New tyres, snow still on the mountains even in June. Rock layers twisted to a greater lean angle than any motorcyclist can achieve without falling off. The Alpes of Haut-Provence are the Big Country: grand views, challenging roads, roadside waterfalls, hilltop villages and Vauban forts. This route was the Col du Labouret (1240 m.), the Col Saint Jean (1330 m.), lunch at Saint-Vincent-les-Forts, with fine views of the Lac Serre-Poncon, one of the largest hydro-electric lakes in Europe; the GLME summercamp of 2012 was on the opposite shore, at Chorges. And a chance find: the Via ferrata de la Grande Fistoire. Three attached lines and a 60 m. rope bridge, surely one for the “Must Do” bucket list, if only for the quaint name..
Friday evening, weather’s good for the weekend, running in new tyres, done several roundabouts, now need a few right-hander curves. And what pops up in front, a long straight. This is it: Time to Rev...
Concorde G-BAOB at Heathrow under a threatening sky. No longer flying supersonic but still graceful with paint fresh from the recent rain. In these days of America First and Brexit, Concorde on display to hundreds of thousands of air travellers is an ironically prominent symbol of a previous age, of Great Britain in collaboration with France. Of pre-internet dreams of a world better connected, of breakfast in London and lunch in New York. Yes, reality grounded Concorde, but, as the song goes, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true? (South Pacific, Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers)
Sunset at Hammersmith Bridge on the River Thames in London. Note the wildfowl too.
“Graffiti is not made for 100 people but for millions” - Du graffiti pas fait pour 100 personnes mais pour des millions! - Le Rat, Marseille.
We’ve been enjoying a variety of Rosso wines whilst touring Tuscany. This style of Italian red wine is capable of the finest, most smooth and most complex experience. Rosso is always 100% Sangiovese grape varietal. Variously cherry red or slightly tawny in the glass, Rosso wine ages relatively swiftly so the differences between a 2016 and 2013 are quite noticeable: the older wines being more rounded and less tannic with more complexity; left too long then the colour and aromas pale. Rosso wines also change rapidly, almost alarmingly, after being uncorked in the heat of a Tuscan evening; we have several times had the impression that the fantastic wine is deteriorating in front of us whilst the rural Italian kitchen struggles to supply its clientele.
Just now, May 2018, we found that Rosso 2016 is ready to drink, an “ordinary” 2015 is likely to be at its height whilst older bottles should be treated with suspicion except from a trusted cellar, in which case the bottle may be exceptionally fine, well in to the stratospheric class.
“Valley of the waterfalls”: the protected Val Genova enjoys melt water from the glaciers and snowfields of the Dolomite Alps above Lago di Garda and the skiing town of Pinzolo in Trentino.
Touring in Tuscany revisiting some of the places I first saw with the GLME Summercamp of 2004 based in Pomerance. This time we’re staying in Volterra, the town is not at the top of the tourist lists but it’s a walled hilltop town with an Etruscan archaeological site, a Roman theatre plus fantastic views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
Perennially popular with bikers, one approach to Volterra is a series of zigzags, another is a ridge road with views either side, the third is like an ideal Sussex or Shropshire road winding through farmland and small woods with the occasional blind bend to keep you really sharp.
Vienna’s Golden Hall, the Musikverein, is renowned as one of the world’s best concert acoustics. It’s a shoe-box design with a raised and raked stage, hard plaster walls with much detail, both windows and podiums but also smaller cameos and so much ornamentation, much of it gold. The seating has wooden backs and isn’t stunningly plush. A similar architectural design to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and quite different to a modern concert hall designed on acoustic principles.
We’ve enjoyed the New Year’s Day concerts via the relay on Eurovision, initially as radio, sometimes as high definition television with surround sound, although this seems to be no longer available to the BBC. But the question is what would an orchestra actually sound like to a listener seated in the hall. No matter the only concert available on my schedule is a tourist programme, not being a full on concert meant it was possible to obtain reasonable seats.