Up river

We’ve been dawdling. The great French rivers drawing us like sirens aided by Theo’s insatiable appetite for fishing. Three days before our ferry to England and we’re barely North of Bordeaux: less than 100 miles in 3 days, but there’s no rush, the countryside’s sublime. Max is reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. A story of a river subverting and…

Vive la difference

Our last night in Spain saw a hasty retreat, when at 3am an idyllic river bed turned into hurricane alley, sandblasting us back into the car, bleary eyed and wondering how desert folk managed before wet-wipes. Spain has been delightful and an opportunity for my son Max to speak Spanish, but it’s France that speaks to me. The first 10km…

River camp

From Leyre we looked for a mountain idyll and found one at Panticosa: Winter ski resort , Summer ghost town. For a couple of days we read, swam and savoured the tranquility. The river was fast flowing and chilly, but nevertheless the boys spent hours wading upstream. Surrounded by nature, it was easy to relax, before hitting the road again and heading North.…

Monastery de Leyre

I first found the monastery at Leyre six years ago and it’s held a place in my heart ever since. It’s also the furthest we’ve planned. On the way here we discussed religion: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, the significance of Christ’s crucifixion and Nietszche’s critique of Christianity as a slave morality – it’s really not just all I-spy…

The Journey to Espana

There was drama, the boys, jointly entrusted with waking us up, both overslept an hour. Though we missed the ferry we were thankful for DFDS’s policy of allowing travel on the one before or after. Watching the White Cliffs recede has always marked the end of preparation and the beginning of adventure, Laurie Lee describes it well: “I found myself longing…