Out in the Country

Every morning at Dookes H.Q. the alarm goes off and persistently calls us out of our comfortable slumber at the crack of dawn every day, yes that’s right, every day! You see our alarm takes the form of three working cocker spaniels; Deltic, Bethany and Bluebell. Without fail, as soon as the light of day gets to a certain level, our four legged friends decide that it’s time to get out of bed and burst into song to join in with the dawn chorus! 
Yes, sometimes it’s a real pain to drag out of a cosy bed, but other days it’s a treat to be outside as the new day gets going. Today was one of those mornings that took my breath away; it was a little bit hazy but had the promise of a good day ahead. Things have sort of got to me over the last few days so I took the opportunity to get a few jobs out of the way and then enjoy some “me time.” 

Now before I get someone saying that taking early retirement is pretty much wall to wall “me time,” let me assure you it ain’t! I just needed a bit of space to get my head reset and yes, it was going to involve riding Harley. 

Actually I had a funny little job to do first. Some time ago I was given a couple of large cobble stones that a former neighbour had picked up on a local beach. The two stones have sat incongruously in our garden for a year or so and every time I’ve walked past them they have began to look more and more out of place; if stones could look sad these did! I knew that they were picked up from Widemouth Bay, so after loading them in Harls’ panniers that’s where we went and repatriated my two pre-Cambrian friends on the beach with their brothers and sisters! You know, it made me feel pretty good too, daft eh?

After riding literally thousands of miles on Baby Blue in recent months, it was really back to basics on Harls; less power, less brakes, less comfort, more wind, more noise….I love it! 

I stuck to the back roads and apart from the odd tractor didn’t see any traffic, with no time constraint it was blissful riding at its best!

There’s been a lot of pretty heavy things processed in the Dookes brain of late and a ride like this was just what I needed. 

Nearing home I couldn’t resist a little diversion to Treburland Bridge on the infant River Lynher. This delightful place is only two miles from the front door of Dookes H.Q., but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been down the twisting narrow lane that fords the water here. Just a few yards upstream and flanked by the last of the spring bluebells, stands the clapper bridge that gives the place it’s name. 

Clapper bridges are ancient structures often found on Dartmoor, Exmoor and of course here on Bodmin Moor. The bridge is formed by large flat slabs of local stone, here it’s granite, supported on stone piers and resting on the banks. Goodness knows how many centuries this bridge has stood here and how many feet have trod those worn slabs of rock.
It’s just the sort of place to sit, gather your thoughts, breath in the fresh clean air and just enjoy the moment. With the river gently burbling over the ford, a billion gossamer winged willow seeds drifting around on the slack breeze and the tang of wild garlic in the air, it really was quite enchanting and certainly uplifting. What else would you expect it to do for a country boy like me?

You know, it gave me an idea. . . 

I do believe that it is time for a road trip!

Stick around, this is going to get interesting!

“Why don’t you tell them what you’re gonna do? Do anything you wanna do.”

Catch you soon.


Sometimes You Just Gotta Ride!

There are days when I begin to hanker for being out on two wheels, but in the back of my mind I know that the list of jobs that need attention at Dookes H.Q. over-rides my selfish whims.

Today started just like that and when you consider that I spent most of yesterday watching the incredible climax of this year’s Six Nations Rugby Competition…the chances of getting out on Harley looked remote!

Even worse, the weather was sublime.

Then again, you have to remember that I am married to a rather remarkable lady.

You see, Mrs Dookes has the ability to recognise the “Harley hankering” symptoms and also knows what a pain in the backside I can be when the condition strikes! I spent this morning finishing a small project for the house out in my Man-Cave, the workshop. Whilst I began to ponder “what next” over a cup of tea, Mrs D suggested it was time for me to go for a ride… I told you she is amazing!

It didn’t take long before Harley and I were out on the road.

I didn’t fancy tearing about, better to take your time and enjoy the day in a mellow way. We set off North East and soon crossed over the county boundary into Devon.

For those of you who do not hail from these shores, the County of Devon is one of the most quintessential of all English Counties; the scenery is gentle on the eye, “chocolate box” thatched cottages abound and the roads meander the contours in sweeping curves and bends…just right for a motorbike!

We passed through small villages with delightful names; St Giles on The Heath, Chapmans Well, Clawton.

At Holsworthy we stopped and explored part of the long closed railway, the old viaduct standing silent testament to the thousands of trains that once passed here.

Holsworthy Viaduct

Holsworthy Viaduct

From Holsworthy we turned West and crossed back into Cornwall near the source of the River Tamar, which for most of its course forms the boundary between the two counties.

Soon we had that tantalising first glimpse of the sea, the dark line of horizon where sky meets water. Whenever I experience that view, living in Cornwall it happens a lot, I still get a surge of excitement like a small child on a seaside holiday!

OK, looks like we are going to the seaside again… I really can’t help it!

The evocative poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield, started running through my mind;

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

I love that poem.

We paused at Widemouth Bay; that’s pronounced “Widdmuth.” Standing on the cliff above the bay the spring sunshine, yes we have now passed the Equinox, bathed the scene. Shallow rollers lazily rippled in from the Atlantic, not big enough to surf today, but easy on the soul and uplifting to world-weary eyes.

Low Tide at Widemouth Bay

Low Tide at Widemouth Bay

Heading for home, I mused that last time I rode Harley I was returning from scattering a friend’s ashes, today was altogether brighter and much more cheerful. The sentries of bright yellow daffodils that line the lanes here at this time of year certainly contributed to the cheerful mood.

Arriving back at Dookes HQ, I shared the last of Lili’s wonderful Bikers Cake with Mrs D; then set to giving the grass its first cut of the year.

Yes, sometimes you just gotta ride!

“Oh, I’m a travelin’ man”

Catch you all soon.


Todays ride is dedicated to David.