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Les Deux Alpes

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Who needs last minute christmas shopping/preparation when you can go skiing instead?

Unfortunately the Alps have been having a bit of a snow drought during the last month, as well as it being early in the season.  We decided to go to Les Deux Alpes as it's high up, has a glacier (you can ski there in summer too) and a good selection of (open!) pistes for those of us who are still learning.

As usual, it was a bit of a last minute booking.  We couldn't find a package deal that suited (a lot were doing different days due to Christmas day being a weekend) so we booked flights (from a sensible airport, yay), bus transfer, and a room in Chalet Ruby.

This was definitely the best chalet experience I've had so far.  Lovely chalet, great people, bedrooms with actual floorspace, very generous portions of good food, log fire, and a hot tub for relaxing after a day on the slopes.  It's located at a quiet end of the town, but without being far away from the lifts, shops and nightlife.  Highly recommended.

view at Les Deux Alpes
Viewpoint near the 'signal' runs.  So pretty

Ah yes, the skiing.  I put myself in ski school again, for 5 of the 6 mornings.  The only snow at resort level was artificial on the nursery slopes, so each day started by getting a lift up and ended with a lift back down.

I'm not sure what happened, but something really clicked and I finally feel like I'm not a complete beginner/liability.  By midweek I was happily skiing red runs without complaining too much about the steepness, although my technique is nowhere near perfect - I need to work on getting my weight forward, not hunching up so much, and the start of my turns do have a habit of still being a bit snowploughy.  But I was much more confident, (relatively) faster and most importantly, really enjoying myself.  Our instructor also started to get us using our poles, which again just seemed to make sense when I actually remembered to do it.

My (early) christmas present from Jon was a pair of disgustingly colourful ski trousers.  And while they happened to be the ones I was first drawn to in the shop purely on looks, they also turned out to be the ones that ticked most of the boxes in terms of features.  Hurrah!  At least one random person on the slopes complimented me on them, hah.  I can't say I fully tested them out as it was mostly sunny and relatively warm, but they kept my legs toasty on the one day where we did have snow and cold winds (my breath was freezing on my Buff when we were sat on chairlifts), but without causing me to overheat the rest of the time.

standing in front of the glacier
Hi, we're posing in front of a glacier

As well as finding the confidence to ski red runs,... continue reading »

#onehouroutside in November

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Towards the end of October, Zoe from Splodz Blogz issued a #onehouroutside challenge - can you spend (at least) one hour outside every day for the month of November?

And I immediately though "yes, I can.  Shouldn't be too hard, especially with dog walking responsibilities".

Yeah, right.

In fairness, I almost managed it.  I think in the end there were probably 3 or 4 days where I didn't clock up a full 60 minutes, and on at least one of those I'd done plenty of indoor exercise so wasn't feeling super lazy. (the other days... shhh)

collage of outdoor images

Weekends weren't a problem, with many hours spent walking and cycling.  Dog walking made up a large proportion of weekday time, as did other exciting things like 'cycling to work' (once..), 'walking to the shops' and 'scraping ice from the car'.  Every little helps, right?

It probably also helped that November was fairly dry, and I managed to dodge the rain we did have pretty well.  However, I was very much hoping that some kayaking would happen, but sadly river levels have not been co-operating recently :( (the bit of white water in the photo above is a small local stream after some rain.. sadly not navigable!)

why can't I hibernate?

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It's nearly December, which means it's time for a everyone to have a good old moan about dark evenings, and cold/rainy/grey weather.  Bleurgh.

But apparently humans aren't allowed to hibernate, so we're busy as usual.  Perhaps too busy actually - my evenings are currently pretty full (tennis, pilates, kettlebells, canoe club pub night, plus occasional trips out to the theatre and the snowdome...) as well as going out at the weekend.  And lots of dog walks, which I've been doing at lunchtime to make sure I get some daylight.

Anyway, I've been feeling somewhat frazzled for the last couple of weeks.  Not helped by realising that I'd only had half a day off work since July - including changing jobs during that time.  Oops.  So last week I took a couple of days off to do things that normal people do at weekends - shopping, housework and a tip to the trip.

We've slightly scaled back the weekend 'adventurousness' and have been concentrating on fairly short local walks and bike rides, which I will summarise below...

Walking

Saturday before last we did a short circular walk from Deerhurst, along the Severn Way to Apperley and back.  The start/end point was Odda's Chapel, which is a very old and well preserved building that I didn't take any decent photos of.  Instead, here's a floodgate, because everyone loves flood plains.

flood gate at Deerhurst

Cycling

The day after that we went for a second go at the Bredon Hill route, which was much muddier this time!  I had one surprisingly graceful dismount on a slippy downhill section, and we did a lot of stopping to remove big lumps of mud that were trying to clog everything up.  No random detours this time though!

Last Sunday we cycled up a local hill.  Sandhurst Hill has a trigpoint at a whopping 86m above sea level, so I'm not talking anything particularly strenuous here!  Once we'd summitted the hill we headed down a bridleway/track to the Severn, opposite the Boat at Ashleworth.  Again, quite muddy.  Sometimes I think that mud is made of lots of tiny hands that are determined to grab onto bike wheels (did I fall off again because of it? maaaybe)

bikes at the trigpoint

Other Stuff

Last weekend was also the Victorian Market at Gloucester Quays, ie the usual food/craft market but a bit bigger and with added fancy dress.  We came home with the usual haul of cheese, beer and salami :)