84 – A Weekend of Two Halves


Finding myself in the town of Beaujeu on Saturday lunchtime I headed for the Tourist Information Office to ask about the local walks.


I was in a wine region in midwinter. Of course it was closed. But there were boards.

Circuit des Grandes Terres 20 km

Circuit de la Croix de Rochefort 14 km

Circuit des Coteaux du Beaujolais 11 km

Circuit de la Vallée des Andilleys 10 km

Circuit du Site du Château St Jean  7 km

A place you could bring your entire family. If they liked walks. Or wine. Personally, I fancied Le Circuit des Grandes Terres because I liked the name. But as time was tight I went for Le Circuit de la Croix de Rochefort and after two hours of steep climbing found myself 900 metres up looking at a great iron cross on a ledge: The Cross of Rochefort, surrounded by tall snow-blown firs. Slivers of super chilled ice on the woodland floor reminded me of shavings of white chocolate you find on expensive cakes. The sun catching the frozen cones high up in the canopy illuminating the forest below with an eerie glow as though wired to a mysterious energy. Continue reading “84 – A Weekend of Two Halves”

83 – Lunch in Annonay

I had great plans for the weekend. A skiing trip to Sept Laux on Saturday, followed by a walk through the Chartreuse on Sunday. Snow clad France and bright sunshine.

So it was a major disappointment that I found myself spewing my guts up on Saturday morning two hours before the bus left.

‘Thanks a lot,’ I congratulated my stomach after it had finished. ‘You really know how to pick your moments.’ Continue reading “83 – Lunch in Annonay”

82 – Le Chauffage

As the snows fell over the city on Tuesday morning there was only one madman trying to cycle to work through the blizzard. Everybody else was safe in their houses sipping hot chocolate from giant bowls and gazing contently at the winter wonderland scene outside. The only blemish on the icing sugar dusted Pont de L’universite was an Englishman cycling over it in a dirty orange jacket. Continue reading “82 – Le Chauffage”

81 – Winter Sales

I needed some new trainers. The soles of my old ones were so worn through it felt like running in slippers. As I arrived at the shopping centre on Saturday afternoon, I witnessed a human farmyard through the doors. Animals scurrying from one shop to the next laden with bags hanging on their swollen arms. The more they bought the faster they moved. The annual workout for the braindead. Terrifying. Continue reading “81 – Winter Sales”

80 – Greyness meets greyness meets greyness (or weather update)

I once wrote a short story about a disused slate quarry in North Wales. An effortlessly dull place that our housemaster used to take us to on Sunday afternoons to relieve the boredom of school. Sadly, there was nothing much to do at Glen Ceiriog either, except throw rocks down the abandoned scree slope or quietly knock one off in the dense pine forest that screened the place from the outside world. If it was raining we simply sat in the minibus waiting to be driven back for the evening roll-call. Needless to say life’s a lot more interesting now. Except the weather, which reminds me of that gloomy slate quarry: Greyness meets greyness meets greyness was the line in my story. Continue reading “80 – Greyness meets greyness meets greyness (or weather update)”

78 – (Christmas Travels Part 2) and Happy New Year

Absolutely nothing happened on my trip back to Lyon from Bristol. It was as smooth as you could get for a trip that involved three trains and a passport control box. It should have been filmed as an advert for the perfect trip: nobody spoke to me, nobody delayed me, nobody walked into me, nobody shouted at me, nobody eyeballed me, nobody annoyed me. Continue reading “78 – (Christmas Travels Part 2) and Happy New Year”