A Time of Birds

Helen Moat

Helen Moat is the author of travel guides and a regular contributor to BBC Countryfile magazine, Wanderlust, a variety of websites and to regional radio, as well as leading travel workshops. Originally from Northern Ireland, she lives in Derbyshire, in the heart of the Peak District National Park.

A Time of Birds is her first book.

A Time of Birds

Reflections on cycling across Europe

by Helen Moat

  • RRP: £9.99 (print) / £5.99 (ebook)
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781912235704
  • Ebook ISBN: 9781912235711


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In A Time of Birds Helen Moat sets out to cycle across Europe, with her teenage son, on her sit-up-and-beg bike – aka ‘The Tank’. She’s not sure whether she is running away from the past or pedalling towards it.

As she cycles the Rhine and Danube through the days of unfolding spring, the sky filled with birdsong, she senses her bird-loving father is by her side. Increasingly, she loses herself in her surroundings and memories of a childhood spent in the outdoors of rural Northern Ireland.

Gradually, the natural beauty of Europe’s great waterways bring healing, as does the kindness of friends and strangers along the way. She feels a sense of belonging on a continent shaped by war and peace, peoples divided and reunited, a shared history.

But when the birdsong fades across the parched, late summer landscapes of Bulgaria and Turkey, Helen finds herself recalling the Troubles and confronting a suppressed secret. This is her life-affirming account of an unforgettable, if sometimes bumpy ride.

REVIEWS OF A Time of Birds

“A perfect read for these times of isolation … a fantastic book.” John Toal, BBC Radio Ulster

“A stand-out work of honesty and integrity, loss and hope.” Alan Brown

“A prayer of a book. A hymn to the healing power of cycling slow.” Chris Dolan