Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year Pilgrimage

A cup of tea and a slice of Auntie Babs' Christmas fruit cake was a welcome treat for Al as he arrived in Fareham: With snow forecast we wrapped up warm before fettling the bikes in John's garage - it was heavily overcast with a bitter easterly wind which made it feel colder than the 2ยบC registering on the thermometer. We had decided on a departure from our regular rural activities in favour of an urban Solent-side adventure.

We set off from John's down the main road towards Gosport, whizzing past the queues of stationary rush-hour traffic. As we neared the sea John led us through the rat-run of alleys, bridges, bike lanes and housing estates which eventually led to the Gosport ferry terminal. We stopped to admire the view across to Portsmouth with the spinnaker tower all lit up before carrying on past Haslar hospital towards Gulkicker point; a quick cut through the golf course and we joined the seafront promenade at Stokes Bay.

John and Al take a breather
on Gosport Seafront

Ignoring the 'NO CYCLING' signs painted on the tarmac, but carefully looking out for un-illuminated dog walkers, we made rapid progress beside the Solent with the wind directly behind us. With the wind on our backs the conditions did not seem so bleak and before too long we were in Lee-on-Solent with it's neon lights, chip shops and curry houses. We were distracted by the smell of food and discussed the future possibility of a TCA curry night using a similar route. However, having passed the hovercraft depot, the lights disappeared and it was onto the darkened sea-front promenade once more towards Hill Head and our first pint.

The Osborne View is a firm TCA favorite (although we were later surprised to note that it's patronisation has not been documented since the inception of the blog, Ed. ) - it's an excellent place to break a walk or ride, or to enjoy a hearty meal. On a clear day it also affords spectacular views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight from the windows on it's numerous floors, and it's large pub garden which has direct access to the beach. It is a Hall and Woodhouse pub and consequently has a fine selection of Badger Beers - we both plumped for their seasonal Pickled Partridge winter ale. Al noted that 'the Ozzy' had undergone a significant refurbishment since his last visit but was pleased with how tastefully this had been undertaken.

Having left the pub guiding duties were passed to Al, since John had reached the geographical boundaries of his experience. In his capacity as guide and more senior Associate Al felt that the tenacity, dedication and enthusiasm with which John has embraced the TCA ethos over the last months, justified reward with the Return to Titchfield Ceremony. As we crossed the boundary to the spiritual home of the TCA (a place so sacred some dare not utter it's name) the brief ceremony was conducted, a few solemn words were spoken and photographs of the occasion taken for posterity.

John enters the hallowed shire
under cover of darkness

As TCA lore dictates we headed straight for the Queen's Head, where the Association was borne. Although the pub seems to have changed hands since the Founding Fathers last frequented it's cozy bar little seemed out of place. Thankfully there were still a fine selection of beers available which this time split the contingent; John opted for a pint of Good King Censlas from the Hampshire Brewery, while Al preferred a Swift One from Droxford's Bowman Ales - which seemed an entirely appropriate brew with which to toast absent members. To John's almost total ambivalence Al then provided a monologue on the brief history of this local microbrewery run by the former brewers of the defunct Cheriton Brewhouse.

Climbing out of the village towards Fareham the con was once again passed to John as we followed a suburban route back towards his place on the eastern side of town to complete the 20-mile circuit. Once home and hosed we enjoyed a delicious, healthy and nutritious version of spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread and cups of tea while watching the Hairy Bikers knock up regional dishes from the northeast of England.

Route Map (click to enlarge):

Elevation Profile*:
*Note that the maximum altitude is only 100ft above sea level :
this exaggerates the appearance of the ascents/descents from around the 13 mile point
at Hill Head, Titchfield village and the climb to Ravilles Lane

(Posted by: Al)

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At 8:10 am, January 05, 2008, Anonymous maalie said...

Nice picture of Gosport. This is my first comment made with my palmtop!

At 9:14 am, January 05, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

The Spinaker looks quite impressive at night. Ahh, the Ozzy. Queens and the infamous Ranvilles Lane climb - a TCA heritage tour by the sounds of it. Glad to hear the Ozzy has had a tasteful facelift.

Would be interested to hear on the performance of the full sus Scott.


At 9:16 am, January 05, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

P.S. love the night photo of the spiritual homeland - fantastic. We should get the key to the Shire soon.

At 8:45 pm, January 05, 2008, Blogger simon said...

i agree

At 3:01 am, January 06, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

That spire building is cool looking.

At 8:59 am, January 06, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

Happy New Year all!

BB - John has only been out once on his new bike - he used is old bike for this one. When we went out last week he was pretty muted about his new bike, but these things take time to get used to I guess. He did complain A LOT about the seat post slipping as they alway grease these in the bike shops. My pet hate too but I afforded a smug smile from the saddle of my old technology bike as he stopped every few miles to readjust!

Chris - The Spinnaker Tower was a millenium project for the city of Portsmouth. It has a number of viewing platforms and even has a glass floor to walk on! Many locals see it as a white elephant as it was inevitably blighted by construction problems and the final cost was much more than the original estimate - ald STILL the viewing lift (that's elevator to you!) on the outside doesn't work properly. However, it does cheer up the otherwise pretty bland skyscape around the harbour.


At 10:12 am, January 08, 2008, Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Happy New Year!! Love that dark picture of Titchfield. Brilliant.



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