Liebster Award

Way on back in the earlier days of their blog my dear bogging friend Lili, of fantastic cakes and rock climbing fame nominated me for the “Liebster Award.” I was pretty chuffed at the time (Chuffed = British slang for pleased) and duly did what was required of me and posted a response as required by the award; you can link to that here.

Fast-forward to the present and out of the blue that USA based Scottish Photographer, Blogger and International Chocolate Connoisseur, Alba has challenged me with another “Liebster.” This is of course both very cool and a bit humbling; after all it is an acknowledgment by another blogger that you must be doing something right, therefore thank you Alba!

As part of the deal with the award I have to answer a series of questions set by Alba; so here goes, this should be fun!

1. Why do you blog?
I started blogging as a way of recording some of the motorcycle tours that I do. I used to tour around and send friends emails to let them know where I was and what I was up to. It just sort of seemed the logical thing to progress to, I hate “Face-Twit” and blogging enables me to capture thoughts and moments that I can look back on and relive the moment. It has also enabled me to develop some posts into magazine articles, which is pretty cool!
The blog has developed into something more than just being about touring on motorbikes and I’m pretty pleased with that. In the not to distant future I’m looking at overhauling the site, changing a few things around and maybe going “Premium.” So I may need the considerable skills of Alba in the field of Website development!

2. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d like to be able to visit anywhere in the world that I wanted to and have the freedom and peace to be able to do that without the restrictions of Politics, Fanatics, Race-hate, Dictators and Wars…
…as John Lennon said “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

Broadly though, I’ve pretty much gone everywhere that I really want at the present, my only current “Itch” is to go to Nordkapp/Northcape in Norway, it’s the most Northerly point in Europe. I would naturally have to go on a motorbike.
Well, because it’s there of course!

3. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek. No doubt at all.

4. Favourite Movie?
Diamonds are Forever.
Pure escapism James Bond before it all got too commercial.

5. Favourite Book.
Tricky this one.
I’ve a number of railway and engineering technical tomes that I really enjoy dipping into from time to time, but would be far too boring (and specialist) to recount here.
Fiction-wise I like Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger” and I had a lot of fun retracing some of the route described in the book on one of my trips a few years back.

In the footsteps of James Bond.

If you click here you can read about it, there’s more than one post though!

6. Favourite Song
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen.
“Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” the Welsh National Anthem – I have tears running down my face every time I sing it at a rugby international!

Do you like to Cook and what is your best dish?
Yes, I adore cooking. Best dish, well I make a pretty ace Game Pie!

My Game Pie.

8. What makes you laugh?
I’m very British when it come to my sense of humour, so I love irony and satire. I like laughing at myself too!

9. Most embarrassing moment?
With skin a thick as mine, embarrassment doesn’t come into it!

10. Singing or dancing?
With my Welsh Blood, naturally it’s singing!

11. T.Rex or Dragons?
Hmm really tricky.
I loved T.Rex in those far off Glam-Rock Days of the 1970’s; Marc Bolan was just fantastic and amazingly it was 40 years ago this year that he died in a car crash.
Dragons live in my beloved, magical, Welsh mountains…if you know where to look! The Red Dragon/Y Ddraig Goch is found on the flag of Wales.

The Welsh Dragon at Mametz Wood, The Somme.

I’ve got one on each of my bikes too, Dragons that is.
I’m going to have to say Dragons…!
Did you know that T.Rex made an album called “Futuristic Dragon”?

There you are then, I hope that answers your questions Alba.

Now at this point I’m supposed to come up with my own string of questions and pass it on in a chain letter sort of way, but ‘cos I like breaking the rules I’m just going to suggest a few sites that I follow and are well worth dropping in on!

Two Wheeled Life


Old England to New England

Finding Myself Through Writing

Louise’s World Travels

Aging Gracefully My Ass

My Ride Blog

Motorcycle Rambler

My Own Private Idaho

2 Wheel Travellers

If anyone feels like having a go themselves and linking me in on their answers here’s a few questions from me:

1. How do you decide on a subject for a blog post?

2. What has been your own favourite blog post.

3. Vinyl or digital?

4. Have you ever been surfing? (No not the internet – real surf, as in the Ocean!)

5. Where are you planning to go on your next adventure?

6. If you could go back in time to witness something in history what would it be?

7. Have you ever seen a ghost or UFO (or both)?

8. Rolling Stones or Beatles?

9. Most precious item that you possess that has no monetary value?

10. Who do you most admire and why?

11. I have a spare pillion seat on the back of my Harley, where shall we go?

Catch you soon.


A New Day and The Brown Willy Effect!

I don’t quite know what it is, but these days I find myself trying to put the brakes on the ever crazy speed that we try to live life in the “Western World.”

This morning was a good example. As I set out on my twenty-mile commute, sans Harley I’m afraid, across Bodmin Moor the sun was just beginning to claw itself above the hills, kissing the landscape with its golden light.

Time to pull over and take in the moment, the office can wait for a few minutes!

Colliford Lake glints like a shard of liquid silver in the half-light.20150217_073916

Looking North, Rough Tor on the left and Brown Willy to the right, the highest points in Cornwall.20150217_074008Notice how the cloud is being pushed out of shape by the air moving over the hills? This is a meteorological phenomena know as “The Brown Willy Effect.” In simple terms it occurs when warm moist air from the Atlantic Ocean blows over the hills of Bodmin Moor and is lifted by the altitude of the surrounding topography; this causes the moisture to condense and brings more rain to Cornwall than other parts of England… and that’s saying something! Nice to capture it in a photo without it raining!

Then it was time to move on, after one more deep breath of the fresh moorland air.

Catch you soon.


“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…”

The Coast

Today, in the South West corner of the UK, it has been absolutely heavenly. Some people call these early spring days the “False Spring,” as we all know that the winter hasn’t really gone just yet…but its nearly gone!

At Dookes H.Q. those wonderful little harbingers of Spring, the snowdrops, Galanthus Nivalis, have thrust themselves up through the cold ground to brighten our days with their happy flowers. If you flatten yourself to the ground they have a delightful scent as well!DSCF3779
So with all this optimism around it seemed a tad silly not to get out on two wheels and drink in the loveliness!

As part of my recently completed Blogging 201 course, I have undertaken to publish a monthly theme post. Living where we do, in a County that is virtually surrounded by the sea, it seems to me that using “The Coast” as the theme is a pretty good idea? What do you good people think of that?

It’s also a pretty good excuse to hunt out those special seaside foods, Dookes ain’t daft you know!

Last month I posted some photographs of the rugged North Cornish Coast, so today by way of a contrast, I thought I’d take you on a trip to the South East corner of Cornwall.

This is the small beach at Cawsand Bay, it faces East out across Plymouth Sound. I’ve been past it many times on ships leaving for France and Spain, but this was the first time I have actually visited. Quite delightful, but not a surfing hotspot!DSCF3754

After chilling for a while on the beach wall, Harley and I headed South and picked up the old Military Road which high above the sea gives stunning views from Rame Head across Whitsand Bay. It was one of those days when the sea and sky merge together in a gentle fuzziness without a clearly defined horizon. Not exact misty and not really clear either, but gentle and embracing nonetheless.DSCF3774

The sea lay glassy and still, with barely a breath of wind rippling the surface. It’s benign beauty concealing the fate of many ships and men who lie here in salty graves beneath the cold surface. These are dangerous waters.

Two specific losses spring to mind. In January 1914, Submarine A7 sank here with the loss of all her crew and the American liberty ship SS James Eagan Layne went down in March 1945 after being torpedoed by a German submarine. In more recent times the former HMS Scylla was purposely sunk, to create an artificial reef and diving site.

Rame Head and Polhawn Cove. Excuse two into the sun shots, but I kinda like them!DSCF3762

The Military Road was built in the mid Nineteenth Century to link coastal defence forts that were built to protect the coast and the important naval city of Plymouth. Today, only Tregantle Fort is still in military use and is regularly used for live firing with small arms; the big coastal guns have long gone. The views from the road are invigorating, with or without a Harley Davidson!DSCF3769

Even though it is only mid-february, you can see the yellow gorse flowers of the gorse breaking out and filling the air with its heady coconut aroma. We are about 360 feet above the sea here.DSCF3764
I do believe that Harley was glad to get out as well, she purred along, well OK, Growled Along, eating up the miles with ease. My chassis feels a little more tired this evening! I’m definitely not riding fit at the moment, fortunately the answer to that is more riding…
Life can be tough!

I don’t quite know how, but I managed to fail on the food front, probably because I was far to busy enjoying myself in the sunshine on two wheels! So, dear reader, I’ll endeavour to rectify that on our next Coastal Odyssey!

Until next time.


“I’m gonna head down to the coast, where nothin’ ever seems to matter…”


I’ve been beefing about the lack of two-wheel action of late.

Yeah, I know I did get out for a few hours a couple of weekends ago, but… well it’s just a bit frustrating! My two-wheeled brothers and sisters will understand the feeling of wanting to get out there on the open road and for those of you who don’t ride, imaging sitting in a stuffy room wanting to open the window for some fresh air, but the window won’t open, that’s what it feels like!
Time therefore, for a bit of reflection.DSCF1176

I have a lot to be grateful for and loads of happy memories from rides gone by, as a dip into the blog archives will reveal. So let’s try something new. Here are some photos from previous posts, if you dear reader would like to click on the title, you will find yourself magically transported to the blog page in the archives, I hope! Please give it a go!

On Col de la Bonnette.


Heavenly Hairpins. 20120618-234730.jpg

Simplon Pass. 20130624-232419.jpg

D-Day Airfield. DSCF3394

The Great Pretender! 20130623-220022.jpg

Well there you are, a little glimpse into the archives. You can explore more by using the Archive Selector in the Right Margin on a PC, or at the bottom of the page on a mobile device. I hope you have a bit of fun dipping around in my blog’s past!

“Looking back, over my shoulder…”

Catch ya soon!

Oh yes, go here for a self-portrait!

Bounce Back!

It was really cool to receive the Liebster Award and also involve other bloggers in the process. I was delighted when my Harley Brother, Rick, accepted his award. Please visit his site Harleytravelsandtips.


Now Rick has decided that he wants me to answer some questions from himself as part of the deal, which is fine by me because I guess it gives everyone the chance to get to know me a little more, sort of!

So here we go with Rick’s questions:

Now here are some questions for Dookes.

1. Best place you ever found by accident?
Easy, Dookes H.Q., where we live. It’s a 300 year old stone built cottage on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall…the far South West of the U.K.. I wasn’t looking for a major restoration job, but when I saw this place I just know that I had to live here. Now, 13 years later, it’s almost finished!

2. If you could move any place where would it be?
Southern France, maybe the Provence region. I’m getting fed up of our cold and wet winters, love everything about France so that’ll be the place.

3. NFL or Premier League?
Tricky! To be honest I’m a Rugby Football fan and an ex-player. So the Premier League with its over paid prima donnas doesn’t really do it for me. The Championship, the next level down, is far competitive and not at all predictable. I don’t see much NFL these days, but in my youth I was quite a Washington Redskins fan; remember Super Bowl XVII, happy days! Needless to say, my cousin who lives in Chicago doesn’t quite agree with my choice of team! So we’ll say NFL.

4. Half a chicken or 10 wings?
Oh, half a chicken…far less messy!

5. Change your own oil or take it to the dealer?
Change my own, which I do a lot, cos oil is cheap and engines ain’t! Unless its under warranty, or part of a service plan. Oh, it’s gotta be fully synthetic too!

6. What do you know about Evil Knievel?
Robert Craig Knievel – The Last Gladiator. A boyhood hero, I got quite good at crashing my pedal cycle just like he did his Harley XR-750! I never saw the point of the Snake River Canyon thing though. I remember watching his jump, and crash, at Wembley Stadium, London, in 1975 like it was yesterday.IMG_0386

7.What and when-your first computer?
Some twin 5.25″ floppy drive pile of c**p with an orange screen waaay on back when Adam was a boy!

8. What was your worst riding experience?
I’ve had a few on horses, but I guess you mean motorbikes! It’s a dead heat between getting caught by a thunder-storm on Col de L’Iseran, 9088ft/2770m, in the French Alps or the white-out in a blizzard on the Grimsel Pass, 7100ft/2164m, in Switzerland. Sliding sideways on ice in the tunnel on Galibier runs it pretty close too. Click to have a look!

9. What was your best riding experience?
The last time I rode a motorbike, because that’s always the freshest in my mind.

10. How did you get two-wheel fever.
Well that bloke Knievel has something to do with it! My father had an old BSA C11, a single cylinder 250cc, it was always in bits, but it sort of got my curiosity going. Then in the 1970’s the Yamaha FS1E 50cc moped came out. Some of my friends had them and I started to ride theirs, no licence or insurance and don’t tell mother! I later worked with a group of lads who all had bikes and again I rode around with them, same situation regarding licence etc! The bug had well and truly bitten, so eventually I did the test and got legal. Now I do “Advanced Riding” and tell everyone how to behave…aw hell my secret’s out now!

11. Can I borrow some cash? (People ask me this all the time because I have a new bike they think I have money). It’s just good credit I say.
Now what makes you think I have any spare. Like you I own a Harley, but have you any idea how much genuine spares or parts cost to import here in the UK? Be glad to buy you a beer one day though!

So there you go Rick, there’s a few secrets outed there, hope you enjoy reading the answers!

Ride safe, ride hard brother!


Wow, an Award!

Well knock me down with a feather!

My little blog site has been nominated for an award!

Thank you a million times to Lili at for the nomination, it really means a lot to me to be recognised by fellow bloggers. By the way, Lili’s site is mouth-watering!


These are the rules that go with the award:

1. Display the Liebster award on your blog. Done.

2. Thank and link back to your nominator. Done.

3. Answer the nominator’s 11 questions. Done.

4. Nominate 11 other bloggers with about 200 or fewer followers and link to them. Done.

5. Draft 11 new questions for your nominees. Done.

6. Notify your nominees via their blogs or social media. Done.


These are Lili’s questions that I need to answer, with my replies:

How did you first feel about receiving this award?
Pretty chuffed really, like… WOW!

What have you been enjoying most about blogging?
Capturing my thoughts at a moment in time and sharing with the world, then going back later and saying to myself, “Yes, I did feel like that.” Sometimes it stirs quite strong recollections and emotions.

What is your idea of a good day?
Hmm, tricky. There are lots of things that push the buttons for me; being with close friends and certain family members is one, sometimes being alone in the hills or on the coast, but any day on my Harley really rocks!

What is your favourite cake and why?
Mrs Dookes makes the most amazing Breton Cake, it’s got to be that, partly because of who makes it and also because it always reminds me of days in France.

What’s your dream?
To ride all the way around the world on a Harley… though I can’t ever see that happening, unless Harley Davidson sponsor me to do it! Are you listening in Milwaukee boys?

What are your favourite possessions and why?
I had to think quite hard about this. Actually i’m not a very material sort of guy, despite having loads of “stuff” around the place. Sure I have some little things that are quite precious to me, but have no real value…like a pebble off a Cornish beach or a piece of rock from Galibier. If I had to say just one thing it would be my memories, that OK?

What do you usually do at the weekend?
There is no usual in my world! It could be riding Harley, gardening, walking, surfing, cooking, watching rugby, model engineering…the list goes on! Yeah, totally self-indulgent!!!

What makes you happy?
Riding my Harley, watching the Wales rugby team, nice food, making people happy too.

On average, how many hours a day are you blogging at the moment?
About two hours each evening, which is about what I normally do when I’m off on a trip anyway. I am really enjoying receiving and replying to quite a few comments at the moment!

What kind of blogs do you like following?
Well, thanks to Blogging 101, the variety has exploded! I follow blogs about travel, cooking, poetry, books, humour, photography… just about anything except teenage angst!

What are you going to do now?
Blogging-wise probably sign up for the 201 course and keep up the work I’ve put into my blog over the past month. Other than that, start planning the next road trip!


OK, now my nominees:
Click on the highlighted text to link to their blog.

Science, books and silly things – A blog that makes you ponder things.

The Lodge on Haydon – Inspiration for a happy home and a happy life.

Rainy Day Reflections – Reflections about life, photography and creativity

Pay, Pack and Follow – Travel, words & great photos.

An Englishman in New England – What it says.

Alba10 – Photography and general randomness.

Kellies Food To Glow – Feel-good food that’s good for you.

Harley Travel and tips – Travelling the USA on a Harley Davidson.

Humour, travel, running – Laugh out loud with this one!

Confessions of a Food Tourist – What it says!.

Clumsy and Stupid – Life in the far North of Canada.

…and these are your questions:

1. How do you feel about getting nominated for the Liebster Award?

2. What made you start blogging?

3. Where is your favourite place in the world?

4. Bungee jump or surfing?

5. If you could go back in time and do something different in your life, what would that be?

6. Where will your next holiday/vacation destination be?

7. Dogs or Cats?

8. Tell us about your favourite food!

9. What is your perfect day?

10. Who would be your dream dinner companion?

11. Do these questions all seem very random to you too?

I think that calls for a drink, cheers!



An Uncle’s Pride

It’s been difficult this last week in the wider Dookes family.

My Sister in law’s mother, Sally, passed away after a long and sometimes painful illness.

Today was her funeral.

The service was the normal affair for our part of the world, nothing extravagant, but full of love, remembrance and gratitude for the life of Sally.

During the service the eulogy was beautifully and courageously given by my niece Kerenza and a poem read with determined passion by nephew Christopher.

My eyes filled with tears and my heart bubbled with emotion, not for Sally who had a full and happy 79 years, but with pride and admiration for those two fine young people publicly expressing their love for their departed Grandmother.

The two children I knew had grown up; there stood adults, ready to carry the flame onwards.

I came away knowing that in one part of the world, the future was in good hands.

Re-Springing My Step

OK, this blog is supposed to be, mostly, about travels on my beloved Harley… and yes just at the moment there hasn’t been much of that to report on.

I’m getting motorcycle withdrawal syndrome.

Its like cabin fever, I feel boxed in, almost unable to breathe and all because I haven’t been out on two wheels!

Let me explain, it’s not a weather thing per se, I hear cries of “fair weather rider” from my friends with “Adventurer” type bikes. Then I hear the sniggering of my Trial Bike Champion nephew Chris, who not only rides in all weathers; but also rides across/along logs, barrels, rocks, old cars and anything else that will stand still. Chris does not have a good day out unless he can pressure wash his motorbike off at the end of it and leave a ton of mud on the driveway! No, I’m not afraid of the weather, but it’s the amount of salt that the Highway Authority throws on the road during the winter here in the UK, I am afraid of that damaging my dear Harley…

The not riding thing is, therefore, self-generated and self-enforced, but I am climbing the walls to get out.

One day last week, as I was driving across Bodmin Moor I felt the urge to stop and dream of what was to come.

It was a beautiful afternoon, a tad chilly, the hills were bathed with a gorgeous clear light and there was a brisk north wind blowing in from the sea. The journey is one I had made countless times before, this time was a little different. About halfway across the moor is a narrow lane that leaves the highway and heads north into the heart of the high moor; it only serves a couple of farms and is for the most part gravel and pot-holed. I’d often wondered what was down that lane, so I turned off to find out!

After a mile I parked in a gateway and got out of the car. The keen wind and clean air made me catch my breath, but then so did the view and the silence. I stood drinking it in with my eyes.P1020918
In the distance I could hear the mewing calls of a flock of Golden Plover as they wheeled on the breeze; other than that, just the buffeting of the wind.

OK, so it’s not the Rockies, the Alps, nor even my beloved Welsh Mountains, but it is only three miles from home and it ain’t half nice!

I may not be out on Harley for a few weeks yet, but places like this put a bounce back in my stride; sort of “re-springing my step,” if you like!

Catch you all later, all down the line…


Ageing Gracefully My Ass

Yesterday, whilst undertaking my latest Blogging University Assignment, I stumbled onto an hilarious and cathartic website that tackles, with some relish, the thorny issue of ageing!

Titled “Aging Gracefully My Ass” (sic), I knew it looked promising from the start…

Then I found this post and my day changed totally! First howls of laughter, but as I began to type a reply I also started to reflect on the deeper message in the post.

Ageing is something that many of us in the “developed nations” sort of take for granted, almost an assumed ‘Right’ if you like. Looking at the World Health Organisation statistics for 2012, the gulf between the top male life expectancy, Japan 84.6 years, and the lowest, Sierra Leone 38, is simply mind-blowing. I was interested to see that Andorra, where I passed through last summer, is actually second best in the list at 84.2 and top for women at 87.6; maybe I should have enquired about staying!

As part of the whole ‘taking it for granted’ thing, perhaps that is why we are always so shocked, almost affronted, when someone is denied that right of attaining the basic ‘three score and ten’; either by illness, natural disasters, war etc.. Certainly my visit to the War Graves in Northern France last spring underlined the horrific numbers there that were denied that ‘right’. Hey though this is getting a bit too heavy…

What I love about my new blogging friend’s site is the optimism conveyed to the reader. True it does address the problem of friends and contemporaries snuffing it; check out my own posts for evidence of that, but not in a morbid way. This is not a self-pity tome but more a celebration of life and living that life to the full, every day! Isn’t that what life should be about anyway?

By today that one post has attracted over forty comments, which is fantastic, clearly a chord has been struck amongst us Baby Boomers! In fact my new blog chum has pointed out that I really need to modify my own blog tag to incorporate one of my comments; thanks AGMA I will!

These days I like to follow the mantra that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said when someone asked him how he was; “Oh, just glad to be!”

The main thing to remember is that tomorrow the sun will rise: Aim to be there to see it.

Catch you all tomorrow, at dawn!