Wednesday 3rd – Friday 5th October
Friends are important. Whether they be old friends, those you see regularly, those you don’t see from one decade to the next, or best friends. Whatever they are, if you are near your friends you should make an effort to visit (even if only to raid their fridge and abuse their washing machine).
This is why we are in Vallouise in the Ecrins region of France. Visiting old friends… hang on, that doesn’t sound right… visiting friends we have known for a long time (they are not old!).
But first, a quick snack…
…a touch of culture…
… and off to visit David Hamilton and his partner Claire.
David Hamilton and his partner Claire are ace. I say this for 2 reasons. Firstly, they have a fridge and secondly in that fridge is, no, not beer (though that is there too). They have, wait for it… I know I certainly have been… butter!
I haven’t had any (butter that is – keep it clean please) since leaving the UK more than 80 days ago. I am beyond excited.
Now David is a climber of some renown. (Click on the above link for more info.) He has climbed each of the 7 summits three times or more (except Denali, which he has only done twice) and Everest no less than 9 times! He has also spent 13 seasons in Antarctica but, to be honest, I really only care about the butter.
Anyway, on arrival at Their house David shows me some photos of his latest trips and suddenly all my illusions of photographic genius are blown to smithereens. Shots of parhelions (ice crystal rainbow) at the South Pole; Images of Ilyushin IL-76’s landing at Mount Vinson base camp in Antarctica: Head hunters of Papua New Guinea. I may never take another photo ever again.
The following day David and Claire take us for a stroll up their local hill. La Blanche, 2,954m where I fly in the face of my own promise to take no more photos.
Our hosts, over the next 3 days, provide us with wonderful company and fantastic hospitality. In return we eat all their food and try to wear out their washing machine.
On our final full day in Vallouise David and Mr P take a MTB ride from his house to Pre de Madame Carle, 1,847m. In précis it is 1,047m of ascent over 10 miles in about 1hr 45 mins followed by the same 10 miles back in about 10 minutes!
It’s a stunning ride.
…but disappointment awaits…
The following, seemingly welcome sign, is unfortunately typical of French cafes and even campsites at this time of year.
The sign says, ‘Open…’ great! ‘… for drinks.’ That’s fine, we only want coffee. Try door. Door locked. Grrrr! Nothing like getting our hopes up and dashing them in the cruelest of caffeine denial ways.
We are moving on tomorrow. Heading further south. We spotted a small cloud on the horizon and don’t want to get caught in the rain/snow. Besides, I think the butter is all gone.