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).


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…

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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.


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…

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What a Coincidence – Creating4Change – Finding a ‘Cause’

•February 18, 2016 • 10 Comments

How funny life can be at times and truly what a small world…

See that photo in the insert below? The one of thousands of examples of the beautiful street art in Rio de Janeiro; look familiar? Yes? Well, just read on…

This is an appeal especially to all my American readers, many of whom I’ve met through my work guiding with Road Scholar and especially to those of you who are present or former educators, please consider the following…

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 20.24.07

Most of you will know I run Marathons and some of you have found ways to sponsor me and my chosen charities for my efforts in both Paris and Lisbon. However, it has not been easy for friends in the US to sponsor UK-based charities.

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When You Have to Shoot, Shoot. Don’t Talk…

•January 14, 2016 • 5 Comments

That morning I packed an overnight bag, not knowing whether come nightfall, I’d be sleeping in Africa.

One of the best things about this ‘travel’ thing, which everyone seems to aspire to, love, seek, comment on, ponder, dream about, look forward to, budget for, write about, has to be just how easy it is to do. I am grateful that sometimes people need a gentle hand, some history, assistance or pointing in the right direction otherwise who knows what I’d be doing for a living?


I fear after 22 years of it, travelling is really the only thing I might just be good at.

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The All Seeing Eye – or ‘A Costly Way Home’

•January 6, 2016 • 14 Comments

This short piece (really a photography essay) is dedicated to all the photographers and would-be photographers that have travelled on my tours this past year; you’ll appreciate this one (I hope)…


A camera is a save button for the minds eye – Roger Kingston

One afternoon in November on my last tour of 2015 around sunset, with a wonderful group of travellers, I set off for the last bus journey of the season from a little village high in the so called Pyrenees of Malaga.

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The Soul Snatcher of Rio de Janeiro – An Adventure in Street Art

•January 5, 2016 • 3 Comments

Surely just about every blogger, travel website owner or aspiring Rick Steves has at some point written something – or posted a series of arty shots about street art. ‘Street art?’ What happened to ‘graffiti’? During the 80s it was thought of as vandalism, now we call this visual, often unsanctioned work, carried out more or less spontaneously in various public locations, ‘neo-graffiti’, ‘post-graffiti’, ‘urban art’ or even ‘guerilla art’ and it is very much… cool.

My Favourite Banksy

My Favourite Banksy

In large part street art’s status as cool, occasionally establishment even, is thanks to artists such as Banksy (staged or not, I love ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’), Keith Harring or Shephard Fairey, people who have jumped the traditional gap between artist and viewer – and managed to communicate directly with their public.

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The White Forest of Andalusia

•January 5, 2016 • 6 Comments

Once, when the world was younger, high in the hills which need crossing if one sets off from Granada with intent to reach the coast a long day’s march away, there grew a forest. A white forest. Those who knew of it even whispered; an enchanted forest.

Now in calling it a forest, these same people probably intended to lend an air of importance to this gathering of trees, which their total number possibly failed to fully justify. For altogether, were one to set aside the time required for counting them, one would reach 47, not one more, nor one fewer.

Almond Trees Andalusia

However, as people who reached this spot which lay just over the ridge

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Letter From Juliet – Love is Always Worth it

•January 2, 2016 • 19 Comments

‘Write hard and clear about what hurts’ – Hemingway.

This week, out of the blue, I opened my postbox to find a letter from a girl who wrote to me of love…

Imagine for a second you’ve just had your heart broken. Or, perhaps, worse, imagine you fear your heart is being broken slowly doing anything about it is out of your hands. Or maybe try; said broken heart is desperate to heal, but it just isn’t happening. In short, imagine; love. Pick any one you like of the countless scenarios love puts us through, where you find yourself like Shakespeare’s Romeo ‘under love’s heavy burden’ in one way or another, shrinking.

Well, most of us have been there, so maybe it’s more a case of just cast your mind back to when… rather than ‘imagine‘.

Letter From Juliet

What has always surprised me is the number of people, male, female, old as well as young, who, experiencing this pain which only those who have loved know, turn to Juliet – of Verona and Shakespeare fame, for help.

What I find strange in this, is neither reaching out to a stranger, nor even doing so in written form, using old fashioned pen and paper – for true romantics still use ink, but the choice of ‘agony aunt’. Juliet? Really?

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Eyes Wide Open – Tour Guiding For The Blind

•November 30, 2015 • 20 Comments

Why would you travel if you are blind?

Only last week on a tour of perfectly sighted, very well educated travel aficionados I was once again asked this question. It happens almost every time when I reveal I have recently become a tour guide for the blind and visually impaired.

You might equally ask; ‘why would you do anything if you are blind?’ I replied as I normally do when challenged in such a fashion. Then I told them, as I do you now, a short true story from my recent trip to Slovenia…


Blind Travel Has Advanced… The Blind Leading the Blind 1568


…Concerned he might fall, I do my best to describe the position and shape of a twisted tree root to P. He is ’attached’ gently, using two fingers, to my right elbow, and seems far more concerned I describe the colour and density of the trees he cannot see than this potential tripper upper (which using his cane he noticed before I did anyway). We wind our way up a snaking, narrow path, avoiding stones and yet more roots, and he asks about the size of branches, whether light reaches through the canopy, asks if I can see the birds he can hear and whether the damp smell of forest earth means conditions allow mushrooms to be present (they do and there are).

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Thank You and Obrigado From Lisbon Marathon

•October 18, 2015 • 12 Comments


And That…

Was Tough.

It... Just... Hurts...

It… Just… Hurts…

3 Hours and 45 Minutes this time round.

I am so happy – though I did not break my PB (3 hours 31 mins) there was a stage where I thought I would not even complete.

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