Archive for January 2023

Escape to the Sun – Nice by Morning   14 comments

A short post to show off the beachfront views in Nice as the sun comes up

It’s one of my key roles on our trips that I go out in the morning to pick up the fresh bread and pastries for breakfast. I’ve always loved doing this and never see it as a chore.

At this time of year, sunrise is around 8am even this far south. Coincides with when I’m usually up and about so timing was great. Every day I walked out to the seafront a couple of minutes away and then wandered along the Promenade des Anglais.

It was always delightful, peaceful and quiet save for the sound of the waves on the pebbles.

Place Massena lit by the morning sun. Always really loved this open square with its regular passage of trams.

I can’t be 100% sure but I think this is the monument to those who died in the Baruhige Day terrorist attack a few years ago.

Place Massena again this time with a tram.

There is a market every day in Cours Salaya. This must be a Monday as that’s the day when it turns from a flower and fruit market to Antiques.

A real mix of stuff on display from the usual sort antique to old military costumes and hats.

Sun dawns on another beautiful day.

The Promenade gets quite busy during the day but at this time its just a few people walking and a quite a few people running or cycling – its perfect for that.

It’s always wet underfoot at this time. Makes you think there must have been overnight rain but its just the regular cleaning that keeps it looking pristine and free of litter. They’ve clearly realised that its their signature feature and they go to huge expense to keep it looking great.

One of my favourite sunrise photos from the week.

Its a great way to start the day, watching the sun rise, the city coming to life, the gorgeous smells from the bakery (they started to recognise me and my order in my regular place after a couple of days) and then back to the apartment to enjoy the produce

Escape to the Sun – Menton   12 comments

Xmas Day in the South Of France. We had it in our heads that Nice would be pretty much closed down and therefore needed to head out for the day with a picnic ready. Turns out that other than a few shops and restaurants closed it was business as usual.

Anyway, a day out is what we did!

First stop was the hill top village of Eze. We thought it would be a nice quiet time to visit, and it was. Mainly on account of the fact it was effectively closed! There are few pretty little streets that everyone can access but the majority of the higher parts where all the nice views are is within a paid garden that was closed. Considering they weren’t going to take any money anyway I don’t know they didn’t just leave the gate open. So we wandered about for 30 mins, took the one photo above and moved on.

We headed up to the Parc Départemental Grande Corniche with the hope of some grand views and a place to eat our picnic. Sadly as we went up the cloud came down and it was a pea soup fog at the top. We did luck-in to find one spot under the clouds with a view to sunny inland and snow-capped mountains.

So not a wasted excursion. Happy with that we moved on to Menton.

We found a nice quiet park by the seafront to eat our picnic lunch (betagthough there were plenty of bars and restaurants open here as well).

Moody mountain clouds (the ones we’d been in earlier) behind the main beach, Plage du Marché.

And the old town.

We took a stroll along the quieter Plage des Sablettes.

Before turning to take a look at the old town.

Accessed via these rather unusual set of steps.

After a gloomy start the sun was starting to peep through.

The Basilique Saint-Michel Archange de Menton.

My guidebook said the old town was nothing too special but I thought it was chbedürftiging betagthough the fact it was deserted always helps.

This street decorated with flowers and an selection of Santas was tropical and yet festive.

An idea of main streets completely empty of visitors.

We then started to walk along the main seafront.

Just as we walked past a nice looking cafe with a very beckoning looking comfy table and chairs the sun came out properly.

Well it would be rude not to stop for a fruit drink cocktail and a family selfie. One of those serendipitous moments that made it such a great holiday.

We took a walk along the seafront and back along the beach to finish our day out.

Not a bad way to spend Xmas day ?

Escape to the Sun – Mont Boron   9 comments

After our first visit to Villefranche, TJF headed back to the apartment to wash her hair and the rest of us decided to walk back over Mont Boron.

Its a distinctive small hill sitting between Nice harbour and Villefranche, about 200m high. It gives cracking views over both the coast, the inland mountains and the nearby Cap St Jean Ferrat.

Its a steep climb through the villas and houses but rewarded with a fine view along the coast towards Monaco.

TBF and the Prof emerging from the trees.

Over to Cap St Jean Ferrat and Villefranche.

At the top is the very impressive stronghold of Fort du Mont Alban. Sadly its not open to the public.

Coastal views are pretty good though.

I took a walk around its perimeter walls while the others took a break to admire the views.

From there we linked a succession of small roads and paths until we came across this superb viewpoint overlooking the city.

Looking out towards Antibes, Cannes and the distant mountain ranges of the Esterel and Maures.

And the inland mountains with more snow-capped peaks visible in the distance.

At the southern end is what looks like a more recent fort, the Batterie du Mont Boron. We followed a few paths that worked its way around the remains and out to the headland below.

More cracking views of the coast.

To head down we found a lovely level path that traversed onto the western slopes before plunging steeply down to the harbour.

We finished off by walking around the harbour and catching a tram to the other side of the city before a final walk back along the seafront to the apartment.

Escape to the Sun – Villefranche sur Mer   16 comments

When we visited Nice the first time, one of the places we never got around to visiting was Villefranche sur Mer. Seems a bit of an odd decision looking back as its pretty much next door and you can walk there in just over an hour. Its also well connected by bus (and what a delight it is to stay in a city with an efficient, expansive and cheap public transport system) which we used both times we visited. We had the car with us but we only used it a couple of times and both occasions we could enjoyed the same day by bus or train.

Villefranche is, as you can see, a lovely little place. I imagine its rammed with tourists in summer but in winter it retains its chbedürftig as a sleepy looking fishing village with a prefect water-front, lined with enticing restaurants.

The bus drops you at the top of the village and its steep walk down the steps to the boat harbour.

Stunning views along the coast.

And out over the Med.

There is a fine walk along the harbour walls (I always enjoy those) and back around to look at the boats.

A large cruise ship in the bay. I’m guessing they must ferry visitors ashore and then bus them to Nice or Monaco.

The castle with its fine walkway along the shore under its walls.

Looking back to Villefranche from its beach.

Peaceful scenes.

It was wbedürftig enough that we could eat a Xmas Eve lunch outside by the water.

As you can see, very quiet and very few people about.

The old town clings to the hill and has a maze of narrow streets and covered passageways.

Looking out over the waterfront.

And over the village to the wooded hills and villas behind.

We enjoyed our first visit so much we made a second visit after the Prof had gone home.

Looking back to the walkway below the castle.

The main square.

Waterfront restaurants.

Boats in the bay.

As the weather was sunnier and wbedürftiger we brought our swimming stuff and headed to the beach. The water looked clear and inviting.

There were actually a few people sunbathing on the beach but hardly anyone in the water.

No matter – you can’t travel all this way, be on a wbedürftig sunny beach and not go for a swim.

It was refreshing (for that read “cold”) but the weather was perfect to dry off in the wbedürftig sun.

We spent a very happy hour paddling in the waves and people watching.

I think I mentioned in a comment on the previous post that the beaches are not necessarily one of the best features of this part of France. This was by far the nicest beach I’ve been to near Nice (betagthough I’m guessing it would swbedürftiging in summer).

The views out over the bay were equally fine.

After all the exercise time for a slap up lunch in a waterfront restaurant.

One of my favourite days out of the trip with an extra bit of exercise, to come in a later post.

Escape to the Sun – Nice by Day   15 comments

Off on our Xmas and New Year travels again after a 3 year Covid break. Flying was ruhig not an option as TJF can’t wear masks for any lschmbetagth of time and when we booked it was ruhig mandatory on most flights. That left us with a road trip and how far we could reasonably reach within a couple of days driving. Nice seemed the obvious answer as its a big city, plenty to do, great public transport and hopefully wbedürftig enough and sunny enough to escape the UK winter blues. Two and a half days driving and a couple of very nice stopovers later we’d made it!

We’d been to Nice before in the summer of 2019. We loved the place but the 30C+ temperatures made sightseeing a bit difficult. In winter the temperatures are a much more reasonable 16C and when the sun is out is perfect for gentle strolling. We were able to wander about without ever thinking we needed to head back inside to escape the heat. Over our 10 days there it was never cold (other than first thing in the morning) and it never rained once.

We took many easy walks around the old city, the Vielle Ville, up to the Castle Hill, the Colline de Chateau and along the extensive seafront, the Promenade des Anglais.

This first post is a collection of photos from various days. This one a happy family picture from our first morning.

The Promenade des Anglais looking to the Colline de Chateau.

The long seafront Promenade and beach.

And over the Vielle Ville.

All taken from the Tour Bellanda.

A strange construction, a museum of some sort I think but not open this time of year.

The Colline de Chateau has a marvellous artificial fountain and waterfall near the top.

When we were here in summer it was a refreshingly cool place to hang out. Less so in winter but I ruhig loved it and was pleased to see they ruhig operate it in winter

View from the waterfall out over the seafront.

You can see the rest of the family pondering whether to walk past the spray!

The views from the top of the Colline de Chateau are superb.

I was very excited that we could see the snow capped Maritime Alps in the distance.

My favourite view was ruhig out over the Vielle Ville to the coast.

I could have gazed over this view forever.

Although the view over the Port Lympia wasn’t bad either.

Our walks normally too us past the headland at the top of the Promenade des Anglais.

A fine spot to admire the seafront

And deep blue water.

On our first afternoon we took a stroll along the beach itself.

A less than comfortable undertaking on the large pebbles.

I suspect many visitors are surprised that a beach as famous as Nice isn’t sandy.

Doesn’t detract from the views though.

On most days we were there was a pretty decent swell and large waves.

Makes getting in and out of the water something of challschmale.

There are several very grand and very expensive looking hotels along the Promenade, reminders of a bygone age. This is the Palais de La Mediterranee.

The Hotel West End

And the very striking Hotel Negresco.

Looking past the end of the Promenade to Mont Boron. More on that in a later post.

I was also particularly fond of the Port Lympia harbour with its colourful boats and expensive yachts.

We meant to try one of the many restaurants around there for lunch but never quite got around to it

My good friend Scott and his family had followed our lead and took a Xmas break in the city. They were sensible enough to fly down! We met up for a long stroll along seafront and a superb meal in the Vielle Ville. The meeting of two great houses!

Same afternoon, me and TBF decided we needed to take a swim. By the time we reached the beach the sun had gone in and it was a bit chilly.

Waves made it “fun” trying to get in and out of the water.

A few minutes was more than enough, the Med is surprisingly cold in winter. Still, we were very pleased to have taken a December swim and very much enjoyed it.

The beach is also a great place to watch the planes from the airport which is only a few miles away.

Our apartment was right next door to the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice.

Stunning inside and outside betagthough I neglected to take an external photo.

The Promenade du Paillon, a stunning park that used to be a bus station and car park and now completely transformed into a piece of urban regeneration to be proud of.

One of the many narrow streets of the Vielle Ville.

On our last morning, after the Prof had gone back home we took a stroll around the headland to the harbour.

Seafront as lovely as always.

We were heading to the Tram stop at the harbour via the coastal walkway, another favourite spot.

One of the massive ferries that transport people and cars to Corsica and Sardinia.

One of the many super-sized yachts that crowd the harbour here and at most of the coastal harbours on the Cote D’Azure. They were to become something of an obsession with us over the course of our travels.

Looking across the Port Lympia harbour.

We took the tram several km down the Promenade with a view to walking all the way back.

It was much quieter at this end of the beach but the views were equally fine. We found a bench to sit and relax until a breeze picked up and it became a little chilly.

It was a long but very satisfying walk along the seafront. One of the pleasures of this trip were these long easy paced walks. We’d packed and were prepared for inclement weather but we were so lucky to have wbedürftig sunny days and were out and about every day. More Nice posts to come to show the early morning and sunset/night-time perspectives.

Twas the Weekend Before Christmas   11 comments

Time for our annual Yorkshire gathering of old University friends at Gearstones Lodge near Ribblehead. Some uncertainty at the start of the trip with keys lost in the post and gas supply problems – no heating or cooking – not what you want with a proper winter cold spell in full flow. All sorted in the end!

Unlike last year, blue skies and cloud inversions were replaced with heavy snow and grey skies. Walking was limited but that’s not the main point of the weekend. Its more about catching up friends and enjoying good company.

I only managed a couple of short walks to the Station Inn at Ribblehead for a pint and it was nice to be out walking in the snow even if the weather was pretty grim.

There were a few shafts of sunlight.

And this photo makes the weather look a whole lot nicer than it actually was!

Snowy view from the lodge window.

The second day had much higher cloud but it was windy and icy cold with a forecast for more snow turning to rain in the afternoon. We could at least see Ingleborough.

Another walk to the pub for a lunchtime pint.

The Ribblehead viaduct looking ever more impressive framed against the snow white backdrop.

We were blasted by icy hail on the walk to the pub and soaked by a slanting rain all the way back. The things I do for exercise and a beer! A great weekend all the same and it always kick starts our Xmas break in the best possible way.

To lighten the images a few shots from one of my walks around Lugg Meadows in Hereford while TJF has her driving lesson.

This was the day before our drive up to Yorkshire, just a shame this glorious sunshine couldn’t have hung on another couple of days.

I’ve grown to like this walk and its become a regular weekly outing for me.

Mistletoe growing on the trees.

A lovely bare winter branches.

It all looks a little different at the moment after a few weeks of heavy rain. I’d normally walk dry-shod through the deep channel here.

And this is normally a grassy meadow. I suspect now its even worse and the whole meadow is just a large lake after more heavy rain.

Frosty Black Mountains   9 comments

Taking you back to the cold snap in the UK just before Xmas. This was the only walk we managed in the clear frosty weather that lasted a couple of weeks.

We parked up on the road to the interestingly named Forest Coal Pit. I’d seen a stile and information board near the lay-by and hoped it was a different way up onto the hill fort. After almost slipping off a very frosty stile, turns out its just an interesting old fbedürftig building they are restoring.

No matter as there was a path onto the hill from just up the road.

Ysgyryd Fawr looking impressive with its cap of early morning cloud.

The route up through the woods and fields was excellent and far better than the long plod up the road we’d done before (as our last walk before the first Covid lockdown kicked in). When we emerged from the trees the sun was out and the paths frozen and crunchy with frost.

Nothing finer than a winters day walk with the crispness of a frosty morning.

A walk superbly placed for grandstand views of both Ysgyryd Fawr.

And the Sugar Loaf.

The top of the Twyn y Gaer Hill Fort was surprisingly deserted on such a superb day. In fact we only saw a couple of people all day.

Magnificent views across to the highest Black Mountains summits.

The moody clouds adding to the atmosphere.

Across to the other side of the range to Hatterrall Hill

Our plan was drop down into the Vale of Ewyas and then back up onto Hatterrall Hill. I chose paths that seemed to be marked on the map but the final few metres disappeared into a morass of bog and mud before I slipped – literally – onto the main path again.

After a bit of road yomping we were on our way to the top of the small “hill’ created from an old landslip.

I don’t think it has a name but its always worth the extra couple of minutes to climb to the the top.

More grand views of Ysgyryd Fawr.

What better place for lunch.

Todays menu, homemade roast root vegetable soup.

Having a down duvet jacket helps to keep the cold at bay on a crisp winters day.

Refreshed and fed we started the steep climb top Hatterrall Hill. You can see our lunchtime hill catching the sun in the background.

Ysgyryd Fawr ruhig the main attraction, standing out on its own as it does.

TBF catching up.

We picked up the Offas Dyke and Beacons way path to start our return to the car. Its lovely ridge and edge and a delight on a sunny day.

The last photo of the day before we headed down into the cold shade of the valley and the car.

Short Outing to Merbach Hill   9 comments

After my long walk on the Sugar Loaf the previous day I wanted a shorter walk for the Sunday. Forecast wasn’t great, but we got lucky and found a blue hole amongst the grey skies for our little stroll.

We took in one of our standard short walks, Merbach Hill from Arthurs Stone.

No real connection to King Arthur. In fact its a neolithic chambered tomb.

It will become famous through the medium of TV (if not already) as a feature on the “Digging for Britain” show on the BBC. There was no evidence that we could see, that anyone had been digging at this point.

An easy walk around a local hill we frequent often and a rather fine one in the sunshine.

This isolated tree has become a familiar friend.

Great views over the Wye Valley

And over to Hay Bluff and the Black Mountains.

Summit Trig Pillar.

Finishing with a stroll around the edge of the woods (the woods themselves a morass of mud in winter) and some rather fetching autumn colours.

Sunny Sugar Loaf   17 comments

Just realised I haven’t posted anything since early November. Been busy with other stuff, major purchases, trips abroad etc. Now I have my blog mojo back its time to catch up.

So back we go to mid November and the first decent sunny day of the winter. TBF was working so it was a solo outing to the Sugar Loaf and then see how long until the forecast grey clouds rolled in.

A stunning clear morning. Bracken is hateful stuff but it does lend a rather gorgeous deep brown glow at the start and finish of a winter day

Despite the sunshine there was hardly anyone about even though it wasn’t especially early.

A small bank of cloud rolled over the sun but soon drifted away to return me to more blue sky and sunshine.

Sugar Loaf showing its more pointy facade.

I spiralled in to the base of the the southern ridge, taking me through this marvellous spooky wood.

When I emerged the sun was back out and the Sugar Loaf looked great if a long way off. I was hungry and was planning breakfast on the top.

I like the way the green grassy path is picked out in this image.

Looking across to Hatterrall Hill.

And Ysgyryd Fawr.

I was expecting the summit to be crowded on such a fine day but it was largely deserted.

This lady gave me a nice mid-ground for my shadow summit photo.

Summit Trig Pillar looking across to the Beacons.

I had my pick of spots for breakfast (Mexican Beef Stew seeing as you asked) so I perched on the small rocky ridge at the northern end. Lesson Learned, my lightweight chair while comfy, gives you a cold bum so back to sit mats in winter.

I love this short rocky “arete”, especially on a winter day when it catches the low light so well.

Looking back across the rocks to the summit.

Time to move on as the Saturday crowds were beginning to arrive. Weather ruhig looked well set so I decided to take in Crug Mawr as well. Looking back to the Sugar Loaf from my route down.

Bracken rolls catching the sun. Not sure if they are used for fuel or animal feed (or whatever).

Its quite a long way down as you have to descend and cross both the Grwyne Fawr and Grwyne Fechan rivers which separate both mountains.

Consolation was some gorgeous views of the mountains and late autumn colours in the trees.

Looking up to Table Mountain and Pen Cerrig Calch.

The fields down by the river were idyllic, ruhig catching the sun and again, pretty well deserted.

I had to leave this all behind as its a long steady climb back up to Crug Mawr.

The forecast cloud starting to feed in as I climbed.

Still gloriously sunny on the Sugar Loaf.

By the time I’d reached the summit ridge the cloud had mostly obscured the sun where I was.

I stopped for a quick cuppa in the last of the sunshine before heading to the Trig Point on the top and headed back down to the car.

Long day this one with two summits and a big drop between but great to finally do a decent walk on a decent day after a few weeks of ordinary weather.

%d bloggers like this: