Three Scots with dodgy knees and dicky tickers cycle, walk, busk and talk all the way from Vigo to Valencia….
Join us? A Road-Blog through 80 years, on bikes, with ukes and fiddles and penny whistles. There’ll be songs and poems from Scotland and Spain, photos and videos of (slow) cycling, of the old days, a bit of banter, a lot of wondering about where we’ve been, how we got here and where we’re all heading…
Liam Kane – El Super O; Eddie Morrison – El Duco – and me Chris Dolan, are setting out on the third and last of a series of journeys.
Blame Laurie Lee. Blame my old pal Brendan (more of him later), or Eddie or Liam. Blame being young and restless, oh about a thousand years ago. Blame the need to figure out why we did the things we did…. But it all began back in 1935…
Laurie Lee, once he’d had his Cider With Rosie, left his beloved Cotswolds valley, and ended up in Spain, walking and playing his fiddle and talking to folks along the road. His memoir of that trip, the follow-up to Rosie, is the hugely loved – not least by me – As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning.
Laurie Lee’s trip was cut short by the outbreak of the Spanish civil War, and he had to be rescued and brought back to the UK.
40 years later, when I was 16, I set out to retrace Lee’s 1935 route.
My best friend at school had a brother who lived in Galicia, and not far from where Lee’s trek began. Brendan and I headed out there. I took my fiddle, re-read the book, learned the tunes Laurie had played, mapped out his route and, and after a few weeks’ holiday, set off…. King of the road, adventurer, Vagabundo del camino….
It didn’t go well. Too young, I walked and busked through Galicia, but youth and lack of earnings – a man of means by no means – made the King of the road abandon the project.
Laurie Lee had been rescued; I was ignominiously repatriated. It was my brother Paul who got me out – but more of that later.
Now, 45 years on, two old friends are helping me undertake that journey again, but this time mainly on bikes, and extending the route to go coast-to-coast.
At 61, I hope I’m a more experienced writer, a (slightly) better violin player, (almost) fluent in Spanish, (fairly) solvent. And, crucially, now I have the backing, and companionship, of my cycling buddies and lifelong friends…
Introducing Liam Kane … on ukulele, guitar and vocals; and Eddie Morrison penny whistle and vocals – Spanish speakers, fonts of wisdom, old retired fogies, both.
Liam, ex academic, El Super O for Organizador, because he’s organised the routes, the overnights, the kit, the bikes…. Without Liam, Eddie and I wouldn’t get beyond our front doors.
Eduarduco, ex-heidie, raconteur, general wit and super-speedy cyclist.
Together we’re making the last of three journeys: 1935, 1975, and 2019. 85 years of history, memories, music and craic.
Along the way – cycling through Valladolid, Madrid, Segovia, Cuenca – we’ll sing songs from Scotland and Spain, talk to other, better buskers and passersby, friends old and new, about Spain and Scotland and Europe, where we’ve been and where we’re all heading….
To kick off the project, I decided I really wanted to set out from a place I have dreamed about since I was about 12 years old…. Rosebank Cottage, Laurie Lee’s childhood home and the road he took to leave it in 1935, as he Walked Out One Midsummer Morning …
But that’s for the next blog….
For the moment, here’s a taste of some music…. Liam and Eddie doing what will be one of our theme songs. Cantares – words by pre Civil War poet, Antonio Machado. Music by Joan Manuel Serrat (a hit when I first went to Spain). With my attempt at a partial translation….
Everything passes and nothing dies,
For us, the thing’s to keep on going.
We find the route by our ain devise
weaving our way, o’er land and ocean.
Which way, pal? Wherever your footprints lead.
Friend, your footsteps are the road,
the only road there is.
We find our way by walking it.
The way you go is the way ahead,
and behind you the road you’ll never walk again.
Which way, ye say?
Nothing but the wake o’ the water behind you.
Heel for heel, toe for toe
We make our way by how we go
Step by step, word for word,
One by one we make our road.
Map of the journey from Vigo to Valencia