“Age is just a number, but the only number we care about, is how many countries with exotic wildlife we can tick off our list now we’ve retired!”, say one adventurous couple from Bingley.
David and Lynn Pickles, 72 and 69, both decided to punch out of the 9:5 back in 2004 and take early retirement. Lynn worked as a bank clerk and David was a bricklayer. The couple had worked hard all their lives but were ready for a change so decided to throw caution to the wind and choose a lifetime of adventures instead.
From trekking through Brazil, to tropical Safaris in India, to motorbiking across Europe, the couple have not looked back since. And after a brief pause due to the travel restrictions around the pandemic, are now making up for lost time by once again hitting the open road.
“We’ve been married 47 years”, says Lynn. “David and I met in a pub where we realised how much we both shared a passion for riding motorbikes. From there, our relationship blossomed into many amazing rides together around West Yorkshire, further afield in the UK, and even into Europe.”
David adds: “It wasn’t just our thrill for bikes that bonded us, we soon realised that our love for nature, wildlife, and the great outdoors were a shared passion also. The adventures we have been able to go on because of our shared desires, are truly enviable.”
To keep each adventure fresh, Lynn and David alternated their jaunts between bike trips and safaris in order to save up enough money and ensure they never got bored.
“With so many places to see and things to do, it really has kept the spark alive in our relationship, with our shared urge to get out and about in the world,” says Lynn.
David adds: “There’s nothing better than escaping everyday life to go explore new remote areas, where there are no TVs or internet. It is just you, your partner, and nature. The sites we have seen with our own eyes in the flesh, rather than what another has captured on their camera phone, is a buzz like no other – there is always a possibility you are seeing something for the very first time that nobody else or very few have been able to witness before.”
David says: “We’ve both lived in Bingley all of our lives, but have always had itchy feet. We are always looking to plan our next trip away and weekends away in England can be just as good as going abroad.”
Reminiscing over their favourite trips, David and Lynn remembers travelling to India seeing tigers in their natural habitat, and getting up close and personal with Elephants in Africa. The pair’s recent adventure saw the couple take the Shongololo Express train from South Africa to Namibia.
Over the years David and Lynn have met some amazing people from wildlife guides to some of the BBC crews filming for David Attenborough series. Their trips have not been without their share of scary moments, such as being tipped from their canoe on the Zambezi by a hippo and finding a spitting cobra in their bathroom in Zambia – all of which have created great stories to share with their family and friends, as well as the homeowners at Whitelock Grange.
Looking towards the future, Lynn says: “We’re both dying to visit a remote part of Zimbabwe. It’s a place that has been on our bucket list for several years, but we’ve not managed it yet as it is quite a difficult place to get to. We are still working on an itinerary with the hope of finally going next year. We’ve heard such amazing things about it there.”
Reflecting on recent years and how they are maintaining their energy for travelling, Lynn and David said their recent move to McCarthy Stone’s Retirement Living development in Bingley, Whitelock Grange, has been a real lifeline.
David says: “We lived in a three-bedroom semi-detached house with a large garden which was proving very time-consuming to maintain so we jumped at the chance to obtain a maintenance-free apartment. Moving to Whitelock Grange was a no-brainer as it meant we could then lock up and leave our apartment in the knowledge that the property was secure, we could then pursue our love of wildlife and travel. This has been a real lease of life for the both of us.”
Lynn adds: “We were the first homeowners to move into Whitelock Grange in October last year, and since then the community has continued to flourish. We have made so many friends who often go out for meals together. The residents have now set up a gardening club and often partake in games of scrabble and jig-saws as well as enjoying fish and chip suppers together. There’s plenty to keep us occupied when we are at home.”
“David’s other passion in life is steam trains, which he has been a fan of since his school days when he used to go out trainspotting. Our Whitelock Grange apartment overlooks the railway line and on a nice day, we like to sit out on the balcony and watch the trains roll through. It’s so calm and relaxing. When we’re not catching flights to exotic lands, we can be found on a steam train tour in the UK.”
As well as the steam train trips in the UK, Lynn and David have fond memories of a photographic tour of the few remaining steam engines of Zimbabwe. The pair’s recent adventure saw the couple take the Shongololo Express train which started in Pretoria, South Africa, then it was up through Namibia stopping at Kimberley, Fish River Canyon, Etosha National Park.
One and two-bedroom private apartments at Whitelock Grange development are available for sale or rent. To find out more call 0800 201 4811 or visit: www.mccarthystone.co.uk/whitelock-grange.