Another warm day in this glorious summer, they say it's the best since 1976 and I'm not about to contradict. Too warm to enjoy a lengthy walk but ideal for a short bike ride, as long as you can go gently enough so as not to overheat but just fast enough to produce a cooling breeze.
I tootled off through the village to see what sights the Cambridgeshire landscape might serve up on this fine July morning. I turned down Malton Lane, not one of England's major highways and rather bumpy in a car, but pleasant enough for a bike ride.
Almost everyone who passes this way (and there aren't very many of them, it's true) exclaims that they would like to live in Malton Farmhouse. It might prove to be a bit isolated for some tastes as the village of Malton disappeared as long ago as 1428, though you could apparently still see the remains of its church until the 1930s.
Most of the land around here is in full agricultural production though there are occasional scruffy bits where wildflowers and weeds flourish.
Malton Lane leads at length to the village of Orwell, where a road leading off to the right will take you to Barrington.
Leaving the village I came across what appeared to be The Lone Ranger's horse (!) though I think the mask is just to prevent flies getting in the eyes. As you can see in the background, harvest here is well underway with some straw already baled up.
When out on my bike, hunting for photos, I always pull off into any field gates that are open. Often you get better views than when the hedgerows are in the way. Besides photos I always collect a lot of sharp grass seeds in my socks.
I don't know if it's because harvest is earlier than usual, or because it's been uncharacteristically dry, but so far we haven't been bothered by what we know as "thunderflies". These tiny, almost invisible, little beings do not bite but are equipped with what must be microscopic claws with which the crawl about on your skin and in your hair. Their presence is one of the more irritating aspects of harvest time. "What wuz the Good Lord thinkin' about when he made them little buggers?" would be a question asked every summer on the farm.
Into Barrington where the huge village green is a lot less green than usual, but the bench, with it's view of the old farmhouse and the cricket pavilion, looks particularly inviting.
While sitting supping on my water bottle the local bus went past. The service is run by Whippet Coaches, which were named long ago with a humorous nod to the USA's more famous Greyhound Buses. I see that they now have some smaller vehicles appropriately called "Puppies".
I promised myself I wouldn't photograph any picturesque, thatched cottages on this visit to Barrington - once again I failed miserably!
At Barrington church I turned right towards Foxton.
The skies were beginning to look interesting as I cycled onward. I'd been hoping to see some harvest work taking place but it was not to be. Modern machinery is into and out of the field so quickly that you're lucky if you see it.
Near Foxton the main railway from Cambridge to London crosses what used to be the main road (A10) to the capital. The "signal box" is actually a level-crossing box from which the gates used to be opened and closed, though now everything is automated. The crossing's recently had a number of safety features added in an attempt to prevent accidents. There's also talk of a bridge being built to carry the road over the line.
I biked alongside the A10, which is still a busy road, using the cycle-way. This used to be a rather rough, bumpy track but is now as smooth as the road itself. And still you see occasional idiots who'd rather ride in amongst the traffic!
I turned off into Shepreth where there's another cottage that everyone says they'd like to live in; though in this case they haven't realised that every car that goes past at night shines its lights straight into the windows.
There are still a few fields of wheat waiting to be harvested. And back in Meldreth I saw this window surrounded by flowers. Now I'd like to live there...
and, as luck would have it, I do. That's my kitchen window and inside the fridge there's a bottle of apple juice and a nice salad awaiting my return.