Monday, 31 March 2008

A reluctant spring?

There was an enormous amount of fresh snow in the French Alps last week -tons more than in February! The first roadside snow we encountered was in Chambery & there was loads in Bourg St Maurice, which is a tad over 700m above sea level. About a foot had fallen 30 hours before we arrived. We were armed with snow chains but were glad that we didn't have to use them on the hairpin bends up to Vallandry. The apartment was not quite slopeside but had great views across towards La Plagne & down the valley. A two minute uphill walk took us to the first chairlift & so we hit the slopes much earlier, even managing 'first tracks' at times. We were glad of the tree lined runs (well I was anyway!) above the resort and with the snow in great condition right back down to the village we were able to clock up the ski miles without venturing out into more whit-out conditions. When the skies cleared & the sun crept out the temperatures still remained low but the views were awesome. Most days we swept back down to the apartment for a lunchtime warm & bowls of thick soup! We did, however, have one lunchtime feast at a favorite spot above Arc 1800 -L'Arpette. My Tartiflette was a while coming but was worth the wait. It took all hands to scrape the last delicious scraps from the dish!
As we drove down from Yorkshire to Vallandry this gave me plenty of knitting time! I drove a little but Mr J prefers to drive & doesn't knit too well!On Thursday evening we drove south. I finished the Amanda hat before Milton Keynes & added a few inches on the Melon Scarf before our first motel stop just north of Dover. The English Channel was pretty rough on Good Friday morning & the ferries were running late. Fortunately we were squeezed onto an 'early' ferry that left at the same time as the one that we were booked onto! The ferry was packed with Easter travellers, but I found a spot to sit & continue with the melon Scarf. Mr J & son were happy to eat & wander around! Once we landed I started work proper on the Forest Canopy Shawl that had been planned as my main holiday knit. It was a great project for the trip, with lifelines in place (but thankfully never needed) I was happy to knit away the miles. The pattern is fairly easy to remember & as I was knitting in DK/worsted on 5mm needles it grew reasonably quickly. The slight colour variations in the yarn (dyed by 21st Century Yarns) made for added interest & with a couple of evenings knitting & one too foggy afternoon I finished the shawl on Wednesday evening. I might have squeezed another pattern repeat out of the yarn but with over 300 stitches on the needles that was a risk I preferred not to take. The photo was meant to be an 'artistic' effort with the shawl slung over the balcony with the snow & trees in the background but the contrast in the morning light was too much really & by afternoon the weather had closed back in! Further knitting enabled me to finish one sock (Diagonal Cross Rib socks by Ann Budd) and more of the Melon Scarf. When I was not skiing & too tired to knit or watch a film I managed to finish listening to my Audible download of 'Dragonfly in Amber' by Diana Gabaldon. I have read the books before but have really enjoyed the unabridged versions of the first two & will download 'Voyager' with one of my next months credits. It was great to be physically rather than mentally tired although I often woke to find the earpieces to my mp3 player still in but the sleep setting having kicked in and switched the player off just after I dropped off!

The drive home was long as a) the traffic was a bitch & b) there is no b.... the traffic from Albertville to Chambrey was predictably busy. The cut off via the 'Tunnel du Chat' from Chambrey to Bourg en Bresse was really pleasant driving & then the autoroute north to Dijon was very unpredictable. Slowing to a standstill & then opening up for no obvious reason. Once we cut to the north east towards Nancy & Metz it was much better & we reached our motel only a couple of hours later than hoped. The motel has free wi-fi which was great (Campanille) & all were able to catch up on stuff via the laptop. The drive through Luxembourg, Belgium & Holland to Europort was OK & the option of taking the Rotterdam-Hull crossing was a good one. We have crossed via Hull-Zeebrugger before but this was much better. The 'Pride of Rotterdam' is some boat! The food was excellent & the whole experience was very relaxed. We were back in Hull by 8 & home just after 9.30. Better than driving through southern England.


Heather L. said...

I so enjoyed hearing about your ski trip and seeing all the pictures!!!It sounds like a really nice holiday!

I have some wool for socks! I tried to start, but found it a bit fiddly on size 1 needles (maybe that would be UK 12 or 13 -- something around there). Anyway, my sister is coming tomorrow to help -- I think I'll switch to size 3. I believe the yarn is 4 ply. Anyway, we'll see how I get on.

clarabelle said...

Wow, an amazing action-packed post, Mrs J! I'm exhausted! I'd love to see/do everything you've seen/done, but minus the skiing.

I love the Forest Canopy - I haven't checked this pattern out before, but I will now (I'm also not sure whether to check out 21st Century Yarns considering the trouble you caused by alerting me to the Lanark Mills site!).

Queen of the froggers said...

Lovely trip and thank you for sharing the photos. The shawl is beautiful and the colour fab!

Joanne said...

Wow, that sounds like a wonderful trip! Most of my European friends don't do the car trip, so I'm interested to hear that there are some folks who do! (The US is all about car trips; we go up to 500 miles without a blink of an eye.)

One funny thing--I am sure you wanted warm bowls of soup after skiing, right? not bowels?! :)
The knitting time sounds lovely. After my marathon sock knitting, I'm in recovery. Oh, and in response to your post on my blog, I totally try to see the potential in all the houses I visited! It's just that when you know you have to rip out the entire (non-functional) kitchen, and the real estate cost is twice what my current wholly functional house costs...that's when it's a bit of a downer to relocate!

Mrs J said...

Ups! I really should check my posts!