Smack dab in the middle

A little to the south of Breisach and some 40 km north of the Swiss border two trees grow, one either side of the towpath that runs along the right bank of the old Rhine channel. These two trees form my portal between northern and southern Europe. This gateway is where the cool north and the warm south meet, the midpoint between machair and maquis. Continue reading

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Hibernating fleas

Sunday morning early starts are over for the year. Last Sunday was the final pre-dawn break for the border two hours before the Shipping Forecast.

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Harvest in Germany – a country on the pop

Late summer and early autumn in southern Germany is a time of much drinking, a bit like the rest of the year in fact, but a little more choreographed with popular wine festivals and being-sick-on-beer festivals. Continue reading

Adopt a vortex

On 22nd October 2012 Dominic Jung from Wetter.net gave the German weather forecast in which he said: “Teilweise tanzen dann sogar im Alpenvorland die Schneeflocken bis ganz runter vom Himmel.“ I ran a Google translate of this forecast and the result was better than I could have imagined,

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A short walk across the Alps

In the summer of 1982 I took my first flight to Greece.  I was sitting in a starboard window seat reading a new travel guide, the first edition of the first Rough Guide by Mark Ellingham, when the clouds below cleared.
We were high over a confusion of jagged sharp crystals. The  Alps were scattered below us and far into the distant haze. Continue reading

Terms and conditions of Britain’s relationship with Europe

David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Well he can take the day off and annoy his family as I have defined suitable terms for him. Continue reading

Collecting stereotypes

Like the grizzly Manxman on the Pequod I was born ‘in the little rocky Isle of Man’. I confess that neither have I his ‘preternatural powers of discernment’ nor was I ‘taught….by the old witch in Copenhagen’. But I can spot a salmon or a stereotype on a good day at 20 paces. Continue reading