Semur-en-Auxois – holiday delights off the beaten track in France


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We were looking for a real recharge on this holiday and that means finding a location where we didn’t have to try too hard to do anything. Half a day travel from home, walking, cycling, sightseeing, great food and wine … Continue reading

This is why Venice stays in my recommendations for your “bucket list”


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Venice. The city on the lagoon. “La Serenissima”, the serene one. One of the world’s most iconic tourist sights. Or a city swamped in tourists creating an ecological nightmare? Let me put my personal cards on the table. I have … Continue reading

Timeless scenes of France – Market day beneath the plane trees


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Morning coffee and a croissant at the market in La Grand Combe. A seemingly timeless scene. We love local markets when we are on holiday because the produce just seems brighter and more interesting than at home, and because of … Continue reading

A trip down memory lane: The start of a special journey – Riding the Baltic Sea Cycle Route in Lithuania


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Recently my colleagues who manage the wonderful international EuroVelo cycle route network asked us all in the ECF office if we had some EuroVelo memories or trips we could share as part of an occasional series on their web site. … Continue reading

Just enough time for a few tourist sights of North Cyprus


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I wrote recently about last year’s visit to North Cyprus when I was looking at the potential for more cycling with some of the local cycling promoters and supporters. That write-up was dominated by the relationship between mountains and coast, … Continue reading

2015 – favourite photos of the year


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Several of the bloggers I follow are summarising their year with a few of their favourite or most viewed posts. I thought I would do something a little simpler by picking out some of my favourite photos of the year, … Continue reading

Eating and cycling combined in Taiwan – put it on your culinary bucket list


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It is going to be very hard in the next few blog posts to not just turn this into”101 reasons why you should visit Taiwan in 2016.” We have our major international cycling conference there in March 2016 so there … Continue reading

Brilliant day’s cycling in Taiwan – brief report

Taiwan Bike tour

There will be time for better edited, clearer photos.

There will be more time for ride and route information.

And there will be special thanks to my friends at the Formosa Lohas Cycling Association who delivered me a great day cycling today. Over 140 km south from Taipei to the smallish town of Dongshi near the bigger city of Taichung.

But as I sit in my hotel room tonight I can reflect on great company:

FLCA ride taiwan

Super riding and some great views;

reservoir view Taiwan cycle tour

Use of a very tasty titanium road bike that I really would like to own;

Phil's bike

Riding through the strawberry harvest (in March);

Strawberry harvest taiwan

But above all else…….. the food.

I must have sampled thirty dishes today, most of which I have never tried before. At some point I will try an inventory but I will just capture a touch of the variety with the Hakka style hot pot, the excellent steamed meatball in a dumpling and the incredibly weird drinkable jelly tea.

Traditional Hakka style hot pot Taiwan

Steamed dumpling meatball Taiwan


Wierd jelly drink Taiwan

No danger of losing any weight on this tour.

And tomorrow I am told we hit the mountains for real. As if my legs don’t ache enough.


Lunch with attitude. Is this the ugliest meal in Madrid?

Arrived in Madrid today to speak at the Unibike cycling trade show at the weekend.

The presentation of lunch was initially very off-putting – but in the end very tasty.

Who had the idea that fish simulating crocodile eating itself made the food more interesting? A high risk strategy indeed.

Photo Kevin Mayne


Photo Kevin Mayne

Nice setting though.

Plaza del Ildefonso Madrid



Brussels for Christmas

Brussels Atomium from below Brussels Chocolate

Remarkably I have hardly published any conventional travel content about Brussels on the blog despite my two years of working in the city.

The visit of family for Christmas is an excuse for an old fashioned tourist trip to the capital of Europe, with the twist that I have two teenage nephews to entertain so we have to pick out some sights that provide lots of wow. A small nondescript statue of a boy peeing in a fountain really doesn’t cut it I am afraid, the Manneken Pis must be the most underwhelming icon of a city I have ever come across.


The Atomium however, now that’s more like it. Out to Hysel, emerge from the metro to the symbol of modern life from the 1950s and work our way up into the structure. The high speed lift takes us nearly 100 metres up the central shaft to some great views from the top level, then there is chance to wander round most of the modules and levels where there are exhibitions and displays about innovation.

Atomium view Brussels View of Brussels from the Atomium

It is cleverly done because the lower levels have no windows, just an occasional porthole so you lose all sense of which level and which direction you are moving. Plus they have added some fun by playing with the linking escalators, for example one has been darkened and has coloured lighting and spaceship-like sound effects which appeals to big kids as much as younger ones. My first time inside, but a big tick box for the Atomium.

Brussels Atomium escalator

Mini-EuropeOutside the Hysel entertainment area is a bit sleepy for winter but as my visitors come from outside Europe we have to wander into Mini-Europe and have a bit of fun with the impressions of 28 countries of the EU. It is all a bit twee but they put in some good enough impressions of the countries and lots of mucking about such as steering your boat round the harbours, making Mount Vesuvius erupt, ringing the city bells and chasing thieves round Paris so it sort of worked. Some very odd exhibits which made me chuckle – somehow the entire display for Luxembourg consisted of a motorway bypass, which seems a bit unfair. Some sort of Belgian joke?

Time for a Belgian delicacy before we go back to the city. Waffles with the lot? Of course!

Gaufre Waffles of Belgium

Then it’s back into the city centre of Brussels and the order of the day is very much Grand Place by day and by night, the Royal Galleries and window shopping seemingly endless quantities of chocolate. Now that’s a Brussels we can enjoy.

Grand Place Brussels day Grand Place BrusselsChristmas Grand PlaceRoyal Galleries BrusselsChristmas display Galleries Royale Brussels Brussels beersMacaroon display shop window Brussels