It’s hard to describe for non-walkers the experience of hiking one of Europe’s great trails, the GR5 over the French Alps.
Here’s my best effort to compare it to an exercise anyone can try at home… Continue reading
We apologise for this break in transmission. Do not adjust your set.
I’ll be somewhere in France for the next week, walking roughly southwards along the mighty GR5 route from St Paul-sur-Ubaye, hoping to emerge at St Martin-sur-Vesubie. There’ll be refuges with food, beer, wine and beds along the way, but I don’t expect to find internet access very often.
The Dutch footballers in Brazil will have to struggle on without my help. I’ll be back in time for the final.
I think I’ve now spent more time walking in the French Alps than any other place in the world, even including the hiking I’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.
This year’s leg was six days hiking the GR5 and its variants between St Paul sur l’Ubaye and St Martin de Vesubie.
It’s still an annual highlight of my life to spend a week in the mountains with my Dutch friends.
Here’s why I keep going back there: Continue reading
I’ll be taking a short break from writing, blogging and nearly everything else (except collecting material for new posts) until the New Year. So it’s time for a look back at highlights of the year that’s oh so nearly passed. Continue reading
Hannibal did it, Napoleon did it and now I can say I’ve done it too. Those famous conquerors were faster, but I understand they did it the easy way. The wusses rode elephants and horses, took shortcuts and had armies of minions carrying their gear for them.
I travelled on foot, by the scenic route, doing all my own walking and lugging all my own stuff, with just a small entourage of intrepid friends, and it took us five week-long trips spaced across five separate years to make the Grande Traversée des Alpes, the Great Alpine Crossing. This year we finished the job. Continue reading
I don’t normally have jam on my morning baguette, but in the mountains you take all the calories you are offered. I’ve paid for them and by golly I’m going to use them.
We leave Sydney for Amsterdam next week. We’ll be sorry to leave family and friends for a while, but we always look forward to catching up with our other family and friends in the Northern Hemisphere.
Amsterdam is lovely but we won’t be hanging around there all the time. We have other adventures planned:
TEACHING IN KAZAKHSTANI’ve been invited to be a visiting author at the Dostyk International School for a few days, and I’m delighted to be going there. I’ve been googling Kazakhstan and Atyrau. Kazakhstan is enormous – the ninth largest country in the world by area, and Atyrau is an oil town on the Caspian Sea. It may not turn out to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, but it’s bound to be interesting. Yes, I’ll be teaching my writing classes in English – I still have a lot of work to do on my Kazakh.
CYCLING THE PIEPERPAD, NETHERLANDS
Recently Dutch organic produce promoters Biologica and Greenpeace have marked out a 1000km ‘Pieperpad’ cycling route across the country, passing by a lot of organic farms, notably those growing organic potatoes (‘piepers’ in Dutch).
Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to ride the route, eat the produce, meet the farmers and write something interesting about the humble spud. It should take two weeks – maybe three if there’s rain and a headwind!
HIKING THE GR5, FRANCE
With my Dutch friends I’ve now walked most of the Alpine section, doing it a week at a time over four different years. This year we’ll start at Briancon and walk south for a week, thus filling in the missing link that has been beckoning us since 2005.
FOOD AND CULTURE IN BAGNI DI LUCCA, ITALY
Through this blog I was fortunate to come into cybercontact with Debra and Liz, Australians who, like us, spend some months each year at a base in Europe. Theirs is in the lovely north Tuscan spa town Bagni di Lucca which we’re looking forward to visiting. I heartily recommend their blog Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, for all interested in culture, architecture, photography, food and all good things Italian.
There are bound to be other adventures over the coming months, but this is a pretty damn good start. Stay tuned to this blog for the reports…