A little bit of France

A largely sleepless night. Too much time to think. World seeming particularly cold this morning. In need of a lift. For some reason the run didn’t work today. Just a freezing slog. A slow 30 minutes and then the motivation battery completely drained. So back home even colder and still in need of a lift.

But then salvation. Old photographs. Memories. Great Memories.

Back to 2001 which finds us in the Loire.

Chateau de Chenonceau was built over the River Cher in 1576. It’s French Renaissance Architecture at at finest. The chateau has a fine collection of masterpieces, tapestries and renaissance furniture. The long Grand Gallery stretches over the bridge and across the river. It’s a stunning place. Inside and outside.

As much as the chateau brings back great memories one photograph lifted my spirits. It reminds me how truly blessed I was to spend time with this special person. Always in love. That makes me smile.

Swiss Sunday

Last week we left our Swiss Sunday trip travelling up the Funicular to the top of of the Niesen.

The Niesen is called Switzerland’s Pyramid.

If I remember correctly I promised you some stunning mountain top views. Well here goes.

It overlooks the beautiful Lake Thun.

With one of the Worlds most imposing mountain ranges, The Alps dominating in the opposite direction. Including breathtaking views of The Eiger.

Bizarrely the literal translation of Niesen is sneeze.

It’s also a favourite visiting spot for some very brave individuals.

On top our son had a blast of a time. So many dreams. And the first snow he had been able to touch in over a year.

Swiss Sunday

It’s time for another slice of that wonderful country – Switzerland.

One mountain in particular towers over Spiez. Where our hotel base was. Beautiful Niesen. Son calls it the pyramid mountain.

It’s the northern edge of a spectacular mountain ridge and is 7749ft high (2362m). A short train journey takes you to the base of the mountain. As son was still quite young we were restricted on walking distances. Plus it was often a few steps of walking then more time to dream.

So we got off the train at Frutigen and walked along the lovely Kander River. Eventually arriving at the Mulenen and the Niesenbahn.

An old Funicular will carry you to the top. In places it is scarily steep. For the mad ones amongst us – once a year – you can enter the mountains stair run. A stairway follows the route of the Funicular to the top. Comprising of 11674 steps. It is the Worlds Longest Stairway. Really unfortunately the day we went up was one of the stairways closed days – that’s a shame….

As the Funicular moves above the tree line the views open out.

Next week we will continue the story on the summit. It is truly one of the great views. As good as I’ve had the privilege of seeing.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be a Swiss Sunday. It’s my little tribute to that beautiful country.

I had a completely different set of photos lined up. Proper high alpine ones. But this week I’ve had one image in my head. It’s featured in a few late night dreams. No mountain landscape here. Just one house balcony. The house is in Spiez. It’s on a lovely little street behind the towns Schloss (castle). At least once on every trip we would have to walk past the house. On the house balcony there are a couple of human size fantasy models. Son loves them.

Drag yourself away from fantasy Middle Earth and you quickly get views like these.

Then it’s a view across the Lake.

Spiez is such a beautiful town. Sandwiched between the mountains and Lake Thun.

France 1

Before we just focused our holidays on beautiful Switzerland we had trips to France. Some great times. Times before our son. Times before grief rode in. Times even before digital. So occasionally I’m going to do turn the clock back to the start of this century. Go down memory lane.

This was a long weekend trip. A car trip from Yorkshire to the Loire Valley. We pre booked the accommodation but didn’t quite expect to be staying in a mini chateau.

Even before brexit the English always received a warm welcome in France.

Inside was just staggering. I was under strict orders. ‘Don’t touch anything in case you knock it over’.

The chateau stood next to the Loire River.

It must have been hot. No jumper.

Why the long weekend. Why the 620 mile drive. To watch the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

Not the greatest of views but the budget had been blown on the accommodation and petrol. It was hot. Mid to high thirties. Wow it was noisy.

The race was won by the great Michael Schumacher.

Mind wrestling

Yorkshire weather. Good running weather. Why would I want to run in dry warm windless conditions. Well that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m like Count Dracula. I would turn to dust in direct sunlight. I wonder what I would do if someone offered me the chance though.

I’m mind wrestling with something at the moment. My partner was an epic traveller. She visited so many countries. It was her extravagance. From her late teens she would save up during the year for one great adventure. Family and her adventures was what she lived for. The adventures only stopped when we became a family. Her dream was that when our son became older we could have adventures together. The two places she always talked about was New Zealand (would have been her first time) and Chile. She always said that we would all love Chile.

Then life happened.

I really want to complete those journeys for her. Our Autism World may preclude that. Circumstances may preclude it. But we will see. I most admit a part of me doesn’t want to do those trips. It’s just not right that it would only be the two of us.

Sorry I digress. Back to my mind wrestling. So many adventures and so many photographs. All sat neatly and well organised in carefully stored albums. Here is the dilemma. Part of me wants to do a retrospective photo journal. Tell her travel story. Her trip to the Soviet Union (gives you an idea of the timeframe) maybe would be a great starting point. YET another part of me recoils at the idea. What if she hates that idea. What if I’m breaking some unwritten bond of trust. It’s like having two competing voices on either shoulder each shouting differing viewpoints on life.

She’s not here anymore. What’s the problem!

YOU KNOW SHE WOULD SAY NO. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT THIS!

But this feeling is something I’ve grown used to over these three years. On virtually every major decision I have these doubts. ‘What do I want to do’ balanced against ‘what would she do’. I try to see the world through my eyes and at the same time through her eyes. Problem is that we were two completely different characters. We each had our own unique take on the world. We would frequently disagree on the right answer. Often we would compromise. I’m still trying to compromise now. Yet I can’t replicate her thought process. I never could and I never will. I’m probably getting her point of view completely wrong. But I still do it.

Maybe other people do this. Maybe it’s just me sinking further into cabin fever.

So am I going to publish this travel journal? I don’t know. WE still haven’t decided.

Creaky World Tour 5

It’s been a while since we arrived in Strasbourg on our Creaky World Tour.

Let’s see how far around the world I can get only powered by my battered old stationary exercise bike, dog walking and local runs. As my fitness tracker has died I will be using a suitable alternative for the distance calculations – Pokemon Go. So might even catch a few Pokemon on the way.

Since the 16th September my battered body has recorded the following distances.

Exercise Bike – 528km

Walking – 125km

Running – 205km

That’s a grand total of 858km.

The first stop off point is to Kitzbuhel. That’s 490km. That’s Kitzbuhel in Austria. It’s on my bucket list. Just once I would love to go to the famous Downhill Ski Race here. The Hahnenkamm. It’s just about the most demanding course on the world circuit. Every year I sit in front on the TV with my mug of coffee and watch the brave skiers fly down this scary rollercoaster at speeds of up to 142km/h (88mph). We also play a game. Who is the first person to spot Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd. Thanks to the Red Bull and Zimbio websites for the photos.

So we have a bit more distance left in the tank and with a fair wind we can just about reach beautiful Vienna. That’s a trip of 370km.

Vienna is the capital of Austria and has been ranked the city with the highest quality of life in the world. Its been top for the last ten years (Mercer Quality of Living Survey). It was just about my partners favourite city. She would often reminisce about going to the wonderful Vienna State Opera House (Staatsoper). Thank you to Austria.info and Mozart.co.at for the photos.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of beautiful Switzerland.

Our family Aspergers holidays often heavily featured reassuring repetition. Sunday mornings would see a trip across Lake Thun to Interlaken. A walk round the beautiful town. Maybe even a game of crazy golf. Switzerland loves its crazy golf. Then the first hot chocolate of the trip while sat outside watching the Paragliders fly off the local mountain top.. Finally a trip to a wonderful Swiss gift shop. Clocks, Calendars and Schleich toy animals.

Only once did we vary the Sunday routine with a trip to Lenk. A stunning village set in a wide valley with picture postcard views of The Alps. Walking heaven and beautiful waterfalls.

How did we negotiate the change in routine. The promise of the finest ice cream on the planet with the added clause that on Monday he could buy three Schleich Toys.

Was it too soon to start him on wine….

Lenk is such a peaceful place to visit especially on a Sunday morning. Your not shopping, your not watching paragliding, your probably not playing crazy golf. Your chilling out, going for a walk, skiing in the winter, going to church, or sitting having drinks and tasty ice cream. What else do you need on Sunday.

Swiss Sunday

It’s the end of the Halloween. The kids are back in school on Monday after a week away from purgatory. It’s also the week we would most often visit Switzerland. It’s quiet. Attractions like Lake Boats and Cable Cars are still operating full summer timetables. Winter hasn’t kicked in but snow has returned to the mountains. The colours are glorious and the skies are frequently so atmospheric. As ever photos don’t do it justice but here goes.

Waterfall

Although England does do an awful lot of water it’s not blessed with that many truly epic waterfalls. But we do have the occasional spectacular one.

High Force in Teasdale.

The Falls are about an hours drive from us. We haven’t been since our world changed. We had planned to go there as part of our school holiday road trip. But as I was packing up the picnic

Dad I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet.

I can so understand. It had suddenly dawned on our son the importance of the memory associated with High Force. It was 2016. The three of us spent a lovely hour walking around the waterfall then we ended up in the local pub for lunch. Son had sausages and chips. We had soup and fresh bread. Finished off with some highly calorific sweet. It was the last time we went out for a meal as a family.

This had completely slipped my mind. Not the forensic mind of number one son.

“It’s a long drive son.”

It’s a very long drive, probably bad for the environment.

“Its raining and very grey. Probably going to be cold.”

It’s very wet Dad.

“What do you fancy doing then.”

How about having the picnic in front of the television while watching the new Scooby Doo movie.

“That sounds a cracking plan Son.”

So we enjoyed sandwiches, crisps, fruit and cakes watching Return to Zombie Island. Yes a change of plan. But the right change of plan. We will visit High Force one day. But not this wet Friday.