Late one Friday in June I found myself gazing at the slippery silver bottom of the river Ex, completely changed by the early evening sun, as my train rattled along its banks towards Exmouth. There was almost no distinction between the shimmer of the clouds and the glitter of the river bed. The appearance of the odd boat tipped on its side in the low tide was the only indicator of land versus nimbus.
This blog is ridiculously picture heavy – but it warrants it. These images I am sharing with you are now imprints in my mind, stored in the same compartment that one usually reserves hazy childhood memories of meadows, fresh air and running around. A mythical time before booze and work. Do also check this out.
The sun (and rain) and colours and smells, which unfortunately I cannot convey by the medium of this blog, still linger in my senses…
I had long known of Velo Vintage, the Devon based bicycle ride organised by Sebastian and Alistair Cope, father and son cycling enthusiasts. I had finally got my act together for this one.
It’s the antidote to the traffic and magnitude of London’s Tweed Run, but every bit as fun with the magical addition of being located in Devon.
I had the pleasure of staying with Lizzy Cope (Alistair’s mother) – a formidable hostess, gardener and all round lady you don’t mess with. I was fed, watered, and popped to bed. Water, Devon Magazine, slippers from a cherished trip to The Savoy and fresh grapes all in my room. No wonder her potted plants do so well. I was quite in awe of her. She is the lady in the fur coat with the lovely 50s tulip hair ‘do.
The following morning a gathering of well dressed families and riders began to appear from the side streets of Exmouth. It was really nice to see how many children were participating – what a great memory for them. I watched in awe as the lady from Devon Leather hand stitched a tool roll in age old method that makes the stitch stronger than most. Chapeau! were also in attendance. Both companies product excellent and unique cycling related gifts.
After the assembly of participants, exchanged moments of mutual admiration and some general preening, we set off. I was bestowed the honour of both leading the ride and being Mr Cope juniors’ ‘stocker’ on the back of ‘Hercules’ their 1930s tandem.
Through the small roads we passed thatched houses, fields and the sea. A well deserved break awaited us at the Swan Inn where large platters of pork pie wedges and healthy chunks of creamy cheddar were passed around.
The day then took us to the stunning National Trust property, A La Ronde (photos sadly lacking) and then back to Exmouth for a musical knees up and competition winners. As my best dressed ‘lady’ I selected the young Emmeline whose authentic 50s dress, hair net, period hair and accompanying sausage dog won me over.
The Guvernors’ Assembly provided much amusement though I shall say no more for fear that they may not share their copious amounts of ‘pop’ next time. It was a pleasure to spend time with them and they certainly ‘perked’ up the ride somewhat.
For £12.50 you got a cream tea, a pint of real ale, entertainment and the most magical (and well marshalled) cycle ride I have ever been on. Far too cheap me thinks me Messieurs Cope and Co. A lot of money was also raised via the raffle for local charities. Bravo!
I came home with a suitcase of Ringtons Tea and some new peppery chap related snack that was most pleasant to ingest. The next ride is on the 7th December and I can imagine the scenery will be just as magical in a different way at that time of year. What a fabulous crisp ride that shall be.
On a last note Mr Cope senior is due to set off on an incredible solo journey via a traditional Flaxland canoe and Pashley bicycle to raise money for 3 different charities. Three hundred miles of water, one hundred and eleven locks and three hundred and ninety miles of land! Please sponsor him here. Good luck Alistair and enjoy your adventure.