Trip Planning

Regular visitors my blog, The “Blogonaughts,” may probably be wondering why I haven’t been hitting the road for another epic type trip.

The months of June and July have, sort of, become my default time for going off exploring, with long hours of Northern Hemisphere sunshine and school holidays still a month or more away. Yes, I avoid school holidays!

So why am I not heading out exploring?

Well, there are a number of different reasons…

First up, I’ve just been crazy busy over the past few months. The maintenance of Dookes H.Q and various bits of charity work that I do have certainly kept me off the streets, literally.

Then there was G’s crash and injury, which has seen me zipping back and forth to support him and has left me feeling a bit flat about the whole business of riding motorcycles.

It wasn’t just G.

My oldest mate “Vifferman” took a tumble and wrote off his Honda, in atrocious wet conditions, just before Christmas and recently nephew Chris had a crazy woman step out in front of his trials bike one evening after dark; fortunately no-one was seriously hurt in either case, however as a result, I’ve been feeling a little like “the last man standing!”

Viff’s second-hand Honda.

It’s all OK though, having freed myself up from over commitments I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; G is on the mend, Chris is young and unshaken, Viff is, well, just Viff!

Which is why my thoughts have been turning towards trip planning!

At this moment I can hear Mrs Dookes sighing. You see I’m a bit of a map nerd; I’d rather spend an hour poring over a map than reading a magazine or newspaper…it’s the Navigator in me! As a result I’ve always got inspiration for future trips running through my head and embryonic plans just waiting to be developed, cunning eh?

Where are you thinking of going, then Dookes? I hear you say.

Well the list isn’t as long as you’d think…

Home Nations wise I’ve long harboured a wish to do a tour of the UK taking in Wales (naturally), Scotland, England and Ireland.
I always seem to have some unfinished business somewhere and the Alps and Dolomites are in my mind on that score.
I’d quite like to take a gentle foodie trundle around Spain and Portugal’s non-touristy areas.
Parts of Eastern Europe have always appealed to me, such as Hungary and Romania, so I’d throw in some of the Balkans there as well.
Finally, I really want to go explore Scandinavia, especially North of the Arctic Circle.
Needless to say, my beloved France would almost certainly be included in most of the above!

That’s about it really…for now.

Now, where to????

I did ponder whether I should have called this post “Route Dreaming,” but a dream stays that, just a dream – an abstract swirl of misty ideas. No my friends, these are places that I will really ride to and as such I have the plans to prove it.

So how do I go about putting together a route plan?

Well, I start with the basic target of somewhere to go, the final destination. Taking Dookes H.Q. as the starting point, that gives me the beginning and end. Next I do some research on interesting or historic places to visit along the way, like the Chapel at Ronchamp, Aigues Mortes or Pont du Gard.

Aigues Mortes

Then its just a matter of finding interesting twisty roads and joining up the dots; simple really. If any of this comes across as ‘teaching Grandma how to suck eggs,’ then I apologise, but I really get lots of people asking how I do my route planning.

Pont du Gard, It’s Roman and very old!

Oh yes, factoring in accommodation is pretty important too and detours have been known to sample particular food delicacies; as my late mate Floyd once said, “To know a country, you must eat a country!”

Only the French serve food like this…

So there you are, the Dookes route-planning machine is alive, well and currently very active.

The question is:
Which one of the destinations on the list above will I attack first?

Well I’m not going to give anything away at this stage, build the suspense and keep you all guessing eh?

I’m thinking that 2600 miles and six countries should do it…

In September.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to do a spot of map reading!

“I just know where I want to be,
Forever wandering, forever travelling.”

Catch you soon.


A Strange Little Chapel

Only a couple of days ago I realised that my route plan for this trip was taking me fairly near to a building that has fascinated me for over forty years. Not only that, but the story of the man behind the building I find equally compelling.

The building in question is the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut and the man is known simply as Le Corbusier.

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland in 1887. He trained first as an artist, before branching out as an architect, town planner, writer and humanist. He was a prominent figure of the modern art movement and is credited as a leader in what is today called “modern architecture.” He was a pioneer in the use of reinforced concrete as an architectural art form. He died in France in 1965.

Le Corbusier’s most famous religious work is the chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut, built in 1955 on a hill overlooking the town of Ronchamp. image

It was to this beautiful hillside that I turned Baby late this afternoon. In a way I was undertaking a bit of a pilgrimage and I wasn’t disappointed.

The predecessor to today’s Chapel was sadly destroyed at the end of World War Two, but it gave Le Corbusier a blank canvas with which to work for its replacement.

The building is highly irregular in both plan and section, frankly I find it stunning. image

Le Corbusier wanted light to become integral to the design so the roof doesn’t actually sit on the walls! It is standing on a series of columns with the walls providing a filling, at the top of the walls, which themselves are perforated in windows, are thin glass fillets that allow light to shine through and make the roof appear to be sitting on a cushion of light.image

Externally I found the building stunning enough, but inside took my breath away!

I don’t normally get very excited about religious buildings, yes I love the great medieval cathedrals for their impressive structural engineering; I like the wonderfully quirky Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and there’s a very small old church in Dorset that once quite charmed me, but nothing compares to this Chapel!

I wandered in and for a moment just stood taking it in; before, almost overcome by the atmosphere, I had to sit down on a simple bench against the wall furthest from the main altar. The place just oozed peace and tranquility.image

When the building was opened in 1955 Le Corbusier said;

“By building this chapel, I wanted to create a place of silence, prayer, peace, inner joy.”

Well, he certainly did that.

I don’t honestly know how long I sat there, I just didn’t want to leave and I really could feel an inner peace. imageI’m not at all religious these days, but you know, something reached out and touched me there and I feel better for it.

Catch you soon.