Category: Travels


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Predjama Castle

What an amazing country to visit. Beautiful countryside, lovely wine and fantastic people. Mountains, lakes and coast. We planned to stay for a month, mixing camping with staying in small guest houses and apartments. We took the van and drove through Italy with mountain bikes, hiking stuff, camping kit and climbing kit.

A good place to start, especially when arriving from Italy, is the wine region around Kanal. Mountain Bikes are a fantastic way to explore the vineyards and the cherry orchards. The karst scenery is breathtaking with deep cut limestone gorges and caves.

On route to the coast we called by the Church of the Holy Trinity at Hrastovlje where the procession of death is painted on the wall. We had to phone the caretaker to let us in but we got a private viewing and explanation of all the medieval paintings. Outside there was a very bizarre gate to a paddock made up of wartime memorabilia welded together. We took a wander through to village and got chatting to a guy about a very old blue moped. He then turned round and asked if we wanted to see his private museum of wartime stuff. It was his paddock, garden and a room at the back of the house, crammed with anything to do with the first or second world wars.

Next stop Pirea on the coast. A touristy town with a wealth of history. All the historical plaques were in Slovenian and English. This is a theme throughout the country.

Inland again to a tiny hamlet near Cernica. On the way we took in a medieval castle in a cave. At one time it belonged to a “Robin Hood” style character who mocked the law and survived a long siege of the castle by getting supplies in through the cave network behind the castle. This only came to an end when he was hit by a cannonball while sat on the privy.

More exploring by bike and a visit to the wondrous caves at Postojna. Now I used to go caving for fun and take groups caving. This cave is incredible and so well presented as a tourist attraction. The guides are superb and all my scepticism about show caves has been blown away. Alas, no photos of the cave as I think they want you to buy theirs.

From here we headed north of the capital to Kamnick. We were lucky with the weather to get up to see the Velika Planina, highland pasture with old style herdsmans huts. Beautiful wooden structures in a series of tiny hamlets. We also jumped on a bus for a day trip into Ljubljana. The mountains here were holding too much snow and the weather was not good enough for much hiking so we then drove over to the Julian Alps, Bled and Bohinjska Bistrica.

Velika Planina


Triglavski National Park are stunning. It is very touristy and although it was out of season it cost more to park the car than drive it. Bikes are brilliant. There’s a plethora of climbing and hiking options.

Other places visited and well worth a mention.

  • The Bee Museum at Radovljica is amazing. Very interesting insight into beekeeping and the history of it.
  • Franja Partisan Hospital – Built in an inaccessible gorge this is an incredible insight into the organisation of the Partisans in this part of the world.
  • Kopa is a village famed for the production and working of iron. We went on a Sunday in the rain but it’s lovely to just walk around and see all the old ironwork.
  • On the way to Kopa we took a scenic route and stumbled across a memorial which appears to have been a battle site between Partisans and Germans in the second World War at Dražgoše.
Categories: Summer 2023, Travels Tags: Tags:

Post COVID travels Nicaragua

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Chicken bus

After several travel plans have gone to the shape of the pear over the last couple of years we have finally got away. Destination Nicaragua.

As per normal we planned to stay in different places and explore for a few days before moving on. Grenada, on lake Nicaragua, was a great first stop and eased us into the culture. It’s small enough to walk around and is steeped in history. Next was Ometepe, a small island with a couple of volcanos on the same lake. Much more chilled, superb people and some opportunities to explore. Climbed a volcano, cycled the island, saw capuchin monkeys, a calmen, and loads of plants which we have never seen before.

The plant life and the birds became a strong theme for our explorations. Next we headed up north to the highland and stayed at Don Chico’s farm. Don Chico is 84 and has carved out trails around the Penas Blancas. He is like a small child/mountain goat and is so keen to show folk around. We had two days walking with him and learnt so much. Then, as we were waiting for our lift to the next staging post, he got out his accordian and started playing music for us.

The Somoto Canyon was brilliant. We had a private guide (just two of us booked that day) and saw nobody else while there. Stayed at a cool little farm and saw loads of wildlife.

Last stop was the Corn Islands and Orinoco on the Caribbean coast. More varied food which was great. Amazing people from different tribes and a whole different history and culture. The most memorable day was Mothers Day when all the Mothers of Orinoco played baseball.

Travelling around was all on local buses and pangas (boats) except the Corn Islands which we flew to. All pretty easy and hastle free, though it took some getting used to how it all worked.

A fabulous country with such variety of people cultures and histories.

Categories: Travels


Having been monitoring the weather forecast for a couple of options for a cheeky getaway a window opened up to go to Andorra. Toys in the van and off we set for 4 nights camping in Canillo. Breezy found a lovely small campsite in the town centre within easy reach of supplies and restaurants.

On route we stopped in Ax-les-Thermes for a spot of climbing. Once we found the crag we could make no sense of the guidebook. We climbed, had our fill, and passed the actual crag on the way out. Next time we will know where to go.

First day in Canillo we tackled the Roc del Quer directisimo via ferrata. A short walk from the campsite to the start by the main road then an hour and twenty up to the viewing platform at the top. Nice mix of metal rungs and rock holds and some fairly steep sections. In the afternoon, climbing at Cascade D’Urina, a couple of km outside the town. This little crag with a waterfall tumbling in the middle did actually resemble the guide book.

Day two – Vall D’Incles – hitched up the road to the car park with an Andorran Mountain Guide who was super helpful on routes. Very pretty trail up to Refuge Juclar and up to Collada Juclar and into France. A traverse over to Etangs de Fontargenta, pop back over the border at Port de Fontargenta and back through irises to the car park where we got the solar powered bus back to the van.

Saturday – Via Ferrata Pic de Bony – Drove to Grau Roig and took a custom ascent route to get to the base of the via ferrata. Once again we had the place to ourselves, and again a good mix of metal and rock. An hour up for a picnic at the top then descent walk back to the van.

Sunday – Pic de Montmalus, Cretes des Pessons to Portella dels Pessons and return via the lakes. Beautiful route up to the Col on the ridge. Pretty near the top we could hear the screeching of brakes and saw what looked like three mountain bikers descending the very rocky trail towards us. When they got closer we realised they were actually on Enduro motorbikes. Good skills! The ridge was lovely with a steep climb up to Pic de Ribuls. Our chosen descent back down to the lakes was a scree and boulder filled gully and then a field of huge boulders with little marking a not very well used trail. Got back to the van by 3.15pm to start the drive back to the barn.
Fantastic few days away with little time to read a book but a complete recharge of the batteries. Brilliant!

Categories: Summer 2020, The Project, Travels Tags: Tags:

Ordesa National Park hiking trip

We have been meaning to get to the Ordesa for years. Either thwarted by weather or huts being closed or booked out. Determination does reap rewards and this year we made it, just before the holidays when it is super busy.

Decided to make a number of day hikes in different vallies to get an overall feeling of the place rather than hiking up high all the time, so took the little tent and the van and went on a mini road trip.

  • Valle de Pineta – started with a walk up the valley with the aim of doing a loop. One of the bridges was out unfortunately to get over a cascade and so ended up doubling back. Beautiful introduction and found some wild irises. Had a beer at the shack in the carpark and headed down the valley to Bielsa for the evening.
  • Valle de Anisclo – In the morning we drove over to Nerin. A Beautiful narrow twisty mountain road with some passing places. A great start to the day through old hamlets and farming communities. From Nerin we trekked through Sercue on the GR11 and down into the Anisclo Canyon. It’s a narrow steep sided canyon with fierce waterfalls and incredible scenery. You really feel like you are hiking up the side of the river as it tumbles down the steep terrain. At Riperata, where we had lunch we headed left up the Pardina Gorge and out of the top over a col into a meadow full of iris flowers. From there we trekked through arid scrub back down to the village of Nerin and off to find a campsite at Torla.
  • Ordesa Canyon – So much more commercial and touristy than Anisclo, but still mega impressive, just in a very different way. A smaller and more green version of the Grand Canyon. Once off the bus from Torla to the park entrance our route took us up a steep climb to Mirador y Refugio Calcilerrugo where you get an elevated 180 degree view up and down the canyon. A balcon walk halfway up the canyon called Faja Felay took us up to Puenta de Soaso. From there we followed the tourist trail in the heat of the day where you get stuck behind bimbly bumblies. The tourist route is easy to follow as it is covered in tourists as it meanders down the wide valley joining the river occasionally where there are some stunning to the same campsite and a meal out in Torla.
  • Valle de Bujaruelo – We had had 3 long days and fancied an easier one before heading back towards the border to for our last night camping in Spain. Up stream from Torla there is another valley as well as Ordesa which is nowhere near as dramatic but, again, beautiful. Our short loop got extended as we wanted to explore more and more. A completely different character again with pastures and a river which seemed in much less of a hurry to get anywhere though still had some drops with blue water pools at the bottom. Also swimming up this valley appears to be permitted. We took the GR 11 up the Valle del Ara to the Refugio del Vado d’Ordiso and then came back on the other side of the river for the last half.

Categories: Summer 2017, The Project, Travels Tags: Tags:

Borneo with a backpack

Sunset Borneo

After the winter season in Chamonix we are both in need of a recharge of the old batteries. This year we headed East to Borneo.

Outline Itinerary

  • Flew in to Kutchin and stayed a couple of nights to get orientation – brilliant free museums which give a flavour of the country and history
  • Bako National Park – a bus ride and then a small boat to reach the HQ where there are proboscis monkeys and bearded pigs – simple food and basic accommodation – night walks guided to see nocturnal animals in the jungle
  • Kutchin for a night before heading to Sibu by boat
  • Sibu – nice town on a river – street art and market (which most of the towns have) – bus to Miri
  • Miri for a couple of nights to stay with a friend and arrange travel plans heading on
  • Flew Miri to Mulu National Park – twin otter, 19 seater plane – brilliant accommodation and food with night walks, self guided walks and we took a guided trip to the pinnacles – caves to visit including Deer Cave where you can watch the bat exodus (3 million bats exit the cave in the evening) – pinnacles is a boat up river, hike 9km to camp 5, climb the next day and back to camp 5, hike and boat out
  • Miri for a night to wash clothes
  • Flew Miri to Bario via Marudi – twin otter – there are direct flights but if booked look for a Marudi flight and connection
  • Bario – famous for salt, pineapples and rice – stayed in an amazing longhouse with a super interesting Kelabit family – walking and exploring – great food and fascinating culture and history
  • Kota Kinabalu via Miri – KK for a couple of nights to get sorted with a slot to climb Mount Kinabalu – managed to get a 2 day 1 night slot with a private guide – left excess kit at Park HQ and hiked to the Pendant Hut, stayed there and then up to summit of Low’s Peak for sunrise, back to the hut for breakfast and hiked out the same day
  • Ranau – not a nice place and not recommended as somewhere to stay but we didn’t feel like travelling further – caught a bus next morning to Sandakan
  • Sandakan for a couple of nights – used as a base to visit the war memorial and POW camp plus visit the Orang Utans at Sepilok – brilliant
  • Flew Sandakan to Kudat – another twin otter adventure with amazing views – stayed in a longhouse and was lucky enough to see turtles hatching on the beach and swim away, a green turtle and deserted beaches – great end to the trip!!!
  • Flew back to the UK via KK.


Categories: Summer 2017, Travels

Spain Trip-Aiguilles Tortes National Park


We made it to Spain on the 3rd attempt and have had a ball!!! Sunshine, loads of isards to see, nobody about and stunning scenery with my hubby what could be a nicer way to spend 4 days.
We left the barn on a gorgeous morning but the snow was at 2000m and temperatures had dropped dramatically. Slightly concerned since most of the huts we had planned to stay in were about 2000m!

Had a good drive over with lovely views, took slightly longer than planned but did not really matter as we only had a 3 ish hours walk in that day.

We began from Espot which is a small village just on the outskirts of the park and very quaint. Lots of Spaniards out enjoying the mountains with it being the week end. We headed off to our first refugio Josep Maria Blanc (JMB) a stunning walk up through the forest, following the river and cascades up to a lake where we had lunch behind a wall as it was blowing a hoolie. Out of the wind it was hot but in the wind a tad chilly. From there we continued up to the lovely JMB hut situated on one of the many lakes in the park. Good atmosphere at the hut but only half full so that is always nice.

The next day was an explore day to get to the Colomina refugio. The main path takes just 3 hours ish but we decided to climb Pic de Peguera. A lovely remote path on the way up seeing nobody which was great except some Isard. From the col the ground got more technical and there was definitely a challenging manoeuvre at the top….I was scared!!!! anyway we finally got up there safe and sound but the rock was icy and slippy so we changed from our original plan of the ridge walk to Saburo as it looked quite gnarly and also quite icy! And decided to do a lovely loop taking in quite a few peaks the opposite way with no snow about. It was stunning. Saw one Spaniard on the way and that was it. A pleasant descent via lakes which were so so low on water they looked very eerie being so empty. Colomina hut perched at nearly 2400m had lovely views and again only a small number of us there. None of the huts seem to have white wine so this hut had cava so we decided to treat ourselves to a bottle of bubbles up the hill, very nice it was too!!

Next day was another explore day off the beaten track and some clouds were rolling about so we were being spot on with navigation as we did not want to get lost in the somewhat pathless terrain we were covering that day. Again loads of Isard to see on our way up, and lots of route finding, scrambling and fun to get up to the Col. Looked at the peaks to climb and thought rope maybe would be good so we decided to descend to the Lakes below for a late lunch in the sun.

Boulder hopping tastic on the way down but a picture postcard lunch spot with most of the hard descent done. From there a steady climb down to the last refugio Mallafre basic but great views of les Encantatas the twin peaks the park is very well know for. It was chilly and they actually lit the fire which was great.

Final day was just a few hours walk out through stunning forests and meadows back to Espot.

It is a really gorgeous park and well worth a visit. It is our second visit there and we hope to do another 3-4 day trip again next summer.

Categories: Summer 2016, The Project, Travels Tags: Tags:

Mt Valier Adventure


This explore has been on our list for a while and we finally got to do it in fabulous weather with an abundance of wildlife and absolutely nobody around, what more could we have asked for. Lee as always was a fund of information on the area which helped giving us a plan of attack.

So we set off from Col de la Pause which we know well and up to Port D’Aula. An easy stroll up to the Spanish border although quite windy the sun was out so ideal walking conditions.

At the col the map came out. We followed a vague path mainly on the Spanish side for 2 hours. En route we saw lots of Issard, (the Pyrenees equivalent of the Chamois) so that was a real bonus. Plenty of Marmots too but tricky blighters to photograph so Al says!!!
We then headed up to a col Peyre Blanc for lunch….looking down on the refuge, Mt Valier and Petit Mt Valier waiting to be climbed after re fuelling.

A slightly tricky down climbing section, made us both concentrate! And then from the final col it was only a 20 minute walk up to the Mt Valier. The thunder was roaring around us but only a few spots of rain before it passed and cleared again. Only ones on the summit fantastic and good views too. From there it is about 1.5 hour descent to the hut with our dodgy knees going slowly!

A fun night at the refuge with a couple of Dutch guys, and 8 French guys. Think we got special treatment as I was the only female there that night, dorm with just one other single guy so no ear plugs needed and a good nights kip after some excellent garlic soup, chicken in a wild mushroom sauce and crème caramel.

We got a detailed forecast from the guardians with the advice to get going early as a HUGE storm was expected mid afternoon. So we took their advice and headed off by 730am the next day. Up via Etang Rond and Longue both stunning in colours and amazing reflections. A good path took us up to Col de Clauiere (which is one of the paths used for the Chemin de Liberty) so some history info on the way too. As we got to the col, clouds were whisking up and around us made it all look pretty amazing. Luckily the clouds came and went and we managed not to be in them at any stage which was a relief as that would have made ther route finding a tad trickier.

Issard tastic we must have seen at least 70 odd in about 1.5 hours, one huge herd of 30 plus was amazing to watch. We felt so lucky to see so many at such close sight. We sat 30 mins from Port D’aula sipping tea and watching the wildlife around us for half an hour before getting back to the col and then descending to the refuge for our picnic lunch and then on to Billy. The weather held out so we were dry and got back to the barn for hot showers before the storm began and now the water buts are full again!!!!
Fabulous 2 day explore, we would definitely do this hike again, doable in a day but much more enjoyable in 2!

Categories: Summer 2016, The Project, Travels Tags: Tags:

Trip to Cornwall

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Wedding night sunset

Breezy and I were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to a skiing friend’s wedding in Cornwall.  Simon and Lucy have been coming out to the chalet in Chamonix for about 5 years now.  We managed to drop off the van in Toulouse with Alison and Peter who have a house in Salau for a week and flew into Bristol. The wedding was in St Mawes and B&Bs were really expensive so we found Quirky Campers in Bristol and rented Bella, one of their campervans.

Bella is fantastic, built n a Mercedes Sprinter, she is fully equipped and gave us complete flexibility over where we stayed. The Quirky team are also super flexible and we managed to get a Tuesday to Tuesday booking.

The trip started with a stay in Teignmouth with Nicole and Nick who visited us last summer. Then backtracking to Exeter to see an old school friend of mine, Mike and his wife Pearl. From there we headed over to Widemouth to see another skiing friend Judy who happened to be in Cornwall for a couple of days.  On the way over to St Mawes we stayed in Mevavissey in a very soulless carpark. Fi came over for supper in Bella and we met up again the next morning to walk some of the coastal path.

Last destination was St Mawes where we managed to camp at the castle where the wedding was to be held.  Merely 80m from the marquee we definitely had the shortest trip home.  Friday evening was hosted by Lucy’s parents at their house in the town and then we went for a walk before the wedding on the Saturday (and a shower at Fi’s B&B).

The wedding was fabulous. Having met some of the guests the night before at Lucy’s parents made a huge difference. The Castle was a brilliant venu and both the bride and groom looked amazing. The sun shone and they had a brilliant jazz band in the grounds for the drinks reception after the ceremony. The meal was in a marquee in the grounds and the food was scrummy – good job there was some boogying later to dance it all off. Lucy’s Father delivered one of the best speaches I have ever heard which had us laughing and crying at different times. He had obviously put a great deal of thought to it. Oh, and there was an awesome sunset too which changed with every passing minute to top it all off!

Sunday evening we headed north again to just shy of Bristol, then met up with old friends Linnit and Kate in Bristol on the Monday before flying back to Toulouse.

A fairly tiring week in all meeting loads of people and travelling (all be it slowly) around the South West. Thank you all for sparing us the time and use of your showers.



Sri Lanka Adventures


Our month in Sri Lanka started with a night in Negombo as we arrived into Colombo airport late. From there we did a little tour staying 3-5 nights in different places taking in Kandy – Siguria – Trincomalee – Polonnaruwa – Arugum Bay – Ella and finally Galle.

If you like curry the Sri Lanka is gonna suit you very well. We managed to get a couple of cookery courses in. The first was around Kandy in a typical mountain family home. Very basic facilities but a great experience cooking as the locals do with seasonal vegetables and all done on a double gas burner like the ones we used to use camping with the scouts. The second was at a restaurant in Ella in a professional kitchen which was much more of a demonstration. Both gave us very different recipes and left us with a determination to pickup some spices and have a go back home.

Sri Lanka has a lot of buddha, some amazing ancient cities and a varied history. We deliberately split our time with some mountains, culture, beaches, history, then more mountains, a bit more history etc etc.

Other highlights included climbing Adams Peak, the wildlife, crazy bus journeys, taking the train through the tea plantations and also learning to drive a tuk tuk.

Sunny Spain

Back at the barn now after our road trip in Spain. Started on the Costa Brava…

Montserrat next for some culture, climbing and walking with a day trip to Barcelona.

And finally onto Pedraforca.

Came back with some lovely pottery, cheap floor tiles, some lavender and Cava plus wine.

Categories: Summer 2013, The Project, Travels Tags: Tags: ,