October Writing Prompts – 16th

The good doctor finds his own way through the halls passing the large harshly lit cafeteria. He rushes past, he has no need of that room, and his time is short. He picks up the pace further, the ill and injured respectively stand aside. Not a second to lose. Fiercely he slams open the large double doors and yet the corridors go on and on, seemingly endless in their stark white inevitably.

Nearing his destination he is fully running now, his long-distant youth as a track star echoes in his muscles. The urgency increases as he enters the vehicle. Recklessly it weaves swiftly through the thronging traffic, ignoring lights; all must wait the doctor.

His door is open even as the brakes begin to scream. He leaps out. The house is already open, the anxious faces eagerly welcome him; he is here, the doctor is here; where he is needed.

Panic has not yet set in as he bursts into the kitchen. He is in time, the doctor has arrived. He picks up his tools and immediately sets to work.

With a final twist of the wooden spoon this good doctor serves his family with a meal of his own making; the flavour of the feast so intense it almost comes to life.

This is my first attempt at following the daily prompts for a ten minute write from Putting My Feet In The Dirt The idea is to use the prompt and write for ten minutes only. Which is what I did, prompted by the words The Frankenstein Feast


The Summer Book

The Summer Book

“You can see for yourself that life is hard enough without being punished for it afterwards”

Tove Jansson – The Summer Book

Summer Book 02

“This breeze is a little cold, are you too cold?” the young woman asked with concern.

She never used to fuss like this, Grandmother thought. Back when she was small enough to be fussed over herself. She never worried about my feelings, or concerned herself with my comfort. In fact, I never fussed over her either. The elderly woman considered for a moment. She preferred those days.

The breeze was light, and the sun was shining. Not at all cold, in fact, for the Gulf of Finland.

After a pause the Grandmother asked “Where did you say you live now? Spain?”

“Yes” Sophia replied, “In Valencia.” She added, without knowing why, “That is to say, just outside the city.” Grandmother’s eyes darted across sharply. “Is that so?” she replied.

The grass gently danced in the breeze. Grandmother thought about the heat of the south that could make her Granddaughter feel this air to be cool.

Summer Book 01

“You only went to Italy didn’t you? Not to Spain.” How the young feel they are always the first to experience anything; that cliché ran through the old woman’s mind. And I suspect the old always believe they are the first to accuse the young of this, too. She chuckled to herself over the hypocrisy of both youth and age.

The wind was picking up in fact, there were little points of white out on the sea. The two women watched a distant dinghy sail by in a comfortable silence.

Summer Book 04Great age comes with responsibilities, one of which is to appear confused and a straightforward manner of achieving this is to converse at tangents. This was something that came very easily to her. “There’s a painting in the ‘Museo de Belles Artes’ in Valencia.” She began, relishing the chance to startle her Granddaughter.

Sophia was long used to her ways, and equally delighted in thwarting her, still. “It’s ‘Museu’ now,” she explained, “The speak Valencian now. It is called the ‘Museu de Belles Arts’. Naturally they all can all speak Spanish still, but they prefer their own language.”

“What do they do to people who speak Spanish, then?” Grandmother asked, mischievously. Sophia laughed a gentle, indulgent laugh. She was old enough, just, to remember how it was to be a Swedish speaking Finn. “What about this painting?” She wasn’t going to humour the old trickster by being surprised by her knowledge of Valencia.

Grandmother thought back over the years. Memory shortens and flattens but can also lengthen and confuse, of course. Was the emotional memory stronger, or the visual? She decided to try and find out. You ought, at least, to be able to talk about these things.

She took herself back to that place. “It was a long time ago; your mother was still alive. I think she’d have been about ten.” I wonder, she thought, I wonder if the pain is still there, “Your grandfather had recently … I had …. That is to say, well, he had… er,” Yes, a little, It is still hard to frame it after all these years, decades, “He had done something he oughtn’t have done. The sort of thing people old enough to know better do sometimes, if they want to play at being fools, or being teenagers. Or both. No, maybe not teenagers; they wouldn’t be that foolish or cause that much pain.” She thought of how teenagers are all lumped together as an absurd, uncaring, pointless group of uncontrollable individuals dangerous to themselves and others. Rather like the very old. It was extremely unfair she thought – on the teenagers at least.

Sophia felt herself wince and tense involuntarily. Oh, she thought, she’s in pain still. Oh my goodness. It will never fade.

Grandmother continued this disjointed revelation. “We found ourselves in Valencia and for some reason he wanted to visit the gallery. He wandered around chuckling at the ancient religious art; I sat and stared at only one painting.” She felt herself there now; surprising herself she found that the smell of the distant gallery overpowered that of the nearby sea. “The background is drab. A dark grey wall, almost deliberately unpleasant. A wall you’d have to work at to keep that unkempt. It was wholly unadorned, the settee was also drab; a nondescript red.” The background always struck Grandmother first. “Despite it’s miserable blankness, the background seemed to speak of family, a warm family”

Summer Book 01The younger woman half listened, her mind on something else. She didn’t wonder why her ancient relative was telling her this story, or where it might go; she never had. She thought how their pain appeared to resonate; even across this vast time.

“There is a couple on the sofa, he looks rather stern, but when you go to the gallery make sure you take a good close look at his face. He is sat rather apart from the woman, but his left knee stretches out to touch her, it’s an awkward yet loving pose. Not a protective love, but a love of need. There has to be contact. It is a love of equality. The woman has a sweet, smiling face, maybe rather frivolous. But that touch shows the respect he has for her. It is awkward, stiff, but beautiful.”

Sophia couldn’t remember her grandmother ever talking for so long. Now the older woman lay herself on the sand and granite and appeared to be snoozing.

The Granddaughter thought of this old woman, much younger, sat in anguish staring at this rather plain sounding picture. What did it tell her, she wondered, idly.

But Grandmother was not really asleep, an old trick of course. “It’s a Sorolla. A famous Valencian artist, you probably know his bright ones, of people and the sea. Well, he painted lots and lots of portraits. They are framed as is a photograph framed, yet painted in a classical style.” That doesn’t sound like me she thought, as did Sophia. I must have read it somewhere.

“But you lived a happy life for many years after?” Grandmother felt rather than heard the slight desperation in Sophia’s question. She pretended to nap again, so as to allow her grandchild the relief of not having her tear-filled eyes observed.

However old you get, the pain doesn’t ease, it seems. “It gets better with time”, she soothed; but they both knew she was lying, as the old often do.

The sun had shifted and was burning warmer than ever. The tide had turned, and the breeze died down. It was calm.

Summer Book 01Grandmother sat up unsteadily, and slowly. “After a while you notice that the time the couple spent with the artist, sitting for him, must have been rather jolly fun. What have you been doing yourself, dear? To help?”

Absorbed in her thoughts the precision of the question passed her by, “Oh reading a bit. A lot, actually.” She thought of that remarkable little book that had helped so much. “I’ve done something I’ve never done before, Grandmother, I wonder if that’s a good thing? I read the book again.”

“It depends. Sometimes new things are only things you’ve done before but decide to think you haven’t.” Or maybe that is just when you have lived for so very long, she mused. Too long. “But surely you’ve often re-read a book!”

“Are you cold?” she asked again, involuntarily, even though she could feel herself that it was rather hot now. “Yes of course. But this was different. I finished and just went back to the beginning and started again. There’s no story; nothing happens and everything happens. It is about nothing and about all of life. I read it four times in a row, non-stop. Now I’m reading it to the children. At night. While they sleep.”

Grandmother looked sharply up again at her thinking that was rather obsessive. Can you depend on people who just let things happen?

“We had a full life together afterwards, yes. Many years. Maybe I never saw things until they were too late; or he didn’t. We didn’t have the strength to start again. Or maybe I just forgot the idea along the way, and I didn’t even realise I’d forgotten about it. I think it’s wise to keep at it, forgetting isn’t always so hard.” It becomes second nature, she realised.

Lost for a while inside themselves; the younger woman wondering how to forget, her eyes once more brimming; the older one considering whether it still had the power it once had. She never had understood why speaking the title made her cry, it didn’t mean that much to her and it wasn’t that moving a phrase, not really. But it always did, every time. She hadn’t spoken its name for so many years. “Well, let’s see.” she thought.

Slowly she stood, leaned on her stick and faced the sea; as dead calm as she could ever remember. “You discover that the couple are his parents-in-law, the mother and father of his wife. They – Sorolla and his wife – had a long and happy marriage, and you can feel the mutual feelings here in this painting. Love and respect given and received from someone else’s son. But the title, it is how he chose to name it that tells us. It is not his relationship with them, or even their daughter that he focuses on. His respect and love for them must have been very great indeed for him to highlight their precious position to that which mattered most, what was dearest above all else.”

The old woman paused, and the very air sensed it. She knew, across the years (so many years), this still affected as deeply as the first time. Still; she wanted to tell her granddaughter, had to tell her it was going to be alright. She had to speak it now, as the sun shone and everything was fine. Yes, it was fine, yet it was all overshadowed by a great sadness. It was only time on top of time, vanity and a chasing after the wind.

“The painting is called ‘Los Abuelos De Mis Hijos’.“

And as the wind picked up again it licked insistently at the tears streaming down the faces of the solitary women, one sitting, one standing, grieving for the past, for the present and for the future.

Summer Book 3The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson – ISBN 978-0-95422-171-3 – I consider to be possibly the best book I have ever read 10/10

This has been freely adapted from the book, and includes extracts, quotes and references which are all used wholly without authorisation

Not the way of it

“That I am quite sure won’t happen.” – “But it must happen in time.”

Penelope Fitzgerald

Oddly it is white, or maybe a light grey. A big off-white cloud. It is fluffy but firm, very firm. It descends upon me, envelopes me and slowly squeezes me, crushes me.

It can come on at any time. It is related to nostalgia, of course, always a risk at this time of year for me and in an empty house especially. But now it is even more profound. A deep all-encompassing sadness. So sad, so very sad. It has a physical presence.

A sadness for what has gone, the past, for a past full of regrets, failures and waste. A sadness for the now, a present I cannot envisage or face, even as it stands here right now, in front of me. A sadness for me, for the kids, for their childhood. A sadness for a deep, bitter, frustrating and blocked future. An inevitably always-diminished yet huge, terrifyingly huge, empty space that once was to be a future.

“It will pass, it will get better, it eases in time. It always does.”

“No, that won’t be the way of it.”

No indeed. Not at all.

From High To Low

From High To Low

The sea calls to us all. Deep within us is the sea, it draws us. To stare at its expanse, to lounge on its shores, even plunging into it, we can’t rationalise why, but we do it, we need to. It may be a primordial longing for a return home, or simply to feel that vast, unknowable, mass always inscrutable, always just …. There.

This is the tragedy of land-locked countries, a population held away from our great giver and sustainer of life. A (very) small consolation of the landlocked is the ability to pinpoint a single precise location as the lowest in the realm. Every region will have their highest point, a non-descript hill or mighty towering mountain but for most the lowest is the seashore; thousands of miles of it.

So now we have two points, the loftiest and the, er, cellariest, and when you have two points you have a challenge. Thus I finally got round to joining the dots in Luxembourg by bicycle. This required a lovely hour-long trip by train, the countryside becoming even more beautiful as we passed the ‘midlands city’ of Miersch (Mersch) and headed deep into Éislek, the northern half of the country.


Alighting at the final station in the Grand Duchy the air was clean and fresh and I set off, immediately hitting a typical Ardennes hard short climb. This took me over a tunnel housing the railway as it snakes away towards Belgium, eventually reaching Léck, better known by it’s French name Liège, maybe. Round and round over some little bridges, in and out, and the route finally joins a lovely old train path the Vennbahn. I ride only a few kilometres of this, but it is a wonderful 125km long track which is highly recommended.

Sadly I must soon leave it at the Buurgplaatz, erroneously considered the high point of Luxembourg. In fact a nearby location is a full 1 metre higher; this is The Kneiff, and I prepare myself for the climb. In fact it’s a miserable three or four hundred metres on the National Route 7, clearly news of the recent 1.5 metre passing law hasn’t quite reached this far north yet, cars so close I could reach out and touch them all. Finally I turn onto the unmarked farm track while a few spots of rain patterned the muddy path and as I achieve the ‘summit’, I think I should don my rain jacket.

As I stopped the bike I saw a car parked in the field and alongside it the owners. Age has not withered their love, nor custom staled their desires and I tactfully (and tactically) mounted the Kneiff-stone to photograph the view opposite, allowing the elderly lothario time to replace his trousers behind me. Once I turned I found them suddenly eager to quit this pleasant spot and off they sped, dishevelled but enriched, surely, by life’s most vibrant opportunities.


As far as peaks are concerned this is definitely more at the Imperceptible Crest of a Hill end of things rather than Sweeping Majesty, but I enjoyed the initial freewheel away as the rain picked up. Heading due south on cycle ways and minor roads as thunder rumbled and threatened all around. (At least I think it was thunder; maybe our heroes were once more overcome with the urgent need to prove their love in its physical manifestation)

Up and down over this beautiful rolling countryside I found myself following a signed bicycle route named “Panorama”, and if the little section I followed was typical then this too was worth another trip. (I later found myself on one called “Jardins”, I hadn’t realised that there were so many up here)


I used my R1 and R3 maps to guide myself cross country to reach the PC22. Once I found it I put away my maps, which was a mistake, as the wayfaring on this route is abysmal. I enjoyed the map reading, however and had spotted a lovely looking lake, and was somewhat bamboozled by its non-appearance, and indeed any lack of descending toward it. Reading a map without reading glasses is not to be recommended; for this was in fact a raised reservoir. I love a body of water, as already mentioned, so I climbed the many stairs to look at this one. It is very rare that it isn’t worth bothering doing something; this was such an occasion, uninspiring and I genuinely wish I hadn’t bothered. Demolished two bottles of orange Fanta at the friendly nearby café, as by now the threat of rain had cleared and it was simply very warm, and I was off.


This section, down towards Veianen (Vianden) was just lovely, mostly downhill, huge deep tree filled valleys, shimmering wide cornfields, and largely traffic free roads to enjoy it all. I had perfected the pronunciation of ‘Veianen’ when I had stopped earlier to check my location, and the couple I asked gleefully helped me repeat it until it was spot on. In fact this went to waste as I didn’t quite enter the lovely old town; I approached from the south and headed directly towards Iechternach (Echternach) on the PC3. Sadly this first section is just on a fast National Route, and has no business being described a cycle route at all. However it is only one section, and soon I was on more forgiving roads. The “3 river route” is well known to me and I fair hammered it along the beautiful rivers, first the Our then the Sauer, crossing the confluence at Wallenduerfer-Bréck. This truly is a great ride with much to see along the river.

By now though, I was thinking of home, and swiftly passed the water birds, the campers happily playing on inflatables in the river and eventually steamed into Waasserbëlleg whilst the summer’s evening was deeply golden. I paused at Op de Spatz and unlike the understated white stone at the Kneiff, here a sign proudly displays the altitude of just 132 metres above sea level. I dipped my hands in the exact point the Sauer meets the Musel and my 100 kilometre, 428 metre descent was complete.



Status Quo

the space taken by the 14 people in cars here makes the city appear at a standstill. It makes it an uncomfortable place to walk, to shop, to be. Why does this make economic or social sense? Norwich, UK mid-1990s

How easily the new becomes the status quo, yet how hard it is to break the status quo. It is much harder to imagine change than to live it.

We’ve ruined our cities as places for people in order to accomodate the failings of the private motor vehicle. Ever bigger, wider roads, communities torn in half, people scared to allow their children to walk, the air quality plummeting.

So many public resources, in terms of space (as well as money) offered up to this cumbersome beast: yet still it fails dismally.

Congestion still chokes our cities; danger still hurtles through the streets daily, hourly. People in fear of the irresponsible, undertrained, faceless “motorist” decide to protect their loved ones; by driving them, “forced” into their cars therefore multiplying and embedding the problem.

Yet it wasn’t always so.

As far-sighted people look backwards to streets riven with people as they see the number of absurd short journeys undertaken by car, as they attempt to reverse the failing, as they fight to “free” people from their cars they are met with bewildered contempt.

Traffic is seen as inevitable, as a naturally occurring event.

The agency of individuals is denied them as language speaks of “accidents”, as driving is the assumed mode of transport.

The past is forgotten. Cities have been rebuilt, bulldozed and tarmacked to ensure that private motorised transport is the obvious, often the only, “choice”.

And when the ideas are voiced about recreating cities on a human scale allowing walking and cycling, the majority (encouraged by the wealthy car lobby) cannot envisage anything outside of this status quo. All solutions must still put the car at the centre – because that’s how it is now and therefore how it’s always been and how it must always be.

Never mind the sense, the desire, the necessity of change. Never mind the benefits to all (always excepting the multinationals involved in the auto and petroleum industries) of this change. We fear the change. We fear it always, until it has occurred.

Then it is embraced and defended as the new status quo.

JFK Cycle Path: 2017 – present

JFK Cycle Path

Back in December a brand new dedicated bi-directional bicycle lane was opened running the length of Kirchberg. As so often in the case of infrastructure for non-motorised transport here; I have to be grateful but I also have to be a bit depressed.

Width/Comfort *****

Segregation ****

Integration **

Prioritisation (no stars)

Protection ***

Possibly the finest piece of bicycle infrastructure in the City opened under a carpet of snow alongside the opening of the tram, funicular and two new railway stops. What a day for soft mobility in Luxembourg. Symbolically and practically that day really felt like something was happening up on the plateau.

The first impressions for the path are good. It is wide; really wide. It is fully 3 metres for the vast majority of the route. It is also long, a total of 3.2km from one end to the other. And it’s (almost) fully segregated, and mostly there is no cause at all for people on foot and people on bikes to end up in each other’s area.

Segregated, wide and kerbs

We have had a large network of cycle paths in Kirchberg, but they are fairly unsatisfactory for a number of reasons; mostly because of their shared status. Putting people travelling without private motorised vehicles in conflict with each other, battling over limited space, whilst cars are protected and encouraged is a feature typical of car-centric backward-looking societies. The far side of JFK is a prime example of this. Cyclists must (see Article 107) use a narrowish pavement which is also where buses unloaded, and regularly caused chaos particularly at peak times. It is planned for the bus lane on the other side of JFK to be converted to another bi-directional cycle path. This would be excellent, let’s hope the slightly hysterical voices calling for a return of the 18 (a bus that suddenly appears to have been the most loved object in Luxembourg: I would remind people, however, there is no way there was an 18 coming up JFK every six minutes) do not get heeded and halt this path.

A major issue with the new path is how it integrates with the existing paths. Not very well, is my view. Getting across JFK remains a nuisance on foot or bike, and slipping across the roads and tram tracks to join up with the existing shared paths is awkward, and an area of potential conflict with those on foot. In addition we have the two ends of the path. Up by the Utopolis cinema we are guided onto the pavement, and separated from people by surface colour, not kerbs. As the pedestrian area is dotted with trees, and both sides are narrow (cycle path = 2m) then it is inevitable that there are people frequently walking here. In addition there is no link with the PC2. The easiest way to do this is to turn left before the tram stop and (possibly illegally?) ride across the pavement, passed the (definitely illegally) parked cars and onto the road by the “Hugo Gernsback” bus stop. The problem with this is that the traffic lights at the top are never triggered by bikes, and so you have to re-join the pavement, hit the beg button then ride across a road which is flowing (although with very few cars) to join it. This is not a comfortable link at all. I really hope that when the tram is extended to reach the airport that the cycle path is also extended to run the full length alongside it.

Sharing, then stopped; The Eastern End

Similarly at the western end the path abruptly stops. You turn left and wait for lights to gain access to the Red Bridge, or right over the tram tracks then wait for lights to cross Konrad Adenauer, before joining an unsegregated shared path down to the funicular. This is hugely disappointing. At busy times there is a mass of people here who naturally do not want to have to fight with bikes. Originally the impression was given that a dedicated cycle path would carry on here, and then across the bridge. We know, of course, it will not carry on to the bridge (making Kirchberg to Limpertsberg criminally absurd by bike), and for this terrible cop-out to be right at the hub of the new transit connections is appalling. There is an M-Box (as there is at the other end), but no Vel’oh station here.

Abrupt ending; The Western End


From here to the funicular / tram stop is shared

It is mostly completely segregated, with kerbs and islands. I would always prefer deeper kerbs, these ones are still easy to drive over, if not quite “inviting”. However, as there are wide ‘islands’ with trees on either side it actually doesn’t run directly by the car lane, and so is unlikely to be infiltrated from there. This is, without a doubt, fantastic. A very good, essential, plus point. This is not true at the myriad entrances to the lane from the junctions. None have bollards and I have seen vehicles (mostly vans) parked somewhere on the lane every single time I am up there. A bollard in the middle at each end, and a little education, would solve this problem.

All too frequent

Unfortunately there is a long section all the way along d’Coque which is open for “delivery” vehicles. Of course I’ve already seen private motor cars use it, and although it’s bi-directional, the delivery lorries fill it completely. There is no reason at all that this access couldn’t have been maintained with a normal junction, rather than sharing the path for so far. This is hugely problematic, both in practical terms, and also symbolically. There are actually traffic lights there to stop bikes and allow lorries onto a the cycle path! In addition the integration with the cycle paths on the other (northern) side of d’Coque is problematic.

Please note: these vehicles are acting LEGALLY
This is where lorries can join the cycle path. (N.B. not a joke)

In terms of “giving cycling priority” this path plainly doesn’t. There are a total of 15 crossings with lights, about one every 0.2 km. The vast majority have beg-buttons (several automated by approach). One entry has a flashing orange light to warn drivers that bikes have right of way. My flesh and bone is a little too fragile, however, to rely on motorists here in Luxembourg. It makes the whole thing very stop-start which can be frustrating, especially when you are waiting on red for a road which is also on red for whilst the tram passes. Could be linked?

I also wonder what the plan is around the Alphonse Wecker stop, in front of Auchan. This is a busy crossing, and there are no markings or signs at all to suggest how to continue along the bike path, across this ‘gap’. It gives a big, wide and peculiar shared space.

Shared space in a ‘continuous’ bike path

I must state here that clearly this path makes cycling the length of Kirchberg better, and I’m slowly beginning to see more people use it as winter fades. But compromise is the killer of cycling infrastructure, and it’s all too easy for people in cars to look at a mostly empty lane such as this and complain that it should be for cars. No matter that the ‘huge’ tailback of cars at the lights holds maybe 20 people; a group you’d barely notice if walking and / or cycling at a fraction of the public space commitment.. I’m not sure how that very obvious point about the inefficiency of the private motor vehicle can be brought home. JFK lends itself to a beautiful photo of 100 people walking, alongside 100 people on bikes, alongside 100 people on the tram, alongside 100 people in cars. I need to find someone who could organise such a stunt.

Space for Cars
Space for Cars – credit @urbanthoughts11

A New Face In Hell

Once again into the past. Forty years of unsurpassed genius passed on during Wednesday afternoon. Sharing the news with some old school friends took me right back to when I first had my tiny mind blown (my head expanded) and everything changed for me. There was a kid in our class who introduced me to The Fall (and John Peel, and therefore is responsible for opening the door to actual music. Not the limp chart shit I’d been exposed to before). He was not, by any means, a Cool Kid; but he was the coolest of them all. He was considerably more mature than us and he was cool simply because he was himself and nothing that anyone thought anyone should be. We all thought of him as a great friend, and he was. Yet he lost touch with us all (purposefully) within months of school finishing. In retrospect I guess I admired him more than anything. I guess too that he found something, at least, in us lot to hang about with until he could go where he had to go. And I’m grateful for that.

So of course when these things happen nostalgia comes. I remember the anticipation of Bend Sinister being released; I remember how much I loved it when it did come out. I remember feeling they had been around forever before I heard of them, and eagerly devouring their remarkable back catalogue. They had been around for 8 years at the time, only about 20% of the productive life of the irascible, cantankerous, inventive and unique imagination-magician and creative force in charge of the band. He was the only constant in the band; the band the only constant in a changing world. No longer.

But not just nostalgia, for he never stopped. Last year the latest album (can it be – The Last Fall L.P? – typing that brings it home; there’s always more Fall L.P.s. This wasn’t meant to happen), with the fabulously Fallesque title New Facts Emerge, was superb. The sadness is very much also for what more was to have come.

I can’t really explain how important he was to me personally in my musical tastes. Always there, always brilliant, always challenging and, in John Peel’s memorable words, “Always different; always the same”. I have many groups and musicians I admire and love, but he stood over them all; still stands gloriously alone and above, he is forever the Hip Priest looking down. He leaves a body of work consisting of hundreds and hundreds of songs. Stick them on random and you realise every single one is wonderful, makes you listen, makes you think.

I saw them more than any other band, although not for a while. Once after a gig at the UEA we knocked on the door of the tour bus and he came to chat; we shook his hand and wished him happy birthday and thanked him for the gig (which was excellent). My right hand.

I remember once taping their entire catalogue (at the time) off vinyl on to cassette in alphabetical order by song title. By the time I finished that job, they’d released another L.P.

Am I living too late? A (nearly) 50 year old man hankering for his youth, or a music lover hankering for the next Fall record? No, in fact I am Damo Suzuki.

I have so many highlights of albums and songs and sessions that there is no point in trying to choose a selection for here, so instead I’ll take one from the first album, and one from the last. Enjoy, and if you are not familiar you really have missed out, but what a time you have ahead of you catching up…

Winter Commute

The worst of the winter commute is behind me, I’m sure of it. Not only do I leave home a little later than most, meaning it’s already light on my way in now, we also seem to be luxuriating in a mild spell at the moment. The cold snap of a couple of weeks ago has gone, and it really is astonishing the enormous difference between zero and 5 degrees.

An online conversation led me to try a new route. Experience tells me my 7.9km route is the best quick, albeit not especially pleasant, route but the promise of dawn beauty beckoned me to a mostly traffic-free route.

Thus it was that I was tempted to set out a full half hour earlier than normal, for this is doubling my distance. Ironically there is a horrible junction to negotiate before I leave the motorised traffic; but in the morning ‘rush’ hour the vehicles are stationary and generally you find yourself waved across, and gingerly edging out as cars jostle from all directions.

Downhill, SUV’s wooshing past, under the railway and then – HERE WE GO. I am unable to restrain a slight sense of smugness as I dive off the tarmacked misery and plunge into the glorious silence of the forest. Wow. This is it. Not entirely sure of the way, but following a muddy track with a small river gushing below I know I must keep heading down. The early morning winter sun infiltrates gently; the conditions below the tyres worsen. But no matter, the rubber skims and slides through the puddles, I put my foot down, a bird flashes passed, still the stream tumbles its urgent way. There are choices of paths, options I refuse to consider, down down; they all come together again and suddenly I pass far far below the motorway. I think of all those individuals suspended in the air, individually trapped in metal boxes, hardly moving whilst I’m down here, breathing! Smelling, hearing, moving and I’m afraid to say I succumbed once more to a degree of smugness. How could I not? Yes I’ll arrive in work with trousers boasting splashes of mud, and they will be pristine; unfresh from their cars. But my heart is pumping, I’m awake, I’m part of this world and I’m vital.


Finally my friendly little brook breaks forth and leaps in to a full – fledged river, where I turn right to head downstream. The water is high, the banks looking shallow; I glide alongside the river as it flows swiftly, serenely, inexorably. This is a favourite old path along the river; wide, genuinely traffic-free and beautiful. Twice I need to cross roads, and I can sense the coming ‘civilisation’. Forced onto a busy road (our cycle paths here spend more time closed than open), I can’t avoid them from here on in. But they are, at least, in the old city and picturesque in their own way. Now I need to head high to the plateau and finally I embrace the modern scar of mankind. I ascend in our brand-new funicular railway before finishing off this absurdly long, yet wonderful calming, commute along an almost-lovely very-new cycle path.


Commuting is about routine. My mornings are settled; I leave on autopilot, I know to the second when to leave and when I arrive. Every inch of the cycle is embedded. It was refreshing and unusual to vary this, needing to think again, or at least, think in a different way. Normally the processes are running constantly and at full pelt, observing, anticipating, avoiding; riding in traffic you cannot let go of concentration for a second. This morning, however, in the forest and along the river I could.

Will I ride this way again? I suspect the clock will determine this, as it is a lot longer. Altering any habit is difficult in any case. Those built specifically to ensure ease of thought in the morning are doubly so. I don’t even know yet if I will come this way tomorrow.

I hope I do.


pictures are not from today, nor of the exact route described


Cycling Events in Luxembourg 2018

This is a non-comprehensive list of organised cycling events in the Grand Duchy throughout 2018

February 2018

04.02 Muselbikes goes to the CX WM Navette Valkenburg (N)

18.02 Randonnée Mountain Bike Randonnée Mountain Bike Ell

March 2018

02.03 AG Muselbikes AG Grevenmacher

04.03 Festival du Mountain Bike Randonnée Mountain Bike Kayl

18.03 GP Ost Manufaktur Road Berbourg

24.03 Randonnée Mountain Bike “op de Groufen” Randonnée Mountain Bike Differdange

25.03 Ecoride Randonnée Mountain Bike Lintgen

April 2018

01.04 Randonnée am Minett Randonnée Mountain Bike Esch

01.04 UC Dippach Road Dippach

08.04 Randonnée Mountain Bike Randonnée Mountain Bike Stegen

08.04 VS Dommeldange Road Dommeldange

14.04 Nordstad Randonnée Mountain Bike Randonnée Mountain Bike Diekirch

22.04 Fréijoersrandonnée vun der Poste Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Lux-Gasperich

22.04 VC Schengen Road + Time Trial Remerschen

22.04 Randonnée Mountain Bike Randonnée Mountain Bike Esch

29.04 LC Tétange Road Tétange

29.04 Mill-Man-Trail Randonnée Mountain Bike Echternach

May 2018

01.05 Randonnée Elsy Jacobs Cyclotrouriste Garnich

05.05 Andy Schleck Challenge Mountain Bike Special Event Itzig

05.05 BIKE 4 LIFE 2018 Special Event Diekirch

06.05 Festival de la Petite Reine Course Kayl

06.05 Randonnée Aischdall Randonnée Mountain Bike Habscht

10.05 Bididu Trail Randonnée Mountain Bike Brouch

13.05 GP majerus-parmentier Road Hosingen

26.05 Schleck Gran Fondo Cyclosportive Mondorf

27.05 6 Stonnen Terre Rouge Special Event Esch

June 2018

03.06 La Nicolas Morn Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Kayl

03.06 Uphill Challenge Special Event Rameldange

05.06 Critérium de la Ville de Kayl Road Kayl

09.06 Randonnée Jang Ferrari Cycloutouriste Ettelbruck

09.06 2. Zaitfueren op der Musel Time Trial Ehnen

10.06 2. Vélo Gourmand Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Ehnen

10.06 Festival de Bertrange Road Bertrange

16.06 Randonnée Cycling for Health Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Schengen

17.06 GP Kropemann Road Atertdaul

24.06 Souvenir Marcel Gilles Road Contern

28.06 Championnats Nationaux Time Trial Time Trial Atertdaul

July 2018

01.07 Championnats Nationaux Road Road Atertdaul

01.07 – 07.07 6 Days Lull Gillen – Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Randonnées Bertrange

07.07 Master Tour Cycling for Health Special Event

07.-10.07 L’Etape du Tour Cyclosportive Annecy (F)

08.07 MTB Randonnée Widdebierg Randonnée Mountain Bike Flaxweiler

27.-28.07 24 Stonnen Vëlo Wentger Special Event Wincrange

August 2018

05.08 La 24e Edy Schütz Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Woolz

12.08 La 26e Jempy Schmitz Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Diekirch

19.08 La 7e Randonnée Jeng Majerus Cyclotourism – your own pace on the road Schuttrange

26.08 Festival Cessange Road Cessange

September 2018

02.09 La 29e Charly Gaul Cyclosportive Echternach

08.09 Mam Vëlo de Buurschter erop Special Event Bourscheid

09.09 68. Drauwen a Wäifest     Grevenmacher

16.09 Festival Cycliste Road Reckange

16.09 Randonée Roger Wirtz Randonnée Mountain Bike Larochette

23.09 Randonnee Lull Gillen – Bertrange

30.09 Hemoride Randonnée Mountain Bike Strassen

October 2018

13.10 10. MTB Tour op der Musel Randonnée Mountain Bike Grevenmacher

14.10 Randonnée Mullerthal Randonnée Mountain Bike Beaufort

21.10 Randonnée Tanja Wintersdorf Randonnée Mountain Bike Sanem

27.10 Randonnée Mountain Bike Titelberg Randonnée Mountain Bike Rod

October/November – Coffeenuering