The Psychology of Failure…

•September 29, 2017 • 15 Comments

Or ‘A Lack of Pilgrims Progress’

Experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes

– Oscar Wilde

I didn’t make it. Not really close even. My long walk to Rome ended up as a short(ish) walk to Champagne. There, close to tears – of pain to an extent, but mainly disappointment, it all ended in a pharmacy in Châlons-en-Champagne.

Can you help?‘ said I, as I limped through its doors. ‘I’ll get the patron‘, the young apprentice behind the counter replied, sensing I might be more than a couple-of-paracetamol-tablets sort of a client.

IMG_0851

Stuff for two months…

‘Rest!’, ordered the summoned expertise, taking one look at the swelling. ‘Hmm… let’s just imagine‘, said I, ‘that is the one thing I cannot do. Let’s just for the sake of argument say I need to walk a further 1500 kilometres over the next eight weeks’.

Continue reading ‘The Psychology of Failure…’

Kenavo Lionel, hiraezh am eus dit…

•August 17, 2017 • 19 Comments

My good good friend, true Breton and one of the best and certainly most human of guides I have ever met, Lionel died last week.

I will miss him terribly.

Many of you who kindly subscribe to this site will have met Lionel and probably owe your understanding of the word ‘kenavo‘ (goodbye) and so much more of all things Breton, to him.

567661_m.jpg

I met Lionel four years ago in his native Quimper in Brittany where he lived and worked. As usual I was clueless, a first time visitor to this, now my favourite, corner of France. I clearly needed help.

Continue reading ‘Kenavo Lionel, hiraezh am eus dit…’

As I Walk Out One Midsummer Morning… The Via Francigena to Rome (See you in September)

•July 3, 2017 • 54 Comments

“Well when I write my book, and tell the tale of my adventures – all these little stars that shake out of my cloak – I must save those to use for asterisks!”
― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

In 1352 a wealthy London merchant paid a man twenty pounds to go on a pilgrimage in his stead. So, complete with a small fortune, off the medieval equivalent, not perhaps of a body, but surely a soul double, set. His destination; Mount Sinai…

In 2017, having postponed for many years, and for many reasons, I have no desire to pay anyone to walk for me. My destination; Rome, and each and everyone of the intervening 1900 kilometres from Canterbury along the ancient Via Francigena. The time has finally come for me to do this. And to do it alone. Two months, 31 kilometres per day (I think), one tent, one backpack, one heavy heart, one confused mind, two feet.

I am not bringing anything with me. Anything technological that is; no wifi, no phone, no email, camera, nothing. Just a guide book and a compass. Oh and pen and paper of course.

This therefore is my farewell

DSC02824

I could not be writing in greater contrast to what lies ahead, typing these words as I am in the simply sumptuous, splendid Hotel Danieli in Venice. But come Friday luxury ends…

Continue reading ‘As I Walk Out One Midsummer Morning… The Via Francigena to Rome (See you in September)’

Segovia to Malaga – A Journey Better Travelled Alone… (or The Power of Geography)

•May 4, 2017 • 20 Comments

‘cause my head is filled with questions and I can assure you, no answer to any one of them has ever brought me one iota of happiness, except one… And the answer bloody well isn’t 42, it’s yes; undoubtedly, unequivocally, unabashedly; yes.

– Arthur Dent, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy

If I could finally, once and for all describe this ‘pain’ properly, then I’m sure people would understand. If I were a better writer, and could write what it really feels like, then people would have to understand. But each time I try, it feels like I’m trying to capture smoke with a fork. It’s there alright, but you can’t touch it. And if I could do that, touch it, I might even be able to shut this website down.

1447629338164

 

But as it is, I’m left with a feeling of embarrassment each time I tell a friend it still hurts as well as the failure of not being able to describe that hurt more accurately. It’s been long enough. It should surely not continue to do so. To hurt. But it does. And on this Tuesday afternoon therefore, I am not alone in boarding the delayed 12:37 from Segovia to Madrid.

Continue reading ‘Segovia to Malaga – A Journey Better Travelled Alone… (or The Power of Geography)’

Baseball at Dusk – Farewell Val d’Isere

•April 14, 2017 • 26 Comments

Between heaven and earth,
between darkness and light,
between magic and reality,
lies only my heart…

As I walked home from work this week, I saw a boy playing with the water of a well. I stopped and stared. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, I was more sad than I remember being in years. I just stood and watched. I let the feeling grow, take over and tears appeared in each of my eyes.

3d5566e8c517ee11ae78304789bb60e0

The boy had a piece of wood attached to a string which in turn he was dragging round and round. The wood floated, and together with the white string, formed a sort of primitive vessel. It was one of those old fashioned stone wells, the likes of which scatter Alpine vilages in France, spewing forth delightfully cold, delicious water. He was one of those boys you might see in illustrated story books of the seventies. Brown, neat hair, faceless – I could only see him from the back – blue shorts and a white t-shirt.

Continue reading ‘Baseball at Dusk – Farewell Val d’Isere’

Tissue of Tears… Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb – A Story

•February 10, 2017 • 35 Comments

In February, finding myself with the combination of a couple of cancelled tours and a serendipitous conversation during a walk in West London, I decided to travel to Zagreb to visit the Museum of Broken Relationships (yes, that’s a real place). Here in the museum cafe, I wrote the following short(ish) story, imagining someone doing just that… 

Dedicated to S – who else?

When you are sad, don’t go to Zagreb. And when you are alone, don’t go to Zagreb. And when it is winter and snow is falling, don’t go to Zagreb. And most of all, if you have recently lost someone you wish very much you hadn’t, don’t go to Zagreb. It’s a very grey place. For these reasons, don’t go to Zagreb.

bir1-620x413

Alternatively, ignore all that, do fly to the Croatian capital and head straight for the Museum of Broken Relationships. For whatever reason, none of this, none of my own most excellent advice was clear to me prior to boarding. My friend knew, she told me as much; ‘you’ll be lonely’ she sent in a text. But after I arrived. She was right. So here I am… Exactly that, in Zagreb. In the cafe of that very museum. And it’s grey. Everywhere. And it’s lonely. Everywhere.

Continue reading ‘Tissue of Tears… Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb – A Story’

No Golden Ticket This Year…

•December 22, 2016 • 18 Comments

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Well, that was some year wasn’t it? Goodness…

It felt like my Brexit tears had only just dried – going to sleep on June 23rd in Great Britain and waking up on June 24th in Little England – and then November 8th happened.

Usually at this time of year, one can look back upon the previous 51 weeks and, at the same time, ahead to the weeks next year has to offer, doing so without too much concern for the 52nd of this year. But in the current world?

So to us all, let me start by saying happy 52nd week of 2016.

DSC02631

 

On this, the 22nd of December, the day of the extraction of the Spanish Loteria –

Continue reading ‘No Golden Ticket This Year…’

More Than 3 And a Half Hours All For… DNF?!? ‘Hot’ Copenhagen Marathon 2016

•May 23, 2016 • 14 Comments

First, thank you so much to all who sponsored me. Once again, when that infamous ‘wall’ – bane of all Marathon runners was struck – this time 5 kms after last time at 32 kms, you once again carried me through. Having sponsors means I cannot even contemplate dropping out.

Time; 3 hours 41 minutes and 52 seconds (no PB, but my second fastest time)

200 metres to go... Will I ever just once look happy at this stage?

200 metres to go… Will I ever just once look happy at this stage?

This was a great Marathon. Must humoured prior to the start by repeated announcements warning us to be aware of the ‘soaring temperatures’ likely to reach 22 degrees.

Continue reading ‘More Than 3 And a Half Hours All For… DNF?!? ‘Hot’ Copenhagen Marathon 2016′

The Monk’s Tale (2016) – A Train Journey to Brittany

•May 6, 2016 • 40 Comments

Now listen if you wish to hear. But first I beg you to excuse my ignorance if I do not tell these things in order… but put some before and some behind, as they come now into my memory.
– The Monk’s Prologue, Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

In The Canterbury Tales, The Monk’s Tale is a collection of short stories – or exempla, on the theme of tragedy. After recounting seventeen of what he claims to be hundreds held in his memory the monk is stopped by the knight, calling a halt in the name of ‘enough sadness’ (or possibly boredom).

boeung-kak-arrest_afp

Here then is my attempt at my own Monk’s Tale – a true story and I’d say perhaps even a tragic story – of what befell myself and indeed a monk on our train journey to Brittany on May 5th, 2016. The following events are all true, and with my apologies to Chaucer and with no knight to spare my readers from boredom, I shall recount only this one tale of tragedy…

Continue reading ‘The Monk’s Tale (2016) – A Train Journey to Brittany’

Help! Sober Companion Wanted – Hunting The Green Fairy

•March 27, 2016 • 20 Comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Readers I need your help…

Many is the time I have turned to you for advice, help, or even in order to appeal for funds for some sort of run. And each time you have come to my rescue. This time I would like one of you to partner me chasing fairies in Switzerland. This is not quite the lost cause it may initially sound like as firstly, we would be hunting for only one; the Green One, or as the locals would call it La Fée Verte and secondly, I am pretty sure I know where to look.

The_Absinthe_Drinker_by_Viktor_Oliva

At this point I would love the above to be sufficient information for one adventurous soul to sign up. However, for good measure, and as I can’t expect you all to be that crazy, I will provide a little more background…

Continue reading ‘Help! Sober Companion Wanted – Hunting The Green Fairy’

 
%d bloggers like this: