In between times …

•Tuesday, 27 April 2021 • 1 Comment

We are definitely ‘in between’ the seasons here in Seytroux … still snow in the mountains but not good enough to ski and too much to hike up high; in the villages the sun is shining and it feels as though it’s time for gardening but the frost still comes at night and endangers any carefully planted spring flowers, herbs and veg! Having said that, I have had a couple of good hikes and have started to get out in the garden. A new tree planted, lettuces, tomatoes and herbs also refreshed and starting to grow.

First hike – needed snow shoes for much of the walk …
Hiking with girls I have toured with …

We are starting to think about the summer, coming back to the UK to see friends and family (I am SO looking forward to doing so!) and mulling over whether our round the world sailing trip is workable this year. We are still in lockdown in France although some restrictions are due to be lifted next week and restaurants can open outside sometime in May … I am dreaming about eating out!

Digging a hole for my new weeping pussy willow tree!

Ski touring extraordinaire!

•Tuesday, 30 March 2021 • 4 Comments

Absolute highlight of my last couple of weeks has been some awesome ski touring with the Women’s Mountain Club (Morzine & Chamonix). I have to keep a record of the breathtaking scenery, the fabulous snow, the great company and the scale of the personal challenge in touring up more than 2000m in 2 days – not to mention the skiing down a glacier in deep powder! Ali & Rachel – our lovely guides and teachers – their enduring enthusiasm, optimism about my capability, patience and unending support have kept me going through lockdown and enabled me to do some truly magical ski touring.

Just look at that smile!!

I can happily report on the last 2 fabulous tours … a day touring up the Col de Romme (above Cluses) where we climbed over 1000m. Stunning scenery and so much snow. Plenty of stops en route to take a breath, take a photo and admire the views.

And then the grande finale … a 2 day tour in Pralgonan-Les-Vanoises, hiking up 1300m, staying in a mountain refuge overnight, climbing up the glacier the following day (another 800m) and the most awesome ski all the way back down into the valley. I don’t think I have ever felt so depleted of energy after day 1 but a large beer, a beautiful sunset, a full moon rise and a decent night’s sleep in my very comfortable bunk gave me the energy to start again on Day 2! Getting to the summit at 3200m and surveying the awesome panorama was a moment to treasure. My off piste skiing is still inconsistent but in spite of that, we had all earned those turns in light, fresh virgin powder … phenomenal experience … on my way to being a true ski goddess!

Back now into the sunshine and onto the terrace. We are re-implementing our drinks on the drive with our lovely neighbours this weekend and the garden is calling! Luckily my chair is finished (I love it!) so I can move onto the next project … hoping I will soon be planning our next trip back to the UK to see much missed friends and family. I can’t wait!

Snow, snow, snow …

•Monday, 15 March 2021 • 3 Comments

Winter returned today! After 5 or 6 weeks of spring, the skies have opened up and it is dumping snow! Perfect for ski touring when it all stops …

Looking out over the balcony when we woke this morning!

In the meantime, much stays the same here in France. Curfew remains from 6pm to 6am. The resort stays closed although there do seem to be a few pop up bars opening at the bottom of ski tour routes – a huge bonus! Vaccinations for Covid are rolling very slowly – Astra Zeneca only for ‘young people’ – miraculously, I fall into this category so am hopeful I might get a vaccination in the next 2/3 weeks. Chris is too old to get into this category but too young to get the limited other vaccine supplies so his vaccination is still not in sight.

All my various projects continue … singing in a new choir (just about to record ‘rolling in the deep’); upholstery, working on my french, puzzles, ski touring etc etc. Chris is building space ships, killing baddies and doing some exercise through an adventure game – of course! We are both attending webinars to prepare ourselves for a possible trip around the world … decision time in June when we have a clearer idea as to whether the world will open up to sailors.

Ski touring continues to be a real highlight for me – my latest tour saw me climb up 826m! A great ski down but needed 2 days of rest to recover! I tour with lovely neighbours/ex-neighbours and the Women’s Mountain Club – the ski guides are fabulous and I have loved being part of their world. I have just committed to a 2 day tour, staying in a refuge on a glacier over night … SO exciting!

Quoi d’neuf??

•Sunday, 14 February 2021 • 4 Comments

It really is Groundhog Day/week! I’m back again with more of the same … in between times, we had 7 – 10 days of exceptionally heavy rain which ruined the fabulous powder snow and substantially increased the avalanche risk … the highest experienced in the Alps for more than 5 years. Thank goodness the weather has now improved – fresh falls of snow, lower temperatures with some lovely sun. Once again, I’m inspired to share some photos and catch up on the news.

My french is very slowly improving – with classes once a week, regular chats with my lovely neighbour, french podcasts and most recently, Lupin, in french with french subtitles. It’s a lifetime task but I’m motivated to improve now that I experience some small improvement in my understanding and ability to communicate.

This week, I’ve also managed to acquire my next upholstery project – for the princely sum of 10 euros, I have a chair to have a crack at. Very exciting although Chris is in despair about where everything is going to live. Having discovered the local (huge!) charity shop with another lovely neighbour, I have high expectations for a stream of furniture projects!

I continue to develop my culinary skills – this week preserved lemons for my many Ottolenghi recipes … and shortbread for the light of my life!

In between times, lots of rando (ski touring) & raquettes (snow shoes) to the top of the Ararre run above Avoriaz, the back of Mont Chery and up to the Les Gets bowl from La Perriere. Glorious.

Adjusting to a new routine …

•Saturday, 30 January 2021 • 4 Comments

Here we are … another couple of weeks simply disappeared. So much happening around the world but we are in a little bubble here in Seytroux. The new normal … some french every day, ski touring 2 or 3 times a week, lots of box sets (I LOVE Bridgerton … it has become my guilty pleasure curled up on the sofa late afternoon with a cup of tea!), puzzle, cooking, raquettes (snow shoeing) and devouring the news, the weather forecasts and my audio books. Not a bad life I know but still missing actually seeing friends and family in person and up close! Hey ho … it will happen soon. In the meantime, I have managed to get Chris out for a ‘stroll’, I have had some amazing hikes and finally, my french is very slowly improving with the help of podcasts, school and my lovely french neighbour who is patiently ‘chatting’ to me in french!

Strolling in the snow!
Hiking up …
Headed down the back of Mont Chery in fabulous powder!

Also – have finally started another lockdown project … scanning in photos from the 80’s and 90’s. Some great memories! Did I ever really look like this?

Salut mes amis!

•Saturday, 16 January 2021 • 4 Comments

Middle of January, restrictions getting tighter (6pm curfew from today) and I am resigning myself to ‘confinement’ (as they say in France) until Easter. All very frustrating. I have cancelled January trip back to the UK as I’m concerned that the French may not let me come back even if UK lets me in. So … I am back to cooking, puzzles, knitting and have committed to improving my french as well as my favourite activity – ski touring! Talking ski touring, I am loving being a part of the Morzine Women’s Ski Club and have had a fabulous couple of days hiking into new places and working on my powder skiing. I’ve also hooked up with some of the women I have met so I now have ski buddies. I am just having to learn to pace myself as most of the women are at least 15 years younger than me and frankly, fairly hard core fit!

Climbing up Col de la Bolire in the snow
My tracks re on the right!
Looking over at Praz de Lys from the Col de la Bolire
Top of Plenys today – ESF are allowed to teach licensed ski clubs

This evening my lovely neighbour is coming over to chat in french with me for half an hour – as a prelude to my french lessons which start next week. Chris is already fed up with my practising on him! My brain simply doesn’t work as well as it used to … memory like a sieve but I long ago recognised that speaking french will be the task of a lifetime!

Marmalade batch 1 completed this week. Maybe another batch next week … please someone, save me from myself!

Marmalade batch 1

Welcoming in 2021

•Thursday, 7 January 2021 • 5 Comments

After a very quiet Christmas in Seytroux, celebrating only with our lovely neighbours, the first day of the new year was a blast – ski touring up Mont Chery in Les Gets (huge hike!) and then powering half way down; climbing back up to the top (nearly killed me!) so that we could enjoy every bit of powder on the way down. An awesome experience which was followed by a very long bubble bath and a bottle of Laurent Perrier to truly welcome in the New Year!

Glorious view as we work our way to the top of the mountain

Sadly, the first week of January has not come remotely close to my expectations … new COVID variant, Tier 4 in the UK, still no sign of the resort opening up here in Morzine, inability to come home or more importantly, get back to France since UK nationals can not transit through Geneva and we don’t yet have a long term visa. Add to that events in the US and I think the world is going to hell in a hand basket. The only light on the horizon is that I am still able to hike up the mountains. I am now the proud and excited owner of an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel so am all set up to hike up those mountains!

Made it to the top … I am in the middle!
Making tracks!
En route to the top of Prodains
Stunning scenery on the way up Mont Chery today -7C!

Ski season with a difference?

•Monday, 14 December 2020 • 3 Comments

I’m not travelling but felt inspired to record the beginnings of what may prove to be a weird ski season. No lifts open, no restaurants and no bars but the snow has arrived and the area looks beautiful! I have opened the season with a snow shoe trek and a couple of days later, my first ski tour. I can imagine what the resort must have been like many many years ago – no people, silence on the mountains and one or two adventurers hiking up the mountain so they can have the joy of hurtling back down! It was a tough (for me!) hour and a half hike up Plenys in Morzine but stunning views and more powder than I have seen for years. The only challenge is no security, no people and slightly scary trying anything too challenging when there is no one to help me look for lost skis or pick me up if I fall over … so … I was very cautious and definitely need mates to play with.

I’ve also been busy at home – Christmas puddings, mince pies and Christmas decorations. It will sadly, only be Chris and me this year but we will do our best to have a lovely time.

Going home

•Thursday, 12 November 2020 • 3 Comments

A final report from our adventures across the Med. We were on the engine all day from Port de Bouc to Gruissan in the south west corner of France – a beautiful sunrise but quiet the rest of the day with not enough wind to sail. The coastguard was onto us – did we have authorisation to be in french waters? Under lockdown, no unlicensed sailing allowed so technically the answer was no … but we were on our way home which seemed to placate the authorities. A punchy entrance to the port in the dark – narrow and shallow all the way with plenty of flashing lights. We saw 2.7m on the depth counter (we need 2.3m) so we were OK but fairly anxious until we parked up. I know I will sleep for a week when we finally get home!

Last sunrise for a while …

After briefing the boatyard on our very long list of winter maintenance needs, we headed to Narbonne to catch the train to Barcelona and the onto Valencia. Loads of security everywhere. Papers checked at every opportunity but ‘going home’ seemed to work. Valencia was operating a midnight curfew rather than lockdown so we were able to have a late meal out – a huge treat!

Not many people travelling from Narbonne

Next day, we collected the car (with the new window) and drove north. A lovely night with friends 25 minutes from Gruissan and then back to the boatyard to brief engineers and anxiously watch our 25 ton boat being lifted out of the water for the winter. A few scary moments but thankfully, all went well and that was that. We’ll be back in February to see how all the work is progressing – until then, back to the chalet for a rest!

Ready to lift
The scary bit

The eagle has finally landed!

•Friday, 6 November 2020 • 7 Comments

After 13016 nautical miles and many unexpected adventures (good and bad!), we have landed in Port Gruissan without further incident. I write this post with large Gin & Tonic in hand and a huge smile! Massive thanks for reading, mailing, commenting, texting and calling – especially after our most recent trauma. You restored my equilibrium and totally reassured me that my anxieties were well founded! It has been brilliant to be in touch – thank you. More to come but felt the need to say thank you and share the good news – all safe and sound. Now just need to get the car from Valencia (public transport and lockdowns not withstanding) and then drive home to our chalet in Seytroux …. and so the next adventure starts!