Wednesday, 23 January 2008

I can ski!

Its true! We spent the weekend with Ian's dad and Jacy in their new home near Tarbes, and spent two days skiing in the Pyrenees at La Mongie. It took me a while to get the hang of it (this picture is after about an hour), but by the second day I was relatively convincing!

Starting to ski, a bit

I was most impressed with the whole area, and not just because of the wonderful weather! It was pretty cold - below zero everyday when we left the house - but the sun was so warm that at lunch time we could sit outside without lots of coats and gloves.

The whole region is pretty beautiful - there is a giant flat plateaux covered in little villages and small market towns and then the Pyrenees suddenly appear. The foothills are really rounded and green and studded with elongated traditionally french villages which look like they haven't really been touched for the last 100 years! I don't suppose I'm ever going to be a great fan of ski resorts - after all they are giant lumps of metal and plastic and concrete and nasty hotel blocks plonked down on the side of what could be a beautiful mountain. I'd love to go up to a bit where there aren't ski-lifts and hotels and see the actual mountains. And walking here in the summer would be great - there are loads of trails marked to little lakes and gullies. Its pretty untouristy here at the minute - mainly french people - I wonder what the summer is like....

The view from the edge of Pujo

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Wuthering around

Its official – I no longer believe the BBC weather – or any weather forecast for that matter. It promised sun today – a big yellow, round sun on the forecast with hints of high cloud here and there if you looked at the satellite picture.

As Jim and Vicki and Ian and I drove around the Leeds ring road, the sky was leaden and big fat raindrops fell on us! Mikey and Roo walked from Keighley train station to Haworth, so we escaped the rain with a cup of tea in a good old traditional tea shop and salivated over their menu – beans on toast, Yorkshire Pudding filled with sausages and onion gravy.

When Mikey and Roo arrived we set off up onto Haworth moor and had lunch in a sheltered spot in the Penistone Country Park. Then we strode across to the Bronte waterfalls and up along the Pennine Way to Top Withins, supposedly the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. It was a really good wuthering day – not really raining, just spitting occasionally, but a good thick layer of monochromatic cloud. The light was really good and all the heather and grasses stood out in colour.

Penistone Country Park in the drizzle

When we got back to Haworth, 7.5 miles later, we bought lemon bon bons, strawberry sherbets and sour apples from the brilliant sweet shop, and had a good pint of Deuchers and Fine Fettle. Not exactly a long walk, but very pleasant!

Climbing up from the stream as the sun goes down

Monday, 7 January 2008