Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon (South Rim)

There’s a big hole in America. I’m not talking about the hole in the economy out of which all the money is going or about the hole in Oprah’s face into which food is shoved*. I am, in fact, talking about the gigantic hole across the south-west of America, the Grand Canyon. It’s pretty big. Almost as big…

Three Homeless Nights in Chicago

You know how sometimes you look at someone and you think, “That could be me in ten years?” Well, let’s hope those things never become true because in a decade’s time I’ll be a homeless black man. I should back up here because you might now be confused, thinking, “That Chirpy, he ain’t a black man…

Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake, Utah

When you think of America as an outsider, you think of certain places: New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco. They’re shown in movies and TV shows all the time, recognised by their skylines or by their landmarks or by, err, their psychopaths, natural disasters and terrorist atrocities. So when I planned my month-long…

The Pink Granite Coast, Brittany

The Pink Granite Coast in Brittany on the north coast of France isn’t real. Or rather, it doesn’t look real. It looks like the set of a bad fantasy film; all the rocks look like they’ve been crafted out of plasticine and then painted. I looked at it and I thought I was in someone…

Commuting in the Amazon Rainforest

I bet you take roads for granted. You use them in your car, on your bike, hell, you might even skip down the middle of them at 4 a.m. after a particularly frivolous night out. You don’t think anything of them unless there are potholes and roadworks and traffic lights that are conspiring against you….

Lake Erie with a Weird Uncle and a Giant Teddy Bear

I like quiet places. I like libraries and bookshops, I like cycle rides into fields full of cows and big skies, and I’m pretty sure I’d love the eerie aftermath of a nuclear explosion. And talking of eerie, I also liked Lake Erie, the smallest of the Great Lakes in Canada/America. It was peaceful, in…

Is Niagara Falls a Good Place for a Honeymoon?

Apparently Niagara Falls is a popular honeymoon destination. I wouldn’t know, but I trust Google (probably a little too much). Having spent a day at Niagara Falls I find it astonishing that newly-weds want to go to Niagara Falls to have some steamy consummating sex to the sound of roaring water. I mean, lots of…

Posh Accents and Latent Homosexuality

Quick, where do specky smartarses with posh accents go before becoming politicians or lawyers or literary critics for the Times Literary Supplement? If you said “school” then congratulations, you’re officially a chav, a redneck, or whatever your country’s version of scum is. The correct answer, of course, is Cambridge, England. I’d also accept Oxford, Eton, any…

On the Water in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul in Turkey is a city so badass that it couldn’t be contained within one puny continent. It was ruled by Greeks as Byzantium and Ottomans as Constantinople and now it’s ruled by Turks as Istanbul and it’s partly in Europe and partly in Asia. If Istanbul was a soap opera, it’d be an hour-long…

Walking Blindfolded to Times Square in New York City

My host in New York City led me blindfolded to Times Square after the sun had gone down. I hadn’t been so excited about being blindfolded since my introduction to the BDSM community, and just like then, I was again terrified. I’d only met Mike that morning so for all I knew he was leading…

A Cosy Night in Paris with a Romanian and an Indian

Picture your bedroom at home. You’ve got a bed in there, a double or a king-size if you’re doing well in life, a single if you’re poor and unloved. You’ve got a TV on a chest of drawers maybe. You’ve got a lamp, a bedside table, a wardrobe, some pictures or paintings on your wall,…