Essays

Adventures in Paradise – A Travel Story

Once upon a time, back in the smelly old days of whaling and clipper ships, Levuka was wickedest regarded as the wickedest port in the whole of the South Pacific. This was no mean accomplishment when you stop to think that at the time Lahaina, in Hawaii, Papeete, in Tahiti, and Nuku’alofa, in Tonga were…

Bicycling along the South Downs

At long last some warm weather, with out temperatures skyrocketing into the mid-70s this weekend and even warmer weather predicted for the coming week. And with this belated arrival of summer and warm July nights the flower of Hastings youth comes into its own, helped along on this particular Friday-night/Saturday-morning combo by the Hastings beer…

No Finish Line

This past week I wrote a short piece for the National Geographic Newswatch website about a new scientific study into the physiology of extreme ultra-marathon mountain runners. Curiously enough it found that athletes who ran 200-mile races, such as the Tor des Geants in the Italian Alps tended to finish up fresher and with noticeably…

The Twitter of Little Birds

You really have to wonder what goes through the minds (so to speak) of some people, most particularly that of a 21 year-old trainee accountant named Emma Way who this week not only clipped a cyclist with her car while breezing down a road in Norwich, and failed to stop, but then was actually dumb…

The Vision Splendid

This past week I found myself thinking of Clancy of the Overflow, one of Australia’s most iconic poems. Written in 1889 by A.B. Banjo Paterson, a country-bred Sydney lawyer who romanticised the bush, it tells of his own wistfulness at the thought of the big, bold freewheeling life being led by a drover named Clancy,…

Chapter The Last – A Beer At The Pera Palas

I slept well on the deck that night.  I pegged out a darkened nook up near the bridge in which to throw down my bedroll roll, and after snuggling in, let the lateness of the hour and the rolling of the ship lull me to sleep.  A stiff and surprisingly chilly breeze was blowing out…

Chapter 22 – To the Plains of Thessaly

I’d been pedalling across Europe for some weeks now, travelled about fifteen hundred miles through nine countries and in that time seen what I considered to be my fair share of hills, from that puffy little rise on the way to Parenty my first day on the road, to those tortuous grinds in the Ardennes…

Chapter 21 – The Adriatic Sea

  The ferry company’s booking office was in an old dockside terminal that used to belong to the White Star Line back in the day, judging by the block letters still visible through the faded whitewash on the brick facade. It was crowded inside, a swirl of brassy voices and cigarette smoke and piled-up luggage…

Chapter 20 – Trieste Once More

Another hot clear morning dawned on the Istrian Riviera.  I broke camp at half past five, grumpy and bleary-eyed after another fitful night in that rowdy campground. A quarter of an hour’s easy pedalling brought me around to Pula’s sleepy railway station.  The place was practically deserted at that hour, just an old man in…

Chapter 19 – Round and Round in Pula

Morning dawned bright and hot over the Istrian Riviera.  I rose early and pedalled into town in the drowsy quiet, hoping that this would be all the pedalling I’d have to do that day.  I found my way down to the waterfront and sure enough, there amongst the water taxis, sightseeing boats and fishing charters,…