Akamas peninsula

The Idle Skiers are back in Cyprus, on the Akamas peninsula yet again. Our hotel has been open for about twenty five years and many of the staff have been here from the beginning. They greet returning customers with genuine warmth and enthusiasm. The hotel is a major employer in this remote part of the island and its continued success is vital to the local economy.

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                                                         From the Anassa

Almost as soon as we arrived, we heard of the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Cyprus fought an often bitter war for independence from the U.K. in the late 1950s, but joined the Commonwealth almost immediately upon becoming a sovereign nation. There remain many ties between the two countries and over the last week any number of people have expressed their condolences as if the monarch were a member of our own family. We are witnessing a moment in history from the far reaches of the Mediterranean.

Rain stops play

The Idle Skiers returned to London yesterday.  With the Lord’s test between England and South Africa starting today, it was the only place to be.  We had a very good journey, making it home in about the best time possible. So there was an inevitably that having returned in good order, it would rain at the cricket today.

In the afternoon session, the rain arrived in enormous blotches.  Within minutes, it was a deluge and then lightening joined in the fun, combining into the heaviest storm I have witnessed in this country.

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                              Rain stops play

It was clear almost immediately that the match would not continue today, but it was impossible to leave without being prepared to swim for it. The capacity crowd sheltered at the back of, and underneath, the stands. We had to go when the day was abandoned a couple of hours later, but it was still raining cats and dogs.

On the way home Earl’s Court tube station was closed to passengers by flooding, but my District line train surfed through without stopping. The rain has finished now and the lawns surrounding us are looking a bit greener than they did last night. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for a warm, cloudy day without rain.

The same old paths

This year, we have tried some new walks and sought to avoid the same old paths. Sometimes though the familiar routes are the best. This morning, for the second time in the last few weeks, I went to the Murren side of the valley and took the Allmendhubel path.

There was a queue at the cable car in Lauterbrunnen, so it was quite late in the morning and already pretty warm by the time I made it to the start of the walk. The first half an hour or so doesn’t get any easier. In the trees, the path is a tangle of knotted roots. Above the tree line, the sun pins walkers to the mountain side. Still, it was as quiet and as beautiful as always, with wonderful views across the valley towards the Eiger.

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                                                  Bare mountains 

The long hot, dry period has changed the view though, with the mountain tops shorn of snow and looking bare and brown. There is thunder in the weather forecast for the next week, and some rain of course, but the autumn needs to be much wetter and colder.

In a few days, the Idle Skiers are heading for London, where just at the moment it is hotter and drier still.

Mannlichen

The forecast this morning was for a good start to the day with heavy rain later.  Sure enough, the sun was shining early on, so the question was, which walk to attempt before the rain fell?

I settled on the path to Mannlichen, the advantages being that it starts just behind the village and is over and done with in a couple of hours.  The disadvantages being that it is very steep and in the full glare of the sun.

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                                          From Mannlichen before the rain

The weather changed quickly though and the clouds were rolling in whilst I was still in the trees low down.  By the time I reached the first of the avalanche barriers it was raining heavily. The rest of the walk seemed a grim prospect, but the rain disappeared as quickly as it arrived.  As I took the wet weather gear off, I was passed by a runner, moving at an incredible pace on the steep path.

At the top, I thought about heading to Scheidegg, but it was grey again and a bit miserable.  The cable car had me back in the village in a few minutes and then the rain set in nicely, followed by thunder and lightning.  It is still raining now and the MeteoSwiss updates are for more storms heading in our direction.  Hopefully, things will be better tomorrow.

The band played on

Today is a National holiday in Switzerland, celebrating the Federal Charter from 1291. Pride in the nation is still permitted here thankfully. Indeed it is encouraged. Wengen was awash with flags and villagers in traditional dress, along with alpenhorns aplenty. The sun shone and it was an ideal day for a celebration.

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                                          A flag flies in Wengen

We had booked a tennis court for mid-day, which with hindsight might not have been the best plan. The marquee on the ice rink, next to the courts, was full to overflowing for an apero. On the other side of the courts, as we arrived, the village band was setting up. It was a vibrant atmosphere, but so loud we couldn’t hear each other from opposite sides of the net.

We had played a couple of games when the band started its opening number and then played on for most of our time on court. Mrs IS was so distracted by the impressive musical repertoire and the general hubbub that she dumped the first set 6-3, before staging a recovery to take the second set by the same margin.

Darkness is falling now and I doubt it will be long before the fireworks begin.

Back in the mountains

The Idle Skiers have been in Wengen for a week now.  We managed to escape the U.K.’s travel woes and arrived here in the late afternoon only a few hours later than we hoped. For much of the time since then, the sun has shone and we have walked the hills, with the occasional tennis match thrown in for good measure. 

There is a welcome feeling in the village of summer life as it used to be.  The holiday makers are back, from all over the world it seems, there is a buzz to the place and, as ever, the trains run on time.  

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                                                The Lauterbrunnen valley this morning

Today was hot and very sunny, almost too hot for the long walk on the Murren side of the valley. The weather has changed though this evening. Just as I headed up to the Co-op for some last minute shopping, the thunder clouds rolled in and torrential rain fell. The clouds are clearing now, but the forecast for tomorrow is not great.

The trick with modern forecasting is to check different apps until you find one for the next day which you like and stick with that, but tonight they are all poor. We have a tennis court booked for mid-day, so we hope for the best.

Dalmatia

A week ago we were beneath the walls of Chester, some of the best preserved Roman remains in Britain. Today, we are at the other end of the Roman empire, in Split on the Dalmatian coast. Mrs IS has long been a keen student of ancient history and we are here to see Diocletian’s palace and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, built in Diocletian’s mausoleum. This is seriously old stuff, the cathedral being a relative newcomer from the seventh century.

We are staying a few minutes along the coast, in a hotel opened in 1970. It is comfortable, but not easy on the eye, built in the brutalist style apparently popular with Yugoslavian architects of the time.

The coast of Dalmatia

The view from the hotel is stunning, however and this evening we enjoyed a spectacular sunset. It is hot, well over 30 degrees, and the pampered local dogs are being carried by their owners. We haven’t seen a single Dalmatian though, never mind a 101. They are too big to carry probably.

Off and running

The Idle Skiers are in Chester today. We have both been here before; Mrs IS spent a year in a village nearby in the early 1980s and I had a school trip to the zoo in 1969. Needless to say, our memories of the city have faded.

So our destination, Chester racecourse, came as a surprise. It nestles close to the centre of town, beneath the Roman walls and is as picturesque track as you could wish for.

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                                     At the races

We were invited here by friends and an excellent day it turned out to be. Not that any of us had a great day backing the horses. Odds on favourites staggered home at the back of the field and unfancied runners romped home.

However, the hospitality was generous and the weather was kind. Tonight, Chester is buzzing with a post race crowd from Liverpool in the main. The ancient walls and Tudor buildings are quaking as I write.

Put out more flags

A reliable weather vane for how busy Southwold might be is the chip shop on East Street. So, on Sunday night, when the queue for the shop stretched almost as far as the town square, it looked like a busy week ahead.

On Monday morning, seemingly against the odds, the town was quiet and has remained so all week. The beach is empty save for the Gulls and the occasional Oystercatcher. Encouraged by the peace, a seal has been patrolling the sea just south of the pier.

Next week will be different though. It will be half term, a double bank holiday and the Jubilee. Already the town’s shops are putting out the flags and the bunting. The post box next to the Swan Hotel is wearing the State Crown, albeit knitted. A funfair has turned up on South Green.

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                                               The Lord Nelson Inn

Regular readers will recall that our favourite watering hole in the U.K. is the Lord Nelson Inn, at the end of East Street. We first went there sometime in the late 1980s. For most of the time since then, the tenancy has been in the same family. However, during the country’s many lockdowns the pub went out of business. It has reopened as a managed pub, part of the brewery’s larger estate and without a traditional landlord. The old occasionally grumpy bar staff have gone and the interior has been tidied up. The locals and their dogs are seen less frequently and there is a more corporate feel to the enterprise.

Is it still the best pub? We think so, just, although sadly part of its soul has gone.

Beside the sea

We headed for the seaside today, to our regular haunt in Southwold. As the crow flies, it is less than 120 miles from home. However, not being crows, we headed around the M25 as usual and despite a good journey, unimpeded by tractors or other impedimenta of the Suffolk countryside, it was close to four hours following a very early start when we crossed the small bridge dividing Reydon and Southwold.

The sun was shining but it was a quieter day than most Saturdays in this popular east coast town. We are here for a week and have our usual holiday let and our usual beach hut. It is our sloathful week for the year. We don’t do much other than read and watch the waves.

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                                  The North Sea

As the day went on, the wind picked up and we retreated into the beach hut. This evening we met friends in the Lord Nelson Inn. It has been a busy few weeks since we returned from Wengen, with family matters topping the agenda. A week of not doing much at all is very welcome.