Down Days

A reflection...

Months of distractions manifested in the form of travel and work. Countless flights, miles, emails, people and shoots. Slipping back into stillness is the hardest thing. The insecurities pushed deep down slowly begin to float to the surface. The urgency to work again, travel again, fail again - anything to avoid what matters most. The stillness. The self. 


A trip...

The concept was simple - we would start in London and somehow find our way to Bunol, Spain. Why? Well for La Tomatina of course. Other than a hard date for the festival, there were not other plans. We would simply head south and figure it out along the way.


After arriving in London, we gathered in the countryside for a few days of the traditional English lifestyle before setting off. I exhausted the daylight cruising the farm roads, swimming in the rivers and skeet shooting. Evenings would be spend in a pub, or a hen house converted into a poker room. Once we had our fill, we would set off for the southern coast of England to catch a ferry to France. 


Once the particularly windy ferry ride was over, we had only one goal - get to Paris. We finally made it to the city late at night and found shelter along the river. Using our packs as pillows and spare clothing as blankets we quickly passed out. I slept spooning my Red camera to make sure it would still be there when I woke. As the sun began to rise we awoke to what may be the best view from bed in all of Paris. Scurrying through the streets we sought out coffee and proceeded to spend the day wandering through the city. 


Following a few noble days in cafes and evening all across the city, we had our fill and decided to keep moving south. On the flip of a coin we chose to hug Switzerland and hike a few mountains. We marched on south east with the city falling off behind us. 


Each day we would make a little more progress down the map. We had no real agenda other than to stay active. When we saw a mountain - we would hike it, a lake - we would swim in it.

Over the journey our diet primarily consisted of:
Breakfast: Pain au chocolat & Café au lait outside a cafe
Lunch: baguette & meats followed by a siesta.
Dinner: Steak at a small restaurant

Siesta   /sēˈestə/   noun
an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate.

Our first view of the Med in the south of France. Which was quickly followed by a swim in the surprisingly frigid water. After a few cycles of eat - swim - eat - swim, we grabbed our packs and head west along the coast. The decision was quickly made to hitchhike. Within a matter of moments a van pulled out to give us a lift. Greeting by two German girls driving through Europe, we loaded in and made it down to a remote little beach. 


After a swim, we set up camp on the beach along a wall of jagged rocks. Our gracious hosts made us dinner and stayed the night. The temperature quickly dropped so we layered with anything we could find. After the sun dropped we decided to gather any drift wood we could get our hands on and make a fire. The little extra warmth put us all right to sleep. Despite our beds consisting of nothing but fist sized rocks, it was our best sleep of the entire trip. 


After trekking through the arid inlands of Spain, we made our way back towards the Med and arrived in Bunol. We came in town just as the festival began, we raced through the streets and found our way to the mob of 20,000 people. For the next hour we were caught swimming in a sea of 120,000 pounds of tomatoes. The mattebox on my camera became quiet the target for the participants. 

When all was said and done, we paid some locals a few Euros to shower off with their hose and made our way back north. We opted for a much more relaxed trip back and this time hugged the western coast of France, spending a bit of time in Soorts-Hossegor. Close to 3,000 miles after we started, we made it back to London. 

Special thanks to the mates Jack, Tom, Max & Calum for coming along on the journey making all this happen. Also, please support Calum's new book project.