Inspiration: Jane and Graham Clarke

Inspiration: Jane and Graham Clarke

Based on the south coast of England, Jane and Graham Clarke discuss retirement, keeping healthy and their love of the sea and cycling on the Isle of Wight and northern France.


Hi Jane and Graham, thanks for taking the time to chat. To start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?

We are Jane and Graham Clarke based in Lymington, Hampshire. I was an infant school teacher and Graham was naval architect and we are both now retired. We have lived in Lymington for a long time and until the last few years have used bikes for ease of getting round town rather than for pleasure, but now that is reversed.

Our main pastime is sailing in France and using folding bikes for covering the hinterland which otherwise never gets seen from a boat. The pandemic has meant that we are unable to go sailing, but it has meant that we can do more cycling.


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What has been your favourite trip or adventure?

Nowadays, cycle rides on the Isle of Wight or the New Forest are our adventure – but when we can travel again, we will go sailing the beautiful Brittany coast which will also be a shore opportunity for our folding bikes!


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How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?

Retirement and Lockdown have made that easy, no contest. The only stress is not being able to get the boat to France or see family at the moment. In normal times it’s balancing boat and families in the UK and UAE.


Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?

In current terms it’s our daughter Vicky. Vicky encouraging us to cycle as much, or as little...  but as often as we can. Her own example of how cycling and the outdoors enable a full and balanced life defines inspiration.


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Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?

Each of us has health issues (I have Parkinson’s and also broke my back a few years ago and Graham has had knee replacements) all these have meant overcoming fears and inhibitions to taking exercise. Stability in particular has been a problem for me and having a bike has helped me regain my confidence.


Cycling has also helped my constant back ache. Regular exercise (walking the sea walls and cycling) has helped the two of us. It’s noticeable if we miss it for a couple of days. The mobility, balance, strength and stamina have all improved – and, with that, mental health.


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What is it about cycling specifically that you love?

We love taking the ferry to the Isle of Wight and exploring the quiet roads (with more hills than the mainland) and the beautiful scenery. The bike enables nosing over hedges into people’s gardens too!

Just booking the ferry and the excitement has begun; finding new routes and making different itineraries is fun, too. We are part of a group of older cyclist friends (The Original Wheelies) and have taken a group of them over to our favourite parts of Western Wight too.


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When did you discover FINDRA?

When I was given a pair of wonderful socks as a present from our daughter Vicky. I never stop going on about them and hope for more for at Christmas!


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Buy electric bikes” – which we did!


In this post, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?

Inevitably, it would be to folk of our age, “Never give up a favourite pursuit, just find ways for carrying on by making it easier”.


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Thanks Jane and Graham and may you have many more enjoyable trips to France once the pandemic is over!



Through Brittany in “Charmina” by Chatterton E Keble

“Chatterton E Keble (1878-1944) undertook a number of small-boat voyages through the English Channel and the Netherlands and out of these voyages came magazine articles and books describing the passages.

“Through Brittany in ‘Charmina’ (from 1932 – a yacht through the canals – a lifelong inspiration to adventure), tells of one trip from Torbay to the Bay of Biscay in his 6-tonne yacht the Charmina.


“Although we chose a sailing book, it is mostly about canals and canals have towpaths that can be cycled!”





The New Forest and The Isle of Wight

“We love the New Forest and there are plenty of trails close enough to where we live that are easy to access without needing a car to transport the bikes.

“The Isle of Wight is also not far away with just a ferry hop from Lyminton to Yarmouth in the Western Wight – and again, not as expensive as taking a car.”

Here are some useful links to cycle routes around the New Forest and Isle of Wight:

New Forest National Park website

Map of New Forest Cycles Routes (PDF)

Guide to Cycling the Isle of Wight (Isle of Wight tourist website)




I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers

“What music inspires us? Well, Five Hundred Miles by The Proclaimers is a pretty good tune. It sums up the best of doing things together and that the effort makes everything worthwhile.”

Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

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