Portents of Summer, Hospitals and New Crash Helmets

I’ve said it before, this whole “getting older” thing is a vibe that i’d rather not have…though given the reality of what the alternative is, I’ll settle for my discontented lot!

Just to ram things home on the ageing theme, this past week has seen me deliver one mate to hospital for corrective neck surgery and sit talking with two others who have both just returned from hospital having received a cancer diagnosis. On the plus side, my doctor called me in for a general checkover and a host of routine tests that I am pleased to report saw Dookes given a pretty good bill of health; I am grateful.

Whilst riding this wave of positivity and also enjoying some very nice weather which brought on the blossom on in our garden, I took the opportunity to pop out and ride a few miles on both of my lovely Harleys.

There was also the added bonus of wearing my heated jacket, which eased my injured shoulder considerably, double win then!

Being out on two wheels is always a great mental tonic for me, it resets everything, puts things into perspective and because you have to totally concentrate on the job in hand, everyday troubles are washed away, even if for just a short time.

Around Dookes H.Q. in North Cornwall we are blessed with a delightful selection of great roads to enjoy and just at the moment there are few holiday visitors about, so progress is easy and very enjoyable. A trip North up the Atlantic Highway to Westward Ho! on Hettie was delightful. I had coffee near the beach at Northam Burrows, as the surf breakers rolled in under azure skies.

Another day saw Harls and I heading across Bodmin Moor, no pics this time, just all-out riding pleasure.

Both rides saw me wearing my new crash helmet. For those of you who have never wore a motorcycle crash helmet, let me explain that breaking in a new helmet is never the greatest thing. Yes it may be your size, yes it may be exactly the same model as your old helmet, which fits like a lovely comfy glove, but it will take some time to bed into your head shape…or is that that your head takes some time to bed into the new helmet?!?!?

The new Schuberth C4 Pro.

Either way, it always seems to take ages for a new helmet to go from stiff and a tad uncomfortable to fitting in a way that you don’t realise you are wearing it any more; so shorter rides are a great way to go. I’ve ridden in Schuberth helmets for many years now and I am very happy with them, no connection other than as a satisfied customer.

Pausing to grab some fuel on my way home on Harls my eye was caught by a flash of dark blue in the sky and my heart was fully lifted…the first Swallow of summer skimmed past me on silent soaring wings!

A Swallow, Hirundo rustica. Photo, Ian F.

Aristotle wrote, in the First Book of Ethics, so very long ago, “One Swallow makes no summer.”
Well, yes, but it sure is a portent that Summer isn’t so very far away and I really needed that bit of symbolism!

“I need a shot of salvation baby, once in a while.”

Catch you soon,
Dookes

Farkles and Sparkles: Comfort and Safety

Earlier this year I went through a slightly worrying phase: I began to question whether I should keep both of my Harley Davidson motorcycles…after all, I can only ride one at a time!

This disturbing musing then threw up another dilemma. If I was to say goodbye to one of my bikes, which one should go?

“Sensible Head” says keep the newest, Heritage Classic Hettie: she has much lower mileage, is more powerful, has modern suspension, better luggage and is generally a bit more comfortable.

“Romantic Head” says keep Centenary Softail Harls; been places, done things and got great memories of the many, many, many miles we have rolled together.

I was still pondering my self imposed conundrum when I visited the local Dealership for Hettie’s service a few weeks back. It was whilst i was waiting that I wandered around the showroom and saw the price of bikes for sale. Not just brand new bikes, but also the price of pre-owned bikes.

I wasn’t just surprised…I was totally dumbstruck by how much Harley Davidson motorcycles were selling for. A new version of Hettie for example would set me back a cool £24,500! (Thats 24,500 UK Pounds) Add into that mix the various tweeks and additions that I’ve done to her and an extra £3000 could easily disappear too…!!! A massive £27,500 in total!!!!

Time for a serious and sensible chat with the Dealer Principle about bike values. Even dear old Harls, who now is, a bit like me, viewed as a “Classic” is now appreciating in value!

Do I need to sell either bike? – No.
Do I want to sell either bike? – No.

What the hell have I been thinking about???

So I did what any sensible Harley rider should do and ordered a set of heated grips and a new LED “Daymaker” headlamp for Harls! The grips for a bit of added comfort and the nice bright headlamp for a bit of added safety.

The Dealership fitted the grips a week or so back, as previously reported, I got around to fitting the headlamp yesterday.

All was good until, after a nice test ride, I decided to give the headlamp mounting bolt an extra bit of torque and the distinctly heard something tear in my right shoulder! I dropped the wrench like I had been hit by an electric cattle prod and am now sitting writing this with my arm in a sling and stoked up on pain-killers and anti-inflammatories!!!

Oh the joys of getting older!!!

Catch you soon,
Dookes

Back In The Dealership

I have a problem, it’s pretty persistent and can flare up without warning…

It frequently happens when i walk into a Harley Davidson Dealership and usually involves parting with substantial sums of cash!

A week ago I was sitting here in Plymouth Harley Davidson, waiting for Hettie’s service to be completed thinking how nice it was riding in with her heated grips keeping my hands warm…and the thought occurred to me, “Why haven’t I ever had heated grips fitted to Harls?”

Good question Dookes…and to be honest, it has never really occurred to me in the past to fit them!

Well, that didn’t seem like a very good excuse not to have them…so i ordered a set and here I am waiting for them to be fitted! Call it my 20th Anniversary present to her!

One of the old grips, I’ve been to a lot of places holding onto those!

It’s just a shame that it’s such a crap day, weather-wise, to ride a motorcycle!
There’s reasonably heavy, no, read monsoon, rain, gusty winds, lots of spray and the roads are a slippery as hell!…Welcome to Cornwall and Devon in March!!

I’m valiantly trying, successfully so far, not to spend any more money. I am though looking forward to enjoying the new heated grips on the way home! Not that I froze on the way here, i have my heated under-jacket and gloves with me, I’ll just be a little bit more comfortable…

Nice new shiny heated grips!

Catch you soon,

Dookes

Shiny Things and the Smell of Rubber

It’s the time of year that my two lovely Harley Davidson motorcycles have their annual service. Normally, as part of the service plan I have, they get collected by the Plymouth Harley dealership and delivered back all serviced and nicely clean. That happened with Harls a few weeks back, but unfortunately not for Hettie, I’ve had to ride her to the dealership….!

Now this isn’t really an issue, I love riding my bikes even if just lately i haven’t had much time to do so, unfortunately though, this morning dawned a bit damp and soggy…oh well, suck it up and get on with it Dookes! Regular blogonaughts will know that I’m certainly not a fair weather rider, just that given the choice I’d rather avoid the wet stuff especially when the ambient temperatures are a bit on the low side. Tyres can take an age to warm up this time of year and the added fun of mud, low sun, slippery roads and this morning a liberal coating of diesel oil on a particularly tight corner made for an “interesting” 45 miles from Dookes H.Q. to Plymouth.

So here I am relaxing in the showroom of Plymouth Harley Davidson, surrounded by lots of shiny things and with the smell of rubber from new tyres, whilst Hettie gets the best attention of a Harley Davidson Technician.

I’m also sitting here in a state of shock.

Shock induced by how expensive a new Harley is these days!

There are currently 67 bikes here in the showroom and if I apply a, probably low, average price of £20,000 i calculate that I am surrounded by £1.4million worth of Harley Davidsons!

I’m not sure if that is cool….or scary!!!

Over the last few months I had been contemplating just becoming a “One Bike” rider, possibly parting with Hettie, but I’ve been wavering. This morning has firmly buried that idea, Hettie stays!!! A new Hettie, in basic form would cost me in excess of £24,300 on the road; if I then add on all the little bells and whistles that i’ve put on her it would push the new price to over £25,000!!

Hettie….this girl’s going nowhere!!!

That’s £7000 more than I paid for her!!!!…….Ho hum, it’s only money!!!

Now I must relax and breath deeply, I love the smell of a motorcycle dealership showroom!!

Catch you soon,
Dookes

PS I really need to check Hettie’s agreed insured value….

The Real Spooks Of Halloween

I’m not a great fan of Halloween.


When I was younger it was never a big deal, but the global spread of Americanisation and commercial pressure seems to have propelled it high in popular consciousness.
Even where we live, deep in the heart of rural Cornwall, it’s now not unusual to see “Trick or Treaters” roaming the country lanes on the evening of 31st October…!

If you keep your eyes open though, there are many more scary, weirdly beautiful and indeed deadly lifeforms to be found around the woodlands of the British Isles.

I’m talking fungi!

These fascinating lifeforms burst from cover as the days grow shorter, wetter and before the first frost occur. I love their variety and colours, from pale ghostly white through to vibrant orange, red, blues and browns.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), definitely poisonous!

Walking through the woodlands, I love to see how fungi magically appear from the leaf litter on the forest floor; theres a silent eeriness about them….yet at the same time a beguiling beauty.

2022 seems to have been a spectacular year for fungi.
This Autumn around Dookes H.Q. we have enjoyed harvesting a wonderful bounty of tasty field mushrooms, Agaricus campestris.

The important thing when foraging wild mushrooms is to get your recognition right. There are over 1400 different varieties of fungi found in the British Isles, some are edible, but many more are not and some are deadly if eaten…you have been warned!

Yep, definitely field mushrooms!

.

Ready for cooking.

Then, almost a quickly as they appear, their fleeting visit is over and they degrade into a wet slimy and often smelly mush…!

Farewell spooky friends, until next year!

Catch you soon,
Dookes

PLEASE do not eat any wild fungi unless your are 110% sure what it is.
Check with a real expert or better still don’t risk it, a mistake could be fatal.

Moor Wandering

Yeah, I know….”Where the heck have you been Dookes?”

When I took on the whole, “I’m retiring” thing, I thought that it would lead to sunlit uplands, keep that thought, time to do things as and when I wanted, lots of “free” time and a general slowing of the pace of life.

Let me tell you, forget that thought, even if you are only mildly toying with the idea of retirement!

When I was a young Dookes, just starting out in my working life, I remember various retired members of staff dropping by to say hello to their former workmates and the common theme always seemed to be “I don”t know how i ever had time to go to work!” Young Dookes thought this was extremely funny and that these old timers had somehow lost the plot with their transition into retirement…little did i know!

Now please don’t misunderstand me, i’m not complaining and yes retirement is great. The hours are certainly good, even if the pay isn’t quite what it was previously, but sunlit upland nirvana and time to do my own things whenever I want it certainly isn’t!

I’m always so bloody busy! I guess thats a direct result of being one of those people that finds it hard to say “No” if someone asks for help! Which kinda explains the lack of blog activity….

Certainly one great advantage of retirement is the ability to do things without much forward planning. A couple of weeks ago, Mrs Dookes decided to take a week off work; yes Mrs D is still working. On the spur of the moment, grabbing a window of nice weather, we decided to head for Dartmoor, only 30 minutes away from Dookes H.Q.

Dartmoor is the highest and biggest upland area in Southern Britain, covering 368 square miles and has been protected as a National Park since 1951. The landscape consists of moorland with many exposed granite hilltops known as Tors. It provides a wonderful habitat for wildlife. It’s hard country, with bogs and cliffs to test the adventurer that sets out to explore, add into the mix classic mountain weather changes and it can be dangerous for the ill prepared.

The highest point is High Willhays, 2037ft above sea level and on a clear day this peak is clearly visible from Dookes H.Q. and is somewhere I had been promising myself to visit for a long time.

High Wilhays.

Parts of the moor have been used as firing ranges since the early 1800’s so whilst the public is granted extensive land access rights on Dartmoor, its always essential to check if the military are going to be active where you plan to wander; fortunately for us they weren’t!

West Mill Tor (Left), Yes Tor (Right).

Dartmoor is known for it’s Tors, high hills topped with outcrops of bedrock granite, which are usually rounded and weathered formations. The Tors are the focus of an annual event known as the Ten Tors Challenge when around 2500 people aged between 14 and 19 hike for distances of 35, 45 or 55 miles between ten tors on varying routes. For our day out we weren’t looking to top Ten Tors, just a couple of the big ones!

On West Mill Tor, looking North East.

Over the past few months the UK has been experiencing abnormally dry weather and the infamous bogs of Dartmoor have certainly dried noticeibly, not good for bog dwelling animals or plants, but it certainly makes the life of a walker a lot easier.

Bog cotton dancing on the breeze.

What a glorious day we had. Starting from Meldon, we skirted the reservoir, with worryingly low water level. We started climbing and headed for West Mill Tor, one of the Northern most peaks, where we paused to take in the view, before turning South West to Yes Tor for a lunch break. After lunch we followed the plateau South to High Wilhays before cutting back across the contours towards the reservoir and our starting point.

Yes Tor

Great to be back on high ground again, good to be writing too, even if this isn’t very good, but hey I’m out of practice…!

Summit Cairn on High Wilhays.

Catch you soon,

Dookes