Midweek Riders’ Christmas Lunch

I got to Greyfriars a bit early, so wasn’t surprised, given the weather forecast, to find no-one there. No-one, that is, other than this slightly spooky line of seagulls all patiently watching the river for signs of food – very Hitchcock! Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long and joined the mad scramble with ducks, geese and swans when somebody dropped bread from the bridge. Bill arrived soon after, but didn’t seem to be in riding gear, so I persuaded him to be brave and use my smart phone to take a picture of the riding diners.

Joining me to brave the wind and showers were Bryan, Ray, Chris and David, and we would later be passed, at some speed, by Peter Crofts. We set off up the Longden road, and via Annscroft, Shorthill, Hinton, Stoney Stretton and Rowton to Tony’s Diner at Wattlesborough Heath for welcome elevenses – luckily just before it tipped down with rain because I had to fix my first puncture of the year. It was a short hop past Windmill Farm and Prince’s Oak to The Old Hand and Diamond Inn at Coedway, though we rode our bikes instead!

There we found the rest of our party of about 40 diners in what looked like a very pleasant bar and dining room. For lunch, we were seated at one large and two smaller tables in an L-shape, and the excellent waiting staff soon had our starters on the table. The main course was at a carvery – help yourself and go back for seconds, what more could a cyclist ask for! After dessert and coffee (all for a bargain price of £12.95), Anita thanked Richard for organising the meal, and Richard thanked Roger for his excellent suggestion of the venue, and passed on the proceeds of a collection to the staff. Brian then had the enviable task of awarding the trophies, skilfully manufactured by Ron.

The first was the wooden spoon, awarded to Malcolm as Stirrer of the Year for his contribution at the AGM. The second was the Halfwheel Trophy (looked more like a third to me) which Brian passed over to Malcolm to award, by universal acclamation, to … Brian! (but only because Keith was absent). He also presented Bill with a WI calendar (you know what they say about still waters) for being our back-marker on most midweek rides. I then had to make my excuses (getting dark soon, going to the pictures at 5.30pm, etc) and leave. David accompanied me back through Ford and Bicton Heath, while Bryan and Chris decided that the lanes through Melverley and Shrawardine were preferable. I managed the ride without too much discomfort, despite my rather full stomach – but it did remind me that I prefer not to eat too much at lunchtime when I’m out on the bike. Here’s to next year – and I’d like to close by wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. p.s. I got to the pictures in time…

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