I walked through here yesterday, went into the village store, and somebody invited me to a ceilidh! (Which turned out to be great fun.) Such friendly people here, as well as beautiful views.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a work-related conference in Bern, Switzerland, and was fortunate enough to have a couple of days’ walking in the mountains at Saas Fee beforehand. (Thank you, Peter!)
I had skiied there before, but never visited at this time of year. It really is a very pretty spot.
Better views than the average working week, I think.
Malham, in Yorkshire, is a splendid place, which I’d never visited until we stayed there last night. It’s a pretty and charming little village, with a bubbling stream running through it, and one or two very nice pubs.
But, take a short walk through the green, rolling countryside in one direction, and you come to Malham Cove, a very impressive limestone cliff.
A path with some good stairs takes you to the top of the cliff, where the limestone has eroded into other unexpected features.
An occasional delicate flower nestles in the indentations, protected from the sometimes dramatic weather.
If, on the other hand, you head out of the village in the opposite direction, a path through some fields eventually enters a little wooded valley, which takes you first to Janet’s Foss:
And then, a little higher up, to Gordale Scar.
And between all these dramatic sites…?
Sheep grazing in bucolic peace beside gently winding streams.
Just before Christmas, Tilly (my spaniel) and I went to the Dordogne and back in our campervan. I made a video about it, which, while it may be of interest only to travel vlog and ‘van life’ enthusiasts, does have a bit of novelty value, because I filmed it on a spherical (360-degree) camera.
This means that after you’ve watched it, you can go back and watch it again from a completely different angle and see what was happening behind you!
I’ll put the link here, rather than embedding it, because this is something you want to watch on the YouTube site. Or, better still, in the YouTube app on your tablet, or phone, or VR headset…
If I had had more time, I would have made it shorter 🙂
This was really just an experiment for me, and I learned a great deal about the challenges and opportunities of filming and editing this particular medium, which I may write about in due course.
The sky over my campsite yesterday morning; I hadn’t seen any blue up there for quite some time!
And the sky over the same campsite as I returned to it in the evening:
My pitch was just under the darkest bit at the bottom right.
It soon settled down to the standard grey rainclouds again afterwards, though!
It’s good to know,
As the north winds blow,
That there’s plenty of eau,
And the eau is chaud.
I’m in the valley of the Vézère river, just north of the Dordogne. It’s been raining almost all day, but the moisture really adds vibrance to the splendid colours of the trees.
We met some local residents…
No, really! I’m very ferocious too!
Then we had a final brief pause in the rain, just in time for a dog-walk just before sunset.
Tilly (my spaniel) and I are in a very nice restaurant not far from Perigueux. We’re the only ones here, having walked over from the campervan, which is parked in an almost-empty campsite. Over the last couple of days, we’ve visited many very pretty villages, where almost everything has been closed. Not a petit-déjeuner or a café-au-lait to be had anywhere.
Now, I presumed this was just because of the time of year and because temperatures have been below zero for several days, only creeping above it today in order to allow for a steady rain.
But the proprietor doesn’t blame the climate, he blames the ‘gilets jaunes’. Normally, he says, there are visitors, including English and Germans, throughout the year. But they’ve seen the news, and they’re staying away. “Bordeaux aujourd’hui…”, he says, “c’est une catastrophe”.
I’ve seen a few protestors. At Dieppe on Weds, they were stopping all the lorries at several roundabouts, but I was always waved through with a cheery smile. Near Limoges today, they seemed just to be acting as traffic policemen, directing the traffic to make their presence felt. The only things I’ve seen burning were needed to warm frozen fingers.
Away from the big cities, I’ve seen nothing except the most mild expressions of discontent, like this decoration of a hydrant in a small farming village:
Roughly translated, it says, “Father Christmas’s sleigh runs on diesel.. a too-expensive fuel. No presents this year.”
So, no, this probably wouldn’t have been the week to visit any big cities. But in the countryside, visitors are currently a scarce resource and so are particularly welcome. If there’s anybody still around to do the welcoming, that is..
© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser