This year has been quite extraordinary for me. I’ve spent what now on reflection almost seems an obscene amount of time out of the country. Three weeks in March in the French Alps, doing the usual thing of skiing, although with such poor snow at the end of the 2011 season we discovered a new pursuit of walking the mountains in snow shoes, of which I definitely want to do more (and hopefully in only a few weeks time).
Three weeks of June were then spent cycling across France, from Roscoff in Brittany, down to St. Nazaire and then following the Eurovelo 6 ‘Rivers Route’ all the way to the Swiss border, a trek of just over 1,000 miles.
A week in Wales cycling from Newport to Holyhead – Ok, not exactly a foreign country, although in parts there was little English being spoken, and it was part of the UK that I’d never seen before.
And for the last 7 weeks we’ve Motorhomed our way down the west coast of France, followed the Pyrenees east to The Carmargue, and then the East coast of Spain, finding ourselves at years end in the Communidad Valenciana region of Spain.
So in all, over 3 months not at home! Of course there have inevitably been sacrifices, not seeing so much of our friends, particularly over the normally uber-social Festive season. And of course the house renovation continues to be ignored, but then is that really so important? I promise in 2012 to show more interest!
After being ill for 2 weeks over last Christmas I was determined that this year would be different. My fantasy new year wish was to spend Christmas/New Year in a hill top penthouse overlooking Los Angeles or something similar, enjoying bon-homie with friends. Well, I guess something like that could have been arranged, but as 2011 opened, I hadn’t really got any firm plans for what might be achieved during the year, and so opportunities were taken as they presented themselves. I couldn’t have predicted I’d be in the Carmargue for Christmas!
I decided to do something about my physical fitness, adopting a diet change that helped get rid of an unnecessary stone of extra weight (although sitting in a motorhome is doing some undoing which will be rectified ASAP!). Regular gym visits and the cycling helped of course, and long may both continue!
So as we now sit here in our little plastic and metal box that is temporarily our home, watching the sun slip beneath the covers of another day, and another year, I was particularly pleased to have been able to get out on the bicycle one last time in 2011 and head up hill. Not an enormous hill at about 400 metres, but a stiff climb of 1:6 to 1:5 on a meticulously tarmaced winding road, followed by a couple of miles of rough stuff. I got clear views south, east and west, even being able to just about make out the island of Ibiza on the south-eastern horizon. It might not be LA with friends, but I was just as happy and content to sit atop that hill, on my todd, and enjoy a celebratory cigar!
The ride back down to the town was great fun, carving wide turns around the bends, exceeding 30mph most of the time and occasionally pushing past 40mph (ignoring the signed speed limit of 40kph), even getting within striking distance of overtaking a car near the bottom of the run, but deciding that would be showing off!
We have no plans to celebrate the new year, its not the same without your friends and family, and as I mentioned yesterday, I find myself without the Leiderhausen that I think my fellow campers will be donning for the midnight hour. I don’t think lycra cycling shorts will quite do it. So we shall stay in our box, and watch a good film, enjoy a sumptuous feast and some fine wine (the Kir Royal is already on the go), and make our own entertainment!
I’m not sure what 2012 is going to bring, apart from the conclusion to this current adventure, and our planned boys weekend to Krakow in March. The rest of the diary is blank, and I look forward to filling it with more adventures, whether they be at home or abroad. There is still talk of continuing or even completing the remainder of the Eurovelo 6 route, recommencing from Basel in Switzerland with the goal of the Black Sea. Will Jones be up for it, will I have to knock him off daily and force a beer into his hands before he tries to notch up another century day, and will I be able to fit it around those other necessary obligations of life? Time will no doubt have a tale to tell.
Oh and of course there is that little thing of gainful employment. Having taken the decision to stand down from being Wivey’s technical genius, what new pursuits might I find to interest me and provide a useful income. So far, thoughts of work have been few and far between, but already there are irons in fires and offers from not so anticipated places. What good fortitude might fate fling my way? Or will I be destitute come Christmas?
Whatever happens, remember to count your blessings and enjoy everything that comes your way. May I wish you all the most adventurous and entertaining 2012!