The Idle Skiers headed north yesterday to see family.
Tonight we are in Morecambe. Earlier in the day, the town enjoyed a cloudless pale blue sky seen too rarely in this part of the country. The view from the promenade over to the Lake District hills is always beautiful, but so often grey or obscured by rain. This morning was almost perfect, although the tide was out and the Bay just wet sand.
We were told a few weeks ago about a television crime drama, The Bay, set in the town. Somehow, we have managed to miss entirely the two series which have been produced. Today though I was reminded about another drama set in Morecambe, The Entertainer, a 1960 film about a fading music hall comedian. It has all the angst required of British films made in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but for those of who lived in the town then or in the following decade, it is a picture postcard of the final glory days of this resort. The theatre used for the stage scenes is the Alhambra, a magnificent building in the true seaside tradition. Scenes are located also in the Art Deco tea rooms near the Clock Tower and the old Avery, the pre-cursor to the long closed Winged World.
The holiday makers who came to the town then, or their children and grandchildren, now travel to the Mediterranean for their summer holiday. Many of the old landmarks have gone and the town looks for a new role for the future.
We cycled today, which is not something I have occasion to write very often. I do get out on a mountain bike occasionally in London, but we couldn’t remember the last time Mrs IS cycled. It was probably in the Lauterbrunnen valley about fifteen years ago.
However, they say you never forget. We picked a route that avoided the roads for the most part and after Mrs IS’s early Pilates commitments, we were away by mid morning. After forty minutes or so, we were in Wadebridge, a small market town on the River Camel.
Mrs IS called for a coffee stop and we rolled up to what looked like a cafe. It turned out to be a pensioners drop in centre. Their advertising was geared to mobility scooters and similar. Still, they greeted us warmly and provided us with the required coffee . It was pleasing and slightly disturbing at the same time. Did we really look that old?
It was a beautiful ride, sunny with a strong headwind in the afternoon and just the occasional quick rain shower. We arrived back in Padstow around 3.00pm after what seemed to be a very long trip. We were sure we had cycled much further than we originally planned and sure enough the intended 30 kilometres or so turned out to be 59.54 kilometres. Next time, we might plan the route more precisely. The last 0.54 kilometres were an absolute killer.
A hard rain is gonna fall, wrote Bob Dylan in 1962. The Met Office said pretty much the same thing yesterday and they were absolutely spot on with that forecast.
We had managed to find some petrol towards the end of the week and so we set off for Cornwall as planned. As seems to be the norm when the Idle Skiers head for the west country, it rained prodigiously. I would say it rained cats and dogs, but it was more like an entire zoo of rainfall.
Early this morning, it was still raining and it was forecast to stay that way. However, the weather on the north Cornish coast often beats the forecast and it did so again today. The sun emerged, people headed for the beach and by mid afternoon, with the tide coming in and a strong wind blowing, the surfers were out on the water.
Tomorrow, we head for Polzeath to test out the waves ourselves. The forecast is poor again, but we hope for the best.
Mrs IS’s birthday celebrations continued apace today with afternoon tea for friends, who descended on Pall Mall from far and wide.
I took the opportunity to head for Lord’s cricket ground, where the last match of the season, a five day county match for the Bob Willis Trophy, got underway. It is intended to be a showpiece event, but really it is too late in the year for that. Warwickshire are playing Lancashire, the latter county losing the toss this morning and being put into bat in difficult conditions. They were rolled over pretty quickly and probably only the weather can save them now.
The weather today was chilly and at times very wet, so we have come full circle from the cold and damp start to the season in April. The country as a whole has moved on since then of course. In the spring, the populace was still cowed by the virus and people gave each other a wide berth on the street. This week, without the slightest worry as to social distancing, they are fighting each other in garage forecourts over the limited amount of petrol available. Real progress, I am sure you will agree.
The Idle Skiers should be on the road on Saturday, but with 150 miles to cover, it is doubtful at the moment whether we can make the trip without one of us having to push the car.
It has been a day of celebration for the Idle Skiers. It is Mrs IS’s birthday, and a significant one at that. Twenty one again, of course.
We went for a walk in Richmond Park. We also walked to the park and back from it, in a circuitous route which saw us cover 20 kilometres in all. Last summer, or for most of it anyway, the park was almost empty. Now it is back in full swing. Most of south west London seemed to have joined us, walking also, running, cycling and riding.
This evening, we have been to a favourite restaurant, the Glasshouse in Kew. Every table was taken. Just at the moment, London buzzes like the old days, way back in 2019. Long may it continue.
The Idle Skiers are in Cyprus and have been for a week now. What with one thing and another, it has been two years since we were last here and it is good to be back.
We are staying on the Akamas peninsula, where arid brown hills meet a deep blue sea and where the Middle East seems a stone’s throw away. It is hot still of course, almost thirty degrees when we arrived. For the last couple of days, a light wind has cooled things a little and lightning has criss crossed the evening skies.
It is late now and the lightning has cleared. Along the coast, the lights of the village of Latchi shine brightly. A couple of fishing boats in the bay are heading back to the harbour there. The hills are just a dark smudge and the only sound is the Cicadas scratching away.
I headed over to the Murren side of the valley this morning. It was a second solo trip this week, Mrs IS having slipped on the tennis court yesterday. The muscle she pulled in her back is bruising up nicely.
A prompt start on the path to Lauterbrunnen saw me at the cable car for Grutschalp before 10.00am. From there, I took the path up through the trees which leads eventually to Allmendhubel, via the top station of the four man chair from Winteregg.
The start of the walk, through the trees and across the first stretch of pastureland, is steep and a short, sharp shock to the system, but after half an hour at most, it becomes an easy path with magnificent views across the valley.
It was a beautiful late summer’s day, sunny but quite cool at the high points of the walk. As it always seems to be, the path was quiet. In Murren, the cable car for the Schilthorn had a few customers, but I took the opposite route to Stechelberg. The trip back along the valley to Lauterbrunnen seemed as hot as the Gobi desert and I headed gladly for the station rather than the path to Wengen.
That is it for our trip to the Bernese Oberland in the summer of 2021. This evening, we have visited the doctor’s surgery for yet another test each and have been dealing with the additional paperwork necessary to get near an international flight to the U.K. Tomorrow, we head for London.
This morning had an autumnal feel to it. The clouds were in place and remained so for much of the day. It was also cold. Mrs IS decided that home was the best place to be and I ventured out into the grey morning solo. My initial plan was to walk down to Lauterbrunnen and then along the river to Interlaken. When I reached Lauterbrunnen, I decided I didn’t really want to do that at all. A train ride and a cable car ride saw me at Mannlichen forty minutes later.
At some point every summer it is necessary to take the granny path to Scheidegg. For this summer, today was the day. The cable car had been busy, but most people headed for the Berghaus. The path was more or less deserted, as was Scheidegg. I took the long route home, via Mettlenalp. Apart from a family of American holiday makers, lost slightly but hoping to find Wengenalp, and some mountain bikers heading downhill at break neck speed, I had the walk to myself as far as Allmend.
There might be a little more sunshine tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it will be that much warmer than today.
We walked another familiar path today, taking the Eiger trail from Eigerletscher to Alpiglen. It is a route we have taken often over the years, but it is steeped in history and worth every step. The path is below the dramatic North face of the Eiger, a climb which is a forbidding sight still as the centenary of the first assent becomes ever closer. The trail ends in a mountain meadow where climbers camped before the first attempts on the vertical face of the mountain in the 1930s.
From Alpiglen, we headed back up the hill to the Arven lift station, where a path branches out across the mountain to Mannlichen. In the trees near the ridge which divides Scheidegg from Mannlichen alpine flowers were in their late summer glory and walkers were pausing to pick the wild blueberries.
It was sunny today, but in the shade it seemed cold and the occasional wind was cutting. As ever, concerns as to the weather dominate. The forecast for the next few days promises a mix of sun and cloud, with autumnal temperatures.
It was dark this morning when the Idle Skiers emerged from under the duvet. The lights were soon on at home, along with, I am sure, those of our friends and neighbours with whom we were undertaking the walk from Schynige Platte to First.
The 7.13am train from Wengen saw us at Schynige Platte station just after 9.00am. There were a few other walkers at this mountain top station, but it was pretty quiet for an August day. The weather probably kept a few people away. There had been torrential rain last night and clouds still hung to the mountains.
The walk was as demanding as ever, with just over sixteen kilometres of often steep terrain. The small mountain hut, shortly before the half way mark, was a welcome sight. As always, the last stretch from the lake below Faulhorn to the gondola seemed much longer than memory allowed.
Having worked up a pretty good appetite, we are eating at the Baeren tonight. Right now, at about 6.30pm, our 8.00pm table seems quite distant.