My Bonfire Heart ... James Blunt

People like us don’t need that much, just some one to light the spark in our bonfire heart.

James Blunt.

I had to go find that precise moment where James Blunt's song lights the spark in my bonfire heart.

It happens at 1.58. 

That scene.  Those mountains.  The roadtrip.  I miss New Zealand (even if this isn't New Zealand, it was close enough to explode my soul.)

There's an interview with James Blunt, confirming that the music video is all that it seems and more.  He explains: Then the most amazing bit of it was pulling up to a car park in the end and not realizing in the bar in the car park a wedding was taking place and the wedding party saw us and spilled out to see what was going on and so to the bride and groom I got out my guitar. I played them songs in the car park, I played them ‘Bonfire Heart’ and spontaneously surrounded by their friends and family the bride and groom had their first dance, in the car park and that is what we filmed that is the ending of my video. That’s what you see on YouTube now. Absolutely incredible, you could not have scripted it and it looked amazing. She was crying her eyes out, the crew were crying their eyes out too (I wasn’t crying because I’m a man, obviously!) so it was a huge honour to be part of and it became their wedding video!

But to start at the start, he explains  ... and it kind of made sense because the song is about no matter who you are no matter where you’re from it’s about the human condition which is we need to connect with people.

The lyrics are simple "people like us don’t need that much, just some one to light the spark in our bonfire heart.” And the video just really tied in with that, the video was really fun to make. I love motorbikes and so I went to Wyoming and Idaho and we went travelling across hundreds of miles across these two states. You don’t have to wear a helmet there, which was cool for that and with an amazing back drop to that part of the world and me on my bike it was ‘Top Gun’ meets ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and we used real people not actors because we wanted the song to be as honest and genuine as we could and we wanted a video to match that.

About people, of course, but sometimes, surely, the 'spark' can be all about lighting that bonfire of memories and places much loved. Much-missed.

Paris in Autumn

Yesterday, Ruth and I left the Belgian rain and grey skies behind as we crossed the border and entered France.  Paris is about 3 hours, by car, from Antwerp.

We arrived around lunchtime and spent our afternoon wandering ... visiting my beloved Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, wandering on to the Panthéon, over in the Latin Quarter.

We meandered really, taking photographs of this thing and that but mostly, we simply enjoyed our 24 hours in Paris.

We zipped back across the border today and voila, in under the grey clouds and rain.  So here's a glimpse of how Paris was ... 13 October, 2013.

Road-Tripping ...Things I'm Learning

The best random car radio I've heard anywhere in the world so far was between Rijeka, Croatia and Budapest, Hungary.  I guess it's music I know so perhaps there was some nostalgia from the 70s and 80s involved but honestly, excellent music for that 4+ hour journey.

If you have a rental car that doesn't charge your GPS as you travel, chances are you might have some challenging experiences when attempting to reach your destination

First hint of trouble was in Verona.  Many people were approached for directions to our final destination in the heart of the ancient city.  Rijeka, and voila, although we tried to leave the GPS alone and simply rely on it for the complicated city-leaving and arrival parts ... the GPS battery started to die about one kilometre from our destination.

About then we became suspicious of the coincidence of the destination flag appearing and the battery warning appearing.  Maybe it had some kind of bug in the machine. 

Budapest ... about a kilometre from our destination, having really rested the GPS, up came the battery warning along with the destination flag. We were caught in a long traffic jam on the other side of the river.  Julie laughed.  I was not amused.

We crossed over into Austria yesterday and barely used the GPS.  No flag appeared as we neared our Vienna destination ... the 'bug' in the GPS suspicion is over.  The rental car has a faulty charger.  We shall proceed with caution, relying mostly on the big highway signs.  It's Trieste today and a longer journey that will take us through Slovenia.

But back to other things learned ... be clear on destinations programmed into the GPS. We had hoped to call in for lunch in Zagreb but managed to miscommunicate on programming that idea in.  We passed by and realised, after a conversation, that we love the journey as much as the destinations so we continued on.  4+ hours of road-tripping was a really excellent Plan B, although we did detour to a secondary road and visit a lake before leaving Hungary.

Budapest, brilliant city.  Loved it but more to follow in another post. 

Julie's handbag.  The one that sits behind us on the floor of the backseat.  Yes Julie, it is a marvellous bag that holds so much but ... let's be sure that I pull out your sunglasses, your normal glasses, your lip balm, your iPod music player (although that's more useful if charged), and every other thing I have had to grapple with on the road trip while you have driven us across Europe.

But okay, yes, perhaps it would have lacked a certain sense of achievement had we been that organised.

Air B&B, a great way to travel. We've stayed in local homes and apartments, met excellent people that I have to write more about when I have all the information and life isn't about the journey.  I'm writing this from a student flat in Vienna, where one of our hosts is a lovely Croatian guy studying architecture.  He was just in Rijeka last week.  They are a delightful couple and we're glad that we did it.  Julie organised it all and she has made me a convert because I do love meeting people where ever I go.   

It's another big old apartment complex with at least two inner courtyards.  The Budapest apartment was my favourite so far ... directly behind the opera house and truly exquisite, inner courtyard, beautiful ironwork on the inside and that delicious sense that you are experiencing something of an everyday life in each place.

Learned while living in Istanbul ... always look for cafes and restaurants that are full of locals. Do not be tempted to do anything else.  If you know someone, all the better, ask them where to eat.  We have eaten divinely while traveling.   It's been less about expensive and upmarket and so very much about good local food.  Hungary has been my absolute favourite so far. 

If in doubt about where to eat, stop someone who looks like they might eat in places you would like to eat in.  Asking politely worked every time.

Wines ... some countries you can barely go wrong, other countries have a wine culture to be explored with caution.  Perhaps that's as specific as I'll get but I do love countries where I can find my beloved Italian red wines. We enjoyed this Croatian red wine.   And were really impressed by Hungarian red wine ... absolutely lovely.  Thanks to Jennifer.

Men from Manchester on stag weekends in Budapest ... very friendly, quite naughty but with a lovely humour that meant we always wandered away on laughing.  We met 3 groups on our second night there.  Yes, they made us laugh.

Croatians in Rijeka speak beautiful English.  We were told by the lovely wine guy that they start studying it in fourth grade.  Hungarians in Budapest also speak beautiful English. 

Maybe that's enough for this post.  I wanted to finish up with a photograph of the most divine fish and chips I've had any place so far ...located on Andrássy Avenue, we would absolutely recommend The Bigfish restaurant because their cod and chips were sublime.