A Strange Find…

After a pleasant lunch on the balcony, watching and photographing some birds, I had a little time to kill before the football started.  So off I went up the path behind our chalet.  In a way, this was a little foolhardy, as the road has been cordoned off for 3 or 4 weeks, due to some (and by that I mean several tonnes) of loose rock above.  However, my neighbour told me that it had been given the all clear, so it seemed like a change from walking by the river.

Now I often say that you never know what you are going to find, or see, on a walk and today was no exception.  With all the snow around I was amazed to find a small skull, no bigger than 6 inches or 15cm long.  It clearly had some sharp teeth, but I have no idea what it might have been.  So if anyone out there can identify it for me, I’d be eternally grateful.

Snow and birds

Yesterday morning we were woken by the sound of a helicopter and bombs going off.  No, we don’t live in a war torn area (thankfully) and the bombs were not like those I remember from my days living in London in the early 70’s.  The bombs in question were being dropped to deliberately set off avalanches.  After 2 solid days of snow, the mountains can be a very dangerous place to wander and the powers that be send up the helicopter(s) to trigger the avalanches in a controlled way.  See this link for a video of some bombs being dropped in our neighbouring valley above Grimentz:
Huge Avalanche triggered by helicopter bombing

I think I’ve said before that it never ceases to amaze me that some birds hang around throughout the winter in this extremely harsh environment.  Temperatures recently have been as low as -14 C (7F) with a high during the day of no more than -4 C (25F).   The ground is now covered completely, so there can’t be many insects for them to find.  Needless to say, our feeder has proved very popular, with the birds below all photographed in the last couple of days.

Merry Christmas Everyone

The clock is ticking and we are nearing Christmas Day here in Western Europe, though I do know it is already past midnight in Australia.  So I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of my followers a Merry Christmas and a very peaceful new year.

The photo below was taken by my wife a few years ago now and features a very festive looking male Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).

Cheers everyone! 🍻

Merry Christmas

Windermere cruise, English Lake District

A visit to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete (for Jude anyway) without a trip on a boat.  And since the forecast for the day was a sort of cloudy grey, we opted to catch a ‘steamer’* from the aptly named village of Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windermere.

*Our outward journey would be on the MV (Merchant Vessel) Tern, which was built in 1891, but I’ve since learnt that it’s not driven by steam at all but is motor powered.

After a little retail therapy and a nice lunch, we returned on the MV Teal, which was built in 1936.  (See pic 8).

The boats link up with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway, which is only 3.2 miles/5k long but, during the season, (broadly April through to the end of October) mostly runs steam trains to take people back and forth, as you will see from the last few pictures.

A perhaps little known, but useful piece of information here, (for keen UK quizzers or maybe those who holiday in exotic locations by the sea) is that all British owned ships must fly a flag with the Union (Jack) flag in the top left corner.  The remainder of the flag is either red, indicating a merchant vessel (as with the Tern and Teal); white, together with a St George’s Cross, for the Royal Navy, or blue for other ships, which have a special warrant from the Admiralty.

For more information on Windermere Lake Cruises, check out this Visit Cumbria website.

Canal Walk to Llangollen

Jude and I have just returned from a 17 day trip back to the UK, which was partly for a holiday in the English Lake District (more to come on that in the following days) and partly to see Jude’s family.  Our first port of call was to Jude’s parents in their lovely new home in Oswestry.  While there, we took the opportunity to drive across the Welsh border to walk a short section of the Llangollen canal with Angela, Jude’s mum.  As you can see from our pictures below, it was a beautiful Autumn day.

Lac Léman lakeside walk

Today, Judith, her mum, Angela, and I went for a walk along the eastern shores of Lac Léman, (aka Lake Geneva), from Villeneuve to Territet.  The lakeside path passes one of Switzerland’s most famous tourist sites – the Chateau de Chillon, which is a medieval fortress built on a tiny island just off the shore.

When the sun shines, there is no finer place to be, with the mountain views, the many and varied colourful flower beds and passing paddle steamers.  It’s a must for an visitor to the “Swiss Riviera”. 🙂

The Inn Way to the Peak District (3 of 4)

By contrast to all the ‘Edges’ of Day 1 and the many villages visited during Day 2, Day 3 included two very tranquil and secluded riverside walks – one along Lathkill Dale and the other by the side of the River Wye up Monsal/Millar’s Dale.  Despite it being the longest day at 16 miles or 25.5 km, the less hilly terrain gave us plenty of time to have 2 very pleasant refreshment stops.  The first was at the Cock and Pullet, in Sheldon and  the second at the Monsal Head Hotel.  From there it was a very easy stroll (or should that be stagger? 🤔) to our finish in Tideswell.

Just in case you are wondering about the last picture… (“Not another beer?” or maybe “That’s a different tee shirt!” I hear you say…)  It was taken by Colin at the end of Day 2 and I should have posted it yesterday, but I forgot.  I thought it deserved an airing as it captures the true spirit of the walk. 🙂

Various, Corsica

I thought I’d finish this Corsican holiday series with a few other photos which didn’t make it into the main series of posts.  I hope they’ve all given you a flavour of what Corsica is like.

You will also see below that when I get bored on a beach, I resort to the pastime of stone stacking, which I have to say is very therapeutic.   My stacks (pics 26-30) certainly created a lot of interest for the people who were walking along the coastal path.  It’s actually easier to do than it might look.  You just need a bit of patience!  Of course, mine are nowhere near as good as most rock balancers.  Check out some of the videos online, but here is a link to a beginners guide that I found.  Happy stacking! 😊

 

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Judith and I have just returned from a 2 week holiday in Corsica.  We decided to drive there from our home here in Evolène, taking a daytime ferry from Livorno to Bastia.  It’s quite a long drive, so we stopped over in Lucca for a couple of nights* in order to explore just a little bit of Tuscany.  Apart from a long and interesting history, Lucca has the most amazing Walls.  They are several metres high and very, very wide (see pic 6) allowing cyclists, dog walkers, joggers and tourists alike to do all, or just part, of the 4.9km/3 mile circumnavigation.

*We stayed at the wonderful Agriturismo Ai Linchi, which is just a few kilometres out of the town.  So the first few photos below are of our evening walk to the local church when we arrived.  We certainly needed to work up an appetite, as the evening meal served up by Andrea was simply amazing. 😋