Tag Archives: summer

A photo a day in December: days 26-31


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Happy new year! I am chilling out at my parent’s house, having stayed up until 2 last night and then driven the 400-ish km from Albany to Perth today — in fairness, I only drove half of that, but at any rate I am cactus. Also, I never got around to taking a photo on the 27th, so I only have 5 photos to finish off the photo a day  challenge…

  • Perth skyline. I would love to know what the story is about the vacant block I took the photo from: it’s been empty since I was a kid but it must be worth an absolute fortune;
  • A paperbark tree near Ocean Beach in Denmark;
  • Rubbish bin, park bench, and very bright shed in Kojonup;
  • Rocks and the ocean at Cosy Corner beach, near Albany;
  • Albany itself — or at least, Middleton beach.

So there we have my 30 photos in 31 days. Actually, I took 213 photos in 31 days, most of those with the hope of getting a good shot to post here. (And, ok, some dorky selfies.) I definitely wouldn’t have taken so many photos if I weren’t challenging myself like this (neurotic over-achievers represent!) and I definitely got some decent shots I wouldn’t otherwise have, so I’m calling this photo-a-day malarky a success.

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

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A photo a day in December: days 21-25

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Happy Christmas, if you celebrate it. As promised, some photos with actual sunshine and blue skies! And more cookie photos, because I am essentially a one-trick pony.

  • I believe these trees are called flame trees, at any rate they’re rather festive;
  • Pretty sure my grandparents have the best bathroom wallpaper;
  • Yeah, cookies, I know;
  • Graffiti-covered fence;
  • “Peace”.

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

Postcard from Gran Bosco di Salbertrand: a human landscape in the Alps

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I’d only been back in Turin a few days before I realized I needed to get out and walk… again. So last Saturday, a few of us took the train up to Parco Naturale del Gran Bosco di Salbertrand in Susa Valley.

This was the first time I’d organized a hike myself, and I’d been careful about choosing a nice route for the group: it featured a rifugio near the top, and several options so we could take the less steep path on the way down to save our knees and ankles. Unfortunately my map didn’t have full topographic information and it turns out that just because a path is twice as long, it doesn’t have to be half as steep a descent. It can be gently uphill for a substantial distance and then drop precipitously into the valley on a track covered in pine cones that act as rollers under your feet. (Sorry guys!!!)

When we weren’t slipping and sliding and cursing our way down the side of Susa Valley, we had a walk through a pine forest in the morning light, past old stone walls and ruins of buildings that we debated about (were they houses, or cow sheds, or..?). We picked lavender and mint that was growing beside the path. We saw cows — and a marmot, who was sadly uninterested in B’s offer of lifelong friendship. It was a very human landscape, with all its signs of human history — apparently, timber from these woods was used in the construction of the Superga Basilica in Turin. It was also a very modern human landscape, with the constant hum of the highway below us.

We got back to Turin that evening tired and hungry and coated with a fine layer of dust.

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Practical information for future reference: You can get to Gran Bosco di Salbertrand without a car — take the train from Turin to Salbertrand (altitude 1000m) on the Bardonecchia line, it runs hourly, takes about an hour and costs 5.75 euro each way. From there, there are all sorts of walks you can take. I used this map, be warned that although it gives altitudes of landmarks it doesn’t have contour lines. We took the GTA route up to Rifugio Daniel Arlaud (altitude 1770m) and then on to Le Selle (altitude 2000m), which is a cluster of agricultural buildings, but also a great viewpoint for the valley. We followed the (closed to cars) road down and then took route 2, which was very steep and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you enjoy that sort of thing.

It was quite dry in late August, and if I did this walk again I’d do it earlier in the summer with the hope of seeing green meadows rather than brown. (It was also quite warm, but much of the route is shaded.)

Camel Estuary, Cornwall

Treyarnon Bay to Padstow on the South West Coast Path

This August, I walked 66 miles (110 km) from St Ives to Padstow on the west coast of Cornwall, over 5 and a half days. This is part 6 — go back to part 5 (Newquay to Treyarnon Bay).

Treyarnon Bay to Padstow was my final walking day. I went to bed the night before with trepidation about the weather — for several days, everyone I’d spoken to had commented on how nice the weather had been, and how “Monday’s supposed to be really hot, like 30 degrees!” Great news for beach-goers, less appealing if you’re walking 11 miles (18 km) in full sun. Continue reading

Watergate Beach, Newquay

Newquay to Treyarnon Bay on the South West Coast Path

This August, I walked 66 miles (110 km) from St Ives to Padstow on the west coast of Cornwall, over 5 and a half days. This is day 5 — go back to day 4 (St Agnes to Newquay).

Remarkably, I wasn’t sore at all when I got up in the morning, even after my long day the day before. Over a breakfast, I chatted with my B&B landlady, about her job doing night shift in a dementia care facility, and her four dogs that her husband was out walking, and how Perranporth used to have a really great New Age shop that she liked but now all the coastal villages were becoming nothing but surf shops and cafes. I knew what she meant — on my walk, I’d been struggling to even find lunch options each day that didn’t involve sitting in and paying 7 pounds for a sandwich with too many different ingredients. Continue reading

Art on Perran Beach, Cornwall

St Agnes to Newquay on the South West Coast Path

This August, I walked 66 miles (110 km) from St Ives to Padstow on the west coast of Cornwall, over 5 and a half days. This is part 4 of the walk — go back to part 3 (Portreath to St Agnes).

It was 4.30 pm, the sun was hot on my face, my pack straps were chafing my arms, my knees were sore, and I had never not been walking this &*%! coast path. I had just come round a head and I could see Fistral Beach laid out before me, replete with a surfing competition and thousands of spectators on the sand and nearby grass. I still had to get past it all and to the opposite side of Newquay, the largest town in the area. Well then.

This was my longest day, with 16.5 miles (26.5 km) the official path distance from Trevaunance Cove to Newquay Station. “Where are you walking today?” the landlady at my B&B had asked. “Newquay? Goodness. That’s far.”

Continue reading

Postcard from Conca del Pra: enjoying the foothills of the Alps

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Went hiking with some friends and their kids yesterday in the foothills of the Alps. It was a sunny day and it was hot work following a narrow valley up, until we came over the ridge and found ourselves in the open space of Conca del Pra, a basin surrounded by jagged hills. On our walk we saw waterfalls, and wild roses, and cows, and raspberry patches, and flowers growing from the rocks that were reminiscent of hattifatteners, and entrances to mysterious caves where the air was cool and underground streams emerged. Our 4-year-old guide would probably want to add that we saw plenty of cool rocks and sticks and also he found an old shoe lace.

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Practical information for future reference: We parked at Villanova, which is near Bobbio Pellice, which is a bit past Pinerolo as you head into the Alps in that direction from Turin. It was a popular spot — the tables at Rifugio Willy Jervis in Conca del Pra were full of people having lunch — which is not surprising considering it’s a beautiful place only 50 km from central Turin. There are 2 trails from Villanova to Conca del Pra, one that is a dirt road with a few shortcuts to save on tedious switchbacks, and the other that follows the other side of the stream and is much steeper and rockier (but definitely rewarding). We took the gentler route up and the steep route down, my knees today feel like that was maybe not the best order to do things… It’s also possible to drive up to Conca del Pra and use that as a starting point for hikes further into the hills.

Postcard from vallée Étroite: How is this even possible.

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Earlier this week, a friend sent out a group message that she and her family were going on a hike on Saturday, anyone was welcome to join them, adding “it’s one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever seen”.

She wasn’t wrong.

“How is this even possible?” we asked ourselves, repeatedly, as we walked through alpine meadows with walls of dramatic jagged rock formations above us and a clear cold mountain stream running next to us. We saw a herd of cows, an enchanted lake with a million shades of green algae growing on the bottom, half a dozen marmots, a pond with tadpoles, wildflowers in pink and yellow and purple and orange, and new views opening out to us every time we climbed a hill.

At one of our many pauses for photos, I asked one of the guys if he wanted a photo “with that stuff over there.”

“Stuff?” he laughed.

“I’ve run out of words.”

 

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Practical information for future reference: vallée Étroite (valle Stretta in Italian) is just over the French-Italian border from Bardonecchia. We drove from Turin, which takes 1.5-2 hours on the highway; parking near our start point of Rifugio i Re Magi (website in Italian) was 2 euro for the day. We walked from 1780m  above sea level at Rifugio i Re Magi to 2500m above sea level at Refuge du Thabor (website in French), a distance of about 7km each way on well-marked trails — just make sure you follow the signs to Refuge du Thabor and not Mont Thabor itself. You can buy lunch at Refuge du Thabor or even sleep the night. I was glad of my waterproof shoes for the stream crossings but everyone else got on fine in running shoes.

 

Postcard from Monte Galero

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Went on another hike this weekend, this time in Tanaro Valley near the border between Piedmont and Liguria. A hot morning, followed by an afternoon of dramatic skies, rain showers, and thunderclaps in the distance (disconcerting when you’re on the top of a hill!), followed by an evening on the Mediterranean coast eating takeaway pizza while standing around a concrete block used as a makeshift table. In between all of this we also read the gospel of Matthew start-to-finish — I’ve been going to church all my life but somehow the Bible becomes new and unfamiliar when you read it in long sections while sitting on a picnic blanket in a beech forest rather than a paragraph at a time in a church service. Highly recommended.

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Postcard from Valle Varaita

I’ve come down with a rather tedious and inconvenient head cold, so no writing from me this week — I started trying to write this post and got bogged down in Uggggh what even are words. But enjoy some photos from a day spent in Valle Varaita recently with friends from church.

(Not to make you jealous or anything, but it was basically a perfect summer’s day.)

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