Last lease of summer

It is November and winter beckons. Our week in Southwold has brought sun, rain and more than enough wind.  Yesterday, rain fell heavily for most of the day. Today, however, has been summer’s last lease, sunny with just a few clouds and without the east coast wind blowing.  The waves lapped onto the beach as if it were a day in August.

                              
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                          Southwold from the beach

The weekenders arrived during the afternoon and tonight The Lord Nelson Inn was as busy as ever. In the morning though we head for London, our U.K. travels done save for a trip to the North to see family. In Wengen, some snow has fallen. Doubtless it won’t settle at the moment, but at least the winter weather there is showing some willing.

Dunwich

The tiny village of Dunwich was once the capital of East Anglia and a major sea port. In 1286 and the following years heavy storms battered the coast. The harbour and much of the town slipped into the sea and a prosperous metropolis with thirteen churches was lost. Today the village has a couple of hundred residents, one church and a pub, The Ship. On the beach, a few mechanical wheelhouses are what remains of a more recent fishing industry.

  

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We are in Southwold for the week. Autumn is here and it’s not beach hut weather by any means. We have been walking the coast. Today was sunny, but with a strong wind from the south. With friends, we crossed the river Orwell at Walberswick and walked the long beach to Dunwich. In the distance, to the south of this ancient settlement, sits Sizewell nuclear power station, a twentieth century creation which dominates the skyline.

It is November, but Southwold is still busy. Families walk the sea front and the high street and the local shop keepers are thinking of Christmas. This evening, all tables in The Lord Nelson Inn were taken.

Padstow

The Idle Skiers are in Cornwall, our annual visit. Many years ago, when our Westie joined the payroll, we stayed at a hotel on the Devon – Cornwall border. It was (and still is) a huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ hotel which welcomed dogs. The hotel was probably happier with the dogs than their owners, come to think of it.

In recent years we have gravitated to Padstow, at the mouth of the River Camel. During the 1970s, the town spread up the hill from the estuary, but the old fishing port is pretty much unchanged from a century or more ago.

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                        The outer harbour at Padstow, early morning

The town is awash with visitors everyday, but at this time of year, in the early mornings and the evenings, the crowds on the narrow streets thin out and Padstow is at its best. It is another story in the restaurants and pubs. A cost of living crisis grips the country, but here locals and tourists fill every watering hole late into the evening.

We walked several miles on the Cornish coastal path today. Tomorrow we will be in Polzeath and hopefully the surf will be up.

Return to Kingpoint

The Idle Skier returned to Kingpoint marina in Plymouth on Sunday for a week sailing off the Cornish coast. The opportunity came at short notice and was grabbed with both hands after several sailing trips hoped for had failed to get off the ground (or should that be on to the water).

We worked our way along the Cornish coast in strong winds and often heavy seas.  The sailing season is coming to an end and our ports of call were largely empty of other yachts.  At Dittisham, just up the river Dart from Dartmouth, we had a choice of any number of mooring buoys.

That evening, an intended trip to the Ferry Boat Inn was abandoned as the rain lashed down. Instead we opened some red wine and as the evening wore on, our skipper produced a harmonica. Yacht Bewitched echoed to the clink of glasses and the sounds of ancient sea shanties.  For one evening, we were transported from the high tech world of modern yachting to the nineteenth century.

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                               Dittisham in the morning

In the morning, the sky was clearing but the wind was still strong and in Start bay we shot along at eight knots. The week continued in much the same vein throughout, with good winds, some rain and occasional blue skies.

This morning we scooted into Plymouth Sound ahead of a nasty storm. The rain hit as we cleared the breakwater and whilst we cleaned down the yacht there was a heavy swell even in the sheltered marina.

I am back in London now and it is still raining.

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.