Team Efog cycling on a dreary day - 31st Oct 2010

Despite the weather not looking very promising five hardy souls (Duncan, Ann, Jill, Ralph and myself Val) turned out for Ann’s cycle ride starting from the car park of The Garden Centre near the M11 roundabout in Harlow.

Although there was a light drizzle in the air the first few hours we spent pleasantly cycling along the pretty autumnal lanes in the local area, taking in various Matchings and Lavers towards Hatfield Forest where we planned to have our lunch break by the lake.

Lunch achieved sitting under the trees to keep out of the rain a bit we started our journey back promising ourselves a nice hot cup of tea back at the garden centre where we had parked the cars.

Not too long had passed when Jill and Ralph disappeared from the back of the group – a bit of back tracking finds Ralph repairing a puncture to Jill’s bike. Job done and we think on our way again. Not 5 minutes had passed when they disappeared again – more back tracking finds Ralph repairing a second puncture to Jill’s bike, this time it needs a new inner tube and tyre which Ann and Duncan just happen to have along with everything else in their bottomless panniers, so off we go again.

By this time with the clocks having gone back an hour overnight daylight begins to wane a little earlier and we are thinking we need to get our acts together and do some serious pedalling. Very little distance had been achieved when my bike went on strike and succumbed to yes you guessed it, a puncture. Now I am thinking smugly that I do not have a problem because my off road bike has these thick tyres filled with the dreaded ‘green slime’ which self repairs as the air rushes out – the thing being  I did not fill my panniers as Ann & Duncan do and I did not have a pump with me – Ralph came up trumps with a very small pump that managed somehow to get a little air in the tyre but doing so nearly gave Duncan heart failure with the effort required to achieve it. At a crossroads trying to read the map in fast diminishing light we set off again and somehow Jill and Ralph end up in an unceremonious heap in the road and Jill has hurt her knees, don’t ask how it happened, it just did.

Now we know we are definitely not going to get that hot cup of tea but are also in danger of not getting back to the garden centre in time before they lock our cars in their car park at 4.30 and go home for the night. I am struggling at the rear with a half inflated tyre on an off-road bike which seems to weigh a ton so we send Duncan and Ralph off at pace to at least get the cars out of the car park so we can get home. Jill, Ann and me then carried on at my reduced pace comforted by the thought that we would actually be able to get home.

We arrived at the garden centre at 4.25 just in the nick of time and found Duncan & Ralph anxiously waiting for us. I felt that I had run and carried my bike this last 5 miles and was a little worse for wear as was Jill with her rapidly stiffening knees. But team Efog rules supreme, we had beaten everything in the course of the day and there is another cycle ride on the programme in a few weeks and yes we will be going (and I will remember to take a pump).

Thanks Ann for a great days cycling – nearly 31 miles - we would still have been out there now if I had been reading that map.


Camping for all - Annual Pilgrimage 2010

Each year, somewhere around the middle of June, we descend on the campsite at Debden House near Loughton, for our traditional local camping weekend.

All are welcome, adults, children, cats dogs the lot.

The first few hours are spent in total chaos as we all try to pitch the tents and organise things in general for the mass BBQ to be held later that evening.

Around mid-day we are all so worn out that we have to tramp through Epping Forest to the nearest local watering hole for a bite to eat and some liquid refreshment. The round trip takes us some 3-4 hours. We have done this walk many times but never tire of the peace and beauty of the forest.

On return to the campsite we adults then return to our childhood and play Frisbee, rounders, or whatever the chosen game of the weekend is. Of course there is the occasional trip or crash in the process of the games but in general we all survive intact (even if a little exhausted).

Early evening finds us hungry from all our exertions so we set about the BBQ – this process can take the whole evening one way and another as we gather round eating and chatting and swapping tales of various past and present adventures at the club. This is all the more enjoyable when accompanied by a certain members homemade blackberry wine.

Slowly we drift off to our tents for a well-earned nights sleep under the stars.

Tomorrow is another day – Camp breakfast, another walk and then mid afternoon we pack up the tents and make for home which fortunately for most of us is not so far away as the campsite is quite local – One thing about the forest is that once surrounded by it you can in your mind be anywhere that you choose to be.


Camping / Cycling / Walking weekend in Suffolk 24th/25th July.

Keeping fingers crossed for good weather, we loaded cars with camping gear & bikes and set off for Sudbury. After several circuits of the Sudbury one way system we found our way out of the town to the camp site where we were signed in after the owner’s grappling with our confusing  mix of people, cars, bikes & tents and began to set up our small tent village. During this performance, Charlie (Val’s nephew) plus bike arrived courtesy of his parents.

Bikes sorted, the six cyclists set off leaving Steve, the only walker, to do his own thing. Down the road, first left and, surprise, surprise, a big hill!  This surmounted, we followed the back lanes to lunch stop at the famous old town of Lavenham. Leaving town we passed an army surplus store, an emporium ‘not to be missed’ by Charlie, so we wandered round observing the minutiae of warfare while Charlie was kitted out with a camouflage suit, courtesy of Auntie Val. Fortunately Parviz had an empty pannier to transport it all. Forward again through the beautiful Suffolk countryside, with undulating lanes and golden cornfields, via Preston St Mary and Monks Eleigh back to the campsite. Approx 31 miles. Showers, an excellent meal at the local pub (The Brook Inn) followed by a dodgy walk back in the dark and variously origami and a search in the grass for the bits of our gas lamp, which decided to self destruct, filled the evening.Morning, and what’s this? Drizzle? But it soon cleared into another beautiful day. Packing up camp, the cyclists set off again, this time into town to pick up the old railway track (and lose each other in the process). Eventually we and the track were united and we had an easy ride to Long Melford where we partook of the most expensive cup of tea ever! Those who read the menu first just had an ice-cream – cheaper!

Here the group split, with Ken, Val & Charlie taking a relaxing ride back to base while Duncan, Parviz & I carried on to Glemsford, which turned out to be on top of a big hill. At least we had a wonderful view from the churchyard where we had our lunch stop. Oh, well! it would be downhill on the way back we thought. Silly! Our route back via Foxearth and Temple End felt like it included most of the local hills, but eventually we arrived back at the campsite to load up bikes.

Excellent campsite (Willowmere), beautiful weather, good rides, what more could we want (except for better leg muscles!)


Camping Weekend at Debden House Campsite - 10th/11th July, 2010.

Our annual camping weekend at the Debden campsite on 10th/11th July was different this year, in as much as we weren’t all crammed in our tent drinking home made wine, whilst keeping out of the rain. Even so, it was still very enjoyable.

We set up the tents on a very crowded site. In fact to make one camper not feel too lonely, we completely surrounded her tent with our tents. As usual we walked to the Forest Gate pub, Epping, for lunch. It was very pleasant to stroll in the cool forest, but the full sun offset this at other times on the open horse rides.

When we returned to the site, the lone camper got her own back, or rather was on her own back, sun-bathing topless! Unfortunately she covered up before Paul was able to have words with her about her conduct.

At about six o’clock the barbecue was ready for the group to start incinerating their food, and because food was on the programme, the EFOG party was twice as large as during the day.  The food finished, it was games time - boule, and funny shaped ball caught only with difficulty.

The night’s sleep wasn’t the most peaceful I have encountered, as exuberant campers entertained each other with gay banter and screams of delight, accompanied by loud music of a thumperty, thump variety. Oh well!

Breakfast was very entertaining. You had a choice of four or eight cooked items. I ordered two breakfasts - a four item, and an eight item. There it was on the order slip - 4 x bacon, mushroom, tomato, and egg, and 8 x sausage etc.  When I was called to collect the meals I was confronted with four breakfasts of bacon, mushroom, tomato, and egg, and an argument between the man who wrote the order and the woman who served it up. Fortunately she hadn’t started serving up the eight plates of food. Gill had the same trouble when she ordered a double portion of bacon.

After the lack of a night's rest it was decided only to do a short walk as we were tired, and it was getting very hot again.


Peter G.

The 50th and Final Tanners Marathon - 4th July 2010

Members of EFOG met up at the Leatherhead Football Ground in Surrey before 9 a.m. on Sunday, 4th July, 2010, for the 50th and final Tanners Marathon. I can only write from the checkpoint perspective, but it was a really successful day. EFOG had quite a few members participating this year and I am pleased to say that the 4 who entered the 30 miles finished in under the allowed time (10 hours). Congratulations to Duncan, Sue C., Jim and Parviz for completing the 30 on such a hot day. Congratulations, too, to Ken, Chris and Fergus who finished the 20 mile course in under the 8 hours allowed, and to Ann who did the 10 miles on her own! Well, there were plenty of others in it, but she was the only one from our Group!

Peter, Fred and I were helping on checkpoints. Peter and I have helped on checkpoints for many years now, but we have never known it as crazy as this one. As it was the last Tanners, everyone came out of the woodwork to enter! We were first taken to help on checkpoint 1, which is always really busy as the groups of competitors have not had much time to spread out. We were helping with the drinks there and it was continuous making up squashes, filling up bottles with water for the competitors to fill their water bottles, and washing-up the plastic cups - Fred’s really good at that!

Once the main crowd had gone through checkpoint 1, Peter, Fred and I were taken to checkpoint 3 where we were to spend the next few happy hours! I was signing the cards with the times they came through, and had queues waiting for a great deal of the time. Peter and Fred were on the drinks, and could hardly cope. We were inundated! So much was drunk that we had to ‘phone for more water supplies - long before we actually ran out. Unfortunately it took some while for the water to be brought to us, and we did run out! Luckily the main stream of competitors had gone through by that time, and we got replenishments eventually. A lady was helping us for a short while, but other than that, we were on our own. Peter didn’t even have time to take photos! I grabbed the camera and kept it round my neck as I was determined to get some photos of our members going through. I stood up and just clicked in between signing cards, but I nearly missed Duncan! I was so busy when he came through that I didn’t even have time to look at people, and had signed his card not knowing it was him! Luckily I realized before he left the checkpoint, and managed to snap him. Amazingly, some of the photos have come out quite well - more by luck than judgement!

We were supposed to stay at the checkpoint until 3 p.m., but as there were still quite a few blank spaces on my sheet where I ticked off the competitors, we decided to stay a bit longer. We had another couple come through who had got lost. Then, just as we were packing up towards 4 p.m., 3 more turned up. They decided to retire as one had bad cramp, but with 3 of us and 2 dogs in our car (Katie and Eddie were with us, too), plus the equipment, we couldn’t take them back. We were miles from the Leatherhead Football Ground, where the marathon started and finished. We ’phoned for someone to pick them up, and hoped it wasn’t going to take as long as they took bringing us the water! We left them there but saw them later, so we knew they were still not sitting there!

It’s such a beautiful part of the country in the area of the marathon, but I am not sure the competitors had time to admire it - neither did we! There were beautiful views from near our checkpoint, which we only had time to see when we were packing up! The 30 miles course goes to Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel towards the end.

When we got back to the football ground, Ken, Chris and Fergus had already arrived after doing the 20. We patiently waited for the ones doing the 30. Duncan was the first in - in about 8 and-a-half hours, I think. Peter and I then decided to walk the dogs down a lane to meet the others. We stopped at a junction to wait, and Parviz came through first - from the wrong direction! He had got lost! Immediately after, Sue and Jim arrived - from the right direction! After 30 miles I wouldn’t have thought they could walk that fast! We had trouble keeping up with them for the final bit back to the finish! They all came in together in about 9 and-half hours. There’s a bar at the football ground, so a great deal of drink was consumed when everyone finished!

Everyone collected their certificates, and we said our goodbyes to the Tanners’ organizers. Sad it’s the last one, but it was a really good day. WELL DONE TO THE EFOG TEAM!  Tanners will be missed.