architecture, art, beach, inspiration

at Anderby Creek

First few days of spring, and a beautiful day on the east coast of Lincolnshire. Wide sweeping stretches of sand and dunes where the land meets the North Sea

We took the VW camper for a drive to our favourite local beach at Anderby Creek

Here we find some fascinating installations Structures on the Edge, small scale artistic architecture designed to respond to the natural elements in semi-remote coastal locations

At Anderby Creek sits the Cloud Bar, a larch clad building with a cloud viewing platform and cloud mirrors reaching up to reflect the sky down to the earth. It has a cloud spotting menu and is endorsed by the Cloud Appreciation Society. I love it

Just a little further along the beach is the Round and Round house. It was selected from the international Bathing Beauties (re-imagining the beach hut design competition), as being ideal for bird watching. I love how internally it spirals up to the sky

We explored further south along the beach this time as the day was so beautiful, and found the Sound Tower at Chapel Six Marshes

Perched high in the dunes, this structure is designed to focus on our senses and the windswept nature of the site. After climbing the steps and entering the bright yellow interior, the building unexpectedly tips forward to give a view of the beach, the sky and sea. Brilliant

These simple structures sit effortlessly in the natural environment. Quirky and fun, with the element of surprise, they enhance this lovely stretch of beach; and I’m on the look out for more…

 

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Do What You Love, freedom seeker, online learning

to do what you love

Following the Do What You Love team founded by Beth Kempton, freedom seeker and adventurer, I promised myself the treat of the DWYL online course on retiring from the UK health service. It didn’t disappoint. The five week course was intensive and thought provoking, packed full of practical exercises to find the way to Do What You Love for Life…..just what I had been waiting for. The DWYL website is full of free short courses, inspiring stories and words of wisdom

Beth is the author of Freedom Seeker. Live More. Worry Less. Do What You Love

I was so excited to be selected for an interview for inclusion in her book, to be published on April 4th 2017. In fact, the opportunity inspired me (and gave me a much needed push) to start this blog, and also a deadline to do so. Scary for me for several reasons: hoping to write about something that might interest or maybe even inspire others; also sharing my own thoughts, hopes, dreams and activities. But I made the jump, and here I am

freedom-seeker

Beth’s new book

 

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inspiration, Sunsets

alternative sunsets

One of the things I missed most when I moved from my old home was the sunset views across the open fields. The skies were simply stunning some evenings

Where I live now is amongst the trees, and I don’t get a view of the horizon unless I’m out and about at sunset. At first I felt sad that I no longer have a clear view of the beautiful end of the day skies in the west from my home, and I miss that. However, I continue to look for the sunset sky and it has shown me some beautiful and unexpected alternatives. The light is reflected through and onto the trees around us, with amazing colour shows some evenings

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ancient oak on fire

 

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golden silver birch

 

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changing colours of the pines

I am reminded of other stunning alternative sunset views on my travels

A recent campaign “Sunsets for Kate” by a brave lady Kate Morrell from Wagga Wagga, Australia, is a reminder of the great gift of sight. Kate is losing her eyesight due to Usher syndrome, and her sunset views will soon be lost altogether. A fellow student on the online “Do What you Love” e-course, she is appealing for as many sunset photos as possible to view before it’s too late for her, and to raise awareness of this condition. Kate’s story is an inspiration and humbling reminder to appreciate and make the most of each and every precious view…

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art inspiration, motorcycling, travel

the joy of the road

Experiencing a constant stream of landscapes and ever changing views which frame the road, snatched images and details, impossibly trying to memorise, unable to stop to photograph the stunning views around every bend….. sometimes travelling by bike (or any means of transport) seems that we are too quickly soaking up amazing scenery, grasping a mental snapshot, and then it’s gone, it’s behind us and we are taking in the next view…. but we are loving the experience of fast travel, enjoying the roads, lanes and tracks; and then we make choices of where and when to slow right down…. to stop to engage more fully and slowly explore the surroundings

It is the dilemma of travel (and life too); the need to cover distance balanced with the wish to stay awhile in each place to sense and take time to enjoy…

I felt inspired by artist and cyclist Nick Bodimeade’s work  “B roads” and “Tracks Trails and Tarmac”. He explores these experiences and his paintings capture those moments, celebrating the joy of travel, movement and of passing by whilst taking in the surrounding scenes. His work spoke to me and reflected my own thoughts about travel and memory

Do take a look at his vibrant work and watch the short video about his painting process

Nick Bodimeade

Here are my own Scottish road images just waiting to be captured in paint ….

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France, inspiration, motorcycling

Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

France is wonderfully diverse, and travelling by bike last summer enabled us to seek out remote areas, but also to find delightful rural villages on the way. Tumbling down hillsides, these were feasts for my eyes

We were so fortunate that although unbeknown to us, our route would take us to these special places

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Lagrasse, Aude; a medieval village south east of Carcasonne

 

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Minerve, Herault, Languedoc

Minerve, perched on a hillside amidst rugged scenery of deep gorges, I couldn’t believe the dramatic views as we stumbled across this amazing place

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Beautiful Olargues, Parc Naturel, Haut-Languedoc

Mik and I made a short visit to Olargues, a cluster of houses above “Devil’s Bridge” dated 1202, where reputably the villagers made transactions with the “devil”. Tiny streets and alleyways, steps, stone doorways and arches, it is a place to roam and explore, and even though a small village, I felt we could easily become lost here

There is a museum of art and tradition, which we didn’t find, however we found an amazing portrait artist within the village, Els Knockaert. Stunning paintings, and a warm welcome to view her art:

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Staying in a tiny hamlet in nearby Riols, we explored the surrounding countryside on our bikes: mountains, gorges and lakes and went wild swimming with bright turquoise dragonflies hovering over a cool river pool. Truly magical….we will be back

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our ramblings in the beautiful South of France

 

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adventure, motorcycling, travel

Inspired by Lois

I love to hear about the adventures of other, much more daring travellers than me. Today, I looked up a saved link to Lois Pryce (solo motorbike adventurer) and watched her brilliant TED talk “In praise of vulnerable travel” on YouTube. Wow, she speaks to me about my travel fears, and ups and downs.

Firstly: the excess baggage! All that stuff I carried around on my bike this year. To cover every eventuality! In fact in Scotland, I posted clothes home to lighten my load. I love to pack for motor biking, every item has to be there for a reason, we can carry so little. But even so, I always take too much. I always take a small art kit and sketchbook as essential items, but I gather bits and pieces along the way, an avid collector of little “treasures”, some postcards, a travel brochure cutting here, a little piece of local pottery: it all adds up, all extra to carry. I even relished in filling extra tiny spaces in my luggage. But it all adds weight, and risk of dropping the bike. I must learn to lighten up!

The rain came down torrentially in Spain. My husband Mik and I were caught in a horrendous storm, when all of our belongings were back in the tent across the border in France. My bike didn’t cope with going through deep water, and broke down! Calling for roadside assistance late on a Friday afternoon, and not speaking a word of Spanish I was taken south into Spain, and my bike locked up for the weekend in storage. Mik followed the truck on his bike, and we found ourselves in a town we had never heard of, in the clothes we stood up in, full motorbike gear in 40 degree heat, for the weekend

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Vic, near Barcelona. I really didn’t mind being stranded here

I learned something that weekend: it didn’t matter that we had no change of clothes, no luggage, none of the things I thought I should need in an emergency. We had our papers and cards, so it was easy to find somewhere to stay, buy a toothbrush, some deodorant (I can’t do without!) and a scarf to make into a skirt! Not roughing it I know, but it was a lesson in realising what we really need, which isn’t as much as we think.

I also learned that the more uncertain and unplanned things became, the happier and more free I felt. I loved that I didn’t know what we were doing next, and what was around the next corner, and the weekend led to a much more unexpected few weeks following, and changed how we planned and even better when we didn’t plan where to travel after that….

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adventure, freedom, identity, motorcycling, passion, travel

Travel on two wheels

I’ve been riding motorbikes since my early 20s. It all started as a means to get to work, and my first bike a Suzuki A100, bought for just a tenner. I hadn’t a clue; I just got on it and went to work, but little did I know then that riding this bike would start a life long passion. It sparked a feeling of adventure and freedom, of living a life a little differently and shared with others with the same enthusiasm. I had been bitten by a bug that has stayed with me always, and become part of who I am.

Earlier this year I longed for an old model Triumph Street Triple, having loved riding them previously. My bike at the time was a Ducati Monster. I counted myself very lucky to have not one, but two gorgeous bikes.

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How lucky I was to take this bike to  the north of Scotland and Outer Hebrides.

This little grey Triumph number made me smile from ear to ear, and I looked forward to a long summer of adventure. We travelled three thousand miles together first to Wales and then to Scotland, Skye and the Hebridean islands

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a view of Skye from Plockton

Unfortunately, a tour of North Yorkshire with biker girl friends ended very early for me, when I came off the Triple coming down from the Buttertubs Pass to Wensleydale. It had been a wet foggy morning, and we had been riding carefully due to poor visibility, but as the fog cleared and I could see a view of beautiful Hawes, I relaxed, but then a small error of judgement led to braking too sharply, the rear tyre locking up and I took the bike into the verge, and I was thrown off. There is a further story regarding the bike being dropped from the recovery lorry (which was a further shock), and my poor bike was condemned as a write off. I was shaken at the time, but the worst thing for me was a damage to my confidence, which was very hard to deal with.

We were booked on a ferry for the following Friday with a group of friends travelling to the French Pyrenees, so I picked myself up, dusted myself down and prepared to travel on the Ducati Monster

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A great looking and sounding bike in the iconic Ducati red

My confidence was in tatters. I felt fearful, but as the travel  was booked, I just got on with it, not an option not to go. We spent the first week with a group of friends camping in the Pyrenees, organised by world adventurer Nick Sanders

My husband Mik and I then spent a further three weeks travelling in France and Spain.We had a great, yet challenging time seeking out of the way places, quirky accommodations and we met interesting and lovely people. The Ducati was unreliable (conking out in heavy rain), I struggled with fear of another accident, but I also unexpectedly realised that the more uncertain situations became the more I relished them! We also learned a lot about independent travel, the joys and many challenges of travelling as a couple, what we each loved and did not love quite so much! We arrived home exhausted, but keen to plan our next adventure. By then I had decided to exchange the Monster for another Triumph; not what might be expected as a practical adventure or touring bike, but definitely the most exciting bike for me

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Unfortunately, due to injury I’ve not yet been able to have a ride out yet, but having to learn the hard lessons (for me anyway) of getting up after falling down, finding courage, being calm and patient and allowing time for healing before I can venture further…..

 

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