Hair we go

Hair going. Realisation dawns or sinks in or creeps through the pervasive denial that I need to swim 3 – 4 times a week for the rest of my life to keep my back in order. So the hair needs to go as its too much faff.

I also need solidarity with daughter who was called ‘wierdo’ at school for having hers short. The fashion for long floaty hair is only here in the UK, and does not exist in France. We are now French and will therefore have short hair.


Flat renovations

Decided to move into a new era this summer and put our flat up for rental. It’s been something I’ve been considering for a while but we have been very lazy and just kept all our junk there. So while Stu and Andy departed for the sorreiller hut and the dibona, Elise and I donned our pinnies and set up our sewing machines in earnest. The result was amazing even if I say so myself. It was like an episode of kirsties home made mixed with sewing bee on acid.

We also threw away so much junk. How you can collect so much stuff in seven years I have no idea. And I’m sure our guests won’t need old bits of felt tips, craft kits, bits of material, and all the baby stuff we did when the weather was too grim for babies to ski. Nowadays, we rush out for the powder that is dumping, but then we did jigsaws….

And we added some beautiful new bunk beds – a double set. Ironically this makes the room seem bigger than the twin beds. Just a much better use of space and very cosy. They have proper swish mattresses too. Very posh!

So the flat is transformed from family mosh pit to smart ski apartment ‘Le Chancel’, in honour of my favourite La Grave run and lunch stop. I’m sure it will give plenty of others wonderful times to ski in the coming winters.





not wandering


Been a funny summer, not walking.   I thought that my back hadn’t got that much worse but realised that actually I couldn’t walk.   Walking slowly up to the Jardin du Lauteret yesterday I realised that I missed the act of putting one foot in front of the other on a dusty trail, dodging the crickets and breathing the heavy late summer honey scent of the meleze.   Whilst I had managed to camp, to climb and to swim with some degree of success, and even ride my bike up the valley, walking was a different matter.   The others had been very kind and thoughtful about selecting crags which were less than twenty minutes from the road  – France has many of these luckily.   

The first week in orpierre I walked quite a lot, without too much trouble, but an over ambitious climb in the fournel valley seemed to make it worse again, and after that I had to do a LOT of recovery by the wonderful biopool in Les Vigneux.  I was glad to be back to the flat for ease of living, but missed the dust and earth after camping out for three weeks.   


It’s been a long time since when we first started the process of thinking how to expand the house downstairs.  Probably more than two years, but hopefully, today, finally, we had a visit from a builder who will turn all the pieces of paper into reality.  We have pinned, planned, designed, submitted, calculated, argued and visited other sites too.   We have been helped by architects, structural engineers, foundation engineers, building control people, planners…. The list goes on.   We still are waiting for the energy assessor to show we have made the requisite energy savings elsewhere in the house to compensate for what seems quite a small amount of glass at the back.  The whole point is to be able to see the view at the back without being bitten to death by midges, or blown away from the freezing northerly from the Pennines.   And I mean straight off the pennine way…..

There are still a huge amount of hurdles to get over, but today felt like a glimmer of light at the end of a tunnel…


When I put on my beanie, everybody knows I am off duty.   My other life, full of meetings and calls, trains and planes, or even the more mundane grey and grisly M62 has no place for beanies.   For this life there is my beautiful Harris tweed hat.  

On a Thursday night, the beanie goes on.   And stays on. Thursday night is climbing night, followed by a pint at our local.  This starts three days of beanie wearing.  At Friday morning assembly at school, I am not the only beanie clad mum hunkered down with my coffee, thanking the great one that I have survived the week and am now, officially OFF DUTY.  On the 22nd July, the beanie goes on.  And is physically and mentally removed at the start of September.   During this time, again, I am OFF DUTY.   

It’s a symbol of my state of mind, and a signal to others.   I am thinking about climbing, walking, skiing, taking pictures, drinking coffee, making a fire on the beach.   Do not engage me in conversation about projections, resources or bills, or the shopping.  


le Lauzet


This is the end of one of the best walks we did last summer.  Except for it was 34* and we had walked for twelve hours.  For the last four hours we had no water, and were traversing high above the Monetier valley, bashing through small tracks in the trees, and across rubbly, burning scree.  It was beautiful, but we were just too hot and scorched.  Finally, under the Aiguille de Lauzet, we crossed a raging torrent that was a perfect 11 degrees, and came out of some fissure about 50m above us.  Beautiful beautiful spring.  We drank buckets of it, and it was far superior to the coke we finally got at the Refuge des Amis below.