Family hike to see the snowdrops of medieval origin in North Hawkwell Wood, Somerset. The River Avrill flows from Dunkery Beacon (519 m.) past the old oaks in the wooded valley. Legend has it that snowdrops arrived in Britain with the Benedictine monks in the 11th Century; snowdrops were first planted here in the 13th Century as a symbol of Candlemas, the feast day in early February in celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. The unusually early flowering of the demure white flowers must have been particularly impressive before the days of commercial propagation and ubiquity.
We hiked past flocks of Exmoor Horn sheep, one of England’s classic breeds.
Colourful sunset as the plane before us takes off on its way to Istanbul. We were next on runway 31R at Marseille-Provence airport, headed for London-Heathrow.
One more January ride out, staying close to the Mediterranean for the sunshine and protection from the chilling Mistral. The iconic Pont de Caronte swing bridge has appeared in various cinematic scenes. The Col de la Gatasse (122 m.) is modest in altitude but includes a couple of interesting curves and there's a fine view of the Étang de Berre a short hike on from the road col. Carro is a small Provençal port near the lighthouse at the western end of the Côte Bleu.
Motocross Châteauneuf-les-Martigues club has a great track at Terrain de la Fauconniére, a sandpit near Martigues. Looks far too much fun to be legal!
Exhibition at the Vieux Port, Marseille in front of the restored Mairie (town hall), the only building remaining following the forced clearing and dynamiting of Marseille Old Quarters by the occupying German Nazis in the spring of 1943. This exhibition seeks to include more fully this sombre episode in the long history of Marseille; it gains peculiar power because the archive images are presented right where the atrocity took place. The 14 hectares of the city dynamited in 1943 have been rebuilt; but many, if not most, of the people who were taken away never returned. Also, there are no old trees in this area.
My RR’s first ride of 2023, just a local spin out from Marseille up the Col de la Gineste (326 m.) in the wan January sunshine but enough to feel some revs and g’s again. Still chilly, even next to the Mediterranean and wearing winter leathers.
The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will the robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit on a twig,
And we’ll feed him some bread,
And he’ll sing to say ‘Thank you, my friends’,
Ride out from Keswick to Newlands Hause, Buttermere, Honister Hause, Borrowdale with a side trip to Ashness Bridge and up to Watendlath Tarn. I’m not making excuses for staying on the roads, they’re tricky enough just now with flood, washout and wind; knobbly tyres essential. Anyhow the “January Cyclonic Westerly” weather (ie wet and windy) means routes are enjoyable that I would avoid in the tourist season. But a really worthwhile ride for the majestic, magnificent views with water gushing everywhere.
A happy holiday to Provence with Paul W on his GSR750ES, new that year. I was riding my XJ900, which had been to the Nürburgring and crossed the watershed to the Danube the previous summer, 1984.
We stayed our first night in a one-star hotel in Chartres. Next night and a massive 900 km later, we pitched my tent under the cork trees in a camping à la ferme in Grimaud for our first week in the South. Our days out included Port Grimaud and of course Saint Tropez and the beaches.