The ‘not a travel’ travel blog

•Saturday, 13 June 2020 • 2 Comments

It’s been a month and the furthest we have travelled is to Cluses – 40 minutes from our home. We have also ventured to Thonon – on Lac Léman – and Morzine – but that’s it. Doesn’t quite compare with our world travels … hey ho … the new normal? I hope not.

We’ve settled into something of a routine now. Calls with friends and family every week; Chris has become an expert at killing baddies and playing Mario Tennis Aces with our neighbours daughters! I manage 2 or 3 big mountain walks in a week and we’ve done some electric bike riding. I’m still committed to Davina (McCall) for fitness, Gareth (Malone) for choir practice and the RHS for advice on gardening!

Latest sewing project is an advent calendar (can’t quite believe I am admitting to this!) and I am making great headway on my project to create photo year books for each year since Chris and I have been married – 4 down, 5th in the works and 5 more to go. We have done so much travel each year and some fabulous socialising – friends at the chalet summer and winter, sailing holidays and travel holidays with friends – I can’t help feeling that the 2020 photo book will be a little thin?

All that said, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We managed to find a brasserie that served us lunch in Cluses – who knew that a goats cheese salad and a beer could taste so good? The mountains are beautiful and my walks are stunning. I have been reading and listening to some wonderful books and my french is improving very slowly. I have found someone who will do some body maintenance (waxing!) for me next week so all in the world is starting to feel better. Hoping that this crazy world will be able to open up a little more soon and we shall be back to UK to see much missed friends and family. In the meantime, a couple of photos that will eventually make it to the year book!

Stunning mountain flowers everywhere

Looking down the back of Mont Chery – hiking up the side of the black run

Committing to choir!

First meal out in 3 months – one happy husband!


Losing count of days and weeks …

•Monday, 18 May 2020 • 2 Comments

I am losing the plot … how many weeks have we been here? One week is merging into the next and days of the week are starting to run together – is this good or bad?? My sense of space and time is changing – zoom drinks on Friday with lovely London girl friends and drinks on the drive with neighbours on Saturday are my weekly constants – and thank goodness for them!

Technically, lockdown restrictions have eased but there is not much happening. The highlight of my week has been making a hair appointment for 2 weeks time at Sylvia’s coiffure … am v concerned I will come out with a blue rinse as the place looks quite old fashioned – having said that, I think the salon will feel more like an operating theatre than place of luxurious relaxation with masks, gowns and rubber gloves! Will take before and after photos for posterity.

We are now able to go out without filling in a form so was absolutely thrilled to be able to walk up a mountain on Sunday and managed to persuade Chris to walk round Lac de Montriond with me on Saturday. This really is the most beautiful time of year in the Alps with mountain flowers a riot of colours and smells. Food for the soul.

I have largely stopped baking as the likelihood of rolling out of lockdown becomes more of a reality for Chris and me. Gardening continues apace with tomatoes, fruit trees and herbs flourishing. Singing also continues – I finally recorded my first song to submit to Gareth Malone’s great British home chorus – visual definitely better than audio – glammed up with makeup and everything for the recording – who knows who may watch it??

On that note … choir practice calls. Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ this week – will be taking gin with me to lubricate the vocal chords. Definitely closing all doors and windows!

Half way up the Col de Ratti
Chilly drinks on the drive!
Recording ‘Ordinary World’ for the Great British Home Chorus

Heading towards week 8 of lockdown … can’t quite believe it

•Thursday, 30 April 2020 • 6 Comments

I have neglected my blog … was chatting to a lovely friend this morning (via WhatsApp) who is writing a wonderful daily blog – she inspired me to get back to it (thank you Laura!)

Well – we are settled into something of a routine and I have to say … having a good lockdown! I am doing 7 of the 9 things the Times has told me will keep me sane and happy … dancing, singing, cooking, reading, gardening, taking lovely long baths with large glass of fizz (Times didn’t mention the fizz – I am enhancing the list!) and conversations that are nourishing for the soul with lovely friends. Drinks on the drive with our neighbours each Saturday is also a huge help in staying sane. Chris is practising his cocktail making skills and each week we drink for longer, conversation positively bubbles and we all feel jaded on Sunday – def worth it.

The weather has been stunning until the last couple of days – today it’s raining cats and dogs or, with my newly revised french vocabulary, il pleut des cordes … the wet weather has finally pushed me into improving my very poor french. Poor Chris – he is busy shutting all doors and windows so he doesn’t have to hear me singing my heart out with Gareth Malone’s wonderful on line home chorus, or practising my atrocious french or watching me giving it everything as I dance the morning away! I am definitely losing the plot.

Chris continues to kill those baddies … as he tells me everyday, they don’t kill themselves. We’ve just finished Ozark – fabulous box set and discussing what next – important conversation in these times.

My biggest excitement of the lockdown was finding out that the garden centre is now opening in the mornings – I was SO excited to visit this week – total bliss wandering around tomato plants, geraniums, herbs and other wonderful greenery. I feel like a new woman with my garden pots full and tomato plants installed and growing each day!

We will hear from Boris tonight; Macron has declared there will be some lifting of restriction on 15 May. Hoping against hope that the world is finally getting to grips with this terrible virus. In the meantime, I will continue to dance, sing and cook my way through the madness!

Gorgeous apple blossom
After 1 cocktail too many at ‘drinks on the drive’
Getting into the Easter spirit for our grandchildren!

•Friday, 3 April 2020 • Leave a Comment

Flaky pastry queen??

•Friday, 3 April 2020 • Leave a Comment

A very tricky puzzle (thank you Rich & Tamsin!)

Heading to the end of week 3 of lock down …

•Friday, 3 April 2020 • 2 Comments

If this continues, I will need to re-name my travel blog ‘stay at home’ blog … I am resisting the urge, ever optimistic that the lock down will pass and at some stage, I will be travelling again. First stop will be UK to see family and friends! Amazingly, like many of you, I’ve been in good touch with everyone but in spite of that, still feel far away. So … my track to domestic goddess continues with sewing, upholstery, cooking and cleaning like a maniac. I have succumbed to 30 minutes of video gaming in return for some games of scrabble with my beloved! I am rubbish at the gaming – no surprise when up against a games expert. This week the goal was to start on virtual French lessons again – need to exercise my brain sooner than later. Failed in this task so far this week but know there is plenty of time to put this right! Hoping you and yours are safe and well.

Week 2 of lock down …

•Tuesday, 24 March 2020 • 1 Comment

Well … we’re definitely all in this together where ever we are in the world. France has properly closed down – here in Seytroux, there is silence. I walk each day up the valley – I am on my own. If I’m lucky, I spot someone in a garden and wave. The mountains are still beautiful, the weather fine but cold, the animals more in evidence – a dozen deer had the temerity to walk across the top of our garden today; the birds are having a fine time eating the bird seed we put out for them; Chris has a night time camera attached to the chalet and has captured evidence of deer eating my apple tree, foxes and ermine darting across the garden as well as the next door nieghbor’s dog! I am becoming a domestic goddess … I’m cleaning obsessively, cooking, exercising and doing my upholstery … oh, and drinking gin, calling friends, and watching Madam Secretary on Netflix … thank goodness for Netflix! Chris’s routine is very different – random exercise, tech updates and video games – he is trying to persuade me to explore the auto bot world – resisted so far but can feel the will power weakening since he is so addicted! SO very lovely to hear from you on the blog or on the phone …. huge thank you to all who have read my ramblings! Love to all. Stay home, stay safe and stay in touch!

Mistletoe in bloom!
Latest upholstery project!

Lock down in Morzine …

•Monday, 16 March 2020 • 1 Comment

We drove home from Valencia on Thursday last week – a straightforward but long 12 hour drive. We had a lovely day skiing on Saturday with our neighbors – Callum, Ceri and their 3 girls – all fab skiers and only available because ski club had been cancelled!

Mia and Tilly – oh so cool!

Sadly, Switzerland was no longer accessible (closed due to virus) and restaurants attempting social distancing by severely restricting numbers able to enter and sit down – most people were on the terraces and in the open air. Things got worse by midnight – the resort closed along with all non essential services … so no ski lifts, restaurants, bars, shops other than pharmacies, food shops and banks; schools closed. Today, we popped out to get some food supplies – restricted access into Carrefour, queues to get in, queues for petrol and some empty shelves. All feeling surreal.

Some upside … I was able to skin up the mountain on my touring skis – silent mountain and all the pistes empty – glorious!

Top of Mont Chéry

So … we’re hunkering down, calling friends and family to catch up and drinking gin … spirits high, not panicking and will stay in touch!

En route back to Valencia … finally!

•Monday, 9 March 2020 • 2 Comments

We set sail for Ibiza at 6am yesterday … more than a week later than plan. The electricians finally completed their work on Thursday – 2 days later than expected. We’ve learned a lot about the way the boat works this week! Friday and Saturday saw gale force winds forecast with sea swells of 4-6m. Discretion being the better part of valour, we made the decision to delay our departure (again), enjoy a bit more tapas, play more scrabble and wait it out. I baked my first loaf of bread, spent a day in a spa and have done more boat polishing and cleaning than I thought possible! Sod’s law of course, we finally left Palma in relatively still waters and no wind. After a full day motoring. we anchored overnight in a bay on the northwest corner of Ibiza and left at 5am this morning for the final sail home. A special couple of hours sailing under a full moon before the sun rose behind us. The adventure continues …

Bread rising!
We love our Brompton bikes
Leaving Palma
Cap P snoozing – 4am was an early start!

Palma update …

•Tuesday, 3 March 2020 • Leave a Comment

We had a wonderful weekend of tourism – Chris deserved a break after passing the exam for his celestial navigation (not that I ever doubted that he would!)

We hired a car and got to see Valldemossa, Deia, Port Soller on Saturday – heading north from Palma to the north west coast. Olive groves, lemon and orange trees and lots of almond blossom everywhere in between medieval villages all beautifully maintained and lovely to wander around. Sunday’s travel was to the south west of the island – very windy … was glad we were not out at sea.

Here we are on Tuesday. Batteries all fixed. Bow thrusters serviced. Last job for the time being (we hope) is to get all the wifi equipment we bought at the boat show to work. Given very high winds and the fact that we had to be here for the batteries and bow thrusters, we decided to get this job done too. This involves someone going up the mast to pull cables through. Of course, should be straight forward but inevitably, it’s not. Hey ho … maybe one more day??