Hiking on the Mont Dore massif in the Auvergne region of France. Much dairy agriculture here with many local gastronomic treats employing local cheeses such as St. Nectaire and Bleu d'Auvergne. The Mont Dore massif is described as stratovolcano that has been inactive for the past 220 thousand years. During that time, the area has undergone several episodes of glaciation so much of the topography doesn't immediately strike the eye as "volcanic", at least until alerted to imagine a main peak much higher than the eroded stump which remains. My previous winter hike, on snow-shoes with the peaks still fully covered with snow, revealed the distinctive cone shapes of some of the susuduary peaks of the same massif: see Puy de l'Angle, 1738 m. The Auvergne area still has geological activity, there are hot springs in the spa towns and the west tower of the cathedral at St. Nectaire was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1842. We talked with some French scientists who had been using muon tomography to image some the local features.
The massive walls of the medieval fortress at Aigues Mortes on the Camargue, the embarkation town for the seventh and eighth crusades in 1248 and 1270 AD.The Burgundian King of France, Louis IX ordered the construction of the fortress in the Camargue marches and also a causeway to a quay a short distance away where the ships were able to berth. Burgundian France had no navigable harbour on the Mediterranean Sea until a century later when Louis XI incorporated Provence in to France in 1486. These days, the walls enclose an attractive tourist town with restaurants, bars and boutique shops.
The ombragère (sun shade) is a cool and welcome escape from the full strength of the Mediterranean sun toasting tourists enjoying the Vieux Port of Marseille. The underside is mirrored, giving an unusual persepective. Also known as l'Ombrière.
Nine of us from GBMCC enjoyed a day out at North Weald Airfield in Essex; we started on quad bikes to get the basic actions and reflexes, then moved on to teaching bikes supplied by our fantastic teachers, Stunt Asylum. Some got the front wheel up much more smoothly and for longer than others, but we all did it. Several riders moved up to doing wheelies on their own bikes. Stunt Asylum put on a mind-wrenching show for us at the lunch break...
“Streets of London” was one of the background songs to my time at university in Nottingham, the first track on Ralph McTell’s album “Spiral Staircase” (1969). The song’s a mainstay of London buskers even now - I heard it played and sung very creditably by a busker at Leicester Square tube station just yesterday. Not a hit until a rework in 1974, the song has a timelessness with its poignant words and simple tune.
English sunshine for the GLME 2016 Ascension bike camp. GBMCC were our hosts this year with rides to Stonehenge, Winchester cathedral, the Hardy Monument overlooking Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the New Forest and many more places of interest. 115 bikers based in two friendly hotels in Salisbury. Many highlights in a packed programme but charity Cream Teas in the garden of the Village Hall in Wimbourne St. Mary gets my vote for the all-time wackiest destination for a bike ride; such was the appreciation of the village-made cakes that our French friends from AMA fitted only eight of them in the nearby red telephone box afterwards! The record appears to still be 14, set in 2003.
And a big Thank You to Jon, Oded and Ernst who took me pillion as the hire GSXR bike didn't make the run due to a breakdown problem.
Faces deliberately low res
My mason bees pollinating apple tree blossom on my patio in Hammersmith, West London. Lime tree not yet in flower.
Hire GSXR bike being recovered back to owner - battery wouldn't turn over the engine after only a coffee stop in sunny Eastbourne. Diagnosis: battery not charging. Of course the day's weather turned out to be warm sunshine.
Looks like I won't be getting to the Hastings May Day Run tomorrow as well as no ride today.
Thanks to both the recovery guys for their friendly assistance.
Day out to hike Blencathra, the double headed Lakeland peak formed of craggy Skiddaw slate. Leaving home in London at dawn, blackbirds singing in the streets. Pendolino train service to Penrith then a bus to the White Horse pub to start hiking uphill before midday.
Nice view over Scales Tarn. Picnic lunch on the summit of Blencathra (868 m.). Still blue sky and sunshine, wow what good luck! Thrilling views over the precipitous ridges over to all the Lakeland peaks, Skiddaw nearby, Great Gable and Hellvellyn as well as Derwent Water and Thirlmere far away in the haze but with flashes of snow remaining in the cold gullies on the tops.
Skirting the northern flank of the Esterel massif is the old N7 trunk road that used to be the main route for the 38km (23 miles) from Fréjus to Cannes. Now designated DN7, the road is well made and graded, reliably wide and the curves are usefully banked. Heavy traffic is discouraged leaving sports bikes, sports cars and white vans to enjoy the ride and views. The residences (ie swanky villas) in the hills around are what you might expect up the road from Cannes: private pools of course, plus tennis courts and outdoor entertainment areas.