Ernest Hemingway described her as “…the most sensational woman anyone ever saw”, and Shirley Bassey paid her an astonishing tribute when she said “…I have never seen, and probably never shall see again, such a spectacular singer and performer.”
Every year I look forward to the Tour de France as one of my highlights of the sporting year. I was fascinated recently to learn about the links between the Tour de France and the notorious Dreyfus affair of late 19th Century France. Dreyfus was a Captain in the French artillery who was imprisoned for… Read more
I was reminded today of something that happened back in October. For the last two years, on our Tuscany tour, we’ve used a beautiful villa as an overspill hotel when we stay at the Casa Aiola in Vagliagli. As well as the Villa di Astreo, it’s also known as the Casa di Rompicollo. I’ve never… Read more
And we’ll try to include news about France, Italy, food and wine, because secretly that’s what we actually do.
This year has been one of mixed fortunes for us at The Chain Gang.
Back in the Eighties there was a fabulous animated version of The Wind In The Willows, featuring David Jason as Toad. I bought quite a few sets as gifts for children and adults, I thought they were hilarious. I’ve no idea where any of them are now, and as they were all on VHS I… Read more
A few weeks ago we had an incident in Dijon with a very funny ending. I hope Sasha will forgive me, as he’s the butt of the joke, but he’s such a nice bloke I think we’ll be OK. They’ve tried hard to make the centre of Dijon an attractive, pedestrian area. And it works… Read more
Recently a friend of mine, Mike Pattenden, spent a week in the Loire Valley. Anybody who’s cycled with us this year will have a water bottle designed by Mike’s wife – so too our brochure. He took the chance to do a bit of cycling, and was good enough to write about his experience. He… Read more
There’s an old saying which says that a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are 10,000 words on why you should go to Provence. Throughout July there are fields and fields of beautiful sunflowers. Just as the TV crews go for the obligatory ‘Riding Past Sunflowers’ shots in the Tour de France, everyone… Read more
Amazingly, two more people have now completed every single one of our cycling tours. Aidan Challen and Damaris O’Hanlon recently cycled round Umbria with me, and in both cases the Umbria tour completed the set. Damaris has been on some of our tours twice, she’s a one-woman Chain Gang promotion agency, and probably our biggest… Read more