Sunday, 31 October 2021

Battered but not beaten.....looking forward

It's been an embarassingly long time since I wrote anything on here. But since it seems no-one actually reads my blog maybe I shouldn't feel too ashamed. I can obviously come up with all the excuses, many of which are shared by all those who, like me,  have spent the last 2 years watching their cherished businesses disappear in a cloud of Covid dust. For me the pandemic has been coupled with medical horrors on the home front that have left me reeling emotionally and have sent my creativity plumetting to rock bottom. Writing anything remotely inspiring has been an almost inconceivable challenge. 

But it's time to rally, to see some light at the end of the tunnel. And despite current Covid figures on the up in many countries, I do feel there are solid reasons to see a way forward. Not least based on the small number of trips I have guided these last weeks, all of which have been hugely fulfilling and joyful: people have told me how happy they are to travel again and this can only get better as we learn to live safely with this virus. 

How brilliant it was to just get out again and do my job...and find that I could just slot back into the role of Trekking Guide, finding such satisfaction in guiding people through fabulous scenery, along winding trails and reaching summits where the views were spectacular and  the air clear and refreshing. I have missed those days of quiet walking, interspersed with banter, convivial picnics perched high on flower carpetted hillsides, and end of the day drinks on a sunny café terrace. 

It's important to say that I am beyond grateful for those that trusted me and signed up for these trips...there have been so many cancellations these last 2 years, all I seemed to do was change things around, tell hotels and refuges were weren't coming, return or hold deposits etc etc. But for those who held firm...THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, you have kept the faith and helped me to do so too. 

And now...onwards!! Trekking in the Alps and Provence might be battered, but I am not done. 

During all the time since I last wrote I have been discovering my new region...which is pretty big and very varied. Provence encompasses everything from the foothills of the Alps right down to the Med. In between there is so much diversity. We have the olive and lavender hillsides where I live, the vineyards of the Luberon, the beech and oak forests and rocky gorges to the east and the perched artists' villages to the south. Throw into that mix a good dose of history stretching from the Romans and earlier, amazing cuisine and of course the famous Provençal wines.....along with so many trails, valleys and peaks to hike...enough for a lifetime. All of this is relatively easily accessed from the French airports of Marseille, Lyon or Paris, using the TGV to reach Avignon. Or of course the train can be taken all the way. Some folks even choose to drive out. 

Working locally with French groups has allowed me to expand my repertoire of hikes and my knowledge of historical and cultural visits too.  I am really excited to offer trips in the Luberon, and also further north in the Vercors too for those who are keen to explore more of the vast wealth of hiking in France. 

Equally I want to keep the Alpine trips going, but principally in the Southern French Alps. There are several reasons for this: I don't want to have to commute so far these days (yep, getting older, and also fed up of speeding fines!); but mainly I think the Southern Alps are great for what I do...I like to take people to areas they wouldn't necessarily find otherwise, to get away from the famous hiking routes, to discover an authenticity that is sadly lacking in some over-hyped Alpine Resorts. Travelling to the places I propose is more complicated than hopping on a plane to Geneva followed by an easy transfer to Chamonix or Zermatt. But it's really not difficult if you allow a bit of time, maybe spend a day at a French city such as Marseille, or Lyon, then take the train onwards - there is a lot to be said for travelling a bit more slowly, taking the time to enjoy the journey as well. Surely if the pandemic has taught us anything it's be more mindful of how we live, how we travel and how we spend our time. Hiking in the mountains is a very low impact activity if we think about how we do it and the "low-glitz" areas where I go fit the bill perfectly. Your friends might not have heard of them, they don't have the kudos of Chamonix, Gstaad, Alpes d'Huez....but who cares, they are secret and very very special. 

 For those of you who have actually read this far, thank you. I hope you'll be tempted to come and hike with me in the coming months, years - go to my websites for details of trips for next year or just drop me a mail to find out more If you choose to follow my blog then maybe I will write posts more frequently...if I actually believe someone is reading 😏

Meanwhile here are a few more shots from the last few months, here in Provence and a little further afield in those Southern Alps. And of course there's a of many in the streets of my village.