On Friday Mike and I joined a large bunch of his colleagues in the Boathouse for Pete's leaving do. It's really quite a big pub, which is just as well as we took over a large part of it. Nice pub food though - we shared nachos with chilli etc, and chose from an impressive array of burgers. It was a nice evening, even though I was really tired, and I was surprised to realise it was already 10:30 when we were thinking of going.
Saturday was a fairly lazy day, apart from being woken by yelling so loud Mike couldn't bear to stay in bed. Geeking in the morning followed by some gardening in the afternoon. I'm getting to quite like the sort of gardening that involves sitting on the lawn in the sunshine pulling out weeds. There's a particularly invasive one which creeps and almost entirely kills off the grass, combined with a thick layer of moss, and there's a certain amount of skill in getting them out and still leaving the tiny tufts of grass behind. Still, I think we've reduced its stranglehold on the lawn by about a third now. It looks rather bare as a result but hopefully it will fill out again with time. In the evening I learned that Ian had come off his bike rather nastily, and could do with some company, and coincidentally that the 3 of us available happened to be bridge players, so after a nice dinner (courtesy Tesco Finest) with Mike I headed over to MR for the first time for a couple of hours of bridge, in which Ross and I came out ahead again, but once more had the lion's share of the luck. Ian really does look a state, but it's mostly just grazes and nasty bruising, and he didn't seem to be suffering from concussion, which was the worry. Hopefully he'll get better soon.
On Sunday we got up in reasonable time and decide to make the most of the lovely weather and indulge our cycling addiction a bit more. We took a fairly straight route to Newmarket along the old Newmarket Road, with a brisk tailwind behind us to speed us on our way. Following last week's revelations on the subject of getting up hills I tried powering up in a much higher gear than I usually would to very great effect, helped by the incentive of slowly gaining on the chap who'd overtaken us a couple of miles earlier. Didn't quite catch him up the first slope to the bridges over the A14/A11, but was very chuffed to power past him later on and leave him well behind, although not as red-faced as I was! I'd forgotten to reset the bike computer before we left, so while I could work out by subtracting distance that it was about 14 miles there I wasn't sure how long we'd taken. I can now see it's 1 hour 21 minutes, which was pretty impressive. (That's cycling time, not elapsed time, but then we didn't actually stop anywhere, so in this case they're the same).
In Newmarket we sat and caught our breath for a while then went for a wander. Admiring the training grounds for the races, and the vast numbers of shiny conkers. We took a look at the maps in WHSmith but decided we knew what route we were taking home, and didn't want to carry anything extra. Then we had a lovely lunch sitting outside a cafe by All Saints Church, which was covered in bunting for a flower festival. Definitely a "this is the life" moment. Still, we figured that given it was going to be a headwind on the way back we'd better head home. To head back we took the NCN51 back towards Cambridge to start with. We tried to follow this the opposite direction last time we went to Newmarket, but missed a turning somewhere and ended up on the main road instead. The route was easier to find in reverse though, and we found ourselves going down Duck Lane and turning round the corner to find a big pond full of merrily quacking ducks. We stopped to say hello even though we didn't have any bread to feed them, but eventually remembered the pack of jaffa cakes in Mike's panniers and sacrificed one to a good cause (and obvious scoffed a couple ourselves :-).
The next section from Exning to Burwell was quite hard work into the wind mostly, and noisy with both that and the A14. Then in Burwell we discovered there are several possible routes, and we kind of mixed and matched a bit. We stopped to look at the church, which has a cute little bell spire on top of the tower, and also to look at the castle. It's only earthworks but still impressive, and had unexpected re-enactors practising hitting each other with swords. After that the rest of the route was pretty straightforward. We figured we'd head through Lode and Quy to avoid coming back up the same bit of Newmarket Road we'd gone out on. And just for fun we struck off through Fen Ditton and Horningsea to Waterbeach, and back along the river. Total ride around 40.1 miles, in just about 4 hours cycling time, though we had a few more breaks on the way home. As usual there's a route map on Bikely. Our dinner of steak and eggs felt very well deserved.
Back to work on Monday as usual, but since it was exactly 6 months since we moved into our house we decided we needed to go out and celebrate. We spent our lunch break looking at menus online, and finally decided on the Riverside Restaurant at the University Centre. I had smoked duck, rabbit, and a vanilla and raspberry pannacotta style pudding. Mike had chicken and chorizo terrine, belly pork, and a chocolate cheesecake. It was strange eating in a room with only two other parties, but it was really nice, and the food was very good. In fact it was a really lovely evening all told, and a good way to mark how happy we are. Yay.