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?

DSC00316

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)…

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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…

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_(1568)_The_Blind_Leading_the_Blind

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

Done.

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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‘No, No, Louder!’ Guajar Alto Fiesta 2015

•August 23, 2015 • 10 Comments

The flames feel their way up the whitewashed building. Reaching for the roof and the black Andalusian sky above, they cast a glare reflected on the neighbouring cluster of houses. Above, but not much above, showers of sparks follow loud explosions and rain down indiscriminatingly over dwellings as well as the dry orchards and patches of sun-scorched earth that mark the village boundary. The marching band never misses a beat and plays on. The noise, bang after bang is deafening, the colours, ever more impressive and in ever greater radiuses, pierce the sky.

Hmm... Did we Make Enough?

Hmm… Did we Make Enough?

Suddenly, as if awakened from the collective trance that descends over groups watching fireworks displays, the local village policeman F breaks from the crowd and rushes down the street in the direction of the bright red glare, which everyone now realises is not part of the show.

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Lisbon Marathon For Donkeys

•June 2, 2015 • 2 Comments

Dear Friends…

The time is approaching for me to sweat, struggle and curse through another – my third – attempt at a Marathon. This means it is again time to humbly ask for a little donation towards this folly.

(If you want to skip the why – please just press here)

A Lesser Known Cause Perhaps?

A Lesser Known Cause Perhaps?

My first Marathon was two years ago where by some miracle I made it from the Villa Pisano near Padova to Venice in 3 hours and 50 minutes. Last year many of you sponsored me to run through the streets of Paris, raising money for Tommy’s Children Charity in the process. I failed by one minute in making my target time of 3 hours and 30 minutes, but much more importantly thanks to you raised more than £500. As a result, there was always going to have to be at least one more.

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C’est La Grande Pollinisation – Carnaval de Saint Blasi, Pézenas

•February 9, 2015 • 9 Comments

I’m so pollinated I’m out of breath‘, screams the clearly not anywhere near out of breath, White Queen. ‘Allez les femmes sauvages; enter the magic circle, dance with the men, you must be touched by the branches for it to work‘. She urges now not only her ‘savage women’, who dressed in green costumes with drapes, leaflike dangling from necklaces and headgear adorned with christmas style rights are seemingly reaching a stage of euphoric abandon, but now us, the whole crowd, to boot. ‘Now it gets interesting‘ yells the Queen into her microphone for it to be broadcast over loudspeakers installed on a cart pushed by volunteers.

Frozen Queen?

Frozen Queen?

All this accompanied incessantly to a near deafening almost erotic drum beat struck by costume clad demon-esque creatures which best resemble a cross between dreadlocked reindeer and trolls with jet black painted faces; huge cowbells hung from their necks. ‘C’est la grande pollination‘ she shouts… And as she does so again and again, I am left wondering what lies ahead if we have not yet reached ‘interesting’.

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