Like most of you, I’m pretty much confined to barracks for the duration of this Coronavirus outbreak. So I thought I’d dig into my archives to find you some interesting items to cheer you all up (and to give me something to do of course! 😊)
For the first in this series, I’ve gone back to January 2006 and 2008, when I visited the Chateau D’Oex Balloon Festival. As you will see below, the balloons on display are many and varied, with some incredible designs. The colours are so vibrant, especially in what was bright sunshine, I just had to take a lot of photographs.
Stay safe and healthy. And a big THANK YOU to all those who are working tirelessly to keep the rest of us alive and well.
My apologies for not publishing a ‘real’ post for a while but, like many bloggers it seems, I’ve been busy doing nothing in particular.
Anyway a few months ago now, my wife organised a trip to Iceland with her friend Kate, so I had a look for something to do while she was away. Naturally I wanted to find some warmer weather and I looked at the AIMS marathon calendar for some inspiration. To my delight I discovered that the Malta Challenge Marathon was on at the same time. It consists of 3 races over 3 days, covering a 10 miler, a 5k then a Half marathon. So I entered, arranged all my travel and set about getting fit. My training was going really well (even running while I was away in Finland and Mykonos) and I’d managed to get up to 20k in a respectable 1h 50 mins, so I figured I was ready… That is until my final training run, the Saturday before I left, and my left calf seized up yet again! (Insert a suitable curse or emoji here).
Thankfully I had another reason to go… My father spent some time in Malta after the War, as a Signalman on a minesweeper and he had mentioned enjoying some time ashore down a street which he called “The Gut”, but is actually called Strait Street in English. So when my wife and I went to Malta / Gozo a few years ago, we searched for a copy of a book by George Cini, called Strait Street. We couldn’t find an English copy anywhere, so I got in touch with George and managed to get hold of a copy to give to my dad. During my email exchanges with George, I mentioned my dad’s book and he suggested I present a copy of it, personally, to the Fondazzioni Wirt Artna (FWA), which is an organisation dedicated to preserving the history of the island. And so that was also arranged…
So, like London buses, you don’t hear anything from me for a while and now a few posts of my, sometimes very wet, time in Malta & Gozo, beginning with the Mdina…
Jude and I have just returned from 2 weeks away, visiting Stockholm and 3 different parts of Finland. We flew to and from Stockholm partly because Easyjet didn’t fly from Geneva to Helsinki, but mainly because Jude was looking forward to sailing between the 6,700 islands which constitute the Åland islands that lie between Sweden and Finland. (No, I didn’t know about them either until we organised this trip).
Anyhow, below is a summary of our time in Stockholm where we meandered the streets, visited the Skansen Park area in Djurgarden (which has a replica village from the late 1800’s and a small zoo) and visited the National Museum.
Before going we’d read that it was very difficult to spend actual cash in Stockholm. So we didn’t take any and easily got by with just a pre-loaded Debit card. (I still don’t know what a Swedish Krona note or coin looks like). Be aware though that Stockholm is quite an expensive place to visit, though the above two attractions are both free.
Below, in a slight departure from my usual posts, I’ve included three separate photo galleries – the first is of the City then Skansen and thirdly the National Museum.
National Museum, Stockholm:
Every year, on the 15th August, our village is host to one of the most traditional and colourful festivals. Every other year, it is supplemented by the inclusion of the musicians and dancers from the Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène (CIME), which takes place in the few days leading up to this and concludes with a final Gala evening performance.
The main event starts with a procession of vintage cars. This is followed by people dressed in traditional costumes, demonstrating local dancing, music and crafts. This year it was interspersed with performers from Russia, Armenia, Ecuador, Italy and Montenegro.
As you can see from the photos below (the best ones of which were taken by my wife Jude, as marked), everyone had a fabulous time. And if you ever wondered where this utopia is that I live, but couldn’t be bothered to look it up, I’ve added a map at the end. 😊
Today I had another opportunity to do a ‘new’ walk and this time it was from the small village of Champex-Lac to the Cabane du Trient (@3,169m or 10,297ft) which overlooks a huge expanse of glacier called the Plateau du Trient. I cheated a bit by taking the chairlift to La Breya (@2198m or 7,211ft) but it was still a good hike over some rough terrain and included a little bit of snow and a short section of metal stemples* to climb.
(*Think, thick staples stuck into the rock and you’ll be close).
As you will see below the views of the glaciers were incredible, but I was surprised to find a strange looking statue outside the cabane. Since returning home I’ve discovered it was created by sculptor Nikola Zaric, who sadly died of cancer in 2017. It was only meant to be there as part of a temporary exhibition but, after his death, a crowd-fund was set up to buy the statue, in order to donate it to the Swiss Alpine Club to ensure it remains in its current position. It also looks like they have now reached that target.
Anyway, it wasn’t the only unusual thing seen at the cabane… My blogging buddy, Stephen Black, has been getting a bit of stick for over-marketing his book ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’ on his website, FracturedFaithBlog. Having put together my dad’s book, I know how much effort that goes into proof reading and editing, let alone actually writing it. So I’m unashamedly plugging it here. 😊 If you would like to purchase a copy – please click here.
I’m now hoping that I have literally taken it to a new level and my picture is the ‘highest’ picture ever taken of his book(?)
For the past 3 years the Tourist Office/Commune have organised a series of pictures along the path from Farquèses to Lac d’Arbey. We’ve had Tibetan images, a Belgian artist and Derib, a cartoon artist. This year it’s some black and white images of the annual winter Carnival.
I have to say, I wasn’t that impressed with the photos, so I’ve supplemented the gallery below with a number (possibly too many) photos of butterflies. Well, there were quite a few around, so it was hard to ignore them. 😊 Indeed, Jude has suggested that I should propose to the Commune that they display a series of butterfly pictures next year. I’d welcome your views…
I will admit that the last 2 images were not part of the walk. They were taken later in the day from our garden. I know that they are not great photos, but the subject matter might interest one or two bird-lovers out there and I figured that they would not get posted otherwise!
As always, I’ve made my best guess at identifying the butterflies and flowers and my apologies if I’ve got any of them wrong. (Please feel free to correct me).
As I mentioned yesterday, I was looking to visit some Art Galleries while in Krakow. However, there are many ‘Museums’ in the city and it wasn’t clear which would have what I was looking for. So I popped into the Tourist Information Centre, where a young lady swiftly put 5 crosses on one of her free maps. (The map was upside down so I was very impressed with her knowledge of the city – especially when I subsequently discovered that each one was precisely marked!)
My plan was to visit 2, maybe 3, so I set off for the furthest away, which was the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (or MOCAK for short). There I discovered a particular exhibition of sculptures by Krzysztof M. Bednarski entitled Karl Marx vs Moby Dick. (Now there’s a match you don’t see every day). I’ve shown only a few of his items below, but what that man cannot do with heads of Marx and metal shapes representing a whale is not worth knowing about.
Note that I’ve split this post into the different galleries that I visited, so don’t forget to page further down… 🙂
Next up was the National Museum. Here there were a number of different themes, including some Henry Moore sculptures, various arts and crafts and an extensive collection of works by the prolific Stanislaw Wyspianski.
I still had some time to spare so I wandered along to the Jozef Czapski Pavilion. Here I was a little disappointed. There are one or two paintings on display, but the building is a sort of annexe to the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum. It houses an important collection of Polish coins and medals, which is OK if you like that sort of thing…
Just around the corner was, perhaps my favourite of them all, the EUROPEUM or Centre for European Culture. This was to be the last I visited. (The 5th is above the Cloth Market or Sukiennice in the Main Square in case you ever decide to visit). And, I think it’s perhaps fitting, given the reason I went to Krakow, that the last image is of the inside of a Tavern! 🍻 Cheers!
I received such positive feedback on the village photographs in my last post, (thank you Jet and M.Oniker), that I decided to take a few more pictures for you to enjoy. But first, a little background…
Evolène is a village at around 1,380m (4,525ft) in the Val d’Hérens, which itself is in the southern part of the Valais canton of Switzerland. The population of the whole commune (which includes the neighbouring villages of Les Haudères, Villa, La Sage, La Forclaz and Arolla) is only about 1,700. Despite this relatively low number, we have 8 bar/restaurants in our village alone. These survive due to the number of visitors that we get both during the winter, for skiing, and the summer for walking, cycling or mountaineering. I read that 55% of the available light (i.e from when it appears from, or disappears, behind the mountains), is sunshine. And with little wind and a fairly dry atmosphere, not to mention some beautiful scenery, you can see why it’s quite popular.
At the moment we have the annual Carnival, which this year runs from 6th January to 5th March, (this explains why some of the pictures still show what appear to be Christmas decorations) and in the summer from 10th to 15th August there will be the biannual, CIME mountain folklore festival. More posts to come on these no doubt… 😄
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.
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. 😦