Looks Like I’m Turning Toward Zurich (6 September 2015)

I have two other blogs – both of which are sleeping while I’m travelling. However, the inspiration for one of them has interrupted my journey and changed my course. That it my Learning German with Christoph Waltz blog, where I’ve posted the following: Looks Like I’m Turning Toward Zurich This blog has been quiet while I’ve been out riding my bicycle around Europe and (slowly) blogging about it elsewhere, but this news calls for a post here. Christoph Waltz will be a special guest of the Zurich Film Festival where he will, amongst other things, present a special screening of Inglorious Basterds. …

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Riding in France and Thinking of an Austrian Actor: Le Havre to Yvetot to Le Grande-Ventes (3 – 5 September 2015)

I’m slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the 103rd day of my journey when I awoke in a hotel in Le Havre, France and rode my bicycle to the town of Yvetot and the 104th day when I rode on to a campground in Les Grande-Vents (a map can be found at the bottom of this post). Thursday 3 September, 10:30 pm — Emilie and Rémi’s Home,  Yvetot I rode 78 kilometres today – that’s not a lot for many bicycle tourists but it is for me. It was my …

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In Between Days, Riding in France: Houlgate – Le Havre (1 – 2 September 2015)

Camping Municipal des Chevaliers, Houlgate – Tuesday 1 September 2015, 9:50 am (Day 100 of my midlife gapyear)  In the Australian way, it’s the first day of Spring – but as I’m in France, I guess I can say it’s the first day of Autumn. After getting up to go to the loo at 7, I went back to bed and dozed off and on until 9:00 am – realising, again, that if I didn’t feel like getting up, I needn’t.  No where to be, no where to go. No one expecting me. I can tell already it’s going to be a …

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Silent in Foggy France: Bayeux – Benouville – Houlgate (30 – 31 August 2015)

Sunday 30 August 9:10 am – Relais ‘La Roseraie’, Bayeux (Day 98 of my midlife gapyear) I wonder when I will converse again. Will my voice go rusty, my tongue uncertain? This will be day eight without a proper conversation. ‘Sadness & Happiness’ – the last poem in Selected – one of my favourites – so much so as I think my shoulders slumped and I let out a little sigh of … there should be a word which reflects the regret of finishing a book. Now I’ll have to finish my ‘poem’ and prepare to share it with Robert. …

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Beautiful Bayeux: A pink room, loneliness, and a tapestry (28 – 29 August 2015)

Friday 28 August 2015 (Day 96 of my midlife gap year) 8:20 pm A Restaurant in Bayeux It’s nice to be in a city again. Bayeux is compact, beautiful, and busy with visitors. The helpful tourist office found me a reasonably priced chambres du hote on the edge of the city centre which I’d never have noticed myself as it’s located over a hair salon. My room is quite pink, and I like it. Sometimes I ride past ‘old’ buildings, but mostly I’m riding in modern France – physically and mentally. This past week I’ve been mired in World War …

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Pedaling with Ghosts in the Normandy Rain: Isigny-sur-Mer to Bayeux

Thursday 27 August 2015 (Day 95 of my midlife gap-year) 9:15 am, Camping Le Fanal, Isigny-sur-Mer, France: Rain Rain Go Away I slept until 9 and it’s raining again. At 7 the church bells were pretty insistent on waking everyone. I’m surprised I fell back to sleep. If I’d gotten up at 7, I might have packed away a dry tent. Now, and since just as I woke, there is a steady pitter-patter. Riding in this sort of rain is not too terrible but I’m growing weary of it, as a constant companion. I’d like to get to Bayeux today – but …

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To Ride is to Live: Jonville to Isigny-sur-Mer (Normandy, France)

Tuesday 25 August 2015 (Day 93 of my midlife gap-year) 9:25 am, Camping Municipal de Jonville Today’s ride will bring me closer to the landing zones of D-Day – I’ll be following Utah Beach much of the day. This campground is filled with holidaying European families, including some German-speakers. There’s a dissonance in that. Over a breakfast of pain au chocolates I’ve continued to read Robert Pinsky’s Selected Poems and write my poem about where I’ve read them. Where: And in the morning With Irish tea and the crunch, chewy, (not too) sweet of ‘deux pain au chocolat’ from the bakery …

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Back On My Bicycle in France – Riding from Cherbourg to Jonville

Flag of France against a blue sky above the city of Cherbourg.

Bonjour (again) France Sunday 23 August (Day 91 of my midlife gap-year) 11:35 am , Cherbourg YHA:  I woke to the ferry-wide announcement that we were soon arriving in Cherbourg. It was raining;  perhaps I wouldn’t start riding straight away after all. Waiting for my passport to be stamped and returned to me, the driver of a car – also awaiting their passport – sought my attention. “Excuse me!” he said, “Yes?” I replied. “Are you from Australia?” The guy waiting for his passport was also Australian and as a huge Oils fan, noticed and loved the Head Injuries t-shirt …

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Leaving Ireland with Melancholy and Hope

Dark blue sea meets kohl-smudge horizon in the very last light of day, a buoy light and low clouds.

17 – 22 August 2015 (Days 84 – 89 of my Midlife Gapyear) Monday 17 August 11:30 am – Flanders Cross And just like that, time is fleeting. The Kilkenny Arts Festival is finished and all my new acquaintances have begun to fade away. I returned to Kilkenny via Dublin sharing a festival courtesy car with American author Jane Smiley and her husband Jack. They were both lovely. We talked about Australia. (Jane wondered why the people of Adelaide think so little of their city. “They live there even when the festivals are over,” I said). Not surprisingly, for an Iowa …

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In Northern Ireland the Troubles Still Bubble Beneath the Peace

13 – 15 August 2015 (Days 81 – 83) Thursday 13 August 4pm, Connect Hostel, Derry Small cities, I should only visit small cities. It’s 4pm, I’ve done the lot and feel I’ve given everything it’s due. It’s been a gorgeous and sunny day. I started things off revisiting the Guildhall – where President Clinton spoke in 1995, a trip I worked and wrote of in my last blog post. Derry isn’t as much changed as I’d expected. It still has a working class, slightly hard-done-by air but with more tourists and tourism-related businesses. There are new cultural institutions and …

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