I used to call it 'the wonderful bit between Faversham and Whitstable'. When Simon Legg referred to it in one of his communications by its proper name 'Graveney Marshes' I got a little curious. Why is it there, how large is the area, why is it so compelling ... So I did some googling and rather than answer my questions, I got completely distracted by a war story.
A German bomber had crash landed on the marshes. September 1940 it was. The men of the 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles captured them and took them back for a pint in the pub they were staying at. Oh so British! This battle's 70th anniversary was recently commemorated. Do read the story. The link is at the end or here: Clicky
The pub was The Sportsman. So I had to look that one up of course and found it still in existence, now a Michelin starred establishment. We would have cycled past the building on every Whitstable ride, but I had never taken notice. The pull of breakfast at the Waterfront Cafe is usually too strong at that stage!
This view is the entry page to The Sportsman
Everything about 'The Sportsman' appealed to me, the history, the location, the food .... I had to go and visit. I rang them up a week before the FNRttC and found that unfortunately for me, they are so popular that they are booked up 6-8 weeks in advance. My heart sank, but I pleaded with them: "Its just me, me on my own, I'll sit anywhere, in a corner, at the bar, anywhere ... "
So this is how I came to have oysters again in Whitstable (ok, Seasalter), followed by pork belly and a chocolate mousse sorbet. The wine was good and the Pedro Ximenez Garvey a real treat!
When they found out that I had cycled from London I was treated as 'the special guest' of the day and got truly spoilt. It was wonderful! I had brought a light change of clothes to get me out of lycra, but they said there was no need, anything goes. I met the chef and admired the kitchen garden at the back. I'm certainly going back there, even if its only to sample the Shepherd Neame Late Red.
The journey back to London was dream like. Had a good snooze on the train. I got out of Victoria Station and with fresh energy decided to cycle home. It was like I was doing a 'Lucas Brunelle', speeding along, people could see my 'I'm coming and you're in my way' stare through the eyes in the back of their heads and parted as I got closer. I got home so quickly, my other half hadn't put the coffee on yet!
What about the FNRttC ride itself? Its not always about the ride is it. If I had done that ride on my own, I wouldn't have enjoyed it much. It rained, not too bad, but I did wonder how I ever survived LEL. And I was very tired, taking cat naps every time there was a regroup, and I wondered again how I ever survived LEL. I found it particularly tough this time. I admired the group and especially the newcomers for sticking with it in such good humour. The banter at Andy's and the Waterfront Cafe was fantastic. I got to know a few people a bit better and made some plans for next year which I'm very excited about.
A few more thoughts:
- Cycling by The Monument
- Stuart telling me about the Battle of Bannockburn
- CharlieB's individually wrapped carrot and marmalade cake was gorgeous
- Having a 'hot' bacon baguette at Andy's
- A gift from Aperitif which has added to my bottle top collection:
- Enjoying the post ride Cycle Chat banter, I had no idea so much had happened on that ride!
- Thanks a million to Simon and his helpers, and the riders, and the cafes
So that is it for this season. I can't make the last Brighton run and the audax season is finished also. What a great year it has been and what a grand finale I experienced last weekend! It moves me what cycling can do for you. But then I do believe that I am 'the Queen of the Tuesday Blues'!
The photos are on the slideshow till the next ride or here: Clicky
Rich P's photos are here: Clicky
Last battle of Britain at Graveney: Clicky