Album – Passage – A cycle journey through Spain and Portugal

In March 2016 I left my home in the UK to cycle in Portugal. My panniers were full of camping gear, road essentials, and microphones. From the beginning of the trip I knew I was going to record a lot of sounds. I had no idea what I would produce out of those sounds. I imagined simply sharing the files, creating a sound map, maybe integrating them in a story in words. But never did I think, I would create an album.

When I came back home in July 2016, I was at a loss of what to do with all of my material. I wanted to share my story but I didn’t know how. Writing about it felt trivial. There was (and still is) nothing exceptional about what I did. I pedalled a lot of miles, slowly, and with a lot of breaks, in Spain and Portugal. I am one among hundreds of others.

Sharing the sounds as they were felt not enough. There was so much material, so many stories behind each sound. I wanted to give them more meaning, a way back into the world that was more than a dump of files on SoundCloud.

I struggled and beat myself up for not doing anything. Times was ticking on. I’d been on my journey, it was now time to share. But a friend reminded me that no, I didn’t need to share my story immediately. In a world that seemed dominated by the speed of social media and instant gratification, I forgot, I didn’t need to share straight away. I was allowed time to digest, time to forget and move on, time to come back to my memories. So I did.

I went on living life, creating a new home for myself, exploring new areas, building new friendships and stories. Until July 2017.

Out of the blue, Thaniel from Humanhood Recordings got in touch. His first message had nothing to do with creating an album but soon the conversation veered that way and I saw an opportunity, the possibility to find a home for my field recordings.

So I got to work. Evenings and commute time often taken by thoughts and questions about the album, days off spent staring at the audio editing software, moving files here and there, altering them, deleting everything, and starting all over again. Until late November. The album took shape, became as ready as I could get it, and it was time to release it into the world.

As I worked on the sounds, my sister worked on the booklet, and the album was complete. Get the booklet for free here.

There are no words in the album, albeit the ones from passer bys and friends from the road. The sounds are the story. But if you want something less metaphorical, the video below sums up four months in five minutes. All the photos can be found on Flickr. And if you want specific stories, you’ll just have to get in touch and ask.

Listen and buy the album here.*

*If the cost of the album really is a barrier, let me know. But before you get in touch, consider that your money will help a small label and me get more content like this in the future.


The sea and me

I’ve lived in the UK for over five years now and I’ve come to realise how inescapable the sea is. It is the place where I can travel no further with trains or my bike. I come to a stop and imagine France, Canada, or Norway on the other side of where I am even though the distances and places are often obscure to me.

Of course, I knew before moving that Britain is an island. I’ve seen it on maps for years, looming over France in a history full of conflicts and complicated relationship. I’ve looked up at it, yearning to learn more about it before finally making the jump. But I never considered its border with the sea. You don’t need a boat to go to the UK nowadays, you don’t even have to acknowledge that there is a sea around it. I certainly ignored it.

But then, I went exploring the country and the smell of salt began to permeate my journeys. I took regular trips to the seaside, drawn to the edges of this new home of mine rather than to the lands inside. I saw the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, I’ve walked along the rugged Jurassic Coast, I’ve watched the Irish Sea lap the coast of Wales, I’ve plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Ireland, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the North Sea in the Orkney Islands.

I come back again and again to the water, watch and listen.

Those are not the water of my childhood to be enjoyed and played in. Those I fear. They enclave me on an island and in an odd way I feel at their mercy. They could rise up and swallow the land. They lick the stone and melt the borders. They are mighty and I am frail.

I should avoid them, stay inland and explore the hills and fields of the countryside, safe on solid ground. But I don’t. Know your enemy, they say. So I travel to the seas. I explore their edges and familiarise myself with their rhythms.

The pebbles sing under my shoes, the sand hums under my bare feet, the waves mark the passage of time. I listened to it all and fell in love.

The ever changing seascape stopped being immense as I went from place and place and discovered local plants and scenery. Piers and sea defences made me feel welcome, myths and legends weaved stories through my head, and the raucous sound of the pebbles being called back to the sea and foam fizzing on the sand became a treat to be cherished by the shore.

Those are not the water of my childhood to be enjoyed and played in. Those I respect. They sing for me and in and odd way protect me and bound me to the land. They come and go, faithful and reliable. They wash over my feet and bid me welcome. They are mighty and I am humbled.

HearSay Festival – A week-end of sound in Ireland

Back in November I went to the HearSay Festival. It was three days and nights of sound, story and sharing taking place in the village of Kilfinane in Co. Limerick in Ireland. The village only has a population of 700 people and a bus line going to it twice a day. But still hundreds of people from 85 countries managed to gather in this Irish village in sweaters, coats, gloves, scarves, and hats to join the festival. I was one of those people.


The HearSay Festival is a place for radio producers, sound artists, theatre makers, game sound designers, film sound editors, musicians, field recordists, audio story makers, and anyone else who has anything to do with sound. Such a wide-ranging program appealed to me by its diversity. I felt I could be welcomed there and have the perfect opportunity to explore the world of sounds and its many outlets.

And I was not disappointed. As the festival went on, I made my way from talks to installations, from local shops to pubs and learned. Although the majority of talks where from people from radio and podcasting, I never felt they were not addressing me. We were all audio makers in some shape or form, feeding off each other love of the medium and applying lessons from one area to another.


But the HearSay Festival is more than that. It is also about Kilfinane and its people. When hundreds of people invade a small village in Ireland, accommodation quickly become scarce and restaurants booked up. But not in this place. People opened their doors to perfect strangers, hosting visitors in their home. I was one of the people lodged at a home stay with five other audio minded people. We were made at home by Birdie – our host – from the moment she picked us up one by one in the village to the moment she dropped us back for the last day. She went out of her way to make us welcome, inviting us into her home, cooking us breakfast, and ferrying us to and fro every now and again. Once in the village, the pubs became hubs of audio conversations where everyone was invited to take part. Residents smiled and engaged with everyone, giving their time to guide us from venue to venue, opening the doors of their living room for some talks, and generally going out of their way to make the festival a success and create indelible memories from everyone’s mind.


I was so busy enjoying myself that I ended up not using my recorder many times. I captured a few moments in the first two days but made most of my recordings on the last day. There wasn’t much but I really wanted to create a soundscape of my time there and what the HearSay Festival felt and sounded like to me. Before you listen bear in mind that most recordings have been done very spontaneously and without audio monitoring so it’s not perfect.

The voice talking is Sam Greenspan and you heard excerpt from his talk “Deconsecration”: a radio sermon. You also heard excerpt of Collision: Trio for Piano and Voice printed to Vinyl Disc cut at 45 RPM by Jimmy Eadie. Many other sounds have found their way into the soundscape but I’ll let you figure them out by yourself.

Outdoor Bloggers – A walk around Palewell Common and Fields

The days are getting shorter and my outings closer to home, making me pay more attention to nature and wildlife in London rather than trying to escape the tentacles of the city.

So last week-end, having dropped plans for a microadventure, I decided to take a walk close to home. I didn’t want to go to Kew Gardens, or the Thames, or even Richmond Park. They are all great places for a wander but I had walked around them many times for the last few months. It was time I explored somewhere new. I chose Palewell Common and Fields.

Camera strapped along my chest and recorder stuck in my pocket, I went in search of the sights and sounds of autumn last days at a local common. Here is what I’ve found (click on the photos for full sizes):

More photos can be seen on my Flickr account.

This post was prompted by the November theme, ‘Autumn Watch’ of the Outdoor Bloggers.
  The name sound familiar? I went on a walk in the Peak District with a few of them last May. The Outdoor Bloggers directory has grown quite a bit since then. Check it out and be sure to join us.

Pedalling Portugal – Making the decision


Last March, I went to Portugal and fell in love. I went on a whim, seeking to escape the last clutches of winter in London. I knew nothing about the country and if I am to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of it. I wanted to relax, spend time with my partner, and forget all that was going wrong at work. But as we started to explore the Algarve and its coastline, Portugal crept up on me. Its desolated scenery, rumbling trains, and ordinary life took me by surprise. I felt a longing for a life in the hills behind the sea with their barren ochre dirt roads. I gazed at them endlessly as I sat at the terrace of a small bar, sipping a cold drink and mindlessly playing cards. Next to us, the tables were deserted. The few locals there were remained safely barricaded in their cool houses. It wasn’t tourists season yet. I was glad of it. The region felt all the more real and people had time to chat about their day and their country to us. We were not quite another anonymous face in a crowd of foreigners.

A few days later, we were sitting in the soulless airport of Faro, an air-con unit trying to imitate a cold breeze. My stomach was tight and I was nervously rubbing a bracelet I had bought by a beach. Along with my photos and sounds, it was going to be the only trace of Portugal I could share. Somewhere in my heart though, the memories of the country had carved a nest of their own. I was starting to feel their strings pulling me back as the plane took off. Passport checked, luggage retrieved, I stepped outside Luton airport and felt sad. I was home but this was not were I wanted to be. I boarded a coach back to London and as it drove me further away from Portugal, I vowed to myself to go back.

Weeks passed, months passed and Portugal kept haunting me. I told everyone I would go back, take three months off from my life and zigzag my way through the country. I set a date for March 2016, thinking it shouldn’t be too hot then (maybe a little cold but I could deal with that), and began making small preparations. I read up on Portuguese history and discovered a country with a rich and unique past. I borrowed some of José Saramago books from the library and found a literary genius hidden on the European shelves. I learned the basics of a language so foreign I had to forget my old Spanish lessons and open my mind to distinctive sounds and structures.

Time ticked on, work kept deteriorating and I somehow forgot about Portugal. I was still mentioning my trip idea but it didn’t feel quite real anymore. March 2016 was months away and for now it was Summer and I had plans to walk the Camino de Santiago. Then September arrived, the last bolts were screwed upon my touring bike, and I was hit with the realisation that in less than six months I would be on the road. I tried to cower away from it. After all, I was about to begin a new job. It would not be fair to leave them after just a few months. I could delay my trip, work with this company for a year and ask for a sabbatical then. Couldn’t I? This possibility weighed at the forefront of my mind while at the back of it a small nagging voice whispered it was just an excuse. This job I had been offered is not my dream job, just something convenient among a friendly team. So I picked up my Portuguese books from the bedside table and let them swallow me once more in a culture I had become so intrigued by. It is unlikely I will learn as much of the language as I had hoped for, but at least I will go.


Pedalling Portugal will begin in March 2016. For more information about this upcoming trip, visit this page.