Saturday, 24 January 2015

Cragging at La Clape - Off the Beaten Track

Deserted beaches that run for miles
 We decided after six weeks in the Ariège we fancied a change for a few days so loaded up the car and headed to Gruissan, on the coast near Narbonne, about 2 hours drive away. The forecast was for cold and a little unsettled but we thought we would give it a go anyway. The area isn't a main-stream climbing venue but there are half a dozen small cliffs scattered amongst the vineyards with 300+ routes, a pamphlet style guide book available from the Tourist Info in Gruissan (€16) and some superb beaches.
Typical climbing at La Clape - 100m from the car
Despite the cool weather - it never got above 9C - the crags are all very sheltered and conditions were perfect. We climbed on four different cliffs and ticked off 21 routes. The grades felt a little tough and the crags nearest the parking spots were polished - but that is the same the world over.
For somewhere a little different it was well worth a visit - I think we will be back.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Wanderings and Wonderings

Almost five weeks we have been in the Pyrenees now - the weather has been amazing - only a couple of wet days - today being one of them - in the whole of that time. Checking back with the UK on occasions it has looked a thoroughly miserable winter with extended periods of persistent wind and rain - I'm glad we have the option to be 'elsewhere'.
We have done a lot of local walks, exploring the immediate area and a little further afield - a nice gentle way of getting fit. As ever the whole area is exceptionally quiet. There are plans to have a few days away over near the coast to visit a different area and get some climbing - the forecast looks a bit mix, so it will be a case of suck it and see.
Eastern Grit Sample Page
I have pressed on with Eastern Grit at this end and Alan James has been doing the final layout back in Sheffield and the whole project is moving along so fast, it still looks like we will go to the printers in early March - that will be two years and one month from dropping the 1st topo into place.
Now what am I going to do with all that spare time?

An aside: Alan said that Rockfax sold its 250,000th book in December - my contribution to that total was just over 78,000 books - not bad in just over 12 years.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Peace and Quiet

First snow of the season up at Beille
It is now almost three weeks since we left the UK and relocated back to the Ariège - for the 3rd winter in a row. Although the area is pretty quiet (as ever) Chez Arran has been busy - full for the whole of the holiday season. Today (2nd January) the final guests left and peace return -  which is just how we like it.
We have done a bit of climbing, a bit of snow-shoeing and a lot of walking -which is  always a pleasant way of keeping fit as well as exploring and enjoying this superb area.
Mid-winter sun above Niaux
As has become the norm a trip to Andorra and a new camera were in order - this time I got hold of a Sony RX100 iii and it has turned out to be a rather impressive piece of kit - plus the saving over £170 compared to buying in the UK isn't to be sniffed at.
On the writing front, I have done a lot of work on Eastern Grit Version III and passed it all over to Alan for the final editing - it currently looks like we will be publishing in March - which really isn't very far away. We sold a magnificent total of 24,000 copies of the previous two versions, but this one is going to end up being a bit of a monster, currently at around 520 pages and not finished yet. It could be my swansong and my Magnum Opus perhaps - only time will tell.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Happy Christmas and All the Best for 2015

Diamonds on the Beach - Iceland

Another year rolls round, and it has been a busy one - about six weeks in the UK and forty four weeks elsewhere. Highlights? Well all of it really but Iceland, Corsica and Santorini were new and great, whereas Kalymnos and Ariège were the same as ever - and great too.

If you read this, I wish you 

All The Best For The Next 12 Months

Monday, 8 December 2014

Home - Where's That Then?

Kalymnos - Bye For Now
Two months in Greece have been great but we need to be in the Ariège for Christmas so it was time to pack our stuff in the dustbins and haul them down to Babis's cellar once again. We flew out of Kalymnos's tiny airport for the first time which was great and so convenient - less than an hour and a half after leaving the bar we were in Athens.
EasyJet to Manchester and we booked  a night in Bewleys Hotel at the airport - that was a culture shock, internet in bed, a bath, a TV and a huge complimentary breakfast - Welcome Home :-)

Of course we are technically homeless as some 'friends of friend' are stopping in our flat, we will call in to collect the car, and some warm clothes, and shack up at Christine's place.

It is going to be a busy week!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Winter is here - and so are We

Bumpy Crossing in the Taxi Boat
I have lost track of time a bit, it is a Greek thing! We left the UK about two months ago and have been on Kalymnos about 5 weeks (or so Sherri tells me). We have just had a spell of "Proper Winter Weather" with a cold strong northerly blowing for a week - it was generally dry and bright - but it does leave you battered and chilled. The apartments are designed to be cool in the summer which can make them really cold in the winter - I was reduced to using a hot-water bottle on a couple of occasions. Great to report that things are back to normal now - 20C and wall to wall sunshine.
The climbing continues to be as great as ever - 99 routes on Kalymnos at the last count - and 61 of them were new.
Only one week to go now, then back to the UK for long enough to do a few jobs, load the car and head for the Pyrenees - that WILL be different!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Kaly Tally is on the Up

Two and a half weeks back in Kalymnos - it was quite busy when we arrive but has cleared out nicely - exactly has hoped for. Colin has been here for just 10 days and we have climbed on most of them. We have made a point of visiting cliffs we haven't been to before, and have ended up visiting some great cliffs, Pallionisos, Lambda and Prohitis Andreas to name but three. My tally for individual routes climbed on Kalymnos has gone up past 600 - not bad considering when we 1st came here six years ago I wasn't sure there was enough to keep me busy for a month.
Colin on Pockets 6a+, a new offering at Pailionisos Bay Crag
Another week before Colin goes home, lets see what other venues we can dig out - variety is the spice of life.