In search of Dordogneshire: Bergerac in the time of Brexit

Back when I was researching English incomers in the Ariège Pyrenees, many people cited Dordogne as a kind of benchmark. It was a way to disassociate themselves from that stereotype of Little England: 'I think people come here because they don't want that Dordogne thing. They want to take part in the French culture. They …

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Jardins de la Fontaine, Nîmes

A stopover in Nîmes: slow travel in the South of France.

It’s the first day of spring, although the Jardins de la Fontaine smell more like early summer. Half the population of Nîmes is sitting on the lawns of the 17th century park, like the Uber Eats cyclist taking a break, and the other half are in the outdoor cafes of the old town. I walk …

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Lviv from the top of the Town Hall

The no. 9 tram: December in Lviv

“You from here, then? Only you seem to know what’s what.” I laughed and shook my head at the English couple, fresh off the Stansted flight, and explained, pointing to the large ‘5.00 UAH’ written below the airport bus timetable. “The fare's written here, look,” I said. I was curious to know why they’d chosen …

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A journey through photographs: Finding family in Western Ukraine

It was all triggered by old black and white photographs sent to my father long ago... Growing up, I’d heard a lot about Poland, where my father had been born at the end of WW1. Coming to the UK during WW2, he’d been unable to go back ‘home’ when the war ended, as eastern Poland had become part of the USSR. I’d had a child’s simplistic understanding of it, that the Russians took it from Poland. But all we ever heard about was Poland. Nothing about Ukrainian people or language.

Ivano-Frankivsk from the town hall viewing platform

Track changes, eastward bound: London to Western Ukraine by train

When I booked the eight trains spanning four days of travel from London to the ancestral village of my father (formerly in Poland, now lying within western Ukraine), I hadn’t realised that I’d be following the same route, more or less, that my father had driven us as a family in the late 1960s. Some fifty years later I decided to travel east again, although this time it was possible to keep going into Ukraine, to the town closest to my dad’s village - the town of Ivano-Frankivsk

Étang d’Areau from Col de Pause

The Col de Pause is a starting point for some wonderful walks, as well as an up-close view of Mont Valier. This entry describes a walk up to the pastures known by various spellings: Areau, Arreau, Arréou and Areou, and its emerald green lake.

A 360˚ Panorama from Pic de Girantès / Mont Ceint, and an absent reminder of the French Résistance

At 2088m, Mont Ceint (also known as Pic de Girantès) gives a superb 360° panorama over the surrounding ridges and valleys. Until recently it bore a poignant reminder of the French Résistance actions in helping escapees flee over the Pyrenees to Spain.