Sunday, 10 August 2014

Normandy Wisdom

 As the summer rolls on we thought we would try somewhere different so we loaded up the car and caught the ferry to Le Havre to spend a bit of time in Normandy and possibly Brittany. In the event Hurricane Bertha had other ideas and camping proved to be a bit of a challenging, with high winds and some pretty impressive rainstorms.
We did some climbing on some interesting cliffs and explored the area around the delightful town of Domfront. We thought we might press on towards Brittany but the forecast remains very unsettled, so we have about-faced and headed back towards Calais and the UK. No rush to get 'home' - we will have to see what the weather throws in this direction.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Back to Britain and on to Brittany

Our 10 days back in the UK have been very pleasant, there has been a taste of 'real summer' which has been great, allowing be to get some cragshots of a few out of the way places. On top of that I have been out climbing with the 'usual suspects' a couple of times and we have been up north for a few days to our parents, all of whom a chugging on in the same old fashion.

Left - the Victorian water-powered funicular at Saltburn by the Sea

With the whole of the summer to go at we have decided to try somewhere a bit different so we are Brittany bound next week to sample a part of the world we have never visited. We will pack the camping/fishing/climbing gear into the big black car and head south west - someone  once said Variety is the Spice of Life - I think they had a point.

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.