John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.




Wednesday 9th July

Route: Braintree to Ipswich
Miles: 47.40; Miles so far: 1,612
Weather: Wet all day


Further discussions about water engineering were had over breakfast in pursuit of an intermediate technological solution to the drainage problem! Thanks so much Michael and Claire for a really enjoyable stay and for the treats for the journey which lifted my spirits on what was to become a very wet day.


The instructions to get onto the Coggleshall Road were simple and straightforward. I sensed that this was going to one of those days when I had to reconcile myself to getting slowly soaked, and decided that the waterproof trousers where more an encumbrance than a help, and the gaiters might keep the top of my shoes dry but rain gets in through the SPD cleats from below. So I made do with my waterproof day glow yellow jacket and let everything else get wet.


It's in the rain that busy roads show their teeth, and so I was glad to leave the A120 at Coggleshall and ride through this attractive village then north along the A1024 to Earls Colne, and Bures. Here I looked for a cafe and stumbled across the Eight Bells pub instead, but was told that it wasn't open, though I could use their toilet. Before leaving, I asked Wendy if there was anywhere in the village that would serve coffee, and bless her, she said she would rustle one up for me. It appeared with complements of the house. Wendy was trying to persuade her other half to get on his bike, so I hope I have been able to offer a little inspiration! Thanks Wendy and Barbara for looking after a dripping cyclist.



In good weather these back lanes would be idyllic for cycling. At Dorking Tye, I came across a beautiful cottage which was in the final stages of having its thatch replaced. I stopped to speak with Rich and Chris the two thatchers, and to admire their craftsmanship. This roof was being made from straw harvested from fields in nearby Ongar, with Hazelwood pegs acting like giant hair grips to keep the straw in place. It had taken Chris 7 years training to get to this stage. I hope these amazing skills don't disappear. Thanks for taking a break to chat, Rich, and for any support you can give to the appeal.


Again I found myself cycling between acres of shoulder high wheat fields as if I was a beetle crawling along a groove in a thick pile carpet. As with the waterlogged lanes near Wem, the grit was starting to get into the brakes and at one point I detected the back wheel rubbing out of balance. So I decided to visit Hadleigh before continuing my journey. Here I phoned Jon and Gill Durant who are such an important part of the L'Arche Ipswich story which all started in Hadleigh in the early 90s. I discovered that their house lay in the very cycle route I was due to take. So felt I couldn't pass by without dropping in. With no sign of any bike shop in Hadleigh itself, I headed up the hill and soon found the Durant's house, appropriately named Wheatfields.


At Jon's suggestion I rang Moon's Cycles in Ipswich to book the bike in for a rear wheel repair on Friday. I don't normally drink alcohol at lunchtime, but the offer of an Adnam's bitter was too good to decline. Thanks Gill and Jon for a wonderful impromptu lunch which really hit the spot. It also took me back to a meeting John Renn and I had in your sitting room at the start of discussions which were eventually to lead to the founding of the L'Arche Ipswich.



I had arranged to meet John Butt, father of core member Martin, and House Assistant Andrew at 2.45 pm outside Bramford, so after a quick good-bye it was back into the rain and along the quiet lanes which now form one of Suffolk's cycle routes. The rendezvous achieved, we then rode together into Ipswich. It was great to be guided by others through an unfamiliar town.


As we turned into The Cornerstone, the L'Arche Ipswich House in Warrington Road, David and Anne Marie were waiting with bottles of Bucks Fizz shaken (but thankfully reluctant to explode) for the welcoming. It was great to arrive after such a miserable day, and lovely to see everyone again.


I was due to make a 24 hour return trip home so after a hot bath was whisked to Ipswich station to catch the 5.50 train to Peterborough, arriving back home around 10.35.

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