Autumn Arrives – gnac (from ‘Early Recordings vol 4’ LP) Magpie Lane – Belbury Poly (from ‘The Gone Away‘ LP) Layers of Regret – The Leaf Library (from ‘About Minerals’ LP. Bandcamp) Above Our Heads – Sam Prekop (from ‘Comma’ LP. Bandcamp) Buildings Aren’t Haunted, People Are – epic45 (from ‘Cropping The Aftermath’ LP. Bandcamp) Into Autumn – Peter Rogers (from ‘The Stubborn Light Of Things’ LP. Bandcamp) The Murderous Huntsman – David A Jaycock (from ‘Murder, and the Birds’ LP. Bandcamp) Three Ravens – The Rowan Amber Mill (from ‘Golden Strings To Tether The Sun’ LP. Bandcamp) The Man Who Bended Time – trappist afterland (from ‘Seaside Ghost Tales’ LP) Nothing Special – Trees (from ‘The Garden Of Jane Delawney’ LP and on ‘Trees’ LP 50th anniversary edition. Bandcamp) Between A Breath And A Breath – Dyble Longdon (from ‘Between A Breath And A Breath’ LP. Bandcamp) Mount Everest – Dawn Landes (from ‘Row’ LP. Bandcamp) Pink Rabbits – Strand of Oaks (digital single. Bandcamp) Get Famous – The Mountain Goats (from ‘Getting Into Knives’ LP. Bandcamp. YouTube) Favourite Day – European Sun (from ‘European Sun’ LP. Bandcamp) Strange World – PAINT (from ‘Spiritual Vegas’ LP. Bandcamp) Holiday – The Pull of Autumn (from ‘Small Colors’ LP. Bandcamp) Together We’re Alone – Theatre Royal (from ‘Portraits’ LP. Bandcamp) Heart Shaped Clock – The Treasures of Mexico (7″ Single) Crying Behind The Marquee – Emma Kupa (from ‘It Will Come’ LP. Bandcamp)
Thunder Road – Kevin Rowland (from ‘My Beauty‘ LP reissue) Banksia – Alex The Astronaut (from ‘The Theory of Absolutely Nothing‘ LP) It Don’t Rain in Beverly Hills (Original Mix) – Dean & Britta (from ’13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests’ LP) Six Syllables – The Very Most (from ‘The Very Most Needs Help’ LP. Bandcamp) I’ll Probably Be Asleep – Hachiku (from ‘I’ll Probably Be Asleep’ LP. Bandcamp) Old Before We’re Young – Jules in Trouble (from ‘Dark Jewels’ EP. Bandcamp) Eel Drip – Penelope Trappes (from ‘Eel Drop’ EP. Bandcamp) The Turning of Our Bones – Arab Strap (single) The Last Exit – Still Corners (digital single. Bandcamp) Never Gonna Let You Go – THE YEARNING (from ‘Only When I’m Dancing’ LP. Bandcamp) Always In Love – A Certain Ratio (from ‘ACR Loco‘ LP) Secrets – Pauline Murray (from ‘Elemental‘ LP) 7 Seconds – Porridge Radio (digital single. Bandcamp) Corporate Indie Band – Swansea Sound (digital single. Bandcamp) If You Ain’t Got Love – The Veras (7″ single) Country Pancake – The Bachelor Pad (from ‘All Hash and Cock’ LP. Bandcamp) Siberian Butterfly – Bob Mould (from ‘Blue Hearts’ LP. Bandcamp) Lost Cause – The Persian Leaps (from ‘Smiling Lessons’ LP. Bandcamp) Skyway – The Replacements (from ‘Pleased To Meet Me’ reissue) Sue’s – Throwing Muses (from ‘Sun Racket’ LP. Bandcamp) Autumn Song – Sneaky Feelings (from ‘The Mercury Moment’ LP. Bandcamp) Pocketful of Sunshine – The Apartments (from ‘In and Out of the Light’ LP. Bandcamp)
Farmers are out with their contraptions cutting back the hedgerows. As I ride past the old Folly End farm shop the cacophony on the other side of the dense green barrier sounds like a multitude of angry hornets.
First commute by bicycle of the new term as I take advantage of no early morning meetings and benign September weather. Over in the west the early sun burnishes the sky above Killerton and I know that whilst my legs feel lethargic it will still be a disappointment not to able to continue on up the valley past the school entrance. Sure enough, when I do turn into the driveway and over the Welcome greeting newly painted on the tarmac, I find I’m already looking forward to riding home again.
In the last decade and a half the vast majority of my rides have ventured broadly westward, southward or northwards from home. I’m not entirely certain why East Devon was spurned during that time, but this year has certainly made up for that. Once more today I head out past Whimple towards Tipton St John, but instead of riding up through Metcombe I take the lane that leads to Lynch Head through Venn Ottery. As the road rises gently above the village I pass The Big House, commanding what must be breathtaking views out over the parish church and across the Otter Vale. In my head I am already writing a 1930s Murder Mystery set in its environs, thoughts that are cruelly interrupted when the road pitches up steeply towards the nature reserve at the peak of the ridge and my breath is captured by the gradients rather than the views.
After a week back in school I am desperate to get out for a ride to cleanse myself of the emotional detritus of work. With rates of infection for The Virus rising exponentially once more there seems too to be a desperation amongst the car driving populace. As I pass over the M5 I note that the southbound carriageway is as busy as I have seen it all summer, whilst the A30 westbound appears to have ground to a halt near Honiton. On the road past Fenny Bridges there is desperation amongst traffic passing me far too closely. I wave my hands with a Latin fervour too many times and feel enormous relief as I turn back onto smaller roads and lanes. For the hundredth time this week I find myself longing for a return to Lockdown.
Every time I have ridden through West Hill over the past twenty years or so I have been struck with what a prosperous conurbation it seems to be, the vast majority of houses being luxurious abodes which rarely seem to show signs of habitation as they slumber within lush gardens. You rarely see anyone in the streets and whenever I have stopped for a bottle of water at the solitary shop it is always either empty or being frequented by a child hopping out of a parents’ monstrous 4×4 (parked on the double yellows, naturally) to pick up something on their way to the stables. Today however I ride along Lower Broad Oak Lane for the first time and it feels like everything has been ratcheted up a couple of notches. Expansive established homes rest secure behind fences, gates and high grown hawthorn hedges, their presence merely glimpsed through cracks. A bay window here, a pillared portico there. Signs proclaiming ‘Private Road’ proliferate. At the entrance to one a sign suggests that down this way lies an opportunity for Glamping. Well of course.
And then, as if to reinforce the point that I Do Not Belong Here, the heavens open…
A Different City for a Different Life – The Human Hearts (from ‘Day Of The Tiles’ EP. Bandcamp) As Many Candles As Possible – The Mountain Goats (from ‘Getting Into Knives’ LP. Bandcamp) Pointless Killing – The Wolfhounds (from ‘Electric Music’ LP. Bandcamp) Post-Modern Hereditary Dance Steps – June of 44 (from ‘Revisionist’ LP. Bandcamp) The Chauffeur – TJO (from ‘Songs For Peacock’ LP. Bandcamp) For Her – The Chicks (from ‘Gaslighter‘ LP) Beautiful Horses – BLOODbath64 (from ‘Aestheticadelica’ LP. Bandcamp) House Music All Night Long – JARV IS… (from ‘Beyond The Pale’ LP. Bandcamp) Flood the Club – International Teachers Of Pop (from ‘Pop Gossip‘ LP) Until Now, All Is Well (feat. Laetitia Sadier) – The Nix (7″ and digital single. Bandcamp) See The World – Thibault (from ‘Or Not Thibault’ LP. Bandcamp) A song in Spanish addressed to men who drive big cars – Short-Haired Domestic (digital single. Bandcamp) A World Of Polka Dots – the boy least likely to (from ‘The Wrong End of a Rainbow’ LP. Bandcamp) If I Told – Courtney Marie Andrews (from ‘Old Flowers’ LP. Bandcamp) In The Cloudy Domain – Gary Daly (from ‘Gone From Here‘ LP) Broken Loves – The Blue Nile (from ‘High’ LP reissue) Time After Time – The Beloved (from ‘Happiness’ LP reissue. Bandcamp) When All Is Said and Done – ABBA (YouTube) Unknown – Even As We Speak (from ‘Adelphi’ LP. Bandcamp) Please Don’t Fuck Up My World – Sparks (from ‘A Steady Drip Drip Drip‘ LP)
Marquee Moon – Luna (digital single. Bandcamp) The One – The Lemon Twigs (from ‘Songs for the General Public’ LP. Bandcamp) Home – El Goodo (from ‘Zombie’ LP. Bandcamp) Dearest Eloise – Stray (from ‘Peephole In My Brain – The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1971‘ compilation) Two Things At The One Time – The Wee Cherubs (from ‘The Merry Makers‘ LP) Warwick – The Bats and associates (from ‘Foothills’ LP. Bandcamp) Woke Up To The Light – Strand of Oaks (from ‘Heal’ LP. Bandcamp) Thunder In The Afternoon – Bobbie Gentry (from ‘Saint Etienne Present Songs For The Fountain Coffee Room‘ compilation) Ruby – The Jayhawks (from ‘XOXO’ LP. Bandcamp) Hold on To Your Love – Lavinia Blackwall (from ‘Muggington Lane End’ LP. Bandcamp) Never Too Far – Dana Gavanski (from ‘Wind Songs’ EP. Bandcamp) September Remember – Sam Prekop (from ‘Comma’ LP. Bandcamp) Spellbinder – trappist afterland (from ‘Songs of temporary displacement’ Bandcamp) Garden – Peter Rogers (from ‘The Stubborn Light of Things’ LP. Bandcamp) No Peace – Alula Down (from ‘Postcards from Godley Moor. Summer 2020’. Bandcamp) Song of Self Doubt – Alex Rex (from ‘Andromeda’ LP. Bandcamp) Sweet Greens And Blues – Shirley Collins (from ‘Heart’s Ease’ LP. Bandcamp) In Solitude I Will Fade Away – Alison Cotton (from ‘Only Darkness Now’ tape. Bandcamp) Park Song – The Pistachio Kid (from ‘Sweet Remedies‘ 10″ LP. The Truth’s Out, Darling – Quigley (from ‘A Kind Of Loving’ EP. R.I.P. Roger Quigley)
As I ride up to Paradise copse a rabbit darts out from the hedgerow and runs ahead of me for a few metres, white tail bobbing before it dodges back into safety. At the top of the climb I glance at my bike computer and notice that the short distance covered today has taken me over the total mileage for the entirety of last year (and the year before) and August is only just ending. It would seem that lockdown has had its benefits.
There is all kinds of Bank Holiday weekend fun in evidence up at Dunkeswell today. As well as the usual gliders being towed up into the sky, there is a field filled with horse boxes and small ponies trotting around like something out of a Norman Thelwell book of comic illustrations. Innumerable signs dotted along the lanes suggest this is the advertised Fun Ride. Meanwhile up above spots of bright colour whirl and swoop as parachutists cascade like petals in the wind.
Heading out of Tipton St John and up to Metcombe I spot the unmistakable form of a Heron standing next to the leat that runs the length of the lane. With a few apparently lazy wing beats it hauls itself into the air, its strangely prehistoric silhouette loping just above and ahead of me for several hundred metres before veering off, no doubt to raid some unprotected fish pond.