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Feathers findings

6th October 2010

Inaugural Miggly Moos pushbike club tour of Religious, Cultural and Political sites of interest in our locale, hosted by the Draethen chapter of the club represented by said chapters only member (ahem), the Rt Hon. Rev J. Christ esq. with Rev. R. Enzo and Rev G. Scripston as religious advisors - Sermon as follows.

Several notable absences including poor old Clarkey who Crock pushed off a barrel and left stranded in a far-off land and to who we wish a speedy recovery.

What an honour it was to be able to lead the esteemed members of our group on such a jaunt and on such a delightfully balmy evening. For those of you who don't know, Machen is a village in the Rhymney Valley approx' six miles West of Newport and five miles east of Caerphilly, South Wales, approximately 5 miles away from the Cwmcarn mountain bike trails. Yes, it's true.

Machen was a village rooted in the iron and coal industries stretching from the 17th Century. More notably, Machen Miggly Moos Mountain Bike Club meet for organised rides every Wednesday evening(s) (sic), whatever the weather. Though little trace remains, the village was the site of the Machen Forge and several coal mines. Machen Forge was an early adopter of the Osmond process for the production of wrought iron.

Famous people from Machen include Ron Davies, often claimed as the "architect of Welsh devolution", honoured as a member of the Gorsedd, with the bardic name "Ron o Fachen" (Ron from Machen). Ron should primarily be remembered as an excellent secretary of state for Wales and in particular for his interview with BBC Wales in which he attacked Prince (spit) Charles as immoral, raved on about him talking to trees, and basically said he wasn't fit to be King. He should also be noted for his opposition to the local hunt, Ron that is, not Charlie, that b******d loves the f*****g hunt. As we all know, as an animal welfare issue, fox hunting comes in at about number 155. It probably ranks below the last of the great working class bloodsports, coarse fishing. It’s insignificant beside intensive pig farming, chicken keeping or even the rearing of pheasants for driven shoots. But as a class issue, it ranks behind private schooling (spit) at number two. By taking on the hunt, we are taking on those who ran the country for 800 years, and still run the countryside today. This class war began with the Norman conquest. It still needs to be fought. The lord Jesus supports such a fight. In addition to Ron, Alfred Edward Morgans (February 17, 1850–August 10, 1933), Premier of Western Australia for just 32 days in 1901, was born in Machen, never mind.

Before setting off from Machen we turned by the cenotaph into St John's church. I feel that this was a good opportunity to set the morose tone that was to continue throughout the evening. Some riders were understandably overwhelmed by this experience, especially Daf, who was seen to shed a tear, although that might have been at the inevitability of such a sh*t route for the evenings ride. Some heathen b******s were underwhelmed and took a short cut. For those of you who didn't join us, you will be pleased to note that the service at St John's takes place on a Sunday at 10 (usually a Eucharist) with music and singing. All are most welcome and refreshments are offered after the service.

Next we took the historic railway line that ran as a branch to Caerphilly on the Ponty' - Newport railway, until the stupid f***ers closed it to passengers in 1956. I might have that date wrong, but this essay has taken me far too much time already. Apparently the Queen (spit) took the royal (spit) train along here for some reason at some point also. C***. We traversed the line for some way with much consternation and berating of the ride leader, several riders falling off, including your correspondent.
We alighted by the old station in Lower Machen, (Welsh: Machen Isaf), this is a small hamlet of 19 houses on the A468. Harty had a puncture. At this point I believe Crock and David Breadarms worked out the entire plan of the ride pretty much perfectly, clever b*****s. Anyway, off we set to St Michael and All Angels' Church. It is believed that the church was founded during the Celtic period in the 6th century. The current building dates back to the 12th century. The Church has connections with the Morgan family (spit) of the nearby Tredegar House, and of course, Ruperra Castle. There are eleven hatchments connected with the family and the Morgan Family Chapel contains monuments to the family. The church has eight bells which are rung at festivals, weddings, and I believe on a Friday before the pub. When we were kids we nearly killed my mate when a huge gravestone 'fell' and crushed him breaking several bones.

All riders enthusiastically proceeded with great reverence and gusto through said churchyard.

From here we proceeded to the ancient track which connects the church with the famous Iron Bridge. The bridge and track were used by the Morgan family to connect Ruperra castle with the church and the bridge itself has just been restored off-site and replaced by CADW (partial spit). Looks loverly mind!. CADW's local unelected, freelance representative (me), gave us special dispensation to cross the bridge and the local freelance rights of way officer by self-ordination (me) gave us clearance on the footpath. We then proceeded to the Ruperra Motte (sniggers), or summer-house, after first loosing Beaker and the Captain, and rejoining with Budgie, who had stopped to relieve himself somewhere on the railway earlier and got lost in the bushes, probably looking for some trill. He is very good friends with Geoff Capes you know.

Ruperra Castle was built in 1626 by Sir Thomas Morgan (spit) , who was knighted by King James 1st (spit) . It was a typical Jacobean courtier’s house, an example of the ‘Great Rebuilding’ of the 16th and 17th Centuries. King Charles (spit) first stayed there in 1645 raising support after the Battle of Naseby. A deer park was recorded in 1684 when the Duke of Beaufort (spit) feasted there and there were viewing points through the trees and beautiful grassed rides up to the summer house where the family took tea at this time.

We didn't bother to take tea, but proceeded to go down the very muddy track to enter the mystical environs of the Socialist Republic of Draethen. As some of you might know, Draethen is a very special place and site of some important political uprisings. Of the village, distinguished Monmouthshire historian Fred Hando writes "Down the road and over the river is the still smaller hamlet of Draethen, made musical day and night by brook song. Here come the housemartins in April to nest in the many cottage gables. Here came John Wesley to stay at the Hollybush. Here pass the motorists, and the Moos, on the best route to Caerphilly mountain. And here stay the wise folk who love the woodlands and the flowers". Saynomore.

Unfortunatley the village has in recent times been crushed by the corporate upvc-wielding behemoth trying to turn it into a suburb of Lisvane (spit) and the simple, working people have been overshadowed by the gin palace dwelling, chattering classes and outside interests intent on destroying history, identity and community.

Never mind, God is watching….. or possibly moving to Machen.

Anyway, off we trotted back up a delightfully muddy track/ river. Your correspondent stopping with Griff to help Harty put his tyre back on. As they passed, nearly every member of the herd had a sarcastic remark to make about how sh*t the ride was so far. This was repeated when we went past the Maen' and up to the Church of St James the Great for the 3rd religious stop of the evening. St James the Great is a small church, with a relaxed and inclusive style of worship; the congregation meet in a small but beautiful and ancient building. It is a church where it is easy to make friends. Anyone (including children) is very welcome to come to any of their services. It is rumoured that such important historical characters such as Oliver Cromwell (whoop) and the esteemed Rev. Gordon Thornton have both taken refuge there at various times.

Once more we set-off to the Rudry's Ebenezer Independent chapel (Ebeneser) at Berllan-Gollen, which for many years served the community and has recently been sold to turn into an overpriced upvc (s)wank-pad.

By this time most of the herd were totally p*****d-off, especially when we rolled past the fine Rudry Inn, which is fast becoming a personal and Moos favourite due to the warm reception we always get there. The Rudry Village Inn, known locally as The Monte- short for Monte Carlo, because of the gambling that took place there. But what can I say, I had to stick to the theme, and of course get to the only pub I know that serves real cask ale this end of the patch! The herd charged on to the Church House pub, correctly guessed by Mr. Breadarms and Crock as the final destination. Jesus loves the Church House and the fact that they serve proper ales (did I mention that?). The Parrot provides also provides much amusement, having a similarly base reppetoir to most of the herd.

So here pretty much ends the tour, with a book-end in name only in the Church House. The real reason is of course because of the proud socialist history that is remembered by a visit to the pit-pub, and to the site of the famous Bedwas Navigation Colliery. I could write another full essay on this alone, but suffice to say that the proud history of some of our herd is indeed directly linked to the pit, (Red Russ), and a big part of our heritage is directly linked to this place. Bedwas Navigation Colliery was just one of what were hundreds of collieries comprising the South Wales Coal Mining Industry at its peak in the early 20th Century. The pit perhaps more than most collieries epitomised the rise and fall of the industry. Its construction was completed at the peak of the industry output in 1913 and was for its time a state-of-the-art feat of civil engineering. Its workforce, largely comprised of immigrants who gradually became local people, played its part in some of the bitter industrial struggles which not only defined the industry itself, but which also left behind it the distinct culture which is South Wales today. Enough said.

A few pints of proper beer and off through the pit, past the Forge, down the track back to the fine hospitality of our loverly youth-club come club-house for some contemporary garage r'n'b style music and a feed and some games. Gord' and Breadarms were hilarious in the gameshow, I nearly puked myself on the ride home after all the bread, wine, water, pasties and beer. God only knows how Dave managed after all the scampy fries and alcho-pops.

So ends the sermon, the sh*ttest and sh*ttiest ride of the year so far and probably the longest and most boring ride report in a while.

Jesus loves all the little children. (Not like that you bunch of f*****s !)

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