In Plenary, Practice on August 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm
It isn’t the views that make me nervous. We awoke this morning to mist and now we’ve driven up into it on one of the winding highroads that wend their way through the Picos. The mist is grey and wet. So is the road. No, it’s the invisibility of the valley, far below the roadside on my left, that induces vertigo. It’s cold too – we’re nearing the sixteen-hundred metre mark and the sunless gloom is chilly. I’m preparing myself for heartbreak; I’ve been waiting for this hike for many months but it’s really about the views. Apart from the obvious danger of trying it in these conditions, it would be pointless.
I haven’t brought a jacket and it’s wet out there. I curse myself and my breathtaking stupidity. We’re not quite at the point of giving up and turning around, although I’ve suggested it a couple of times, clinging instead to the hope that the summer sun will start to burn the cloud off by late morning. When we finally reach the little right-hand turn we’ve been looking for, no such luck. K is trying to shake me out of my black mood and suggests we descend to the next village for a coffee to give the weather some more time to improve.
It illustrates a striking oddity of mountain weather that when we get to the village – a ten minute drive – it is sunny, bright and warm. We are encouraged and sit with our coffee for half an hour before heading back up. Still no luck – we drive right back into the murk and park the car at the end of the unmarked little road. The beginning of the route is also unmarked so we have no idea where to go. More
In Presentation on May 10, 2013 at 8:44 am
How exquisite to race along the country roads of Franconia in Spring, the sky finally clear after a dreadfully long winter, the curving, sinking fields around us dappled with wildflower. We have some sublime music on and it exhilarates – a perfect match for the serene scenery, this central European tableau of farmhouse, mill and die wälder, the abundant patches of old forest that characterise northern Bavaria. We ride the melodies through dorf and altstadt, through the rock formations of Fränkische Schweiz, the territory between Bamberg and Bayreuth they call their little Switzerland – pretty towns, dark-beamed buildings as only the Germans can build them and at almost every junction of the roads a little brewery and biergarten.
We stop in at a favourite, Kathi Bräu, for some quark and onion on heavy brown bread, then set off again along the winding rivers that snake their way from Schloss to Schloss, the imposing castles that number even more here than they do in Andalusia. Our eyes and ears are joined in pleasure as the ensemble, a quintet, race through their bright, 1979 recording of self-penned pieces. The title of the collection, “Highway To Hell”, belies the uplifting nature of the Australian musicians’ performance.
A few days later, we’re without any soundtrack at all, not even a breeze to rustle up the leaves as we walk through forest near the little town of Kulmbach. It’s the kind of country we don’t have in Ireland – there isn’t enough space between things there to fit in places like this, More
In Practice, Production on October 23, 2012 at 9:56 am
Cork oaks have an ancient look to them – their soft, springy bark is grey and deeply wrinkled, their trunks a contortion of twists, adorned with moss in fizzing greens and lichens in porcelain shades of washed out blue-green, green-blue and jade.
I can’t always persuade K to come walking with me, and indeed I haven’t been out for a while myself, but I’ve spent too much time in the house this week and have come down with cabin fever, so here we are, walking up a rough road into the cork forests that overlook the Strait.
We’ve been to the visitor centre for the national park that surrounds us – two national parks in fact – and a nice lady has sold us a cute little pack that contains sixteen maps. The morning has been rainy but the clouds have cleared a little and the sky is pocked with blue patches as we tackle the first of them, the sun bursting through to dapple the world in moving circles of light.
It has helped my mood not one whit that we’ve spent the last hour in an enormous supermarket getting the weekly shopping done, me following K around like a sulking child, she eventually giving up on any notion of deploying my fetching capabilities.
Her: Could you please get a box of tagliatelli? More