Posted by: johnwalks | July 19, 2013


The local hill behind our village is Parmelan – about 2000m. The side facing the village is forest (bush to us!) topped with limestone cliffs. Above the cliffs is a large limestone plateau with of course a refuge serving meals and drinks.

We had a pleasant trot up through the trees and then on a spectacular path through a cleft in the cliff to the top. Lunch and then a cup of coffee. It was a brilliantly sunny day but even so we couldn’t see far because of the haze. In fact compared to NZ you can’s see far because of the persistent haze.

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Posted by: johnwalks | July 13, 2013

A hot walk

Our second to last dar here in Villaz and after a long study of the map and careful route planning we drive up to the start of the track up mt Baron (1254m) and further along the ridge to Mt Verier. From the car pack it was a climb of 750m to the top. The first part was through a lively forest of mature trees and then onto a ridge on top of the cliffs with views in all directions. We climbed along to the various summits, waving to the parapenters that were circling s
Close by. we crossed Baron and
Nd then headed along to Verier but it was getting late and very hot so we turned around. Our return was a little fraught as we missed the turnoff to the car park and had to spend an
N extra 20 minutes climbing back up to our car. We got home at 6:30 feeling a bit buggered and with me covered in embarrassment at missing the turnoff.






Posted by: johnwalks | July 5, 2013

At last a little walking

We are now in Villaz – a pleasant village 20 minutes and up in the hills away from Annecy. We are here on a house swap and the idea is to do some walking. The hills are about 1500 m – not so much mountains as big hills.

Yesterday – a wet and misty day – we set off to walk up Parmalot, the local peak and supposedly with a cafe on top. We couldn’t confirm that because we set off late and after a hairy drive up a NZ type ski road we left the car and went up a fairly muddy track – not helped by my airy dismissal of the need for boots – and sneakers are not ideal for slick tracks. So we had an outing – an hour or so climbing up and not getting to the top. Another day perhaps and when the sun is shining.

Meanwhile we have been into Annecy twice – it’s a biggish town and, just as I am missing my well worn boots at home, so we are desperately in need of a GPS as we drive into tow. I think the French attitude to signposting their roads is that if you don’t know where you are going you shouldn’t be driving.

Lunchtime we were tourists for an hour’s cruise on the lake- a smallish lake about 14km long and 2km or so wide. Lunch in true Kiwi fashion was our own sammies sitting in the park with crowds of people.

Apart from one misty day the weather here is in the mid twenties and very comfortable. Makes our return to the middle of a NZ winter a bit fraught. Some pictures below – the village has fairly modern apartments – there are some beautiful vegie gardens.

Annecy has some old sections.Image

Posted by: johnwalks | June 30, 2013


Mdina with twins

Posted by: johnwalks | June 30, 2013

Goodbye London, Hullo Malta

So here we are in the middle of the Mediterranean but getting here was not without its dramas – the car the NZ-UK link Foundation ordered to take us to Heathrow was an hour late arriving – fortunately we had allowed a good margin of error! So we crawled through central London rush hour traffic and then for a few terrifying moments hurtled down tiny sections of motorway with the driver saying again and again `sorry, sorry’/ But we made it with time to spare.

Malta – Grace was there to meet us and it was warm and sunny. Soon we were swept up into an extended Maltese family. Rebecca and Francesca ( 11 year old twin nieces of Grace) allowed me to teach them some real NZ language. Hopefully `munted’ is now part of everybody’s vocabulary. 

We all went to the old capital city of Mdina – the old capital city of Malta. We walked around then had a glass of wine (both twins declined my offer of a beer) and a piece of chocolate cake. Mdina has no cars in the center and is a UNESCO world heritage site – narrow streets, city wall and sandstone buildings.

We went to the twins graduation. It started with Mass then we had a fantastic concert followed by some drinks and then we went to dinner at Mamma Mia where there was pasta and more wine although again the twins declined my offer of a beer. So bed late at night.

Grace invited us to their family get-together at their farmhouse. Here I tasted a lot of traditional Maltese foods and drinks. We met Grace’s friends and we spent the night listening to Maltese folk singing – a warm evening although Anne complained about the mosquitos but I didn’t think there were any.

Friday we went to Gozo with Grace’s car on the ferry. Here we enjoyed views of Comino and Gozo from the ferry. When we arrived we followed a not very good descriptive map but finally we arrived at our Tal- Fanal farmhouse which to my eyes is a group of maisonettes  around a swimming pool in the countryside but Gozo is very small with lots of villages and nothing seems to us  to be far from anywhere else.

When we arrived Anne and Grace and Francesca went to the village supermarket to buy some groceries for the following days. After they arrived we enjoyed a traditional Maltese lunch of bread with tomatoes and olives.

The next morning we went to the Rabat market. Here you will find basically all you need for the beach and your household. When we walked around the backstreets we saw an owl which funnily enough the man bought from the pet shop. We were able to pat the owl and noticed how soft it was. 

At about 8:30 we went to the Latini restaurant where we enjoyed delicious food and views of the sea at Marsaforn.

Today into the capital city Victoria where we went to Citadel and saw a teenager sunbathing on the edge of the city wall. 

This blog has been dictated by Rebecca and Francesca and transcribed by John.


Posted by: johnwalks | June 14, 2013


Street poster Edinburgh

Posted by: johnwalks | June 13, 2013

Here goes with photos of walking

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Posted by: johnwalks | June 13, 2013


A while since I posted but anyway here goes again and let’s see if I can post from the iPad. So Sunday we took the retrain to Edinburgh. I used to think uk trains were fast agoo smooth but they have not kept pace with European or Japanese trains. So four and a half hours of being jolted around on a rough track we arrived in Edinburgh where I realised I hadn’t brought enough warm clothes. But while Anne was at her conference I walked the streets and the hills. It was a bit like being in dunediin -street names were familiar – George st Princes st, Water of Leith etc. There were a couple of nearby hills so I joined the crowds and wandered up Arthur’s Seat and along apth bordering some cliffs. Nice walking, good views and I got back into the city before it rained!

20130619-035035 PM.jpgthe photo is of a poster about politics in Scotland

Posted by: johnwalks | May 28, 2013

Country Walking

With our friends Bruce and Nancy we decided to get out of London for the weekend. We had never been to the Lake District so off we went and being strangers did not know it was a Bank Holiday long weekend. So the Friday train was packed.
We rented a delightful cottage at Witherslack which is on the edge of the Lake district and away from the more touristed area.
So we rented a car and drove off with some trepidation. That’s because of narrow country roads and map reading. But we found the cottage and went down to the lo local pub for dinner which was surprisingly good. In the past I have thought English pub food overrated but perhaps it has improved and I have mellowed.DSC03707

Dinner in pub

Dinner in pub

Saturday saw us drive over to Conniston water for a 3 hour wander through the English countryside. It is different to what we are used to – more people and well established paths and the bluebells in bloom under the trees.


Sunday we drive over to Ullswater and another walk up a hill. This was a little different to yesterday – a little wilder.
Afterwards we drove to Casltelrigg to an ancient stone circle. This was on a high plateau with 360 degree views all around. An impressive place and thousands of years old.
stone circle

stone circle

Monday poured with rain and we jammed onto trains and got back to London where the sun was shining.
We only sampled the fringes of the Lake District but someday we would like to return and spend a fortnight doing some serious walking.
hill path

hill path

Lake views

Lake views

Posted by: johnwalks | May 20, 2013

A visit to the country

DSC03673More than a month in London now and the hard pavement, buildings and relentless crush of people is fraying my nerves – I fight the tendency to tell people talking loudly on their cell phones in public to `bloody well shut up’. I recently heard the details of a woman’s break up with her boyfriend shared with the whole packed tube carriage.

So a good friend offered to take us to Glynbourne – an opera house set in the grounds of an English country house. So we accepted with alacrity.

But then came the problems – Glynbourne is a black tie affair and I am not known for my satorial elegance. But Phil came to the rescue with a white tuxedo, black trousers and black leather shoes (no asics allowed). We had to buy a black bow tie.Image

So off we went – the first two hours are spent strolling and being seen in the formal gardens  and walking around the lake. The opera house seats about 1000 and NOBODY was wearing anything except formal clothing. Naturally I had to be helped (as one of the photos shows) to put this fancy clobber on.

Then the opera began at 4:30. There was an interval of an hour and twenty minutes when everybody ate their fancy picnic dinner. Again, table clothes were spread out and one group had candles as well as cut glass wine glasses.

Then back into the opera house for the final two acts. The theater itself is only 10 years old and our friend Gill who took us, and is a professional musician, said both the orchestra and the performers were world class.

The opera was Verdi’s Falstaff. The singing and the setting were extraordinary – the lead singers were French, American and Russian. Apparantly they scour the world looking for up and coming young singers, a cynic might suggest so they don’t have to pay them so much – but the whole thing – the social scene, the music, the setting was something I have never experienced before – and probably never will again! ImageImage

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