Winter amble

Our car needed to go to the garage this morning to have a tyre valve changed.  It would only take about an hour, so I took my camera for a walk alongside the river via the new Nordic Arena, which has been set out in Les Haudères.   It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful nature is at producing artistic shapes, which I hope is reflected in some of the photos below.

Kunsthaus Art Museum, Zurich

Regular readers and some people who I follow will know that I like a good painting.  So when Judith spotted that our hotel was just around the corner from the Kunsthaus and that entry was free every Wednesday, we just had to pop in for a browse around.  As you can see from my not so random sample of photos below, they have a wonderful selection of paintings and exhibits on display.

 

Arolla to Evolène Walk

Perhaps not surprisingly, it had rained while we were away and, given the lower temperatures, it was inevitable that some snow would fall on the mountain tops.  Although it happens every year, you are still taken aback by the huge contrast between the brilliant white and the blue skies.

I was keen to find out how low the snow had fallen and so I took the bus up to Arolla to find out and to walk back down the valley to our chalet.  Although some of the snow has now melted, it’s clear that it fell to just under the 2,000m or 6,500ft mark.

I should add that we have an incredibly talented wood carver in our valley, by the name of Hugo Beytrison.  He often works with just a chain saw, but he also carves the wonderful wooden masks for the annual Evolène Carnaval in January/February.  The last 2 photos show two examples of his work, which were on display outside his workshop yesterday.  Check out his website for more details.  It’s only in French, but, as they say, a picture saves a thousand words. 😊

 

Ovronnaz and Saillon Walks

Yesterday I took Jude’s mum, Angela, out for a drive to Ovronnaz, to catch the chairlift up to Jorasse.  From there it’s a relatively easy walk, with magnificent views all around, to the Lui d’Aout mountain hut.  (My mate Pete and I stayed there during our Tour de Muverans, so it brought back happy memories for me.  Read more about our adventure on this guest post I did for The Marmot Post). 🙂

After a picnic lunch, (see pic 7), we drove back via Saillon, where we walked the Farinet Trail up through the vineyards, following a series of 21 stained glass sculptures.  On our way, we were lucky to spot the last few vines being harvested.  A sure sign that the long hot summer in the Rhone valley must be over. 😦

Arthur’s New Website – artworkbyart.com

I’ve mentioned in the past (on at least these three occasions) that our good friend Arthur Manton-Lowe, is an extremely talented artist.  Some time ago now he asked me to help him set up a new website to both showcase and sell his paintings.  After a few false starts and a couple of tweaks here and there on the layout, I’m very pleased to announce that it’s now up and running and you can find it here.  🙂

You will find all of his paintings For Sale on the 2nd page, while on the first, Home page, he plans to post or blog his latest sketches or paintings (though I’m sure he will sell these too if requested).  Please feel free to follow him, as I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Just to give you a flavour for some of his work (as I always like to post a picture or two) here are a few of my personal favourites…

Art’s Gallery, Triacastela, Galicia, Spain

The main reason we travelled over to Spain was to see Arthur and his exhibition at his gallery along the Camino de Santiago.  Arthur had walked the Camino several years ago and fell in love with what was then a dilapidated building right on the path about 130km (112 miles) from Santiago de Compostela.  He decided to buy it and set about renovating it and now, 10 years on, it’s both his home and an art gallery.  The garden is still work in progress but the flowers he has planted, which includes 20 to 30 lavender plants, are already attracting numerous butterflies.

Any pilgrims passing by (who will need to turn right to San Xil at the split in the route in Triacastela) are welcome to enter and marvel at the work he’s done as well as his obvious artistic talent.  They may even be lucky enough to get their Camino ‘credentials’, or log book, ‘stamped’ with an Arthur Manton-Lowe original.

I guess this is a timely moment to add that I’m currently putting together a website for Arthur (using WordPress of course) to showcase his paintings, called www.artworkbyart.com.  It’s also work in progress and we will be adding some more pictures soon, so please feel free to follow that site and if anyone out there is interested in purchasing or knowing anything more about the paintings that you see, please do get in touch.  🙂

 

Galicia, NW Spain

Some months ago now, Judith and I were invited by our good friend, Arthur Manton-Lowe, to an art exhibition which he was holding at his gallery on the Camino de Santiago, near Triacastela.  I shall post some pictures of that area tomorrow, but on the way there, we stopped off to explore some of the western coast of Spain.  It’s an area that we had never been before and it was noticeable that there were very few English speaking visitors.

We stayed in an area of Poio, called O Covelo, and drove out to find some wonderful beaches near San Vicente do Grove.  The following day we took a boat ride from Portonovo to the Illa de Ons, which is one of a number of National parks along that coast.

We learnt that the weather in that area had been very wet (possibly the worst since records began) but we were fortunate to have some fabulously sunny days.

Exhibition Walk to Lac d’Arbey and Les Haudères

For the third summer running the Commune have decided to exhibit some pictures along the footpath from Lac d’Arbey to Farquèses.  Two years ago it was a series of photos of the Himalaya and last year, some paintings of the Evolène region by Belgian artist, Paul Coppens.  This year it’s images by the comic creator, Derib.  Some of his stories cover our local region, including the race of Val d’Hérens cows and the Patrouille de Glacier ski touring race.

An old friend of mine, Matt, is camping with two of his friends in the village and yesterday we walked up to Lac d’Arbey and along the path, before dropping down to Les Haudères (for a well earned beer 🍺😊) and then back along the riverside to Evolène.

As always at this time of year, there were many butterflies, but I was particularly pleased to capture a Violet Carpenter Bee feeding on a Woolly Thistle, which, my Alpine Flora book says, is “rather rare” (see pic 18).  I have to say, given its stiff spikes, there was nothing woolly about it!

Aiguilles Rouges Hut walk

I’m afraid I’ve been falling behind with my blogging – partly due to the World Cup and partly due to a long weekend back in the UK.  So now is the time to catch up…

Just over 2 weeks ago, on the 20th June to be precise, I decided that the weather had been warm enough to try a slightly higher level walk from Arolla (at around 2,000m / 6,500 ft) up to the Aiguilles Rouges mountain hut, (at around 2,800m / 9,200 ft).  My plan was to drive to La Gouille, take the Postbus up to Arolla, walk to the hut and then back down to La Gouille.  I expected to encounter some snow, but certainly not as much as there was.

I had no real problems getting to the hut, as you will see below, but when I looked at the  amount of snow on the first part of the descent, I simply had to return the way I’d come due to the danger of creating an avalanche.  It had been a warm day and the snow can ‘sweat’ underneath, causing it to slide.   As I’d left my car at La Gouille, I took the path back from Arolla towards Satarma and encountered a rather unusual creature which I didn’t think existed…  (See pic 27).

Butterflies

Some time ago now I discovered this fabulous website which covers all of the butterflies found in Switzerland.  I then read that the website authors, Vincent and Michel Baudraz, have also produced a book, though only in French, which helps novices like me to identify the different species.  It’s not foolproof of course, as you sometimes need to see the both the upperside and underside to get an absolute fix on which one it might be.

Anyway, I ordered a copy and it arrived just after I returned from holiday.  So, to test it out, I went out along the path behind our chalet one evening last week to take a few photos.  On returning, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy the book was to use* and that I had managed to photograph 9 different types of butterfly in just an hour and a half.

*Essentially the identification part of the book works by asking you if the butterfly conforms to certain broad criteria (white, yellow, blue, predominantly red or orange, etc) and depending upon your answer, you’re pointed to another section, which asks more detailed questions.  This is repeated until you narrow it down to the exact butterfly.  Each section is accompanied by wonderfully accurate drawings to help you identify which section to go to next.   Towards the back of the book there are again beautifully detailed drawings of each one, showing both the male and female, upper and lower wings, to help you confirm your identification.