My first flying lesson. Drove down from Bristol to Devon and checked into a really great hotel down there. Monkton Court. Fantastic food in the restaurant and the room was brilliant. Four poster bed, a view of open fields rising up to a wooded ridge and check out the en-suite bathroom. Glass of wine and deep sense of luxury. That night I woke up to see the rainbow colours of precious gems twinkling in a coal-black sky… just beyond the window. I got up and padded over to the window for a closer look. It was like a scene from a movie. Incredible view of the stars. And there was the planet Mars… red and winking at me.
We were up super early and out onto the twisting, steeply rising and dropping road again. Wonderful lances of sunlight and the King Arthur soundtrack adding a real sense of drama to the moment. I’m going to fly a plane…
Amazing experience. Took Cessna 152 up with an instructor; he got it airborne and took me south, over Exeter International Airport, with the chatter of ATC, then over Exmouth before swinging north to hug the coastline. Gave me the controls. Surprised by strength of disorientation when you bank over. Got feel for it. Instructor ex-military and a great laugh. I asked if I could do a sweeping dive and turn. He shrugged and grinned: go for it. The freedom and exhilaration beyond words. Instructor helped me navigate back to airfield, then adjusted my trim and flaps and talked me through the approach to the airfield… before I knew it I was lined up and coming down. He kept talking me through, “pull back a little… a little more… a little more… that’s it, that’s it…” So I landed. Unreal!
After my flight I was buzzing. There’s a fab cafe next to the airfield called the Aviator where I devoured a full English. Then we drove further west and got ourselves onto the Moors.
I don’t know why I have such a deep fascination with the Moors. Probably to do with memories of me as a teenager in early 80s, watching Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and playing Call of Cthulhu late at night. But there is something about the moors. An energy. A sense of something otherworldly. It is like walking through a scene in an H.P.Lovecraft tale, when he describes the landscape around Dunwich. The reason this particular trip was so special was the fact that for years now, I’ve always wanted to walk deep into this part of Dartmoor but for one reason or another there was not the opportunity. We parked up by the lonely pub that sits there surrounded by miles of this bleak, yet beautiful, landscape, and struck out on foot. It was amazing. Over one ridge, down, up and another. And the tors… looking like the tumbled ruins of structures not built by human hands, weathered over millions – not thousands – of years.