..dodging the rain..

…we knew the rain was coming…

…my knees were complaining, telling me the tide was turning and bringing the rain…but first a turn on our bikes to ‘our’ beautiful Appledorable, down the last long sweep of a hill, past the gallery and the old Georgian merchant house where the wisteria had bloomed in such glory earlier this month…

We did the tourist thing this morning, stopped on the quay and I got out my camera to snap…it is amazing what you see when you are walking or riding…time slows and you are truly engaged, engrossed in the moment that was, Appledore in bloom, houses and gigs freshly painted, bollards bright yellow where there was no railing and a huge drop into the mud below! And in every nook someone had planted flowers…

 

 
…the village of Instow, where my mum had lived lies just across the estuary. Fishermen still land their catches there as well as in Appledore right here on the quay for us to buy the best fish, right off the boat..
..the clouds were gathering but our moods were as bright as the day when we were first about. The Hockings ice cream van was not yet in position…one of these days I’ll get there at the right time and I’ll have one with a flake! A big one….lol, I’m worth it!

 

 
..the village still sleepy, not many about, we ride on now down the ‘main drag’, past St Mary’s church, past the turn off to Irsha Street with its tiny fishermen’ so cottages, painted pink and green and white and blue, decorated with door knocker sculptured from last year’s competition, along the Torridge Road where the old Appledore Station used to be, a terra cotta plaque erected to tell where it once had been…I wonder if my friend Maggy had made it, must ask her the next time I see her. There was an old bench to sit on someone had made with recycled timbers from an old boat. Up hill now and someone had rested there a while with her baby,  a boy? A blue and white striped sock waiting to be picked up, the evidence…

Past fields we rode now, the estuary westwards, someone had sown poppy seeds, the deepest, vibrant of reds, big poppy blooms called ladybird, the empty package pinned to the fence…when the seeds ripen I must get a pod and sow them, it will be interesting how many there will be next year!

A little detour to Sandymere beach and then up the long hill past ‘bloody corner’ we are on the way home…I can smell the coffee already, and it’s only ten o’clock!

…and no rain yet…

 

morning dew


…the dew lay heavy and dog and I were out very early this morning, the sun still very low…I thought to write about our morning walk instead of a ride…

…the dew was cold on my feet, the bird song intense still and my Dachshund doing what his hound nose knew best… scenting where the mice had been, rats perhaps, a fox or even a badger…hedgehogs are rare here, too much poison about to kill slug armies after the wet winter and rats that have thrived on bird feed…birds had a very hard time and everyone left food and grain for them but not everyone picked up the leftovers from the day…and at night others found the banquet…I found a huge rat in the light of day, having a bath in the birdbath, grooming her whiskers!…

…we walked around the allotments where Phil was watering already…it’s all very dry and until the roots are established the seedlings need water to grow…

..there is a frog baby in out tiny pond and I have built him a little bridge to get out when he wants to…we had four tadpoles, Eeny Meeny, Miney and Moe but only one survived…can’t tell which one!…dog roses are beginning to bloom, the last of the hawthorn blossom lingering and some Irises someone had planted some time ago for us to enjoy…glorious foxgloves, magenta and white and the grasses are beautiful, bees in the comfrey…

… the sun is warm already and other dogs are coming…Safir had a wonderful game with two whippets, a spaniel, a collie and a boxer cross…. one more turn around the allotments, I love the chill on my feet and the warmth of the early sun on my face, white clover spread their leaves, heavy with dew…all three leafed…

…somewhere there is a four leafed one!…

…home then for a morning cuppa and breakfast feasts for the three of us…

June is bustin’ out all over!

All over meadows and the hill!
Buds’re bustin’ outa bushes.
And the rompin’ river pushes. 
Ev’ry little wheel that wheels….

 

Ahh! That’s exactly how it was! Back in the saddle today at last, testing my poorly left knee and it was just fine…in a low gear my little bike motor cut in and it was pure pleasure, riding along. We made it all the way to the weir, still no sign of the dipper, riding through what seemed like a shady green tunnel with flecks of sunshine playing with the leaves, a myriad of colours, a kaleidoscope of greens.

Swathes of Queen Anne’s lace along the banks, symbolism for protection as you follow your dreams, with angels at your side…buttercups nodding heads with ragged robin, yellow and pink, in the wind. A blackbird shouts, a pheasant calls and from somewhere the crow of a cockerel.

Ferns are lush, penny royal clings to rocks, upright their candles, hawthorn begins to fade and the scent of the wild garlic has gone…

We pass through Rhododendron Cathedral as I call it just before the weir, as high as the arch of the bridge…daisy patches and on the way back we spot a herd of Friesians wander down the bank of the river to drink…
The first foxgloves stand tall, pale in the shady stretches, glorious magenta in the sunny patches…even the stinging nettles are beautiful, nettle soup is delicious and just as the wild garlic, a freebie for the forager…

Dog roses begin to bloom and even the blackberry bushes begin to sport the first flowers…heaven for the bees after a hard winter…
Someone had dug away part of the bank we had to manoevre over, making easy access to the trail…an added bonus for me today. My knee held up well, I am happy, we are happy and I feel as if I am on holiday and I want to sing out loud but instead I keep the song in my heart and listen to the riverchatter, listen to the wind in the trees and the purring of our wheels a’wheelin’!

 
 

Appledorable

the old Wisteria

..my friend William visited here regularly once a year late spring and stayed in Bronco’s cottage with a tiny terrace garden overlooking the estuary close to the bar…You could see the waves there branding, foaming, a warning that the tide was low and no boat could cross…his fondness of Appledore was without boundaries and he called it Appledorable…

And this was where we cycled to this Whitsunday morning via the back roads, past the ship yard, old, abandoned boats pushed tight under the hedges, perhaps to be worked on again one year…tiny cottages, past Sandy’s studio and then we joined the main road, no traffic yet and still a chill in the air…the houses here told of the wealthy folk who built them, majestic in Georgian style and tiny cottages tucked in between…we stopped for a moment to take a photo of the magnificent wisteria growing on a house, a real happening every year and a sight to behold…in between the gnarled vine tiny toys that had been lost found a new home, maybe to be reclaimed the following year when the visitors returned once more.

Cafes and bistros were opening up, people on the quay with Sunday papers tucked underarm looking where they might have breakfast…the Hocking ice cream van in situ, waiting…but it was too chilly for one at this time…hard to pass one up but we rode on, not today.

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old boat

Past the church and its hall we rode, where the signs for the open bar and film night for last Friday were still up but then the way it is here someone might have put them up in readiness for next Friday…

We rode along hedgerows now and the hawthorn was almost in flower, trees bent double from fierce ocean winds, the sea a deep emerald, on the horizon against the clear blue sky, a liner, all white…

The hill up to our village was steep but our bikes managed it and we are learning to ride on the road again where there are no cycle paths and we begin to trust our bikes…

Appledorable was a treat to ride to and away from, to have the wind in our faces and then come home for morning coffee in our conservatory!

looking over the river to Instow

 

did I forget?

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…I talked about the white garlic flowers…

…I talked about mayweed, dandelions, buttercups…or did I forget them?…

…did I talk about the carpets of anemones? Bluebells I did…ragged robin? Lord and ladies? and did I really forget the Devon Violets? How could I? They were so abundant, as abundant as grass, and utterly beautiful!

…I remember as a girl a young man who was allowed to call on me, gave me a white stone bottle of perfume with hand painted violets painted on it…Devon Violets…in script writing…I did treasure it long after I had forgotten his name…it had been a lovely gift, a first love gift…as I love the Devon Violets on the trail and in my garden…they are everywhere, still in their beauty, an unassuming little flower and although I did forget to mention it, it was right there…not to be missed…

Fremington Coffee

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…our second ride!

…from our house this time, we have to face traffic sooner or later and we did and we rode in the other direction towards Fremington on this sunny morning to stop off and use our gift tickets from our bike shop for a free coffee each…

..lovely, all familiar to Instow along the estuary, Appledore shipyard on the other side of the river, the tide was in and the water like a mirror. Past the yacht club where boats were being spruced up for the summer, the old Instow station with the signal box with all the levers still there, protected now and great to see…bikers dismount! and we did, crossed the road and on we went under a road tunnel, past the little cottages for rent. Pretty as a picture and the plantings already beautiful…a large tub outside one with early potatoes growing…

…not so much woodland birdlife here, a pigeon or two, loud wing flapping to escape these intruders and then we reach the marshy part, telegraph poles reflecting in the shallow water, faded beige reeds and egrets fishing, preening, they were having a good day…after the muted colours and bare trees bent away from the westerlies the rapeseed yellow on the other side was somewhat startling but framed by deciduous green quite lovely…

..the bridge by the quay was being mended, tarpaulins keeping us safe and then we arrive at the old Fremington station which has been converted into a lively cafe, picnic benches and laughter, the sun warm after the dismal winter people are outside and happy…

…our free coffee was good. Are you going to buy a bike, I was asked, oh yes! We have already! And then we chatted to a man and his lady with their Hungarian Vizla, he was riding, bad knees, she was walking their dog…FAST walking!

..time to ride home…after the stop it seemed a long way to go but the first cow parsley bearing their crowns, the last primroses hiding in the hedgerows, a farmer ploughing straight and undulating lines, wild apple blossom soon distracted us to enjoy a wonderful ride home again…up hills with our little motors helping, happy to enjoy lunch in the sun…

The Tarka Trail

imageYippee!

I’ve got a new bike!

We both have a new bike!

Bikes with a little motor, e-bikes, that help up the hills, mirrors on the handle bars for seeing who was coming up behind you and after two years of not riding Michael and I are back on the trail!

..the purring of the tires on the Tarmac, sun in our faces and a gentle wind as we ride, it’s spring! Chaffinches trill, pigeons coo as we pass swathes of bluebells nodding their heads in the breeze, wild white blooming garlic banks and their scent hangs in the air. I spotted a single purple orchid, standing straight to attention, may weed and dandelions as we head through the tunnel towards the weir. The water is clearer I notice, I see an angler in the middle of the river casting a line..

..the trees are not yet completely in leaf and we marvel at the different greens, nature’s magnificent palette, to our right an orange tip butterfly and fifty feet below us gulls glide in circles over the river..

..high water soon the tide is coming in, a wren flits in front of us across the trail, a blackbird shouts as we pass and Billy, the robin calls out to another. He hops on his branch and looks straight at us with black, beady eyes. When our children were small our garden robin was called Billy and all robins have been called Billy since then!

..our ride is nearly over…the gaping dark arch of the tunnel is close and it is easy to imagine the laughter and excitement of the children who came to visit with their families with their buckets, spades and fishing nets when the Tarka Trail was still a railway line and the driver would pull on the whistle as it puffed its way into the tunnel surrounded by clouds of white smoke, Bideford station just moments away..

..this, our first ride, was just as exciting and we are 76 years young!