Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Sunday 30 August 2020

27th August 2020: Little Bollington (mod)

Well my first ride for a while and I can honestly say I was thinking 'fool'.  Well anyway after a discussion with Ivan about his knee surgery I was even less assured I had made the correct choice.  So I just sat waiting to be told which group I was going with  thinking how much I’ve missed the Thursday gang, when George, Dave Mathews and Dave Heath informed me I will be in their bubble - you know life can throw a few pleasures at you now and again!  Dave H was once again spot-on with the weather forecast and route. George and I had mentioned the same as Steve - how Carol was not telling us the right info - she needs to up her game and speak to Dave as he got the rain practically down to the minute.

Anyway we set off from the café in our bubble heading out of the station onto the main road. This is a perfect road for Jim to get in touch with the local council to re-lay some smooth new tarmac.  We turned right at the Chinese restaurant heading down to Crowton, then over to Acton Bridge via some nice quiet roads with very little storm damage.  We then had a nice wheee moment down Acton Lane, but I also knew later in the day, when your arse is hanging out, that we would have to climb back up it again. We managed to get across the A49 the Dave way (people who know him), then up over the bridge, then heading up more inclines to Comberbach. Then heading to Budworth Heath where a line of polite drivers were waiting for us to turn, when a nice local driver came pass us all, beeping his horn etc  etc etc. What a hero!  

We then meandered past Arley, then on to lunch at Little Bollington at the Swan with Two Nicks. As usual covid set-up, eating alfresco, freezing your knads off, getting the drinks order wrong. Dave M ordered a half of Guinness and got a pint. This when I thought he should be hung drawn and quartered, then have his eyes pulled out, he left half as he didn’t want it. In my home town you would have to keep hold of it till empty otherwise it's gone, but that’s discipline only having what you want.  

After lunch we set off, just the 3 of us as Dave M went his own way. So after our farewells, this is where smart arse Dave H got the weather forecast spot on and due to his excellent paper map skills we headed back almost the same route, except if you know Dave he does like to make the odd detour thinking off-the-cuff, ie passing through the old air base at the back of Appleton Thorn then over to Frandley heading up to the fore-mentioned highest mountain. Well it felt like it, but it's known locally as Acton Lane off the A49 up to the station at Acton Bridge, where there was a group decision not to climb up through Onston but carry on through to the flat to Crowton ,then heading upwards to Norley in the rather heavy rain as our resident weather man said, then it's back to base at Delemere, where the 3 of us go our separate ways.  

It was good to be out with George again and Dave M for the run out to lunch as normal - good company and kept a good pace up, and last but not least the tour manager/organiser Dave H who once again did a good job of getting us back in good shape, as both me and George haven’t been on our bikes recently. I can say it was brill, especially as the company was ok, well good then, Keith the one walking like John Wayne.  Dave thought I could just help out with the blog - use it or get rid of it, not bothered it's your call, cheers for boss day. I have forgotten the exact route so add at your pleasure.


Friday 28 August 2020

27th August 2020: Holmes Chapel (brisk)

This is my first CER club ride since March and was looking forward to seeing other club members at Delamere station café. I met up with John W at the Mickle Trafford end of the greenway for a leisurely ride to the café. Passing a couple of club members along the route, we arrive at the station and there is a good group of moderate riders as well as Clive who advised us that today he is not with the Brisk group due "too much beer since his holidays". So it was John and I riding for the Briskers today and we set off along the very rough road surface to Hatchmere.

We head towards Hartford and Lach Dennis and continue heading for Goostrey and Holmes Chapel. We have ridden these lanes many times and were on form with legs spinning, passing Goostrey and the intended Mod’s lunch stop, before arriving at our intended lunch stop Holmes Chapel. Its only 12:00 so John pops into Aldi for a couple of Chicken sandwiches and we decide to ride off-piste abandoning my proposed route home*.

A few more lanes and we are at Breton Green passing the Bears Head where in the 1970 I was lucky enough to be in the same pub as Sir Matt Busby and got his signature. Just wish I had saved it! Our route takes us along Davenport Lane which we usually pass en-route towards the Mow Cop direction. It would have pleased Clive as it was both narrow and extremely muddy, oh dear – dirty bike. Heading towards Alsager it’s a detour via Smallwood, Malkins Bank and Winterly and then towards Crewe via Maw Green

Since departure from Holmes Chapel, we are making the route up as we go along and its towards the train station and Gresty Lane and passing MornFlake Oats (home of porridge oats) we’ve opted for. Through Nantwich and we decide not to stop, but would decide on a Tilly break if the café not too busy.

The usual route taken out from Nantwich and we are at Bunbury for 14:00 and Tilley’s and it’s also raining so decide to stop for a hot cup of tea and cake. The café does not feel the same – has it changed ownership during lockdown? When we exit the café, it has stopped raining.

We arrive Chester and I bid John farewell until next ride and head home with 82 miles covered. Not enough for John as he heads into Chester and joins the Dee cycle way as far as the Blue Bridge then joining the Greenway back to his home completing a 100-mile ride and 4000+ feet of ascent.

John and I have ridden together for most of this year and enjoyed our rides. Good to be part of the club and to see the other riders who were out today and hope they arrived back drier than we did.

 See route map and/or gpx file download


NB: *Route therefore not completely as described in the text above!

27th August 2020: Goostrey (mod)

 There was a good crowd at the Delamere Station Café, meeting here for the first time since lockdown. It was especially good to see Keith, back after the surgery on his knee. Things had changed here with a new one-way system designed to confuse us and the only seating was outside. How will we manage when the bad weather comes?

As has become the norm, once coffees had been consumed, discussion turned to who was riding with who and to where. After a head count, it was decided to have two separate mod rides, with Ivan and John W scorching off on a brisk ride in the direction of Holmes Chapel.

I had mapped out a ride to The Crown at Goostrey and had booked a table for lunch with an ETA of about 12 to 12.15. Clive, Steve Hu and Erik made up the foursome and we left at about 10.20 heading initially in the direction of Hatchmere. Passing the crossroads, we turned into Forest Road and continued on down Beech Lane to join the B5153 through Crowton to Acton Bridge. At the bottom of Acton Lane, we had to wait for several minutes before there was a gap in the traffic so that we could cross the A49. How things have changed since the peace and quiet of lockdown!

The hill on Willow Green Lane which goes up and over the Trent and Mersey canal never gets any less steep, but we were soon crossing the A533 and heading along Ash House Lane and Cogshall Lane into Comberbach. As we did so, it started to rain a bit and I was mentally cursing Carole Kirkwood, as she said that the rain wouldn’t come until after lunch and I’d brought only my lightweight jacket. Fortunately, it eased off by the time we got to Great Budworth, where we stopped for a drink and for Steve Hu to fuel up a bit.

The route now took us in a loop passed Pickmere and Wincham where we took Linnards Lane down to the busy A556. As usual, we rode along the pavement until we reached the traffic lights at The Smoker. Steve Hu had to wait for a gap in the traffic to get back on the road and tucked in alongside a Jaguar. When the lights went green he set off and was hooted at by the Jag driver for his troubles. Steve later explained that the driver had switched into ‘chimp’ mode and recommended a book called The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters for more explanation. Bedtime reading, perhaps.

On reaching Lower Peover, we followed Free Green Lane. I’d memorized the fact that I should take the second right down Foxcovert Lane, but had to stop and consult the route on my phone before being confident enough to take this tiny lane, which looked pretty muddy. Fortunately, the muddy part was short and we were soon back on a hard surface. Heath Lane took us to Townfield Lane, where we crossed the A50 into Boothbed Lane and thence on to Main Road and The Crown, arriving there just after 12.

The waitress explained that they’d run out of several items due to demand on the ‘Eat out to help out’ offer, so only things on the Main Menu were available. The food came quickly and was of a good standard and reasonably priced; good enough reasons to leave The Crown on our list of favoured stops. Lunchtime conversation revolved around moving house (or not!), the vagaries of local authority planning and the cost of cutting down trees.

We left the pub at about 1.20, heading north-east out of Goostrey along New Platt Lane, crossing the A50 at Rudheath Woods and passing Shakerley Mere to reach Lach Dennis. At Davenham, it was ‘proper raining’, as John W would say, so we stopped to put on the necessary gear. Clive showed us a much safer way to cross the Northwich by-pass and reach Hartford. From here we took Hodge Lane to cross the A49 at Bryn and took Bag Lane heading towards Norley Bank, which provided only the second steep climb of the day. As we went up Maddocks Hill, Steve Hu said something about an average speed of 15 mph, but I find that hard to believe. My computer said fourteen point something. Reaching Hatchmere at 2.30, having covered a smidge under 40 miles, we said our farewells, with Clive and Erik heading in the rain for Chester, Steve Hu for his car and yours truly for Runcorn.

A good ride at a mod+ pace. Thanks to Clive, Steve Hu and Erik for your company.


See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday 23 August 2020

20th August 2020: Burlton (mod)

 I was pleased to see Ray in the Car Park at Chirk. We poked our heads around the front door at Castle Bistro just before 10a.m., and had the place to ourselves. We had just started our coffees when Dave Matthews made a welcome entrance, as promised. He had arrived by train, having rode in from Chester, and intended to ride back to Oscroft. Dave is a bit wary at the moment of pushing himself too hard in a group, as he has to be careful to safely manage his condition. And so it was: Ray and me, Little and  Large. It was like comparing a light and lithe Lotus Evora, with an older, well upholstered Jaguar XJ6.

 Fortunately for me, Ray was  prepared to “bimble” and enjoy it. We reached the dodgy A5 roundabout at the right moment, and managed to nip across quickly, before heading for Hindford. Last time we were down here a left turn was missed, which left us with a few miles of main roads in and out of Whittington in order to get back on track. So began a regular trace and check process, to ensure that there were no unplanned excursions. I traced the route I had highlighted on my map the day before, and Ray checked that his Garmin supported my choices of direction. We drifted down on these quiet lanes before a small climb to Welsh Frankton, then crossed the main road to Ellesmere, and continued surfing down to the Llangollen Canal. The steepness of the little humpback bridge here is remarkable, and if you can attain enough speed on the approach you could probably emulate Eddie the Eagle at the top. The stretch into the wind to Rednal had me dropping back from my fitter companion. I failed to convince myself that it was just down to my bigger frontal area. Around the exposed old airfield we noted the decommissioned yellow naval helicopter on the right. At Haughton, we turned right in a Clivesque exploratory diversion in order to take a dekko at the estate of Tedsmore Hall. On we went to pretty Wykey, followed by a sharp wooded drop to the River Perry and a slog up the other side past Boreatton Park. Ray was enjoying the leisurely change from his normal pace, and being able to look around at some of the beautiful villages and features, and smell the flowers. He said that it reminded him of what had attracted him to cycling in the first place. With the wind now behind us for the first time, we swept beyond Weston Lullingfields at a fair lick, with little effort. This was the essence of Chester easy riding: little lanes, few vehicles, lush scenery, relaxed progress and good company. Enjoying living in the moment. Just past Petton Hall we reached the A528 and were soon turning into the Burlton Inn, bang on the booked timeof 12.45 p.m.

The welcome was warm and the food is very good at the Burlton Inn, although the absence of light bites on the menu was, surprise, surprise, more problematic for Ray than myself. Then! Out of the Blue! Who turned up? It was Peter, who is virtually self-isolating for family reasons, but had covered well over forty miles already from Chester on his own route, with the hope of making a distanced greeting to our group at lunch. Obviously, our group was just us two. We were outside and it was sunny with a breeze, so Peter joined us two metres away for a pleasant chat and even enjoyed a pint of beer. It was great to see him. 

We headed back via Loppington, and Lyneal mainly on well surfaced, quiet, narrow lanes, although before Loppington we could hear a very loud horn somewhere behind us, and it turned out to be an outsize, lumbering lorry which had to sound its horn before every bend. Eventually, it thankfully passed us. At Colemere there was a surprising amount of activity, with people driving out, often to walk their dogs. We crossed the main road before Ellesmere at Spunhill, and mused about how lovely it would be to live in one of the attractive cottages where you wake up every morning with White Mere at the bottom of your garden. The remainder of the route was by way of Tetchill, Perthy, New Marton and St.Martins. The route wasn't too wet and dirty, but from before Colemere all the way back to Chirk there were plenty of ups and downs. Approaching Chirk from the south-west the obvious options for the last two or three miles are not great. As a more stimulating alternative, for the first time, some years ago I led a group down to Ponty-y-blew, deep in the valley, knowing it would be a steep climb out to Chirk, but picturesque and out of the traffic. I think most of you have experienced this route now, but it had been a while since I had been down there. For once I followed my instinct rather than check the map. That was a mistake! Like a City or United defender playing in Europe, my lack of discipline and focus near the end blew it. Ray used his Garmin to bail us out, and we eventually crossed the river and  conquered the two stiff little climbs to enter Chirk by the back door. Ray had no problems, but was patient enough to wait for me as I chugged uphill in a very low gear. It was just after four o'clock, and we had covered about Forty- two miles. I really enjoyed riding with Ray, and Peter evidently enjoyed his trip, and arrived home safely.


Thursday 13 August 2020

13th August 2020: Aston (mod)

Steve Tan and I shared the Berlingo to Tattenhall, and Steve had to point out that I had missed the A41 turnoff and we were heading for Rhyl! I had hoped to lead a ride this week, but I couldn't even navigate my way to the start! The sun was shining at Alison's, and we were able to have a sociable twenty minutes before deciding who was riding where. Trevor had ridden out for coffee, but was not riding with us. Neil, and Dave “I don't need maps” Matthews had two tempting offers to Meadow Farm and Ellesmere respectively. We rather arbitrarily rationalized as we had more ride offers than required. In the end Neil went with the fast lads John Wilkie and Nick, and Dave joined Steve Tan on Steve Haywood's ride to Marbury. Only the most recent club recruits were naive enough to choose to follow me to Aston: Steve Hughes and Erik. Steve Hughes must have been very forgiving, as I had inexcusably failed to recognise him initially at Alison's behind his Wilko's GT dark sunglasses. It was also good to have Erik on board again.

We headed out uphill past Bolesworth Castle and on to Brown Knoll. Shortly after turning left at Broxton Old Hall we ran into an impassable flood with an abandoned car in the middle. A 4x4 coming the other way took a chance, and nearly swamped us with its bow wave. I wryly recalled Dave Matthew's reassurance at coffee that we were very unlikely to have problems as everything was drying up nicely after a wet and stormy evening the night before! Never mind Dave, even Pep Guardiola gets it wrong sometimes. 

Photos by Steve Hu

We turned around and worked our way around Bickerton Hill to join my original route at Ashton Cross. We turned left here and found the road blocked by a fallen tree. We looked in vain for a way around in an adjacent field, but we had to divert again in order to come out at Hampton Post on the other side of the tree. Steve's navigational advice was very helpful during these diversions. No Mans Heath and Bickley were next in our sights, but Erik picked up a puncture before we reached Swanwick Green. The tube replacement was not straightforward, but we sorted it between us. Perhaps we shouldn't have! These are the times when the precaution of distancing can easily be forgotten. We headed on to Gaunton's Bank, and stopped just short of Wrenbury, as the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was lifted, in order for narrow boats to pass through. Steve phoned the Bhurtpore to let them know that we were running late.

It had been an eventful morning, but we had plenty of space and fresh air under the gazebo in the back garden. I had booked for a nominal six riders and they had two reserved tables for us (which we didn't need). I had forgotten how good the selection of different brews is here. I had a Timmermans Belgian strawberry beer in a proper Timmermans glass, and Erik was offered a large selection of non-alcoholic drinks. It was a hot day, and I could have happily downed another pint to help swill down my goat curry. The Bhurtpore has always been a favourite for Chester Easy Riders, and the selection of fine ales have always been appreciated by Bryan Wade. It also reminds me of summer afternoons past with Dave and Liz, and Jim. These may be uncertain times, but sitting in the shade outside the Bhurtpore on a warm August day in good company, with a refreshing drink in my hand, all was well again.  This was normal at its best.

Our return was via Ravensmoor, Bunbury and Beeston, and we turned up the wick a bit. It was good to see Tilly's still in business, but it was too soon after lunch for a break. Also, because of our morning diversions and puncture, I expected Steve Tan would be back at Alison's, sitting on a wall twiddling his thumbs (and he was).  Unfortunately, Alison's closes early, so we all headed for home. Steve and Erik still had some cycling to do, and I arrived back in time to get my wife's car out of a Widnes tuning shop with its emissions sorted. We covered a modest thirty-eight enjoyable miles, and it was good to get to know Erik better. I also know more about Steve, and should be able to recognise him if he turns up next week!  


13th August 2020: Marbury (mod)

Another good turnout for our second official meet since lockdown, this time at Alison’s Country Kitchen in Tattenhall. We all sat outside in the sun and contemplated various possible routes. Among the mods at one point it looked as though there might be as many routes as riders, until Steve T organised us. I had prepared a ride to The Swan at Marbury and Steve T and David M came with me.

The previous night had seen an epic thunder storm with several hours of torrential rain in the Tarporley area, so I was expecting some flooding, gravel and sand debris on the roads. This caused us some minor challenges as we made our way through Tilston and Threapwood, before heading SE across the two A-roads to Fenn’s Bank.  In answer to David’s on route query, the large industrial plant here is BEFESA Salt Slags, a company engaged in recycling of steel dust, salt slags and aluminium residues! We rode onward to meet the Alkington Road into Whitchurch. We passed through the town centre and began to turn northwards using the Mercian Way cycle route. Here Steve T noticed the milepost, an unmissable photo op for these times.

Photo by Steve T

We arrived at The Swan with about 26 miles covered. The pub offered a number of well-spaced outside tables and we chose one of them with a sun shading umbrella. Service was quick and friendly. Steve and I enjoyed the fish finger sandwich, the first time I’ve sampled this delicacy, while David had a prawn sandwich and a pint of shandy which was very heavy on the beer.  The combined bill arrived and we tested our rusty mental arithmetic working out what we each owed.

Payment made, our route back took us through Bickley and Bickerton. Here David left to make his own way home, and Steve and I continued by Bolesworth Castle into Tattenhall and back to Alison’s.  We chatted about the ride while I fought off several wasps to eat my slice of cake.  Another good ride with 39 miles covered.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 7 August 2020

6th August 2020: Whitegate (mod)

 After all the weeks of lockdown, it was great to see the throng of East Riders who had gathered at Meadow Lea for the re-start of our regular club meetings. Admittedly, there were some restrictions arising from the Covid-19 protocols, but these did not interfere too much with the greetings and banter exchanged, although handshakes and kisses were definitely out!

After coffees, toast and teacakes Dave H tried to get the rides (plural) arranged. We had agreed to limit the number of people in any ride to no more than four, so Clive had planned a ride to Lach Dennis, Steve H one to Pant-yr-Ochain and yours truly one to Whitegate. Chaos ensued as, apart from the fast lads, people couldn’t decide which ride to join. Eventually, Steve H suggested that the three ride leaders should take to their bikes and see who would follow them.

So it was that Trevor and John (long time no see) Beavis followed me out of the café car park, heading for Whitegate on a route that I’d cobbled together at the last minute. The route took us out on the busy A56 as far as Morley Bridge, where we turned to pick up the road past Manley Mere where, for many years, we used to start our rides. Since we no longer start there, I’d forgotten how steep Cob Hall Lane is and arrived at the top breathless to wait for the others. Sugar Lane led us on to Manley Road and we were soon speeding down Dark Ark Lane and thence to Kelsall and Utkinton. Just past Rose Farm, we turned left and headed for Cotebrook , where we crossed the busy A49. Oulton Park was quiet as we passed by, not even a track day here yet.  We took a left into Park Road and crossed the A54 as we headed for The Plough Inn on Beauty Bank, arriving at about 12.15. 

Now, the pub looked very inviting, but since Trevor had brought sandwiches and John ‘Two coronastones’ doesn’t eat lunch, it was decided to forego lunch until we got back to Meadow Lea. So on we went past the posh houses and Vale Royal Golf Club until we crossed the A559 and found the sanctity of LIttledales Lane. Hodge Lane took us to the A49 where we battled some heavy traffic before reaching Bag Lane and headed for Norley and its stamina-sapping Norley Bank and Maddocks Hill. Who said that Cheshire is flat? 

Post Office Lane took us down to Hatchmere, where responsibilities for navigation were handed to Trevor on the basis that he knows the way home from there better than I do. Down the switchbacks and under the railway and on to Ashton Hayes where we turn right and followed Gongar Lane up the hill into Mouldsworth. Nortons Lane and Morley Lane lead us back to the A56 where we again diced with traffic until we reached Mickle Trafford. John B took his leave here so that he could return to grandpa duties for the afternoon, which seem to consist mostly of losing at Minecraft with his 6 year old grandson and answering endless questions from him. Trevor and I returned to Meadow Lea having completed 35 miles up and down the hills of West Cheshire. 

Thanks to Trevor and John for your excellent company. Maybe we’ll see John again later this year if he can get a pass out on a Thursday. Don’t leave it too long, John!

See route map and/or gpx file download


6th August 2020: Gresford (mod)

It felt strange after being locked down since March for CER to be meeting up again.  We gathered outside at the Meadow Lea café, with about 10 members assembling.  In discussion with Dave H beforehand, we had planned to form small groups of no more than four members for each ride. Clive, Steve T and myself each had planned destinations. Mine was to the Pant yr Ochain at Gresford, and I was accompanied by Dave H, David M and prospective new member Eric, who had only moved up to our area during lockdown.

We set off towards Tattenhall, passing through Waverton and Hargrave. Then it was out to Carden before swinging westwards through Stretton and Wetreins Lane to reach Farndon and Holt. Into Wales, and our destination was only a few miles away. Being COVID-cautious, we had intended to sit outside on such a fine day on the pub’s terrace looking out over the lake.  However even though we arrived at 1230, those outside tables were taken.  After a brief consultation we headed into a largely deserted indoors, following the pub’s strict COVID protocols. No gathering at the bar today – straight to our allotted table where our orders were taken by masked staff. As usual we discussed many topics, including the Welsh Government’s guidance on our visit which Dave had researched.  Were we in compliance given we came from more than two households, or were we covered by the permission for up to 30 people to engage in sporting activity?

After our lunch we set off on our shorter return journey, down the main road through Marford, Rossett and Pulford, before turning onto the road to Ecclestone. Part way David M struck off to return home via Holt.  The rest of us entered Chester, crossing the Old Dee Bridge, then followed the river past the racecourse, before joining the Greenway and quickly back to our start. Back at Meadow Lea, we bumped into Glennis and enjoyed final drinks and cakes.  An unambitious 40+ mile ride on generally quiet roads in dry, warm and sometimes sunny conditions marked a welcome return to CER’s programme.  Let’s hope for another dry day next week.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 6 August 2020

6th August 2020 : Whatcroft (brisk)

So after 20 weeks of no club rides at all, three rides are offered – just like buses!

The Johns (W and M) decide to support me on a ride to Whatcroft – “where, you ask!” but Dave M knew where it was. We head out for the long fast ride through Helsby and Frodsham to Preston Brook and the short sharp hill up to Preston-on-the- Hill. Here, we start the eastward trek to Antrobus and Over Tabley. To get over the M6 and under the M56 link road, we use the Reverse Tan manoeuvre to achieve our entry into the outskirts of Knutsford. 

Here, we turn south on a run down tiny lanes to Lach Dennis. What we notice is that there are a lot of cars on the road these days – so much better over the past twenty weeks when we had the lanes to ourselves and just fellow cyclists. Crossing the A530 and on the way to Davenham, we arrive at Riverside Organics farm shop and cafe. This is near to the hamlet of Whatcroft. They had extensive Covid modifications in place and a lot of covered outside seating. We order up and the food takes only a short time to come as we were hungry after 34 miles.

We catch up on what has happened in our lives over the past 20 weeks, but now realise we need to get back. So out and through Davenham towards Hartford Bridge, the road takes us to the outskirts of Sandiway. To get to Cuddington we have to run down the hillside then back up it a bit further along. The route now takes us along my favourite Gallowsclough Lane. We can't find the burial tumulus indicated on the OS map as its under a field of maize – maybe in the winter I will find it. Out and through Norley, it is now a blast through Delamere Forest and back to Mickle Trafford.

So after 55 miles around, it's good to be out in an official Brisk Group today – other group members are either on holiday (Ivan), enjoying a dental treatment (Ray), recuperating at home (Ken), or in the Lakes (Nick).