Sunday, August 26, 2012

The end of a hot, dry spell

I've been busy, had guests and been away for much of this summer etc - so not much flying. It has been very hot and hasn't rained or 2 or 3 months - I've never seen it so dry and brown here.

The 15th of August is a big French holiday and the start of a week long 'fete' at St Andre, with live music until late every night. This coincided with some especially hot weather. Normally, that's not really a problem here - no matter how hot the days are, the nights are always cool or even cold. But, every night I had a choice. Open the window and have cool air but lots of noise. Or close the window, and sweat in the silence. Don't sleep because of noise or heat - your choice! Then, of course, if you want some exercise, you really want to get up early and have a bike ride or hike. But that isn't so attractive if you didn't sleep well!

I'd seen today's forecast at least 5 days earlier, where a cool mistral was due to replace all the heat, and I've been looking forward to it and was relieved when the forecasts turned out to be accurate. The transition was very sudden, with a cold front arriving yesterday evening accompanied by a storm (10 minutes after I watered the plants on my balcony). Sunshine resumed in the morning but it was much cooler. 

I headed to the mountains for a day long hike. All the streams were dry and the grass was still brown, but there was plenty of evidence of the previous evening's rain. It was actually cold (not just cool) and I was put off climbing an extra mountain by the incessant wind. Lovely, like a swim in the lake at the end of a hot day. All of a sudden, it feels like the summer is winding down. I'm looking forward to the fall!

Some pics.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Three Cols

Etienne (my son) was over for a stay at the start of August and we did a bunch of tough bike rides, the hardest of which was the Three Cols. You can read more about it here, but the name describes it pretty well. It's a triangle, starting in Barcelonnette and going over 3 cols, each with 1100m or so of climbing. Only 120Km, but none of it is flat.

We started early, planning to do at least the first climb in the cool of the morning. There were feed-stations on the ride, so we didn't have to carry too much food. Wonderful scenery, but as the day went on fatigue and heat seemed to obscure the view. Etienne and Ray went ahead on the last climb and I struggled on by myself.

The ride ended with a argument in a car park. A driver crushed Etienne's back wheel as we were putting the bikes back in the car. The "French" view was that it was unreasonable to expect a driver to see something that doesn't move on the ground. After 15 minutes of animated debate, sanity kicked in and a satisfactory conclusion was reached.

More pics.