I spent the first week of January at Les Gets in the French Alps during the unseasonal spring weather. No snow and no lifts running. We drove 20 minutes further up the valley to ski on two-week old heavy wet snow at Avoriaz, and a couple of days it was even raining on the snow. A taste of what global warming has in store for us.
Over the last week, it has snowed heavily on the mountains around Geneva, and in Geneva itself. So my younger son and I went up to Les Gets for the day and had a wonderful day skiing on fairly fresh snow in brilliant sunshine. The temperature was about -6 C when we got there about 9.30 am and rose to a little above zero in the middle of the day in the sunshine. Here are some photos.
My son and I hired jet skis for a trip out to the ocean off Noosa National Park in Queensland. It was a partly cloudy winter day in July and we went out in the late afternoon. The interplay of sunlight, clouds and water was spectacular. Here are a few photos I took that day with a small waterproof handheld Nikon Coolpix.
I returned to Australia with my son in late June this year. Our first trip back since the pandemic started. We stayed with my sister, who lives in Noosa on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. It was winter there, but Queensland winters are mild by European standards. We surfed at Sunshine Beach a number of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ocean temperature was on the cool side at 19-20 degrees C, but it was colder out of the water with air temperatures around 15-17 degrees and usually with a sea breeze.
Most days there were a handful of people in the surf. On the day the photo above was taken, there were only two others in the water. The lifeguard was sitting in the truck. He did use his loudhailer twice to chastise my son, who was outside the flags and too far out.
A couple of days before Christmas, my younger son invited me to join him for a day skiing in the Swiss Alps. Champéry lies in a side valley of the Rhone valley under the Dents du Midi (“Teeth of Noon”) mountain range. I’d last skied there years ago (see earlier post). At less than a day’s notice, I rang the hotel he was staying at and booked a room for the night. The hotels and the ski slopes were half empty because of the Covid travel bans, particularly for the many British who had planned ski holidays in Switzerland and nearby France.
I have just returned from a week in the Netherlands. I spent five days at a retreat in the woods of Lage Vuursche, situated south of Amsterdam not too far from Utrecht. Wandering in the woods, I came across some beautiful mushrooms and fungi. I had not brought a camera on this trip, but took these photos using my phone.
Its been an odd spring in Geneva with days of sunshine interspersed between days of rain. After a slow start, 63% of the population have now received at least one dose of COVID19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) and restrictions have been somewhat relaxed. People are now emerging from isolation and gathering together again in restaurants, bars and at the beaches around the lake. The bees are also out and about and I took a few photos of them in the backyard yesterday.
Switzerland has kept its ski resorts open while all neighbouring countries closed. Hardly surprising that 4,200 British skiers turned up for the Christmas-New Year period just after the new faster spreading covid-19 virus took British new cases through the roof at exponential speed. The Swiss then imposed a retrospective quarantine on the British visitors after they arrived, and almost all of them snuck out during the night and left. Left a lot of anti-British feeling behind.
I and my boys are of like mind that it would be madness to go to one of the major resorts like Verbier, where many British go. Likely the people there are now incubating new infections. But my neighbours packed their car and head up to Verbier today, confident the virus left with the British. I’ve spent a number of New Years at Verbier, particularly back in the noughties (2000-2009) during part of which I rented a studio apartment in Verbier so I could go up for weekends and longer holidays whenever I wanted. Here are some photos from those days.
Two parapenters fly above the mountains at Verbier
View from the top of Mont Fort (3330 m). The three peaks on the horizon from l.to.r are Dent Blanche (4356 m), Matterhorn (4478 m in niddle) and Dent d’Hérens (4171 m)
Switzerland has angered neighboring countries by keeping the ski slopes open this winter, despite the risks associated with skiing and the coronavirus pandemic. However, national and cantonal restrictions apply, and Les Portes du Soleil where the boys and I have often skied has set a quota for the numbers of skiers allowed on the slopes. I’ve decided to avoid the ski resorts this winter, at least until the covid situation improves or we have been vaccinated.
Its snowing here on Christmas Day in Geneva, though not quite enough to ski on. I’ve been skiing around the Christmas-New Year period quite a few of the years I’ve been in Geneva. Here are a few photos from two Christmas’s spent at Arosa in northeast Switzerland in 2001, 2005 and 2007. Good times.
Below left: looking down the Hörnli Express to the village of Arosa. Right: Hörnli 2511m.
Enjoying the winter sun on the piste in December 2001
Lamp post in the forest near our hotel. I think I must have gone out through the wardrobe.
The jet d’eau (jet of water) is a famous Geneva landmark, situated just off the shore of Lake Leman near the centre of Geneva and its old town. The original jet d’eau was a pressure release mechanism for the Geneva water supply in the 19th century. When engineering improvements made it obsolete, the City of Geneva decided to make the jet a tourist attraction. The current version was installed in 1951 and sends the water plume to a height of 140 m (460 feet). Its two pumps expel 500 litres of water per second at a speed of 200 km/hour.