In search of my dad’s secret Scottish bridge

August 31, 2018

This story starts with a murder…. The murder of an artist in Dorothy L Sayers novel ‘Five Red  Herrings’. Set in Galloway in Scotland this murder mystery tale uses real locations around Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart and

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The finish…

May 13, 2018

 My friend Terry joined me at Reading. We met at St James church where father John stamped my pilgrim passport and we discussed the connection between Santiago Reading and Marlow and the hand of St James.  Next stop

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Titanic Message in a Bottle

May 12, 2018

Titanic was my Downs Syndrome brother Martin’s favourite film (along with the Sound of Music and Crocodile Dundee.)  Every Christmas when we played charades Martin would pick one of the ladies to stand with him arms outstretched, and we

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Day to day meetings

May 10, 2018

You don’t always need the local language. I know it helps but….. I met the local herdsman and his herd of cattle.  Wet have a great chat going moo! A music festival was on in town.  Music is universal

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Blow holes and beaches

May 10, 2018

Coast lines always deliver secrets.  I was following the narrow gauge railway line and it went alongside the beach.  There was a wonderful booming noise and spray everywhere. Of course such things are tide and weather dependant.  And there I

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How do you plan an adventure like this?

May 10, 2018

It’s been in my mind for some time. I’ve been pondering it for a number of years.  It was only once I said it loud that I wanted to attempt this that things really started. There were comments.  You

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Memorable meetings along the Camino

May 10, 2018

Cows and pilgrims.  The herd were unhappy to be moved.  But understood the cow hands command.  Off they went with the calves dashing along behind.  I enjoyed our interaction without a common tongue. There are lots of German pilgrims

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What to take on the Camino

May 7, 2018

 The general rule of thumb is take less.  Whatever you think is essential cut it in half. You are going to be carrying it and everything is heavy after a while.  Everything.  Even tissues! So with that in

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Painting on the cliff tops

May 6, 2018

The track led through the village. There was a stile and a footpath.  I followed it carefully over rocks and around the corner.  Where I came face to face with huge long horned cows and their guardian bull.  They

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I looked at these mountains from both sides

May 6, 2018

There’s nothing like it for realising the distance travelled.  Weeks ago coming out of Burgos I stood and stared at the snow capped mountains away to the north.  Today those same snow capped mountains were away to the south.

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How do you leave when the hostel is shut?

May 5, 2018

It was an odd sort of place and I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d made a wise choice.  But I arrived late, hot and bothered, with little energy left in me, my bike or my phone. Okay make the most

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The man with the scythe

May 5, 2018

I enjoy people watching.  Especially in other countries where they do weird stuff.  Like scything the grass.  What’s wrong with a lawn mower or a goat? At least this chap wasn’t in his slippers like most of the other

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Martin and the moo cows

May 4, 2018

We all love a field of cows, munching, mooing, pooing, and grinding those teeth on the grass.  I stopped at a Camino sign and the sound of the cow bells prompted me to recite my favourite maytime cow poem.

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Martin in the cathedral

May 4, 2018

I can hear brother Martin saying: “nice church!” as we stare at the altarpiece.  Indeed it’s one of the gems of medieval European art.  I like the idea of a Martin Mallett name tag finding it’s way behind such

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The power of relics today

May 4, 2018

In the middle ages every church or monastery of any importance had a relic.  A fragment of the true cross. A bone of a saint.  And people would travel far and wide to see them, and of course pay

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Farewell Santiago

May 2, 2018

Most pilgrims first glimpse of Santiago is from Mont Gosso where the status of two grateful pilgrims point to the spires of the cathedral.  For me it was my final view of Santiago on a wild and wet afternoon

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Inspiration. Where does it come from?

May 1, 2018

I was on a quiet winding road through the hills.  No traffic.  Around every corner and hair pin bend there was a babbling brook, a bank of ferns, and trees coming into leaf.  How do you paint such a

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The boomerang bottle

May 1, 2018

I want to do a message in a bottle. Send a Martin Mallett name tag out into the sea. I found the perfect blue bottle in a recycling bin. To the name tag I added: A photo of Martin

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How popular is the camino?

April 30, 2018

In the middle ages something like a quart of a million people walked the Camino from their homes.  They would cross Europe and head for Santiago De Compostela and then turn around and walk home again. It was a

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Football fabulous

April 30, 2018

Visited Lugo FC stadium #forzaLugo Very welcoming club in league two.  The pitch and stadium look terrific and the interview area by the main reception is great!  I’m in.  A signed on Lugo fan. Plus I’ve got 2 new

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Mallett in Muxia

April 29, 2018

It’s the other end of the earth.  They are 20 miles apart.  And pilgrims tend to have a favourite. Finisterre for the Lighthouse and cape.  Muxia for the Chapel and the waves.  It is relentless, with the sea smashing

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To the end of the earth

April 27, 2018

The Romans called it finis Terra the end of the earth.  To them it was clear there was nothing out there except sea and death.  Many pilgrims since the earliest days of this pilgrimage have continued the extra 100

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Gorgeous Galicia

April 26, 2018

It’s the bit at the top end of Spain that is utterly different from the rest of the country.  It has its own language, its own customs, and definitely its own weather.  It also had its own topography and

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The hand of St James and the cathedral of Santiago

April 26, 2018

I’ve cycled 2430 kilometres (1500 miles) from home to Santiago de Compostela. The target is the Great Baroque Cathedral where the cousin of Christ, St James the apostle is said to be buried. Everyday they say a pilgrim mass

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Hard at work in his slippers

April 25, 2018

He was sharpening a blade.  A massive blade.  Done sort of machete.  And he was sitting there in his slippers!  I was absolutely fascinated by his absorption in his job with no thought of health and safety. So I

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The guardian of the bridge

April 25, 2018

A great monument deserves a great story.  The longest bridge on the Camino is at Hospital D’Orbigo and the story involves a Knight in Armour, a fair damsel and a scrap for love! Back in the middle ages some

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The Latin certificate

April 24, 2018

Along the way pilgrims are supposed to get their pilgrim passport stamped to prove they’ve actually done what they claim to have done.  I’ve filled up three passports cycling through England, France and Spain. I went along to the

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Vineyard Valley

April 22, 2018

“Make sure you follow the road right down to the bottom…..” Said my hostel host.  Bellasar is worth a visit. I was enjoying a pleasant descent which became a 10 kilometre free wheel whizz down through the trees and

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Winter Camino

April 19, 2018

There are lots of different routes to Santiago de Compostela.  I’ve been on the way of the Plantagenets, the way of Tours, the way of Vezelay, and through Spain on the Camino Frances.  But now at Pontferrada there’s a

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The winter Camino – The Next Stage

April 19, 2018

There are lots of different routes to Santiago de Compostela.  I’ve been on the way of the Plantagenets, the way of Tours, way of Vezelay, and through Spain, the Camino Frances. But now at Ponferrada there’s a choice.  The

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The iron cross – highest point on the Camino

April 19, 2018

It’s 1500 metres up to the iron cross in the mountains of Leon. Higher than Ben Nevis.  I cycled up it on my lovely Giant E-Bike.  You pass by spiritual tributes in the fence and climb and climb.  At

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Animals on the camino

April 18, 2018

This route passes through lots of rural Europe so you can expect to see animals along the way.  I’ve seen pilgrim donkeys, but this was a first. Sheep sharing the road with me.  Lots of sheep!  Unbelievable!

Entertaining the pilgrims

April 18, 2018

Every person you pass calls out: “Buen Camino!”  Which translates as ‘good trip.’ It’s a really encouraging greeting and makes you feel like you are doing something special and worthwhile.  “Buen Camino,” we all call to each other. I’m

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Blokes at the bar

April 18, 2018

I needed a cuppa and a piece of tortilla.  I stopped at the bar and sat down to refresh.  And standing at the bar were a group of friends putting the world to rights. It was such an easy

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Donkey ho tee!

April 18, 2018

Today I met a pilgrim with four hooves, ‘Salome’ the donkey.  She woke me up this morning braying and I just assumed it was a local donkey.  A few hours later, she was with two French men walking the

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Martin Mallett and the legions

April 16, 2018

It’s half way along the Camino, but only if you start at Roncesvalles in Spain.  As I started at home in England I’ve already cycled 2000 kilometres…. Sahagun is an ancient Roman city and its gateway is truly astounding. 

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The barber of Carrion

April 16, 2018

There’s a lot of pleasure in having your hair cut somewhere new.  How about a different country where we don’t speak the same language?  This barber is next to my accommodation and he’s just won the lottery! 50,000 euros.

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Martin in St Martin’s

April 15, 2018

I came across a famous St Martin’s church in a place called Fromista. Looks just the place for a Martin Mallett moment. Let’s take a look…

Roosters in the cathedral!

April 13, 2018

This is my favourite story along the way of St James. In Santa Domingo Cathedral is an ornate hen house with two live roosters in it! Why? It’s a story of sex, miracles, and incredulity. Santa Domingo was a

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Rioja country

April 12, 2018

I am constantly thrilled to see the changing landscapes each day and over each hill.  How could the world vary so much?  But it does.  As Navarre gives way to Castile the big ring of mountains surround an enormous

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What does a bike ride have to do with Brexit?

April 11, 2018

I was cycling the Camino track and enjoying the constantly changing landscape. One of the highlights is the Van Gogh yellow oil seed rape and it’s overpowering perfume. In the south of France I saw acres of it, here

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Water into wine

April 11, 2018

Just out of Estella is a famous monastery with vineyard attached.  I was reminded of the first miracle at the fountain… Water or wine?!  Yes please!

Pamplona alona

April 11, 2018

This is a city famous for a mad week every July when the foolhardy take on the famous bulls to run the streets and try and escape death… Or worse! The great way to arrive in Pamplona is by

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The hill of forgiveness

April 11, 2018

High up on the mountain is a string of wind turbines.  You know you are in a windy spot when you see these graceful turning in the breeze.  Or whirring like demons in the freezing rain and gale force

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Don’t miss the village church

April 10, 2018

Every village has a church and on an adventure like this I find I can’t go past without taking a look. Is it the history?  The special story?  The architecture?  It can be anything. Take today.  I was just

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The day I dreamed big and lived the big dream

April 10, 2018

It began with rain which lasted all day…. The Alberge team in St Jean Pied De Port gave me an encouraging send off through the gate and up the mountains.  Kings and Princes and simple pilgrims have passed this way

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Pamplona painting

April 10, 2018

I always ask the nice people at the tourist office what their favourite view of their city might be. In this case they did along the city walls…  So that’s where I headed. I set up paints, brushes and

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What’s the weather like on the Camino?

April 9, 2018

It is, as I keep telling people, not a jolly….There is always weather you contend with, to begin with snow and Arctic cold. Last week biblical rain that Noah would have loved. This week sunshine and wind.Full on in

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Foothills of the Pyrenees

April 9, 2018

The undulating rolling foothills of one of Europe’s great mountain ranges….  It’s a joy….. Until it rains biblical rain.  This is a winter which doesn’t want to end and the weather has it in for the cycling artist.

St Jean Pied de Port

April 9, 2018

The tiny old town of St Jean at the foot of the pass over the Pyrenees is small enough to fit in your pocket.  It’s basically a steep cobbled street or two between three ancient stone gateways.  It feels

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The 10 second stop that lasts all day

April 7, 2018

I caught a glimpse as I cycled past… Blue shutters, wisteria in full bloom. As I took a photo, the owners of the home fell into conversation.  Their English was perfect and the conversation flowed easily. I was invited

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Delightful Dax

April 6, 2018

It’s a city that dates back to Roman times when they discovered the healing power of the thermal waters. Today it’s the thermal capital of France. The cathedral had undergone some changes over the centuries. It’s a baroque wonder

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In the Alberge

April 6, 2018

Along the chemin de St Jacques there are Alberge for pilgrims.  Inside is a kitchen, bathroom, great shower, and a beam lined dorm with sheets pillows blankets. They cost a few token euros a night, I arrived late into

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Everlasting trees

April 5, 2018

The ride through the uniform lines of trees is extraordinary.  All the pine trees in all the world appear to be grown in South West France.  Black trunks, grey green pine needles, the smell of pine, it’s amazing… And

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Has the Archbishop of Winchester been promoted?!

April 5, 2018

Thanks to the French press for their support of my Chemin De St Jacques. I see the Bishop of Winchester has suddenly become an Archbishop.  And why not?! Billy asks what league is he playing in now? Click here

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The Ancient Fortress

April 4, 2018

All around France are ancient fortresses like this.  Citadels they call them and they all have a similar look.  Designed by the great military engineer Vauban they are a legacy of that French king who excites derision and admiration

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My Camino in Scotland’s Sunday post

April 4, 2018

Lorraine Kelly surprises fellow TV star Timmy Mallett on charity cycle challenge, as reported by Scotland’s Sunday Post. Click here to read the full article.

Bridges Bring Us Together

April 2, 2018

Great bridges inspire us.  Down on the Dordogne at the entrance to Bordeaux there at four great bridges in less than a mile.  I stood in awe of them.  Majestic, everlasting, imposing.  They are meant to be impressive and

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Martin Mallett in a vineyard

April 2, 2018

The Bordeaux region is wine country. The best red wines in the world come from here and every field is given over to vines. I cycled asking looking at how the tired of vines were interspersed with yellow oil

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Nearly halfway

April 2, 2018

Pons is a good place to stop and ponder. Fabulous castle.  I could paint that! On the way out of town the usual little Chemin De St Jacques clues… The sign by the door. The circle on the ground.

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Discovering new towns

April 2, 2018

Saintes is a dream city on the Charente half way between Poitiers and Bordeaux. The Romans liked it and built the usual, an arc de triumphe, and amphitheatre and a temple or two.  Later the locals used the stone

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The brand new pilgrim shelter

April 1, 2018

In the village of St Leger I came across an extraordinary piece of new infrastructure. A pilgrim resting place, a shelter, made out of stone and huge timber Beams with maps and sculpture and a visitor’s book.  On the

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My lovely Lorraine surprise

March 31, 2018

I was having a cuppa in Saintes in a rare moment of sunshine when who should come up and tap me on the shoulder.  Steve my Wacaday cameraman and wonderful cycling pal and lovely Lorraine Kelly.  Such moments seem

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The lantern of the dead

March 31, 2018

It seemed fitting to find myself at Fenioux – the lantern of the dead.  This is a huge church with spire and a matching stone lantern nearby. The church has fabulous carvings around the door and nicely weirdly a spare

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Why do you wear a tie cycling?

March 29, 2018

It’s a strange thing to wear at any time but cycling?  Are you nuts Timmy?  Of course I am. When I went to Christchurch Oxford to meet the bishop for his blessing for this trip, the Porters in the

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Meeting the vicar general

March 29, 2018

It sounds like a military figure – the vicar general – turns out he’s the Archbishop’s fixer. It was a pleasure to spend an hour with Jean Paul Russeil at the Archbishop’s palace in Poitiers.  We talked of St Hillary,

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A minute’s silence

March 29, 2018

The gendarme volunteered his own life for the hostage.  In last week’s terrorist attack in the south of France this man was courage we exemplified. “You can die in your struggle against France.  Well I can die for my

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The unexpected library

March 28, 2018

I came across this impressive building in a tiny village.  It looks like one of those scary horror homes in the movies.  It’s open briefly for a few hours a week. Today it just happened to be open hours. 

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The castle or the painting?

March 28, 2018

“We have a friend who owns a castle, do you want to visit it?”  “Of course I do!” Avantan Castle on the north of Poitiers was bought as a run down ruin.  The owner had spent loads doing it up

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Reasons to undertake this big adventure

March 28, 2018

There are four reasons for my Camino de Santiago: Historical. This pilgrimage route to the tomb of St James the Apostle has been around for a thousand years.  And in another thousand years someone else will be doing this.  Pilgrims

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Martin Mallett moments

March 27, 2018

Each day I look for somewhere special to leave a Martin Mallett name tag. Actually that’s not strictly true. Each day my dear downs syndrome brother Martin comes into my thoughts and it becomes easy to spot the place

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The journalist

March 27, 2018

Daniel came to interview me for the regional paper.  He arrived bringing macaroons and when asked what he’d like to drink said ‘Pernod please’.  Crikey!  The interview naturally went swimmingly….

Chinon Castle

March 27, 2018

It’s only another 45 mins away.  But it’s in the wrong direction.  Of course I went! I’m standing across the river in awe at one of the great fortress / palace of history.  The yellow stone glistens in the

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My second Prime Minister sends me support

March 27, 2018

Theresa May came to my home to hear about the Camino and reasons for cycling and painting it. In my twin town St Benoit, my good friend the mayor, Dominique Clement, shared my story with former French Prime Minister

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Thanks Komoot

March 26, 2018

Navigation is always an issue in a strange place.  I like maps.  There’s a logic to them and browsing over them you can plan and dream and wonder… What would it be like going that way?  Now with GPS, you can

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Eleanor of Aquitaine and a detour

March 25, 2018

How would you feel if didn’t go and see your hero 20km away?  Never have regrets in life.  Always pursue your dream. So I went out of my way to Fontevraud Abbey to the resting places of the giants of

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The mighty Loire

March 25, 2018

It’s the mightiest river in France and flows through a valley of chateaux after chateaux.  At Angers it meets the river Maine and they come together in an enormous sheet of water. I got to stay on an island

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Kindness

March 25, 2018

“Where will you stay?”  That is a question I’ve been asked a lot and I ask myself each day…. I have a list of suggested accommodations from the Pilgrim Organisation in France. However it’s early in the season and things

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Timmy in his twin town

March 25, 2018

What a welcome!  800Kms from home I rode into my twin town of St Benoit to be met by Dominique Clement the mayor. Thank you for a fabulous welcome and a spectacular banner! Are you sure it doesn’t mean

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Big skies, big adventure!

March 25, 2018

Coming over the brow of the hill into a new region – Haute Poitou – I noticed the big skies, tree less landscapes.  Have a look and tell me what you think…..

Early start when the clocks go forward

March 25, 2018

We lose an hour as the clocks spring forward.  No time to lose. Up with the dawn and get out the brushes.  Inspired by my visit to Great castle of Chinon.  The painter paints.

Brilliant new cycle path

March 25, 2018

It’s been open a matter of days and it’s a dream come true.  Investment in leisure is the mark of a courageous country.  This old railway line had been converted to a voice verte, a green way, with wide smooth finished

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Martin Mallett with Kings and Queens

March 24, 2018

I found a Good place for Martin, my brother, today. Next to King Henry 11 and Richard the Lionheart and alongside Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Like them, Martin more than reached his potential and that’s all we have to do

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Dead flies in Angers

March 24, 2018

I’ve been through parts of France before, never on a bike, or like this… Last time I was in Angers was a football tour and we arrived by train to be greeted by a particularly spectacular fountain. The stunning

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Prince William supporting me

March 23, 2018

In the middle ages you need the blessing of your lord of the manor before setting of across Europe on pilgrimage.  So I wrote to my lord of the manor, Prince William to tell him of me adventure.  I’m delighted to

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The land of chateaux

March 22, 2018

The Loire valley is famous for its ornate Louis XIV style chateaux. I am surprised to round every corner and come across another one. So many of these are slightly shabby and have seen better days but it doesn’t

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Eric and jumper the street entertainers

March 22, 2018

Well these are Street entertainers from another era, another century…. I saw them standing at the organ grinding machine that had definitely seen better days. Eric started to turn the wheel, there was nobody else around.  Jumper the dog looked

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The woodcutters and the beetles

March 22, 2018

It was a young sapling when Henry VIII met Francis of France in the field of the cloth of gold. 500 years later this ancient oak tree toppled over a victim of the Capricorn beetle. I came across George

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Why are they called Plantagenets?

March 22, 2018

Geoffrey of Anjou was a colourful character in the early 12th century. He was married to Matilda the empress, grand daughter of William the conqueror.  It wasn’t the happiest of marriages but it did produce Henry 11. Geoffrey preferred

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