Thursday, 10 July 2014

Iceland to A Hot Land

Left: Haifoss - Iceland's 2nd tallest waterfall

Iceland was really rather good, nice to be somewhere different and break out of the usual circuit, it was getting busy as July and their high season arrived so we headed south briefly. Six days in the UK and a bit of work on Eastern Grit 3 then back to the Ariège - possibly our favourite spot of all.
Colin was in tow and the plan wass to get a bit of climbing done so we started on the superb granite of Auzat - a quick half-a-dozen fitted the bill perfectly. Despite our worries it wasn't too hot though 30C is forecast for the weekend - very different from Iceland's average of around 12C!

It gradually warmed up to a steamy 36C towards the end of the trip, but we had six great days on the rock - an equal mix of limestone and granite - and did a bunch of routes that I hadn't done before which is always a bonus. We also bumped into long-time friend Andy Nicholson who was on a three week motorbiking tour of France - rather him than me!

Right: Colin steaming up a stiff F6a at Ax les Thermes 

In the event we had to move out of Chez Arran as they were full, so the four of us booked into a Gite in Les Cabannes for a couple of nights which was perfect, tales were told, we climbed, did a bit of reminiscing and drank plenty of cold beer - a good result all round.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Iceland - Two Weeks In and Counting

We rolled back around Reykjavik yesterday after a lazy two weeks circumnavigating Iceland. We appear to have been lucky with the weather, no real rain until we got back to the airport (pretty wet now though) to swap our comfy Kia C'eed for a teeny noisy bouncy Suzuki Jimny that might (and might not!) take us off-road.
As expected the scenery has been great, the locals friendly, the hostels superb and the sense of space and light quite magnificent. The tourist traps are normally packed but once you leave them behind it is rare to see another vehicle, the contrast between Iceland and the UK couldn't be more extreme.
We have been bird spotting (lots of new species), beach combing, whale watching, fishing, wandering in the wilderness and just taking it easy - one week to go then back to the crowds - Blighty that is!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Iceland - First Impressions

Easy as that, we had a night in the Manchester Hilton (courtesy of Air-Miles - no way would we shell-out £150+ for a bedroom) then an easy 2:10 flight saw us in Reykjavik at 8:00 in the morning, bleary eyed but a bit excited. With all day to kill we collect the hire car and headed into the hills to visit Thingvellir, an ancient Viking settlement on the central rift and home to the world's 1st parliament.
Evening saw us at the Selfoss Bed and Breakfast - oddly that is the name of the place - they don't actually do breakfasts!
Day two and we did a bit of touristing, visiting a couple of spectacular waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss (pictured) and the even more impressive Skogafoss.
First thoughts; mild weather, 24hr daylight, friendly locals, amazing scenery (and better to come I'm sure) and a bit less expensive than we had anticipated - especially on the booze front, which is nice!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Moving On Up

Three weeks back in the Ariège now - we always find it oddly easy to get settled here, such is the easy-going atmosphere of the place. We have done a little bit of climbing (cheers Colin), quite a bit of walking and even more of taking it easy - which has been great.

Left: Sherri and me with White Cat on guard - catching some evening sunshine

All change now though, Thursday it is a 5+ hour journey to Bilbao to catch the ferry back to the UK. Friday will probably be the usual grimness of battling through the UK's gridlocked motorways to get back "home" (an odd concept). Then we will have two whole days in Sheffield before we have to get over to Manchester for a flight to Iceland very early Tuesday morning - a 90 minutes flight northwards should find us somewhere very different!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mum's Gone To Iceland!

The escape from Kalymnos was as easy as ever, though Kos airport was a shocker, dozens of huge coaches being boarded by hundreds of pale Brits inbound and a similar number of lobster red ones headed the other way!
Ariège is as pleasant as ever, so much greener than when we left, but still lovely and quiet. Colin rolled up on his way back north so we had a couple of days on the rock - he is climbing as well as ever despite his long enforced lay-off.

Left: Colin whizzing up an undergraded F5+ route above Ax les Thermes

The big news is that we have abandoned plans for Australia - somehow it never felt quite right so we finally bit the bullet. British Airways refunded both the ticket price and our air-miles at the press of a button and we booked two flights to Iceland (with EasyJet) for early June - so it is all change from 33C and crocodiles to 11C and mosquitoes! It is a place I have always fancied getting to know so a trip to Decathlon was in order for waterproof trousers, and some warm weather gear.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Summer's Almost Here

Two weeks ago it felt like spring was on the way, now it feels like summer is just around the corner. It has been a hot and sweaty fortnight, with a wind from the south, the odd thunderstorm (with very red and sandy rain) and an almost continuous cloud cap on Telendos, with the moisture squeezed out by the rising air providing for some great sunsets.

Left: Telendos with its cloud cap

Today the wind swung to the north, freshening things up beautifully - the Meltemi has arrived. The climbers have arrived too - in their hoards - with 100+ scooters today scattered along the road from Arhi to Arginonda.
Long time friend Tony Welsh (aka Welsh Tony) has had his 1st week on Kalymnos, suffice to say he is impressed with the island, the climbing, the weather, the locals - pretty much everything in fact - so no surprises there then!
80 routes so far, including quite a batch I haven't done before which is always good. Tuesday sees us heading back to the peace and quiet of the Ariège - via a night in the UK - the Stansted Radison and a bath - that will be novel!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Spring's Sprung

Three week in, 50 routes ticked, a couple of showery days - but as ever Kalymnos has been superb. We met up with long time mate Andy Nicholson (he was a lodger of mine a thousand years ago) and he dragged me up a few climbs I hadn't done before which was great.
As forecast the place has become pretty busy but hopefully by the weekend a lot of the 'tourists' (as we like to call them) will have had their Easter break and will be headed back north.
The Easter Celebrations in Pothia were spectacular and very noisy - we had to move away from the main 'dynamite throwing' area with ears ringing - crazy!
It has been very hot - 26C one day - but it is supposed to cool down over the next few days which would be great - having said that a bit of heat and humidity is probably good practice for Singapore and Darwin!