07
Feb 17

Norfolk

Grey and cold February, with nothing to look forward to until like the Easter (oen bachs!). We decided to pass some of that greyness in Norfolk, see if we can still find the seals on the beaches, and see some National Trust places as well. Our expectations were not high for anything, as February is after the seal pupping season, and NT estates are actually closed Jan+Feb, so you can only really see the gardens.

Sunday 5.2.
Started off reasonably early from our place, weather not too shabby even if bitingly cold.
Our first stop was at the Anglesey Abbey, where the spectacular gardens were busy with the snowdrop season. The Abbey is a Jacobean-style house with gardens and a working watermill – Lord Fairhaven, wanting to inspire and surprise visitors, created a spectacular garden with planting for all seasons and a cosy house in which to entertain. Insides of the house were closed for visitors, but we did have fun in the gardens and the Lode Mill.

Anglesey Abbey

Pretty place, but we have a busy programme for the day, so off we head towards Oxburgh Hall. Zooming along on the A10, we saw a spectacular cathedral on the horizon, and decided to make an impromptu stopover – in Ely. On our clever devices we learned that the Ely cathedral is an Anglican cathedral with origins in AD 672 when St Etheldreda built an abbey church. The present building dates back to 1083, and cathedral status was granted it in 1109. Architecturally it is outstanding both for its scale and stylistic details. Having been built in a monumental Romanesque style, the galilee porch, lady chapel and choir were rebuilt in an exuberant Decorated Gothic. Its most famous feature however is the central octagonal tower. That was all very interesting, but we still didn’t know how to pronounce Ely – my guess was that it’s pronounced like Eli [Cash] from the Royal Tennenbaums, but we had to know for sure! No better person to ask than the visitor info guy in the cathedral itself, so Iest went for it and asked him how to pronounce the name of the village. The poor guy’s eyebrows were raised so high they almost fell off his face and in a stiff yet high-pitched voice he repeated ‘Village?!’ – so, for next times we know that once you get yourself a cathedral, that apparently makes you a city, no matter how small. But, we also learned they pronounce it [ee-ly], as in the fish, eel, which they used to have plenty of or something. We quickly checked out Oliver Cromwell’s house too, and went back on track with our plan for Oxburgh Hall.

Oxburgh Hall is a 15th-century moated manor house Built in 1482 by the Catholic Bedingfeld family. The interiors were also still closed for the winter, but we enjoyed the moat with its swans, and the surrounding gardens. I got a small pot with a chopped off chunk of one of the plants, so if it survives, we’ll have a nice oxburgh plant on the balcony to remember. By now we were really hungry and so we walked over to the nearby pub for a proper Sunday roast.

Monday 6.2.

Our nice hotel

It was the hunt for the seals mostly (ultimately unsuccessful tho), exploring the coast and beaches, and a couple of NT estates.
First, we made it to the Titchwell RSPB reserve, which was awesome. Full of knowledge on the winter migratory birds to see from last night’s Country File programme we watched, we went straight in the marshes. The reserve has both freshwater marshes and sea beaches, and birds really abound. The weather was sunny and we had a blast.

Redshank

Then we swung by the Brancaster beach, endless golden beach, and also an NT place.

Brancaster beach

We had high hopes for the Blakeney nature reserve with respect to the seals, but we were not lucky. The local seals were gone and the boat trip to see them off the coast was already gone for the day. We tried an adjacent beach at Cley by the Sea, but to no avail. There was really not much else to do, so we had lunch at the Dunn Cow, and pressed onto another closed NT estate at Felbrigg, one of the most elegant country houses in East Anglia, and Blickling. Afterwards we were quite tired for the day, so we found a great little place for tea & cakes, and then headed to our hotel. We decided to live a little, so we went to the hotel bar in the evening, which had a nice fire going, and only two other people in it, so we had a nice cup of tea there as well.

Felbrigg

Tuesday 7.2.
The day for exploring Norwich on our way home. It was cold and drizzly, but the building still looked quite spectacular. The cathedral was begun in 1096 and constructed out of flint and mortar and faced with a cream-coloured Caen limestone. The cathedral was completed in 1145 with the Norman tower still seen today topped with a wooden spire covered with lead. Norwich Cathedral has the second largest cloisters in England, only outsized by Salisbury Cathedral (where we were in January anyway). The cathedral spire, measuring 96m, is the second tallest (yeah, also Salisbury takes the cake).

We were not really so keen on visiting the Norwich castle, which is a bit boxy, even though It was founded in the aftermath of the Norman conquest of England when William the Conqueror (1066–1087) ordered its construction because he wished to have a fortified place in the important city of Norwich.

Norwich castle

Instead, we decided to drive up to Horsey beach to see if we could still be lucky with the seals. And lucky we were! In a rainy weather and rough sea, we found a whole nice colony of seals, casually chillin on the beach. We were super excited, and spent a lot of time with them, and got really close too. It was the perfect cherry on top of our Norfolk trip, and we were ready to go home. (A couple days later it was reported that £50 million worth of cocaine was found washed up on a beach in Norfolk, so I guess we could have been even luckier, but still, the seals were cute!)

Iest & seals


09
Oct 16

Richmond Park

With autumn casually creeping in, we decided it would be great fun to pop over to Richmond Park for the afternoon, a chance for us to look at some greenery, and hopefully catch a few stags/deer and some wildlife that the Park has to offer.

After a nice drive west, we arrived at Richmond Park, and headed straight over towards the ‘Isabella plantation’ that’s located in the middle of the park. The plantation offered a couple of nice ponds, where a large number of ducks were playing – and thanks to Gina’s awesome ‘Bird book’, we (well – Gina) was able to name the ducks. Much to our surprise, we spotted a Mandarin duck! This is what the RSPB has to say on them:

The male has the most elaborate and ornate plumage with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face, orange ‘sails’ on the back, and pale orange flanks. The female is dull by comparison with a grey head and white stripe behind the eye, brown back and mottled flanks. They were introduced to the UK from China and have become established following escapes from captivity.

Mandarin Duck

From here, we headed over to the big open plains where we spotted our first deer causally chilling behind a tree. We decided to continue walking in, where we stumbled upon another – a Stag that was chilling in the tall grass with it’s antlers poking out of the grass. We spent a bit of time with him, getting all the photos we could:

stag-2
deer_gina

We did a nice casual loop around the ‘main’ field, and started heading back towards Terell. We were getting hungry at this point, so we decided to drop into Richmond Town, which itself is also a very pretty, nice little town! A stroll down the high street proved fruitful – both in terms of food (pizza!), and a couple of comics for me :D


07
Aug 16

Rochester & Whitstable

Iest got a nice Escape London book for his b-day (among looooads of other things), so we went to test it with a sunny trip to Rochester and Whitstable.

Rochester turned out to be a nice little very English town with a pretty high street (including apparently the biggest second hand bookshop in England), cathedral and a castle. Had a yummy lunch of pancakes before heading out to Whitstable.

Rochester High street

Rochester High street

Baggins book bazaar

Baggins book bazaar

Rochester back street

Rochester back street

Castle

Castle

Lunchies

Lunchies

Whitstable was even sunnier, and probably the whole of London was in there (parking mission impossible!). We still had fun on the beach and eating some fresh seafood, and that’s about the extent of the things that can be done in that place. We also sketched a bit though, although that was just me i think.

Whitstable

Whitstable

Beach

Beach

Seafood

Seafood


23
Jul 16

Y Garn scrambling

A nice quick summer trip to Wales. Iest was still a bit sore after his surgery so he was taking it easy, but I had my new book on North Wales scrambles so I was not letting this opportunity go.

The weather was a bit uncertain, cloudy and a bit windy (although it turned out ok for the day with no rain). I chose the east ridge of Y Garn as an mid-easy little trip, and it was very enjoyable indeed.

Y Garn east ridge

Y Garn east ridge

Y Garn east ridge

Y Garn east ridge

Y Garn east ridge

Y Garn east ridge


03
Jul 16

Cardiff

Nice summer Saturday, Tafwyl 2016 in full swing, us being proper Welsh we decided to head out to the ‘diff to partake.

Cardiff

Cardiff

Weather couldn’t have been better, and the Cardiff castle was buzzing with welshness. We pottered around all kind of stuff in the market, I got me a pretty canvas shopping bag ‘Barod am antur’, and we got ourselves on a tour of the insides too (‘flamboyant fantasy world’ as our guidebook would call it).

Tafwyl 2016

Tafwyl 2016

Arab room ceiling

Arab room ceiling

Animal wall

Animal wall

Afterwards we made our way down to the Bay (through some dodgy ‘hoods tho), which was buzzing with summer life, welsh cakes, music and gentrification; all very lovely. We checked out the Senedd, the Pierhead and the new beautiful Millennium centre.

Pierhead & Senedd

Pierhead & Senedd

Millennium Centre

Millennium Centre

Overall a great welsh day!
(Plus, got Jon Jovi’s greatest hits in hmv for the trip back! (and many other future trips indeed))


22
Jun 16

Trento

On our last day we decided to be a bit cultural and made our way to lovely Trento, which was hot and sunny and pretty. That was pretty much the last highlight of our trip to Italy this time, if we don’t mention that thanks to air traffic controllers being on strike (the French ones of course, that goes without saying) the next day, we missed our vote in the brevet referendum.

Trento

Trento

Trento

Trento


21
Jun 16

Gistavo Vidi

Given that Sosat was under snow, we decided to do Osvaldo Osat – but alas! the road to that was so bad that we didn’t dare to take carcon, our rented friend too far on it, and had to turn back. What was left was to go back up to Rif. Stoppani and do the Gustavo Vidi, a nice unchallenging horizontal traverse once again (we did this a couple years ago), but this time to finish the whole circle on the other side of the ridge. Weather was fine and views were spectacular, and unlike the last time, there were still fairly large snowfields to muddle through this time (I was trailblazing the way for us of course), so it was actually a bit more challenging up to the Pass dei Tre Sassi.

Gustavo V.

Gustavo V.

Up to the pass

Up to the pass

Here we are

Here we are

From there, we needed to drop hugely on the other side through a long and steep scree, which was a bit annoying, but after that it was mostly traversing back towards the rifugio. The only problem was that we were a bit tight on time, to get the last cable car at five. If we missed it, it would be at least a couple of boring hours of descent back down to the road, and we were really not feeling up to that. So, it was a bit of a race, I admit I was losing my hope for a bit there, but eventually we made it with about fifteen minutes to spare – beer never tasted so good!

Beer!

Beer!


20
Jun 16

Madonna & marmot

Got up, packed up the tent, said goodbye to Cortina and headed over to Madonna di Campiglio, for a bit of change of scenery. Had a nice strudel breakfast by the lake. Then we drove merrily out of the mountains and into the sunshine.
Arriving to Madonna in the afternoon, we stopped by Passo del Groste for a quick trip up the cable car to see the snow situation for tomorrow. We pottered around Rifugio Stoppani for a bit, and indeed it seemed that Sosat ferrata still under snow and closed – which was then further confirmed by a couple of German climbers who’ve just been there.

Rif. Stoppani

Rif. Stoppani

For now, we walked up a bit towards Gustavo Vidi, and the place was alive with marmots. We had especially one fun encounter with the brave soul of the pack who gives the warning to the rest, and who valiantly faced us standing up.

Bird of prey

Bird of prey

Marmot

Marmot

In addition, we saw a great bird of prey, which was truly huge & majestic, of which Iest thinks was an eagle, which probably was not but huge, it really was.
Afterwards we took the last cable car down and found our usual campsite at Adamelo, and – after a little search around – also our usual restaurant for dinner.


19
Jun 16

Nuvolau

The morning sky was overcast but with high clouds so not so bad, so we decided to do a hike & ferratas with the prospect of some beautiful views, in the Nuvolau group. We took the lift to Rif. Scoiattoli, right by the famous Cinque Torri, and from there a nice hike over to ferrata Averau. The views were truly epic in all directions.

Cinque Torri

Cinque Torri

Nuvolau group

Nuvolau group

Rif. Scoiattoli

Rif. Scoiattoli

We reached Rif. Nuvolau (2.574) in good spirits, and had some tea and snacks. When we walked down to Rif. Averau the weather turned really quite bad, snowstormy with zero visibility. We obviously had no choice but to get us a couple of cakes in the hut, and see if it blew over, as we wanted to do a quick up and down on the ferrata Gusela to the top of Averau (2.649).

View to Averau

View to Averau

Top of Averau

Top of Averau

Fortunately, after the cakes we had a sunny break, and we quickly ascended the last peak, and downed it the same way but fairly quickly as the weather was coming in again. From there it was already close back to the cable car station, and we got there just in time before closing for the day. By now all the great views were already immersed in fog and it started to rain too, so we were very happy about how lucky we were for the day.

We were pretty tired too, so we took a shower and dropped into Cortina for a nice dinner, with a proper tiramisu today. The usual evening beer in the camp, but off to bed early.


18
Jun 16

Forcella Stanniers

In the morning the sky was fairly clear, sun on the tent, even though some clouds on the ridges. After a hearty breakfast in Cortina we set out to Capanna Rio Gere from where we took a cable car up to Rifugio Son Forca, and from there another one up to Rif. Lorenzi at Forcella Stanniers (2.918m). The weather was not great already, so we were not really convinced to do the whole great ridge of Ivano Dibona ferrata, as visibility was low and it was snowing.

Forcella Staniers

Forcella Staniers

Forcella Staniers

Forcella Staniers

We had a tea at the hut to see if we can wait it out – but it was getting worse if anything. We decided to at least do the very beginning over to the awesome suspension bridge, and then we had to go back down in the funny little pods. The second cable car was not going because of the weather, so at least we had some time for an apple strudel and teas at the hut. Dinner in Cortina and sleeping like babies – the fresh air is doing us good.

Rifugio Son Forca

Rifugio Son Forca

Ivano Dibona

Ivano Dibona