70 – The New Taj Mahal

Hungry due to fatigue after my Saturday run, I felt the sudden, almost violent need for curry. A gigantic pile of stinking Madras laid like bitumen on a bed of brightly coloured pilau rice. Curry that’s been cooking in a pan for fifty years. The meat and onions so infused with chilli that if left for long enough, a terrifying creature might one day crawl out of the slime and take over the world. Continue reading “70 – The New Taj Mahal”

69 – Fête des Lumières

Back in the city after my trip to Paladru, I notice La Grande Roue being built again in Bellecour. It can only mean one thing and I’m shocked by how quickly events have caught up with me. Can it be a year since I saw the same big wheel being erected from my classroom window? Can it be a year since the last Fête des Lumières. Continue reading “69 – Fête des Lumières”

68 – Sunset At Paladru

Lake Paladru lies 65km east of Lyon in the foothills of the Alps. A footprint left behind by the glaciers that once ground through this landscape. Chiselling and polishing the raw rock into what we see today.

After a ‘hearty’ breakfast of sausage, black pudding, fried eggs, fried bread, thick syrupy sweet black coffee, half a tart au citron, two croissants, it’s already gone one o’clock, and I should have been halfway up Mont Pouri by now. Instead I’m sitting at home cursing my idleness. Continue reading “68 – Sunset At Paladru”

67 – Bond

I’m sitting tense in my seat waiting for the conclusion of the latest Bond film, when a man starts speaking into his phone. For two hours I’ve been sitting on a spongy cinema seat with zero legroom waiting to discover how the film will end.

In this instalment Javier Bardem is throwing grenades into a Scottish mansion. A military helicopter is strafing the walls with shells. There’s a small army of mercenaries. It’s night time. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It’s raining, and Bond is armed with a pitchfolk. How will you escape this time Mr. Bond? I’m aching to find out. Quite literally, because since the opening credits I’ve been dying for a piss. So it better be worth it. And then… Continue reading “67 – Bond”

66 – Sunrise over Mont D’Or

8.02 on a bright November morning. I’m sitting twenty storeys up in The Tower waiting for my student to arrive. The sun rising above Fourvière washes the Mont D’Or in a soothing honeycombed light. Just visible in the distance is The Rhone bloated from the heavy autumn rainfall of the weekend. Cycling across Le Pont Servient this morning I saw logs decorated with foliage, birds and branches hitching rides on the back of the swollen river. The trees that line its course glow with a mix of psychedelic yellow, marmalade orange and Madras red. Wild colours that when illuminated by the tentacled rays of the sun possess more vividness and depth than any computer generation. Continue reading “66 – Sunrise over Mont D’Or”

65 – Mini Metros and New Bikes

I met up with Fred again this week after an eight month break (see 28 – Frédéric Moreau).

The reason being that while training at the Velodrome one lunchtime, he had clipped his training partner’s back wheel and woken up in hospital with four cracked ribs, a broken collar-bone, a punctured lung and a broken arm. I remarked that perhaps in the future he might settle for a steak and a beer. He scowled and informed me that his little accident had bought him three months in hospital with septicaemia. Continue reading “65 – Mini Metros and New Bikes”

64 – A Wild Thyme in Provence

There’s a perfectly good road to the top of Mont Ventoux, but I didn’t want to waste my precious holiday looking at views of Mont Blanc, when I could be retracing the steps of the epic walk I did with my father in 1994.

After four hours of walking, the clouds swept in on the back of The Mistral and obliterated all signs of life around me. Luckily, after scrambling up through a boulder strewn valley I hit the summit road and was surprised to find that I wasn’t alone. Continue reading “64 – A Wild Thyme in Provence”