Saturday 22 June 2019

My beautiful lamppost

Here we are again at our plot in Graven Hill and there has been some action since our last visit.
We also have a surprise present in the form of a beautiful green lamppost that is just beside our driveway.

There is also a big hole in the ground and concrete foundations are starting to appear.

This is front view and the next photo is the back. Not a lot of difference at the moment.

It is another eight weeks before we are allowed inside the railings, and then we can get going.
Unfortunately, our white bricks are taking longer to arrive than we expected so we will be delayed by a few weeks, but I think that it will be worth the wait.

Thursday 20 June 2019

Attempt to reach Lac Blanc

Started our last day in France with a bus journey to Montroc, and then up a fairly gentle slope. I was walking along looking at the ground to avoid tripping over, and when I looked up I came almost face to face with a wild and very large ibex.

After taking a few photos our ibex was joined by a friend and they wandered off down the mountain.
We carried on upwards and the next sight was climbers on a picturesque rock face high up on the cliffs.

We passed a signpost...

and then reached ladders and walkways stretching up in to the sky.

My legs had turned to jelly out of fear at the top, but then we reached two beautiful frozen lakes.

A wonderful final day to our holiday.
Final update, we reached home at about 1am this morning and back to the real world.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Short walk to Switzerland

Today we caught the bus from Chamonix to Le Tour and then walked up the mountain for about 800 vertical metres. It was really hot and hard work and slightly annoying to watch people being transported above us on the cable car.
It made me feel quite virtuous though and we had the strange experience of walking past a runner who ran so slowly that our pace was faster than hers.

She wasn't concerned though and eventually had the last laugh by overtaking us on a later section while we were lost and looking at our map.
Once at the top we had fantastic views over France...

and then we got to a stone, which Daz is sitting on, that marks the border between France and Switzerland.

France is frustrating because it has very few signposts, but as soon as we got to Switzerland we saw one and after a slight mistake of going to the top of the wrong mountain, we found our way to the Croix de Fer.

Unfortunately towards the top it had extremely steep drops on either side and I wimped out of going any further.
Once back onto safer ground we had to make our way over some huge snow drifts but the views were incredible.

Monday 17 June 2019

Up to the Mer de Glacé

Today we hiked along a path up to the Mer de Glacé. Nearly everyone else catches the little train, but it was pretty expensive and not really very far.

Mer de Glacé means Sea of Ice and once at the top we were disappointed to find that so much of the glacier has melted that now it looks like a deep hole instead.

In 1890 the glacier came right to the top of the valley and level with the train station. Now there is a cable car down into the valley that used to reach the ice. But since that was built the ice has retreated so much that there is now a metal staircase that has 500 steps down to the ice.
We hiked all of the way down and into an ice cave that they rebuild every year.

Back up into the sunshine and then we followed a path down the side of the glacier.

It was strewn with gigantic boulders and we had to pick our way between them.

About half way down we came to a tiny cafe perched on the edge of the rocks and stopped for a beer in the beautiful setting.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Parc Merlet

We had a lovely walk today up from the bus stop at Les Houches to the animal park at Merlet. We would call it a safari park and all of the animals roam free across the whole site.
I asked the ticket office if it was dangerous and he said that only two tourists were eaten yesterday, so that was all right then.
In reality it only had seven animals, ibex, sika deer, llamas, mouflon (a kind of big sheep), marmots (a furry rodent), chamois (another deer), and fallow deer (another deer).
So it's basically four types of deer, one sheep, a furry rat and three llamas.
It was great though and the views of Mont Blanc were incredible.

Ps, we never found the mouflon, I think that it might be a made up word.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Cascade de Berard

We caught a little train from Chamonix this morning to Vallorcine and then walked along by a lovely stream to Le Buet. We chose this route deliberately because it was flat and our thighs were protesting loudly about their treatment yesterday.
Unfortunately, it was then uphill for about twenty minutes to the waterfall. Once we got there my pains were forgotten as fear took over.
We climbed down a few steps and onto a metal walkway that hovered many metres above a raging torrent.

I was quite pleased to get off and then headed up to the top of the waterfall for a sit down and a cappuccino.
Afterwards we walked over the Col du Montet and then down into Argentiere.

In the afternoon we walked around Chamonix in blazing sunshine, but less than two hours later the skys darkened and within seconds a blast of wind shot through the hotel. All of the windows were blown wide open and then slammed shut and hailstones rained down.
Unfortunately Daz had his washing out on our balcony although he managed to rescue most of it, but one of his hiking socks is lost forever.

Friday 14 June 2019

Lost in the snow

Today we caught the bus to Montroc to follow another of Hetty's routes.
All went well as we stepped off the bus and walked past the train station, but then I thought that we should go up to a place called Col de Montet and Hetty didn't. Guess who was right?
We climbed a monster mountain and ended up crawling over the snow, while Hetty's route was along the Balcon du Sud, which is where I wanted us to be.

I was starting to get in a bit of a panic and wondered about turning back, but suddenly over the top of the mountain appeared two runners in shorts and teeshirts who shot past us and shouted 'bonjour'.
I was very relieved and thought that if they had made it through then so could we.

The views were absolutely spectacular and we finally joined up with Hetty's route, only to immediately leave it again.

We walked across the top of the mountains and then to get back down into the valley we followed a road used by construction vehicles who were putting in a new ski lift.
It was extremely steep and made of very rough gravel, and it was impossible to walkdiwn. We had to jog because my legs couldn't stop so it only took about half an hour. My legs are very upset with this treatment, my toes are blistered and my hips ache, but I am already planning tomorrow's outing so it can't have been that bad.

Thursday 13 June 2019

Chamonix and the Balcon du Sud

We are taking a short break from our house building planning and have come to Chamonix for a week of walking in the mountains.
Our hotel is lovely and has views of the town and Mont Blanc.
Today we set off to follow a route that Darren found on the Internet that was added by a lady called Hetty.
It was a great round trip up into the mountains behind our hotel.
Our route was up to La Flegere and along the Balcon du Sud. This is a beautiful high level footpath with amazing views.

The route gradually wound upwards until we got to a snowy section.

We stopped for lunch sitting in the sun on a big rock, and then started on the knee crunching 1,000 metre descent back to our hotel.

Hetty's route was great and we are hoping to try another of her suggestions tomorrow.

Saturday 8 June 2019

Beautiful views of Graven Hill

We are staying with S and P at Graven Hill for the weekend, and after a huge downpour overnight, the sun has come out and the planting is looking glorious.

Our plot is just behind the white house in the distance, and in the front is what is called The Swale. It is an overflow for rainwater flowing down the hill in the distance. It is filled with millions of wild flowers and is absolutely beautiful.
Breaking news on our plot - the builders have been in and they have measured up to start the foundations. You can't see it in this photo but there are tiny blue pegs in the ground marking out the ground floor so we have been able to walk around our house!

Yet more breaking news - after reading a library book about Chi Running I have changed my running style and on the 107th attempt, I got my new parkrun personal best today!! Hurray.

Monday 3 June 2019

Solar fountain false alarm

Up nice and early again on Sunday ready for our last event at the Runfestrun.
We packed up the tent which put up quite a good fight as we tried to fold it up and then get it back into it's bag.
We then put on our ladybird teeshirts and glasses ready for the Bug fun run.

I wasiin the middle of a shopping opportunity at the many interesting stalls when my phone rang. Our next door neighbour was calling to say that he had heard strange knocking noises coming from our house and it had been going on all weekend.
We had no choice but to set off home straight away with my imagination going wild. Would the house be flooded, had squatters moved in and were putting up dozens of pictures on the walls, had the dishwasher somehow gone crazy in our absence?
No, it was weirder than all of those things - my new and very tiny solar fountain had emptied the water out of it's container and was desperately pumping air up into the air instead, and doing it very loudly!

Will have to be especially nice to Daz for the next few days to make up for this fiasco.