Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Saturday 30 November 2019 - Rosliston parkrun number 194

 
It was a lovely sunrise in Manchester, but foggy in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
 
Despite a 20 minute alarm error, which left us just ten minutes to get out of the house after waking up (we managed it in 20 minutes), Sue and I got to Rosliston soon after 8.30.
 
This is one of Mick and Gayle's local parkrun venues, and we soon met up. They were also early, as Mick was volunteering and the Health and Safety regime here has a volunteers' briefing at 8.30.
 
Gayle is a 'selfie' expert, and took the above picture after the run, and after we had collected Mick from his marshalling corner just before their very own Deep Muddy Passage. Luckily, as the course is a convoluted one of just one lap, you only have to go through this once, though there are several other less muddy sections.
 
Today it was also icy in places. Sue and I took trainers; trail shoes like my Salomon Speed Cross shoes would have been better.
 
Whilst I diced with a South Derbyshire Road Runner, Gayle and Sue had a chatty time, with Gayle just moving ahead in the final sprint to the finish.
 
 
The 'sprint' is uphill, so today's picture of Sue near the finish wasn't as blurred as usual!
 
 
They weren't actually that slow, both coming in third in their respective age groups. Full results are here.
 
Unlike last week's café at Alexandra Park, which steadfastly stayed closed until 10 am, The Hub Café here was open for coffee and cake and was warm and comfy inside. A good venue.
 

Looking out from the café, runners were still arriving home on the frosty morning, albeit completely windless, so not feeling too cold.
 
 
After a pleasant hour in the café catching up with Gayle and Mick, Sue and I continued to a family gathering in Hinckley, where a furry friend, Jasper, joined the party - seen below, replete from scouring the room for accidental droppings from our lavish lunch. Many thanks to the cook(s), it was a lovely meal.
 

Friday, 29 November 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 47

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 47 - Friday 10 September 2004 - Stage 38

Postcard Summary
Friendly refuge to Eyne Valley
A morning of lakes and pines, then high plateau before fine ascent through trees – 8.7 hours, 20 km, 600m ascent
Another lovely sunny hot day and a scenic start past lakes nestling in pine woods.  A few ski pistes to negotiate before we arrive in the village of Font-Romeu.  Good to visit a large French supermarket, but the rucksacks felt heavy afterwards!  Once the new housing estate was negotiated (during which Martin tripped on a kerb and fell over again), we stopped for a sumptuous lunch.  A twisty route across fields of cut hay took us eventually to Eyne, from where a climb through woods led to a fine wild camp by a stream.

 
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)
We rose to find that our breakfast was neatly laid out and our attentive guardian soon served a big pot of tea for Sue and a similar size pot of coffee for me. Nobody had snored (house rules forbade it) - house rules also forbade getting annoyed with anyone who does snore! - so we had slept pretty well.
 
After chatting to the English couple we got away at 8.40 after noticing a sign at the Refuge for a 4-day circuit, staying at refuges, which looked very scenic. (It went to the north west.)
 
I wore trousers (legs) today so as to avoid getting my injury dirty - it has dried out quite well, and it was a trainer day for both of us - no rough ground.... - well, not a huge amount! We wandered off in the sunshine at a pleasant 19°C, past a herd of very noisy cows to some lakes in a pine tree setting - very like a miniature Killarney Park (Canada).
 
 
 
 
There were dragonflies and ducks and leaping fish. Yesterday's Dutchman was passed at 9.30, still slumbering in his tent - we won't see him again. By 10.40 we were at Col du Pam - 2000 metres, having descended all of five metres. This called for a mountain mix stop, after which we descended on a sometimes pleasantly contouring path through trees - other times messing about on rough steep tracks and roads - to Font-Romeu.
 
A ski piste on the descent to Fort-Romeu

 
Here we quickly managed to replenish our euros and acquire food (mainly lunches) to see us through the next few days. Shop1 supermarket was probably the best since Danchuria, but (luckily) we had to rush to get the job done by the time it shut for lunch at 12.30. Or we might have been even heavier!
 
On the way out of Font-Romeu I tripped on a curb. So a hand and thumb were bleeding and shoulder skinned despite t-shirt protection. Trouser legs saved another leg injury though the trousers were further damaged. So I was a sorry sight as I tucked into a lavish lunch (1.00 to 1.45) of crisps, baguette, sheep's cheese, pâté de trois poivres, tomatoes and a bottle of coke. That certainly made us both feel better.
 
Unfortunately Véron's route had been built on - a new housing estate blocked our way, so we took a haphazard route down through fields, and over a narrow gauge railway line.
 
 
Soon after this a hopeful looking track ended and we had to make our way steeply down to the D29 road through a thorny jungle of bushes. And so we reached Pont de Bou and crossed the busy main road to Andorra, to a picnic bench surrounded by litter.
 
Véron's directions looked uncomfortably strenuous or impossible, so we chose to walk the remaining 3 to 4 kilometres to Eyne along a quiet road (the D29 again) after a short stretch along the main road.
 
 
3.45 pm - Eyne - horses, dogs, a good water point to take on four litres before continuing for ~ 3 miles / 1½ hours / 400 metres ascent, up the pretty Eyne valley, through a nature reserve, mainly in trees.
 
Quite a few people coming down, (lots of day walkers seen today). Treasure found - a Snickers bar. At 5.20 we find a nice spot at 2015 metres. When will we climb so heavy and camp so high again? Beautiful on the way up, with the low sun glinting on red berries and rushing water below menacing grey clouds dashing across the sky. Tent soon up.
 
 
Dippers in the river - haven't seen them for a while. A marmot suddenly spots us - he is just a few yards from the tent.
 
We are soon relaxing in the tent in journey honoured custom, with chores being completed and this entry being made between courses. Spaghetti carbonara and added ham is consumed by 8.15 as the light starts to fade - around an hour earlier than when we started the journey. Asleep soon after 9 pm, by when it is completely dark. Lights of Font-Romeu in view below. Clear sky but warm.
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
23 km, 1200 metres ascent, 8.7 hours
 
 

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Thursday 28 November 2019 - A Taster Session at the Velodrome

 
A long awaited trip to Manchester's Velodrome finally came to fruition today. Sue and I joined eight others for a taster session.
 
Andy, who we could have encountered at last Saturday's Alexandra parkrun - he finished in under 18 minutes, gave us a safety briefing after we'd been fitted with bikes, toe straps, etc, whilst the bikes hung on to the railings.
 
 
Basically, we had to 'Keep Pedalling', and look back over either our right or left shoulder, depending on where we were on the track, to avoid turning into passing traffic. Keeping pedalling is quite important, as failure to do so jolts you off the bike, and as these bikes are fixed wheel bikes with no brakes there's a learning curve.
 
I was helped by the knowledge that I spent a short period cycling to and fro to Manchester from Bury when I was taking my University finals for the second time and living with Jim and Cath - back in 1971. I was pleased not to have brakes this time; Jim's old bike had a front brake only, and that kept trying (and succeeding) to throw me over the handlebars.
 
I couldn't take the camera onto the track, so I only managed to get a picture of Sue as she was finishing, having been granted an extra lap due to a puncture, and narrowly avoiding being trashed by the GB peleton.
 
 
We started on dark blue, moved to light blue for a few laps, then graduated to the rest of the track. The idea was to stay above the advertising patches, but that was quite hard work. You have to pedal harder around the corners to maintain height on the steep banking.
 
I reckon we did about 40 to 50 laps of the 250 metre circuit - maybe 10km during the hour's session. Here is our group of ten at the end of the session.
 
 
Andy took this photo for us.
 
 
This is the National Cycling Centre, home of British Cycling. Many members of the team were engaged in exercises in the central area, and as soon as we had finished they were practising all manner of things, from starts to sprints, on the track.
 
 
This was all great fun, after which we enjoyed lunch in the excellent café, before waving goodbye to one of the resident bees.
 
 
We commend anyone to book a taster session, it really was most enjoyable. We'll be back.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Granada 2019 - A few more photos from Granada

 
Here are a few more photos from our recent holiday in Granada, given that I was only able to post three at a time when we were there.
 
If you wish to go straight to the Canillas de Albaida part of the trip, click here.
 
The above picture was taken at the Nazares Palace in the Alhambra. 
 
Click on any of the daily titles, as below, to reach the posting I made on the day. Also, click on any picture for access to a slideshow of all 64 images.
 
 
 
After the bus ride from Malaga, we settled in to Room 101, then went for a wander around the centre of Granada. The hotel was just a few metres from the Cathedral, pictured above (closed).
 
The Santa Ana church apparently sports some fine Mudejar art
 
 
The Cordova Palace was built in the 1960s after an older building had been pulled down in 1919
 
 
From our afternoon stroll, we gained frequent views towards the Alhambra
 
No washerwomen were out today...
 
Here's another façade of an ancient church, rebuilt in C19
 
The Ziri style 'gate' dates from C11
 
Opposite the gate is this more modern building
 

Sunday 10 November 2019 - The Carthusian Monastery in Granada

 
 
Another overcast day found us wandering through the University campus, empty apart from Iberian Magpies and a Hoopoe, to the delights of the Carthusian Monastery.
 
 
 
The Cloister
 
The refectory, with Cotan's painting of The Last Supper
 
 
 
The Church
 
 
 
The Sanctuary houses several magnificent statues.
 
 
These pictures are from the Church and the Sacristy
 
 
St Bruno
 
 
 
After leaving the Monastery we strolled around the Murcia belvedere, admiring the views over the city. Shame the sun wasn't shining.
 
 
 
Here's the view up the valley to the north, as we entered the Albaicin/Sacromonte areas.
 
 
 
 
In Sacromonte, houses are built into the rock. One enterprising owner lets passers-by in for a viewing for a small fee.
 
 
 
 
 
Across the city, the Alhambra.
 
 
A decorated house
 
On the way back to town, we passed two adjacent houses built in the style of a Nasrid Palace. They have now been combined and are the head office of the School for Arabic Studies. A very pleasant place, free to enter.
 
 
Later, Granada at night.
 
 

Monday 11 November 2019 - The Alhambra, Granada

 
 
Today, 'Alhambra Day' was disappointingly cool and overcast. We made the best of it, despite many of the attractions being closed to visitors. Unlike UK 'stately homes' where volunteers facilitate visits by tourists, here that is not the case, nor are the rooms furnished as they would have been when occupied in the 'period' of their use.
 
A cool wind from the snow clad Sierra Nevada was to blame for the weather.
 
 
The gardens were in good spirits, with many gardeners trimming the hedges.
 
 
 
 
The Palace of Carlos V
 
 
One of many ornate 'gates'
 
Views from the highest point - the Torre  de la Vela
 
 
After a warming coffee, we moved through pleasant gardens, the Jardines de San Francisco, to the adjacent Generalife site.
 
 
 
Ornate paving in the Jardines Bajos
 
Pictures from the Generalife recreational buildings and palace
 
 
There's an interesting 'waterway' here, and the whole site has a complex arrangement for irrigation.
 
 
Finally, we looked around the Palacios Nazaries - our timed ticket was for 3.30 - it was a long day.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's a view from the Palace
 
 
As we left the site and passed the Tower of Justice, the sun made a brief appearance...
 
 
Later, a photo of our hotel concludes this little selection. Many more pictures were taken - of ornate ceilings etc - they should eventually appear in a photobook.
 
 

Flowers from the Generalife gardens - a final link.