Views from the window of BA0369 from Marseille to London, showing principally Mont Blanc (4,808 m.) but also Monte Rosa (4,634 m.) and the Bernese Oberland Alps (Finstaarhorn, 4274 m. etc).
Moments earlier in the flight, views of Barre des Écrins (4102 m.) and Mont Ventoux (1909 m.) immediately after take-off from Marseille Provence airport runway 31R.
Development of these digital negatives was a real “Wow!” moment, seeing clearly all the Alps in one or two frames and with the perspective from above. The A320 aircraft was at about 35,550 ft. / 10835 m. at this point in the flight.
I’m using my D500 single lens reflex and 70-200 mm lens.
A day at the races at the Circuit Paul Richard at Le Castellet, between Marseille and Toulon. Pascal and I went for the final hours of the 2021 Bol d’Or, the 24-hour endurance motorcycle race.
The sound of screaming engines first hits you in the checks at the gates - passe sanitaire required as well as ticket - and then becomes the soundtrack to the day, with the sunshine and the breeze of the Mistral.
The bike of each team rides the whole race, it’s the riders who switch, mostly they are teams of four riders. The racing continues through the night so the bikes have headlights although this was also a nearly full moon.
This year there were two bands of rain or showers overnight, uncomfortable for fans camping in the surrounding of pine forest but imagine the additional challenge for the riders and mechanics, as well as the changing track temperature as the sun goes down and then rises after dawn.
Circuit Paul Ricard have improved many facilities and track safety features since I went there in 2015 but it’s still all but impossible to follow the races in detail. At least now the mobile phone network doesn’t saturate so you can follow on the web but there’s only one tower showing the leaderboard and only one big screen, which isn’t big enough and is in the wrong place for the fans.
But great to see and hear bikes going really fast, to eavesdrop on the moments between the rider and the team that don't get shown on television and also, a day out in the sunshine in the clear air up on the forested flanks of Mont Sainte Victoire.
Revisiting the Village Vacances « La Baume » at La Roque d’Anthéron which was the accommodation for the 1998 GLME Summercamp, organised by the French bike club AMA (Association Motocycliste Alternative).
Arriving here after the long ride down from London, the blocks had more than a whiff of a Stalag Luft prisoner of war camp. But the hosts and location, the company and the bike rides were all fantastic, the wine copious and included. The pool and the forest saw many games too.
That summercamp twisted my head; since then I've set up in Marseille. Finding « La Baume » again after so many years and finding it pretty much the same was great nostalgia, especially as I was able to share tales with a couple of the staff .
Rose-tinted nostalgia apart, La Roque d’Anthéron is a chic town in the Pays d’Aix between the Canal de Provence and the River Durance. I found no less than three boulangeries in operation and at least two fine restaurants. La Roque d’Anthéron is more widely known for its piano festival, which takes place in the park of one of the châteaux.
Earlyish start from Marseille to ride through vineyards of the Coteaux Varois-en-Provence, through to Aups, then high above the Lac de Sainte Croix and on to the South Rim Road of the Grand Canyon of the Verdon.
The South Rim Road is the more sportsbiker of the rim roads and it’s possible to get past the traffic reasonably. As well as the Red Mist opportunities on the access roads, there are the tunnels, the classic views down to the rivers far below, the bridge that sometimes gets used for bungee jumping. And plenty of hard straight runs down towards a rock face and a hairpin turn or a catastrophic overshoot into oblivion. Maybe it would be good to still fear those. I’m reminded this instinct is also triggered by the famous Aragón Wall at the Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, visited by MotoGP last weekend.
An exceptional hike from Corps to the limestone ridge between the Pointe de Rogne (1651 m.), the Col d’Aspres (1758 m.) and the Roche Courbe (1938 m.). Wonderfully diverse flowers and wildlife along the ridge path and in the alpages leading to it. The Sentier des Crêtes overlooks the valley of the River Drac up towards the Col de Manse (1251 m.), then the Alps of Haut Provence, and over towards the Dévoluy Massif and the Valgaudemar. The Route Napoléon weaves its way alongside the river. In the other direction, the Lac du Sautet and its dam, then the Vercors plateau in clouds.
Not the easiest climb: steep and once the path became indistinct in the alpages, a matter of “always up”. But a rewarding walk both in terms of the visual opportunities and not having had as long a hike for several years. I hope you enjoy my journey through my photos.
The wet days are back with us in Keswick and the cloud forest growth season continues. Snipping is not enough. Previous efforts at untangling this garden resulted in a two car loads of fifteen bags of cuttings plus two fabric bins, all to be taken to the council tip; that’s as well as filling the green bin the Allerdale council lorry collects once a fortnight.
It seemed a good idea to hire a skip to make more progress. Friends suggested a garden shredder and indeed a big electric shredder plus the safety equipment (PPE) worked out as much the same cost as one skip hire. The ear defenders plus the visor put one in a happy place, very focussed.
Not the Tuscan Hills, nor a camping on the banks of the Rubicone river crossed by Julius Caesar in 49 BC, but here in sunny Keswick at the foot of Skiddaw (931 m.) we find a chilled bottle or two of Sangiovese Rosato Rubicone goes very well with a salad of walnut and orange with Wookey Hole Cheddar plus French Comté cheeses.
Very light and slightly fruity, well-balanced and not overtly acidic, these bottles of 2020 Sangiovese Rosato “Via Vincini” bought from a local supermarket taste great for a garden lunch in the fresh air of the Lake District dreaming of foreign travel, perhaps appropriately as you could call this a bottle of 2020, the Covid Vintage.