Actual: Rest Day
Best bit: The friendly shop.
Cumulative to date (planned in brackets):
243 km (233), 18450 metres ascent (17900), 96 hours (roughly!) walking (100).
No of summits visited: 6
No of cols or passes visited: 43
Highest point: Cima d'Orgials - 2647 metres
No of native English speakers met/seen from a distance: 0
Amount of walking time in shorts and t-shirts: Approx 95 hours
Firstly to Notchy, who woke up last night to the fact that we had received no News since leaving the UK!
Viva Espagne, and 'The Beautiful Game', to use your words, Notchy.
The two couples from the Czech Republic with whom we shared the restaurant were most impressed as we received your flood of text messages and were able to show our wonderful command of current world affairs.
We hope your 'field kitchen' is standing up to the English weather and that you are able to keep your chef, to whom we send our best wishes, motivated.
To the telepathic blogger, Alan Sloman:
OI! You don't have exclusive rights to Capital Letters, you know!
OUCH! I felt that!
Anyway, mine were borrowed from Darren!
To Hazel at Home:
You've gone very quiet. Have you left home? Night Bird, have you gone with her?
To our house sitters:
Thank you for your efforts! Judging by JJ's reports from Timperley, when it's not raining you are probably mowing the lawn!
To Gayle and Mick:
I dreamt you got to John O'Groats. If so, well done. What next?
To Tom Rivell:
Thanks for your message. Enjoy Italy yourself, it sounds as if the weather further north is also good. Hope to see you in the UK in August.
To the Williams family:
Great to hear from you. We hope you have a wonderful time in Chamonix. Say hello to John and Janet Howarth, or Mark Seaton (Alpine Guide) if you bump into them. We think you may be back home before we reach Courmayeur on 8 August, but if not....
Thanks for the ongoing translation service. We are glad we didn't attempt the Via Ferrata that was just a dotted line on our map, even if our rationale (avoiding possibly difficult snow slope) was perhaps awry.
Finally, to JJ in Timperley:
Please accept our apologies re 16 July. We will be proceeding along our route after another rest day which we hope will be as relaxing as this one!
This was a genuine rest day, though we did rise 250 metres above the village in an attempt at a 3 km circuit to Pontebernado and back before Sue rebelled.
The ice creams back in Pietraporzio were lovely.
The people are as well. At the camp site, Christina - from the Seychelles, so she speaks perfect English - has been most friendly and helpful. But the ladies in the village panetteria (shop) are real stars. Imagine the reception a couple of smelly hikers from Italy, with only a smattering of English between them, might get in some parts of Blighty, when entering a small village shop. Yesterday the ladies sold us breakfast for today. This morning they provided us with an excellent lunch. This afternoon they gave us lavender to ease our muscles and tried their very best, with great patience, many suggestions, and a long queue of customers, to meet our requirements for the next three days. Our breakfast will be cake (no muesli here, and the cake worked last time); our GORP will be Ritter bars; our soup will be veggie stock with frankfurters and some dried veg from our initial supplies; our main courses will be tortellini with proscuitto.
The ladies deserve an award for their friendliness and patience. They even sent us away with large chocolates from behind the counter. They were great.
The village is very small. Most of its roofs are of corrugated iron. The church is in the very centre and has lovely frescos. The village bar displays the weather forecast outside. We were surprised how quickly the earlier picture transmitted; then we noticed a massive dish on the camp site office's roof, and another on the hillside above us.
The last three days have to be the best three days of Alpine weather I have ever experienced. Judging from the hut book at Rif Malinvern very few English come this way - we found evidence of two such people in the last 7 years.
A few more comments to end for the time being:
• The sky was constantly blue.
• We had fun with a nun.
• Fabulous views, especially when Monte Viso and Les Ecrins came into view.
• At one point I thought I'd discovered an extra supply of cheese; sadly my socks were found to be empty.
• We discovered ourselves to be on several different routes at the same time - GTA, Via Alpina, Sentiero Balcone - the list goes on, but nobody else was on that path!
Your comments and messages are of course a pleasure to receive, and are most welcome.
Anyone wishing to view our summary and detailed itineraries, or our kit lists, should use the link to the GTA web page from the home page of http://www.topwalks.com/