A sleepless night had been a lurid maelstrom of technicolour possibilities; dreams of wibbling on a busy route; being stuck with no option to go back; an exposed move at the top of The Ladder; falling, being inverted by the weight of my rucksack, pulled out of my climbing harness, plummeting head first like the start of the film ‘Cliffhanger’…
The scenic drive to Cortina d’Ampezzo over the dramatic Lagazuoi pass was overshadowed by a growing sense of my impending doom. As soon as we parked and I got out of the car and looked up at our challenge for the day – Via Ferrata Michielli Albino Strobel; 1000m (3000-ft) straight up the sheer, rock wall of Punta Fiames – I felt sick.
It took 15 minutes for the ‘plane to circle and climb to 12,000ft, during which I became more and more nervous. I was the only first-timer and, although I fully trusted Max, to whom I was firmly strapped (in the doggy position) when they shouted “12,000ft. Doors OPEN!” I thought “You’re all MAD!” Continue reading “The Two-Mile High Club”→
I opened the curtains on to a bright, sunny day. I watched a lone paraglider spiral slowly down through the perfect blue sky.
It was Christmas morning and I was alone. In a motel room in Queenstown, New Zealand.
“It’s just another day!” I had assured Sue, my travelling companion, convinced that it wouldn’t trouble me at all. Her boyfriend had flown out to join her for Christmas. Mine hadn’t. He was far too busy. Far to important. Traits that would ultimately clinch his place among the ranks of the X-Men!
Cougars & Cliff Dwellings – plus The Four Oarsmen of the Apocalypse; a First Descent in the Four Corners!
In The Four Corners, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, we discovered the perfect combination of activity, sightseeing and relaxation, high in the rocky mountains.
We based ourselves in Durango. You might not realise it, but you DEFINITELY know Durango. Billed as the ‘Hollywood of the Rockies’ the adobe hills, high peaks, steam train and typically Western town have provided the backdrop to many a famous film, some of which do not wander too far from the truth. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid was filmed here – and allegedly Butch really did hold up the bank at nearby Telluride. I’m sure that the prosperity of the mines attracted other well-known outlaws, although it is difficult to separate fact from myth and legend. Particularly where tourist dollars are involved! Continue reading “Rocky Mountain High – Colorado Capers”→
‘Barging In’: Win 1st Prize TWICE by coming 2nd, Alice’s Sea Bass – & Meet the Real Captain Birdseye!
Huge, majestic craft with distinctive red-ochre sails, Thames sailing barges used to be the cargo workhorses of the River Thames and the Essex coast. Once a common sight; over 2000 barges plied these waters. Sadly, now only a handful of these historic ships remain.
Their romance had long held me in thrall, so imagine how excited I was to discover that it is possible not only to sail a Thames Barge, but also to stay on board AND race one! We took part in one of the Barge Matches, a series of races held to every year to pit the pride of barge crews against each other! Continue reading “Thames Barge Racing – The Whitstable Barge Match”→