monday I led four of us on three fine machines to the Southend Shakedown. There we met our friends on the Honda Stand and had nice fish and chips at Clarke's. It was busy getting there but I had a cunning plan and a nice route home took us on minor roads north of the A127 and through Battlesbridge and Rettendon, then Chelmsford and home. We found a lovely new tea stop on the way which was near Hullsbridge, I think it may have been at Hockley Market Garden Centre. A pleasant Easter with time for reflection on matters spiritual. 

North London Sausage Up

On Sunday 24th April on a dry and sunny morning Richard arranged a Ride leaving from our usual McDees. Eight Riders turned up and we extend a warm welcome to Patrick who joined us for the first time. A pleasant route took them up to Stevenage but it was a bit plagued by speedbumps, roundabouts and chicanes there. The route continued to be good then as they went to Super Sausage near Milton Keynes via Hitchen, Shefford, Ampthill and the lovely Woburn Park area. After sausage baps and without maps.. they went to Tapps. (Poetic or what)! Tapps is a lovely garden centre with tea room at Baldock. The Baldock Bends are a great ride but we're busy on this occasion. It was a great day and thanks to Richard for leading, Robin for lunch and Adrian for afternoon refreshments. The photo is Tapps.

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North London visit South West Wales

On the weekend of 29th April to 2nd May the Branch went away for three nights based in Carmarthen and staying in the very nice Royal Ivy Bush Hotel. There were eleven of us on eight fine machines and our route there and back was principally the A40 with a cut off to Gloucester and a Ride through the lovely Forest of Dean on the A4136 to Monmouth and then via Llandovery and Brecon. On the Saturday our route was mainly a touristy one with a pleasant ride encompassing Amroth, Saundersfoot, Tenby and through to St David’s for lunch. We then went to Cardigan and took a direct route back via Newcastle Emlyn. This was a lovely road where we had a stop at Cenarth Falls. On the Sunday it was more about the Riding, though it was a bit damp. We went back to Cardigan and up to Aberystwyth for a seafront stop. We then went to Rhyadar and past the edge of Elan Valley to the Two Hoots cafe at Devils Bridge, before a great route back through Lampeter. A great long weekend where we all enjoyed the food, riding and the company.

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North London Visit Lowestoft

On May 8th ten of our Crew left Birchanger Services with the Lighthouse cafe at Lowestoft in our sights for some nutritional support. Lovely weather and good country roads took us there. Elsenham to Thaxted to Haverhill to Bury Eddy is a superb route. We then stayed on the nice A143 to Beccles before a latish arrival at our destination. The food was great, more in the style of a brunch menu so I had to forego a green salad …. again! Our route home was south on the A12 before turning right onto the Tourist route A1120 at Yoxford, a lovely road that took us to Stowmarket. Not being satnav equipped I made a few faux pars next (cock ups.. to the bilingual) and it took us a bit long to get to Sudbury where we had coffee in the centre. Home was next. A great day with an eclectic range of bikes (big range), great company who were patient with me, plus a high mileage. What fun we have!

North London Scoot Aboot

On 15th May our Richard stepped up again and led a great Ride to the very fine Ambience cafe at Riverside, St Neots. If you have not been here then you should try it. I went there for the first time many years ago on a ride led by Roland of Essex. Afternoon stop was Tapps tearoom at Baldock where a bit of cake was indulged in. The weather was great until afternoon tea when the rain came and we had to take the Baldock bends with care. Someone turned up on a scooter! Sacrilege I say! It was Adrian on his Honda Forza 350 which proved very capable of keeping up and, though I hate to say it, looked quite stylish. Keith was on an old but very smart Honda CBF500, Richard on 'old ugly' which his very capable and favoured Honda Varadero. Simon was on his BMW... boo! hiss!  And I was on my fine new Triumph 660 Tiger Sport, a lovely machine that complements my Honda Crossrunner. (Not verbally I hasten to add, though I don't know what they say behind my back, 'here comes the fat boy perhaps'?). At the Ambience we met Mick who had come down from the rural wastes of Norfolk on his Pan, leaving his flock behind to chew the cud, or whatever the sheep and cows do on a Sunday. Another fine day passes....

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North London visit Benson

On 22nd May Keith kindly led a Ride leaving Hatfield Tesco’s which took us West through Hemel Hempstead and the Magic Roundabout to a nice cafe at Benson on the Thames. A similar route took us back and we stopped at a favourite cafe in Tring for afternoon coffee and cake. We had good weather but traffic was fairly busy and we were seven bikes and eight persons. We extend a warm welcome to Dan and his daughter Isabella who joined us for the first time. It was a very pleasant and sociable day and our routes took us through, not in any order, Princess Risborough, Chinoor, Kampala and Great Missenden. (One of those is a red herring, but which one heh?). Another great day out.

North London visit Walkers

May 29th turned out a bit colder than recently and slightly damp. Nevertheless our Branch made a bold decision to go out for a Ride, choosing a route to try and avoid all the Essex cycling Events going on down here which were causing lots of road closures. Eight of us on seven machines set off from Birchanger Services and took a nice country route to Walkers at Barton Mills. We went through Newport (not the Welsh one), Saffron Walnut, Linton and Newmarket to get there. It's a good place to eat is Walkers and we had some good grub and a nice chat. A superb route, which just happened to be chosen by me, took us homewards through Tuddenham, Barrow and Clare before a final stop at Finchingfield. After more sustenance, spiritual as well as food, we headed home via Dunmow and Ongar. A great day and surprisingly quiet as regards other bikers being about. Perhaps our organised and professional demeanour intimated them? Or perhaps not. 

North London have a Run In

On 5th June, while some of our branch were having a long weekend in Wales, a local Ride was also decided on. Keith met Robin, Paul, Dave and John at McDonalds near Harlow (we're a classy bunch) and led them on a great route through to TTT Motorcycle Village at Sudbury. This is a great place and they enjoyed a healthy fried brunch and looking at the old bikes there, dreaming of their long past yooth. A stop was also made on the way home for tea and cakes. The roads were washed and dry and facilitated a good day out and also Keith running in his new Honda NC750X, a bike he is very pleased with. Great to have some of our chaps on the Run who haven't been out that much recently. 

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North London Zip to Welshpool

Dave Taylor led a brilliant weekend June 2-5 and his report follows

North London toured mid Wales over the extended Jubilee weekend.  We left Hatfield taking the A41 to Bicester and then along the twisty B4030 to the A44 through to Worcester and beyond.  The A44 offers a great riding experience with lots of glorious bends, short straights, lovely scenery and a choice of inviting cafes.  If you find yourself on the A44, try the Art Yard Café on the junction of the B4030 and A44 at Enstone where bikes are made very welcome and the Bringsty Café at Bringsty near Bromyard which is located directly on the A44 and has lovely views across open countryside.  Both cafes offer home made food at very reasonable prices. 

We stayed in Welshpool at Severn Farm B&B where we were made very welcome by Alun and Joyce .  They have plenty of space and allow us to make us of their secure locked barn to store the bikes overnight.  Welshpool is quite a small place but has a few places to eat and half a dozen takeaway’s.  The best place to eat by a country mile is the Corn Store on Church Street.  Mid Wales offers a superb riding experience.  

On the Friday Richard led the Ride which took in Newtown, Builth Wells, Sennybridge, Llandovery. They were entertained by sheepdog training at a Pub stop and found themselves on a bit of a farm track to Newbridge on Wye. It was a fine and dry day with a great route.

Andrew led the Saturday on a superb route taking in Newtown, Llanidloes, Machynlleth, Aberystwyth, Devils Bridge and the Elan Valley. They went on a Zip Wire which was very exhilarating but not all participated! Some wonderful photos were taken.

A great weekend at one of our regular favourites.  Hope I can make next time!

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North London visit the seaside

On 12th June Keith lead a Ride that took a crew of five to Alderburgh for feesh and cheeps. Alderburgh is a lovely seaside resort with good routes to and from it. On the way they had made a coffee stop at the popular Cafe33 at Stradishall and there was also a later stop.  A lovely day with a great Ride.  

North London visit Meldreth Bike Show

On Wednesday 15th our Branch took a nice run up to the Meldreth Bike Show near Royston. This was the first time he had been held for three years and it was extremely well attended. Apparently there were about 2,000 bikes there. Quite a good show where some of us purchased pictures of ourselves riding in, mine being on a fridge magnet. Graham led a pleasant run up the A10 to get there on a nice warm evening. 

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