Two Bushes and a Bogey

Fenstanton is the birthplace of John Howland (c1591). He may have worked in Leiden, Netherlands, before at the age of 29 sailing with his boss on the Mayflower to the New World. On the voyage, Howland fell overboard but was rescued. If he had drowned, the world would now be very different. He married a fellow Mayflower passenger and they had ten children.

A map of Fenstanton is here.

I was in the village for a meeting and had declined the offer of a lift, hoping the relatively warm weather would continue. Annoyingly the day was hardly above freezing, but we had the first blue sky after a century of dismal greyness.

Parts of the village could be the location for a costume drama. Narrow lanes meander between olde worlde cottages and village greens. Some residents have erected garages, mostly sympathetically. Some locals are not permitted to park outside their homes because there’s not enough room.

Fenstanton lies on the Roman Via Devana between Godmanchester/Huntingdon and Cambridge. The High Street can’t have been much fun under twentieth-century traffic so the new A14 bypassed it. This scrapes along the southern edge of the village, is motorway in all but name, and sits on top of the old road so there is no quiet route for cyclists unless we count the adjoining footpath.

Some housing is on the south side of the A14, but access to the village centre is available with this, erm, handy bridleway at the end of West End Road. I wouldn’t fancy dashing across this road, with or without a bike or horse.

Perhaps that is an old sign and the bridleway is now extinguished.

A more useful crossing that joins the severed ends of Hilton Road reminds me of growing up in Stevenage, although this underpass is pokier.

A fortune awaits the person who designs a barrier to motorbikes that isn’t also a barrier to bikes, trikes, trailers or horses.

Brown Bike likes horses but rarely meets any. Horses don’t like him.

We stopped off at Hilton to examine the turf maze. BB was excited and wanted to ride it, but I said he couldn’t handle the sharp corners. Besides, it had only one path with no false turns, so even he couldn’t get lost. BB likes getting lost. It’s his favourite hobby.

The maze was cut in 1660 by a 19-year-old lad (these days, we’d give him an ASBO for vandalism), at the same time as John Howland was building Plymouth in Massachusetts and siring ten children. Howland’s direct descendants include Humphrey Bogart and both presidents George Bush. And, if you are interested, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sarah Palin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Chevy Chase and Christopher Lloyd.

On balance, I’m just about pleased that he didn’t drown.