With only four days until I leave the not-so-sunny UK for a year in Australia, I am beginning to realise what I will miss about my life here. And I’m developing fondness for the strangest of things.
I’ve decided though that one of my biggest is for the North Devon link: that seemingly mundane 50-mile stretch of road from Tiverton that leads to the treasures of the North Devon coast.
On my past few trips I have become the passenger on the journey (Little Cribby has finally passed his test and the little brother has pestered the parents to insure him!) and I have begun to realise what a beautiful drive it is, and to recognise the emotion I have come to attach to this stretch of rather patchy tarmac.
It winds through the lush open greenness that Devon has to offer, passes through woodland, penetrates the fringes of moorland and offers some spectacular views as it rises and falls with the vast landscape.
Yes, the road is fraught with design faults – why the hell it wasn’t dual carriageway baffles me to this day – and during the summer, the endless trails of grockles and their godforsaken caravans holding up the traffic can dampen even the most intensely stoked surfer, but that’s what love is… you take the bad with the good, because you know that whatever jams you become stuck in, whatever frustrations you experience and whatever pheasants you hit along the way, the end result is a Cheshire-cat grin, a rolling blue ocean and some much-needed salt-water therapy.
The North Devon link – not man’s most perfect creation, nor the crowning glory in how my road tax is being spent.
But I love it all the same.
It’s 50 miles of road that give me hope, make me relax, and allow me to banter with friends; and its all topped off with the excitement that fills me on that final incline, and the stoke I feel as we hit the brow of the hill and can finally view what we came for – peeling lefts at Putsborough.
I’ll miss it in Oz; it’s as much a part of my surfing ritual as my warm-up routine or the last-minute can of red bull to kick start my session.
For me it symbolises the journey surfing takes us on. In the end we ignore all the bad stuff that happens along the way – as long as we get in the water, life is good.
So here’s to the North Devon link! Cheers!