What happens?

Riding his bicycle – a model called the ‘Odyssey’ – along Europe’s longest cycle path called, suitably enough, ‘La Vélodyssée’, a middle aged man sets off on a thousand kilometre ride through the dunes and pine forests of France’s Atlantic coast.

With only the ghost of the sixteenth century philosopher Michel de Montaigne and a battered copy of the famous Essais for company, he fights off oversized ants, passes through lands recently devastated by wildfires, skirts a nuclear missile site, and spends time in a naturist resort…all this, even as he faces the rumbling thunder of his own existential crisis.

Where on earth is his sense of humour? And if not Michel, who then can save him from drowning in such cruel seas?

                       

Me and Michel Chapter One

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home

 Matsuo Bashō

I am flying to Biarritz in the south of France with my two grown up daughters, where we’ll holiday together for two weeks on a campsite. Then, when they’ve gone, the plan is I will cycle the thousand kilometres home again – alone. I’ll be gone for maybe six weeks.

My daughters are waiting outside the airport terminal. Now beautiful young women of twenty-seven and thirty-one, and seeing them together, chatting and giggling as we park up, I realise I am the luckiest man in the world to have this time with them.

As the plane takes off, I know I need this break for other reasons. I have flown in planes all my life, and all at once, I fear flying. What’s happening to me? Continue reading “Me and Michel Chapter One”

Me and Michel Chapter Two

‘He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears.’

Michel de Montaigne

The appointment was routine enough.

An ancient wisdom tooth had been grumbling and crumbling away at the back of my mouth for some time. At my last check up, I’d been told I’d be better off without it and it was time to follow through… Continue reading “Me and Michel Chapter Two”

Me and Michel Chapter Three

‘There is no remedy for love but to love more.’

Henry David Thoreau

Ours is a swish campsite, and we have a spacious tent. We have two ‘bedrooms’ separated by a bit of canvas, a hob to cook on and a fridge. We have our own little concrete terrace outside, and we’re only a few minutes walk from the beach… Continue reading “Me and Michel Chapter Three”