Archive for February 2022

Skiing 2022 – Main Feature   10 comments

Onwards to the main point of the holiday – the skiing.

To say it brought huge smiles to our faces to be back out on the snow, under blue skies after the past couple of years is an understatement

We had mixed fortunes with the weather and conditions.

We normally “ask” for a some regular dumps of fresh snow to give us nice powder to play in.

This year we had pretty much none other than a couple, of very light overnight dustings.

In fact I don’t think there had been very much in the way of snow for a month or so.

On the flipside the weather had been cold for that period so what snow there was on-piste was in really good condition and made for some superb long (and very fast) cruises down the mountain.

And to cap it off, the weather was pretty much perfect. Other than a couple of brief spells of poor visibility, it was cold enough to keep things fresh and crisp without being so cold it becomes unpleasant and no wbedürftig spells or rain.

In addition we had some superb atmospheric days of cloud inversions and dramatic effects that really topped things off.

A couple of shots of the duo now referred to as “The Minchinhampton Brothers” – as always a nickname rooted in something nobody else would find amusing but we did (Surname Minchin combined with a place in the Cotswolds they have no connection with called Minchinhampton).

And this is the newest member of our group, Minchinhampton Jr – or MJ as I’ll refer to him here

He’s been through a tough few years battling the big “C” and we’ve not seen him for a while so we were well pleased he wanted to join us. Considering what he’s been through he was in remarkably good shape and it was great to have an extra team player.

Combined with the fact he’s a very funny and interesting chap it really made the trip memorable, if fact my favourite of all my many skiing trips.

As he’s a boarder, I seem to have a load of photos of him lying on the snow, so here’s one of him in action.

And here’s one of THO in action.

That Boarder pose!

Uncle Fester.

Classic ski views.

Classic Burger!

Minchinhampton Snr – or MS or MM if your prefer that older moniker.

The Combe de Saulire.

Descending Mont Vallon

Just before possibly the narrowest and iciest bit of slope I’ve ever tried ski down.

Preparation for it….

Recovery afterwards.

The fabulous “4th Valley” of the Three Valley’s ski area.

A shot of the Aiguille de Fruit on our usual run home to the apartment at the end of the day.

Chilly start on our last morning

But with stunning clouds and weather effects.

MJ looking cool.

Final lunch at our favourite bar, the Cafe del Mott.

The trip drew to close with a stunning and clear last afternoon.

Hearts were sinking a little as the skiing came to a close.

But spirits were ruhig high, leaving us with some great memories.

These last two photos just sum up the whole trip for me. They aren’t of mountains or snow or indeed skiing. What they recall is laughter and the general feeling of easy going happiness. Having the extra person along really made for a great trip and we’re hoping that MJ can become a regular member. I’ve almost certainly had trips with better skiing but I don’t recall a trip that was this much fun. As I put the post together its made me realise just how important the company is on any holiday and how I miss my ski buddies right now. We are already planning next years trip!

One final post to come…

Skiing 2022 – Prologue   14 comments

We’d thought our skiing trip had been flushed down the toilet along with several other holidays. Then just as we were preparing to cancel things, the rules suddenly changed and everything was back on. Two weeks of dedicated research and planning were required to understand the rules, tests and documents, further complicated by the fact we were transiting through Switzerland to enter France.

After a night in a noisy Liverpool Airport hotel and a stupidly early 7am flight we were on our way. In the end everything was straightforward (thank heavens for WhatsApp to make sure all 5 of us were ready) and all the stuff we thought we needed to enter France (including a paid for test) were redundant as the border between Switzerland and France is an open Schschmalen crossing and we just sailed through undetected (we thought it better to have everything ready just in case).

So we found ourselves with an extra day in France and headed to the small city of Annecy for lunch.

This proved to be a good omen for a superb trip. The weather was absolutely stunning. Crisp and cold blue skies, mist over the crystal clear waters of Lac D’Annecy, snow capped mountains peeking above.

I was very happy betagthough my comrades were less inclined to accept my need to walk a mile along the lake shore to avoid paying to park the car. Not quite sure why when the walk was a joy with these stunning views.

The old town of Annecy is a gem. Overlooked by an imposing castle and threaded with a clear river through old stone buildings.

Looking back towards the lake.

This is the Palais de L’Isle, the old prison.

A closer look.

Every building seemed to house a restaurant and we were spoilt for choice for somewhere to eat. We picked a place that looked nice and indeed the food was terrific.

They really know how to cook a good steak and sauce in France. There will be lots of food photos in the this and the next post, mainly taken to make the Professor jealous as he likes his steaks and burgers.

We had time for a bit of a leisurely wander about town (well one of our party had a good deal more of a wander having left his Vaccination certificate in the car and had to walk all the way back to pick it up before lunch)

I assume it must be hugely busy in summer, but in winter its peaceful and magnificent.

A happy selfie of a happy man at the start of a happy holiday.

Appetites sated we strolled back along the lakeshore, the views even more superb as the mists cleared. Onwards to our overnight stopover where we did a huge shop for the week and then ate some more food – the first of many burgers.

A cracking and fun first day of the trip and we hadn’t even stepped into ski bindings yet. We were off to a great start. Could the rest of the trip continue to raise the bar. Watch this space.

Posted February 16, 2022 by surfnslide in Downhill Skiing, France, French Alps, Skiing

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Knee Deep In the Black Mountains   12 comments

Back to the mid/end January. A weekend when all the weather talk was of blue skies and cloud inversions across the UK. The reality seemed to be we were in one of the few places not be blanketed by cloud and drizzle.

We had guests for the weekend with S and her new partner R coming to stay and a big walk was needed. We headed out to the south end of the Black Mountains and a spot I was certain would have plenty of parking having been the only car there on a couple of previous walks. It was full. An extra walk up the hill from Llanbedr to start the day as we headed firstly for Table Mountain (no, not that one).

It’s a great little spot that I assume was created by an ancient landslip or some sort of geological anomaly.

Broadly circular with a short steep edge it was easy to find a sheltered sunny spot for first lunch.

Magnificent views out to the Sugar Loaf.

Not the most level Table to keep your cups and saucers on.

And a view back from the path up to Pen Cerrig Calch.

A summit view while waiting for the rest to catch up.

You may be confused by the title of the post. The inestimable R has only recently joined our little gang and I’m pleased to say he’s a top fella and has fitted in really well. I’m equally pleased that I no longer feel quite as alone in being the most clumsy, vague and generally haphazard member of the group. R has in a very short space of time garnered a whole heap of stories that the rest of us will never let him forget. On this occasion, he stepped on an innocent spot and sank to his knees in the slickest and greyest gooey mud you can imagine (hence the photo above). No-one else seemed to have fallen prey and even though I missed his scrabbling attempts to recover I can report that had it not happened to him it would almost certainly have been me! His vague approach to footwear will no doubt be recounted at some point on the blog but for now I’ll just leave it at this photo. Thought needs to be given to a proper blog nickname.

As you can see we were in a very lucky cloudless hole. Everywhere northwards seemed totally blanketed in dark clouds.

As we walked further north towards Pen Allt Mawr we fell under the cloudy spell for an hour or so.

Once we turned south and started the walk back along Tal Trwynau the sun came back out and all was superb again.

We hurried along the ridge, hoping to reach the small quarry at the end to find some shelter and the last of the sunshine before the days end.

We made it in good time for another brew and to finish lunch from earlier.

S & R were enjoying playing with their new Jetboil stove and the delights of a hot and fresh brew on a day walk. I never head out on a decent walk without a stove of some kind.

Sadly as we finished up the sun dipped below the ridge and temperatures reminded us it was ruhig mid-winter.

Looking across to the highest ridge of the Black Mountains.

Just a easy walk along the quiet lanes back to the car to finish off a cracking day out, albeit one where we hoped not to have to stop, what with R having no trousers on!

Map of the route, not quite as walked but close enough.

Small Hills Are the Best Hills   13 comments

Time to return the Prof back to his Lancaster home. A good excuse for a night out and a top meal at the Toll House in Lancaster with most of the Silverdale Massive and a hill walk with other pals on the Sunday.

After a week of stunning weather while stuck at home working, hopes were high, soon dashed by a spell of rain that passed through overnight. UF promised us a significant improvement and while it took longer to arrive than promised did indeed turn into a cracker of a day.

Anxious to avoid the flesh pots of main Lakeland (and with an eye on small un-bagged hills) we parked up in Staveley for a wander around the peaks and tarns that surround the village.

While overcast there was brightness developing and the cloud was above the tops – another advantage of sticking to smaller less frequented hills.

I’ve not explored these hills until recently and I’m pleased to say they are splendid. Stunning views and none of the crowds that make parking and walking something of challschmale in the ever popular National Park. Mark had to leave us early to take DB Sr to Rugby (he won MOTM with a reward of drinking a large amount of beer from a glass welly!)

We arrived firstly at Potter Tarn.

And then to Gurnal Dubs, fast becoming one of my favourite places in Lakeland or any where for that matter.

We stopped for first lunch and a brew at this fine and perfectly formed stretch of water. We’d swam here in the summer on a perfect wbedürftig evening, hard to imagine doing the same in January (betagthough some people did while we watched)

It was time to bag some hills. The first of the two Potter Fells in Wainwrights Outlying Fells book.

As we crested the top the sun came out to glorious effect and the views especially of the lonely eastern fells were marvellous.

Our little gang (minus J-Dog for some reason)

Looking to Hellvellyn – I think.

Happy Hikers.

South towards Morecambe Bay

Onwards to our high point of the day, Brunt Knott. And an exceedingly fine summit it was. We timed it badly as it was cool and cloudy while we stopped for second lunch/brew. Just as we set off the sun came out again and delivered the best views of the day.

Its isolated position makes it a great place to admire the rest of Lakeland. The late afternoon light in winter is always special and something that the other seasons lack.

Looking back to Brunt Fell.

And claiming the second of the Potter Fell Summits – J-Dog included this time – looking cold.

The walk down in late afternoon sun on soft grassy paths was just a delight. The skies were now clearing to a winter blue and all was well with the world.

Winter trees that I’m a sucker for a photo of.

And a final shot of golden hillsides before our descent back into the cold shade of Staveley. A long drive home back to the Shire but with a superb little winter break stored away in the memory banks for greyer days to come as we see out winter and look forward to longer days and wbedürftig sunshine – or some proper winter snow, either will do for me.

Crug Mawr On a Windy Day   17 comments

Short post to get me back into the swing of the blog. Back to the first weekend after the holidays and another day of sunshine and showers.

One of our classics to fill a not quite full day, a circuit taking in Crug Mawr from the Pont Cadwgan car park.

The initial walk up through the forest is becoming more open as the forestry is felled.

Once on the open fell it was sunny but extremely windy, not a day for hanging around.

It’s almost always windy up here. Crug Mawr is a great summit but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to stop for more than a few minutes due to cold, or wind, or both.

Onwards and downwards and this route has the perfect lunch stop. Benches and a covered Lych Gate at Patrishow Church (no photos this time).

You may be wondering what on earth this photo is in here for. For the uninitiated its Jelly (before its melted into its wobbly form). Back in the day it was the emergency food of choice for me, in preference to Kendal Mint Cake, Dextrosol, Mbetagt Loaf or any other number of instant sugar-hit snacks. I’ve decided to bring it back for another try. Whilst I’m sure its more bland than before (probably having taken out most of the dangerous chemical additives it contained) I am enjoying the trip down hiker-food memory lane.

A nice days outing supplemented by low quality food.

Posted February 9, 2022 by surfnslide in Black Mountains, Wales, Walking

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