Thursday, 27 November 2008

On with the snowshoes

Beautiful, clear, sunny day today - crisp and cold. Perfect. Andy had an appointment at Telemark Pyrenees to sort out the footbeds for his ski boots. He dropped the dog and I off at Caougnous on the way, from where I snowshoed up to the Col de Peguere. There were tracks from one other snowshoer up to the route forestière, but from thereon we were on virgin snow, deep powder in places and quite hard goingThe route up was beautiful, with the fallen leaves on the sparkling powder bearing witness to the changing seasons
It was only as I approached Peguere that I encountered another showshoer. We exchanged plaisanteries, expressing our delight at being out in such conditions and having the place to ourselves! The view from Peguere was extra special thanks to the snowy coveringI had hoped to head up to the Cap de Carmil from Peguere, but the other snowshoer had cautioned me about the very deep powder that he had encountered off-road. So, after a brief break, we headed back down the hill. I was back at the house in just over 3 hrs. It had been a very pleasant little outing.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Last weekend saw the opening of selected ski slopes and lifts in Andorra. Some have remained open this week (at a preferential rate) ahead of the resort's 'grand opening' this coming weekend. A fantastic amount of fresh powder fell yesterday, so, with the dog safely esconced with our neighbour Claudine, we headed for the slopes for our first outing on the skis this year.

We were welcomed by an air temperature of -10 deg C when we arrived at Pas de la Case! It was most definitely chilly! The sun was trying it's best to break through the cloud which was forecast to clear during the day but in the meantime, temperatures would remain very low. The resort was all but empty with just a handful of skiers and snowboarders enjoying the conditions. Excellent! However, this was my first time skiing deep powder and only my second time skiing unpisted slopes, so I was somewhat apprehensive when I stepped off the lift. But fortunately, it felt natural. I had not forgotten the basic skills that I had learnt last winter. The powder was light. The skis glided well through it. It was, however, with my heart in my mouth that I set off on only my second run, down what was an unpisted red in white out conditions, unable to see more than a few metres ahead. It was 'interesting' in places, it tested my nerve but somehow, I skiied it and reasonably well, too! My confidence had taken a major boost. As the clouds cleared later in the afternoon, Andy took my photo at the top of the run as a souvenir. And yes, it was that cold!

The mountains were spectacularly beautiful when they eventually came into viewIt was fantastic to ski on such quiet slopes and to have the opportunity to practise style and technique in peace and in such a beautiful environment. It had been a very worthwhile outing. Now, when is the next one?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Proper Snow!

A few inches fell here at 826m of altitude during the night and it is still snowing now. A trip to Andorra for some piste action is on the cards for tomorrow and then hopefully a ski tour Thursday/Friday. Winter has officially begun.

Monday, 24 November 2008

We were promised snow...

and, oh yes, snow has indeed arrived!More snow is forecast tonight and with temperatures set to fall significantly over the coming few days, conditions should be ideal for some skiing action towards the end of the week. Can't wait!

We took advantage of a break in the weather this afternoon to swap the tyres over on the car. With the winter tyres now on (2 months earlier than last year), we MUST have a good winter.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Running in the clouds

Back at Pissou, we had torrential rain throughout the night last night and found ourselves in the clouds come morning. However, having spent a not inconsiderable amount of money on some of the best poor weather running gear on the market and being in need of some exercise I decided it would be nice to reverse the Tour du Roc de Peyre Caussil route that we did before I went away. The run along the route forestiere was fun albeit very wet underfoot but with no snow to speak of. However, on the climb up to Cap de Campets which faces north we were treated to soggy wet slushy snow which was none too pleasant and made for tough goingBy way of contrast, the run back down from the Roc de Peyre Caussil which faces South was completely clear of snow and provided both excellent running and also some beautiful, dramatic and colourful scenes as the cloud played against the hillside, with Massat appearing from time to time in the distanceOn the way back along the forest track we encountered a beautiful big roe deer buck which Taff was keen to pursue but, being the well-trained and obedient pooch that he is, he responded to my instruction to refrain! Another half a dozen does appeared further along the track, frozen to the spot, undecided as to what to do next. Sitting targets! But then they were off, careering down the hillside. A fine sight. There should be no shortage of venison in the butchers this winter.

Friday, 14 November 2008


I drove up to the Peak District yesterday in very wet conditions. It was a tediously slow drive and I was relieved when I eventually arrived in Hathersage to stay with my mate Hilary. Today, the weather has improved and we made it out for a brief trot up on Stanage Edge in the cloud - it was very damp and muddy underfootbut every now and again the low cloud lifted to give a glimpse of the valley belowIt would have been nice to have a longer run, but still, it was good to be back on the edge again. A visit to the Peak is never complete without a run on the edges, regardless of the conditions!

This evening I have been into Sheffield to visit some more friends, Trudi and Julian - I haven't seen Julian since he was in the middle of a course of chemo back in May when he was looking a tad poorly. Despite now being one arm less, he is looking really well - it was just great to get caught up with them both and to hear how he has been successfully adapting his life to that of a one-armed person... inspirational stuff.

Off up to Leeds to take Jamie out for lunch tomorrow then down to Bishop Stortford before a morning flight home from Stansted

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The tourist thang ... and a bit of a jog too!

I arrived back in the UK on Monday for a short break and was welcomed by wind and driving rain. Plus ça change! However, since then, conditions have improved somewhat... the wind has died down and today we have had clear blue skies here in Dorset. I was in need of a run, so mum and I headed down to Purbeck, she dropped me off at Corfe Castle via the scenic route......and I followed the Purbeck Way up out of Corfe and then along lovely tracks along the ridge and down towards Swanage before climbing back up and then promptly down towards Studland Beach where I was to meet mum.... approx 12kms in all. Lovely running and beautiful weather.We meandered our way back via Wareham where we had a welcome coffee before heading home. Up to the Peak District tomorrow for a couple of days and then a flight home on Sunday

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Le Tour du Roc de Peyre Caussil

Perfect weather this afternoon for this lovely little circular, runnable and well signposted route which heads along the 'route forestière' from the Peguere road and then up to the Roc de Peyre Caussil with lovely views of the Pic des Trois Seigneurs, the highpoint in the distance (Pissou is at the bottom of the photo, in the middle)before heading along to the Col de Portel, up to the high point of Cap des Campets (1504m) and then back down. However, our return along the 'route forestiere' was thwarted by the chasseurs whose dogs we could hear attempting to flush out sanglier and chevreuils (wild boar and deer) down in the woodland. The presence of chasseurs, guns at the ready, looking down in the direction of the forest track along which we had intended to run were enough to persuade us to return along the road via the Col de Peguere (disappointing though that was)! Next time, I will wear my fluorescent orange cap and gilet so that there is no possibility of being mistaken for game ;-)

Friday, 7 November 2008

Another stretch of the legs

I combined a supermarket shop in Foix with a trip to Pat and Kevin's today. We enjoyed a gentle 10kms run around one of the waymarked mountain bike routes that departs from their village.
and saw some beautiful autumnal colours on the wayAfter yesterday's torrential rain, it was often muddy and sticky underfoot but we were still able to enjoy some good running on other sections. Taff seemed to enjoy the outing and certainly Pat and Kev were chuffed to bits to see him again!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Hill work

It was the end of July when I last did any hillwork on the road bike - 3 months ago! The outing with Pat and Kev 2 weeks ago was great, was pretty much on the level and just what I needed as my first outing after a break. Today, with good weather, I had hills in mind. It was Andy's first outing on the roadie after a break of 3 months, so we took a gentle ride up to the Col de Saraillé from Massat (stopping just outside Massat for an unwelcome puncture repair!) and then through to Cominac where, after a quick assessment of how we were both feeling, we decided to extend the ride down into Oust then along to Ercé. There, we had a very welcome break for a café crème before tackling the steeper road back up to Cominac and on to Saraillé. Another coffee break in Massat and then home up the Col de Port road. Only 53kms but that included over 1000m of ascent, so a worthwhile little outing.

A few observations from today which sum up this time of year.....
- the lingering smell of woodsmoke in the air
- the jangling of cattle/goat/sheep bells in the lower pastures
- the sound of chainsaws

..... yes, winter is in the air

Monday, 3 November 2008

A brief trot

After a weekend of cold, damp weather, today has been clearer and brighter, so I took Taff out for a stretch of the legs this afternoon and did the Col de Port 'route forestière' circuit which was an enjoyable if not somewhat muddy circuit of just 8kms. Although short, it included a nice steady ascent of 400m which gave me the chance to push harder which was fun. I was back at the car within 55 minutes, which was a good time. The sun was fighting with the clouds over the mountains as I made my way back down towards Pissou which made for a nice pic.Other than that, we have today bottled the second batch of 10ltrs of cider - we have made this one slightly sweeter and my goodness, it is appley, very tasty and very very quaffable!