Springing Forward and Coast Update.

Hello everyone!

OK, apologies first…

It’s been nearly a month since I last posted on the blog; that old problem of life just getting in the way of everything again I’m afraid! I’m sorry I have been “Off Air” for a bit, but I’m back now and have some lost ground to make up.

So what have I been up to?

Well, the seasons are marching on and here in the South West corner of England Spring is setting in with a gentle vengeance. We have lambs joyfully leaping around in the field behind Dookes H.Q. celebrating their new care-free lives; the trees are bursting into leaf and the early cherry and crab-apple blossom is beginning to show from dormant buds. Birds are busy squabbling over the best nesting sites and I have even had to cut the not inconsiderable acreage of grass at Dookes H.Q. a couple of times too. The last of the post-winter garden tidy up is nearly finished and best of all, the sound of my Harley Davidson’s engine has been singing it’s “Milwaukee Music” around the country roads that I love!

Yep, it’s always good to ride… but sometimes in the Spring is best of all!

A couple of weeks ago I took a long, meandering, ride over Dartmoor. Instead of heading for my normal haunts of the high ground, I thought I’d take in some of the valley scenery before the hoards of tourists arrived!
This is Holne Bridge over the River Dart near Ashburton, taken just before the trees started to really green up.P1030487

I have certainly been clocking up a few miles and not just aboard the ride-on mower either. The world, for me, certainly looks better from behind a set of handle bars. It gives me time to get my head clear of all those things that we often think are important, but in reality are not. Time to concentrate on staying alive and living this one life in the way that I choose.

The longer days bring the bonus of light evenings and the opportunity to watch the sun take it’s daily dip into the Atlantic Ocean in often glorious golden hues. Last Tuesday we popped over to Bude on the North Cornwall coast about twenty minutes from Dookes H.Q. by Harley and were treated to a delightful sunset.

The remaining section of the old Bude Canal enters the ocean by a sea lock and provides interest to the scene.P1030510
Whilst in the bay boats rest on their moorings as the sun disappears into the sea; if you listen carefully you can sometimes hear the hiss!

To the left and noticeably lower than the canal, the River Neet runs it course, whilst the old rails of the narrow gauge hay tramway glint in the last rays of the sun.P1030508
All that was left to do then was to mount up and enjoy the ride home, life can be tough sometimes!

“See me ride out of the sunset, on your coloured TV screen.”

Catch you all soon.


Saying Goodbye To David

One way or other, last year ended on a bit of a low note. I lost a number of old friends in a relatively short space of time and it all seemed a bit dark for a while.

Today we made our final farewell to David, a friend and colleague from the days when I earned my living running railways. Sadly, he was one of the losses of 2014.

David had instructed his family that he wished his ashes to be laid in a beautiful woodland setting alongside the South Devon Railway, a heritage steam railway that he loved and helped to rescue from scrapping way back in the 1970’s.

It was with mixed feelings this morning that I fired up Harley in delightful spring sunshine and headed for Buckfastleigh, the headquarters of the railway.

The trip took us across some of South West England’s most rugged and beautiful landscape, Dartmoor. Despite the wonderful day, I was not really in the mood to stop and take photos, so please forgive me and I hope you understand. I was aware of the loveliness, but felt a bit grim about what was to come.

On arriving at the railway I met up with David’s family and other friends. We all boarded the special train and it was unanimously agreed that David’s ashes should make the trip on the locomotive, he would have loved that!

Soon the train arrived at the designated spot adjacent to the lovely River Dart and after a short committal ceremony, the ashes were interred. As we climbed back aboard the train, the locomotive sounded a shrill sad whistle and we started our return journey, I instinctively waved good-bye to my late friend.

Back at Buckfastleigh, we swapped stories and anecdotes and generally enjoyed sharing our memories over a late lunch; whilst not forgetting to watch the public service train depart, this was a railway occasion after all!

GWR Pannier Tank 6412, built 1934 at Buckfastleigh.

GWR Pannier Tank 6412, built Swindon 1934, at Buckfastleigh.

Where the hard work is done!

Where the hard work is done!

Departure and on the left the next generation learns about steam engines!

Departure and on the left the next generation learns about steam engines!

In due course we made our farewells and as I threw my leg over Harley I sat and remembered one of David’s favourite sayings when a job had gone perfectly:
“Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?”

I do indeed my friend, I do indeed.