about JohnH

Sorted, fit. Current activities are photography, hiking, motorbiking, trail biking, music, geology/geoscience, dinner-at-home, travel and more.

Cranes building another block in Marseille

Yes more of my view of the mountains about to disappear: the block on the right was completed recently and has only just started to be occupied since I noted it previously on here: Now you see it - now you don't: Marseille progress? - August 2014

My photos of a hike on the Plateau Justin the the Pré-alpes near Die

A hike of many cols and a visit to an aeronautical crash site on the plateau Justin of the Montagne de Beaufayn. First, we enjoyed the view from La Croix Justin, 988 m., overlooking the town of Die on the river Drôme under the southern cliffs of the Vercors massif.

Under cliffs and walking on exposed rocky ledges typical of these limestone mountains, we hiked on to the Pas de Tripet, 1093 m., then Pas de la Dame then the Col de Beaufayn 1099 m., visiting a different aircraft crash site than this week's A320 crash nearby at La Seyne, also in the Pré-alpes. This unfortunate glider failed to over-fly the Col de Beaufayn about twenty years ago. Some twisted metal survives amongst the leaves in the forest; the two pilots did not survive.

Then on to the Pas du Corbeau, Pas de Reynard, Col du Lion, 1001 m. and the Col du Loup, all on the Montagne de Beaufayn. Although the altitudes seem quite similar, our total altitude up was 333 m. plus the same down as it was a cirular walk.

Again lucky with the weather. Die is on the frontier between the northern and Mediterranean systems. It still surprises me just how few birds live or pass through there, not many sparrows or blackbirds at all, although there are a very few large native raptors. A few primroses and wild crocus in flower amongst the autumn leaves now dried by the winter winds. Now past the equinox, as the day lengths increase, the plant life will come on fast, even at altitude.

Coffee stop at the Circuit du Castellet near Toulon and Marseille

Fine day’s riding but a bit more of an adventure than I had hoped for. The bike’s battery, that was new in August 2014, let me down despite being charged the previous day. Had to be recovered.

Good side is that the bike shop who keep me running has been taken over. Not a surprise and that was one reason for intending to pass by the place in Peyrolles but meeting them first in a recovery situation wasn’t in my plan! The new guys are race bikers not town riders or trail bikers; they look to be setting up a track bike hire and training business.

So I made my itinerary pass by the Circuit du Castellet for a quick coffee and to check out things. It’s also known as the Circuit Paul Ricard as it was founded by the drinks magnate of Pastis Ricard fame. The track is suddenly being bike friendly again, including hosting the Bol d’Or in September, the 24-hour race: those riders must be really mad...

Blue skies, low wind and air temperature 18°C.



Christmas card 2015

Merry Christmas and All the Best for 2015 to you.

These have been some of the highlights of a full year. Thanks to everyone who has helped me on the way.

New building in the 5th arrondissement of Marseille

Now you see it - now you don't!

Marseille is benefiting from lots of investment  but it comes at a cost. The view from where I stay has been reduced by a new block, blocking the view of the mountains. We enjoyed that view a lot, the photo of the rainbow after a storm was just one of many.

The neutral grey colour of the new building - even viewed by the light of the setting sun, so literally viewed in the most favourable light - doesn't help it fit in with the traditional sand colours of Provence. Presumably the grey is meant to indicate the progressive new technology town. I'm not convinced...

Same problem as with  Not sure I like blue and  End of the Rainbow for St Andrews, Fulham Fields, London

French democracy sounds great "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité) sounds great until you want to change something. The "non" response isn't so great when it's against you. That's one reason there are so many strikes in France.

Anyhow despite the lack of possibility of objecting to loosing one's view, Marseille in August still has the fine Provence weather, the open windows of apartements in classy Haussman style streets ring out with music from Carmen to Soprano and the food and wine remain incomparable.